Title: Loose End
Rating: PG-13 for language.
Spoilers: Everything up to Unfinished Business. AU.
Notes: Born out of a conversation with Lyssie about how Billy might have taken some exception to how Lee reacted after Kara's marriage. Love to her for the beta!
Summary: Billy and Lee have a chat.
Billy was laughing with Maya and waving something shiny at Isis when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lee Adama stumble into camp. He kind of hated that he knew where the man was at all times, but six months into this weird, betrayed, cuckolded role he'd fallen into, he still did.
Which was odd because he actually had let Dee go. After a good deal of soul searching - compounded and enabled by the three weeks of bed rest after being shot in the chest - it had become abundantly clear to him that the whole relationship hadn't been working. The realization had come at two in the afternoon, a week or so after he'd been shot, during a particularly grueling session of walking down the corridor. He'd been gritting his teeth and trying to think of anything besides the stabbing pain in his chest and belly that was radiating down his torso and legs, when he'd realized that he wasn't thinking about Dee. He hadn't been missing her or wishing that she were there. What he'd really wanted had been to be able to walk down the corridor so that he could go tell Tory off for frakking up his filing system. The epiphany had jolted him. So much so, he'd lost his balance and tripped over his own sickbay slippers.
Luckily, Ishay had been holding his elbow and shadowing his steps, otherwise he'd have gone right over into a bulkhead.
Later, when he'd had the chance to actually sit and think, he'd realized that no. Dee had been someone to cling to. Something beautiful and idealized that was somehow apart from all of the pain and shit and death that had been going on around him. She'd been the pretty girl who smiled at him and kissed him in the middle of a crisis. He realized, hands folded across his face and curled in one of the Colonial One recliners, that he looked forward to seeing her, but that he loved her more when she'd been on Galactica and he'd been on Colonial One.
She'd been the ultimate pinup girl who he sometimes got to touch. And that hadn't been fair. Not to her, and not to him.
Seeing her still twinged a little, but he knew that it was his pride and insecurity that were aching and not any lasting desire to Have Dee As His One And Only. Actually, it had been kind of a relief to not have to schedule his days and shifts off so he could get over to Galactica.
Still, he often found himself being able to pick Lee out of a crowd, mostly without trying. He'd thought that particular habit had gone away since he'd migrated down to New Caprica with Ms. Roslin and the rest of the previous administration's political staff.
Thinking about it, though, it had probably been more of a case that he'd had no contact with the man since landfall.
Billy watched Adama, noting the obvious hangover swagger with some distaste, as the other man stopped to speak with Admiral Adama. Isis, annoyed that her shiny thing had stopped moving, squawked loudly at him and he turned back to make a face at her and hand the bit of polished metal over.
"Are you sure you can keep her later, Billy?" Maya shifted the girl higher on her hip and helped the child hold a little tighter to the toy. "You're sure you don't have plans? I saw you talking to Jean last night..."
That made him smirk, but he shook his head. "No, she has stuff to do tonight. Three's okay? I have some extra work to get done in the school tent later, and I want to get breakfast."
"Billy, you don't have to work in the school. It's the day after Founder's day!" Maya rolled her eyes at him. "Take the day off, honey."
"No rest for the wicked, Maya." He waggled his fingers at the baby and her mother before turning back, half-formed plans of a shower and breakfast screeching to a halt as he watched Kara Thrace and Lee Adama be guilty and avoidant at each other over a crowing Samuel Anders and a benignly smiling Admiral Adama.
And then Lee smiled, said something, and started walking determinedly away. Towards a newly landed shuttle. Towards Dee.
The anger that everyone had expected him to feel, the anger he'd been surprised he hadn't felt welled up in him, strong and with enough force to knock him sideways. It exploded inside him, and before the rest of his brain could catch up and point out that this was a very badly thought out plan, and oh hey, Lee Adama was a trained soldier who actually knew his way around a gun, and could it mention that he was the second highest ranking officer in the Colonial Fleet, Billy double-timed it across the parade grounds and bodily haul the shorter man behind the closest tent.
