The moment Lee saw the condo his father shared with Laura, he'd been skeptical about his father's constant complaints of lack of space; Lee remembered the boxes of belongings his father had sent to him because he hadn't been able to fit them in his new home.
And then Lee entered the condo - after Laura hugged him and told him how glad she was he'd finally made it in for a visit, he understood why there had been no room for extra books and pictures. Every wall of the place seemed to be packed tight with Earth and colonial books, model ships and planes, and pieces of equipment that probably belonged to Galactica and the Colonial One.
Every photo of Aria that Lee had ever sent to his father was properly framed and displayed, and the toddler was quick to recognize them, pointing her finger with surprise.
"That's right, these are pictures of you," Bill confirmed, holding his granddaughter close.
Lee remembered his mother had always complained their father had never connected with the kids until they were older; she'd said he was always away and when he came home he could never bring himself to hold them or kiss them. Lee remembered how alien it had felt when his father hugged him after his dog died; he must've been eight or nine, and the realization that his father did indeed love him had astounded Lee for weeks.
Bill Adama had changed a lot over the years; if Lee hadn't been sure of it already, he would've been as shocked about watching his father hold Aria close as he'd been the day he'd gotten his first hug. Lee's eyes spanned across the room to see Laura Roslin smiling, her eyes locked on the scene playing out in her living room.
Kara was obviously also affected by the exchange between grandfather and granddaughter, and Lee reached out to touch her. His fingers found their way under the sweater she was wearing, finding a tiny patch of skin above the waistband of her jeans. The touch was electric and he almost felt embarrassed for it, especially considering the way Kara's cheeks turned red. Lee just moved to pull her close so she could hide her reaction to his touch; their unspoken bond working out perfectly as Kara placed her head against his neck, and his arms enveloped her tight.
"He looks so happy," Kara whispered against his neck after a while.
"Kind of disturbing, isn't it?" Lee joked and she nodded against his skin. "I think he's going to spoil her rotten if we let him."
"I don't think we can stop him," she pointed out. "I haven't ever been good at denying the Old Man anything. After what I've done, keeping Aria away from you two, I won't say anything if he buys her enough gifts to fill the Galactica hangar bay."
It was Lee's turn to nod as he continued to watch his father. Laura held out her hands and Bill handed the toddler over even as he kept a hand on Aria's back. Lee was too far away to hear what was being said, but Aria giggled and Laura beamed at the girl.
Bill watched the scene with a myriad of emotions on his face, and Lee couldn't help but consider what had changed his father so much. Losing Zak had definitely been the catalyst, but Lee was sure some of the changes were also triggered by the meeting between his father and Kara, as well as his relationship with Laura.
Lee wondered if he had ever played any part in his father's transformation.
Fourteen Years and Five Months Later
Kara fought to maintain her eyes on the road in front of her. Aria's fingers were banging on the dashboard in tune with whatever music she was listening to through her ear buds.
Feeling exasperated, Kara tugged on the headphones until they fell to the seat.
"Mom!" Aria grumbled from her seat, and the redness of the bruise on her daughter's chin and cheek infuriated Kara. She had plenty of experience with shiners and Kara knew it was going to turn purple by the end of the day, blue and green the next day and stick around for at least a week.
"I said no more fights, Aria," Kara gritted out, hands grasping the steering wheel tightly.
"I know!" Aria screamed back.
"Then tell me why, one week before school gets out, you're sporting a bruise the size of a battlestar on your right cheek."
Aria turned away, focusing on the landscape outside the family car.
"It wasn't her fault, Mom," Hermes spoke from the backseat. "It was mine," he admitted, hazel eyes meeting Kara's through the rearview mirror.
"You don't get into fights," Kara pointed out. While her daughter had started throwing punches when she'd hit puberty – and had not stopped - her son tended to think things through, and wasn't prone to physical outbursts.
"Some kids were teasing me, so Aria jumped them," he explained.
"Is that true, Aria?" Kara asked her daughter, even though Hermes had no reason to lie.
Aria shrugged in response, continuing to stare out the window.
Kara sighed, trying to come up with an adequate punishment. Memories of the Galactica brig flashed through her mind, but Kara knew confining her daughter to any one room after one of these outbursts tended to instigate even more rebellion; the girl was as impervious to that kind of grounding punishment much like Kara had been.
Lucky for Kara, fear of disappointing their father seemed to be a running trait in the Adama side of the family, and she hadn't ever hesitated using that as a punishment.
"You two are explaining what happened to your father," she told them.
"But mom—," Aria started to argue before she began pouting.
"And I don't mean when he gets home," Kara added. Lee had been gone for almost three days, with four more to go, and she hated to admit it but she missed him. "You're calling him as soon as we get inside the house."
Aria knew she couldn't win this argument, so she bit her full lower lip as she nodded.
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