Word Count: 4,575
Characters/Pairings: Adama/Roslin, Laura, Cavil
Summary: Resurrected Laura endures continued psychological manipulation by Cavil, while on Galactica, Bill and Laura try to reconcile their feelings about the occupation.
Link to Art: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v
Notes: This has been the best writing experience of my life to date. Thanks to everyone involved, especially my co-mod and beta icedteainthebag for putting up with my whining and being super awesome. I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing 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
Laura felt as if she was halfway between floating and drowning, suspended somewhere between life and death, on an entirely different plane of reality.
She was either dreaming or projecting. She could no longer tell the difference. But this time, the scenes kept changing. There was no continuity: the Riverwalk, her apartment, her office, Kobol, Galactica—they all flashed before her mind, one relentless scenario after another. She had tried to wake up, just like she'd been practicing, but when she had opened her eyes, she had been back at the Riverwalk.
But now the vision was unraveling, and she couldn't decide whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. There was a persistent pounding in her skull and an unyielding throb behind her eyes. Laura blinked her eyes vigorously in a vain attempt to clear some of the relentless fog clouding her vision and came face-to-face yet again with Cavil's now all-too-familiar leer. She weakly pushed herself up to sit and was barely able to suppress a startled groan as the room spun before her eyes.
"Easy," Cavil muttered dryly and curled a thin, shriveled hand around her arm to steady her. She wrenched the limb from his grasp and cradled it close to her body. He chuckled lightly. "Suit yourself. We pumped you full of some pretty heavy stuff. You'll be stuck with that headache for at least a couple of days."
"Where—" She broke off, barely recognizing the croak that left her throat as her own voice.
Cavil casually leaned back in his chair. "On another Basestar."
"That isn't your concern, Laura. How do you like your new lodgings?" he asked.
Laura had become used to being kept in the dark during her time with Cavil, but this was different. Something had changed. Her concept of time had surely been distorted by the drugs swimming through her bloodstream, but she thought she had been moved more than once. What she didn't understand was why.
She squinted up at Cavil as he stood to pace the room and watched as his fingers drummed insistently against his thigh. He was tense, lacking his usual self-assuredness as well as his Centurion lackeys. In fact, she couldn't remember the last time she had seen a Centurion.
"I like them about as much as last time," she replied finally, grimacing at a stabbing pain in her head. Glancing round her surroundings, she found the same emptiness, the same hard cot she had come to expect and, on the large back wall of the room, the lazy swishing back and forth of the wall-mounted pulsing red eye: always there, always watching, reminding her of where she was and what she was.
Cavil smirked, clearly amused by her struggle. "You're not a fan of the décor?"
"Too minimalistic," Laura said as she shot him a groggy glare.
"That's a shame. Regardless, make yourself comfortable. You'll be here for a while."
Laura swallowed and licked her dry, chapped lips. She tugged the white terrycloth robe tighter around her body, suddenly self-conscious. "Do I get something other than this robe to wear?"
"Now is not the time to be shy, Laura," Cavil said. The lascivious grin on his face sent a chill down her spine. "I saw more than just a little leg when transferring you from Basestar to Basestar."
He laughed at the look of disgust on her face, but spoke again before she had time to voice her outrage. "Don't worry. I have a much 'younger' Cylon model warming my figurative bed sheets for me. Although"—he arched an eyebrow and let his eyes trail over her figure—"I could be persuaded—"
"Stop," Laura interrupted sharply and held up a trembling hand. "I would like some clothes. Something modest and simple. Preferably a suit. Thank you."
Cavil gave her a low, mocking bow as his lips curled into a sneer. "I'll see what I can arrange, Madame President," he said before leaving her alone, again.
She heard the door slam shut, heard the lock snap into place, but not the sound of Centurions resuming position on either side of the entrance.
"It was a brave move, declaring an amnesty," Bill said.
They sat opposite one another in his quarters, Laura with a mug of tea and Bill, a glass of Ambrosia. There was a marked distance between them, as if an invisible white line had been drawn on the floor and across the coffee table. Bill's voice had shattered the silence which had been bordering on uncomfortable, and he could see she was just as relieved as he was at the sudden noise.
"It was necessary," Laura replied with a shrug, taking a sip of the liquid.
"It wasn't a popular decision. You received a fair amount of criticism."
Her lips curled up in a tiny smile. It struck Bill that she looked so different from the woman he'd made love to only a few months beforehand, the woman who had a secret stash of weed and couldn't light a stove to save her life. Her smile could light up a room; this smile barely even reached her eyes.
