Title: Coevolution, Part II of II
Pairings/Characters: Kara/Lee, Karl, mentions Karl/Sharon, Kacey
Summary: Real World AU. Kara's a single mother living in the conservative Texas town of which Lee's the mayor.
Word Count: 9500
Warnings: Mentions of drug abuse, depression, PTSD. Lee being an angstbear.
Disclaimer: I do not own the BSG universe. I think you lot know that.
This is my first fic written for the_applecart, and somehow it came out sort of huge. Very thankful for the prompt left there, as it ended up being a powerful spark.
This was lovingly and brilliantly betaed by wicked_sassy. Any remaining mistakes are mine alone.
Your comments after reading are always cherished.
It’s not even noon yet and Kara wants it to be tomorrow. Hell, she wants it to be next week, next year, ten years from now. Her first day off in God knows how long, and it’s already ruined. When did her life become a television movie?
Kacey sleeps comfortably in Kara’s lap in the pickup, both of them strapped tightly under the seatbelt. Kara hugs her daughter’s waist possessively. The two-seater truck is hardly the safest option for transportation, but she has too many things to do today to spend the better part of the afternoon waiting for a bus that may just as well decide not to come.
“So, Mayor Adama,” Karl says.
“Please don’t start,” says Kara, reaching over the radio, turning the knob until she finds a station she likes.
Karl turns it back off. “He seemed nice, Kara.”
Kara bites her lip.
“And definitely into you,” Karl finishes.
“Please,” says Kara, “I’m not interested in being part of the Mayor’s spring of slumming it.”
“Maybe he just into you,” says Karl. “Wouldn’t be the first person. Won’t be the last.”
Kara rubs her neck, pinching her fingers around the cords of muscle. “He doesn’t know anything about me.”
“The way he was looking at you, maybe he’d like to change that.”
“Well, I don’t want to change that. How’s that? Will you shut up about it now?”
Karl puts up a surrendering hand. “Fine, okay. I’m backing off. I forgot. It’s just you and your island.”
“Well, it’s a very beautiful island!” says Kara. “No need to have him ruining it. He’ll want to build a resort or something. Ruin the natural, rugged beauty. Next thing you know I’ll be serving daiquiris to retired stockbrokers.”
“I liked him okay,” Kacey says, yawning, waking up. “Not as prickish as I thought he’d be from the look of him.”
“Hey,” says Kara. “What did I tell you about talking like that?”
“So? You talk like that all the time, and worse,” says Kacey.
“Yeah, well, I’m a grownup.”
“So being a grownup means you’re allowed to call people pricks?”
“Exactly,” says Kara. “I knew you were a smart kid.”
For a few minutes, they’re all silent in the car, bumping along potholed roads toward the eastern side of the city. Kara’s about to turn the radio back on when Kacey leans her head back onto Kara’s shoulder and asks, “Are you feeling better now?”
Kara’s grip stiffens around Kacey then loosens as she regains composure. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me,” she says, squeezing her eyes shut, wishing more than anything Kacey never had to see her like that, losing it like a goddamn crazy.
The Mayor had seen her like that, too. Not that she cares.
“You worry about me. Why am I not allowed to worry about you?” asks Kacey.
“Because I’m the mother and you’re the daughter, and that’s just how it works. Science.”
“That’s stupid,” Kacey says, her head thudding back into Kara’s chest.
“You think everything’s stupid,” Karl butts in, squeezing Kacey’s thigh affectionately.
“That’s because everything is stupid. Except for us. I quite like us.”
“We are pretty likable,” Karl laughs, warm-spirited and lighthearted. Thank God for him, Kara thinks. Johnsburg, Texas might be the last place on Earth she wants to be, but he had opened his home to her when she had no one else, driving his falling-apart truck across the country to pick her up from the hospital, a screaming infant too small to be real in Kara’s hands. He had had his own family to take care of, a wife and a daughter only a year old, but he was there for her, anyway.
