Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Disclaimer: Moore’s the man with the master plan.
Summary: Lee makes a series of increasingly melodramatic mistakes. Laura forgives him anyway.
“This is a mistake,” Lee says. The words feel empty in his mouth, hollow, like he’s repeating words he sees on a screen.
Of course it’s a mistake. Lee’s first mistake was making a special visit to Colonial One and being rebuffed. President Roslin was in a meeting. With his father, and could he come back? She would like to see him sometime when she was less busy with urgent matters.
But this is a mistake. She can’t erase him by being too busy for him. Or by hoping he’ll be too busy with his own work to recognize that she’s avoiding him.
His father can go to Tartarus. His father is monopolizing the president’s time, always asking advice about this and that as though she always mattered so much to him. Lee starts to pace back and forth. He can wait them out. Frak it.
“You’re going to wait?” Billy asks, wandering back into the antechamber where Lee is pacing.
“I’m not getting put off. I want to see her,” Lee says. “My father can spare ten minutes of the president’s time, I’m sure.”
Billy snorts. “He’s leaving in about six minutes,” he says. “Usually, she gives a press conference around now, but it’s been a slow news day today, so I think it’s been postponed until tomorrow.”
“And she wanted me to come back?” Lee asks. “Frak, Billy.”
“I don’t know why,” Billy says apologetically. “Maybe she’s not feeling well. The president does have cancer, Captain Adama. We try to keep her comfortable.”
Lee nods and sits down. Sure enough, his father walks by after about five minutes, and looks surprised to see him.
“I wanted to see the president,” he says awkwardly. “Just to check in.”
“She’s doing fine,” his father says.
“I’d like to see that with my own eyes, sir,” Lee replies crisply, watching his father carefully. Is he in on it? Though what it could be, Lee can’t imagine, because whatever President Roslin is, she is not a victim. “I haven’t seen much of her since our return from Kobol.”
“It’s hard work, putting the fleet back together,” his father says. “When’s your next patrol?”
“Two hours,” Lee says. “I’ll be on time, sir.”
He sidesteps his father then, and marches down the hall, resolve doubled. The president is avoiding him. Why is she doing that? What’s wrong with her? What happened?
“Billy, please tell him to go away,” he hears her say as he enters the stateroom that serves as her office and living quarters. “I can’t…not today.”
“It’s a mistake,” Lee says, and the president jumps. “This is a mistake. Avoiding me.”
“Captain Apollo,” the president says, turning and nodding. “I see that you’ve decided to disobey orders.”
“The time was when you appreciated that,” Lee says, trying for humor. She fixes him with a coolly disdainful glance. “Why are you avoiding me?”
“Why are you trying to make a classical tragedy out of overwork and illness, Captain?” Laura counters smoothly. “I’m busy, I’m tired, and I have a limited amount of time to do what I need to do. Please explain how any of that is a personal insult aimed at you.”
“We’re friends,” Lee says. “I’m worried about you. No one ever sees you. My father sees you. Billy. Doc Cottle.”
“That’s three people right there. The press sees me on a daily basis. I attended the unveiling of the blackbird,” she says in that precise, icy voice that Lee knows and hates. “Again, I fail to see the personal insult.”
“It’s not an insult!” Lee says. “But you’re hiding. Don’t tell me you’re not withdrawing. My father told me you gave back a book he gave you.”
“I’d finished it,” she says, her hands folded in her lap as she watches him.
“You’re going to die soon enough as it is,” Lee says helplessly. “Don’t leave us already. Don’t leave me yet.”
The room was now full of awkward, static silence. Lee wishes he could be swallowed up into nice, black space, where he did not have to look into Laura Roslin’s blue-green eyes and keep breathing, knowing that she is sitting there, living with death and not needing him to be a giant blustering ass at the moment.
“Don’t leave you,” she says flatly. “Captain Apollo.”
“I’m sorry,” he says. “It was a melodramatic thing to say, but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t…why you’re so distant.”
“Overwork. Exhaustion. The needs of the Colonial people, such as they are,” Laura replies with grim determination. “I have work left to do, Captain. There’s no time for a genteel retirement for health reasons. Nor do you or anyone else have time to hold my hand on my deathbed.”
Lee shifts uncomfortably. It was a mistake to come. She is right, and he knows she’s right, but it’s heartbreaking to know that they have to pretend she isn’t going to drop dead in the middle of a meeting, or worse yet, spend her final hours or minutes in agonizing pain knowing she was needed. That there is nothing anyone can do now except play along with her, to maintain morale.
“I shouldn’t have come,” he says.
“No, you shouldn’t have,” she replies easily.
“I miss you,” Lee says. “I liked working with you. I didn’t love what we were doing, but it’s easy working with you.”
“We do well together,” Laura says with a smile, relaxing her posture the tiniest amount. “But missing me? Really? I thought you were miserable on our rebellious adventure.”
Lee lets out the breath he’s been holding. “I don’t know anymore,” he admits. “I thought when the fleet was reunited, it would be simpler.”
“Aren’t they?” she asks, tilting her head. “No more demands on your loyalties to your father. You’re still the CAG. Your life is no worse for having committed mutiny, Captain.”
“I think,” and Lee looks at her closely. At the sheer weariness that is hiding behind the neat posture and careful pose. “Are you all right?”
“Dying,” she says laconically. “Otherwise fine.”