"There are always going to be critics, Bill, whether I'm the President of the Colonies or a schoolteacher." Laura glanced up to catch his gaze. She looked shy, uncharacteristically nervous. "Did you support it?" she asked quietly.
Bill shifted uncomfortably. "I don't think I'm the best judge. I wasn't on New Caprica."
Laura regarded him silently for a moment. "No you weren't," she said simply before looking to the last remaining dregs of her tea.
It was the unspoken elephant in the room.
Bill hadn't been on New Caprica, and Laura had. He hadn't been locked in a Cylon detention cell, and she had. He had jumped away and left the human race to suffer a Cylon occupation. She didn't blame him. She would have done the same in his position, rather than allow their only hope of liberation to be obliterated by a mass of Basestars. But there was a distance now that hadn't been there before, and it was a distance they had no idea how to bridge. They no longer knew where they stood with one another, so instead they did what they did best and resumed the mantle of responsibility which had kept them apart before New Caprica.
They had wanted their cabin by the stream. Instead, they had this.
Bill watched her silently as she swirled the liquid around in her teacup.
Saul had told him she had been held in detention. He hadn't elaborated, and Bill hadn't asked him to. He wasn't sure he wanted to know the details. She looked fine, physically. She had both eyes at least. But there was something missing, something that had shone so luminously as she moved over his body that night amid the alluvial deposits. A piece of her soul, perhaps.
Bill shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Do we know what happened to Baltar?"
Seeing her stiffen, he knew immediately it had been the wrong thing to say.
"He's not here. That's good enough for me," she replied simply, her voice laced with bitterness.
He swallowed. "And if he suddenly surfaces?"
She released a humorless laugh. "Yes, he has a habit of doing that, doesn't he?"
"You declared an amnesty, Laura."
She shook her head. "Not for him."
Bill opened his mouth to respond but instead decided to drop the matter entirely.
"You got rid of the mustache."
The comment came from nowhere, and for a second he was too surprised to answer her.
"You never liked it much anyway," he joked.
Laura smiled sadly. "Whether you have a mustache or not is none of my business," she replied, her voice quiet. She leaned to rest her cup on the coffee table and stood slowly. "I should get back to Colonial One. We have a lot to accomplish, Admiral."
He had prepared himself for this; had been since he first made the decision to go back to New Caprica. But it didn't take away any of the sting.
Bill followed her lead and put down his glass. For a brief moment, he considered kissing her. He wanted to believe that if he just leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers, everything would change and they would sit back down and figure out a way to make this—them—work. He settled on a smile.
"Missed you," he rasped, resting his arms uselessly by his side.
Laura froze for a millisecond. "Me too," she finally said, a ghost of a smile crossing her face before she pushed open the hatch and left.
"You seem to be a little more ... coherent ... than last time," Cavil commented as she stepped back into her quarters. He was carrying a bundle loosely under his arm, and a pair of heels dangled from his fingers.
"Perhaps because you've refrained from drugging me today," she retorted, eyeing the package with some eagerness. "Are those my clothes?"
Without a word, Cavil unceremoniously dropped a pile of clothing at her feet. She leaned down to get a closer look at the offerings. There was a jacket, in a cool gray-blue, and a long, black skirt with a single pleat running down the front. She imagined it would sway around her ankles when she walked—
She was in a theater, no, an Opera House. She knew that now; somehow, she knew to make the distinction. There was a Tauron carpet runner in reds and purples. The entire structure was alive with color, and something else.
Her heels moved frantically over the carpeting as her speed increased, running, seemingly uselessly, toward a being of pure light.
She descended the richly carpeted staircase with supreme urgency, as if her life depended on it. She curled her fingers around the dark material of her skirt to lift it higher, aiding her movement. In the glow of the Opera House, the jacket seemed more coral blue than gray.
Suddenly, she stopped.
Caprica Six lifted a finger to her lips and—
"No 'thank you'?" Cavil said dryly, and Laura's eyes snapped open. She breathed in sharply and automatically recoiled.
She'd been dreaming again, the same terrifyingly real dream that had been haunting her since her initial resurrection. Laura lowered herself slowly to crouch beside the rich fabric, brushing her fingers over the elegantly embroidered jacket. She wondered briefly who Cavil had killed to get clothes like these. She'd been wearing them in her dream. She couldn't process the implications of this; she felt somewhat afraid to do so.
Cavil raised one bushy eyebrow as he observed her suddenly peculiar actions, like a scientist observing a lab rat. "Well. I guess I shouldn't expect anything else from a Cylon raised by a human family. You all have terrible manners."
