Three months later
The sound of a door closing roused Zak from sleep. He blinked and rolled over, coming fully awake as he realised the other half of the bed was empty. A thin line of light glowed under the bathroom door, and he could hear the shower running.
After a few moments he flicked on the bedside light and sat up. When Emma emerged from the bathroom she looked apologetic.
"I didn't mean to wake you," she said, sitting on the edge of the bed next to him.
"I'm glad you did," said Zak, smiling at her. "Means I get to say goodbye properly." He leaned forward and kissed her, sliding one hand into her hair to draw her closer.
After a few minutes Emma pulled away, smiling and breathless. "Zak, I can't. I have to go."
He grinned at her, running a hand along her shoulder. "You sure about that?"
He was pleased to see her visibly hesitate before she pulled herself together and shook her head. "I can't be late, today of all days. It's Cottle's last day on Galactica before he moves down to New Caprica and we're putting on a farewell party." She stood up and walked over to the chair where she'd left her clothes. "I'm sorry."
"Don't worry. I'm coming over to Galactica this evening anyway. Dinner with Dad and Lee." Zak grinned at her. "Think I could stay the night?"
Emma grinned back. "Of course. But no complaining about the lack of space in my room, commander." She pulled her t-shirt over her head.
"Wouldn't dream of it." Zak watched her for a moment in silence, plucking up his courage. The last few months with Emma had been some of the happiest of his life. Everything was so easy between them, so natural; and she filled gaps inside him that he hadn't even realised were there. She was everything he'd always wanted, although it had taken him a while to see it.
But today he had a question to ask her, and he felt nervous. He didn't want to push things too fast.
"About that," he said slowly, taking a deep breath.
"Well, now Cottle's moving down to the surface, you'll be doing your training down there, won't you?"
"Yes." Emma moved over to the mirror, checking her hair. "I'll be going down there twice a week and spending the rest of the time with Dr Marsh on the Rising Star. I thought I told you that."
"You did." Zak was suddenly impatient with himself. He needed to stop tiptoeing round the subject and get to the point. "But…what I mean is…there's no need for you to stay on Galactica now, is there? You could just as well live on Pegasus."
Emma turned to look at him, eyes wide. "Zak. Are – are you saying what I think you're saying?"
He nodded. "Will you move in with me?" He smiled nervously. "There's plenty of room."
"Oh well, of course that's my first consideration," said Emma sarcastically. She sat down beside him, scanning his face carefully. "Zak, are you sure about this?" She sounded suddenly vulnerable. "We've only been together a few months…"
"It's long enough," he said firmly. "Well, for me anyway. I don't want to push you-"
Emma laughed, her eyes bright. "No pushing required, believe me."
Zak relaxed, taking a full breath for the first time in minutes. "Emma, I'm sure. I want to spend as much time with you as possible. I love you."
"I love you too." She smiled, with a brilliance that momentarily took his breath away. "When do you want me to move in? Tomorrow?"
Zak laughed. "Tomorrow works for me." He kissed her, soaring on a wave of relief and happiness.
A few minutes later he lifted his head. "I thought you had to get going."
"Never mind that." Emma laughed and pulled him back towards her. "It's not every day the man I love asks me to move in with him. I think we need to celebrate."
Zak wasn't about to argue.
"Well, there's one good thing about everyone disappearing down to New Caprica," said Kara, resting her head comfortably on Lee's bare shoulder. "We don't have any trouble getting the bunkroom to ourselves."
"I suppose." Lee shifted slightly underneath her, giving her more space between him and the wall. The bunk was a tight fit for two.
"You suppose?" Kara propped herself on her elbow and looked down at him, eyes dancing with amusement. "Don't tell me you miss sneaking around in equipment lockers and my office."
"Of course not."
"You don't sound very sure." Kara couldn't resist teasing him. "Did the risk of getting caught turn you on? I never realised you had such a kinky streak." She stifled a giggle as he blushed. He was so predictable.
