Word Count: 3,810
Characters/Pairings: Adama/Roslin, Laura, Cavil
Summary: Resurrected Laura explores projection, Adama and Laura enjoy each other on New Caprica, and Cavil informs his prisoner of what is really going on down on the surface.
Link to Art: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v
Notes: We did it! We actually did it! Huge thanks and love to everyone involved in organizing this cat herd (and to the cats themselves), and special thanks to usagi636 for taking the time to beta this chapter. :)
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
Time had little meaning for Laura, once confined. She slept less each day and the food provided to her by her chrome keepers came at irregular intervals, if the glass of viscous, bitter liquid she received could be called food. Still, she tried to keep count: she had been fed thirty-eight times, but whether that meant she'd been aboard for a month or six, she couldn't tell.
Even Cavil's visits were staggered and difficult to track. Sometimes it seemed he showed up multiple times in a day, and then he wouldn't return for a long stretch. Laura was certain it was to keep her on edge and unsettled, never knowing when his rat-like face would appear through the doorway. It worked.
Every time he appeared, Cavil brought news of the Fleet. It was never good news: fuel shortages, pilot shortages, rampant disease and starvation. Death. "Seems like your counterpart will be hiring a new assistant," he said once. "But don't worry, I know just the girl for the job."
His cryptic, twisted messages confused her. No one else ever came. Laura, conscious of even the short-term effects of isolation, tried to keep her mind active. She sang. She recited every piece of poetry she could recall and made up the lines she couldn't. She tried having one-sided conversations with her unresponsive guard, but that just depressed her further and had the added benefit of making her feel like a lunatic. It wasn't until she began to practice projecting that Laura found any sort of peace.
At first, it was difficult. Her previous experiences had been accidental, and the interference of her conscious brain made full environments taxing. The Riverwalk shimmered and flickered wherever she wasn't focused: gray walls and red lights overlapping the imaginary concrete and crowds at the edges of her vision. It was frustrating without the advice of the one who called herself Caprica, but it was a challenge, and it kept Laura occupied with something other than the silence.
Her biggest success came when she was exhausted. For what felt like hours, she had been trying to conjure up her childhood room but had gotten no further than the sunny, yellow walls and the sound of the traffic outside. Laura sat against the bulkhead, frustrated tears streaming down her cheeks, and her meager vision faded into darkness. She closed her eyes and let out a shaky sigh. Trying to force the image was counterproductive. The harder she grasped at it, the more like smoke it became. She had to relax.
After her mother's death, Laura had seen a therapist. She wasn't sleeping, and the woman had taught her meditative techniques to clear her mind. "Find your safe space," the portly doctor had suggested, and Laura rolled her eyes at the time. But devoid of any other ideas Laura tried it, seated on the cold metal floor of the Basestar. She measured her breathing, focusing on the last sense of peace she felt, and tried again.
Sounds came to her in the darkness first: she heard birds. Many birds, with songs she didn't recognize. The sound of wind was next, and she could feel the air shifting on her face. It was cool and smelled of dirt and rain; Laura felt a stray drop of moisture hit the back of her hand. Eyes still closed, she felt the ground near her with hesitant fingers. There was a slick, smooth material covering softness and grit beneath her fingertips and under her nails. It was more sensory information than she'd managed before, and Laura tried to rein in her excitement as she slowly opened her eyes.
A forest. She was seated in a forest, on and under tarps. Kobol.
Laura stood, bracing herself against a thick trunk, and stared around in wonder. Why Kobol? While it had been a successful mission, it had also been difficult and painful, with a cost she hadn't wanted to pay. She stepped out of her makeshift shelter, letting her palm drag against the rough, hairy bark, and walked toward the other sites.
Lee. Starbuck. That other pilot and the Cylon. None of them seemed to notice her as she explored the camp, and none of them responded when she spoke. "Billy?" she called when she found the shivering young man idly stripping leaves from a fern, but he didn't stir even when she touched his shoulder. Tears welled in her eyes. Was this how it was going to be? Isolated, even in her own imagination?
"Billy, look at me," she demanded with no effect, and when the young man rose and wandered over to the pilots' shelter, Laura let her tears fall. She couldn't make out what the group was saying, but they were smiling. Starbuck slapped Billy on the back as he folded his legs and settled onto their tarp, and Laura couldn't help her choked laugh at the pained look that crossed poor Billy's face.
Was observing the best she could do? Was it a limit of projecting, or of her ability? What was the point, if she felt just as alone in her own mind as she did in her cell? She had so many questions and no one to answer them. This certainly wasn't the peace she had been seeking.
"Laura," came a voice from behind her, "I forgive you."
