[Adama/Tigh slash - Spoilers for "The Farm"] - Rising from the ashes isn't as easy as it seems ...
After he's made sure Adama is steady enough to stand on his own, Tigh lets go of his elbow and watches his reception in the bridge. Follows everything carefully, because if there are any other creatures waiting to ambush him, Tigh is going to be ready this time.
Ready to throw his body in front of the bullet before it gets anywhere near The Old Man.
What happened that day is not going to happen again. Never, and Tigh is more than willing to stake his life on it. Glad even, to die for him and Tigh stands at stiff attention, his ears and eyes trained on every son-of-a-bitch in that room, watching ... waiting.
The sound of applause and a chant of "Adama! Adama!" thunders in his ears. Tigh takes mental note after mental note, stopping to examine Gaius Baltar a little more closely, those weak hands of his flapping together in little sarcastic movements. The creep's eyes roll at the second wave of chants -- he looks as though he might be happier somewhere else, Tigh realizes with a start ...
Looks as if he'd be happier if Adama were dead.
Immediately, Tigh's temper flares in a crimson burst of heat. In the old days he would have grabbed Baltar by the scruff of his neck and shook him until he showed the proper respect, but the game of life for human beings is far more dangerous now. Tigh can't afford to lose his temper -- not again -- so he reigns himself in with more than a little reluctance.
I'll deal with you later," Tigh thinks, turning his attention back to Adama.
He's making a heartfelt speech and Tigh's throat tightens. He means it, Saul thinks ruefully. He loves everyone one of them, even the ones who betray him and gods help us, we almost damned near killed him with our blindness to what was right in front of us.
We don't deserve him -- I don't deserve him, but he sticks with us, no matter what. That's why he's the leader he is and that's why Tigh's damned glad he doesn't have to playact the role of commander any longer. He's perfectly content to be where he is and forever grateful Adama's allowed him to stay there, in spite of all his frakups.
"Let's get back to work," Adama orders and Tigh falls into place, across the main reads.
But Adama seems unsteady. "I feel strange ... like ... closer to the ground."
Tigh swallows past the worry. "You should check in with the doctor."
Adama ignores him, choosing instead to take a quick scan of their current standing and then it's off to find that woman and the scoundrel Adama is forced to call his son. Long ago, Tigh wanted to love Lee, wanted to think that one day they could be friends, but that hope shattered long ago. Now he cares for him only out of love for his father, but by the gods, that boy pushes every last damned button Tigh has.
Tigh likes to think that he's gone too far this time, that Adama will finally lay down the law once all is said and done, but the mysterious relationship of a father and son is never to be understood, he supposes, by a man who's never had children.
Thank the gods for that small favor.
"Mr Gaeta, where do you think they are now?"
"The stolen raptor with Captain Adama and the former President ..."
"The fugitives," Tigh corrects the lieutenant and is gratified when Adama doesn't disagree with him.
But The Old Man's voice falters -- badly -- when he mentions the role his son is playing in this game of chicken between a crumbling government and the only thing keeping the entire fleet from meeting an abrupt and bloody end at the hands of an army of uncaring machines.
Which is the Galactica, as led by Bill Adama. A Bill Adama who's being battered body and soul by those he loves, chief among them his only living son.
He still loves the boy Tigh marvels, even as his heart aches for Bill. But then again, he still loves me and I've done more to hurt this fleet than Lee has. So far.
Adama orders a search and quarantine operation and Tigh rushes to implement it. This is the one thing he's good at, organizing the troops to follow orders and he revels in the chance not to be a complete frakup on this day.
He has a lot to make up for. Let it start now.
The schoolteacher's announcement comes over the wireless at what might have been dawn over his old barracks on Caprica, at least according to Galactica's universal clocks, those ones still set to Ordinary Time, even though that time is over now, forever.
The message is a mish-mash of Scripture and bullshit and Tigh doesn't bother flinching away from the clipboard an enraged Adama throws across the console after reading it.
Tigh tries to reassure him. "We've got five Raptors with marine fire teams standing by to board the Astral Queen."
"No one's gonna follow her. No one's gonna believe this crap. No one's this stupid," Adama proclaims, his jaw tight. "And anyone who is and wants to make a suicide run to Kobol -- please -- let them."
