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Apollo's Heart

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“Sir, Apollo is just my call sign. My real name is Lee Adama.” Lee looked hesitantly at the woman before him.

Newly-installed President Laura Roslin merely smiled. “I know who you are, but Captain Apollo has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”

 

---xxx---

 

Lee discards what is left of his tasteless meal with a sigh. The foodstuff aboard Galactica’s mess hall is never inspired or by any means a culinary miracle, but tonight, it is worse than usual. Perhaps it is the color of the stew, a particularly disgusting blue-grey nuance, makes it taste awful.

As the CAG, he refuses to even contemplate going to any of the black-market joints on any of the other ships to eat. He knows some of his pilots do, and he doesn’t begrudge them that. They risk their lives every day. He had heard through his pilots that even Colonel Saul Tigh frequents those places with his wife. Granted, they are no doubt there mainly for the booze.  Tigh’s wife, Ellen, had expensive taste and doesn’t care much for the moonshine distilled aboard Galactica.

Rubbing his face, Lee feels how bone-tired he iss. He has been on duty for more than thirty-six hours and is most likely about to fall face forward into his blue-grey leftovers unless he makes it back to his rack.

“May I join you, Captain Apollo?” a low, vibrant voice says, making him jump. “Or are you leaving?”

Yanking his hands from his face, Lee looks up and sees the president of the twelve colonies, Laura Roslin, lean her hip against his table. Her dark-brown hair shines in an understated way where it lays in perfect waves around her beautiful face. She is dressed in a mauve skirt suit, very presidential, and holds two cups of what smells like coffee, in her hands.

“Captain?” She raises an eyebrow.

“Oh. Sorry. By all means, sir. Please, sit down.” He jumps up and takes the cups from her and then pulls out a chair for her to sit down. They are in his favorite dark corner of the mess hall, and nobody seems to pay them any attention. Go figure, they are all in mourning for the people they lost back home and fearful of the Cylons that can be waiting for them anytime they make a new jump.

When Lee retakes his seat, he sees the same signs of fatigue on Roslin’s face as he saw on his own when washing his hands. He watches her raise the coffee cup to her lips, inhale the hot beverage deeply before she sips it.

“Ahh.” Roslin closes her eyes. “I needed that.”

“Tough day at the office?” Lee groans inwardly at his lame joke.

“You have no idea.” Roslin opens her eyes and looks him over. “Your office too, obviously. Try this rat poison that is supposed to mimic coffee. It grows on you.”

He does, and oddly enough, it doesn’t taste as bad as he remembers. He is usually a tea person, but coffee with Roslin clearly improves upon what is in the cup.

Roslin unbuttons her jacket and then places both hands in the small of her back and arches, again closing her eyes. Moaning, she no doubt tries to pop some offending vertebrae back in position.

Lee has never seen her look more beautiful and can’t remember ever feeling so sucker-punched. He lets his eyes roam and only when she clears her voice, does he realize she has noticed his glances. His cheeks warm, but he refuses to let it phase him. What would she think of him if he blushes and begin to stutter from ogling her? He is not the cocky schoolboy he once was, nor an inexperienced young fool either. One grows up quickly as Commander Adama’s oldest—and now, only—son. And the second Cylon war does the rest for one’s maturity; not to mention living in cramped quarter aboard Galactica.

“You look like you’re trying to decide whether to ask me on a date or take me straight to bed.” Roslin looks at him with dark eyes above the rim of her coffee cup.

Lee has just taken a sip, and now he struggles not to spray it across the table. “What?” he blurts after swallowing.

“Oh, come on, Apollo, or may I call you Lee? You were checking me out.” Roslin extends a hand. “Please, call me Laura. Especially when we’re not in a professional setting.”

“Hm. Thank you, Laura. And yes, please call me Lee.” He almost adds, ‘in any setting’, but edits himself this time. “I apologize for the checking out part.”

“So, you’re sorry?” Laura purses her lips. “How disappointing.”

Now Lee’s pretty sure she’s teasing him, rather than flirting. His fatigue from only moments ago is gone and he focuses entirely on the multifaceted woman before him. Her eye glitter and she place with her now half-empty cup.

