Author: mmegiry and icedteainthebag
Word Count: 3,602
Characters/Pairings: Adama/Roslin, Laura, Boomer, ensemble
Summary: Bill and Laura reunite for the first time since New Caprica on the cusp of inconceivable events.
Link to Art: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v
Notes: Thanks to somadanne for the beta and for everyone in the community for their support and suggestions, especially regarding timeline fail.
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
"There is a Languor of the Life
More imminent than Pain—
'Tis Pain's Successor—When the Soul
Has suffered all it can—"
Two weeks earlier
Bill knew things had gotten worse after the exodus from New Caprica—worse for the Fleet and worse for the dynamic between him and Laura. The Fleet was running, always running, and he didn't know if they would ever stop until they breathed their last breaths.
They had found Earth; Earth had been nothing. It was hard to believe that they'd journeyed all that way only to find desolation and destruction. He had let himself slip into believing in the myth of Earth. He'd let Laura convince him—through her smile and her persistence and the inkling of faith he had that when they finally found a resting place, one in which they weren't threatened and weren't running, they would be able to retire together without anticipating the next tragedy to befall them.
The tragedy of Earth had nothing to do with the Cylons pursuing them. Their home had been taken away from them thousands of years prior to their arrival.
And so, they ran again with no destination, in endless jumps across uncharted space. Laura stopped taking her drugs and started running endless circles around Galactica. He tried to convince her to stop but lately, she wouldn't listen to anything he said. She was in too big a hurry to chase around whatever life she had left to live.
He felt no energy to chase anything anymore. This made him all the more thankful when at the end of his shift, he found she had left a note in his quarters, telling him it was time to start living.
He knew what it meant as he ran his fingertips across the slanted letters of her invitation. He showered and looked at himself in the mirror.
"It's time," he said, resolute, as if he needed convincing to take the walk to her guest quarters.
The Marines seemed unaffected by his appearance at her door, regarding him peripherally. He knocked at her hatch and entered the candlelit space she'd prepared for them, closing the door before letting his eyes find her. She stood up from her rack, the scarf on her head her only clothing.
The light made her glow.
They were wordless as they approached each other and met in the middle of the room. She ran her fingers over his lips.
"You came," she whispered with a hint of a smile.
"You asked," he said, pressing his palm against her bare hip.
Bill hadn't touched her skin since the last time his feet touched solid ground, on New Caprica. It seemed like years ago—maybe a lifetime ago—and all the excuses he'd used to build up the wall between them were being with each inch of her body he kissed.
Laura was the President, he was the Admiral; they had responsibilities, but they also had hearts, and with every passing day, he came to realize his heart was breaking at the missed opportunities to hold her close again. He'd never told her about this ache. She kept whatever feelings she had about it to herself as well.
He felt selfish needing her when they found Earth. He lay in his rack, knowing she felt as alone as he did, maybe even moreso. They had failed the Fleet and failed each other. He wondered if she'd given up.
He'd wanted to then. He'd wanted to when he found out Saul was a Cylon. There were so many times that he'd lost count.
And now he remembered how much he missed the soft catch of her breath when his lips met her earlobe.
He wondered briefly whether giving in to each other was an act of comfortable resignation.
"Look at me," she whispered against his neck. "Stop thinking."
She had to know half of this was an impossible request. But he looked down at her and she kept her eyes steadily focused on his as she slipped off the headscarf. Her eyes gleamed in the candlelight. There was the mischief he saw in the hallway, the uncertainty of baring all parts of herself to him, and the desire he knew she had to see reflected in his expression.
"I'm tired of this," she said softly, her fingertips trailing down his chest. "I'm tired of this self-exile we're forcing ourselves into."
"I worry about you," he said. Gods, you don't know how much I worry about you.
She looked down at her fingers as they traced his belt clasp. "I want to tell you that you don't have to worry about me. But you should, and you will."
He leaned down and pressed his lips against her forehead, slipping his arms around her waist. She let him pull her close and rested her cheek against his shoulder. The feel of her body against his invoked an image of her from before, so vivid he had to close his eyes and enjoy it for a few silent moments.
"I worry about you." She didn't move away after she said it. He let her be still in his arms even as his throat began to constrict around his tears. She had reason to be worried, but he had no answers, consolations or promises to give her.
As if she noticed, she looked up and ran her fingers down his cheek. "Come to bed with me."
