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Did I Fall Asleep?

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Summary: Paul Ballard meets a new handler, just transferred from the Dollhouse in London. His name is Lee Josephs and it is the second time this week Paul has been struck with the most intense feeling of déjà vu he’s ever had.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Dollhouse
Television > Battlestar Galactica > Non-BtVS/AtS Stories
(Past Donor)bakatulipFR15210,2351101,4894 Aug 096 Aug 09Yes

Part Two

Paul kicks the door in drawing his handgun as he does, leaving Echo with Bravo in the hallway. The walls are painted a sickly mint green and orange light filters in from the lone window facing the street.

Bravo’s hand closes around Echo’s forearm as she surveys the hallway with a wary eye. “Where are we?”

Echo cranes her head to see into the darkened apartment before turning back. “Someplace safe.” I hope.

Bravo nods and accepts the answer. She stares expectantly out the window for a moment before she speaks again. “It’s night. I’m supposed to sleep when it’s night.”

Paul sticks his head out into the doorway and nods to them. “Coast’s clear.”

“Come on, Bravo.” Echo gives her hand a light squeeze. “You can get some sleep inside.”

They slip through the doorway and Paul slides the seven or so locks into place. He motions towards a door at the back of the main room. “The bedroom is back that way,” he says. Echo puts her hand around Bravo’s shoulder and leads her around the massive pile of dead marijuana plants that occupy the center of the room.

“Let’s get you into bed,” she says gently.

There’re piles of clothing on the bed still, and Echo’s fairly sure the sheets haven’t been washed since long before the apartment’s occupant cleared out, but she moves away the clutter and smoothes out the blanket. Bravo lowers herself onto the bed and curls her knees to her chest. “Get some sleep now, okay?”

“Echo?” Bravo says, causing her to pause in the doorway.

“Yeah?”

“When’s Mr. Josephs getting here?”

Echo purses her lips. “Soon. Really soon.” She’s gotten good at lying. Echo shuts the door behind her as she leaves.

Paul is in the kitchenette, testing the taps for water and coming up empty. “Of course, he didn’t need water,” he mutters to himself. “He just recycled his own urine.”

“What?” Echo raises an eyebrow.

He just shakes his head. “This was Stephen Keppler’s place… The environmental freak had this place running on as little energy as possible. It’s a good place to hide, almost completely off the grid. That’s why Alpha stayed here. Figured it’d work for us if it worked for him.”

“And Alpha lived here?” Her jaw drops. “And the possibility that Psycho was still here didn’t occur to you?”

“I checked to make sure the coast was clear, didn’t I? Besides, he killed Keppler, dumped him in Tucson and stayed here just long enough for me to find him. A couple of days tops.”

Echo cast a glance around the apartment. Unwashed dishes, dead drug plants, windows all high and narrow so no one could see in. “I wonder if Alpha left us anything useful.”

Paul shrugs as he heads for the door. “Keep your eyes peeled.”

“Where are you going?”

“Gotta ditch the car, I’m sure they’re tracking it.” Paul tugs his jacket on, sliding the locks out of place. “I’ll be back.”

---

Sunrise is creeping in through the high windows but it doesn’t actually light up the apartment—just sort of tints the ceiling a blood red. Echo’s been lying flat on her back staring up at the ceiling since Paul left; no matter how she arranges herself on the couch she just can’t fall asleep.

She pushes herself up off the tacky yellow and blue plaid loveseat and paces the apartment. She opens drawers, cabinets, and sorts through the drifts of useless junk on the countertops. Her fingers close on a vial half-emptied of a clear viscous liquid. Curiosity stirred, she unscrews the lid and takes a sniff just as three knocks sound at the door.

“Paul?” she asks, leaning her head against the doorframe.

“No,” he says with a light, tired laugh belying his sarcasm, “it’s the Easter Bunny.”

Echo slides the locks out of place and cracks the door open. “Where the hell have you been?” she chides, as he slips into the room.

