Word Count: 3,121
Characters/Pairings: Adama/Roslin, Laura, ensemble
Summary: Resurrected Laura finds her purpose, the Opera House is explained, and both Lauras find peace with each other.
Link to Art: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v
Notes: A bucket of thank-yous to the magnificent icedteainthebag, whose penance for assigning me this chapter was that she offered to beta it.
Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine | Chapter Ten | Chapter Eleven | Chapter Twelve | Chapter Thirteen | Chapter Fourteen
"You asked to see me."
Laura glanced up from her crossed legs and the book that was cradled between them. Bill Adama stood outside the bars, a hand resting against the cage. He didn't make a move to enter the cell.
It surprised her to see him. Her other self, sick as she was, must have been very convincing to get him away from her side when it seemed all they had left were a few fragile moments of her life to spend together. It made Laura even more resolute in conveying her message; she mustn't waste Bill's time or the precious time of her sister.
"You have to get Hera back," she said.
"So everyone keeps telling me."
"You have to feel it. How important she is."
"I feel it," he admitted, albeit reluctantly. When she smiled, he looked away and took in a loud, shaky breath that looked like it was supposed to calm him. But it only added to the sudden quivering in his hands. When he caught her staring, he balled them into tight fists and adjusted his posture—trying to hide his vulnerability and the sudden paleness that seemed to have overcome his visage since he'd left the flask behind.
"The mission's 2-Alpha," he stated. "We've divided the crew. Separated from the Fleet. It's only this ship."
"Good," she said, pushing aside a strand of hair. "I want to help."
"Out of the question."
Laura stood from her cot and tossed the book aside. She approached the cell door; the deck was frigid against her bare feet. "You're just going to leave me here?"
"What could you do?" he said, his voice taking on an accusatory tone. "What could you do? Laura can't even shoot a target at point-blank range."
"Diloxin fraks with your aim," she stated simply, and knew it was a mistake as soon as it left her mouth. His eyes grew stormy, and he nearly lunged at her through the bars, staring at her with such sudden antagonism that she grew afraid and backed away from the cell door.
"Don't do that," he snarled.
"I can't access ..." Laura shook her head and decided not to continue. She wasn't interested in going down that road with him. "I know Cavil," she murmured.
"So does Ellen," he shot back. "You said so yourself."
She bit the inside of her lip. "Godsdamn it, Bill."
"What's gonna happen when I announce to the ship that she's a Cylon? You think about that? About what could happen to her?" He took a breath. "What could happen to you?"
Laura padded toward the cell door again. "You have Cylons crawling all over this ship," she spat. "Openly."
"You're different," he argued. "This is different."
She leaned in close, so close she could smell the lingering scent of his shaving cream. She lowered her voice to a near whisper and wrapped a hand around one of the bars. "Does it really matter anymore?" she asked. "Will it really matter to anyone now that Earth is gone and their hope is gone and you've got Cylons in the hangar bay, in the CIC, and in the Vipers? Will it really matter if Laura Roslin turns out to be a Cylon after all?"
His eyes met her own.
"Let me out, Bill."
He stared at her for a long while, before he hesitantly allowed one of his fingers to trace her cheek. It was a warm touch, almost affectionate. The first kind touch in what felt like a long, long time. She couldn't quite control the way she welcomed it—with closed eyes and parted lips. Bill breathed in and breathed out, and for a moment she felt like she wasn't in this cell. She was just standing in his quarters, testing his resolve and winning—winning this moment of weakness. But when she opened her eyes the illusion vanished; Bill looked away from her and pulled back his hand.
He backed away and looked to the ground, his jaw clenched.
"There's a briefing at 0900. When you're released, you'll report directly to my quarters. Understand?"
Laura nodded, resisting the powerful urge to smile in victory.
Bill turned to leave but hesitated at the hatch. "You've got this one body left," he said with his back to her. "This one, perfect body. Don't betray her by frakking it up and getting yourself killed."
