She gave him everything, he thinks later, sitting once again in his quarters with his head in his hands, and now in death she will take it all away. [Spoilers through KLG2.]
Disclaimer: Battlestar Galactica and all associated characters belong to people who are not me. I'm just borrowing.
Notes: For Kim's (stagelight311 at LJ) challenge for the BSG ficathon. Challenge details at the end. Thanks to Ysrith and Ancarett for super-speedy beta work.
The first day, William Adama locks himself in his quarters. Tigh says nothing, but, showing an unexpected tact, drafts both Thrace and Gaeta to fill in shifts. The former, far more subdued than usual, makes none of her typical mocking retorts. Lee Adama is conspicuously absent.
When the elder Adama emerges the next morning, at the start of his usual shift, no-one comments that perhaps his eyes are red, or he looks as though he has not slept. He resumes his command without explanation, but word has spread, quietly and quickly, and an explanation would have been unnecessary. Even if they don't talk about it, Galactica knows what the rest of the fleet only perhaps suspects. The troops give their commander his privacy.
Later, it is his son who stands with Billy Keikeya when the press conference is called, as the young man delivers the news that everyone already knows. The crew in CIC are careful not to look at Adama when the announcement is broadcast: At five seventeen yesterday morning, President Laura Roslin passed away. The President had been diagnosed with cancer six months earlier ...
The words are meaningless to him. His hands are white-knuckled on the edge of the console, but there are no eyes on him to see.
Keikeya is fielding a question one of the reporters has asked, about whether there will be elections now. The answer is, as it must be, yes; Gaius Baltar did not return from Kobol, and there is no further chain of succession now. But --
There is a startled gasp from someone in the room, and he realises, belatedly, what has just been said.
Captain Adama, what influenced your decision to run?
Lee is running for president.
- x -
She gave him everything, he thinks later, sitting once again in his quarters with his head in his hands, and now in death she will take it all away. The Arrow occupies a place of honour on the wall beside Kara's bunk, and he has seen the shadowed look in her eyes when her fingers touch it. He knows that look, remembers it from eyes of a different colour, hates it with unexpected passion, for it has stolen so much that was dear from him.
And now there is this. If Lee wins the presidency, he will lose his son again. He has always disliked politics, mistrusted it, but never before has he hated it quite so much.He hates her, too, a little, but he does not love her any less for it. In his life, love has always been complicated.
There is a knock on the door.
It opens to admit his son.
- x -
They argue, and Lee leaves before either of them does any more damage than they already have. On some level, Bill realises he's pushing his frustrations and grief and guilt off onto his son, but mostly he's afraid, and it's less complicated to be angry than admit to fear. Too much is slipping away from him, and he doesn't know how to hold on. It's always been easier before to let go and be strong, do his duty.
He's not sure he can let go, when they are all in such close quarters, and when the ship dims to its false night, he admits that to himself.
Forty-nine hours now, and an eternity already. Bone-weary, he lays down and forces himself to sleep, invoking disciplines remembered from time on the front lines in the last war, when every instant of rest mattered. Back then, he dreamt of dogfights with Cylon raiders; this night, he dreams of her. It does not surprise him, but for a moment upon waking, he forgets that she is dead.
When he does, the tears come, and though he feels like a fool, he cannot stop them.
- x -
The elections are held a week after her death. He takes the command shift, leaving Tigh free to join his wife -- Ellen has been a Zarek supporter since meeting the man, and insists on dragging Saul along to watch the polls. If anyone had asked him, (and they have had the sense not to, or perhaps his people have kept the press away) he could not have said which of the candidates he'd have preferred. It is Lee and Zarek, and there is no obscure third individual he could choose.
In the end, Lee wins, but the margin is slim. Galactica cheers for one of her own, but Bill is silent, and when he gives them permission to go and celebrate, leaving only the skeleton crew on watch, he once more returns to the privacy of his quarters, ostensibly to prepare a report for the new President. It will be all but useless, considering that in his dual roles as CAG and military advisor, Lee knew nearly everything that should be in it, but there is no-one to call his bluff.
His quarters are dark. He is in no mood for the fluorescent bulbs, and instead finds a half-melted candle and places it on a dish atop the low table. When he lights the wick, the flame plays across gilt and leather, illuminating the book he had all but forgotten about. He pulls it suddenly to him, tracing the cover with his fingers, running them along the binding, as though perhaps somewhere in the pages he will find something of her. He knows she never had the chance to read it -- she told him that once, a sheepish admission when they lay twined together in his narrow bunk -- and the notion is foolish, but his fingers do not still.
Some time later, he realises that the door to his quarters is open, and Kara is there beside him. She's hugging him; he understands suddenly that she knows what this is like, and understands too that she's offering him her support and comfort. He hasn't lost her. Perhaps he was wrong.
He puts an arm around her shoulders to return the hug.
"I'm sorry," she whispers.He is, too -- sorry for Laura's death, sorry for misunderstanding and misjudging, sorry for letting circumstance push those he has left away from him. His arm tightens a little.
All of this has happened before.
The memory of Laura rises in his mind, and though the pain is still sharp, the knife's-edge of the ache is less. He remembers that last night before she went down to Kobol, her gaze intense as she rolled over to look at him.
Believe this: no matter what happens, William Adama, I will see you again, in this world or the next. Days or weeks or even years, I would find you again, no matter what.
Believe this ...
And he does. Even in her death, even when she herself has been taken away, she has given him back the world. He imagines he can feel her smile.
But life is for the living, and he is not yet dead, is -- and he smiles suddenly at the thought -- still standing. He eases away from Kara, leans over to put the book on the table and blow out the candle. With only the light filtering from the corridor, the room is dim, but he can still see the confusion on her face.
He rises and straightens his uniform before offering Kara his arm. "I'd better go congratulate my son," he says, and echoes her smile when she rests her hand on his. Together, they walk from the darkness.
- finis -
Endnotes: The original challenge was either Adama Roslin and or Kara Lee (that's a lot of slashes in a row); while Kara and Lee are totally doing it offscreen in this, there's no evidence of it in the fic. The fic was required to contain (1) something concerning the civilians in the fleet, (2) main character death, and (3) angst because of #2, and could not contain fluff -- which is okay, because I can't write fluff anyway. At least, I don't think this was fluffy, and if it was, I grovel in abject apology. Hopefully #1 was adequately fulfilled. #2 made me squee far too much when I got the challenge. :D/