He's so alive at this moment, so /on fire/, Tigh can't help but simply stare back at him with what he knows is the stupidest, most blatant expression of adoration that's ever crossed his face.
Gods, he loves this man. He loves him with all that he is, all that he ever will be, and if ever comes the day he's forced to love him more, Tigh wonders if he'll be able to do it.
Chances are, however, that he'd find it in himself without too much trouble. Because after all these years ...
Bill Adama never ceases to amaze him.
As it turns out, people are pretty damned stupid, Tigh thinks, wincing at the readouts from Gaeta's console some hours later.
A third of the fleet follows after the fool and her court of jesters, jumping away to Kobol without a thought to the terrible dangers that await them there. Maybe they should have beamed Baltar's and Tyrol's ravaged faces over the wireless upon their return from there, or maybe they should have let that poor little specialist who lost her mind there rave a little while at them, just to show the idiots what they were in for on that toaster-infested deathtrap.
Still, the worst part of all of this is the expression on The Old Man's face when he hears the news.
He's heartbroken. It may have taken half a lifetime of togetherness for Tigh to be able to tell this, but he knows Adama's undone by the news. The Old Man loves them -- loves almost everyone -- in spite of their foibles and there's nothing left to soften the blow over what's happened.
Especially over his own son's betrayal.
Tigh lets Adama go, not running after him as he takes down the gally. He knows better than to stand in Bill's way when he's trying to cool down, but when the minutes turn into over an hour, Tigh goes off in search of him. Through the halls, back to Adama's quarters, hells, even into the munitions rooms where sometimes soldiers like to hide when every other place is booked -- but there's no Adama to be found anywhere.
Questioning a few people finally turns up results and Tigh doesn't bother knocking before entering the ship's morgue. No one ever goes in here, except for the poor saps assigned to body cleanup that day. Tigh is horrified to see Adama sitting on the ice cold floor, his head in his hands, curled up and crying beneath the laid-out corpse of the thing that shot him.
For a second, Tigh is unable to move. He's never seen Adama like this ... so broken and weak. The sight paralyzes him, but only for a moment, as it doesn't take long for his protective instinct to kick in.
He kneels at Adama's side, putting a hand on his shaking shoulder. "She fooled all of us, Bill."
Adama lifts his tear-stained face and Tigh's heart breaks. "But I still care," he sobs miserably. "I still care for her. And Lee. I even care for that idiot who calls herself the President."
"I know you care for them. And that's all right, because it's better than the alternative. Believe me, I know."
Adama makes a bitter sound. "How do you know?"
"Because there's only been one person in my life who's ever touched my heart and without that -- without you -- I'd be even more of a frakup than I am today. It's better to love, for as much as I scorn it, as much as it hurts ... I'm telling you, Bill, it's better to love, even those who would kill you in the end. Because without it, we're no better than those damned machines out there."
Adama wipes his eyes with a trembling hand. Thick desperation fills his voice. "What am I going to do, Saul? What in hells am I going to do?"
For the first time in a long time, Saul is sure he has the right answer. "You're going to come with me to my quarters and have a drink. We're going to talk until there's nothing left to be said and then you're going to spend the night in my bunk with me," Tigh replies firmly. "And I'm going to make you forget about all of this crap, at least until tomorrow."
A few quiet minutes pass. His lips quirk at the corners, but Adama doesn't sound convinced. "What about Ellen?"
Tigh chuckles dryly. "Ellen isn't talking to me this week. Something about me not being man enough to be her husband. She took off for Cloud Nine days ago. I don't expect her back for a while."
Adama contemplates this. Finally ... "We'll go to my quarters."
"Whatever," Tigh sighs. He balances his hand beneath Adama's elbow and lifts him to his feet without effort. Stands there and just looks at him, until pulling him into a close embrace, feeling the tension in Bill's body slowly release against him. Kisses his forehead and hears him whisper ...
"You know why I keep you around, Saul?"
"My gentlemanly charms?"
Adama pulls back to peer solemnly at him. "You always pull me onto higher ground."
Tigh's breath hitches. There's nothing he can say to this, so he doesn't try. Instead, he hooks his arm around Adama's waist and leads him out of the morgue, to the commander's quarters where they might be able to lock the door for the night and forget, if only for a little while.
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