“I wanted to save democracy,” Lee says, crossing the room in three steps and stopping right in front of her. “I was doing what my father said and trusting my instincts. Believing in our way of life. And now I think, maybe…”
Frak. Every time he says something, it comes out as either melodramatic or stilted. Why is this hard? Why can’t he say what he’s thinking without it turning into a blank wall of awkwardness, right now?
“I want to save humanity and lead them to Earth,” Laura says, looking up at him. “It’s not a crime to want to do great things, Lee.”
He sits down next to her, thanking the gods he doesn’t have to kneel, because Lee and melodrama are taking a break during this already melodramatic encounter, and he leans over and kisses her. Which takes the president entirely by surprise, apparently, because she manages to say, “What?” before understanding and turning her head to catch his mouth at an awkward but somehow enjoyable angle.
“Lee,” she says, turning toward him in her chair. “This is a mistake.”
“I know,” he says, and there’s her mouth again, shutting them both up before they can ruin everything with awkwardly expressed platitudes. She is soft, compared to the dignified posture, the cold voice sending him off. His hand fits around her neck, tilting her head the tiniest bit as her tongue licks across the front of his teeth before parting them.
Gods, he’s missed her, missed this. She’s always so light in his arms, and Lee feels the distinct desire to lift her up out of her chair and into his. Her hand is tangled in his hair and Lee has started molesting Laura’s favorite spot just underneath her ear, licking at her earlobe occasionally and listening to her breath catch.
She grabs him by the chin and kisses him again, warm and needy, and Lee could hate himself for loving this. This time he runs his hand over her hip, and she snorts and stands up long enough to sit down on top of him.
“We were going to stop,” Laura says, wrapping an arm around his neck and pulling him close to her.
“I can’t,” Lee says, running his hands over her back. “Can you?”
She kisses him again, deeper, while her arm pulls him closer and one of his tugs at her blouse and slips under it, resting right against the warm skin at the small of her back. Her hair is ticking against his face and Lee wants more, even though in the entire time they’ve known each other, there have only been four times when they’ve been able to frak, and three of those times were during their incarceration and escape.
Laura strokes his arm, kissing her way across his jaw while Lee abandons her back to stroke the outside of her thigh through the slightly scratchy material of her skirt.
“We can’t,” she murmurs into his ear. For a split-second, Lee thinks she’s acknowledging that they have been unable to stop their affair, but then cold, dry reason reminds him who he’s kissing.
“I know,” he says, nuzzling against her, the tip of his tongue tracing her cheek. “This is risky enough as it is.”
“I want to,” she says softly, her hand running over his chest unabashedly. “Oh, gods, I want to, and I had almost convinced myself I could live without seeing you again.”
Lee laughs. “We’re both very bad about keeping our word when it comes to each other,” he says, putting his hand on her hip. “How long?”
“No way to tell,” Laura replies breathlessly as Lee’s hand moves purposefully downward at a forty-five degree angle. “No.”
“Not enough time?” he asks.
“Not quite enough, no,” she says. “Too hard to explain.”
“You’ve got a fever,” Lee suggests.
“Shh,” Laura replies, seizing his face between her hands and kissing him deep and hard enough that Lee can’t do anything but kiss her back. “Tomorrow. Whenever I can see you.”
He takes her wrist in his hand and pulls it to his lips, to kiss the palm of her hand. To tickle it with his tongue, and she lets him, even gasps and wriggles at the sensation, but the sparkle is fading from Laura’s eyes and Lee is frustrated but somehow less at odds. That empty feeling he had, the awkwardness of not knowing what to do, that’s all gone now.
She pulls her hand away, kisses him on the lips half-chastely, standing up on wobbly legs, done with this encounter.
“I don’t want to leave,” Lee says, looking up at her, flushed and smoothing down her hair.
“You can’t stay,” Laura says, not unkindly. “You have a fifteen-hour patrol, and I have a fleet of refugees to save, and time is not our friend, Captain Apollo.”
“Tomorrow,” he says, standing up and kissing her hand. “I promise.”
“Don’t promise,” she replies, looking at him fondly. “There’s nothing you can promise that tomorrow can’t undo, Captain.”
“I promise,” Lee says again, trying to smooth his hair slightly. “Tomorrow and as many days as come after.”
He nods to her; she smiles and waves him away. This time Lee goes.
It’s a mistake, they say, every time her eyes meet his and Lee finds himself pinning his president to a bulkhead on Galactica, in a storage room on Colonial One, in a bunk on the Astral Queen. There is no time for romance at the end of the world, they say. But whenever Lee is on the ropes, rolling the hard six (as his father says), he makes the same mistake.
Lee knows he makes Laura happy, lifts a small part of the burden she’s taken on herself, and more than anything he’s done since the Cylons came, easing her pain, even a little, seems to be the best thing he could do.
Even though it’s a secret.
Even though it’s put Lee against his father, against everything he’s known.
Even though it’s made him aware how discontent he is in the uniform, and how much they need him on Galactica.
Someone comes running up behind him right before he gets into his Viper, and for a moment, Lee is sure it’s the president.
“Captain Adama, the president,” Billy says, giving him a note. “She says that in two days, she would appreciate your company on the Rising Star. They’re having a science fair.”
“Tell the president I’ll be in attendance,” Lee says with a nod. Billy nods back and leaves.
Two days. Lee opens the note.
“You promised tomorrow twice,” is all that it says in her handwriting.
Two days. Hell of a wait, but Lee is sure it’ll be worth it.