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Best Friends

By Doc

Word Count: 3,010
Date: 10/29/04
Series: Mini
Rating: M
Category: Challenge
Pairing/Focus: William, Original Character, Tigh
Warnings:
Summary:
Spoilers/Disclaimers:


Commander William Adama was in a good mood. He had been ordered to Picon Fleet and finally been given command of a Battlestar. He smiled remembering that when he'd called his wife Iliya to tell her the good news, she'd yelled exuberantly then subsequently had been disappointed that he wouldn't be coming home to Caprica right away. Bill was making a detour on Geminon to see his old friend Saul and personally give him some good news. Iliya had understood, but let him know he would have a lot to make up for. He was looking forward to that. It had been a long time since he was planet-side and he missed Iliya, a lot.

After his transport landed, he picked up a public com unit and dialed Saul's home. A familiar female voice answered the phone, "Hello."

Bill breathed a sigh of relief someone was home and said, "Hi Aurora. It's Bill. I'm calling from the Geminon Military transport terminal. Is Saul home? I have something I want to discuss with him."

Aurora was surprised and pleased to hear Bill Adama's voice. She hadn't seen him in a long while. But why would Paul's very successful friend be calling? She replied, "He's not home right now but if you're coming over, I'm sure by the time you get here, he will be."

Bill responded, "Great. I'll be there soon."

After he disconnected, Aurora looked around the house and then in a mirror. She had a lot to do before he got there.

Bill hung up the phone and thought, "Well Aurora certainly sounds cheerful today." Leaving the military center, he headed for the Geminon public transport terminal.

Bill Adama would soon take command of the Battlestar Galactica. She was the Fleet's oldest battlestar, with all her original systems intact, although upgraded. Unlike her bigger and newer sisters, Galactica had no integrated computers, and he was going to make damn sure it stayed that way. In his opinion, this entire move to integrate computers was asking for trouble. The Cylons were out there. Waiting.

While others would have considered this assignment a backhanded compliment at best, he had a special place in his heart for the old gal. Both he and Saul had cut their teeth as viper pilots on the Galactica. He was planning on Saul being his "wingman" once again. Part of fleet tradition was that a new Battlestar Commander gets to pick his XO, and Bill wanted Saul.

Bill had heard all about the Star Chaser incident. Hell, everyone had. Colonial warships don't collide with commercial liners every day. Insiders knew that the Chaser's Commander Hatcher had truly been at fault, but since Hatcher's daddy was Chief of Staff, someone else had to take the blame, so Saul became the scapegoat. It burned Bill that such an idiot as Hatcher could walk away blameless and even be promoted, while Saul paid the price. Saul was still paying it. He had repeatedly been passed over for promotion. It didn't matter that he was innocent. Hopefully the news Bill was bringing would put Saul once again on the right career tract.

The XO position on a Battlestar was nothing to sneeze at.

Bill walked the rest of the way from the public transport station into the quiet coastal community where Saul and Aurora resided. Their house wasn't large but was nicely situated overlooking the sea. He walked up to the front door and rang the bell. Aurora answered quickly with a ready smile and ushered him in.

Aurora wore a sundress that left little to the imagination, and certainly enhanced all her assets. Bill felt a twinge unease but hid it asking, "Is Saul home yet?"

Aurora smiled as she took in William Adama. His scarred face enhanced the aura of authority and power he unconsciously projected. She smiled and said, "Not yet. Why don't you sit down? I'm sure he's tied up at work and will be home soon. Can I get you something to drink? Some Caprican pear wine, or ambrosia maybe?"

Bill decided to stay away from the alcohol until Saul was home so they could celebrate together. "Do you have any iced tea?"

She smiled, "Sure. Just give me a minute."

The soft sounds of music played in the background and Bill's uneasy feelings continued to climb as he realized he was inside the house alone with Aurora. This was stupid he chided himself; she was his best friend's wife. He and Iliya had gone out with Saul and Aurora on several occasions, and he had been alone with her more times than he could count. But Bill couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. He ended up following Aurora into the kitchen.

Looking out thru the kitchen's screen doors at the ocean he had an idea. "Let's go outside. There's a nice breeze from the ocean. We can sit on the patio and wait for Saul."

Aurora smiled again. She could see Bill felt a little uncomfortable. She would play along for now since unlike Bill she knew Paul wasn't coming home anytime soon. "Sure. Go sit outside and I'll bring you your drink."

Aurora walked out from the kitchen with their drinks. The breeze blew her hair and dress around showing off her long legs, and scents from nearby flowers wafted on the air. She sat down beside him, close enough to feel the heat from his body but not close enough to scare him away. Bill had a nose for danger, which was what had made him a great viper pilot; at least that was what Paul had always said.

