Title : Second Chances
Author : Helen C.
Rating : G
Summary : We're not really used to having civil discussions. The Adamas, post 33.
Disclaimer : The characters and the universe were created and are owned by Ronald D. Moore and Universal Television Studios to name but a few. No money is being made. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
AN. Huge thanks to joey51 for beta'ing this!
The CAP was going well. No need for heroics or acrobatic flying, no dodging bullets, no screaming in the comm., adrenaline pumping through the veins of the pilots, making them yell out commands and expletives. Nothing but circling around the fleet and trying to keep their eyes open.
It was downright boring, which was probably a good thing considering that non-boring, these days, involved launching every thirty-three minutes for a bit of nerve-wracking flying and shooting Cylons out of the sky.
They hadn't seen or heard from the Cylons for five hours now. It seemed that they had finally lost them—just as Lee was starting to wonder if this was what his life was going to be like in this post-holocaust war; launch, fly, shoot, land, jump, rinse, repeat.
Everyone in the fleet was probably starting to wind down, and presumably to catch up on their sleep. Everyone but the pilots, who still patrolled to make sure that the Cylons weren't just playing with them, and the people in CIC, still acting as their eyes and ears.
At some point, Lee thought idly, he should probably try to remember their names. It wouldn't do to call out for Kelly in a crisis, only to remember that Kelly had probably been blown to pieces along with the rest of his friends when the Atlantia had been destroyed.
Lee felt a yawn coming and tried to swallow it back. How ridiculous was it that after the hellish last week, his body could still manifest such a basic, human urge as yawning? It didn't seem fair; their civilization was gone and here he was, so tired he would happily shoot himself just so he could rest for a while without having to worry about anything anymore. The fatigue was like a physical presence, dragging everyone down, dulling reflexes and emotions and thought-processes, making everything blurrier.
Lee was actually starting to fall asleep with his eyes open, and only Starbuck's occasional prompts kept him from totally losing the battle against sleep.
"Nice weather," she'd say, every once in a while.
Or, "Hey, Apollo, it's just like the good old times, right?"
She didn't seem to expect any answer, was probably only doing it to avoid succumbing to sleep herself, but Lee still appreciated hearing her voice. Without her to break the monotony of the flight, he'd be frakking snoring already.
It was insane.
None of the pilots were in any shape to still be flying, and Lee would consider himself lucky if no one made a fatal mistake before the patrol was over.
Wouldn't that be a glorious conclusion to these first few days on the run? Survive the war, run for hours in constant combat mode on no sleep and then, once the toasters finally let up, screw up while landing and end up as road kill for the deck crew to clean up.
Of course, assuming they were able to get sleep soon (Lee was almost afraid to hope for it at this point. It was like a mirage in the middle of the desert; if he looked too closely, craved it too much, it would vanish just out of his reach), they would wake up in a new world, in a new life none of them wanted. The reality of the situation would start to sink in then.
For a moment, Lee almost hoped that that time would never come, but the alternatives were either dying, or spending the rest of his life sleep-deprived in the cockpit of a viper, so he supposed he'd just have to deal with it.
Truth be told, he wasn't far from being resentful that he had survived. Just because his father was the legendary Commander of the no-less legendary Galactica, Lee had been sent here against his wishes, only to witness the extinction of humanity. Now, he was stuck in a job he wasn't prepared for, and he had never felt so damn lost and alone—on a ship that wasn't his, commanding men he didn't know, men who only knew him as the Commander's son.
Lee shook himself, disgusted at his own train of thoughts.
Whining wasn't in his nature.
Blowing up in anger, wallowing in his resentment, making a mess out of things, sure. But not whining.
And feeling miserable didn't make him feel any less tired.
The voice over the comm. startled him. "Apollo, Starbuck. Looks like our time's up, boss."
Usually, Kara's tone would have been teasing or patronizing, or even insolent. This time, it was merely toneless, flat. Half-dead. Lee headed his viper back towards the Galactica on a terse, "Looks like," knowing he sounded as bad as she did.
At least, thank the gods, the CAP was almost over. If he didn't sleep soon, he was going to be sick and he'd really rather that not happen while still in his flight suit. Complete with helmet.
All the pilots managed to land their birds without damage. Lee spared a short moment to be thankful for their training. His flight instructor had once said that given time, Lee would be able to land with his eyes closed and only half his wits about him. At the time, he had suspected it was an exaggeration, but now that he had had the opportunity to put the theory to the test, he could see it had been true, to a point.
He climbed down the ladder to the flight deck, pretending his legs weren't shaking.
His only goal in life right now was to head to his office, then to a bunk somewhere—at this point, he could probably have slept on the floor, but he didn't think it would look professional, or even sane. Too bad, because it was damn tempting.
And of course, just as Lee was starting to believe, right down to his guts, that he was finally going to be able to sleep, a message blared over the speakers. "Captain Adama to CIC. Pass the word. Captain Adama to CIC."
Lee wasn't even surprised. The way his life was going, what would have astonishing would have been to actually make it to the bunkroom.
