Bill felt a sharp pain in his head then he lost his balance and the world went black. He gradually regained awareness and realized someone was holding him. Only a moment later, he realized it was Lee. His son was calling his name and crying. His head still hurt, but he didn't think the injury was too serious. All his senses seemed to be intact. He reached up and tentatively returned his son's embrace. He felt Lee stiffen in his arms.
"Dad?" Lee pulled back a bit to look at his father. "Dad! You're not dead? My gods, you need a doctor!." Lee looked around frantically as if he could find a physician somewhere in the woods.
"Easy son, I'm all right," Bill was ecstatic but outwardly only smiled slightly.
Lee shook his head. That couldn't be possible. There was so much blood. He shrugged out of his pack and quickly rummaged through it for the med kit he knew was there. Pulling it out, he opened it and removed some pressure bandages. He pressed one against what seemed to be the source of the bleeding, and with another he tried to clean some of the blood from his father's face.
"Dad? Can you hear me?"
Bill smiled more fully this time. "Yes, son. I'm okay. It's not as bad as it looks." Bill could hardly feel any pain from the wound as he was so elated that Lee was behaving as a son rather than a CAG. Even if Lee wasn't aware of it now, and went back to his former aloofness later, it was worth it to know that deep down he did still care. Laura had been right. His son did love him.
Lee tried to take some deep breaths to calm himself. Obviously his father's brains had not been blown out…he was talking coherently after all, he told himself. He knew head wounds bled a lot but he'd never seen a fresh one up this close before. He kept wiping at his father's face and discovered much to his relief that it was all still there. The actual wound seemed to be limited to his left temple.
After a few minutes, he dared to pull back the bandage just enough to check and it was still bleeding. It was also really deep. He didn't realize there was that much subcutaneous tissue before you got down to the skull. He quickly replaced the bandage, both in an attempt to control the bleeding and to cover the wound, which he found quite sickening. At least the bullet didn't seem to be inside. It looked more like it had grazed a furrow there. Well, more than grazed, but at least it wasn't a direct hit.
Lee decided he needed to clean the injury, despite his aversion to seeing it up close again. He dug around in the med kit for what he needed and irrigated the wound, trying to be gentle, both not to cause his father pain and not to restart the bleeding. Then he applied an antibiotic ointment and secured a clean dressing over it. He knew it needed stitches but that was beyond his abilities. Cottle could take care of that back on Galactica. He sat back on his heels and looked at his dad. He seemed to be doing okay. "Do you want some water?" He grabbed his canteen and offered it to his dad without waiting for an answer.
Bill took it gratefully and drank a few sips. Gradually his world stopped spinning and he got his bearings. He tried to get up and Lee quickly grabbed his shoulders, stopping him. "Don't try to move, Dad," he cautioned.
"We need to find cover, son. I'm all right. I can walk," Bill insisted.
"No, we're safe here," Lee insisted. "At least for now." Lee looked around just to make sure. He knew all the pursuing Cylons were dead, but there could be more out there.
The underbrush was thick here. If they were careful, they wouldn't be easily visible. Of course, that meant their own people wouldn't be able to see them either. But Lee wasn't worried about that now. He helped the commander to his feet and got him into a semi-comfortable position with his back propped against a tree while he scanned the area for any additional Cylons or any signs of the other Colonials. He saw nothing but forest, heard nothing but chirping birds.
As he felt the stillness of the forest, he considered how upset he was when he believed his father was dead. It was overwhelming. A moment earlier he'd felt nothing but anger towards the man. Where had the feelings of deep loss at the thought of his death come from? For the first time, Lee considered how upset his father must have been, believing that his son had been killed by the Cylons and replaced. Maybe he had treated his father harshly, not given him a chance to account for his actions. He felt he should say something, but he wasn't sure what. He startled out of his reverie when he heard his father's voice.
"You were right; I wouldn't have had anyone else brought to CIC. I treated you unfairly because you were my son. I...I'm sorry."
Lee was shocked. His father was not only admitting he made a mistake but was apologizing? Maybe he did have a more serious head injury... He shook his head. He hadn't meant to make a joke, even privately. He obviously wasn't the only one who had been thinking in the silence. He just wasn't sure how to react to this degree of honesty from his father. Lee turned to face him as he continued to speak.