Laura looked up from the clothes at her feet.
"Where are the Centurions?" she asked bluntly, gathering the bundle of garments into her arms. Her hands were trembling, a result of the images which were still so clear in her mind.
Cavil look up sharply and his eyes narrowed. "What?"
"The guards, outside my door. Where are they? Where are the Centurions?"
"I'm afraid we're running a little low on numbers at the moment."
The sudden malevolent glint in his eyes gave her pause, but she had to keep going.
"You are not in a position to be asking questions, Laura," he suddenly snapped, and Laura could not help but shrink back. "You're not in charge here. In fact, you're not in charge anywhere. So quit talking and get changed."
Laura swallowed, her eyes flickering to the clothing and back up. "Are you going to give me some privacy?" she asked calmly.
Cavil folded his arms, expectant. Laura bit down a bitter retort as she clutched the bundle closer to her body and felt her cheeks flush.
To refuse now would be an admittance of weakness, at least in her eyes. His lasciviousness was a method of control; she recognized that now, after what seemed like a lifetime of Cavil's unwanted presence. He leered because it made her feel uncomfortable. He wanted her to think him perverse, because he knew it unnerved her. He lived to get under her skin and plant seeds of doubt, suspicion and malcontent deep inside her body, and then sit back and watch them grow and bloom in her eventual capitulation.
She would never give him that satisfaction.
Standing, she deposited the pile of clothes on the cot and moved her hands to the tie of her robe.
"As you've apparently seen it all before, I suppose I have no reason to be embarrassed," she commented and promptly slid the terrycloth from her shoulders. The material slid from her body and pooled in a heap at her feet.
As she reached for the undergarments, she was surprised by how little embarrassment she felt once the initial disrobing had been done. Even with Cavil standing in front of her, her nakedness felt somehow ... liberating. She could feel the thrum of the ship moving through her body, swimming through her veins. She felt at one with her surroundings, almost as if the ship was breathing through her. The rhythmic back and forth of the red blip on the wall seemed to take cue from her own heartbeat. She felt electrified, galvanized.
She had a sudden image flash into her mind: a woman, submerged in a translucent liquid, the same which had coated her own flesh and hair. She was chanting nonsensical nonsense: "Back in the stream that feeds the ocean that feeds the stream, the stream that feeds the shore."
"You feel it, don't you?" Cavil said.
"Feel what?" Laura replied sharply and met his eyes with a defensive glare. She held them as she slid the scrap of lace up her thighs. Cavil had clearly chosen her undergarments personally.
"The Dying Leader will know the truth of the Opera House."
"Who is she?" Laura breathed, eyes widening as the words struck a chord inside her.
"She's our Hybrid."
"Does she control the Basestar?"
"She is the Basestar. You feel her, don't you? You feel your connection to this ship, just like the rest of us."
"I'm not like the rest of you," she ground out as she hurriedly slipped the bra over her shoulders, the image of the Hybrid fading.
Cavil smirked knowingly. "If you say so."
She finished dressing in silence.
Late at night, sleep stunted by the nightmares caused by four months of occupation and multiple spells in detention, Laura wondered what she would have done in Baltar's position.
They would have never settled on New Caprica, that was for certain, but if they had ... the thought sometimes gave her pause.
Would she have refused to surrender, and taken a bullet in the head for her troubles? Would she have been any use to her people with a hole in her brain? Did Baltar really collaborate, or did he simply have no choice?
"He signed your death warrant," Laura muttered to herself. Whenever her mind took this train of thought, she just had to remind herself of that. She reached for the glass of water sitting to her right and lifted it to her lips. She let it slide down her throat and swallowed heavily, as if ridding herself of a particularly nasty taste.
It was late, and there was little noise besides the hum of her ship. It had taken days, but there was now some semblance of normality in her office. Tory would have to find somewhere for Baltar's ghastly portrait, but for now it was stashed somewhere out of sight, somewhere dark and deserted.
Tonight, this particular train of thought irritated her.
Baltar was guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. He'd taken advantage of her people and New Caprica had been the consequence. Detention cells, execution squads, suicide bombings—this was the legacy of his so-called presidency. Those men and women jettisoned into space by Zarek's circle of retribution—all Baltar's fault.
Laura's eyes drifted to the loose-leaf journal sitting squarely in front of her on the desk, wrapped in worn brown fabric which had once been a tablecloth. The people detailed on these sheets of paper had collaborated, but only because Baltar had betrayed their trust. He'd stuck them on a wasteland of a planet and given them no choice.