Since then, she’s moved in to her own place, supports herself and Kacey on a modest check of $700 a month from the VA, her waitressing gig, and occasional weekends fixing cars at Chief’s Auto Shop. Things are tight, but it isn’t until days like this that she wonders when it all might crack and she’ll be unable to properly care for her daughter.
As if on cue, “It’s gonna be okay,” Karl says. “We’ll just get your groceries at 24.”
Kara nods, though going to the rundown supermarket doesn’t sound particularly appealing.
“I hate 24,” groans Kacey. “Smells like dead babies and feet in there. And the fruit’s always mushy and old with spots, and they don’t have anything good.”
“It’ll be fine, butternut,” Kara assures her, but the little girl is still pouting.
At 24, the three of them load up a buggy with peanut butter, bread, chicken and ground beef, some frozen fruit and vegetables, and a few other necessities. Kara doggedly checks the prices of the items, hoping to get as much with her EBT as she can.
Screw today. Screw it with Satan’s cock.
At the council meeting the following Monday, Lee can’t stop thinking about her. He’s considered going back to Dixie’s Grocery to get more information out of Billy, but he knows that would look suspicious. Lee can’t be asking after a woman, especially not one who has a reputation for being a bit of a troublemaker.
So he makes himself forget about her. Easy.
On Tuesday, Kara only enters his thoughts thirty-four times, down from fifty the previous day.
Thursday, back up to forty.
Forgetting Kara is a lost cause.
He decides to try her at the Salt Boat, the place advertised on the card she’d dropped almost a week ago today.
As soon as he gets off work, nearing 7:00pm, he pulls his car into the parking lot of the ramshackle looking restaurant, a roadhouse boasting pulled pork sandwiches, fried pies, peach cobbler, and the best smoked brisket ‘in the universe.’ Brilliant. Fantastic. Lovely.
He locks his car then wanders into the restaurant, glad that he’d changed at work into more casual attire, a t-shirt and fading blue jeans. His 5 o’clock shadow is probably also working in his favor, as at least half the men inside the roadhouse are bearded.
That’s when he sees her, not Kara, but the little girl, Kacey, holed up at a booth by herself doing what looks to be homework. She’s drinking from a bottle of Mexican Coke, a plate of half-finished food next to her.
Lee hopes it doesn’t startle her too much when he walks up, sliding into the seat across from her. She looks up, surprised at first, then smiles. “Mayor,” she says.
“Well if it isn’t the girl who rejected me cold,” says Lee, which makes Kacey grin even wider.
“My mom’s out having a smoke. She’ll be back soon,” she says.
“Are you two having supper here?”
“We always have our supper here. She waitresses, so we get the food free. Momma picks me up after school during her break, and we stay here until she gets off at 8. My school’s not too, too far so we walk, but she says I can get a new bike soon.” Kacey shrugs then takes another sip of her Coke, returning to her folder, covered with Harry Potter stickers.
“Homework?” Lee asks.
“Geography,” Kacey sighs, “got to memorize all the state capitals by Monday for a test, and my mom will be mad if I don’t get a perfect score. I’m spending the weekend at my friend Hera’s house, so I won’t have much else time to study.”
“Your mother’s hard on you?”
Kacey rolls her eyes and nods vigorously. “I got a B on a math test and she grounded me for a week, which is stupid, because what is there to ground me from, anyway? I’m here every night of the week.”
Kara returns from her smoke break at that precise moment, surprising Kacey with a squeeze on the shoulder “The better you do in school, the more options you have.” She’s wearing a close-fitting flannel button-up shirt and short shorts with combat boots.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” says Kacey. “But the really important matter—can I have dessert tonight?”
Kara nods. “One helping,” she says, “and don’t think I won’t know if one of the cooks slips you something extra.”
Kacey slides out the seat and rushes over to the food counter. Kara takes her place in the booth, looking at Lee. “So, you couldn’t stay away from us, huh?” asks Kara.
Lee smiles and shrugs. “Against my better judgment,” he says, but then immediately regrets it when he sees her face, a flicker of hurt. The expression’s only there for a moment before she covers it with a cocky grin, but he hates himself for already ruining this.