"Losing your temper isn't really a decision. It's more of a...an accident. I wish I could take it all back. It started when I got so angry with Laura...the President," he corrected himself, "for sending Kara back to Caprica. I was so sure she was dead." He took a deep breath before continuing. "I do care about her. I never realized how much. But...Lee, I...I don't wish that you..."
Lee couldn't stand any more of this. "Dad, you don't have to explain. I never should have said that. I didn't mean it."
"Yes you did," Adama replied evenly.
Lee looked up sharply, shocked by this calm declaration.
"And I can see why you felt that way. But it's not true."
"I know," Lee managed. He had a very fragile grip on his emotions.
Bill looked at his son, struggling for control. He was reminded of Lee's reaction to being told his father would never leave him. Lee was so overcome that he'd had to walk away. He wasn't going to let Lee walk away this time. There is a time for words, and there is a time when words are inadequate. He thought of something he'd once read. "One's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought to be distilled into actions which bring results." He reached out to Lee and enveloped him in his arms.
Lee returned his father's embrace, clinging tightly to the man he'd thought he hated, but now realized he loved. He couldn't deny it any longer. He loved his dad. He squeezed his eyes shut and buried his face in his father's shoulder, pressing against the rough fabric, feeling…safe. That was totally irrational, his father was wounded, there were Cylons everywhere, they were cut off from the rest of their team, but yet he felt safe. They clung tightly to each other for a long time. Silent apologies were offered and accepted. Finally, almost reluctantly, they let go. "We'd better get moving," Lee said and Bill nodded.
Kara was alerted to the potential for danger by a soft rustling of leaves followed by the sharp snap of a twig breaking. Then silence. Someone...or something...was out there. She made eye contact with Helo and whispered, "High - low," and they both took defensive positions. They motioned Billy, Laura and Sharon to take cover behind the trees. The leaves rustled again and they both emerged from hiding with their weapons drawn. They found themselves facing Chief Tyrol and the surviving marine that had been guarding Sharon. They all exhaled in relief and lowered their guns. "Chief! Thank the gods!" Kara said. Then she looked past him expectantly. "Where's the Commander and Apollo?"
Tyrol's eyes widened. "I thought they were with you!"
Kara shook her head. "We all got separated back at the tomb."
The Chief refrained from pointing out that he was well aware of that. For awhile he had been fearful than only he and the marine had survived. Then they began to find signs that others had recently passed the way they were traveling. He was hoping it wasn't Cylons. He had assumed finding Starbuck would mean finding Apollo as well. It gave him a very uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach to discover that wasn't the case.
Roslin stepped forward. "I'm sure they're heading towards the raptor, just as we are. We'll meet up with them sooner or later." She spoke confidently, despite her private fears. No one contradicted her. Not aloud, anyway. Everyone had their thoughts about what could have happened to them. Such things were best left unspoken. They continued on together and finally made camp for the night.
Bill and Lee carefully made their way through the forest, Lee holding to his father's arm to help him balance. When dusk began to fall, they made camp. Lee built a fire and warmed some rations. They ate, keeping the conversation light. Finally, they fell silent, staring into the fire.
"Why did you do it?" Lee asked quietly.
Bill was quiet for a long while. It wasn't that he didn't want to answer, it was that he wasn't sure which "it" Lee was referring to. The ill-fated coup, his treatment of Lee afterwards, his certainty that Lee was a Cylon copy. Bill finally realized that it didn't matter; they all ultimately happened for the same reason. "Anger. I was mad. I felt hurt, betrayed. I felt there was no one I could trust."
Lee had decided he wasn't going to get a response and was startled when his father started speaking. He silently considered his father's words. He grudgingly admitted to himself that perhaps he understood that feeling.
Bill waited nervously for Lee to reply. He wasn't used to sharing such personal things with anyone. He felt very vulnerable. It wasn't a comfortable feeling for a man used to commanding a warship. Was Lee going to shut him out again? Throw his actions back in his face? Remind him he was going to have to live with his regrets? What else could he say? Come on Husker, this may be your last chance. Don't blow it. Be a man. Tell Lee the whole truth. "I was wrong. Not because of how I felt, but because I acted on those feelings. I made poor choices because I let my emotions cloud my judgment. And yes, I have to live with it. I would bargain with Hades himself if I thought I could go back and change it. But I can't." His voice broke and he paused for a moment to recover his composure before he continued. "The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it."