“I drove the sedan up to Santa Barbara, doubled back by bus.”

“That’s quite a drive. You couldn’t have just ditched it with the keys in the ignition in one of the shadier parts of town?”

“Then, they’d know we were still in LA.” He nods to the travel drink carrier in his hands. He smiles like it’s an apology. “I brought coffee.” Her exhaustion makes her forgive him as she pulls out one cup and sets it aside, and then a second one from which she pries the lid off. “What’s that?” he asks, gesturing towards the vial in her hand.

 “Alpha did leave something behind.” She holds up the vial. “This. This drug was in a canteen left for me a long time ago. When I drank the spiked water, that’s when I started to remember things; things that happened to me during engagements, even little flashes of my life before the Dollhouse.”

Paul takes the vial from her and turns it over in his hands. “How do you know this is what did it?”

“The water tasted funny. Just like how this smells.”

“You drank water even though it tasted weird?” He raises an eyebrow.

Echo snatches the vial back. “You try getting hunted by a Human Poacher through the woods for a while and tell me if you turn down water.”

“Experience tells me when you get exactly what you need exactly when you need it, it’s usually not going to turn out the way you planned it.”

She turns the vial in her hands, watching the thick, clear liquid roll lazily around inside. “I was imprinted when I drank it, Bravo isn’t.” She looks at him speculatively.

Realization dawns in his eyes and Paul sets his lips in a grim line and picks up the uncovered coffee cup, holding it out to her. “Don’t really have much to lose, do we?”

---

“Morning,” Echo says, sitting down at the edge of the bed.

Bravo cracks one eye open and pushes herself up into a sitting position. “Morning,” she replies, her voice thick with exhaustion.  Echo presses the cup into her hand, making sure Bravo’s grip is tight before she lets go.

“Drink this.” Echo fights a frown. “It might taste kind of strange, but it’s… it’s medicine, so make sure you drink the whole thing, okay?”

Bravo raises a dubious eyebrow. “Am I sick?”

She remembers the dizziness, the disorientation, the nausea and thinks, no, but you’re gonna be. She places a hand gently on Bravo’s knee. “Paul and I are just trying to help you feel better.” Echo watches Bravo raise the cup to her lips.

---

So what about you? What are you gonna do? Today is the first day of the rest of your life, Lee.

Well? I always thought when this was all done I would, um, uh, kick back. Relax, spend the rest of my days doing the absolute minimum humanly possible.

And now that you're here?

I want to explore! I want to climb the mountains, I want to cross the oceans, I want to...


The wind is knocked from her body, lungs burning in her chest. The way her stomach churns she’s pretty damned sure she’s going to vomit, but there’s not much in her system so she just rolls onto her side, dry heaving over the edge of the bed.

How did everything get so dark? The last thing she remembers is the sun warm on her skin, blue skies, and green grass. Now it’s badly painted walls, dim florescent lighting, and stagnant air.

She’s vaguely aware of hands on her shoulders, a door swinging open, voices clamoring (she’s pretty sure there are two—one female, one male), and when she’s finally caught her breath she rolls onto her back. The room taunts her, turning circles, and she presses a hand to her forehead. “Frak,” she groans.

“Bravo?” Someone leans over her and it takes a few seconds for the face to come into focus and she’s so godsdamned glad to see a familiar face. “Bravo, are you alright?”

Her brow furrows. What did Karl just call her? Maybe she’s not hearing right, her heart is pounding in her ears after all. “Helo, what the hell is going on?”

“Helo?” he echoes and shakes his head. “My name is Paul. I-”

Everything is going to be alright.

Now that you’re here.


It’s more than just nausea this time; there’s a physical pain that shoots through her.

How was I?

You were amazing.


Maybe she screams, she’s not sure, but her throat does feel particularly sore.

Bravo, do you trust me?

With my life.