“What I mean is,” says Lee, “is that—” but he really doesn’t know what it is he’s trying to say, and he turns his head, searching for words.
“Hey,” she says, her tone demanding he look at her. “You can’t come barging into my life like this.”
“I know,” he says. “I’m sorry. Do you want me to go?”
“Fuck, I don’t know,” she says, resting her head on her palm. “Why don’t you give me your number, then we can see how it goes?”
It’s something. “And I could give you and Kacey a lift home,” he says, “if you don’t already have a ride.”
“Karl’s got Kacey this weekend,” she says. “He’ll be here to pick her up soon.”
“Then I could give just you a lift home. I’m a very safe driver, and have a couple of good playlists. What do you say?”
“You sure? I kind of live—I wouldn’t want you to be afraid your car will get stolen.”
“I need a new car, anyway,” he says.
“What of the headlines tomorrow? Mayor caught with town upstart hitchhiking along Santez Road! Says he needed a new car anyway! Voters aren’t buying it! Impeachment!”
“Kara,” Lee says, trying to keep his voice serious even though he’s laughing. “I like you, and I just want to give you a ride home. Give me a break, I haven’t done this in a while.”
She takes a sip from Kacey’s Coke, thinking it over. “Okay. Wait for me here while I finish my shift. No distracting my kid, though. She’s got work to do. Why don’t you grab a bite while you wait.”
“What’s good here?”
“Everything, really, but the pork sandwiches are the stuff of gods.”
“Anything without meat?” he asks.
She snorts, then points to a sign above the door: We Eat Vegetarians.
“Maybe I’ll just have some fries, then,” he says, smiling.
“They’re fried in beef fat,” says Kara.
“I’m really not,” she says, not even trying to cover up her laughter
“God, this town.”
“Order the grilled corn on the cob,” Kara says. “It’s good. Buttery, spiced with cumin and coriander and chili powder. How about that?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Lee says.
Kacey leaves shortly after Kara gets back to work, Karl coming to pick her up. Lee watches the minutes on the clock tick by, catching glimpses of Kara moving hurriedly through the restaurant.
Finally, she changes out of her work clothes, joins Lee at the front door.
Kara slides into the passenger seat of his car. “I can’t believe you drive a Prius.”
“What? Why?” he asks.
“Because. It’s just—so typical. Do you belong to a farm share too?”
Lee doesn’t answer her, just jams his keys into the ignition.
“Ha, you do, don’t you?” Kara goads, strapping herself in. “Lee is a yuppie, Lee is a yuppie,” she chants. He wonders if she’s going to stick her thumb in her ears and wave her fingers, saying nana-nana-boo-boo.
“So I like farm fresh vegetables delivered weekly. Can you blame me?”
“Oh, yes. I can,” she says, “and I plan to make fun of you about it ceaselessly. Tell me, what did you make with your bounty this week? Let me guess—kale sautéed in olive oil, sprinkled with lemon zest, artisanal cheese, and Celtic sea salt.”
“Swiss chard, actually,” Lee says, unable to resist smiling, her giddy mood a bug he doesn’t mind catching “And it was very good, thank you very much.”
“Uh huh,” she says, “I’m sure it was,” and even though Lee is focused on driving, he knows that she’s smiling. “So how did your pretentious ass end up in a place whose unofficial motto is, ‘They hate us for our freedom and our barbecued beef.’”
“Long story,” he says.
“Indulge me,” she prompts.
Lee inhales deeply, then exhales, letting himself relax. “After I graduated from college—”
“Where?” she interrupts.
“Well, first I went to West Point,” he says.
“Really?” Kara asks. “You? Military?”
Lee shakes his head. “Didn’t last long there, much to my father’s disappointment,” he says, opening up despite himself. “I transferred to Harvard.”
“Damn,” she says.
Lee grunts quietly. “Then law school and a mountain load of debt. I’m from Houston originally, knew that I wanted to be close to home—to my mother and little brother, but also knew I wanted to be far away from them, do my own thing.”
“So you picked a random tiny town on the map that you could make your pet civics project? Very mature,” she says. She’s joking, Lee thinks, but her words carry a fair bit of bite.
