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Chasing Shadows

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“You are supposed to be the picture of command. And if not that, then the frakking poster boy for martyrdom,” Shaw said, giving Adama a look and a disgusted shake of her head. She didn't know what was going on with him, but she didn't like what she was seeing. “What the frak is this?”

He ran a hand over his face. “I think I'm losing my frakking mind. Next question?”

Kendra frowned. “What are you talking about?”

Adama shook his head. “You do not want to know, Shaw. Just let it go.”

“Damn, Lee. Who the frak ran you over?” Thrace asked, coming into the room. Adama didn't lift his head to look at her, and Shaw was once again made aware of the tension between the two of them. She still didn't understand what was with that, since half the time they seemed close, the other half of the time, he seemed about to bolt or she was.

Kendra shook her head. She wasn't getting involved in this.

“No one. I'm just... Haven't been sleeping well,” Adama muttered. “What brings you up here, Kara? I'm pretty sure you don't have a shift in the CIC today.”

“You asked me for progress reports on the two squads yesterday, or did that little fact escape your mind?” Thrace shook her head. “Frak it, Lee. If you're just giving me busy work because you're pissed off at me—”

“I'm not. I do need the reports. Or Shaw does. Give them to her.”

“I was going to do them orally,” Thrace said. “Why waste the paper?”

Adama groaned. “Because it's protocol. Because I don't know this crew that well despite serving on this ship since the fall, more or less. Because my memory is shot because I can't sleep. There are other reasons, but those are the main ones.”

Thrace looked at her. Kendra gave Adama another glance and nodded to the other woman. “Walk with me. I'll take those reports now.”


“How long has he been like this?”

Kara snorted. “I was about to ask you that. Something is off with Lee, has been for a few days. Not sure of the specifics. It's been a frakking nightmare trying to take over as CAG. These pilots don't respect me, they don't respect him or you, and we are all in over our frakking heads. I don't know what the admiral was thinking.”

“Neither do I,” Shaw said. She shrugged. “Who else would you put in charge? Tigh? Taylor? All the others below them are even less qualified.”

“Helo.”

“A Cylon lover on this ship? Are you out of your frakking mind?”

Kara glared at her. She knew that was all people saw, but there was a lot more than that to Karl. She trusted him with her life, and she had for years. Helo was a good frakking officer, too. “I'm not. Helo's a good man. It doesn't matter who he fraks.”

“It would matter to everyone else,” Shaw insisted. “Either way, it doesn't matter. The problem with Adama is what matters. I didn't want to ask what was going on with you two, but if it is what is causing him to lose focus when he needs it the most—”

“And who says he's not losing focus because of you, Shaw? Most of the ship thinks you're frakking and you have been since you were the watcher Cain assigned to him. It's how he turned you against her, or haven't you heard that rumor?”

Shaw grimaced. “I have. Have you heard the one that says you were frakking him while you were engaged to his brother?”

Kara's fist moved before the other woman was finished speaking, but Shaw dodged it, stepping to the side. Shaw looked at her, daring her to try again. Kara almost did.

“Go ahead,” Shaw said. “Hit me.”

“And what, end up in the brig? Frak that. And frak you, too. You don't know anything about me and Lee,” Kara said. She knew she was the cause of Lee's distraction. She had to be, between what she'd admitted about her part in Zak's death and that frakking symbol carved in Lee's chest. “Shutter.”

“What?”

“When I was cleaning Lee up after Gardner's frak up, I found an old scar that Shutter gave him. If he's been distracted, it probably has to do with that.”

Shaw set her jaw. “He has always had issues with Shutter and PTSD. What makes this any different?”

“It's something I've drawn since I was a child. And the Cylons say I have a special destiny.”

“The Cylons targeted him because of you?”

“Maybe.”


Shift over, Lee returned to his quarters, listening to the hatch shut behind him. He swallowed, his stomach twisting up with that same sense he'd had every time he came into this room. He shook his head, pulling out his sidearm and moving forward.

He cleared the front room, making sure to check the corners, anywhere someone could have been hiding. Finished, he moved into the head, finding it empty. It always was, had been that way ever since he took up permanent residence here.

He went into his bedroom, verifying that it, too, was empty.

“Frak,” he muttered, putting the gun back away. He was getting paranoid, but he didn't know what else to do. He couldn't shake the feeling that someone had been in here. He had it every time he came back and at least once during the night.

Every time, he searched. Every time, his quarters were empty.

Gods, he was an idiot. There was no one in the room. He was fine. He had to stop this. He was making himself crazy, and there was no reason for it. He had to stop this. If it was just the memories, it would be different. He was used to losing himself in the past, in the year he wanted to forget, and if he was only doing that, he wouldn't think anything of it. That was his life. It hadn't been the same since Shutter and the others ambushed him at the cemetery, and he knew that. He accepted it.

This... He couldn't let himself accept this.

He had to get his life back. He had to find a way to stop the paranoia and start sleeping again.

The knock on the hatch had him jerking, almost sending him into a full panic. He turned back to the door. “Come in.”

Shaw stepped inside, letting the hatch close behind her. “Thought you'd already be in bed, Adama. Considering how bad you looked earlier.”

Lee grimaced. “I thought about it.”

“Should have done more than thought,” Shaw muttered. “I didn't take this job to be your frakking babysitter.”

“You sure about that?” Lee asked, sitting down on his couch. “I thought that was exactly why you got this job.”