She swallowed, her voice almost sticking in her throat. "Bill ..."
He ignored her. "I've got some things to announce to the crew."
When he left, the door clanged heavily behind him.
Laura had been given her freedom by the man who had the least reasons to trust her. She stood with the others in the Admiral's quarters, huddled around his table and staring at the camera stills splayed across the varnished wood. Singularities, exploding stars—the veritable death trap that would swallow up the Battlestar. It was a suicide mission. And still, they were going. Still, there was some shred of hope.
Laura clung to it and held it close as she suited up in the fatigues Bill had given her. She changed in his empty quarters, surrounded by silence and bathed in incandescent lighting, noting the familiar smell of leather and old vellum. He stood in the next room, silently watching her, their shadows playing on the walls.
As she laced up her boots, he finally lumbered toward her, holding a pistol by its barrel and pointing its handle toward her as she stood.
She immediately shook her head. "I can't," she whispered.
Bill shook his head and snatched her hand, wrapping her fingers around the handle. Pressing her fingers flush against the grip.
"But you will," he said. "You have to."
Laura let the weight rest in her hand, adjusted to it, turned the weapon from side to side. And she knew he was right.
She had to.
For Hera. For Laura. For him.
Laura waited in Airlock 3, surrounded by red-striped Centurions and Marines who stared at her with barely concealed heartbreak. She caught the same looks from Lee, who, after she would catch him staring, would look away angrily and stare at the unopened hatch.
Through the thick titanium, she could hear the muffled voice of the ship-wide loudspeaker—no doubt the final few words before there was no going back.
And then there was the sickening lurch of the FTLs—that sensation of closing in on herself, growing smaller and smaller, denser and denser until ...
The ship creaked upon entry and immediately the hull was bombarded. It sounded like torrential rain, and the floor shook so violently that they had to brace themselves against one another or against the Centurions.
"Steady," Lee ordered, as if calming a skittish horse. "Steady."
He listened, listened.
"Brace for impact!"
Laura clutched the slender waist of a Centurion, who looked down at her with a curious eye. It reaffirmed its footing.
The sound of the impact was so loud it rang in her ears. A loud crack, like lightning against a tree branch —like lighting against her nerves. Beneath her, the deck quaked. She was almost propelled forward by the force of the impact, but she clung to the Centurion with all her strength until the Battlestar slowed, balanced and came to stop.
It felt as if her legs would break beneath her.
The Marines cocked their rifles, the Centurions' spindle-like fingers gave way to guns, and the airlock door opened against the rubble.
That's when she heard it, climbing down the bits of debris and the slippery carnage of the Colony's near-organic skin. She heard it—so faintly, drifting from somewhere deep inside.
Music. Or the chaotic beginnings of music.
All the strings of an orchestra, screeching and wailing, struggling to harmonize.
It compelled her; it pushed her forward. As they moved deeper inside the Colony, some unconscious part of her followed it; she heard it grow louder and louder, closer and closer to melody. It gnawed at her, ate at her beneath her skin like an itch she couldn't possibly scratch. She followed Lee, the Marines and the Centurions through blinking hallways that quivered from the barrage of Galactica's batteries. And step-by-step, she felt more intimately entwined with those chaotic beginnings. Enough that when they came to diverging pathways, Lee took one way and she took another without a second thought.
From the fog, she could hear him. "Hey! Hey, where the frak are you going?" But his voice faded away and so did the clanking of the Centurions. She was alone, gloriously alone with the music and her steps.
The music grew louder—grew closer to realizing its sound. And she began running down the hallways, chasing after it, deeper and deeper down this rabbit hole, until she came to one corridor and turned the corner to the next.
There, little Hera scampered down the hallway.
The strings flowed together, creating a chord so beautiful that Laura felt as if she could breathe it in and feel it humming through her veins, amplifying her bones. She grinned, wide and joyful.
The girl kept running.