But was she any less guilty than him?
She had sanctioned the death of men and women by suicide bombing, regardless of her own moral reservations. She had allowed them stroll to their deaths while she lay on her bunk in her tent and imagined Bill's hands on her breasts and his lips on her neck.
She should have beaten Baltar in the election. She should have taken the election. What was morality and high-minded piety in the face of their extinction? What did democracy matter in the struggle to simply stay alive?
"You try to steal this election, you'll die inside. Likely move your cancer right to your heart."
"Frak you, Bill," she whispered and clenched her fist.
Sometimes she blamed him for making her do the right thing and then for leaving them ... for leaving her. But only when she was trying not to blame herself.
Laura looked quickly up from the papers in front of her to see Tory hovering in the doorway of her office. She had an expression on her face halfway between concern and curiosity. There were deep, dark circles underneath the younger woman's eyes that Laura hadn't noticed before, and she felt instantly guilty for her negligence. But then again, the trial had been blinding her to anything but the need for revenge.
"I'm fine, Tory. Go get some rest," Laura instructed gently as her fingers hovered over the fabric-wrapped journal.
Tory seemed hesitant to leave, reluctant to leave her boss to the morbid thoughts she knew had been plaguing her mind. "Call if you need anything," she said kindly, lingering for another long moment before leaving and closing the curtain behind her.
Laura wearily pushed the journal away from her, farther and farther until she heard it fall with a thud to the bin by the side of her desk.
She would get Tory to dispose of it in the morning, somewhere dark, somewhere deserted, preferably airlocked into the lonely cold of space.
Maybe then she'd be able to sleep at night.
"I wonder," Cavil muttered as he lounged back against the lone chair in the room, watching as she finished buttoning up the tunic to an acceptably modest degree, "whether you're feeling a little more cooperative today."
"That depends on whether you're going to return me to the Fleet," was her immediate and familiar answer.
Cavil sighed melodramatically, lifting his hand to rub his forehead wearily. "That isn't going to happen, Laura. You were specifically engineered to be pragmatic. I thought you would have accepted your situation by now. I want to know their next move before they make it."
Laura couldn't suppress the proud little smirk that tugged at her mouth. "Are the 'pitiful humans' still eluding you, Cavil?"
"We'll find them," he replied with a note of warning in his voice.
"I'm not so sure," Laura said airily, crossing her legs. She tilted her head thoughtfully as she regarded him. "You were confident your occupation would be a success. Remind me: how did that work out for you?"
"Don't get cute, Laura," Cavil replied tightly, narrowing his eyes. "It doesn't suit you." He got to his feet and began his usual round of the room. His hands were clenched by his side as he looked to her over his shoulder. "You don't have a choice. I've been accommodating, but my hospitality only extends so far."
"Hospitality?" she repeated with a note of incredulity. "Is that what you call it?"
"You're not dead, are you?"
Laura smiled smugly. "You can't kill me. I'll just resurrect."
Cavil's sudden bark of laughter sent a prickle down her spine. "Is that what you think?" He laughed again. "I'm afraid that's just not possible, Laura." He paused, stepping closer with little regard for personal space. He lowered his voice, as if sharing a terribly dirty secret. "The body you're in, the one you resurrected in? I'm afraid it was the last we had in stock."
Laura swallowed, her stomach twisting uncomfortably. She held his eyes for a measly few seconds before she had to look away. "I want you to return me to the Fleet," she repeated, her voice lacking some of the determination it had held before.
"Do you honestly think the Fleet would want you, Laura?"
Noticing the flash of confusion in her eyes, he chortled with sickening mirth. "Galactica doesn't even know that you're here! They've got one Laura Roslin; they certainly don't need another."
"The Fleet is my home," Laura stated, her body stiffening as she unconsciously took a step back.
Cavil released a brash, condescending laugh. "Admiral Adama and your charming doppelgänger airlock Cylons, Laura. They don't welcome them into the Fleet. They won't even give you a chance to open your mouth; you'll be dead. What?" he questioned at her flinch. "You didn't think about that?"
Laura swallowed thickly. "It isn't true," she replied, her voice tremulous.
Cavil's lips curled into a cruel and calculating smile as he clasped his hands casually behind his back. The glint in his eye had turned dangerous. "Word is they're now living together. The government quite literally in bed with the military; it's positively scandalous."
"Stop it," she demanded through gritted teeth. She didn't think she could take any more without snapping.
