It took two days to find him.
Two days where Bill was torn between the hospital and the remains of the government square – between his wife and his son - feeling as impotent as he had throughout this entire ordeal to help either of them.
Saul was found within a few minutes – covered in a fine white dust, choking, feet from the exit. But no one else. No he didn't know where Lee was, just he had been heading into the basement.
They days were a continuous torture of slow progress and false alarms, but Bill thought night time was the worst. It was summer, but still, the air temperature dropped, and surely Lee would be cold, alone in the dark.
It had taken two days of excavation, of teams of people carefully shifting through debris, before Bill had heard a shout. A rescue worker had pulled away a stone, revealing an airpocket. It was tiny, ugly corners of rocks jutting into the small space, but when the man had shone a light around it, he had seen a hand and arm in the murky light – small, like a kid's. He shouted but there was no response. It took another 20 minutes to widen the space, providing more access.
Bill stood feet away, listening into the conversations as they talked about stability, air, and access points. Finally a lanky worker who was six and half feet tall with what seemed like an equal armspan, bent down, reaching into the tiny hole, just barely touching the still hand enough to give it a gentle squeeze. There was no response.
"I can't tell if he's alive." He admitted. "But I think so."
Now everyone was called over, work doubling yet again, until finally the last of the stones had been lifted, or supported, and Bill watched as medics reached down and gently pulled his son's crumpled, motionless body from the tiny hole.
"Found a pulse," someone shouted.
"Gently, gently," they called at each other, supporting Lee's curled up position in their hands before laying him down on the gurney on his side. All Bill could think about was how little space he took up, how he could circle his arms around the entirety of him. Activity surrounded Lee as hands held his head stable, placing a cervical collar around his neck. Only once his spinal chord was immobilized did they start trying to straighten the stiff arms and legs from where they lay, folded up against his body.
The medics were cutting off his clothes, briefly examining his body for injuries, before bundling blankets around him. Someone had a light and was peeling an eyelid back. "Lee? Son? Can you hear me?"
Lee flinched, the first sign of movement, murmuring a high pitch note of discomfort.
"Reacting to painful stimuli. Dehydrated of course. Blood pressure low."
"You're safe, it's over." Bill tried to think of anything he could do to help. His heart leapt as Lee reacted to the words, fingers awkwardly lifting a few inches in Bill's direction before falling back again. Ignoring the medics, Bill pushed forward to grasp his son's hand.
He held onto it until the ambulance arrived, and he was forced to let go, watching as Lee was loaded up, the only visible part of his son his dark head peaking out under a mound of orange blankets.
"Please," he said. "Take him to St. Xavier's, his mother is there."
The hospital had just been a whirl of activity, Lee vanishing to be evaluated, before being set up in a room.
"Very lucky." The doctor had said, and if Bill hadn't been so relieved he may have thrown up at hearing those words applied to Lee, or punched someone. "No lasting damage. No broken bones – just bruises and bleeding. We want to keep him here for a couple of days to ensure there are no complications from the head wound, make sure he's properly hydrated, eating and evacuating properly."
It took Lee a day to wake up. When he had finally regained consciousness in the hospital bed, Lee had blinked open his eyes, focused on his father, then wordlessly lifted his arms up to be hugged. Bill would swear that he had never been more a peace than when he had obeyed, carefully placing Lee on his lap, cuddling him like he hadn't since he was smaller than Zak. Just held him, rocking him, as Lee fell asleep, still in his father's arms.
For that one precious moment, Bill allowed himself to hope. To hope that the nightmare was over, to hope that his family could now start to heal itself.
But after that, Lee had started to withdraw. Complaining greatly about the hospital, saying that he just wanted to go home. On the second day Bill had taken him to see Carolanne. Who was awake and desperate to see her son. Lee had hung on to his father's neck so tight that Bill was actually having trouble breathing. Then something happened that he hadn't been expecting. Lee refused to go to her. Carolanne had started crying saying that she understood, Lee had started crying too, but wouldn't loosen the deathgrip he had on Bill's neck. That was Bill's first realization that things might be harder than he had thought. Things will be better when we get home, he reasoned. A hospital is no environment for children.
He had been reinstated in the military seamlessly (something he suspected he owed to deft hand of Laura Roslin), and had been given three months leave to help his family recover. It seemed like a very generous amount of time.
But things didn't get better at home. Even when Lee was physically healed, he still walked around on tentative feet, guarding his body with his arms. He was moody, either clingy and hysterical, or withdrawn and depressed.
At night, it was like living with a newborn baby – Lee would wake up at all hours, crying that his arm hurt, even though he'd been giving a clean bill of health. Bill looked at it at least half a dozen times, never saw anything wrong with it. By the end of one week they were all sleep deprived and Zak had been temporarily moved to the basement to try to give him a break.
Stressing things even further was that Lee was constantly picking fights with all of them, arguing over the smallest details – bedtimes, or brushing his teeth, or having to set the table. Anything and everything. Bill and Carolanne would just patiently wait it through, but it was too much to expect Zak to understand, and it seemed as if they were fighting constantly – Zak ending up in tears, saying that he hated his brother, Lee cold and unrepentent. One afternoon Bill heard the two of them arguing, followed by an abrupt shriek, then the unmistakable cacophony of sounds of a body falling down the stairs. Zak was shaken but not hurt, allowing Bill to comfort him while they both stood outside the locked bathroom listening to Lee sobbing himself sick.
Why was he doomed to never be able to help his son?