And just as she knew she would, Laura saw a woman across from her. Standing at the opposite mezzanine, gripping the edge.
"Hera!" Boomer cried. "Come back!"
They locked eyes from across the way. Laura bolted down the hall, taking a right instead of a left. An instinctive shortcut. Its shuttering lights led her to the level below, where Hera skipped along a trail of bullet shells. Laura scooped the girl into her arms and watched as Boomer stalked into the chamber. The Cylon pulled a gun from her side and aimed it squarely between Laura's eyes.
"Put her down," she ordered, eyes wide and chest heaving.
Laura looked to Hera and gently slid her to the floor. With a hand she shepherded the girl behind her legs.
Boomer cocked the handgun. "Turn around. Leave the way you came."
Primal impulse told her to run, to survive. But a more powerful force than survival instinct told her to stand her ground, and she obeyed it. "I can't do that."
Boomer took a step forward. The Colony shook, and both of them struggled to stay on their feet. Something crashed, sparked into the air. She could feel the open electricity; it set her nerves on edge.
"Why are you so obedient to him?" Laura hissed. "He's a monster. Can't you see that?"
"I'm not doing this for Cavil," Boomer sneered. "I broke her out."
"I ... I don't understand."
"Of course you do," she responded. "Everyone you cared about, everyone you knew, they don't see you. They've got her. We're ghosts. Not quite human, not quite Cylon—we don't belong anywhere. There's no love left for us." Boomer pointed her handgun at the child huddled behind Laura's leg. "There's only one way to find any peace for us. She has to die. It all has to die."
Boomer moved forward and steadied her gun. The strings built to a crescendo. And Laura felt Hera's hands tighten on her legs.
A shot fired in the distance. Boomer's head turned. Laura grabbed the gun at her side.
Pulled the trigger.
The sound was almost deafening in her ears, the kickback burning her skin and rattling her arm.
Boomer fell, with a shot to her gut, to the floor. The Agathons charged into the chamber, Starbuck and a few blood-spattered Marines in tow. Hera immediately sprinted toward her mother and into her waiting arms.
Laura, her hand quivering, dropped the pistol to the ground. It clattered against the floor and the music suddenly stopped.
"You all right?" Starbuck asked brusquely, grabbing her by the arm.
Laura looked down, her clothing spattered in her sister's blood. Time slowed for a moment as she touched it. It felt real. "Fine."
"Good. Let's go. We've got a rendezvous, and I don't wanna be late." Starbuck bounded off toward the Marines and the team began to move out without another word. Laura moved to catch up with them, but stopped as she neared Boomer, who lay bleeding from her gut, blood gushing from the hole in her belly. Her breath was labored, wheezing, and her face was pale. A trickle of blood worked its way down from the crook of her mouth.
Laura knelt beside her and waited the short time it took for her die. A single drop of blood hit the deck and Boomer was gone—her eyes dead, just as dead as they had looked when she had lived and breathed and hated everything in her fractured existence. Everything Boomer had come to understand about herself.
Laura wished it could have been different for her. She wished it would be different for herself.
Eventually, their squad intersected with Lee and his remaining comrades. The Colony was quiet and empty as they moved, the halls littered with bodies, bullet casings and little sign of life. The entire place smelled like a mortuary; it buzzed and flickered like a dying filament. They neared the nose of the Battlestar, surrounded by detritus, and began to climb back into the hull.
The sounds of gunfire echoed throughout the Battlestar, and with every hurried step the team sent copper shells scattering across the deck.
"Friendlies! We're friendlies!" Lee yelled around a corner. Two Centurions clattered to the floor. A few moments after, the rapid fire ended.
While Laura stood at a safe distance behind, Starbuck and the Agathons squeezed their way through the corridor. The team split. Laura trailed after the Marines, desperately scanning the bodies shoved against the walls for some sort of weapon. No luck.
"Frak," she muttered, patting down a fallen officer and finding nothing. She stood, only to see two Centurions at the corner of her eye, marching up the corridor.
