"Why? You wanna know why?" He grins like a deaths-head, and kicks the dufflebag across. Lee opens it up, and chokes on the fetid stink that rises. He looks at Romo, his heart breaking. This is a test, too: the President looks into the stinking mess and madness of humanity, and loves it anyway, as fiercely as a beast. You pick your side, and you stick with it, because they are your people.
"That's right. They killed my cat!" They? "They! Those debased dregs of humanity out there! That lost tribe in search of a new home, so they can roost and rot again!"
You either love them, he's saying, or you don't, but if you love them you love all of them, because you're the man that stands in the dark. But Lee already loves them, he gets that part: Forgiven. There's a whole forest of crazy out there, people climbing the walls, moms disappearing and dads disappearing, the Fleet all alone in the night: they're everywhere. But right here, right in front of him in his little shirt and his hair: there's a tree, a man whose pain is very real. The singular entity that is Romo Lampkin, who is in trouble.
It's the thing that his Dad can't seem to do, always lurching from the Admiral to the proud Papa and back again, letting Galen and Cally go to New Caprica, beating the shit out of Galen a year later. It's the thing Laura can't do, always finding new ways to rub off her edges and get stronger, faster, sharper, more ruthless. Cut down more trees to save the forest. But what if he could do it? He's been military and he's been a politico. He's walked in civvies and in uniform, he's committed sedition and treason and led the Air Group, he's jumped back and forth across that line more than once. I'm not saying he's there yet, but isn't the proper story for Leland Joseph Adama that he manages to take the best of them both? Ah, shit. Who knows? I love him, you can't trust me at all.
"Romo," he says, worried and choking, "How long has the cat been dead?" Romo starts to shout. "It's irrelevant! It's immaterial, since it wasn't even my cat!" Lee looks him in the eye. "Romo. It's been dead for weeks." And he went into that little box, with the tiny square window, and he didn't come out.
"It belonged to my wife. I'd just retrieved it from a vet on Geminon when the bombs started to fall, and fate presented me with a choice. I could get back on that shuttle, or I could run home and try to save my family. How do you think I chose?"
Romo chose safety, the day of the Exodus. And as long as Lance lived, he was penance and he was guilt and he was shame and he was survival. He was wife and daughters, and he was Geminon and Caprica and Tauron and Aerelon. He was that which remains; he was that without which. And then he was gone, and Romo crawled into a dark place and couldn't come out for anything but Lee.