And the world is back. Her head feels like it’s about to explode but everything in it is ridiculously clear. Two sets of images race in her mind—the grey metal corridors of Galactica, the cherry wood and glass of the Dollhouse; uniforms, yoga clothes; her rack, her pod; the six hours that never were, the dozens of lives she never lived; Lee Adama, Lee Josephs. She’s fighting to get air into her lungs and the others (Paul, Echo, their names are vivid in her mind) are clamoring to know if she’s alright and it’s just too much.

“Back off!” she growls out; her mouth is dry and her voice doesn’t want to cooperate. She doesn’t care. “Just back off!” She waits until they’re out of the room before she lets herself start trembling.

I just know that I'm done here. I've completed my journey. It feels good.

She wonders if the gods are having fun frakking with Kara Thrace’s existence like this.

---

A full length mirror hangs in the bedroom. Cracked and clouded in a few places, but she can see herself well enough. Kara grips the white cotton and pulls it up over her head before dropping it to the floor. It pools at her feet, but she doesn’t notice; she’s fixated on the reflection in front of her, naked save for a pair of thin white underwear. Her hair falls to about her mid-back (the last time she remembered having hair this long was in Leoben’s frakking dollhouse on New Caprica, and the irony is just too much.) It’s clean though, scrubbed and conditioned like she actually spends more than five minutes in the shower.

She looks down at her hands and it’s very much the same; the skin is soft, nails filed into soft ovals with a thin layer of clear polish coating them. But what’s more interesting is what’s underneath—the bones have never been broken. She runs them over her torso, over her hip where she remembers a scar. There’s nothing, no marks, no ink; everything is wiped clean. Kara wonders if that was just the kind of life she’d been leading (that didn’t seem right), and decides it must have been the Dollhouse just stripping her away. 

Her fist curls tight, nails digging into her palms. She draws back her right hand and with a guttural cry, she slams it into the mirror. The glass crackles and falls apart, shards clattering to the floor.

“Bravo?” She hears Karl (no, not Karl, Paul) on the other side of the door. “Are you okay?”

Kara stares down at her right hand, tiny rivulets of red streaking her knuckles. “Yeah,” she says, her eyes fix on the small wounds. She walks over to the nightstand, digging through the drawer until her hand falls on the cold metal she was looking for. She lifts her gaze to her fragmented reflection in the shattered mirror. “I’m feeling better already.”

---

When she rejoins the others in the main room of the apartment, she’s pulled on a knitted wool hoodie and a pair of jeans she found in the closet. They’re about two sizes too big on her and they completely reek of weed (of course, humanity would never ditch that.) Her mind reels and her body feels sluggish, the way that it’s harder to wake up after a really long night’s sleep—Kara’s not really sure how long she’s been asleep. There’s a calendar on the wall that says 2009 but the number means frak all to her.

“You cut your hair?” Paul asks from the kitchenette, studying the ragged, uneven locks that fall to her chin for a moment before he gives an appreciative nod. “It looks good on you.”

When Paul smiles, it’s the same smile she knows from around the triad table, that same stupid grin and there’s no doubt in her mind that somehow this man used to be her best friend. “Thanks.”

Echo is looking at her with something like concern when she pushes herself off the couch. “I don’t know if it helps, but someone slipped me the same drug.” She closes her eyes and shakes her head. “He seriously messed with my head. It’s not easy—getting back your sense of self. I know how you feel.”

You have no frakking idea. But Kara nods and looks down at the triggering coffee cup she has clutched in her hand. For some reason, it’s marked Starbucks and under any other circumstance she probably would’ve found seeing her callsign on a coffee cup hilarious.

“What do you remember?”  Paul asks.

Kara watches Paul walking towards her and part of her wants to hit him. How dare he not remember what they’ve gone through, not remember her? “More than I wanted to.” The other part just wants him to hold her the way he did in the Delphi Museum and make her feel like her world isn’t actually falling apart. 