“How about you?” he asks.
Kara leans back into her seat. “Moved here after I was pregnant and kind of never got around to leaving. It’s Karl’s hometown. He took me in when I really needed it.”
“My friend,” Kara says.
“He seems like a good guy,” says Lee, hardly able to imagine what it’d be like to have a friend like that.
“He’s the best,” Kara nods.
“Kacey is really cute. I can tell she’s a lot like you.”
“Yeah. She’s kind of grown on me these last seven years. When she was born she looked a lot like an alien, so I wasn’t really sure it was going to work out between us.”
Lee laughs, but he isn’t sure what to say, feeling nervous and shy. “I hope I didn’t make you feel weird last week,” he finally says.
“When—after the truck honking and stuff.”
She’s silent, and Lee looks over, watches her stare out the window.
“Turn left up here,” she says finally.
He obeys, clicking on the signal.
“That’s not even the worst thing about me, you know,” says Kara.
“Of course it isn’t,” says Lee, sure that it comes out all wrong. He takes a breath, tries again. “I mean, I’m sure it’s not the worst thing about you because it’s not even like it’s bad. Does that, does that make any sense? I understand it must be hard to live with, of course, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of and certainly not a detraction from you. So please don’t feel humiliated on account of me. Please.”
A silence lingers that Lee can’t decide whether it’s companionable or awkward.
“Right at the next fork,” says Kara.
“I’ve got things about me I’d rather people not see, too,” Lee says. He’s desperate to make this go right, is sure he’s making it worse.
“Oh, yeah? Like what?” Kara asks.
He’s not sure he can say, though, and so he doesn’t.
“That’s what I thought,” says Kara.
He sighs, taps his fingers on the steering wheel. “I don’t remember the last time I slept more than three hours a night,” he says.
The confession is small, doesn’t compare to what Kara had accidentally revealed about herself last week at the supermarket, but it’s all he can manage at the moment.
“No,” Lee answers. “I just can’t sleep. No good reason for it. Alcohol helps sometimes.”
He sees her head whip around out of the corner of his eye. “But I try to avoid it. My mom was a really heavy drinker.”
“Addict?” asks Kara.
“Yeah,” he says, alcoholism only one of the ways the people in his family don’t work quite how they’re supposed to.
“No,” says Lee.
“Glad you dodged that bullet,” she says. “I don’t drink.”
“Are you a Mormon?” Lee asks, attempting to lighten the mood.
It works, and Kara laughs. “Nope.”
“Do you mind being around it? Liquor?” he says.
“No. I’m fine with it. It’s not really my poison, but yeah, gateway drug and all that.”
She doesn’t volunteer any more information, and Lee doesn’t feel he has the right to ask any more of her. They drive in companionable silence, arriving to Kara’s place shortly.
“That’s it,” she says, pointing to a bungalow. It’s nice, not quite what he was imagining, a small red house with a garden and a porch.
“So,” he says.
“Thank you for the ride,” says Kara, unbuckling. “Let’s do this again—have you give me a ride. Definitely beats the bus once you get over how nosey you are.”
“Sorry. I don’t mean to pry. Just kind of happens.”
“I’ll see you soon?” Kara asks.
“Yes. Definitely, if that’s all right.”
“It’s all right,” she says, leaving the car, shutting the door.
Kara hops into the shower once she’s inside, washing off the stink of the roadhouse. The water is as hot as she can stand it, splashing over her head and face soothingly.
“Nine o’clock,” she says, once out of the bath, looking at the time on the microwave.
She’s not going to call him. She’s not going to call him. She’s not going to call him.
The resolution lasts approximately forty-five minutes. Kara grabs her phone and dials Lee, his number now plugged into her contacts.
“Hello?” he answers on the third ring.
“Mr. Mayor,” says Kara.
“You’ve got to stop calling me that, Kara,” he says, recognizing her. Kara likes the way he talks, like he’s always thinking of the best way to phrase things—but still always ending up with his foot in his mouth.
“Did your car get hijacked on the drive back?” she asks.