"You frakking frakker!" Later, after he was icing his knuckles, Billy wondered just where he'd learned to punch. Prior to the rather dramatic right cross, the only thing Billy had ever managed to hit was his older sister when she'd stolen his first pencil case in first grade. And that hadn't been very successful. Cottle, in all his wisdom just snorted and told him not to tuck his thumb under his fingers next time, and he wouldn't break his damn thumb.
Lee didn't hit ground, but he certainly looked more than a little blurry by the time he struck back. The punch was expected, but it still hurt like frak. Still, Billy was grimly pleased that he hadn't gone down either. Just staggered a bit before being tackled by the smaller man. That distant part of Billy's brain is finally letting itself be loudly known, but it's a bit too late, and Billy grunted as Lee hit him again.
And then he did something that would get him beaten with sticks if anyone else found out. Or killed. He jerked his knee up and nailed Lee right in the groin. He didn't have all that much leverage so he didn't hit him very hard, but it was enough to get a whimper out of the other man and make him roll to the side.
Billy took a moment to consider the sky. Yeah, that about summed it up. Still, he didn't want to get the shit kicked out of him. No, he had other fish to fry, and being beaten black and blue wasn't part of the plan.
Quick as he could, he rolled over and up and crouched a few feet away, watching as Lee's eyes watered and he scrabbled at the dirt. He should have probably felt some kind of guilt at the sight, but then he remembered Starbuck's face and the determined way Lee had been marching for the shuttle landing area. Any type of sympathy or soft feeling froze, and he continued to wait.
Eventually, Lee sat up and turned to stare at him.
"What the frak is wrong with you, Keikeya?"
"You know what's wrong with me." He kept his voice low and careful. The initial adrenaline rush was gone, but the anger was still there, roiling around just under the surface. Strangely, it felt damn good. "You know exactly what's wrong."
The other man winced while getting, very gently, to his knees. He glared at Billy and then smirked. "FRAK, it's been a six months since Dee dumped you! What, did you wait all this time just to ambush me when I was hung over?"
"No," Billy stared at him, deadly serious. "I'm talking about how you probably just frakked Kara Thrace, got your heart crushed, and how you were about to run over to Dee and do something dramatic like throw her over your shoulder and go stake your claim just to show Starbuck that you don't need her."
He's pretty sure that if he'd walked up behind Lee and hit him with a board, he couldn't have surprised him more. Lee quickly tried to cover it, but the reaction had been real. So had the sorrow. Billy almost felt bad for the guy. Almost.
"You're wrong." Lee said, straightening his spine and going back to glaring. "That wasn't the situation at all."
Billy snorted and stood, having decided that Lee wasn't going to go for his knees any time soon. "Then explain it to me, Commander. Give me an insight into your pole-axed expression and determined walk."
Okay, it's possible sarcasm wasn't the best approach. This was evidenced by Lee's suddenly stony expression and how he clawed his way to his feet, looking exactly like a pissed off soldier should. Billy sighed and was suddenly glad that he was still in the mood to stab the next person who walked by.
"Like you give three fraks about me and what I was doing last night. You know, I finally let my guard down around you. Looks like I'm extra stupid." Lee shifted gently from one leg to another, as if testing his weight. "Still, I didn't figure you for a surprise attack. Too honorable and too noble. Dee always said you were too sweet to be real. And that's why she picked me."
Any and all sympathy Billy might have had for the man and the situation with Starbuck went out the airlock.
"Yes," he heard himself say. "She picked you. Dumped me and rolled right into your bed, even though I'd been shot in the chest and died twice on the operating table. She picked you."
Lee had the humanity to wince and tuned down the attitude. Not that Billy really cared.
"Look," Lee started, shifted uneasily before straightening his spine and looking away. "I don't care why you hit me. We'll call this whole thing even. I have a transport to catch."
"No. No, I have a few things to say to you before you go find Dee and go back to Pegasus."
"Well, I've got nothing to say to you. Gods, leave me the frak alone. We're settled and I'm dating Dee and I want to leave. Whatever grudge you're holding is useless because this is over."
Billy shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. "No. This isn't done. Dee and I as a couple? Are over and buried. But this isn't about that. This is about Dee being my friend and the way that you're about to frak over someone that I loved quite a bit. And I would be a shitty human being if I let you walk away and do that."
"Gods, this is bullshit!" Lee glared and turned on his heel, trying to move as quickly as his sore groin would let him.