Kara folds her arms across her chest, holding herself. It’s doesn’t really work. They look like they’re about to ask her something and she really doesn’t want to hear any more questions so she cuts them off with her own. “Where’s Lee?” She watches the look that passes between them and amends her sentence. “And none of that he’ll be here soon crap.”

Echo takes a deep breath before delivering the blow. “Dead. Maybe worse.”

Kara feels the blood draining from her face. She remembers his hand on her cheek, the concern in his eyes as he told him they had to go, his hand holding hers as they raced through the halls, and his retreating back racing away from her with some purpose she didn’t understand. Paul looks uncomfortable, guilty even, and says something about there being a Thai restaurant nearby and slips out of the apartment, leaving Echo to fill in the gaps in the details.

Her eyes narrow into a glare. “You just left him there?”

Echo says, “He told us the most important thing was to get you out of there. All he wanted was for you to get your life back, and if DeWitt got him? Well, we couldn’t exactly deny a guy his dying wish.”

Kara says nothing.

---

Paul comes back with lunch and they eat lunch in silence.

Or rather, they eat.

Kara sits, poking at her food. That was Lee; always rushing off and doing the right thing, going and getting himself killed trying to get “Bravo’s” memories back. Idiot.

Very briefly, she wonders what they are. Whoever Bravo was before she was in the Dollhouse, she wasn’t Kara. Or was she? Was she Kara the way she’s sure Lee Josephs was Lee Adama and Paul Ballard is Karl Agathon, even if he doesn’t remember it.

Kara jabs her fork into her noodles. “We have to go back for him.” Her voice is firm and resolute and when Paul and Echo don’t immediately agree with her she shoots them a glare. “We don’t know for sure that he’s dead.”

“We can’t go back, they’re already looking for us. If we go back to the Dollhouse, DeWitt will definitely be waiting for us.” Echo says. “From here on in, everything we do to stop Rossum and the Dollhouse is going to have to be from the outside.”

“I don’t give a frak!” Kara slams her fork down onto the table, causing it to shake and she shoots to her feet. Her shoulders are shaking, heat rising in her cheeks.  “Lee risked his life to help me, and if there’s even a chance that he’s alive I am not going to sit around and let him suffer!”

Paul rises from the table. “Bravo, if Lee is alive, he’s in the Attic.”

“Well fine!” she screams. “We’ll go there!”

“We don’t know where it is. And even if we did, there’s still no way we can bring him back without the Dollhouse’s technology.” Paul tries to put his hand on her shoulder but she abruptly jerks away, nearly knocking the table over.

---

That night, Kara lies in the bedroom again staring at the ceiling, furiously chipping away at the polish on her fingers. She replays Echo’s words from earlier. People’s brains copied, sealed into ones and zeroes, and uploaded into another body. When she closes her eyes, she sees Sharon. Kara realizes she doesn’t know if she’s seeing Boomer or Athena, and suddenly the room loses its air.

She pushed herself to her feet and walks out into the living room. Echo is asleep on the couch and Kara sees Paul through the open door to the bathroom, sprawled awkwardly in the tub. She crosses the room and slides the various locks open and hears Echo behind her just as she opens the door.

“Where are you going?”

“Out,” Kara replies, slipping into the hall. Echo trails her and is about to say something when her attention is distracted by something out the window. Kara uses the moment to get away. She pushes open the door to the stairwell, and it clangs shut behind her, just as Echo’s calling out her name.

It doesn’t take long for her to figure out just what Echo was trying to warn her about. On the landing half a flight down, Adelle DeWitt stands. She looks a little bit disheveled, but the fire burning in Kara’s gut is much stronger than her observational skills right now.

“Bravo,” Adelle starts.

Kara stops her. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t snap your neck, right here, right now.”

The door creaks open behind her and Echo walks out onto the landing.

Adelle’s gaze focuses on Echo then moves back to Kara. “I know nothing I can say will change what I have done but--”

“You were going to sell my body to the highest frakking bidder!” Kara’s voice echoes harshly in the stairwell.