Lee was amazed at his father quoting...what was that? "That's not scripture..."
"No. It's Kataris."
Lee took a moment to absorb that his father had memorized Caprican poetry.
"I can't change the things I've done, but I don't have to accept that I can't do better next time."
Lee looked up, realizing his father wasn't referring only to his recent mistakes, but to those long in the past. He wasn't yet ready to call his father a friend, but perhaps that day might come. He met his father's gaze and nodded slowly, knowing that he too had done things he couldn't change. "Fair enough," he whispered. He didn't trust his voice to say more.
They sat together in silence for the rest of the evening, watching the fire reduce itself to embers and listening to the sounds of the night.
The bedraggled Colonials stumbled through the underbrush and gave a collective sigh of relief when they spotted the raptor. They quickly gave it the once-over. It didn't appear to have been tampered with. Helo and Kara looked around, scanning the surrounding forest. Roslin approached them. "How long should we wait for them to show up?" She didn't have to elaborate on who "they" were.
"As long as it takes!" Kara responded.
"Lieutenant, we can't stay here forever. We'll wait as long as we can, but I don't see how we can spend another night here. Everyone else is accounted for; just the Commander and the Captain are missing. Do you think it's possible that..."
Kara interrupted her. "Don't say that. Don't even think it. They'll be here."
A sound behind them caused both women to jump and Starbuck spun around, instinctively drawing her weapon as she did so. Then she burst into a wide grin and holstered her gun while Laura Roslin stared in shock.
It wasn't just that the objects of their discussion now stood in the open raptor hatch, nor was it the bandage on the Commander's head and the dried blood on his uniform that was the source of the President's astonishment. It was the sight of Bill Adama standing there with his arm draped over Lee's shoulders, smiling like the cat that swallowed the canary. "My son and I are ready to leave whenever you are."
A large crowd had gathered for the ceremony. A hush fell over the room as Commander William Adama stepped to the podium. He tested the mike and then began to speak. "We have struggled since the attacks, trying to rely on one another. Our strength and our only hope as a people is to remain undivided. We haven't always done all we could to ensure that. Many people believe that the scriptures, the letters from the gods, will lead us to salvation. Maybe they will. But the gods shall lift those who lift each other. And so, to lift all of us, let me present once again the President of the Colonies, Laura Roslin."
The crowd applauded politely. This wasn't good enough for Bill Adama. He began clapping slowly and the crowd followed him, until there was thunderous applause throughout the room. He looked over the crowd. Within it were the people who were the most important things in his life. His trusted friends, his family. They were the reason he would never give up, not until they were safe. Safe on Earth.
Bill Adama headed towards his quarters, looking forward to sleeping in his own bed. The excitement of announcing the mission to Kobol had been successful had faded and he was exhausted. Plus the pain pill Doc Cottle had given him earlier was starting to wear off. He was about to enter his quarters when his son appeared at his side.
Lee licked his lips and visibly worked up his nerve before he spoke. "Dad? I was wondering..."
"Lee," Bill interrupted. He was about to say let's do this another time. He was stiff, sore, and in no mood to do anything but sleep. But then he saw the look on his son's face. It was hope mingled with the expectation that he would be disappointed. Again. Like an abused dog coming back to lick the hand of its owner. He remembered Cottte's grudging admission that whoever had taken care of him on the planet must have been paying attention when they were taught field medicine and the pride he felt in his son; waking that morning on the planet and realizing that, for the first time in days, he hadn't had that nightmare about Lee. Then he recalled Lee's anguished confession that he wanted Bill's presence in his life, not just as a child, but recently as well. He remembered his own wishes for another chance with his son, a chance to do things right. Now here it was. Maybe being a father meant you didn't get to sleep just because you were tired. He pursed his lips together and finished his sentence. "Why don't you come in for a nightcap?"
"One's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought to be distilled into actions which bring results." Florence Nightengale
"The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam