Author's Note: What did we miss in the month between Sacrifice and The Captain's Hand? Too much, IMHO! Anyway, this scene materialized in my brain and wouldn't leave until I wrote it down. It's short and it's my very first BSG fic...I hope you like it. There are now a couple more scenes after this one. I will get them up soon.
Lee spent most of his time sleeping. He figured it was because of the medicines they gave him, but he didn't care. Sleep meant not feeling the pain and not having to think. He wasn't ready to think yet. It took too much effort. He didn't want to think about Kara.
Kara. What about Kara? She had plainly said that there was nothing between them. Did he think differently? Had he ever? Kara was confusing. She was all sharp edges and loud words. She always had his back, though and he always had hers. That's what best friends did. Except on Cloud Nine. He still didn't know exactly what happened, how it had happened. He was instinctively trying to help Kara but he didn't have a weapon. What was he thinking? And what was she thinking? Shoot first, ask questions later, same as always. He knew it was a mistake, of course. An accident. She must feel terrible. He had watched her watch him fall. She was so stunned that the marines had to practically drag her out. He had expected to find her there beside him when he woke up. But she hadn't come. Part of him was glad. Another part felt betrayed. Another was simply bewildered. Sleeping was better. Sleep silenced all the parts.
Sometimes when he woke, Dee would be there. Dee was quiet and calm and comforting. She fed him ice chips and held his hand. She talked softly, telling him the latest pilot gossip. He wondered absently how she knew so much, and then realized of course that she monitored communications. When you were on CAP, sometimes you forgot that someone else was listening. He still wasn't sure of his feelings for Dee, but found he didn't mind her ministrations. Maybe he should give things with Dee a chance. She certainly seemed to think he already had. What did he have to lose?
Other times, he would wake to find his father there. In fact, the elder Adama came a lot. Maybe every day. Maybe more. It was hard to know exactly. Time was blurred with pain, narcotics, and boredom.
Admiral Adama had been shaken by the sight of his son lying pale and lifeless in the lounge on Cloud Nine. He had almost lost his son. Again. He made time to stop by sick bay often, even when there wasn't time. He watched his son sleeping, watched his chest rising and falling. He watched the tracing of his heartbeat on the monitor. He held his son's hand and felt the warmth of his body. These things reassured him that his son was alive. Occasionally Lee would wake up and seem pleased to see him there. He always asked how Lee was feeling, and Lee always lied and said, "Fine." Then Adama would tell his son about the problems of the fleet, the state of the air group, things a commander would discuss with the CAG. Partly because he wanted to keep his son informed and partly because he wasn't sure what else to talk about. Work had been his life for too many years. However, now he had Lee and slowly they were rebuilding their relationship. Perhaps the CAP rotation between Galactica and Pegasus wasn't the most intimate of topics, but one had to start somewhere.
Lee lay quietly, listening to his father's voice. He was pleased in a way he couldn't quite define that he was being kept up to date. He knew his father wasn't expecting him to make decisions or give orders, but it was nice not to be left out. He had also gotten to know his father well enough over the last few months to realize this was his way of showing that he cared. Sometimes Lee listened with interest. Other times, like now, when his mind was clouded with pain and drugs, he didn't really hear the words, but was comforted by the sound of Adama's voice and his reassuring grip on his hand. He had a vague memory of his Dad being there on Cloud Nine, shouting his name and gripping his hand. He squeezed his father's hand a bit tighter as he remembered doing it then.
At that point, they were interrupted by someone pulling back the curtain and approaching. Lee glanced over, hoping suddenly that it was Kara. He tensed involuntarily, unwittingly clenching his hands into fists, when he saw that it was actually a nurse with her hands full of supplies. She arranged them on the table near his bed, and then laid her hand on his arm.
"It's time to change your dressing, Captain. Admiral, do you mind waiting outside?"
"I'd prefer to stay," he replied quietly.
"Don't you think your son would like some privacy?" She wasn't used to visitors who refused to leave when asked.
Adama stared at her and stated evenly, "If my son wanted me to leave, he would let go of my hand."
Lee realized then that he was in fact still holding his dad's hand, clinging on like a scared child. He was mortified. Yet he couldn't seem to let go.
While Lee was trying to figure out how to get his brain to tell his hand to unclench itself, the nurse was mulling over the idea that apparently neither man wanted the Admiral to leave, so what harm would it do if he stayed. She nodded to the elder Adama that he could remain and began opening the packs of gauze she'd brought. When she had everything ready, she injected a dose of pain medication into Lee's IV, then began to carefully peel the tape away from the gauze covering his chest wound. Lee felt himself start to fade and his grip on his father's hand relaxed slightly.
Soon the nurse had all the tape off and she removed the thick pad covering the site of the injury. Adama watched in horror as she started to pull gauze packing out of the wound. Lee flinched and tightened his jaw as she began. Maybe she was correct; he should have left. He didn't consider himself a squeamish person, but the sight of the long strips of bloody material being removed from his son's wound was sickening. He took a deep breath and returned his attention to his son's face. Despite the medication, Lee was obviously in pain. His jaw was tightly clenched, his eyes were squeezed shut, and every once in awhile he would flinch or gasp and his hand clenched his father's tightly once again. Bill felt he should say something to comfort his son but he had no idea what. Everything that came to mind seemed hollow and false. It's all right. How could he say that, when it was far from the truth? It's almost over. He didn't think that was too near the truth either. He risked a glance back at the nurse and instantly regretted it. The pile of discarded bloody gauze had grown impossibly large and she continued to remove more. Was the wound that deep? He told himself he was not going to look again.
"That's all of it," the nurse spoke as she removed the final piece. Lee sighed and Adama brushed the hair back from his forehead.
Lee's respite was short-lived as the nurse had soon discarded the old dressing and changed into fresh gloves. Now she was ready to repack the wound with clean gauze.
Lee tried to brace himself, but he still jerked back against the bed when the first piece was inserted. "Take some deep breaths, Captain," the nurse soothed. "Try to relax. Imagine you're someplace else."
The young captain tried to comply but it wasn't easy. First off, taking a deep breath hurt, thanks to the location of the wound. Second, relaxing was out of the question, despite the medication he'd been given. Finally there was that suggestion to think of someplace pleasant. They'd tried that with him before. Some of them even offered suggestions. Hadn't he gone to the beach, or fishing, or to an amusement park as a child? Well, actually yeah, he had. However his mother and brother had been there too, so those memories no longer qualified as happy ones. Maybe one day they would again, but he wasn't there yet. There were a couple of times he'd gone somewhere with his dad when his mom hadn't been along, but of course Zak had come. Usually these were trips to the spaceport. His Dad had loved showing his boys around there. He even had a picture of the three of them in front of his viper. Nope, he did NOT want to think about that. Facing his physical pain was preferable to experiencing his intense emotions and profound grief. Wincing again as more gauze was packed into the wound, he decided maybe he wasn't sure which was the lesser of the two evils after all.
Adama continued to hold Lee's left hand in his own and placed his right hand on his son's shoulder, trying to soothe the pain as best he could with his presence. He wasn't very good at this. Caroline had always been the one to take care of the boys when they were hurt. In fact, he had rarely even been around when it happened. Lee had needed stitches a couple of times and fell and broke his arm once, but Bill hadn't been home. He had a new respect for his late wife as he imagined what it was like for her to see her child in pain and not be able to do anything to make it stop. The most he'd seen of the boys when they were hurt was a skinned knee or scraped elbow. He'd always told them to be brave and not cry. Warriors didn't cry. He was wrong. Warriors were human just like everyone else. Well, most of them were. He wondered what Lee would think if he knew his father had wept over a dead Cylon.
Lee was struggling not to cry out. Did he remember what he'd been told as a child? Was he still trying to be brave for his father? As Bill watched, a tear slipped from under his son's tightly shut lids. Lee turned his head quickly as if to hide it or brush it away in the pillow and a small groan escaped his lips. Bill squeezed his shoulder. "You're doing fine son, I know it hurts." The words were out before he realized it. He hadn't meant to let Lee know he had seen.
Lee was at first taken aback, but then found his father's words oddly comforting. He wondered why. The nurses had said virtually the same thing on occasion, their voices dripping with sympathy. It hadn't helped when they had said it. Was it different just because his Dad said it? No, that wasn't it. It was how he said it. Not cloyingly. He had just stated it matter-of-factly. Then it dawned on Lee. His father knew. It wasn't just some platitude, he actually knew. The memory of his father lying wounded in sick bay sprung unbidden to his mind. Had they done this to him? Had he cried out? Shed tears? Shouted curses? He was totally nonplussed. The idea of his father being anything but stalwart was completely foreign to him. Even though he'd visited his father briefly a few times, he hadn't seen him conscious and in pain. The mental image of his father undergoing the same treatment he was now experiencing was so disconcerting that Lee was unaware of the last few strips of gauze being packed into his chest wound. The next thing he knew, the nurse was taping down the final bandage. She stepped away for a brief moment and returned with a damp washcloth. Lee's face was covered with a sheen of sweat and she began blotting it off.
Bill reached for her hand and met her eyes. "Here. I can do that." He took the cool cloth from her and continued sponging Lee's face and neck. The nurse smiled as she relinquished the cloth, wondering how he had managed to distract her patient so completely there at the end. Seeing that Lee's vital signs were stable, she left him in the capable hands of his father.
After the nurse had gone, Lee opened his eyes and looked up at his dad. He had so many questions, but he was too exhausted to voice any of them. The coolness on his face felt so good. Lee saw the answer to all his questions in his father's eyes. He saw his father's love. He smiled and closed his eyes again and drifted off into the waiting arms of Morpheus.
Bill stayed for some time after he was sure Lee was soundly sleeping. He had seen the anxiousness in his son's eyes. He didn't have the words to reassure him, but Lee had understood all the same. He watched as Lee's expression changed to one of contentedness and then he saw something new. He saw his son's love for him. Pride and hope swelled within him. Maybe he was going to get the hang of this fatherhood thing after all.