Title: Error in Judgment; Part 5: Know Thyself
Author: Grace O'Malley PG-13
Word count: 2,517
Characters: Lee, Roslin, Adama
Archiving: The more the merrier, but please let me know so I can provide any corrections and/or additional parts.
Disclaimers: Not my world; not my characters :sigh:
Spoilers: Through KLG2
"... Redeem our hearts, that they may find peace in the midst of war--" Elosha in Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2.
Laura Roslin sat on her bunk, her legs stretched out along the thin mattress. "This isn't over yet, Captain. I know it may look like the end...but it's really just the beginning."
Lee regarded his cellmate with skepticism. "Did you have a vision?"
"Of this? No."
"I'm sorry." He felt guilty for taunting her. He might not share her unshakable conviction in their destinies, but he had begun to follow the logic which had led her--led both of them--inexorably to Galactica's brig.
"It's all right, Captain, really. I know how it ridiculous it sounds. I didn't believe it either, but the pieces just kept falling into place until I couldn't ignore them any longer."
"I just wish they'd tell us something." Lee began to pace. It was all he did these days: pace and do push-ups and sit-ups--something, anything, to pass the time and occupy his pent up energy. He let his voice rise to encompass the silent marines guarding their cell, "I want to know if my father is alive or dead. Is that too damn much to ask?"
"Orders," was all they would ever say. Whose damn orders? He wanted to know.
Laura's expression held concern and pain.
"Stop it," he said to her. "This isn't your fault. I made my own decision for my own reasons--and if I had it to do over again, I'd decide the same way."
"I know." She sighed. "But that's not the point is it? I pushed the crisis. It had been coming...well, since Ragnar, really. But I picked the time, and I only considered the impact on the fleet as a whole. I didn't concern myself with what it might mean for individuals--like you, like Lieutenant Thrace."
"I've been over it and over it in my mind, and I can't see how anything any of us did or didn't do could have stopped...that thing...we all believed was Sharon from shooting him."
When the door opened, Lee assumed it was just another change in the guard. Then his heart leaped into his throat when he realized the bent figure entering the door, leaning heavily on a walking frame, was his father. In his heart, Lee thanked the Gods.
Hunched over the frame, his father looked terrible. He'd lost weight, and skin hung loose at his throat. His hair had grayed almost overnight, adding another ten years to his apparent age. Love him or hate him, Lee's father had always been an indestructible fact of life. Even fearing the Old Man might be dead hadn't prepared Lee for this. For the first time ever the words "Dad" and "frail" sat side-by-side in the same thought.
But the bloodshot eyes were no less filled with rage than they'd been the last time Lee had seen them open. A marine brought a chair, setting it down a safe distance away from the cell, then saluted and left them in private. His father ignored the chair and stood close to the bars. He wouldn't look at Lee.
Lee's stomach tied itself into a knot.
The President did not get up, but her greeting was warm, "Commander Adama, it's good to see you on your feet."
From any one else in her position, the remark would have rung false. But Lee had no doubt that Laura Roslin meant exactly what she said. His father might have sent armed marines to threaten her life and take her prisoner, he might have had her locked up and held incommunicado, but she was genuinely glad to learn he was alive and able to leave his hospital bed.
She gave a half-smile and an almost imperceptible snort of amusement at his father's failure to use her title.
Lee had to try. "Dad--"
"I don't talk to mutineers."
Finally his father looked at him--with a glare of pure hatred.
"Ah," said Lee, determined, as always, to give as good as he got. "Of course. Why didn't I realize? A traitor is too good to talk to a mutineer."
"Traitor?" He gave a dismissive snort. "The time came for you to chose a side, and you chose hers."
They stared at each other for a long moment. Lee thought of a dozen things to say, but knowing all of them would fall on deaf ears, he didn't bother. He supposed his father was expecting him to grovel and beg forgiveness. If he did so, he'd be scorned; by refusing to do so, he found himself despised. He would never measure up in his father's eyes, and it was about time he stopped caring.