“I would never want to disappoint you, Laura,” Lee says lightly and rocks back on his chair. It is nailed to the floor, but the backrest on it, and all the other chairs in the mess hall, are loose from decades of wear and tear and allows a rocking motion. One of these days, some pilot or mechanic will fall off backward when the backrest snaps, but they still do it as it is a soothing kind of movement.

“And you really haven’t. You’re a gentleman and I know that first hand.” Laura leans her elbow on the table and places her chin in her hand. Looking at him thoughtfully, she tilts her head. “There are times when a person wishes that the one opposite them weren’t that much of a gentleman.”

His heart thundering now, Lee knows she has him pegged. He is ready to leap across the table to hold her close. Admitting that his feelings are sexual in nature, Lee is also aware that it is more than that. Laura isn’t the type of woman a person can sleep with and then dismiss. At least he wouldn’t be able to. If he let her close, too close, she would go under his skin and dig her fingers into his soul. Lee knows this to be true, as much as he knows how to breath.

He should leave. Say a polite good evening and then head back to his rack and suffer through a sleepless night. “Laura,” he says quietly. “This is dangerous talk. Every single person on this ship have been through hell and back. Our nerves are frayed and it’s easy to turn to someone for comfort, but—”

“I don’t need comfort. I need a lot of things, but not that.” Laura’s smile disappeared. “The expression, it is lonely at the top, is ridiculously accurate. I sit in meetings, attend press conferences, go through written material until my eyes are sore, and amidst all that, all the people I see, I’m lonely.”

“Not alone, but lonely.” Lee nods. He gets that.

“Exactly. And now I saw you sitting here, clearly exhausted after all the missions you’ve been on with Starbuck and the rest.” Laura shrugs and her full breasts move. “I’m not sure what made me bring you coffee this time. Perhaps because I sent my assistant to get some much-needed sleep. Billy is a wonderful young man, but he’s a bit sidetracked these days. He’s in love.” Laura’s smile returns, but it has a sad tinge to it. “I can barely remember that feeling.”

“Me either,” Lee says, not sure where his urge to share comes from. “After I left the academy, it has been all about work. And ever since we left the colonies…” He shrugs. “There isn’t time.”

Laura places a hand on the back of his. “There is now. We’re here. My entourage is elsewhere and so are your band of pilots.” She gazes around the mess hall. “Can I interest you in a night cap? It’s just moonshine, but I have it on great authority that it’s the best batch since we left for Earth.”

Lee wants to join her so badly, he is trembling. “I think you may end up breaking my heart, if I do,” he says, turning his hand under hers and holding it, palm to palm.

“Lee…” Laura looks like she loses her breath right then and there. She grips his hand harder. “You can’t say things like that unless you mean it.”

“I mean it. Of all the women on Galactica, frak, in the entire colonial fleet, you’re the one that could truly hurt me. I’m not joking.” Lee knows that he, ironically enough, has opened up for said hurt by being this honest, but can’t find any other way to be around Laura.

“I don’t want to hurt you, Lee.” Laura’s voice turns into something very velvety as she rubs her thumb in a circular caress against the back of his hand. The touch sends shivers all the way to the base of his neck and down his spine. “It has to be you, or I go back to my quarters alone. It’s not like anybody would do.” She looks so young when she speaks, as if she’s transported to her teens or early twenties. Yes, she’s the president and as such, she’s formidable and gaining the reluctant respect from men like his father. Right now, though, she regards him with a strange sort of innocence. Perhaps it is in the eyes of the beholder, his, but it brings out his protective side.

“May I walk you back, Laura? And then we’ll see if you still want me to join you?

Laura’s smile increases marginally. “You may.” She downs the last of her cup and stands.

Taking his proffered arm, she squeezes it to her, making him aware of her outline from her shoulder down to her hip. He shudders and wonders if she notices it. Not that he minds, but he’s not used to this level of responsiveness on his part. Laura has always looked at him with appreciation and on occasion, admiration. Like that time, he saved Colonial One and everyone aboard by an experimental method he and his friends at the academy had toyed with. Laura had pulled him off the floor and held on to him briefly, while thanking him.

They stroll, rather than walk, along the corridors that are as busy as ever. The shift on duty are as many as ever and some of the crew is working double shifts to make up for wounded or killed shipmates.

