Word Count: 610
Summary: Written for Jeb's challenge of introspection under 600 words. I should think this one would be obvious as to who it is once you get reading. This is a companion to "Heal Thyself," and both are in turn, companions to "The Edge of Night." ((Yes, I know, you people want more. I am working on it. Patience.))
Spoilers/Disclaimers: They don't belong to me. Never have, never will. I borrow them for amusement ... and angst. Please don't sue, because I don't make enough to pay off my student loans.
"And tomorrow, I'll begin a formal combat patrol around the fleet."
He is nervous, and yet, not as nervous as he would have been even 24 hours ago. So much has happened since he first came aboard this old ship -- a ship that he, like others, saw as a relic.
"Good. Have a good night, Captain."
"Relic" is also what he would have called the old man standing in front of him. Lee came aboard angry and unforgiving, desperate to be anyplace but where he was, wanting nothing more than to curse this man and make him suffer. He could not find room to forgive something that for two years had fueled his soul and given him purpose.
But now ... now this "relic" would be his home, and "the old man" would not only be his commander. He would be his father. Somewhere in the day's events, he had found room in his heart that he didn't think existed anymore.
And that space fuels his next action. He closes his eyes for a moment, and searches hard for the words. He has to seize this opportunity, say these words now, before his courage fails him again and dooms him.
And yet, with the moment here, he cannot find the words. He tries once, and again, but his throat keeps constricting so tightly that he cannot hardly breathe. Finally, reaching hard with his courage, he tries one last time.
"I just..." And he cannot go any further. For the man in front of him stops him, a look on his face that bespeaks calm, and gentleness.
"Why don't we ... save this for another time, son?"
There is a sudden flood of emotions so strong that Lee Adama cannot process them all. Sadness. Fear. Anger. Relief. Disappointment. Acceptance. He wants so badly to finish this sentence, just to say the words he should have said so long ago. "I'm sorry" seems so inadequate now, but it is all he can offer.
And the offering, it appears, will not be accepted. At least, not at this moment. He wants to push forward, but knows he cannot. With this gentle rebuke, Lee Adama's courage has failed him, and he swallows back his own feelings. All that is left is a familiar understanding of the man in front of him, and sadness that both he and his father cannot yet find their pace with each other.
So, he will let it pass. There will be time.
"Good night, Commander." He chooses the formal path, not wanting to risk opening his soul a second time. But there is also a comfort there, a safety zone he has sheltered himself in so many times. There are times where what is learned becomes life. For Lee Adama, military formality will always be that safe, common ground.
"Good night, Captain." His commander's -- his father's -- tone is gentle. Lee senses no animosity, but no further opening.
And so, he turns, without even a look back. Common ground -- shared territory -- it seems, will have to stand for the time being.