It was Roslin who ended the stalemate. She rose, and moved to stand between them. "Gentlemen, please." She turned a warning look on Lee who reluctantly moved away to sit on his own bunk. Then she refocused her attention on his father.
"You really don't know him at all, do you? He didn't choose my side. He doesn't agree with me or support what I did. He chose the one thing he values more than you. The thing you taught him to revere--the law."
His father had nothing to say to that.
Roslin returned to her seat; she kept her feet on the floor, legs crossed at the ankles.
Gripping the cell bars, his father didn't take his eyes off Roslin. "Why didn't you tell me?"
She ignored his question, instead asking one of her own. "I would like to know where my people are. Billy? Elosha? My security guards?"
His father cleared his throat. "They're confined to Colonial One."
"I see." She appeared satisfied with the answer. "And the Quorum? I expect they've been asking questions."
"I'll be addressing them as soon as I'm able."
"Good." She nodded approval. "That's essential. Are you planning to bring me up on some kind of charges? Am I allowed to know what they are? Or are you simply going to denounce me as a Cylon and have me put out an airlock?"
When she received no answer, she returned to musing out loud. "Although dragging me through a competency hearing in front of the assembled Quorum might not be in your best interests, there is merit in at least making a show of the form--"
"Why the hell didn't you tell me about your illness?"
"Since it seems you know, I guess I didn't need to." She shook her hair back out of her face. "Your doctor, I take it?"
"He needed my permission to have your medications brought to you."
"Of course. Has Lieutenant Thrace returned?"
Concern crossed her otherwise impassive face, and she hesitated a moment before saying anything. At some point, her desire to comfort overcame fear of ridicule. "She will. Don't worry."
"And you know this because you saw it in a vision?" He sneered.
"Yes." Her answer was completely matter-of-fact. "I don't always understand what I've seen until it actually happens--like being hunted by your marines. Not until it started did I realize I already knew. But I've seen Lieutenant Thrace on Kobol, and I know she hasn't been there yet. Therefore, she will return, and the people stranded by the Raptor crash either have been or will be rescued."
She nodded her pleasure at the news.
"We had an agreement." His voice was so low the words came out like a growl.
Lee had seen that look on his father's face before. Incredulity. He simply could not understand that someone might legitimately take a different view of whatever facts were on the table.
Roslin looked right back, with no apologies on her face or in her manner. "I don't recall agreeing that the civilian government served at your pleasure."
His father spoke through gritted teeth, "We agreed that I would have the final say over military matters."
"Ah yes. 'Military matters.' A fluid concept..." She sighed. "Didn't you understand that, at some point, a direct conflict between civilian and military priorities was inevitable?"
He grew agitated. "I couldn't have you suborning my personnel for your...fantastical whims."
She grimaced at his characterization of her drive to fulfill the prophecy and find Earth as a whim. But she responded with thoughtful, if blunt, advice. "Whatever you do, don't wait for me to die in your custody. If that happens, no autopsy will convince the press you didn't have me--"
A roar like a wounded predator cut her off.
Lee sprang off his bunk and flung himself toward the cell bars. Terrified his father would reopen his wounds, Lee was almost equally afraid his father was so angry he would try to physically harm Roslin.
Still ignoring Lee, his father looked around as if desperately seeking a safe target for his fury. He found one in the chair, which he picked up and hurled across the room, sending it crashing into the opposite wall. Then he half-collapsed over the walking frame.
When he caught his breath, he addressed Roslin once more, his voice no more than a hoarse whisper, "How could...you...allow me to make love to you, and not see fit to tell me that you're dying from cancer? How could you break your word to me, and send someone you know I care for deeply on suicidal fool's errand? How could you betray me?"
Roslin didn't flinch at either his action or his words.
Lee tried to remember how to breathe. Inhaling worked after a moment, but exhaling was harder.
Marine guards, who couldn't have missed the noise, burst in with weapons at the ready.
"I'm okay." His father waved them off.
Roslin stepped in as if she expected them to take direction from her, "Please replace the chair and help the Commander into it. We're almost finished here."