They reach her guest quarters, a nice, but very small cabin only four doors from his father’s quarters. On good terms with his father nowadays, it still feels awkward to stand outside Laura’s quarters as if they’ve just been on a frakking date.

“So?” Laura opens the door and stops just inside.

Lee doesn’t want to leave her. Not yet. He steps inside and closes the door behind him.

The cabin really is very small and it smells entirely of Laura’s perfume. It is, like so much about her, understated and discreet, but…it’s her. Ever since he came aboard Colonial One that fateful day of the Cylon attack, it has been her.

Lee grabs her by the shoulders and pull her close. His mouth hover above hers and he’s waiting for her to acknowledge that this is what she really wants. Laura raises up on her toes and closes the distance, pressing her lips to his.

It’s in many ways a chaste kiss. No tongues, merely the sweetest pressure of lips. For the first moments, Lee is content in breathing her in via his nose and feeling her do the same. Then he changes the angle and runs the tip of his tongue along her lips.

Laura sags against him and he holds her closer with his arms around her waist.

“Careful,” he murmurs against her mouth before he enters it with his tongue.

Laura groans and meets him every step of the way. She wraps her arms around his neck and digs her fingers into his short-cropped hair.

Before this kiss, Lee could have written his attraction to Laura off as admiration, hero worship, in a sense, or even the titillation of her being an older, devastating beautiful woman…but this kiss tells him the truth. He loves her. His heart is already breaking as he surmises that this will never amount to anything, that their lives are so fragile and in constant danger—the president won’t have time for anything personal on this level. Not that she doesn’t deserve to, but she’s committed and devoted to this new job as their leader—something she never strived for. As far as he knows, she was reluctant to go into politics at all, no matter how good she is at it. So, yes, his heart is already in a million pieces, and yet he kisses her in a way that his feelings should be obvious to her.

Laura whimpers and cling to him. Raising her right leg, she wraps it around his hip, pressing so hard against him that he nearly loses his balance. Now he actually does push her up against the bulkhead.

She laughs. A low, happy, breathless chuckle that makes him grunt and tear his mouth from hers and slide his lips down her neck.

“Ah!” Laura bucks against him. “Oh…my…Captain Apollo…”

He grins against her skin and suddenly everything seems easy, if only for a few moments. He licks, kisses, and nips as far into her décolleté as he can reach with out removing her blouse. The jacket must go, though, and he shoves down, making her lower her arms until it is off. Now he can’t keep his hands from cupping her breasts.

“Wait…just no my left---breast,” Laura moans, capturing his hand when he yanks back. “No, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just…sore.” Her eyes are roaming his face, searching for his response.

“You’re injured?” Lee asks huskily.

“In a way. But the rest of me is fine,” Laura says, and kisses him again, holding his face gently.

He is just about to lift her up to place her on the bed when the alarm klaxons seem to clear their throat and then blare the now all-too-familiar message. “Action stations! Action stations! All personal report to their duty stations. Action stations! Action stations!”

Lee groans and hugs Laura to him. The sound of the klaxons slice through him as Lee knows he had to let her go. It is now he will lose er, lose this chance to convey how he truly feels, and it is as if this makes his future grow dim and permeated with indifference.

“You have to go,” Laura murmurs in his ear and he can barely make out her words over the noise.

“I know,” Lee says, and he can hear how hollow his voice sounds.

“And you have to promise to come back.” Laura shakes him gently. “Come back to me?”

Lee flinches and take a few moments to drown out the klaxons and just look at the woman in his arms. She’s fearful for him. Her eyelashes look wet and stick together in a way they didn’t just a moment ago. And she just told him to come back to her.

“I will.” He knows very well that he cannot promise anything since their reality is the way it is. She knows that too, of course she does. “Be safe, Laura,” Lee says as he zips up his jacket.

She walks the three steps to the door with him. Placing a hand over his heart, her touch mends him, at least for now. “You too, Captain Apollo.”

He nods. “Yes, sir.”

In the corridor, people are running at full speed to get to their duty stations. Lee hears the door close behind him and wonders if she’s crying or donning her presidential mode. He thinks the latter as he follows the stream of people heading for the shuttle bay.

He’s off to kill himself some Cylons and then return to Galactica—and to Laura.