1. Hard day for dreaming
The waking up is hardest, the first breath taken in consciousness each morning. It's even harder after he's brought back. In those first few moments of every morning it all comes rushing back. As he rolls out of his bunk, pulls on clothes, brushes his teeth, checks the time, inside his mind the events of the past come thudding back; he feels as if he's their punching bag. Zak, his mother, his father, Gianne, his failures, the attacks, his failures, his decisions, the consequences... always the consequences.
The knot inside his chest feels as if it is slowly choking him. It only eased when he let go, let the air escape from his flight suit and just floated. That was what was so seductive about it. This knot had been with him for so long, he couldn't remember when he first felt it, or when he first realized he felt it--that might be more to the point. Before the Cylon attacks, definitely. Since his childhood? Maybe. He didn't want to look too closely at that. But it had grown in magnitude over the years, especially since the attacks. In rare moments of self-indulgent solitude, he had visualised it as an amorphous black growth, foul and terrible in its physicality, gripping his heart and his lungs in its slimy embrace. He imagined being able to take a knife or a scalpel and dig it out of his chest. It helped to think of it that way, to give it form, though he knew that this was illusory. It could never be extracted; it was part of him, though thinking that way made him flinch with rage he couldn't explain.
If he concentrates too long on it, he loses himself in a deluge of unbearable emotion. Instead, he monitors his thoughts constantly, diverting his attention to more productive areas: the minutiae of the CAG's role that Kara winces at provide Lee with a useful external focus. These are solvable problems, obstacles which can be surmounted, one task at a time. There's comfort in creating order, and while he knows he could be replaced in a second, it also provides him with a thin thread of satisfaction that he can help fight to keep civilization's motley leftovers alive. But that's only an external satisfaction; it doesn't actually lessen the weight he carries.
How could he explain this to anyone? Kara was the only person he might have been able to tell, but when he attempted it, he had seen in her eyes that she didn't understand. That door had closed: she was dismissive of his 'space walk' now, joking about something that made her uncomfortable. He'd been wrong to burden anyone with that. He should know to keep his own counsel on these things by now. The knot thickens.
2.Random acts of hopelessness
Shevon's words haunt him. It had been a shock to be exposed like that, to see himself through her eyes and know he'd failed. Again. It shouldn't have been as much of a shock as it was, but every time Lee thinks he's got a grip on the ways he disappoints others, he turns around and catches himself in another crime against them. There's irony there somewhere--that something that was supposed to be so simple, defined and contained, had got so out of hand. Lee had prided himself on keeping their relationship human, on seeing the woman, not just the role she played. Perhaps she'd been a better actress than he'd ever guessed. Though he reminded himself every time that her attentiveness emotionally was part of the deal (something she'd understood instinctively), it had felt as real as anything he'd ever had with a woman. He didn't want to think about what that said about him. It was one of the reasons that had led him to choose Shevon in the first place: he'd never known what women wanted from him, why despite his best efforts and protestations they always wound up disappointed.
It was true though that lately he'd been preoccupied more than ever with thoughts of Gianne. Her memory had never left him, of course, but in the first period after the attacks there had been so many other overwhelming things to focus on. Now it feels like her ghost dogs his every step. He doesn't even have a photo of her, and he doesn't know if that's a sorrow or a blessing. It's the immutability of the memory that tears at him most--the Cylon attacks coming when they did mean he's frozen in time as a man too weak and fearful to welcome the gift of life that his girlfriend had held out to him. Sometimes he feels like he's outside himself, watching someone else's life--it's how he felt after he ejected from the Blackbird. There was, in the end, so very little that Lee could control, and what he should have control over, he fraks up. He wasn't there for Gianne the way she needed. Despite his promise, he wasn't there for Kara, couldn't be. His grip on life was so tenuous and powerless--it was easier to let go.
3. Take it easy
Dee's not Lee's type, either physically or in terms of her character. His attraction to her surprises him. It's usually the tall, showy blondes that mesmerise him, and Dee's petiteness disorients him at first. But she's tough in her own way. He likes her tenacity in their training sessions and he admires her self-composure when she talks about Billy proposing.
He can relate to what she describes: the bolt of certainty that you can't deliver what the other person wants, even if you can't fully explain why to yourself or others. However, she doesn't berate herself for it the way he does. He suspects she's stronger than him, but being around her makes him want to respond to the gentle challenge in her eyes, and it's been a long time since he felt like that. Lee doesn't deal well with the weight of expectation in relationships of any sort, and at first he'd worried about what Dee would want from him.
It's something Lee admits only to himself, and then only in his most honest moments, but it was comforting to hear Dee whispering 'stay with me' as he fought to retain consciousness after being shot. Was that all she really wanted? Was that all he needed to do? Was he enough? He knew it was silly to place so much importance on words murmured in fear and confusion, but perhaps it really was that simple. He'd always been inclined to overcomplicate things and it was a relief to relax and trust someone else for once.