Startled, Laura spun around to find William Adama looking right at her with that serene not-quite smile of his. His hands were clasped at his belt, and the light rain bounced off his fatigues. "Bill?" she whispered, and took a step toward him. His only reaction was a slight narrowing of his eyes and a nearly imperceptible rise at the corners of his mouth, and Laura was surprised by the sudden wave of affection that washed over her at the sight. "You can see me?"
He reached out and took her by the shoulders. She could feel the warmth of his hands through her jacket as he squeezed. "Every day is a gift," he said, his deep voice settling in her bones. "From you."
"Bill, I—" Laura started, but was interrupted when he pulled her into a hug. Briefly unsure what to do with her hands, even in her own projection, Laura tentatively laid her palms on his back. Her cheek pressed into the damp material of his jacket, and her lips caught against the fabric as she whispered, "I'm a Cylon." She trembled as she waited for his reaction.
His arms only tightened. Laura's knees sagged in relief, and she clung to his stocky frame as her tears fell anew, unleashed by her admittance. She was a Cylon. "I'm sorry, Bill. I didn't know," she said into his shoulder as he held her, rocking back and forth with the slightest movement. "I didn't know."
"Laura, I forgive you," he repeated.
She matched her breaths to his slow, deep ones and closed her eyes. She was suddenly bone-tired and fought a deep yawn. "Thank you."
Laura managed to hold onto that feeling of calm until she heard Cavil's grating voice. "You're welcome. What for?" Immediately, the forest—and Bill—dispersed and she felt a sharp pang of disappointment when it was replaced by Cavil's leer.
"What do you want?" Laura sighed, ignoring his question and rising from her position. She always preferred to stand in his presence.
"What a welcome. I'm here because there's been a change in plans." He spat the words as if they disgusted him, and Laura frowned. "There's been a vote," he continued, "and it seems the war is over. Humans and Cylons are going their separate ways."
Laura shook her head. "You're lying."
Cavil huffed. "I don't like it either, but that friend of yours? Caprica? She's been a real pain in my ass and convinced the rest that it's God's will to leave the humans alone."
"This is some kind of trick."
"If only. The humans have found some half-class planet they think they can settle, and we're apparently going to let them. They're calling it New Caprica—how deliciously morbid." Cavil's lips curled into a smirk. "We'll see how long it takes President Baltar to frak it up."
Laura shook her head, confused. "What? President Baltar? Did I—" She paused and corrected herself. "Did she—"
"No, your copy is still alive. She's just a failure. Lost the election, even though her competition was Gaius Baltar." His nasty smile grew, and he took a step closer. "It seems the Fleet has just about had it with little Miss Prophecy."
Stunned, Laura sat on the edge of her cot. Settlement. Potential peace. It was too much to process and too good to be true. "If the war is over, will I be released? Will you let me out of here?"
Cavil's laugh was dry and unpleasant. "Where, exactly, are you going to go? Down to the surface to bunk with your twin? That should go over nicely, considering how well you took the news." His thick eyebrows twitched. "How long do you think it would take before you were both killed and ended up right back here anyway?"
Laura was silent. He was right; she had nowhere to go. The Fleet's reaction would be devastating. She took a deep breath to halt the tears that threatened to fall. She would not cry in front of him. "So that's it? You're not going to attack?"
"No. We are to follow a"—he waved a fluttering hand as he searched for the words—"policy of non-aggression. They play nice, we play nice."
"All of the others agreed to this? For how long?" Laura countered.
Cavil leaned close enough that she couldn't escape his stale breath. "Until I convince them otherwise."
The words were mumbled against the back of her shoulder, and Laura stretched, arching into the broad hand on her breast. Sunlight dappled the interior of her tent, thin beams streaming in through gaps in the stitching; the small space was cozy with warmth. "Mmm, I think it's about to be," she murmured as the hand slid lower.
Bill's chuckle was cut off when she pressed her behind back into his groin. "I think you're right." His lips nipped along the side of her neck, and the brush of his mustache and morning stubble made her shiver. "Any plans today?"
Laura shook her head, then inhaled sharply as his thick fingers stroked through her gathering wetness. "Market, maybe," she managed before he started drawing gentle circles around her clit. Gods, she loved his hands. Paired with his pilot's instinct they responded to her slightest movement or noise, adjusting and shifting with startling intuition.
"Good." His hand left her just long enough to lift her leg over his, and then it was back. He slid his fingers into her, pressing delightfully along all the right places, and Laura couldn't help her low moan. She could feel his restless erection against her ass, and she ground back into him as he worked her, fingers twisting and thrusting until she was flushed and hungry for him.