“I took it to get this ship for myself. And for the bigger quarters. Girl needs her space, after all.”

Lee snorted. “Sure it is. Try something more believable next time, Shaw.”

“Fine.” She folded her arms over her chest. “You really think you were tortured because of Thrace? That the Cylon targeted you because of her?”

Lee frowned. “She told you that?”

“She said you might be distracted because she found that scar.”

Trust Kara to leave out the rest of it. She wouldn't admit her part in Zak's death to anyone, even now. Lee still didn't know why she'd told him. He wouldn't have had to ever know, and it didn't help him. Or her. Or anyone.

“This your attempt to get me naked, Shaw? Think of how that will look.”

“Frak off, Adama. I'm not interested in you.”

He smiled, amused, but that faded quickly. “I'm not interested in showing off the scar, if that's what you're trying to hint at. I'm not doing it. I would rather no one ever saw it again.”

“You close your eyes when you shower so you don't have to see it?”

“Yes.”

Shaw stared at him. “That was supposed to be a joke.”

“Nothing in my life is funny.”

“You laugh with Thrace. And with me. Rare, but it happens.”

“I'm not laughing now,” Lee said. He leaned back against the chair. “I'd rather it was just the memories.”

“The frak does that mean?”

“There were marines outside the door when you came in, weren't there?”

“You thought they left in between when you came in and when I did?” Shaw asked. She shook her head. “No. They're still there. Why?”

“I keep feeling like someone's in here.”

“In here?”

“I already checked everywhere. I didn't find anything. But...”

“But you've been feeling it for days now, haven't you?” Shaw asked, shaking her head. “Damn it, Adama. Why the frak didn't you say anything sooner?”

“I'm a wreck. A mess. That everyone knew before,” Lee said. “I didn't see the point in making it worse by saying I wasn't just having flashbacks but apparently hallucinations. There's no one here. Every time I go through this place, there's nothing. No one. After I finally fall asleep, I wake up with the same feeling. I'll search, but it's the same. Asked the guards once. They said no one came in here.”

Shaw grimaced. “If it's all in your head—”

“There's nothing I can do. We're just seeing the beginning of the end. My mind will continue to deteriorate, and eventually, there will be nothing left. I suppose there's a chance that some medication might mitigate the symptoms, but if I go to anyone for medical treatment or if it's exposed that I'm on that kind of—”

“We start with the basics. Let's have someone else check your room.”

“Go ahead.”

Shaw snorted. “I meant in the middle of the night. You're going to have to give up sleeping alone, Adama.”

Lee stared at her. “We're not like that.”

“And we won't be. I think it should be Thrace who keeps an eye on you overnight.”

“No. No frakking way.”

Shaw stared him down. “It has to be Thrace. If this is about that frakking scar, if this is because of her, then she owes you.”

Lee shook his head. “No. Forget it. I'm fine.”


Kara didn't bother knocking on the door. The marines gave her a look, but she ignored it. Lee hadn't given them orders to keep her out, and that was all that mattered. She would have expected it by now, but since he hadn't, she was taking what she could get.

He looked up from the couch, and the groan was all over his face, even if he didn't let it come out aloud. “Shaw spoke to you.”

She nodded. “You should have.”

“Really? Is that what we should do?” Lee asked, shaking his head. “I still don't know what we are. I don't know that I think about you. I haven't finished figuring that out. I don't know what to feel. You told me you were responsible for Zak's death. You passed him when he shouldn't have been passed. I don't know how to feel about that.”

She swallowed. “Be angry. You were pissed at your dad. Why not at me?”

“Dad pushed him because of his own ego. You passed him because you loved him. Those are two very different things.”

Kara sighed. She crossed over to sit down next to him. “I think you find it easier to stay mad at your father. You've been that way all your life, haven't you? From when you were a kid and he was gone all the time until now.”

“The frak do you know about it?”

She rolled her eyes. “You think I survived by loving my mother? By pretending she was the greatest mother there ever was? I hated her. I still do. And maybe there's a part of me that loved her underneath all of that, but you and I both used the anger to get through hell, didn't we?”

“So Dad was gone a lot. That doesn't make my childhood even close to the nightmare that yours was. And don't tell me it wasn't—you just told me it was.”

“Your mom was a drunk.”

Lee frowned. “How did you—”

“When you disappeared, she fell off the wagon. Hard.”

He shook his head. “She was already off the wagon when Zak died.”

Kara grimaced. She wasn't all that surprised to hear it, but she knew it didn't make things any easier. “Lee, I don't want to believe that the Cylons tortured you because of me. I don't want to be responsible for all of that pain. I know I am because without what I did for Zak, you would never have been there for them to take. And if that frakker marked you—”

“Don't.”

“Fine. We don't have to discuss it,” she said, “but I'm not leaving, either. Shaw says you think someone's been in your room. That he comes in when you're asleep.”

“I'm not—you're making that sound twisted. Wrong. Sick. I don't think someone's trying to jump me in my sleep.”

“Not even Shaw?”

“Frak off, Kara. It's not like that with us.”

“And it's not like that with you and me, either, but I am still staying. If nothing happens, nothing happens. Maybe you'll sleep the night through, and that's got to be worth it. You have a crew of a thousand to look after with plenty of them ready to stab you in the back. You need to be at your best, and you're not when you're not sleeping.”

Lee nodded. “Fine, then. Stay.”