“No, unfortunately,” he says, “I wasn’t expecting you to call so soon.”
Kara grabs a blanket and sinks into her couch. “Are you busy?”
“Just doing some baking,” he says.
“You’ll only make fun of me if I tell you what it is.”
“Yeah, so? You can take it. Come on, what is it?”
“Lemon shortbread with rosemary and lavender.”
Kara does laugh. How could she not? “Maybe instead of Mr. Mayor I should call you Barefoot Contessa. Would you like that?”
“I hate you.”
“You so don’t,” says Kara.
“I’m also making chocolate cake with ganache frosting. Is that better?”
“Mmmm,” she says, “Yes. What’s the occasion?”
“Just something to do,” says Lee.
“Do you have a KitchenAid stand mixer?”
“Chrome,” he says.
“I’m dying for one of those,” she says.
“Do you do much baking?”
“Nope, but they look so pretty sitting on the counter. Like little robots of love, promising delicious sweets. Maybe I can borrow yours sometimes? There’s a bake sale coming up at Kacey’s school. She convinced me to make 200 cupcakes—musti’ve hypnotized me with her little doe eyes.”
“You know, I’d be glad to whip something up for it. Bake sales and the like are kind of my thing. When is it?”
“Really? It’s next Saturday.”
“I’ll have to hold myself back from making orange pekoe petit fours, but sure. I’d love to.”
Kara loops a strand of her hair around her finger, then goes for it. “Will there be any extra?”
“Shortbread. Cake,” she says.
“Maybe I could come over?”
“Right now? I just took you home.”
“Buses are still running,” she says. “Or I could take a cab. You know what? It was just an idea. Forget about it.”
“Kara,” he says. “I’d love for you to come over, as long as it’s not too much trouble. Shall I text you the address?”
“Yeah,” she says, “see you soon. And leave some batter for me.”
She brushes her hair, pulls on clean shorts and a tank, and heads out.
Lee’s cutting butter into the flour he’s just weighed when he hears the doorbell ring. He sets down his pastry blender then wipes off his hand on a kitchen towel, going to open the door for Kara.
“I brought wine,” she says, holding it up. “For you, not me. I hope it’s okay. I just got the most expensive thing I could afford. The cashier kind of grunted when I asked him if it was good, which I took as a positive. Haven’t been in a liquor store in forever. Have they always looked that crusty?”
Lee takes the bottle and waves her in. “Some are better than others,” he says. “You really didn’t have to, but thank you. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.”
“I figure if it’s awful you can cook with it; you seem like the kind of guy who cooks stuff with wine.”
Lee watches her as she take in his house, and he’s suddenly embarrassed by the size of it. She leans against a wall in the foyer, eyes darting here and there: the large windows, wood floors, high ceilings, a staircase that spirals up to the second story. “Your place is really gorgeous,” she says.
Lee turns to her, puts his hand on the wall to the side of her head. “You’re really gorgeous,” he says, leaning in slowly until his lips meet her skin. He kisses her forehead, each of her eyelids, her jaw line.
“Are you okay with this?” Lee asks.
She closes her eyes, thinking, then nods her head. “If you are.”
“Believe me, I am,” he says. He can feel the heat sliding off of her onto him, threading his nerves into a tight bundle of desire. He angles down to kiss his way down her cheeks to her neck, and she moans, grabbing the back of his head and pulling him closer. Kara hikes up one leg, wraps it around his waist. Lee doesn’t have the patience tonight for the slow burn. So he slides his hands along her sides under her shirt, lifts her up. She hooks her other leg so that she’s locked around him, and he carries her to the, tasting her skin. He finds a place near her ear that makes her keen and squeeze him tightly, and as much as he’d like to keep licking it, he’s dying to get to her lips.
Her mouth is already open, waiting for him, and he pushes his tongue inside. The kiss is maddening and hot, electricity twisting through his body.
“Lee,” she begs quietly, her moans vibrating in his mouth. She’s starting to push her hips up and down, seeking friction, and Lee’s cock is straining for contact, too
He falls back onto the couch, Kara on top of him. Kara’s riding his cock through his jeans and her shorts, her arms braced on either side of him.
