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!


Part Two

The screeching of metal against metal briefly deafened Lee. He clenched his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut against the grating sound.

Then, the spinning came to a bone-jarring stop. The harness kept him in place but didn't stop his head from hitting the back of his seat, hard.

Lee opened his eyes and blinked into the aggressive light of the deck, his breathing ragged and loud under the helmet. He shook his head softly, still feeling the effect of the crash landing.

By the time he had gathered himself, people were pushing the canopy open. He managed to convince his fingers to release their death grip on the stick and raised his head to the rescue team. Sound came back with a vengeance—dozens of questions shot at him by a dozen people, all wanting to know how he felt and could he hear them and could he move? How could he not have heard them before?

He raised a hand. "I'm fine," he said. He reached for his helmet, but hands were already busy easing it away.

"Lee!"

Kara's shrill call near his ear made him flinch. "Damn, I hear you, Starbuck. I'm fine."

He craned his neck to meet her eyes, surprised at how frantic she looked. "You weren't answering your comm."

"Sorry," he said. He heaved himself out of the viper, vaguely aware of people moving around him—some away from him, giving him space to reach the deck, others moving closer, ready to catch him if he fell.

Once he was safely on the deck, he waved away the other pilots and the rest of the deck crew.

"Nothing to see here," Starbuck said, still too loud for Lee's comfort. "Get on with your job!" She turned to Lee. "That was one hell of a hit, Apollo."

Lee nodded and made his way out, avoiding looking at his bird. He'd read the report later, when he felt steadier. The adrenaline rush was over, slowly replaced by the stunned realization that he had almost died again.

The fact that he hadn't been able to sleep more than a few hours before the alarm had blared across the ship probably had a lot to do with the fact that he wasn't reacting more strongly to the shock. He was just too tired to waste energy freaking out.

"Lee, you sure you're okay?"

He took the time to smile at her, knowing she must be about a hair's breadth away from dragging him to Life Station. "I feel fine. I just need to sleep for a few more hours."

And honestly, he sounded like a broken record saying that, but it didn't make it any less true.

Kara still looked unsure. "Apollo…"

"I'm fine," he repeated in what he hoped was a definite tone. Then he headed to the pilots' quarters, knowing her well enough to know that she was probably shaking her head and glaring at him. Which was fine with him, as long as she didn't actually stop him from reaching his bunk.

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Two hours later, he wasn't so sure he was fine anymore. In fact, he was damn sure he wasn't, since he was throwing up violently, desperately squeezing his eyes shut against the pounding headache that had taken residence somewhere behind his eyes.

Shit.

Maybe skipping the trip to Life Station had been a bad idea, after all.

He couldn't even stand on his own anymore and he didn't relish the idea that someone was going to find him passed out in the head, which seemed like the most likely possibility now.

And if the reason why he felt so shitty was a concussion, Kara was going to murder him.

Almost as if thinking about her had summoned her, Kara stepped into the room, and froze upon seeing Lee.

For a short, blissful moment, there was silence.

Then, Kara started swearing, walking to him and putting a hand under his arm. "Let's get you to Cottle," she said.

She didn't waste time calling him an idiot, but then, there would always be time for that later.

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Lee either passed out or fell asleep shortly after Cottle finished his examination, past caring that Kara was glaring daggers in his direction and that Cottle was muttering under his breath about idiotic pilots with more guts than brains.

He came to some undetermined time later, his father's worried voice bringing him back to the world with an unpleasant lurch.

"What's wrong with him?"

"Same thing that's wrong with every damn pilot, Commander. They're exhausted and in shock and hitting his head when he crash landed made for a nice headache to top it off." Cottle's tone was brittle and annoyed—which, as far as Lee knew, was how it sounded by default.

The Commander's voice was equally annoyed when he asked, "He'll be all right?"

Lee briefly debated letting them know that he was awake, then decided against it. His father on his own would be bad enough, but he didn't feel equipped to deal with both the Commander and Cottle.