Adelle doesn’t flinch. “Rossum didn’t give me a choice. Join or die. They’d kill me and send someone in my place who would go through with their plans. But after what happened with Mr. Josephs… no… I won’t be under their thumb anymore. They will rain down hell on me, us, the entire Los Angeles Dollhouse for this, maybe even the city itself, but I cannot go along with this nightmare.” She swallows hard, and draws a handgun from her bag. She climbs three stairs, and presses the gun into Kara’s hand. “If you don’t trust me, I understand. But I do come bearing a peace offering.”

Kara’s gaze turns hard as she presses the barrel of the gun against Adelle’s forehead, her finger hovering on the trigger. “What could you possibly have to offer me?”

 “Why, Mr. Josephs, of course.”

---

Kara spends the ride back to 23 Flower Street staring out the window, trying to memorize the turns Adelle was taking. Paul and Echo had tried to insist on coming as well, but Kara made them stay behind, saying that if anything happened to her they needed to stay on the outside to keep up their fight.

She sinks back in her seat, feeling the gun pressed up against the small of her back, where she stowed it. Adelle’s head turns, and she opens her mouth as if to say something then seems to think better of it. In fact, she stays silent again until they’ve pulled into the parking garage. She pulls the keys out and hands them over. “All the tracking devices have been removed from this car. Use it when you leave.”

Kara slides the keys into the pocket of her jeans as they exit the car. As she looks around the garage, she’s struck repeatedly by the memory of Lee’s hand reaching out to her as she stepped down from the black van. He led her over to the elevator, and she knows she isn’t supposed to remember any of that but she does and it feels like a steel-toed boot to the gut.

“Mr. Langton has retrieved Mr. Josephs’ body from the Attic,” Adelle says.

There’s sorrow and shame in her voice, but Adelle doesn’t ask for forgiveness.

Which means Kara can’t have the satisfaction of denying her any.

She thinks she’d like to put a bullet in her just for that.

---

Adelle goes up to her office in the elevator and Kara waits five minutes before she descends into the Dollhouse. As the elevator muzak plays, she pulls the gun from its hiding place. She’s actually somewhat surprised to see that no one is waiting for her when the doors slide open. Her legs take over and she sprints through the atrium, up the stairs, and into the imprinting room. She sees Lee just where Adelle told her he would be.

In the Chair.

The sight is more horrific than she thought it would be. His face expressionless, he stares out into nothing—he doesn’t even blink when she steps in front of him, doesn’t move when she touches his cheek. If it weren’t for his chest rising and falling she would swear he was a corpse.

“Whoa. Hey. You are not supposed to be here. How… how did you get in here?” She looks up to see Topher in the doorway, and instantly raises her weapon. “Whoa! Gun! Um… could you, you know, point that thing in another direction and… you know… not at me?”

She’s standing toe to toe with him in a few quick strides. “You know where they’re keeping his memories?”

“…No?” She cocks the gun. “Yes, yes, actually I do.”

“Move,” she commands.

“Yes, ma’am.” He whimpers.

“You can call me sir.

She marches him back to the archives and after a few minutes he appears with the wedge, with Lee, in his hands. She shudders at the thought of him compressed into something so small and breakable. “You know I’ve never actually reversed the process before.” His voice warns and weasels like it’ll absolve him from any wrong move.

 “You’re going to do it, and you’re going to do it right. Otherwise, I’m going to start putting holes in every appendage in your body, starting with the shortest.” She aims the gun, which had been pointed at his chest, significantly lower.

Topher yelps and turns to his computer not-so-surprisingly motivated now. He’s clicking keys and the chair slides downward, blue light flowing over Lee’s features. Topher’s muttering something, but she doesn’t hear.

Doubts are too busy flooding her head. What if it’s like Helo… Paul? What if he doesn’t remember her at all? What if the only reason he protected Bravo at all was because it was his job?  The thought claws at her, making every second seem to drag on forever.