"Fine, you're dating my ex-girlfriend. You made a specific play for her, even though you knew I was dating her. And you're going to leave in a few minutes and disappear with her back to your contained little life on Pegasus. I don't even frakking care. But you are going to actually think about what you're going to do to that woman before you put her through the meat grinder that is yours and Kara Thrace's frakked up relationship."
That pulled Lee up short. Forced him to turn around and shake his head. Billy didn't even let him start.
"What you're about to do is wrong, Adama. It's wrong and degrading to her. You want to throw yourself a pity party about whatever Starbuck just did to you? Fine, but have the balls to not drag Dee down with you."
The other man turned a light shade of angry red and spun back around, fists tensing at his side. "Why do you care, Keikeya? She left you for me."
Billy glared. He might have been over Dee, but the part of him that was all male pride still smarted from not even rating a 'Dear John' note across the wireless. Still, Lee was just trying to strike back and come up with reasons to not actually listen to him. Dee deserved more than that. Right. Time for brutal honesty. "And that was her choice. Was I pissed? Yeah. But she deserves the universe handed to her on a frakking platter, and if you're just going to frak her over? Because Baby Boy Adama can't get what he wants after that bird has already flown? Too frakking bad. Grow a pair."
Lee blinked at that, stumbling little. Billy didn't know whether it was the hangover or actual shock, and he didn't much care. Still, it made the other man pause before responding, "Why do you even care? What does it matter? She's not coming back to you!"
Gods, was Lee really so pigheaded he still wasn't getting the point? His temper fully online, Billy let himself loom over the shorter man and will him to pay some frakking godsdamn attention already. "And I wouldn't take her even if she crawled. Because I'm not what she wants. And yeah, she wants you. I'm doing this because she is amazing, and if you're too stupid to realize it? You're a bigger idiot than I thought. She's my friend first, Lee. Maybe you should try to remember that."
Surprisingly, the smaller man leaned back a bit before glowering and moving back to his original position. Huh, Billy thought. Maybe I'm learning something from the Pres- Ms. Roslin after all. Billy straightened into full intimidation. "You owe it to her and yourself not to drag her into a full relationship until you're sure it's what you want."
He leaned in so that their noses were almost touching, and he nearly growled. "Be the man you want to be, Adama. The man Dee thinks you are. Love isn't all about lust or fate or any of the other frakked up ideals you've got running through your head. Love is a partnership, where you look at the person you're with and know that they've got your back. It's being with someone because of who they are, not because of who you want them to be. It took me a while, but I know what Dee and I had wasn't love. Infatuation, sure. But not love. "
Lee looked mulish for a second or two. "What do you know about-"
"Love?" Billy snorted ironically. "My parents were married for thirty-four years. I had three sisters and a brother, and you know my very last memory of my parents? They were holding hands and smiling as they got on a transport to Picon so they could be near those sisters and my brother. I got a full up-close and personal view of a relationship that worked. Of two people who fought and loved and compromised and, at the end of the day, liked each other. You want to know what I know about love? I know that I don't want to settle for anything less than that."
He took a deep breath, surprised to realize it was almost a sob. Gods, he hadn't thought about his parents, really thought about them since the attacks. He couldn't. But this was important. "I know that my father never, ever would have frakked a woman and then gone to my mother. That's low, Adama. That's wrong."
He shook his head and backed off. He'd said his piece, and from Lee's expression, given him something to think about. Good.
"Look," he said, body and voice suddenly tired. "What goes on between you and Dee is your business. Gods know I probably won't talk to either of you ever again, but you need to think about this. Don't just react. You said yourself that you're hung over. Go get some sleep."
He sighed and turned away, ready to leave the whole thing behind. He'd said what he'd meant to. Done what he could. He'd owed it to Dee. To the woman who'd kissed him when the worlds ended, reminded him that there was something else.
"She told me she loved me. And she married him." The words were soft in the cloudy morning, a confession of sorts. Billy winced, but didn't look back.
"Then she's more frakked up than you'll ever be. Let her go." He walked away then. Moved past the half-empty tents and groggy people who were just stumbling out and starting their day. His hand and face were throbbing unhappily, but it was okay.
Billy kept walking. After all, it wasn't his business. Not anymore.