zorb: (Fingerpaint - BSG)
zorb ([personal profile] zorb) wrote2005-12-26 12:11 am
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Fic - BSG - A Solstice Carol (5)

Aaaaand we're done! Hope you've enjoyed it.

This chapter: You know the story: It's a new day for Tigh and time for him to make amends.

Stave V: The End of It

Tigh landed on something soft. He hadn’t expected to land at all, but when he opened his eyes, he found himself on his own bed, in his own quarters. He rolled onto his back and gazed around the room in amazement. Yes, it was most certainly his home, just as he remembered it. Even his gun rested on the bedside table, where he’d placed it after the first spirit’s appearance.

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future,” he repeated to himself as he sat up. “I said I’d do it, and by the gods, I will. Oh Bill,” he said to the photograph mounted on the dresser, “I’ll make up for all of it - I swear it by all the Lords of Kobol. And by your memory, Bill Adama!” His voice breaking, he collapsed forward into a sobbing fit.

A moment later, he was up rushing around the room to change into fresh clothes. Tigh hadn’t moved this quickly in twenty years and felt no pain in doing it now – even without his usual morning starter. He somehow managed to avoid cutting himself shaving, but he tried at least three different configurations for his pants before he got them right, and his socks never matched.

For Tigh was laughing, and not the caustic bark of the past few decades, but a real, hearty laugh of joy. He was lightheaded, and his mouth was stretched and chapped from the genuine smile it hadn’t held in ages. “I’m as light as a feather,” he gasped out. “I’m as merry as a schoolboy; I’m drunk without having a drink!” He collapsed on the floor in laughter. “Blessed Brumalia to all! Praise the Lords of Kobol!”

He dashed into the sitting room. “There’s the spilled glass still on the floor! And that’s where Starbuck sat, bless her soul, wherever it is now! And Bill! Bill came in through that door – and went out that one!” Saying this, he ran to the porthole and wrenched it open, breathing deeply of the fresh morning air.

“What day is it?” he wondered. “How long have I been away? Who cares!” He laughed again, voice echoing across the narrow alleyway.

Unsatisfied with the view, he dashed through the ship, vaulting over railings and banging on the bulkheads. He reached the closed up bridge; the latch was shut tight, but with a lot of effort and even more laughter at his own failures, he wrenched it open and dashed in to get a good look out of the forward viewport. The day was clear, and there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground – winter then, but when?

His eye caught sight of the clock. “Saul, you old fool, the answers are right here!” He flicked a switch on the console and gasped upon reading the date. “I haven’t missed it at all, then. The spirits did it all in one night! Well, of course they did, they’re spirits, they can do whatever they want.”

Struck with an idea, he turned on communications and called the specialty grocer’s a few blocks away. “Hello, has your prize turkey been bought yet?” he asked when a sleepy looking boy answered.

“Not the large one,” the boy said, shaking his shaggy head.

“Delightful boy,” chuckled Tigh. “I’ll have it!”

The boy uncapped a pen. “Delivered to you, sir?”

“Me? Hah, what would I do with such a bird? No, my boy, no. I have a very special purpose for it, and I’ll give you an extra five cubits if you can promise me to get it there fast.”

The boy sat up straighter, pen at the ready. “Yes, sir!”

“Charming boy!” exclaimed Tigh. “Send it to Karl and Sharon Agathon, but don’t let the delivery man say who it’s from.” Grinning at his scheme, he gave the boy the address and had him read it back to be sure. “And what’s your name, boy, so I can get you your tip?”

“Boxey, sir,” the boy said proudly.

“Fine name, young man, a fine name!” said Tigh before he hung up. “Agathon will never know what’s coming,” he cackled, skipping off the bridge. As he passed his quarters again, he caught sight of the chimera on the wheel and paused for a moment to shake his head. A laugh bubbled up again, and he turned to dash down the stairs and out through the airlock hatch.

The streets were full of families, couples, and groups of friends of all ages. Their happiness was Tigh’s, and he called out to them in greeting, though he’d never seen them in his life. Two blocks’ walk did take him to a pair of familiar faces, and he now felt the true pang of guilt for his words the previous day.

“Mr. Keikaya! Ms. Dualla!” he called to them. They stopped at his hail.

“Mr. Tigh,” Keikaya greeted him, jumping when Tigh grabbed his hand and began shaking it with vigor.

“Blessed Brumalia to you both,” Tigh said. “How goes the fundraising? Well, I hope?”

“Yes, well,” said Dualla. “Most of the business owners we spoke to were very generous.”

Tigh flinched inside but continued on. “I wanted to apologize for what I said yesterday. I would very much like to donate to your cause.” He leaned close to them and whispered a sum that made both of them gasp.

“Are you sure, Mr. Tigh?” asked Keikaya.

“Completely,” Tigh replied, patting his hand one last time before releasing it. “Consider it a donation for previous years, if it’ll make you feel better.”

“Thank you very much, Mr. Tigh,” said Dualla, her dark eyes wide in shock.

“With my blessings. Come and see me again, both of you,” he instructed them to their fervent nods.