Many times he'd been strong when she wasn't; this was her time to pull him into the light.
They hooked their fingers together, and she led him to the side of her rack and turned to kiss him so passionately, he had no choice but to respond, his hands sliding up her back, feeling every rib, the buttons of her spine, and the press of her tongue to his lips. He felt his arousal come on strongly, pressed against her stomach. She released a satisfied hum that only intensified the sensation.
"Lie down," she said, kissing him again. She removed his belt and flicked the clasp on his trousers free, pressing her palm against his hardness. "Lie down. I don't want to wait anymore."
He put his hand over hers and stilled it, kissing her lower lip. "I need to feel this, Laura," he said. "As much as I want you right now ... I need to feel this."
He kissed her neck and felt her tense body relent, her breathing grow more steady.
He had waited too long to touch her and wasn't in a rush for it to be over.
After that night in her rack, Bill and Laura had lived. They had captured a few rare moments together before the mutiny occurred. Laura wondered if it was merely a human flaw that turned people against themselves.
She knew that she and Bill, as leaders, had made mistakes. They'd made decisions that they thought were best, despite the feelings they knew the civilians of the Fleet would have when learning about them. But these decisions weren't the mistakes. It was how they came about them—together, without the input of the Fleet or very many others—that was the source of discord. That being said, people were dying, and the entire Fleet was in danger. It was no surprise to her that Zarek was involved, and Gaeta had changed since Earth, since Dee killed herself.
They had all changed so much.
There was a moment she thought she'd never see Bill again. It was the instant the Raptor doors closed, after she'd left him to do what she knew he needed to do. He never would have forgiven himself otherwise. She allowed herself that one moment to come to terms with the reality that his life might end before her own.
As a tear threatened to slip down her cheek, she gritted her teeth and felt the jerk of the Raptor as it came to life.
Then, for the few seconds she let herself imagine it, she knew what hell Bill must be going through every day as he watched her die.
Denial was so much easier.
He needed her to be strong. Lords knew he'd been strong for her enough times.
It was her strength that would get them through.
Laura wished she could look back at the Basestar they'd just departed. The Raptor's takeoff had been hasty; she had felt the sheer force of their acceleration push her back in her seat, and she'd grabbed the harness, her stomach churning as the craft veered a hard left. Ellen sat calmly in her seat. She was silent, staring into the back corner of the Raptor, seemingly immersed in thought.
"I'm surprised Cavil let us go," Laura said one she managed to catch her breath. "He could have shot us down. He would have shot us down. It doesn't make any sense."
"Maybe it's because of her," Ellen responded, nodding in Boomer's direction. "Maybe John isn't as heartless as he tries to appear."
Somehow, Laura doubted that.
Boomer could hear them talking but remained quiet as she focused on the impending FTL jump. The Raptor shuddered, and she didn't bother alerting her passengers of what was to come; their comfort was the last thing on her mind.
"I want Hera."
Boomer’s fingers paused in mid-action as she was buttoning her blouse shut.
"I’ll get her," she promised. It was a decision made so quickly that she wondered whether it, too, was part of her programming. Deception and destruction—it was all she knew now, since she’d put those bullets in the Old Man’s gut.
Cavil smirked. "Of that, my dear, I have no doubt."
Watching as she stood, his eyes briefly raked over her half-naked figure. She had been built for perfection, like her sisters, like the Sixes. But there was no appreciation in Cavil’s eyes, only steel. Galen had looked at her so differently.
"Take Ellen with you," he said. There was a cruel, twisted look on his face. There was so much hatred, so much bitterness inside him. "Preach forgiveness. Use your imagination. Make them think you’re returning stolen cargo, then bring me the girl."
Nodding once, a thought occurred to her. "And Laura Roslin?"
Cavil looked positively gleeful. Boomer briefly regarded his naked form as he rubbed his hands together. Saggy and wrinkled, it was the body of an old man—a body forced upon him by his makers, by his parents. But they had not made him out of spite, had they? They’d made him out of love.
"Can you imagine the look on the Admiral’s face? The look on President Roslin's face, when her healthy carbon copy steps onto that bucket of rust tossing her hair?" He released a delighted laugh.
"It would destroy them." She felt a distant sense of remorse for the man who had once been so dear to her and for the family that had never really been hers. Did they truly deserve annihilation?
Boomer had never been good at picking sides.
"Who needs cancer? Send her back. Split the Fleet." He clapped his hands together and settled Laura Roslin's fate. "I want to see humanity crumble."