She also asked for three times that Lee lost control, pre-mini-series.
Lee doesn't know how old he was when this happened, but it can't have been long after his father left. Still, it was old enough to know better and he often thinks of it when others praise him. They don't really know him. Lee was helping his mother with dinner. She had a tumbler full of ambrosia in one hand and was in one of her giggly moods. Specifically she was laughing with Zak, who had found one of Lee's school report cards, unread, under a pile of old papers. Now he was reading it aloud in a mocking voice--the voice which he put on to mimic Lee. '"Lee shows great determination"... d'you know what that means, Mom? It means Lee sucks up the teacher's ass!' His mother bent over, choking, and in a flash Lee had seized the pot of near-boiling water from the stove and flung it in Zak's direction. Zak leapt back, tumbling off his chair, and there was one moment of absolute silence before he started screaming. Most of the water had missed him but it had splashed his arm and the side of his face. Lee's mother started yelling. Lee stood between the two of them for a moment waiting for someone to take charge. And then it dawned on him that there was no-one but him. He'd known that already, in theory. He'd been trying to be the man of the house. But there was a difference between knowing something and experiencing it, he learnt that day, as he quietly set about calming Zak down and applying ice to his burns. As Zak quietened, Lee's mother's sobs lessened to incoherent mumbling. Zak was sullen, but he let Lee finish dinner in peace. As he served it up, Lee resolved to save his anger, in the future, for those who deserved it.
Just once, Lee let himself cry about Kara. It was in his final year and he'd just been dumped. Or rather the relationship had just fallen apart--he couldn't even claim to have been dumped fairly and squarely, since they'd both admitted there'd been problems. Kara was... the gods knew where. Not here, which was the point, wasn't it? He took a bottle with him and walked out onto the tarmac, across the airfield. It was 3am and there were no night runs scheduled so only minimal lights lit up the runways. He walked and walked, turning things over in his mind. It didn't take long to get to Kara. And out here away from everyone it was easier to admit that most of the ache he felt inside was for her, not his latest failed relationship. 'That is so frakked up, Lee' he muttered to himself, and then laughed--he must be more drunk than he realised. He dropped to his knees in the grass and then spreadeagled himself on the ground, staring at the stars. It was easier up there... a lump formed in his throat and before he knew it he was choking back the tears. He remembers clutching a clump of grass in his palm as he sobbed Kara's name into the darkness.
When she started dating Zak, Lee steeled himself against a repeat performance. Perhaps it helped that he'd had years of practice.
It was the first time that Lee's parents had been in the same room in years. The wake began civilly enough, but despite Lee's efforts, his mother had been drinking since dawn, ignoring his appeal to respect Zak's memory. The bitter part of him thinks that he shouldn't have expected any better--if she couldn't respect her son while he was alive, why would his death change anything? Lee knew they were in for trouble when his father took the floor, tapping the side of his glass for attention. And soon enough, his mother's calling out from the corner, interrupting his father's sober words. Zak's friends glance at one another awkwardly and Lee can't stop the flush that rushes into his cheeks. When she staggers across the room, he leaps forward, reaching her in time to catch her as she staggers. He escorts her home: she screams bitter words at her ex-husband as they exit, and Lee catches Adama's disappointed stare as he glances behind him.
When Lee returns, the gathering has dwindled but his father's still there, talking to Zak's commanding officer and soaking up the sympathy no doubt. Lee swallows his anger. There's something in the very way his father moves that sets his teeth on edge. It's as if he feels he's entitled to people's attention, their sympathy, even their love. He's made the wake about him and while Lee hated seeing his mother embarrass herself in public, he sympathizes in this instance with her rage. Looking back on it now, a confrontation was inevitable. Lee hadn't planned to bring it up when he did, but he'd been seething since the report came in of Zak's accident, years of resentment about his father channelled into this new, arrow-sharp rage.
Adama moved across to Lee and put his hand on his son's shoulder. 'How's your mother, son?'
Lee jerked his shoulder to shake his father's hand from him, raised his voice and let fire a volley of vitriol. He doesn't remember the exact words but he knows the gist: ridiculous standards, pressure, never taking responsibility... It continues until Kara moves forward and touches the Admiral's arm. Lee glances at her and anger flairs in him anew to see that her expression is one of hurt and disappointment. It takes the wind out of him, and while he falters she guides his father away. Watching them leave, Lee allows himself the brief bitter thought that even now Zak's gone, she's still choosing another Adama man over him. That'd be right--anyone but Lee.
ETA: To distract you from this post, there is the most wonderful meta-y and shippy discussion of Unfinished Business going on at sasa_hq. *nudges*