Bill shifted away from her a little then took the glass and sipped. "This tastes a little different than the usual iced tea. What's in here?"

Aurora laughed and said, "It's iced tea with just a touch of ambrosia. You won't get drunk, I promise, but I find ambrosia sweetens the iced tea without adding sugar. Now how about giving me a hint. What did you come here to tell Paul? Good news I hope. It's been a long time since we had any. I'm sure you've heard that he was passed up for promotion again."

"I heard and I'm sorry. I know you were hoping to move off Geminon." Then Bill smiled. Aurora always had an almost child-like impatience and never liked waiting. So he laughed and decided to tease her a little. "Ok, I'll give you a hint. It's very good news."

Aurora gave him a mock frown and pretended to pout. "That's no hint. I need something more." She thought for a minute, trying to recall the snippets of gossip she had heard lately. Then she remembered one she'd heard about Bill and revelation spread across her face. "Wait! Does it have anything to do with a rumor I heard at the Officers' Club that you are being promoted again? Please, Bill, I just can't wait."

Bill took another sip of his tea to stifle his grin, but hearing Aurora's pleading he relented. "I'm taking command of the Galactica." For a moment he couldn't be sure if he really saw a small moue of disappointment because Aurora squealed immediately after and threw her arms around him in a hard hug and kissed his cheek.

Aurora didn't move back after the hug, she remained close to his side. "That's wonderful, Bill. What an honor! Did you request that command or was it assigned you? From what I heard there were about four battlestar commands up for assignment."

"I was given a choice between the Pegasus and Galactica. I took Galactica, she's a grand old gal. Commander Cain got the Pegasus."

Bill laughed remembering the other night when he and Cain had celebrated their respective new posts. Always loud and brash, Cain had slapped his ever-present crop against his leg while saying, "We'll show those old war-daggits, Bill. They think the tin heads are gone. Felgercarb! At least you and I will be ready when they come."

Aurora's continued presence at Bill's side was starting to affect him. Her perfume mixed with the flowers and the sea breeze, tickled his nose and reminded him of things he had been trying not to think about, like the celebration he and Iliya would have when he came home.

Aurora suddenly stood up and walked a few paces away. Her thoughts of seduction were on hold as she tried to put the pieces of this puzzle into place. Bill commanding a battlestar, and it had something to do with Paul. She swiftly turned, and stared at Bill, her eyes going wide as the implications of his promotion hit her. "You want Paul as your XO! This is wonderful! The best news we had in years. Bill,…"

Bill had automatically stood up with Aurora and had been about to tell her, "You're right," when he found his arms full as Aurora wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him hard on the mouth. For a second he was very aware of her scent, the soft shapely body he held, and how much he missed holding a woman in his arms. But as her tongue stroked across his lips seeking entrance, he suddenly realized this was fast becoming more than a kiss between friends. He pulled back and looked into her eyes. Now that he was close he could smell the alcohol on her breath. "Aurora. Stop. This isn't right. What about Saul? What about the neighbors?"

When he had been a viper pilot, Bill had become use to listening to those little warning bells in his head, and as he had moved up the command ladder he had learned to pay them even more attention. They had saved his butt numerous times. Right now those bells were ringing like crazy and Bill wasn't going to break the habit of a lifetime. The bells were saying, "You're in danger. Run." So he needed to get moving.

He tried to gently disengage himself from Aurora's arms but she held onto him tightly. He again asked her, "What's going on here, Aurora? I'm Saul's best friend, not to mention happily married with children. Frak, I was the best man at your wedding."

Aurora looked up at Bill, pressed her body against his and almost purred her answer. "You know what's going on. Paul isn't going to be home for a while Bill, so you don't have to worry about that. I remember the way you used to look at me. Didn't you wonder what it would be like to kiss me, to be with me? You've always been there for us, Bill. You deserve some kind of reward."

As she spoke Bill finally freed himself and began to back away. He wondered how much Aurora had drunk before he had arrived. As she followed him around on the patio, she laughed and said, "Now what would the other officers think to see the celebrated warrior William Adama backing away from a woman?"

"You're my best friend's wife, and I'm in love with Iliya. I never gave you any reason to think I wanted anything more. You're drunk, Aurora. Go sleep it off. I'm leaving."

Aurora smiled, her eyes never leaving his and said, "I may have had a few to drink, Bill, but I'm not drunk. Paul won't be home for another few hours. We can have a good time, Bill. No one needs to know. It can be our secret."

Bill felt sick and he had to get out of here. Now! With a quick move he was off the porch and opening the backyard gate. He could hear her disappointed "Bill!" but didn't look back or stop walking away until he neared the transportation terminal. Lords, what was going on between Saul and Aurora?