Lee heard the giggle and glared at her. "I certainly don't miss nearly getting caught. Do you remember that time Tigh almost walked in on us?" Kara felt him shudder at the memory and started to laugh.
"That was your fault. You picked the locker where Tyrol keeps his still."
"Well you didn't warn me!"
"I didn't realise which locker it was. You had me a little…distracted." Kara grinned at him wickedly. "Lucky for us there was so much junk in there to hide behind. I don't think he saw us."
"He didn't. If he had, we'd still be in the brig now." Lee grimaced. "I think that was the longest five minutes of my life. Certainly the most uncomfortable."
"But you have to admit it was funny. Wasn't it?" She poked him in the ribs, making him wince. "Come on, Lee. Admit it."
She grinned at him, and after a moment his lips curved reluctantly. "Well, maybe a little. But it's not an experience I want to repeat."
Kara allowed a worried frown to spread over her face. "Hm...I wonder if I locked the hatch…I really can't remember. Perhaps you should check-"
She broke off with a shriek as Lee pushed her against the wall and began tickling her unmercifully.
"Lee, stop that!" She tried to escape, giggling, but he had her firmly trapped.
"You stop trying to freak me out, then," said Lee, laughing down at her.
Kara pouted. "But it's such fun."
"Well, that's what I'm like. Always ruining your fun." Lee grinned unrepentantly.
"Very true." Kara scowled at him. "Killjoy."
"Pest," Lee shot back, sticking his tongue out at her. "But I love you anyway."
Kara's scowl faded, something melting inside her. It always did whenever he said that, even after three months. "That's a low blow."
"Good thing I love you too. Or I'd kick your ass for that."
"Promises, promises," murmured Lee, and kissed her.
Kara kissed him back, smiling. She still felt an odd sense of wonder and disbelief whenever they were like this, relaxed and close and laughing. She'd never thought she could feel so happy, so content, so…complete. She was even beginning to hope that maybe this would last, that it would work after all. That maybe Lee had been right when he'd said that she'd just been waiting for the right person.
Of course it hadn't all been plain sailing. They rarely went a week without some kind of argument. Mostly it was just bickering, but a few times it had been more serious. So far they'd always managed to sort it out though. In Lee she'd found someone as stubborn as she was, who refused to let her shut him out, who always seemed to find a way to provoke her into talking about what was bothering her. She wouldn't let him shut her out either; and she'd managed to get him to confide in her in return a few times, finally hearing the whole story behind his panic attacks. She'd never been much good at listening or being supportive, but for Lee she was determined to try.
Kara couldn't imagine her life without him now, but that thought wasn't as scary as it had once been. In fact, she wouldn't have it any other way.
Bill opened the hatch to his quarters and smiled to see his younger son.
"Come in, Zak. Interesting that you're always the first to arrive even though you live on another ship."
Zak grinned. "Well, I can't be late now I'm a commander. Looks unprofessional."
Bill smiled. "How are things on Pegasus?" He was sure they were fine. In the last few months Zak had more than justified his promotion. The Pegasus was run more efficiently than it had been since Cain's death, and he'd gradually but surely won the respect of the crew. Bill was proud of him – and he'd made sure Zak knew it. He wasn't going to make that mistake again.
"Pretty quiet," said Zak, sitting down at the table. "But then so many people have gone down to the surface – and I've got yet more discharge requests for us to consider."
"It's only natural. People want to start a new life, and after all they've been through I can't blame them."
"I know, but we need to keep enough crew to run the ships. Just in case-"
"-we haven't seen the last of the Cylons." Bill smiled. "Wonder where you got that suspicious streak from."
Zak grinned back. "I can't imagine. But I've got some better news for you as well."
"Really? What's that?"
"It's about me and Emma." Zak flushed slightly, looking both pleased and embarrassed. "She's moving in with me on Pegasus."
"That is good news." Bill sat down opposite Zak, looking at him curiously. "Sounds like things are getting serious between you then."
Zak nodded, smiling.