"Yes, he will."

Lee felt someone step closer to the bed, heard a sigh, then the steps moved away.

There was a long silence before Cottle said, "I know you're playing possum, Captain."

Lee opened his eyes reluctantly.

"Nice of you to join us," Cottle said, grabbing a chart and a pen. "How's the headache?"

Lee thought about that for a moment before answering, "Better," relieved that the pounding in his head seemed to have abated.

"Yeah, well, you're lucky you didn't knock your head harder. It doesn't look like the concussion's too bad, but we're going to keep an eye on you, just in case. Two days." He shot a look at Lee, as if daring him to complain. Lee kept silent.

Cottle nodded as if Lee had passed some kind of test and left the room without telling Lee that not coming to Life Station had been a stupid thing to do. Lee briefly wondered if they had struck some sort of deal without spelling it out—do what the doc says and he won't call you a bonehead too often?—then gave up the fight against sleep.

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To Lee's surprise, his father came see him again during his second day in Life Station.

It was unnerving to wake up and find someone next to his bed. It was even more unnerving when that someone was his father, who was definitely not one for fuzzy conversations or hand-holding.

"How do you feel?" his father asked when Lee focussed on him.

"Fine, I guess," Lee replied.

His father, he noted, seemed as ill-at-ease as Lee felt. He wished things weren't this… difficult between them, but then he supposed years of nothing but shouting matches and power contests explained a lot of the awkwardness.

"Good."

Neither of them talked for a while. Lee wondered if he was supposed to say something, and actually considered, for a few seconds, apologizing for the way he had reacted when his father had offered that they eat together.

His father spoke up before Lee could find the words. "You should have told me you were so tired."

"Everyone's tired," Lee retorted. "We couldn't spare anyone, you know that." And I didn't get hit because I was tired, and you know that too. It was just bad luck that my viper was damaged and that the landing was difficult.

And why did every discussion with his father include the words should have? Why the hell couldn't they get past that stage?

"No, we couldn't." His father sighed. "I just… Well, I know you're in a command position, but you need to keep in mind that there are people you can turn to in this kind of situation."

Lee spared a thought to wonder which William Adama he was dealing with. The Commander talking to his CAG, or the father talking to his son? Not that it changed his reply. "Sure."

Of course, both Adamas were well-known for their total inability to ask for help, under any circumstances.

His father nodded as if he had expected the answer. Lee didn't point out that everyone he could have turned to during the last crisis had been as tired and overwhelmed as he had been. His father knew that, as did his Commander.

"I should go," his father said.

"Thanks for coming," Lee offered.

His father looked like he was about to say something, then thought better of it. "See you later, son."

Two minutes in the same room and not any yelling, he thought. Zak would be so proud.

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Kara dropped by as Lee was being discharged, the timing too precise to be coincidental.

"Afraid I'll get lost on my way to my quarters?" Lee asked.

"Well, you are new on board," she said agreeably. "Wouldn't want you to wander the hallways all night, after all."

He bit back a smile. "Yeah, that'd be bad."

He listened patiently to Cottle's last instructions—"Don't bang your head for a few days, and get some more sleep"—then allowed Kara to lead him back to their shared quarters. His mind kept replaying his last conversation with his father. All the conversations they'd had ever since the attacks, actually—first tainted by anger and resentment, then swallowed in awkwardness and stilted words that meant nothing and that sure as hell didn't touch on the subject they needed to talk about.

Kara had to shove him to get his attention. "Hey!"

"Sorry," he said automatically. They had reached their quarters while he was lost in thought, and he followed her inside in silence.

"I heard the Commander spent some time in Life Station yesterday," she said, making a beeline for her bunk and hopping in.

Lee would have been annoyed, but he knew how things worked on battlestars. The rumors were pretty much the only thing alleviating boredom during the long missions.

"Yes," he said, not offering anything more. He sat down next to her, hands clasped on his lap.