Topher clicks one button and turns back towards them. In The Chair, Lee’s body tenses, eyes widening for a moment before the dullness and emptiness fades away and it looks like he’s come back from the dead.

---

The world comes crashing back to him, two lifetimes worth of memories flooding him at once. The chair is easing him up into a sitting position, and as his vision clears, she is the only thing he sees. Half of his mind insists it’s Bravo, but when he looks up into her eyes and sees the fierceness burning there, the other half of his mind tells him it’s her.

She’s watching him, waiting for him to say something, but when he just keeps staring, she gets impatient. “Lee?” she breathes.

She says his name in a way Bravo never did, never could. The sound of her voice brings back flashes of stars and bright metal wings against the darkness of space. “Kara? Is it really you?”

“Whoa, hey. Accent. Gone. I-I-I didn’t do that!” Topher stammers out and quickly shuts up when Kara raises the gun again, never once taking her eyes off of Lee.

And before she can confirm with words what he’s now sure of, he’s on his feet and pulling her tight against his chest. He feels a shuddering breath leave her body as she rests her head on his shoulder, relaxing into his touch. As he leans his cheek against her hair, he thinks it should be weird. To Lee Josephs, Dollhouse handler (or ex-handler at this point), this should be weird; but the other memories, the older ones, tell him this is exactly how it’s supposed to be. “Gods, I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”

Kara slips one hand around the back of his neck and pulls back just enough to zero in on his mouth and seal her lips to his. Apparently, she’s thinking the exact same thing. He remembers waiting in the field, knowing she was never coming back but unable to will himself to leave, wishing he’d just had the guts to reach out, to touch her, to do this. He slips his hands around to Kara’s back, tugging her closer and he’s damn sure his hands are about to start seeking out the hot skin under her clothes when Topher—frakking Topher—starts in.

“Okay, okay. Makeout session out of my office. Out of this facility, actually… Now would be good.” He looks furtively towards the camera in the corner and gestures forcefully towards the doorway. Right before they leave, he calls out to them once more. “Hey, you know the appendage shooting thing you were talking about? Could you know… hit me somewhere not lethal? It’ll make my coercion story sound a little more reliable.”

Kara just rolls her eyes.

---

Los Angeles’s highways are bathed in yellow-orange streetlight as the black sedan cruises back towards the apartment. Kara’s hands are tight on the steering wheel (turns out cars on Earth? Not too different from cars on the colonies) and she can’t wait to put as much distance between her and the Dollhouse as she can. She casts a glance towards the passenger seat and sees that Lee is still watching her. He’s had his eyes fixed on her since they left. She almost wants to tell him it’s okay to blink, she’s not going anywhere. Not this time.

The radio is playing softly, crackling with static, and it fills some of the silence. It’s not that there isn’t anything to say; there’s too much, too many questions (which she’s frankly sick of), too many apologies, too many places to start. After another five minutes of driving she eventually settles on “Thank you.” She laughs because that sounds really pathetic after everything.

Lee laughs too, shaking his head. “I’m pretty sure I should be the one thanking you.”

They fade into silence again, and Kara sees the sign—one mile to the exit. The exit that will take them back to Paul and Echo, back to their fight, to taking down the Dollhouse—all the Dollhouses. The temptation to just keep going, pour on the gas, and drive until she can’t stay awake anymore is overwhelming. She almost does it. She would have if Lee hadn’t started talking.

“People never learn…” Kara raises an eyebrow at his sentence. “Copying memories… sticking them into new bodies… life after death…”

“…it’s Resurrection,” she finished.

“Rossum is just a couple of synthetic heartbeats away from recreating the Cylons. Or who knows… maybe something even worse this time.” He shifts in his seat to face her. “It’s just an estimate based on an article I read, but… it’s been one hundred and fifty thousand years, Kara. One hundred and fifty thousand years and-”

“All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.” She lets out a bitter laugh.