What happened next was a flurry of violence and adrenaline—the controlled, short blasts of assault rifles and bodies dropping like rag dolls.
The burning agony of a bullet barreling through her kneecap.
She fell, her back slumping against one of the bulkheads. A dead Marine toppled onto her, nearly squeezing the breath from her lungs. She watched through bleary eyes as the Centurions moved on, past the massacre and through the hallway where they had come.
There was silence then. And excruciating pain ... pain unlike she had ever felt.
Laura willed herself to shove the Marine off her body, sending him sprawling on the floor. She watched as the blood gushed from the hole in her leg. It ran down the fatigues, slowly spreading outward and staining the fabric a dark, deep red. Just looking at the wound made the blood drain from her face. Resting her head against the bulkhead, Laura wiped the sweat from her brow and the hair from her eyes. She counted backward, recounted old hymns—tried to ignore the white-hot anguish that pulsed in her knee.
"My. Look what we have here," came a sickeningly familiar voice. "If it isn't our dear cousin."
She watched as Cavil made his way down the hall, flanked by a few of his Centurions. A four. Two fives. Looking unbearably smug.
They stopped, and he loomed over her, grinning. That hope, that hope she had clung to, slowly slipped away as Cavil toyed with his handgun. Flashing it in front of her eyes, the light reflecting off the polished metal. This was it.
She'd failed her.
"I could shoot you," he said, almost playfully. "There wouldn't be anyone to stop me."
He stooped next to her, held the cold barrel to her head and smiled. She tried to shift away from the nozzle, but Cavil's fingers snatched her chin and held her firm.
"Fortunately for you, I think I'm going to need every single one of these." He waggled his eyebrows up and down and then got to his feet. "But trust me, pumpkin, if I have any left over I'll make sure to come back and use 'em on you. Consider it ... a belated birthday present."
Laura sat alone in a warm and sticky pool of blood as the ship rocked and violently shuddered. Her heart wouldn't stop fluttering. Projections flickered in and out like short sensory memories as she waited for any variety of ways she could die. Swallowed by the singularity, loss of blood, a bullet to the brain.
She sat in her field, at the edge the Riverwalk, the leather sofa in her apartment, a lounge chair overlooking the harbor of Queenstown.
She spotted white sunbursts creeping into her vision. As she began to feel the long pull of another FTL jump, a drowsy lightness swept her out of consciousness.
There was a bright light in her eyes, and the air smelled like bleach and blood. It was mostly quiet, and she was reclined in bed.
Laura turned her head and saw her—holding a vigil, frail and white, sitting by her side and smiled at seeing her.
"We're alive," Laura spoke from her bed. Relieved. Unquestioning.
"And so is Hera."
Laura didn't have to ask; she could feel it. She could feel that everything was in its proper place and she grinned at the wonderful sensation of it all—at the sweet alignment of things.
Her twin told her of Cavil's suicide, Kara's miracle, and of the lush new planet that they'd found. She spoke quietly and slowly, almost painfully at times, but she insisted on telling her everything. Everything she'd missed. Again.
Laura could tell it was going to come soon. Death. It filled her with guilt as she looked down and spotted her bandaged leg with not even a spot of blood leaking through white gauze.
"Cottle says you're going to make a full recovery," the other Laura said, laughing weakly. "Actually, he says you're recovering at an alarming rate. You'll probably be able to ... walk right out of here soon."
Laura looked up at the woman at her side and barely choked back a small sob. She searched for her hand and took it—it was cold and small, and it barely had any strength to clasp hers closely. Laura smiled through the tears that began to cloud her vision.
"He loves you so much," she said, voice wavering.
She looked at her lap and then back up again. She nodded. "I know."
"If I could take the cancer from you ... I would," Laura said. "I would."
Her twin, gently dying, shook her head and smiled—beautiful and white, without any fear or doubt.
Her voice drew down to a whisper.
"No," she said. "I wouldn't let you."