"Yes," she breathed as he entered her easily and returned his slick fingers to her clit. His thrusts were slow and somewhat limited by their position, but it wasn't long before he was groaning on every advance. Laura reached behind her, threaded her fingers through his hair, and held his mouth against the crook of her neck. "Shhh," she reminded him. She already had enough trouble looking her neighbors in the eyes thanks to him.
He bit down on her shoulder with just enough force to sting and gave a sharp jerk of his hips, making her choke back her own cry. Her hand moved to cover his, increasing the pressure against her throbbing flesh, before slipping lower to tease him as he filled her, over and over. It always drove him crazy, and this time was no exception. "Frak, Laura ... you close?" he asked with a grunt as he picked up the pace.
She nodded and rolled her hips against his new rhythm. "Better keep up, Admiral." His breathless laugh made her grin, and she twisted her upper body to kiss him. His hand came up to cradle her jaw, his fingers leaving damp streaks on her skin, and he held her in place as his tongue flirted with hers. His thrusts became erratic and she could feel his body tensing. "That's it," she whispered against his mouth. "Come on."
He managed to restrain his voice as he came, and his jaw flexed as his teeth clenched. The combination of his searing, heavy-lidded gaze and press of her own fingertips had Laura arching back, her orgasm turning her blood effervescent as it rose through her body.
His hips bucked as she tightened on his oversensitive, flagging hardness, and he hissed through his teeth. "Shit," he muttered, pressing his forehead between her shoulders, and withdrew slowly as he rolled onto his back. Once he caught his breath he rasped, "I win."
Laura laughed helplessly, euphoric and sated, but her mood was abruptly shattered when she caught the sound of mechanical footsteps outside of the tent. "Bill!" she whispered, wide-eyed. "The Cylons. They can't find you."
She sat up quickly and turned to him, but her bed was empty. Disoriented, Laura looked around. Gone were the bright spots of sunlight; instead, water leaked through the faulty seams. Her pounding heart ached as realization set in.
Laura's hands shook as she pushed her hair out of her face and pressed her fingertips against her eyes. Her dreams had always been vivid, but her recent ones were shocking in their realism; the ones that involved Bill even more so. The small pockets of happiness only served to highlight the hellish reality of New Caprica.
Wiping her eyes, Laura took a deep breath as the sounds of the Centurion patrol passed. The temptation to fall back against her makeshift mattress and chase after her dream was strong. Too strong. Laura swung her legs out of bed and stood before she could succumb.
A short while later, she emerged from her tent into the chilly drizzle and squinted up at the solid gray sky. Laura abhorred the New Caprican rain. It wasn't the heavy, nourishing rain of Kobol, or even the sudden, intense but short showers of its namesake. This rain was steady and deceptively light, like constant white noise that soaked through every layer of clothing until even her bones felt damp. She trudged through the slick, muddy streets to the market, her mood as foul as the weather.
While she was inspecting a small, hard loaf of bread for dark spots, a familiar voice grumbled at her side. "Don't get the fish. I spent half my morning treating cases of food poisoning from bad trout."
Laura replaced the loaf and gave Cottle a brief smile. "Thanks for the tip. It sounds like your day beats mine so far."
He flicked his cigarette, and Laura brushed a bit of stray ash from her sleeve. "Lucky me." He studied her face with critical eyes. "How are you feeling? Getting enough sleep?"
Laura looked away. "I'm fine."
"How's your appetite?"
He paused and took a deep drag off his smoke before exhaling to the side. "What about your energy? And if you say 'fine' again I'll hurt you just for something to fix."
Laura set her jaw and leveled an unamused glare at the doctor. "It's acceptable. Why are you interrogating me?"
Cottle dropped the butt and ground it into the dirt floor of the market with his toe. "Because it's the closest thing to an MRI I've got anymore. You keeping up with your self-exams?"
She glanced around. "This really isn't the place—"
"You've got to keep on top of that, young lady. Without my equipment, you're going to be the first to know if you relapse."
Laura sighed. He meant well, but getting lectured about her health in the middle of the market was testing her patience. She tried to keep her tone civil. "I know. Thank you. I will let you know if anything changes."
"That's all I ask," Cottle drawled, and turned to leave. A few steps away he stopped and pointed toward the vegetables. "Pick up some broccoli while you're here," he said, and then he was gone.
She shook her head in exasperation but followed his advice. As she was leaving the stalls, a hand landed on her elbow. "Laura Roslin?" It was a member of the NCP, and his masked face made her heart trip in fear and disgust. She pulled her arm away.
"Take your hand off me. What do you want?" She noticed the two other officers standing just behind him, and her trepidation increased tenfold.
His hand returned, this time grabbing tightly to her biceps. "Laura Roslin, you are under arrest pending investigation of the graduation day bombing." His fingers dug into the tender skin of her arm, and her basket of groceries tumbled to the ground. "Come with me."