Lee sinks back into his seat, shaking his head. “Yeah.”

When they reach the off-ramp, Kara’s hand doesn’t hesitate as she hits the turn signal.

---

She pulls the black sedan into an abandoned alley, shrouded in the shadow of the apartment building. Kara kills the ignition just as another song comes on the radio.

There must be some-

“Home, sweet home,” she groans as she unhooks her seatbelt and throws open the door. She raises an eyebrow when Lee doesn’t do the same and strolls around to his side of the car, pulling his door open. Kara bends down, poking her head into the car. “Having trouble with your seatbelt?” she asks with a little bit of a smirk.

Before she knows what’s happening, his hands are tugging on her hips and she falls into his lap. One hand moves up to her face, thumb brushing over her cheekbone, and he’s smiling at her before he closes the distance between them with a kiss—hungrier and more demanding than earlier. He’s nipping at her lower lip and she can’t suppress the light moan that escapes her.

“Right here? Right now?” she asks, panting when they break for air.

Lee hits a button and the seat falls back and he pulls her down on top of him. “Ever since I got to LA.” His fingers tangle in her hair. “I just… I knew it was you. Somewhere, deep down, I felt it…” He is staring at her, drinking her in. “One hundred and fifty thousand years, Kara,” he repeats and the number seems unfathomable. “And I’m not going to wait one damned minute more.”

His eyes lock onto hers, blue and fierce, and she can read the question in them: do you trust me?

She pulls her knees up so she’s straddling his hips, pulling the car door shut and flicking the electronic lock. She cups her hands over his cheeks and leans forward, pressing her lips to his with her answer: with my life.

---

When Paul pulls the door open for them he lets out a sigh of relief. “You’re back. You’re alright.” And maybe for a moment he remembers something because he pulls Kara into a hug and it definitely feels like it’s from Helo rather than Paul.  When he’s let go of her, he turns to Lee and places a wide hand on the back of his shoulder. “It’s good to see you.”

Kara watches Lee’s face and sees the moment when he realizes what she did, their friend who isn’t quite the man they remember. But that last bit doesn’t seem to matter that much, as he returns the gesture. “Good to see you, too, my friend.”

Paul raises an eyebrow and draws back. “What happened to your accent?”

Kara snickers softly when Lee turns to her, eyes begging for some explanation to bail him out of this one. “You wouldn’t believe us if we told you.”

“They’re back? You’re back!” Echo is still tying the drawstring on her pants when she comes out of the bathroom, her eyes move from Kara to Lee and back again and she’s beaming. “You did it.” The glimmer in her eyes darkens as the joy passes quickly. “What about DeWitt?”

“I didn’t kill her if that’s what you mean.” Kara shakes her head. “I wanted to, believe me. But this is a lot bigger than what she did to us.”

Lee appears at her elbow. “If we’re going to take down Rossum, we’re going to need her help.”

Echo nods slowly, like she doesn’t like what they’re saying but can’t deny that they’re right.

“Were you followed?” Paul asks, craning his head towards one of the high windows. Kara shakes her head and Paul smiles that smile again. “Well then, I say we celebrate; there’s a bar about three blocks down.” He tugs on his jacket.

“Celebrate?” Lee raises an eyebrow.

“We got out.” Paul’s voice is pointed and proud because they’ve done the impossible. “It’s the beginning of their end.”

A grin crosses Kara’s lips and it’s the best—no, the second best—thing she’s heard all night. “I’ll drink to that.”

As the four file out into the hallway, voices barely lowered and definitely inconveniencing at least one sleeping neighbor, for some reason, Kara thinks it just feels right. As they head for the stairwell she feels a hand tapping at her shoulder. She turns her head to see Echo holding her right hand out.

“By the way, Bravo,” she says with a smile, “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. My name’s Caroline Farrell.”

She nods and grins as she grips Caroline’s hand in a firm shake as she introduces herself. “I’m Kara Thrace.”

The End

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