Tigh spent the day exploring Caprica City in ways he never had before. His knowledge of it had been confined to those particular establishments of which he was a patron and nothing further. His travels with the spirits had introduced him to sections of town of which he had only heard or read, and now he wanted to see them, and others, as more than a mere shadow. He underestimated the city’s size at first as he tried to go up and down every block. Then he hit upon taking the light rail that had been installed a few years ago – a costly measure Tigh had voted against at the time. He recanted that vote and every harsh word that had accompanied it now as he rode up and down the tracks, waving at the operators and shaking the hand of every passenger on the train.

In the afternoon, he disembarked in the university district and walked to where the apartments and condominiums had balconies and doormen. He took the steps to Lee Adama’s building two at a time, and as his name was still on the guest list, the man at the desk waved him by with a nod and a “Happy Solstice, sir.”

Tigh hummed along with the music in the elevator and thought about what he was going to say. How to atone for years of neglect? Of denial? Could he ever make it up to Bill, and to Lee? He could try.

Lee answered his knock at the door. His jaw dropped open and he blinked a few times before managing to speak. “Uncle – I mean, Mr. Tigh. This is a surprise.”

“Lee,” said Tigh, “I’ve come. To dinner.”

Lee’s face broke into a brilliant, if still shocked, smile. “Well, uh, come in, then!” He gestured Tigh inside and called to his wife. “Cally! You’ll never guess who’s here.”

Cally, still fixing one earring, poked her head out of a room down the hall. “Your uncle Tigh?” she teased.

Tigh stepped into her view. “Hello,” he said.

Cally fumbled to catch her dropped backing. “Mr. Tigh…what a surprise…” she stuttered.

Lee came to her rescue. “Cally, I’ve got dinner going just fine. Take all the time you like before the other guests arrive.” He kissed her cheek, and though her eyes flicked between Lee and Tigh, she seemed reassured and disappeared again.

“Lee,” began Tigh as they took seats, “I want you to know that...your father was a very dear friend of mine.”

Lee nodded. “And you were his.”

“Yes. Which is why I should have come long before now and not…well. Lee, I would be honored if you would think of me as family.”

“Uncle,” Lee said with a smile, “I always have.”

The party was just as Tigh had seen it before, but with added pleasure for Tigh as he was now a part of the festivities. He learned that Gaius Baltar was indeed another professor, and that half the group were Cally’s colleagues. He toasted with them, sang with them, gambled with them, and was the first to point out Gaius’s sightedness in blind man’s bluff. It was a wonderful evening, and Tigh left with promises to have another dinner, and to visit both their offices after the holiday.

The next morning, Tigh was downstairs to work an hour early to beat Agathon there. But his employee was not early; in fact, he was almost twenty minutes late, and he tried to sneak in quickly as if to pretend he had always been sitting in that chair.

“Agathon!” Tigh barked in his usual voice. “What do you mean by coming so late? You said you’d be early today.”

“I know, Mr. Tigh,” replied Agathon. “I’m very sorry, sir.”

“Come out here,” Tigh commanded him.

Agathon did, as slowly as he could manage without a scolding. He stood tall when he arrived, and Tigh rose as well, stepping around his desk to face him. “Well?” he demanded.

“I said I was sorry, sir. We were celebrating the holiday yesterday. I’ve been early all year, sir. It’s just one day.” Agathon, though contrite, did not let his familial pride falter.

“You expect me to take that?” growled Tigh. “Well, I’ll tell you one thing, Agathon; I won’t stand for this sort of thing any longer. You hear me? And that’s why,” he said, shaking a little, “that’s why…” He had to turn around to compose himself for a moment before returning to Agathon’s confused face. “That’s why I’m raising your salaray!”

“Mr. Tigh…I…what?”

“A raise, Agathon. To help you feed that growing family of yours,” Tigh explained. His employee still didn’t seem to have understood. In fact, he was eyeing the phone, and Tigh thought with an internal chuckle that if he didn’t move quickly, Agathon might knock him out and call a psychiatric institution on him.

He clapped a hand on Agathon’s shoulder, making him jump. “I’m serious, Karl. I’ve been a terrible employer to you. I want to make up for it, now and in the future. As long as I have anything to say about it, you’ll never be in want for anything again.” He smiled and patted Agathon’s shoulder once more before heading back to his desk. “And turn up the heat, it’s frakking freezing in here!”

Agathon’s stunned face slowly melted into a wide smile. “Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Tigh. I’ll – I’ll do that right away.”

Tigh did even more than he promised. Not only did Agathon get a raise, but he became an apprentice to Tigh, with the aim of taking over the business when Tigh eventually did retire. He fixed up the aging ship and hired the Agathon children to help clean and paint it over their breaks from school; though Tigh and his nephew by choice did most of the work, the children were paid generously in both cubits and treats. He became not only their friend, but a second father to the younger ones, especially little Leoben, who did not die.

He joined in the community beyond what was required of him and always gave generously to public projects. Some of his colleagues disdained his new philosophies, but Tigh only laughed them off and took up with those more suited to his newfound good nature. He stopped stocking ambrosia as if preparing for an apocalypse and only indulged in moderation, at parties and social gatherings.

Everyone who knew him after his Solstice encounter, as he thought of it, considered him among the kindest, and most generous and cheerful of their acquaintance, and every Brumalia after that was celebrated in grand fashion at the offices of Adama and Tigh. When he saw a person hunched over, dour-faced, and surly on the streets, he stopped them, and said, “Blessed Brumalia,” no matter what the season – and by the gods, if there wasn’t something in his eyes to make them believe him!