The guards looked at their commanding officer, who nodded that they should comply. When they were done, he told them simply, "Three minutes."
They saluted him and left.
Lee stayed where he was, but neither his father nor Roslin would meet his eyes. By this time, he was grateful to have become invisible. He felt like a small boy again, unsuccessfully trying to ignore one of parents' many arguments. Worse, he couldn't shake an unsettling memory of having once walked into his parents' bedroom at the wrong time.
His father shifted the chair closer to the cell and reached out to grasp the bars with both hands.
Roslin got up and went to him. She gently placed her hand over his father's whitened knuckles. Worry creased her forehead. "You've got to take care of yourself. Did you really think this through before you started it?"
She received no reply, but he looked up at her. Still angry, but...listening.
"You don't have the manpower to simply occupy the fleet, and you can't 'command' civilians. They won't obey; they must be convinced. You're going to have to lead them." She covered his other hand with hers and looked down at him. "You can do that. I believe you can. But if you're going to succeed, you'll have to become..." Her glance darted around the room, as if she was searching for the answer scrawled across her prison's walls.
She compressed her lips into a line, and redirected her gaze directly into the commander's eyes. "We both know you can be ruthless, but the question is: are you ruthless enough?"
His father was less skilled than the President at concealing emotion. He tore his gaze away from hers and appeared to be studying the Spartan cell. Two bunks, a metal toilet with no seat, a sink. Nothing more.
"I didn't tell you because I feared you would use the information against me."
He glared at her, but the pain in his eyes was something Lee had seen before. When Zak died.
Roslin capitulated, but her voice stayed level as always. "I didn't tell you because I didn't want you looking at me like you are right now--with my death in your eyes. When I reached for you, I reached for life. You made me want to live."
A long silence was punctuated only by his father's labored breathing. Finally, he spoke, "Do you need anything?"
"A change of clothes and a toothbrush would be nice. Also...I'd appreciate some kind of screen. I've gotten used to ignoring the guards, but I'd rather not have to pee in front of your son."
His father actually looked embarrassed.
"I'll take care of it."
He released the bars, and pulled the walking frame around so he could use it to help him rise to standing from the chair. He stood for a moment, just looking at her, sad and resigned.
Her slender hand, the nails groomed short and unpolished, reached out from between the bars to caress his cheek. "You look bad. Don't take on too much on too soon. You've got to get better; the fleet needs you now more than ever."
Eyes pressed closed, he turned his face into her hand and kissed the palm. He then turned away without speaking and began the slow shuffle toward the door.
"Bill," she called after him.
He paused, but did not turn around.
"I don't expect you to believe this, but I do love you and nothing is going to change that."
Shoulders squared and back as straight as the need to lean on the walker would allow, he completed the journey to the door and walked out.
She lingered for a moment, holding on to the bars and looking at the door.
"Well." Lee exhaled sharply. "That explains a lot."
Roslin looked at him, visibly struggling to keep her composure, but blushing crimson anyway.
Lee couldn't recall ever having seen her flustered before.
The first attempt a failure, she tried again. "Lee--"
"No," he cut her off. "Don't say anything. You don't owe me an explanation. You're both adults and you're both perfectly free, and it's nobody's business. Certainly not mine."
Roslin went back to her bunk to sit, but Lee chose to remain where he stood.
She opened her mouth to speak. Closed it again. Looked around, shifted in her seat, and tucked her hair behind her ears. Finally she succeeded in choking out a few words. "That's not how--"
Lee interrupted her by putting up a hand. He really did not want to hear just how his father and the President had intended to break it to him that they were lovers.
Leaning against the bars, he folded his arms across his chest. "Well, you know, if you do want my opinion, I think it's great. You're perfect for one another."
Her half-smile looked bemused.
"That's not a compliment," he added, and he meant it, but he couldn't suppress a grin.
Roslin started to laugh--a deep full-body laugh that left her shaking with her face helplessly screwed up.
There was nothing for Lee to do but laugh with her.