“Fuck, Kara,” he says. He feels like he’s fifteen years old, about to come in his briefs. “Please,” he says, “I won’t be able to last long,” he pants out. She’s lost in the sensation and seems barely to hear him, so Lee takes charge. He slides his hands under her shirt to pull it off, her body stretching out and arching, her hips keeping a steady rhythm over Lee.
Once her shirt’s off, he unhooks her bra, and her bare body’s more even more exquisite than he imagined. He reaches down to undo her shorts, pulling them down just enough to have more access to her body.
“Lee,” she moans, as his fingers graze the wet spot on her knickers. She’s amazingly sensitive, bucking at every touch, and he swallows her moans as they begin to kiss again.
“Kara,” he says, “Kara,” trying to get her attention, pulling her up his body.
She looks at him, questioning, until she understands. Kara climbs up until she’s straddling his waist, then Lee slides down, his head between her legs.
“Lee,” she says, “please.” She presses herself down, her underwear still on, riding his lips, and Lee is in heaven. There’s nothing that gives him more pleasure than licking a woman off, feeling her wetness on his lips, her clit hardening. He reaches down to undo his jeans, lets his cock spring out from the hole in his briefs.
When he’s done with that, he reaches up to slip Kara’s underwear down, so he can tongue her without the fabric in the way. He had vague thoughts of teasing her, going slowly, but that notion goes away when Kara starts rocking over his face, and he gets his first taste of her. He reaches out his tongue and licks her as she moves atop him. While he uses one hand to press her hips further into him, he uses the other to jerk off his cock.
He barely strokes himself because he’s so goddamned close, wants to wait to come until Kara reaches her climax, too. She’s grinding hard into his lips, his face damp with her. Fuck, he wants her to come, needs to feel her body jerking and shuddering without control.
Her moans are growing louder, her pace becoming wilder and more erratic, and Lee lets himself rub his cock quickly and with heavy pressure, his pre-come dripping down.
Then she’s there, her thighs bracketing his face hard, screaming his name. Lee finishes, too, his come shooting out in spurts over his belly, and he swears it’s the hardest he’s come in ten years, maybe more, can’t imagine what it would be like to actually be inside of Kara.
After a few moments, they rearrange themselves, snug together on his living room sofa.
“Sorry,” Kara says.
Lee smiles.“What on Earth do you have to be sorry for?”
“Kind of lost it a bit there,” she says. “It’s been—a while.”
“You were glorious,” he says, nuzzling his nose into her neck,.
“Has anyone ever told you you’re very good at that?” Kara asks.
“Good at what?” says Lee, playing like he’s got no idea what she’s talking about.
“You know what,” she says, pinching him on the arm.
“I certainly enjoy it,” is all he says, leaving out that he’d gladly spend the better part of most evenings with his tongue between her legs.
“You know,” she says, her voice abruptly changing, becoming serious, “I don’t know if this can be a regular thing. I’ve got Kacey—and just all kinds of shit.”
“I understand,” he says.
“I like you, though,” she says, squeezing his hand.
“I like you, too.”
“Yeah?” asks Kara, quiet. He doesn’t understand at this point how she could doubt it.
“A lot. We can get together as little or as often as you’d like, though I’d prefer often.”
She leans into him more, throwing her leg over his. “I could get on board with that,” she says. “Just don’t get your hopes up about me okay? I really meant it before, what I said earlier in the car—about the flashbacks not being the worst part about me.”
“And I meant it when I said I don’t think those things are a detraction. Everyone has baggage, Kara, me included.”
“Just consider yourself warned. Now can we get to the real reason I came here?”
“Ahh, right. She only wants me for my skills in the kitchen.”
“And in the bed,” she adds, throwing her legs off the couch and standing.
Lee watches her as she throws on her shirt and looks around for the kitchen. After she leaves, he knows he’ll be in the same spot he was in last night, and the night before—staring at his ceiling fan, sleeping impossible. It’ll be nice, though, to know that if he decided to call her, she would pick up.