"I'm glad. She's a nice woman." Bill cleared his throat awkwardly. "You should bring her along to dinner sometime."
"I would have invited her before, but…well, I felt if I asked her I'd have to invite Kara too, and I wasn't sure if you-"
"If I could cope with seeing her and Lee together?" Zak was smiling, much to Bill's relief. "Dad, you don't need to worry. I'm fine with it."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, I can't deny it wasn't difficult at first. But it's not a problem any more. I'm with Emma now, and I'm far happier with her than I ever was with Kara."
Bill studied him closely, but Zak both looked and sounded sincere. "Good. I just wanted to make sure."
Zak grinned. "You're as bad as Lee. I think I've finally convinced him that I don't mind him being with Kara, but he still looks guilty every time I see them together."
"I'm still finding that hard to get used to myself," Bill admitted. He'd been stunned when Lee first told him. Lee and Kara…the idea had never occurred to him, and not just because he was so used to thinking of Kara as Zak's girlfriend. She and Lee were just so different, poles apart in personality. He hadn't been able to see it working, but it had been several months now, and they seemed happy.
Another knock at the hatch heralded Lee's arrival. He'd already heard Zak's news about Emma.
"Don't know how you convinced her," he teased. "Must have been the lure of those massive commander's quarters on Pegasus." Zak made to hit him and Lee ducked away, grinning. "Seriously though, I'm really pleased for both of you."
"Thanks, Lee," said Zak. "I'm pleased for you too." They smiled at each other, and something about it finally convinced Bill that everything was all right between his sons. He relaxed and went to serve the food.
"Not noodles again," joked Lee, as Bill put a plate in front of him, and Bill grinned.
"I'll have you know noodles are very nutritious. If you're going to find fault with the menu, you can cook next time."
Lee chuckled. "Forget I said anything."
Bill went to fetch his own plate. Part of him still found it hard to believe that he could joke with Lee like this now, the way he'd always done with Zak. It was a measure of how much things had improved between them, ever since their talk on the day he promoted Zak. He'd done his best to keep the promise he'd made that day, to be a better father to Lee. Since then they'd talked a lot about the past, about Lee's childhood, and Caroline, and why he'd run away. For the first time in his life Bill finally felt he was beginning to understand his elder son.
They still argued sometimes, of course, and Bill knew there were certain topics on which they'd never see eye to eye. But there wasn't the same bitterness to their disagreements now.
He picked up a bottle from the kitchen counter and put it down in front of Zak. "Can you open that?"
Zak went to do so and then stopped, staring at the label. "Dad, this is Aerilon ambrosia! I didn't realise there was any of this left."
"That just may be the last bottle in existence," Bill admitted. "It was an early retirement present from Saul. I've been saving it for a special occasion."
"What's the occasion?" Lee asked.
Bill smiled at him. "It's a year ago today that Zak found you again on Cloud Nine."
Silence fell for a moment.
"I didn't realise," said Lee finally, his voice sounding rough.
"Nor did I." Zak's hand shook slightly as he poured the ambrosia. "It's been a long year, hasn't it?"
"Certainly an eventful one," said Lee wryly, as Zak passed round the glasses.
"But a good one," said Bill firmly. "Because whatever else has happened, our family is back together again." He looked round the table, and smiled. If anyone had told him a year ago that he'd be sitting here having a happy family dinner with both his sons…well, he wouldn't have believed it. But he was. His family was back together, and he was determined that nothing was going to split them apart again.
He held out his glass. "To the Adama family, and fresh starts."
Zak and Lee clinked their glasses against his, echoing the toast, and they all smiled.
Author's Note: And so finally we reach the end of the story, which at times I wondered if I would ever reach, I thought this would only be about 20 chapters when I started writing it, LOL. However the main thing that motivated me to keep going and finish the story was the fact that so many of you took the time to let me know that you were enjoying the story - your enthusiasm and encouragement was wonderful and I really appreciated it. So a huge thank you to all you reviewers!