Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Word count: ~1000
Notes: Originally written for twelvecolonies for the unexpected pairings challenge. Set during season four, during Baltar's trial.
Summary: Romo has a conversation with Lieutenant Dualla about her husband.
Romo paused at the entrance of Galactica's bar, scanning the crowd in search of his target. Fortunately for him, she was alone. He slipped invisibly through the half-full bar and dropped onto the stool beside her.
"So you're the wife."
He kept an eye on her reaction as he signalled for a drink, noting the speed with which surprise shifted to outrage. More, he thought, than one would expect simply from minimizing her professional accomplishments. Trouble on the home front? Well, and that was no more than he'd already suspected. The real question was why.
"So you're the lawyer," she replied mockingly, bitterness colouring her tone.
"I am," he agreed easily. "Defender of the downtrodden and scum of the Fleet."
She looked up sharply. "I never said that." But her protest was halfhearted. That was probably it, then, and in that case, he might as well skip the preliminaries and cut straight to the heart of the matter.
"He can't help it, you know," Romo said. He sipped the drink the bartender had set in front of him, savouring the satisfying burn, and waited a beat as annoyance and curiosity warred in Dualla.
Curiosity won. He'd expected it would.
"Who can't help what?" She didn't quite look at him as she spoke.
"Your husband. He can't help defending Baltar. It's his nature--once the challenge was thrown down, he had to pick it up."
"It's not his nature," Dualla retorted sharply, head swinging around. "He's a soldier. A warrior. Not a--"
"Bottom-feeding lawyer?" The words didn't bother him. He knew what people thought. How they thought. "You're right. He is a warrior. One who fights for what he believes in. And what Lee Adama believes in is the importance of The System."
"The system," Dualla repeated disbelievingly. "What the frak does he think the system has to do with any of this? There's barely any system left."
"Which is why he thinks it's important to defend what remains."
"Real people suffered on New Caprica! Real people died. By the thousands. I don't understand how he can..." Her voice trailed off as she seemed to recall who she was talking to.
"Treat an abstract system as more important than those people?" Romo suggested. "Defend the man who caused all of that suffering?" He cocked his head, watching her. Was curiosity the failing of all intelligent people, he wondered, or just him? "Somebody has to."
"But why Lee? That was never his assignment!"
"His assignment." There was a wealth of meaning in that word. A world of explanation.
He shouldn't be doing this. He knew he shouldn't. He'd gotten his answer. Best to leave well enough alone now, and let the chips fall where they may.
He twisted in his chair until he faced her straight on. When had he ever left well enough alone? "Did you never think that someday he might want to do something other than what his father told him to?"
"Not like this!"
"Then how? What space is there in this Fleet for the son of Admiral Adama, except where he carves it out himself doing that which is father will not do?"
"Why does he need to?" Dualla demanded. "His father is a great man! He should be honoured--"
"To spend the rest of his life in his father's shadow?"
Dualla drew back abruptly. "You're the one who talked him into this," she said flatly.
"I didn't talk him into anything, Lieutenant. I didn't have to. As I said, it's his nature."
She shook her head, rejecting his words. "This isn't who I married. The man I married--"
"Was never his father, no matter how much you wanted him to be." He knew as he'd said it that he was going too far. No one had asked him to intervene, after all.
Dualla was on her feet now, pale eyes blazing. "I never asked him to be his father!" she hissed.
"No," Romo agreed calmly. He looked up, meeting her gaze. "But he was the closest you could hope to come." He held up a hand to forestall her response. "I'm not saying you were looking to sleep with the Admiral--"
Dualla leaned in close, voice low and distinct and very angry. "I love Lee for who he is." She paused and straightened up, smoothing her uniform automatically. "Or at least I used to."
Romo knew then that she was going to leave Lee no matter what was said here. Or at home. Well, and that was better for him, wasn't it? Better for Baltar, better for the case. Surround Lee with failure on all other sides, so that he had no choice but to succeed in the one arena where he still had control.
An image of Lee shattered and in need of comfort flashed in front of Romo, and he suppressed a shiver at the thought. For a moment he contemplated inquiring of Lee's soon-to-be ex-wife whether her husband's tastes extended beyond blonde pilots and dark-haired CIC officers. Then he dismissed the thought with a rueful, sardonic smile. Even he couldn't summon quite that level of hubris.
He looked up at Dualla, who was still standing beside her abandoned stool as if not quite sure what to do next.
"You're not what I expected," he said. Which wasn't quite true--he hadn't really had any expectations for what Lee's wife would be like, beyond lovely and intelligent, and Dualla was both of those things. But in his experience, most people liked to be thought mysterious and unpredictable, and he felt he owed her something.
"Funny, you're exactly what I expected," Dualla said in a tone that left no doubts as to what her expectations had been.
"I'm something of an acquired taste," he allowed.
"It's too bad my husband's acquired it."
If only, Romo thought as Dualla strode out of the bar, head high. He curled his fingers tightly around his glass. And now that that's answered, my boy, what are you going to do next?
Romo lifted his glass and drank.
This entry was originally posted at http://skieswideopen.dreamwidth.org/39457.html, where it has comments. Comments are equally welcome on either entry.