"Godsdamn it," Laura muttered. "Nice jump."
Boomer said nothing. There was something unsettling about the FTL jump that Laura had never grown accustomed to no matter how many times she went through one. She let the tingling feeling settle in her fingers and toes until she heard Ellen's voice.
"It was a nice jump," Ellen said. "There's Galactica."
Laura jerked her head to see out the glass canopy of the Raptor. In the distance she could see the massive Battlestar with its fleet of ships surrounding it, including the one she used to call home.
I still live there.
She blinked away inexplicable tears as her nerves began to affect her. She tried to steady herself.
"They're scrambling Vipers," Boomer said, her voice expressionless.
Laura looked at Ellen from across the Raptor. Of course they would. Of course Bill would.
Oh, Bill, you're not ready for this.
"Tell them what precious cargo you have on board," Ellen said, crossing her legs and looking steadily out the front view.
"No," Laura said immediately. "They'll shoot us down for sure. There's no way they'll believe it until they see it."
She wondered if it would be best for everyone if Kara Thrace took down their Raptor. Maybe this had been a bad idea. She couldn't imagine anyone would embrace her upon her arrival; in fact, she was realizing, embarrassingly too late, that not only would she most likely be immediately thrown into the brig, but the President's world would be turned upside down.
How selfish she had been to want to return to the ship. She should have stayed on the Basestar, even if it meant dying for not being able to deliver to Cavil the information he so desperately sought and was convinced she had buried somewhere inside her.
She was so tired of her life not being in her own control.
Bracing herself against the fear of the unpredictable, she felt a flutter of relief as the Vipers, instead of ending their lives, turned and began to lead them home to Galactica.
"I don't know if this is right," she whispered.
"It is right." Ellen finally looked at her with eyes unfamiliarly sympathetic. "It's time to face the truth, Laura. For us and for them."
She listened as Boomer rattled off a string of information over the wireless to Galactica's hangar bay. The ship was looming so near Laura felt she could reach out and touch it.
"We're cleared for landing," Boomer said. "Shouldn't be as rough as our takeoff."
Laura closed her eyes and didn't open them until she heard the hydraulics of the Raptor door opening.
Ellen stood on the wing of the Raptor, Saul’s arm curled protectively around her waist. The Tighs—centuries-old soul mates. The President barely repressed a smirk. Her feelings for Saul and Ellen aside, it seemed so right.
"Laura," Ellen said, her voice unexpectedly soft.
"Ellen," she replied with a slight inclination of her head.
Laura met the other woman’s—the Cylon’s—gaze unflinchingly. Ellen’s eyes were sympathetic. Understanding. She hadn’t expected that. In fact there was so much pity on her face, Laura almost flinched. Pushing past it, she squared her shoulders.
"I’m not sure why I’m not surprised."
Ellen laughed. "I have my ways," she replied, with an air of mystery. She seemed to hesitate before apparently reaching a resolve. "How are you?"
Laura very nearly smiled. Her wig, straight and black as night, swayed as she shrugged. "Fine. Besides the fact that I'm dying, I'm fine."
There was no need to look at Bill. She could, all too well, imagine the look of stricken anguish haunting his face.
"He said that," Ellen responded, after a moment of respectful silence. When Laura looked askance, the woman clarified. "Cavil. He said you were sick. And then there’s the wig—"
"What else does Cavil know?" Bill snapped, drawing the conversation away from cancer, away from death. Falling back on what he knew best—being the Admiral.
"I don’t know," Ellen replied. And Laura believed her. Ellen Tigh had been many things, was many things. But she was on their side. She was on Saul’s side, and he was on William Adama’s side. "He wants resurrection. He was prepared to take it from me."
Saul's arm tightening around her waist was all the clarification she needed to conceive of Cavil's method of extraction. Saul himself had been on the receiving end too.
"I didn't come alone," Ellen stated suddenly. She glanced behind her, toward the Raptor, and Laura saw a shadow lurking by the door that she had not noticed before.
"Another Cylon?" Lee asked. He gestured behind him and the Marines resumed their positions.
For a second, Ellen seemed to hesitate, her eyes darting from the son to the father, and back to Laura. There was a looming sense of inexplicable dread that suddenly settled deep in Laura's gut, twisting itself into knots as Ellen's gaze settled squarely on her. Sympathy. But not for the cancer.