The transport took him back to the base and he promptly went to the Officers' Club and ordered a drink, and then another. As he sat he remembered all the odd comments at Fleet Headquarters when he had mentioned appointing Saul as his XO. Comments like Saul being a lucky bastard to have such a beautiful wife. Saul getting those lousy assignments and leaving his poor wife at home alone. He should have paid closer attention.

Saul entered the Officers' Club. He needed a few drinks and it was still too early to go home. No telling whom he would find Aurora with if he got home too early. As he walked into the bar he saw a familiar figure downing the last of a drink. Walking up behind Bill Saul said, "Give his man another and I'll have the usual." Bill turned to look at his friend in surprise and Saul continued, "What in the names of the Lords of Kobol are you doing here, Bill? Last time we communicated you were headed to Picon Fleet."

Bill smiled, a little drunk and glad to see his friend. "Saul! I'm glad to see you! I have some good news to tell you." Bill watched a grimace cross Saul's face.

Saul had heard the rumors and could guess Bill's news. He carefully schooled his face back into a smile and said, "Ok Bill, don't keep me in suspense."

Bill said, "I've got command of the Galactica, Saul."

Saul slapped Bill on the back while shouting, "Husker, you old war- daggit! Congratulations! About time the brass gave you a battlestar command. When do you take over?"

Bill looked at Saul and smiled saying, "I've got about three weeks leave before I officially take over. By the way, I'm going to need an XO, Saul. You want the job?"

Saul was shocked and he knew his face showed it. Damn that crazy son- of-a-bitch, didn't Bill know what choosing him would do to his career? As much as he wanted to say yes, Saul couldn't do that to his best friend. "Bill, I'm honored you want me, but I'm sure there are others who would be better suited to…"

Bill interrupted, "Don't give me that crap, Saul. I know the score. And I still want you as my XO. I'm already on Fleet Headquarters shit list because I don't toe the party line about our increasing reliance on networking computers to run the battlestars, and I'm not quiet about my objections. Hell, Saul, my choices were Galactica and Pegasus. What does that tell you? Because I know damn well what it tells me. This is the ceiling for me, Saul, Battlestar Commander, no hope of promotion to Admiral. So how about it my friend?"

Saul finished his drink in a single swallow and ordered another for him and Bill before replying. "You're a crazy son-of-a-bitch, Bill, but you've got yourself an XO."

A thought crossed Saul's mind. What was Bill doing here in the O Club drinking? He had obviously come to Geminon to ask Saul to be his XO, but surely he hadn't come here first looking for him. Then another likely scenario crossed his mind. Saul didn't want to know but he had to ask. "Bill, how did you end up here in the Officers' Club?"

Bill couldn't meet Saul's eyes and looked into his drink. "When I landed I initially called your house. Aurora answered. I went over to tell you but when it looked like you were going to be a while I came back here and decided to have a drink. I have the early AM transport to Caprica."

Saul and Bill went back a long way, and while Bill could be hard to read, his body language was giving Saul a pretty good idea what may have happened this afternoon. "She made a pass at you didn't she? Wanted you to sleep with her."

Bill met Saul's eyes then looked away again. He felt guilty, as though he should have been able to see Aurora's kiss coming and avoided it. "Look Saul, I don't know what you…"

"Bullshit, Bill. You know exactly what I'm talking about."

Bill downed his drink and looked at Saul and said, "Yes, she made a pass at me. I didn't sleep with her, Saul. I swear it. When I realized she was drunk, I left."

"I believe you, Bill. But Aurora probably wasn't drunk when she made that pass at you. Ever since the Star Chaser incident she's been unhappy. I've been getting assignments on every Lords forsaken out of the way post and gone for long periods while she was here alone. It wasn't so bad when she was invited to all the usual parties and activities. But after the Star Chaser thing went down, the invitations stopped coming. The other wives treated her like she was a Cylon. So Aurora began to look for other entertainment. By the time I came back, well…" Saul couldn't go on. He didn't know what was more pathetic, Aurora and her affairs, or his putting up with it.

Bill looked at his friend and could see how torn he was. A part of Saul was still in love with Aurora. Bill knew that he was feeling the effects of his previous drinks and had an early flight home, but couldn't leave his best friend in such a mood. So instead of calling it a night, Bill looked for the bartender and ordered another round of drinks. He put his hand on Saul's shoulder. When Saul looked at him Bill said, "Saul, you're going to be my XO. Maybe that will help. I only wish I could do more."

Saul gave Bill a humorless smile and said, "Sometimes I'm not sure why I hold on to her. But I know I want to give us another try. Maybe this promotion is the ticket." Saul raised his glass, a smile finally reaching his eyes as he said, "Now I think we have a promotion to celebrate. To William `Husker' Adama, Commander of the Battlestar Galactica."

Bill raised his glass and said, "To Colonel Paul `Solomon' Tigh, XO of the Battlestar Galactica."

END