Sorting Out the Past

Sorting Out the Past

Aft Storage Compartment, D Deck…

It was a mess. Stacks of boxes, trunks, bags and luggage had fallen over throughout the compartment. In some places, even the racks that had been riveted to the walls had been wrenched free. Taking that hit from that one nuke Starbuck hadn't been able to shoot out of the sky damaged more than his Command Centre and port-side landing bays.

Stepping over what he could and physically making a path through what he couldn't climb around, he scanned the labels until he found some of what he was looking for. What was once packed for transport down to Caprica was now all the belongings he had in all the worlds. Inserting the box-cutter along a seam, Bill sliced through the packing tape.

Things were quiet – for the moment. Water – in the form of ice - had been found, Tigh was on watch, Lee had taken a detail to the Astral Queen to recruit 'volunteers' to mine the ice and there had been no DRADIS contact from their Cylon pursuers for more than seventy-two hours.

Things were looking up.

That's when he had his brilliant idea.

That's why he was down in the cargo hold, rummaging through the last of his belongings.

The Fleet needed pilots and Kara was going to be Galactica's new Flight Instructor. Sure she'd be resistant at first, but he had every confidence that he'd get her past her insecurities and that she'd accept her new position without him having to resort to making his request an order.

Rifling through the box, all he found was a set of his father's law books. Frowning as he read the gold lettering embossed on the leather spines, he had no idea when those arrived on Galactica. Re-securing the box flaps, figuring that finding the tomes containing every Caprican law ever written was just 'one of those things', he hoisted the box up and to the left and balanced it on the nearest stable shelf. Just for good measure, he pointed his finger and he gave the box and the shelf an order: stay!

Three boxes later was when he found most of what he was looking for; he knew – somewhere – he had a copy of the Mark II Viper Training video training series. So far, he'd found seven of the eight-disc series. All he needed was one more. He just had to find it.

Nudging another box – there was only one other he'd yet to search – into the glare of the over head lighting with his foot, he picked up the box-cutter and hunkered down. Balancing on the balls of his feet, cutting into the tape and opening up the new box, he continued his search.

That was, until he got sidetracked by what was in the box.

It was a mix-mosh of papers, letters and things his family had sent to him over the years. Mainly from Zak, some from CarolAnn, very little of anything was from Lee. School report cards, Father's Day gifts, packages, holo-discs – all the things a parent would collect and save that had been given to them by their children.

Zak had been gone two years, but he had been a constant, steady, presence since before his divorce from CarolAnn. Lee had been gone longer than that – figuratively speaking. But now, he had Lee for as long as the Gods deemed it and all he had of Zak was what he could hold in his hands.

Bones creaking, entrusting his ship to his oldest friend and trusting his only son to his Colonial training, Bill shifted to the floor. Getting comfortable, he starting picking things out of the box and reliving the attached memories. Some things made him smile immediately, like the bound copy of Lee's War College dissertation. For others, it took him a moment to understand why he kept the memento in the first place, like a pair of Pyramid ticket stubs tucked inside a game program. That was, until he remembered that was the game he took Lee and Zak to while he was on furlough. A few things in that box reminded him why Memory Lane was often riddled with emotional pot-holes. The same game he took Lee and Zak to was the last time – with the exception of Zak's funeral – all the Adama men were in one place, at one time, and the temporary truce between he and Lee didn't make it past half-time.

Tucking the stubs back into the safety of their program, the bittersweet memory was chased away by the sight of a non-descript eye-glasses case that had a rubber band wrapped around it. Reaching for the case, Bill knew exactly what he was holding. Sliding the rubber band off and prying open the lid, a pair of classically styled aviator sunglasses gleamed. Lenses that hadn't seen the light of day – or a fluorescent bulb – in more than ten, twelve, years was winking up at him as he tilted the box left, right and centre. The picture, taken on one of Aquaria's finest beaches, was flush with the case, but he knew exactly what it looked like. After all, it was picture of himself, taken more than forty years ago, by a 'conscientious' girlfriend who was – as she put it – 'just watching out for him'.

Shaking himself out of the past, he snapped shut the case. Putting the sunglasses off to the side and bracing his large hands around a thick stack of 'this and that', he filled his lap with memories that had been put into storage for far too long. Childhoods he was never around to see for himself played out like a slide show against the dark backdrop of a Battlestar's cargo hold. Lee's seriousness was counter-pointed by Zak's innate playfulness, but what was interesting to see was where the two boys came together and shared the same traits. Such as: each boy demonstrated, details provided by primary-school teachers in the 'Comments' section of quarterly progress reports, protective natures towards each other and close friends. Such as: each boy demonstrated, details provided by CarolAnn in a bid for him to spend more time with his children as she could not be both a father and mother at the same time, a penchant for stubbornness when it came to something they believed was right. The likenesses his boys shared were the traits most important to being a man. Differing over an issue, standing up for what they believed in and protecting those closest to them while not losing sight of themselves in the process, made him feel incredibly proud of Lee and Zak. It would've been interesting to see what kind of man Zak would have grown into, had he…

The Gods might have taken away one child, but they had gifted him with two more. They'd given him back Lee and they gave him something he'd never thought he'd have: a daughter. Lifting out a photo album, looking at each picture in turn – grade school pictures, various awards and alike – each page showing Lee and Zak growing older and more mature, it was easy for him to mentally insert Kara into the Adama family. Kara in primary school, her after-school activities, bad hair-cuts – all parallel to his boys but unique unto herself. Kara, with her blonde hair and hazel-green eyes, even looked a bit like CarolAnn.

Tipping the box to get at the last few inches of previous life, the soft thunk of something solid connecting with the side of the box made him widen his grip and include 'whatever it was' in with everything else he pulled out. Peeling back a couple of layers of personal treasures, the slightly scratched surface of Colonial Fleet training disc was poking through the top of a packet of family vacation pictures.

Coming away with more than what he came for, Bill packed everything back into the box. Setting it to the side and wiping his hands on his trousers, he scooped up the glasses-case and tucked them into his pocket. Bracing the set of training discs between his arm and his side, he made for the Ready Room.

The room was empty. Kara was out on CAP, but was scheduled to land shortly. From there, if Lee was still on the Astral Queen, she was to lead the next briefing. Scanning the podium, he found the two things he needed: a long piece of scratch paper and a pen. Scrawling out a brief note and slipping it between the rubber band and the sunglasses case, he put them in the one place Kara was guaranteed to find it – on the bottom shelf, inside the podium. The discs he tucked underneath his arm. Those he'd give to her when he told her about her new duties.

"Attention all hands: pass the word to Commander Adama. Commander Adama, please report to CIC immediately. Attention all hands: pass the word to Commander Adama. Commander Adama, please report to CIC immediately."

Lieutenant Gaeta's voice over the PA system had all thoughts about the up-side of sibling rivalry and instigating a little fun into his children's lives all but moot as his feet ate up the decking between the launch area and Combat.

Striding through the sliding doors and entering CIC, Adama was one-hundred percent Commander. The box of discs were placed on a nearby console.

"Sit-Rep, Mr, Gaeta."

"Sir – it's the Astral Queen. They've taken hostages…"

That's all he needed to hear. As much as he didn't want to put her at risk, the only person he'd trust to keep his son safe was his daughter.

"Dee - get me Kara Thrace; we're gonna need Starbuck on this one."

Now, all he had to do was keep breathing until both his children were safely back onboard Galactica. His second chance at fatherhood was in front of him. One couldn't be a father unless there were children to parent.