"How did it go?" Kara was keeping her tone light, but Lee could feel the underlying tension.

It was a strange thing to be among these people, who knew his father as their Commander, and who were on his side. To them, Lee was at best an idiot who didn't know how lucky he was or at worst an asshole who went out of his way to disappoint his old man.

Back on the Atlantia, Lee had been surrounded by friends and colleagues who took his side, or at least tried to understand his reasons when they didn't agree with him. He missed that support.

"It was weird," Lee said.

He had said some unforgivable things at Zak's funeral, and even when he had first come aboard the Galactica. And what was worse, at the time, he had meant them. He was starting to regret them, starting to regret the wedge he had dug between his father and him, but what was done was done.

"We don't really know what to say to each other," Lee added for Kara's benefit. He smiled sadly. "We're not really used to having civil discussions." We're more used to screaming at each other, and throwing accusations around, and disappointing each other. Let's not forget the disappointing part.

But Kara knew that. She had been there at the funeral, and later, and despite the fact that she was close to the old man, she had never called Lee and idiot, even when she must have thought it.

"Well, at least, you're trying," Kara said. Her implied, It's about time, made Lee grimace. "I guess. I mean…"

She meant he hadn't yelled at his father for days now. He hadn't exactly handled the situation gracefully either. Lee had spent so many years being mad at his father that he had forgotten how to be anything else and being dead on his feet didn't help.

"I'm still pissed at him," he told Starbuck. As if she didn't know. She had listened to more than a few of his rants.

"I know. The two of you are way too stubborn for your own good."

Lee smiled a little sheepishly. In many ways, he missed the days when he was still a teenager and he could blame all his problems on his absentee father. But things had changed and the ball was in court now. Sure, his father wasn't blameless for the state their relationship was in but if Lee started ignoring his father's attempts to reach out to him, it would make him as guilty as the man, if not more so.

"If you say so," Lee said, thinking that stubbornness wasn't their only problem by a long shot.

What was certain, though, was that his father hadn't tried so hard to talk to him since before Zak's funeral. In their relationship, neither of them ever tried really hard. They fell back too easily into their roles—the demanding father and the resentful son. It needed to stop. Now, before they lost what little window of opportunity they had to make things right between them again.

Kara was still talking. "And you both suck at talking."

Lee chuckled, shooting her a knowing look. He knew just how good Kara was at talking, herself, and it wasn't a lot.

"You do."

Remembering his discussion with his father before the last attack, Lee's smile faded. He could have been killed out there, had almost been in fact, and his last words to his father would have been, "Is that an order?"

Lee sighed. He almost never took the first step himself. He could still remember a time when he used to—when he kept asking his father to come back, when he asked if he'd be there for his birthday, or for his next competition. Then, at some point, he had stopped trying and cultivated his resentment.

"Is that an order?"

He gestured to the door. "There's something I need to do."

Kara studied him for a moment. "Good. He's really trying, you know."

"Yes, I know." He tried to get her to see it. "Me too."

She patted his arm and he took it as his cue to leave.

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Lee stood his front of his father's quarters for a while before he gathered the courage to knock. At a gruff, "Come in," he breathed in deeply and stepped in.

He was already steeling himself for refusal, just as he had done so often when he was a kid. It was stupid but he couldn't help it.

His father glanced up from the report he was reading, looking at Lee questioningly. "Yes?"

"Wanna grab something to eat?" Lee asked, feeling stupid.

Something like gratitude briefly shone if his father's eyes before the mask feel down again. He looked at the pile of reports.

"Or later," Lee added. "Or tomorrow. It doesn't really—"

His father cut him off. "Now's good, son."

Lee released a breath he hadn't known he was holding. "Okay. Good."

His father set the reports aside and gestured for him to sit down, placing a call to order food to his quarters. One of the perks of being a Commander, Lee thought.

They waited for the food in silence, neither of them very sure what to say. It didn't matter. For the first time in years, the silence between them wasn't uncomfortable anymore.
end