He cocked his head thoughtfully. "But then again, your poor counterpart has been having a rough time as of late, what with the reoccurrence of her cancer," he said offhandedly and lifted his hand to his mouth to smother a yawn.
Laura's eyes quickly snapped to his. "But you said I ... she had been cured, you said the Cylon blood—"
"—was nothing more than a quick fix," Cavil finished. "You can't mend something as damaged and corrupt as her model, Laura. There is an inherent flaw in that copy that cannot be corrected." He smirked suddenly. "I imagine she and the Admiral are making the most of the time they have left."
Laura shot him a contemptuous glance. "And what about me?"
"I wouldn't worry too much. I did some tinkering when I found your pod," he sneered. "Think of yourself as Laura 2.0. The upgraded edition, if you will. So you see, you are nothing to them, Laura. You're a machine, an abomination. You're a copy of a worthless prototype—you shouldn't even be here." His smile became predatory. "You don't belong with the humans, and you certainly don't belong here, either. So where does that leave you? You're not human. You're barely even a Cylon. You are a pitiful, pointless waste of space."
Each precisely enunciated word sent a fresh spasm of emotional pain shooting through her. As she moved back she felt the back of her legs hit something solid and she stumbled, sinking onto the rigid little cot, avoiding the gloating, beady eyes of the Cylon in front of her.
This was her worst nightmare. Everything she had never wanted to hear was spilling from his lips, and she raised her trembling hands to her ears to ineffectually block out the sound of his loathsome voice.
She had died a prophet, the Dying Leader, and resurrected as nothing.
She had no family, no Fleet, no friends, no allies. She had nothing but this miserable, defective Cylon body and the half-mad ravings of a cynical machine.
"You're alone, Laura."
Her death was supposed to have meaning; it was supposed to guide the Fleet to Earth. She wasn't supposed to resurrect on a Basestar. She thought about all the people that had trusted her, the people that had believed in her. The Fleet, her mother, her father, her sisters. Richard, Wally, Billy, Bill.
Oh, my Gods.
"You are nothing," Cavil concluded smugly. "You might as well be dead."
She raised her head wearily to meet his eyes. She studied the heavy wrinkles of his face, the gloating curl of his lips, the sharp, hateful eyes that stared down at her without pity.
She suddenly felt a well of hatred stronger than any she had ever felt before. It seared through her chest and swam through her veins to every nerve ending in her body. It revitalized her, sparking her brain and heart like a jumper cable.
"Then why are you so intent on keeping me here?" she ground out, her voice a harsh, wounded rasp.
Laura felt a surge of victory at the momentary lapse in Cavil's confidence and squared her shoulders, glaring up at him. "If I'm of no use to you, why did you bother to pull me out of storage? Surely not curiosity, that would be too human of you."
She smiled at the telling look on his face and pushed on.
"I'll tell you what I am, Cavil," she snarled while pressing her hands to his chest to push him back with force. "My name is Laura Roslin. My parents were Judith and Edward, I had two sisters. Their names were Cheryl and Sandra. I grew up in Caprica City. I had my first kiss when I was fourteen. I was Teacher of the Year; Richard Adar presented me with a plaque and told me I was beautiful. I was Secretary of Education. I was President of the Twelve Colonies. I had Billy, Captain Apollo, Bill—I had cancer and I died, and woke up here with you. I know exactly where I belong and which side I am on, and I am going to get back to the Fleet and personally destroy each and every single copy of your model. Even if they airlock me, at least I will have had that satisfaction," she spat and stood slowly, defiantly in front of him and watched as the color slowly rose in his sallow cheeks.
She had somewhat expected the blow that followed, and fell spiraling to the ground as Cavil backhanded her sharply across the cheek. She narrowly missed the cot as she fell and lay sprawled for a moment over the hard floor, breathing deeply, her thick mass of hair spilling into her eyes. She looked up at him in disdain.
"I am never going to be on your side, Cavil. Not now. Not ever. That other Laura Roslin may be sitting comfortably aboard Galactica in Admiral Adama's quarters, living my life, but I'm exactly the same as her. I won't stop until you're dead. Until you're really dead."
Cavil gritted his teeth as he stared down at her in disgust. "I suggest you think about what I've said, Laura," he said coolly, his voice shaking with barely controlled rage. "There are things far worse than death."
Laura pressed her forehead to the cool floor as his footsteps stamped it. She sucked in a breath as the hatch slammed shut, blinking back the tears she refused to let fall.
For a second she considered praying to the Gods, until she remembered that they would no longer hear her.