9 Ladies Dancing
For latteaddict, who requested another Jack ficlet way back when, and who loves Pilots as parents.
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Lee heard the familiar wails from two corridors over. He stopped outside the child care facility’s hatch and closed his eyes. Gods, he loved his son more than he thought it was possible to love anything in this universe – except for Jack’s mother – but he wasn’t cut out for this. Raising a child alone was hard enough, much less under the circumstances. Now, with Jack’s molars coming in and him refusing to sleep through the night ....
Bracing himself for another round, Lee pushed open the child care facility’s hatch and found a group of children playing quietly, with the group’s two teachers trying to calm a screaming sixteen-month-old. When he caught sight of Lee standing there, Cameron muttered, “Thank the Gods,” and walked over to him. “Jack’s been cranky all day, Captain Adama. I’m surprised you couldn’t hear him while you were out on CAP.”
Lee watched Aliya, the other teacher, hop from side to side, waving her arms with a strained smile on her face. Jack never stopped crying. The absurdity of it almost made Lee want to laugh, but he bit his tongue; after all, these two ensigns were caring for his very difficult child when Lee himself couldn’t. They deserved better than his laughter.
Then Jack looked up to find his father standing there, and the air crackled with a sudden silence. He got up and toddled over to Lee, arms raised and with the beginnings of a smile. Lee picked him up, Jack’s face buried in the crook of his neck. The child smelled of sweat and tears, and he whimpered, “Daddy.”
After a quick thank-you, Lee got them out of there before the next meltdown. By the time they hit the corridors, Jack was babbling happy nonsense in his ear. Typical, though it made Lee smile a bit through his exhaustion. He stopped by the mess for their dinner rations and some ice cubes for Jack’s teething, then he opened the hatch to their small quarters and put the toddler to bed in the cot Kara had made him shortly before her death.
Later, once he’d eaten and caught up with paperwork, Lee stood next to the crib. He watched Jack sleep, marveling yet again at this life he and Kara had created. At sixteen months old, the child was already a heartbreaker. Ten fingers, ten toes. A mop of light brown hair, and his mother’s mouth with a temper to match. Always finding new ways to test Lee’s patience and ability to raise a child on his own, even with Bill Adama as grandfather and a huge support system all around. But this afternoon he'd seen Lee standing there in the classroom, and he’d stopped crying. He actually wanted his Daddy. This from a child who often acted like Lee was the last person he wanted around, and who still cried out for a mother he could barely remember. There was something almost pathetic about how great it made Lee feel, but he’d take that over all the failures of the past six months.
Gods, he still missed Kara. She would’ve hated today, ranting and growling at him once their son was asleep. But she loved that child so, so much. Ten months of motherhood hadn’t softened her, but it seemed to open up some new part of herself, like she’d expanded into something much greater than the amazing woman she’d already been before the accident that became Jack. He wished for so many things on a daily basis – many selfish, many selfless. Right now he wished he could’ve seen her dancing for Jack, trying to get him to stop crying. He wished she were here standing next to him as Jack slept, then tugging him over to the bed. But this was his life now, and today he’d made Jack smile.
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