"Yes," she replied, smiling sadly. "I'm so sorry, Laura. We never wanted this for you."
And before Laura could open her mouth, the shadowed figure stepped out of the Raptor and into the harsh light of the hangar deck.
There was suddenly a roar in her ears so loud that she could scarcely hear the sound of all hell breaking loose around her. She couldn't look at Bill, couldn't look at anyone but herself, standing serenely, like an all-knowing goddess on the wing of the Raptor, wearing an outfit Laura recalled vividly from her dreams of the Opera House.
It briefly occurred to her, somewhere in the middle of the fog that was swiftly replacing consciousness, that she no longer had to worry about the effects of the Cylon blood injected by Baltar. There was no danger of the cure turning her body against her, of turning her into the enemy.
She already was the enemy.
He couldn't believe his eyes and felt a sinking feeling in his gut he hadn't felt since the Cylon attacks. New Caprica, the mutiny, his near death—all these things he could handle. This, he couldn't.
His world had changed entirely. Their lives had changed entirely.
He felt the sting of tears behind his eyes and steeled himself. "What the frak is going on here?"
"Did you know?" Saul asked Ellen, distrust woven into his tone. "Did you know the whole time that she was a frakkin' Cylon?"
"No. No, Saul, I didn't even know I was a Cylon or that you were a Cylon. It's so frakkin'—"
"Enough," Bill said loudly, anger swelling deep inside. "Or I throw all you frakkin' machines in the brig. Gods …" He ran his hand through his hair and rubbed the back of his neck. He had to think clearly.
This isn't happening. Not them. Not her too.
He felt Laura's fingers graze his sleeve. Her touch was too tentative. It nauseated him.
"You have to put me in the brig," she said, her voice wavering.
He jerked his head toward her, staring into her eyes. "No."
I need a drink.
"Bill, look at me. Look at her." She almost choked on the last word. She couldn’t bring herself to look at the imposter. Neither could he.
Laura’s voice dropped to a whisper. "Look at her and tell me you don’t know what needs to be done. That you don't know what I am."
She held his gaze for the longest moment before he had to turn away. There was so much anguish in her eyes; her anguish reflected his own. She hadn’t known. He didn’t doubt that for a second.
But she was still a Cylon.
"Admiral." Bill heard Lee and looked up as a firm hand pressed against his shoulder. He had forgotten his son was even in the room. "We almost lost the ship. Zarek and Gaeta"—Lee broke off.
Bill still bore the scars of that betrayal, still couldn’t look his comrades in the eye. Racetrack, Skulls, Gaeta. So many others he had lost, in one way or another. And for what? The thing standing on the Raptor?
"Bill," Laura—his Laura—whispered. Her hand inched closer to his, but it dropped back to her side. "You don't need to worry about me."
"Don't say that." Any other time this would have been a clear choice, not muddled with confusion or emotion.
"I can't be trusted," she said. "I can't even trust myself anymore."
He looked away from her for a long time. The gesture he made over his shoulder, directing a Marine toward her, made fear swell in her belly. "Take her too."
She closed her eyes, breathing shallowly until she felt the firm nudge of the Marine's hand at her arm. "Ma'am."
Bill watched in disbelief and horror as the Marines escorted the President of the Colonies from the hangar deck at gun point.
"I suppose I should go too?"
He braved a look at the figure as she delicately stepped down from the wing of the Raptor. The remaining Marines cocked their weapons and aimed.
The Cylon cast him a rueful smile.
"Don’t worry, Admiral. I know the way."
"Take the Cylon to the brig," he muttered, turning his back on her.
He turned around again when he knew he couldn't see the Cylon's face anymore. He watched her walk away, her form slight next to that of her Marine escort.
A flash of memory reminded him of an evening not so long ago: the both of them, tangled up in each other in the quiet of her rack in the guest quarters. Her shoulder had tasted of salt. She had moaned. She had breathed. She had told him secrets and had fallen asleep in his embrace.
But it wasn't her. That wasn't her.
She had been human to him, and he had let his guard down.
He should have known better. The last thing he wanted to do was regret touching her again.
"Frak," he muttered as tears filled his eyes, blurring her from his view.
"She's not a threat," Ellen said, her voice subdued. Bill looked immediately at her, safely flanked by his XO, who yet again looked like less of a friend and more of an enemy.
"Go, Saul," Bill said, his jaw set. "Take her out of here before I change my mind."