Disclaimer: This is an original story based upon the characters of Battlestar Galactica. No profit will be made from this story and no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: Like a lot of people, I was a little confused about why Bill left Lee forever. When I watched the finale again, I caught something that made more since and decided to go with it. This chapter kind of explains what I think happened.

She slept peacefully, thank the gods, and while she slept he memorized her. He remembered back to the late night talks he and Saul had after Ellen died.

"I've got pictures, but it's not the same...there's so much I've forgotten about her already."

He had told him that on one particularly bad night, and Bill had placed his hand on his friend's shoulder as Saul sobbed out his bitter pain.

In a way he was jealous of Saul. In a way, he would have given anything to have Laura been the final cylon.

But there would be no resurrection technology for his love, and so he watched her sleep, committing to memory everything about her, as if his very sanity depended on it.

He wanted to remember each and every kind of smile, the way her glasses slid to the edge of her nose when she was concentrating, the way her forehead wrinkled when she was angry, and the way it felt to kiss each wrinkle until the anger disappeared. He wanted to remember every suit and every blouse, the way they smelled, and the way they felt. He wanted to remember her scent, the way she tasted, every sound from her sweet voice. Even a lifetime together wouldn't be enough for him, and he was limited to hours. He wanted Laura's vision of the afterlife to be true. He wanted so badly to believe in eternity.

As the night moved on, he tried to imagine her as a little girl. He imagined her quiet, but mischievous, with long brown hair, and those beautiful green eyes. He tried to imagine her sisters, and her parents, picturing her at happy family gatherings. After that he started imagining her in high school, breaking into effervescent giggles during debate tournaments, walking home from school with her friends, and in a long beautiful prom dress. He pictured her as a young teacher, wondering how many people she had truly affected over her life time. He tried to imagine the two of them meeting then, and how different his life had been if he had found her earlier. He could picture it so clearly, going on dates with each other, talking together until early in the morning. He could see her coming towards him down the aisle, wearing a long white dress and imagined himself lovingly pulling back a lacy white veil to see her lovely face. He would have built her a house with a big backyard, and a cabin in the mountains for vacations.

It wasn't that he didn't love Carolanne. He had, he was sure of that. She had given him his two boys and several good years. But his love for Laura was richer and deeper than anything he had ever felt before. Perhaps Carolanne had been preparation for the great love of his life. Suddenly hot tears burned in his eyes and his hand hovered over her face. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair. He had known so many men in the service who had been unfaithful to their wives. He would have cherished his Laura all the rest of his days.

She stirred against him and her eyelids slowly opened.

"Hey," she whispered.

"Hey yourself," he replied smiling, lightly caressing her cheek with his knuckles, "You need to rest."

"Time enough for that," she replied. She looked up into his eyes, "Just hold me."

He cradled her gently but securely in his arms and then kissed the top of her head. She put her head against his heart and sighed softly.

"I love...your...heart."

He kissed the top of her head again. He would never have enough of kissing her.

They laid together in silence for a little while and he was beginning to wonder if she had drifted off to sleep.

"I don't...want...to leave...you," she said quietly, breathlessly.

The pain pierced him. He could feel it slicing into him.

I don't want to be left.

He reached down and turned her face up to see him, "I will love you all the rest of my life."

She smiled, those smiles that were still so brilliant they caused his skin to tingle.

"You sleep now," he ordered gently.

"Yes sir...okay sir...anything you say...sir," she said as she cuddled up against him.

I don't want to be left.

She had been absolutely right. He was terrified of being left alone. He was afraid of what he would become without her.

Sine qua non...it was such a terrifying concept.

He had Lee, Kara, and Saul. They had been his family for years. But Saul had Ellen, and Lee and Kara had each other.

Lee...his brave boy; another gift on this journey.

"Lee! Lee! Where are you?" He wasn't used to this feeling of panic, Lee had been missing from camp for an hour and he was ready to explode.

"Over here Dad!" came the reply from a group of pine trees.

He had ran over to the grove of trees and pulled his son against his chest, "You all right?"

"I'm fine Dad," Lee said, wiggling out of his embrace. "I wanted to explore the river."

"You scared...your mother half to death," Bill replied sharply, but the boy's enthusiasm couldn't be diminished, "Dad, you've got to see this! I found these really cool red rocks, and look at this old tree!"

He was about to order Lee back to camp, but in twenty-four more hours he would go back to being a commander. As he looked into his son's bright eyes, he realized he just wanted to be a daddy.

Lee had always loved exploring. He would spend the time in between Bill's leaves planning excursions into the mountains, and when Bill was home the three of them would pack backpacks and explore the countryside, visiting caves and ancient monuments.

"What do you want me to do Carolanne?" he snapped, "The boy wants to join the military."

"Tell him you don't want him to!"

"I'm not going to do that! He wants to join!"

"Bill...he's not telling you the truth. He wants to join to pay for school. He's interested in nature. He always has been. He would die out there."

"That's ridiculous. He's not twelve years old anymore. The military will prepare him for life."

Carolanne snickered, in that way that always made him feel so stupid, "Yes, what a life, just look at you."

It was ironic that the son didn't want the military, didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps, was the one that was the pilot, and the one whose dream it was...would never follow in any footsteps, or make ones of his own. Zak had always been the mediator between them.

"What Dad means to say is..."

"Dad, give Lee a chance to explain."

After Zak was gone, the connection with Lee was gone too.

The two years after Zak's death had been the hardest of his life. He had felt so alone.

And then the world had ended and little by little father and son had reconnected. It had been a long road.

"Bill," she said gently, "Talk to him,"

"After what he did to you today? After what he did to Saul? He sold you both out for Gaius Baltar! That is not the son I raised!" he pounded his fist on the desk, causing Laura to jump a little.

"Hmmm...doing what he thinks is right, pig-headed, stubborn, and a little scary when he's angry, no...I think that is the boy you raised," she said smiling slightly at him.

"This is not funny!" he barked.

"Bill...I'm not going to stand here and let what the two of you have built these last few years disintegrate. He's your son," she kept her voice steady, even as his rose again.

"My son wouldn't have done that to you!"

"He did," she replied. "And that's between him and me."

He sat down in his desk chair and clenched and unclenched his fist together.

"He knows you love him," she brought a hand over and lightly touched his elbow, "You know that right?"

"What do you mean?"

"He knows you love him. I've seen the way you look at him. You're so proud of him. He's seen it too. You don't have to worry about that anymore. He knows."

He did love Lee. He loved him and it was so hard to tell him. He hadn't been able to give him much in his life. A nice home, yes...a check every month to provide for his needs, packages on his birthday, but in the end he had never really been there for him, until these last few years on Galactica. He was a man now, a man Bill was so proud of. Suddenly the memory of Lee finding him after Saul's confession to being a cylon came to him. He had been lying there, in a crying, drunken stupor.

"Come on Dad," Lee had dragged him over to the head and held him while he cried.

He had brought him to bed, tucking him in and staying with him until he fell asleep, just like Bill himself had done with his old man. Lee deserved better.

"Why are you doing this?" his son the president asked him.

"Because I can't live without her," he replied.

Not "I don't want to..." or "I'll find it hard to..." but "I can't."

Sine qua non...such a terrifying concept.

In the darkness of the night he made a decision, one that caused more pain to slice through him like shards of glass.

He didn't know what he would be like when she died.

Lee deserved better. His mother had been right.

Now there was a new world, a new chance, and his boy would get to explore it to his heart's content.

And though it tore him up inside...

Bill would let him go.