Laura's further experiments with projecting were met with increasing success, and it wasn't long before she could summon fairly complex environments with moderate effort. She initially stuck with Kobol and worked on the small details like the feel of the moss and the way the rain fell in swollen drops from the branches above. With practice she learned to utilize her imagination, rather than just draw upon memories, and suddenly she was no longer alone.
It was just fantasy. It wasn't real. But aside from Cavil, it was the only interaction she had. Rationally, Laura knew that she wasn't really having a conversation with her sister; it was only her idea of what Cheryl would say. When she was angry and yelling at Tom Zarek, it was just her own assumptions of what insolent replies he would offer. And, when she needed comfort and allowed it, they weren't Bill's arms around her. It was only self-soothing. Still, it kept her from succumbing to the pulsing monotony of the Basestar, as well as the growing coldness inside of her.
She was in the middle of a spirited scripture debate with Elosha when Cavil interrupted once again. "Your copy is a real bitch," he announced. He sounded almost proud.
Laura smirked. "Is that so?"
"You tell me," he said and folded his arms. "What do you think of people strapping bombs to themselves?"
"I think that it is a sign of a desperate person," she replied carefully. "Someone who has so little to lose that any gain is meaningful."
Cavil squinted at her. "Figures. Your counterpart has become fond of the technique. She's awfully casual with life for someone who doesn't know she's a machine yet."
That the humans were resisting the occupation was to be expected, but the fact that she—rather, her copy—was ordering suicide attacks was shocking. The situation must be worse than she thought. "I take it the cohabitation isn't going very well?"
"Not for them, no. They waste their lives trying to kill us, even though we return and they don't." He began to roam the room, looking up at the walls as if they held priceless art. "I'm starting to get a little bored since they're practically doing all the work for us. Though, one of the brothers did have a fun visit with Colonel Tigh." He stopped his wandering and gave her a chilling smile. "He wasn't very cooperative at first, but it's amazing how agreeable people become once you start removing body parts."
Laura wrapped her arms around her midsection, sickened by the revelation. Saul Tigh wasn't a particularly likeable man, but she would never wish torture on him. "What did you do?"
Cavil waved a hand in a dismissive gesture. "Relax. We didn't take anything he doesn't have two of. Besides, I think an eye patch will give him a rakish quality. Maybe we'll give him a peg leg, too." He laughed softly to himself and resumed his strolling. "Your copy has been an entertaining guest as well, if not particularly helpful."
She forced herself not to react, to not give Cavil what he was so obviously seeking, but it was difficult. "I don't imagine she would be."
"It only makes our visits more memorable." He paused behind her, and Laura flinched when she felt him take a strand of her hair between his fingertips. "You know," he said in a low voice, "Mrs. Tigh has been very ... persuasive in arranging her husband's release. I could be convinced to offer you the same deal. You don't happen to know the swirl, do you?"
Laura moved away. "Keep your hands off me."
Cavil just laughed his raspy laugh.
"A shame. But it doesn't matter. Thanks to the good Colonel, we now know the position of Adama and the rest of the Fleet. It won't be long now before we have them all rounded up in a nice little bunch. Any messages you'd like me to pass along before we airlock the Admiral?" He snapped his fingers and pointed at her. "Silly me, would you like to do the honors? You must miss the big red button."
"You won't take him alive. He'll steer the ship into the Basestar before that happens."
Cavil peered at her with his head cocked to one side. "You have that loyalty in common with your copy. I wonder, do you share her other feelings for him?"
She felt a prickle down her spine, but kept her face impassive. "What are you talking about?"
"The Admiral and the ex-President were the worst kept secret on the planet—seems the Old Man's a moaner." He gave a full-body shudder before continuing. "That was, of course, before he jumped away and abandoned her and everyone else."
Speechless, Laura froze. The information wasn't terribly surprising, but unexpected all the same. Also unexpected was the intensity of the clashing emotions swirling in her chest. She cleared her throat. "The Admiral and I were just friends."
"Mmhm. Well. That's for the best. I wouldn't wish two of you on ... well, even him." At Laura's withering look, he smirked. "I rest my case."
"Is that all?" She eyed the door pointedly. She felt agitated and restless, and eager for this particular visit to come to an end. "If you're done gloating, I'd like some quiet."
"For now, since you asked so politely." Cavil took a few steps toward the door but slowed before he reached it. "He's wearing a mustache these days, by the way. Looks ridiculous. But I thought you might want to update your little fantasy 'friend.'"
Laura's cheeks reddened; how did he know?
Cavil's guttural laughter was clearly audible even after he left the room.