"Sucks to be you, doesn't it, Captain?" Starbuck clasped his shoulder as she walked past him, smiling cheerily despite the dark circles under her eyes. "The burdens of command."
He had a witty comeback prepared. Really, he had. Actually saying it, however, would have required more energy than he was prepared to spend, so he shrugged and made his way to CIC, hoping there wasn't another crisis in the making.
To Lee's relief, there wasn't a crisis threatening—nothing beyond the fact that they were on the run with very little resources to call their own, at any rate. For a fleet of ships reduced to fleeing the Cylons, they weren't doing too bad. The Commander merely wanted to hold a brief meeting so that "everyone was on the same page"—whatever the hell that meant.
Lee managed not to fall asleep during the half hour he was held back from his rack, which was good. He also went out of the meeting without remembering what had been said, which was less good. He could only hope it hadn't been important.
Just as he was heading out of CIC, the Commander called him back.
Lee didn't sigh audibly but some wariness must have shown on his face. "Are you okay?" the Commander asked, eyeing him with a frown.
"Yes, sir," Lee said, wondering if his tone was as short as he feared it was.
The Commander, gods damn him, looked like he had actually caught some sleep at some point in the last hours. Lee shouldn't have felt jealous—surely, the fleet needed his father in top form if they were to survive. Still, it was starting to look like he was stuck in an uninspired nightmare where what he craved the most was denied to him, and he wasn't enjoying it.
Desert. Mirage, his exhausted brain supplied, and he barely managed to hold back a hysterical laugh.
"Do you want to grab something to eat?" the Commander asked.
Lee blinked at him. "Eat?" he repeated, feeling as blindsided as if the Commander had suggested a nice evening stroll on the beach, and what the frak was wrong with him for such a comparison to even cross his mind?
The Commander gave a brisk nod to the door. "Yes, eat. You sure look like you could use it, and I can't remember when I last had anything."
Lee really didn't want to do anything but sleep. Come to think of it, if he ate before he slept, he was pretty sure that something bad was going to happen.
The Commander was still looking at him expectantly. "I…" Lee tried to gather his thoughts. What the hell did the Commander expect? What was he supposed to say here? "Is that an order?" he eventually blurted out.
Okay, that hadn't been quite what he had wanted to say, but it seemed like the filter between his mouth and his brain had totally given up on working for the day.
Hurt flashed briefly across the Commander's face before neutrality settled in. "No, Lee," he said, slightly stressing the name. "It wasn't an order."
And of course, now, he had frakked things up without even meaning to. "I…" he started. But really, what could he say? About the last thing he wanted to do right now was grab a bite with his old man. Not when he could barely stand unsupported, not when he was fighting nausea, not when a headache was starting to creep up on him uninvited, just… not now.
The Commander turned and left on a dispirited "I'll see you later," while Lee was still trying to find a way to articulate his thoughts. He was left standing like an idiot near the door, thinking about all the ways in which he could have handled the situation better.
Lee entered the pilots' quarters feeling like… well, like the world had ended and he hadn't slept in days and his father had just offered that they eat together, which he hadn't done since long before Zak's funeral. After the divorce, Lee had spent a lot of time and energy convincing his father that his attempts at mending their relationship were neither wanted nor welcomed, and at some point, his father had taken the hint and stopped calling. Lee should have been happy about it—not everyone won a horn-locking contest with the great William "Husker" Adama—but the dawning realization that he had managed to drive his father away had made him more miserable and bitter than he had expected to be. Miserable enough that he had reconsidered his position and allowed his father back into his life for a while, but then Zak had died and everything had gone to hell again.
And here they were, tentatively on speaking terms again and already their communication issues were rearing their head again. Just great.
Had he managed to slam the door closed for good, or was the damage repairable this time?
"Lee?" Kara asked from her bunk.
He turned to her slowly. "What?"
She leaned on an elbow. "You've been standing there for six minutes without moving. I counted. Did you fall asleep standing?"
Lee considered the question. "Possibly," he admitted at last.
Kara shot him a worried look. "Are you all right?"
Lee took a step to his rack, then another, and finally, he was able to sit down. "I don't know. I… My father wanted us to go eat something."
Kara huffed. "Now?"
He nodded. "I…" I may have frakked things up. Slightly.
He heard her whisper, "Oh, for frak's sake…"
When she didn't elaborate, he added, "I honestly have no idea what went down, and I have no idea what I'm saying, and I should really…" He trailed off, lying down carefully.
"The two of you will figure it out," Kara said. "He takes good care of his family."
His family. His whole crew. The one Lee didn't feel like he belonged to. The one Lee had spent a lot of time resenting, because his father was so much better at taking care of them than he was at taking care of his sons.
"And if you don't figure it out…" Kara added, letting the threat hang there.
Lee tried to say he got the message, tried to make a joke about her punching superior officers, but now that he was actually lying down, his body was giving up the fight to stay awake.
The last thing he heard before he sank into a heavy sleep was Kara's muttered, "Men!"