They tried seeking professional help, but Lee was almost impossible to take anywhere even remotely medical. Refusing to speak at counseling sessions, throwing tantrums at doctor's offices, hurtling himself against doors. Carolanne couldn't handle him, and Bill was forced to restrain his hysterical son during checkups. The bloodwork always came back inconclusive, it was exhausting for everyone. The doctors suggested medication, and despite their misgivings they tried that.
Getting him to take pills was a fight, so Carolanne ground them up, hid them in his food. It didn't help – he became even more morose and withdrawn, the sideeffects making him dizzy and sick. The fighting stopped at least. Still they caught him scratching at his arm.
They took him back to the doctors. They diagnosed depression. A whole new set of pills prescribed.
Bill got his three months leave extended to six.
Jospeh had offered to simply take Lee away. Away from the doctors, into the old hunting cabin that had been passed down for generations in Adama family. But neither Bill or Carolanne felt comfortable letting the family be split apart. Not now, not after almost losing it.
And besides, the pills, for all their side effects did make things manageable again - Lee slept through the night, was calmer at his appointments– which the doctors assured them was the first step to making things better. Or so Bill thought until the night when Zak had woken them up, shaking Bill's arm, telling them about a nightmare where Lee was hurting himself. Bill had almost told him to go back asleep before the words sunk in and the rush of adrenaline catapulted him out of bed.
They found Lee in the bathroom, kitchen knife in hand, slicing into his arm with dead eyes and unnerving self-control. Bill reacted instantaneously, knocking the blade out of Lee's hand, grabbing the nearest towel to wrap the bleeding arm in. The ride to the hospital was a barely recollected experience of a shaking and pale Carolanne, Zak crying the entire time.
In the emergency room a doctor stitched Lee up, gave him a sedative after consulting his chart, then pulling Bill and Carolanne aside, told them that he had paged a child psychologist, and that they should seriously consider admitting Lee.
One doctor suggested electro convulsion therapy. They argued about that for days. Bill had finally given in when Carolanne sobbed that she just wanted her son back. And wasn't that what he wanted? What he had promised to do? Bring his son back? Were they going to watch him 24-7? If they couldn't fix this they'd have to commit him.
It was with that last threat hanging over his head that Bill agreed to the treatments. Lee would be anesthetized for the procedure, the doctors had explained, "he won't be aware" they suggested a course of 6-12 treatments administered 2 or 3 times a week.
William had never hated hospitals so much. The staff suggested that they not watch, but Bill couldn't stand the idea of putting his son through this alone.
The nurse was kind, taking Lee to the bathroom before, explaining that patients sometimes lost control during the procedure. Then it was the muscle relaxants which Lee didn't want to take. By the time they finally pushed the anesthetic, Bill was a wreck. Lee was shaking with fear, clutching his father's hand, desperately trying to be brave.
Afterwards Lee was vomiting, sick, complained that his muscles hurt. He was groggy, repeating himself. Seemed to keep on forgetting where he was, was exhausted.
Bill finally took him home, cancelling the rest of the treatments. He and Carolanne got into another screaming match that night. Bill insisted Lee would get better, Carolanne asking what the hell were they going to do if he didn't. That couldn't he see that his son was dying right in front of his eyes?
Lee had always been a bit small for his age, but he had always been sturdy. Now he weighed less than Zak, sharp angles poking out beneath the skin, eyes large in an emaciated face. Picking up Zak was like grabbing a Labrador puppy – all wriggling muscle, carrying Lee was like holding a stunned bird –with hollow bones that felt like they would break at the faintest pressure.
At six months, Lee still wasn't better. Bill's leave was about to run out. It was either report to duty, or be discharged. There wasn't a choice, even without the look Carolanne gave him of 'don't you dare leave us, leave me' when it came up. Not to mention the whispered arguments about money. The military didn't pay enough to cover Lee's expenses. He explained the decision to his family as a sort of early retirement over the dinner table. Zak seemed completely unconcerned, but Lee had stared down at his plate, eaten even less than usual.
Later, as Bill was carrying Lee to bed as he did most nights, when the nighttime drugs made him sleepy and it difficult to walk; Lee whispered:
"It's my fault isn't it? It's because of me. Everything that is wrong."
"No," Bill was emphatic, " – none of this is your fault. None of it. You understand me? You are a terrific, brave boy, and I am so proud that you are my son."
Lee just nodded listlessly, and Bill wasn't sure if his son hadn't heard, or just didn't believe. But when Lee was tucked in, when Bill had finished reading the nightly story, had put out the light, and had leaned over for one last kiss, his son reached out and wrapped his arms around his neck.
"Dad?" Lee's face was so close that Bill could feel his breath.
"I love you." Lee pushed his cheek against his father's. "And mom, and Zak."
Bill had to fight to keep the tears from welling up. "We know, we love you too, son."
That night, almost exactly six months since Lee had come home from school looking for his dad and found his mom, he walked back out.
Zarek held out his hand. "I can help you."
William Adama would not see his oldest son for another twenty years, until Lee and the rest of humanity, would have another, not-very-good, day.
AN: Well that's it. Thank you all for reading. I think this qualifies as the fastest story I've ever written, and while I am sure it suffered for it (Zac = Zak among others, and not to mention, terrible comma abuse), I hope it was still enjoyable. Some notes
- yes I cheated a bit with Carolanne's death. But I needed her to be alive to keep this feeling of hope that things could still work out for the Adama family.
- Similarly I hope I get a pass with Zarek's survival. But I think shady ambiguous characters get at least one improbable escape. (didn't you know? The gov't building was built on an extensive network of secret caves that Zarek knew about due to his first job working construction – coincidentally where he met Aeneas).
- Sorry - No kara :(
- Poor Lee.