Word Count: 3,407
Characters/Pairings: Adama/Roslin, Laura, Cavil
Summary: Bill and Laura come to terms with Laura's cure while Cavil continues to try to manipulate resurrected Laura on the Basestar.
Link to Art: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v
Notes: All thanks go to my beta-reader mmegiry.
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 was a lot going through Laura's mind as she considered life and death. She had come close to death so many times before. In recent times, Galactica had always played a role in preventing their extinction.
She admired the ship as she walked through her hallways. It was good to be on her feet again, and she was glad that she didn't need the wheelchair any longer. She had taken the first opportunity she had to take a walk by herself. The corridors of Galactica were the perfect spot for this. The other vessels couldn't provide her with this level of privacy, nor the same feelings that Galactica did. True, the interiors of Cloud 9 were beautiful, and the ship a constant reminder of Colonial Day and of that one particular dance with Bill. It was a good memory—being in his arms, feeling secure and protected, even if it had only been for one dance. But the way she felt being here on Galactica was entirely different from the feelings that that simple memory evoked. She felt a strange kind of safety—like being inside a fortress. No harm would come to her. She felt somehow connected with this ship, or was it with its Commanding Officer? Whatever it was, she could feel life pulsating through her veins whenever she was here.
This feeling led her subconsciously to the heart of the ship. She entered the CIC on the upper deck, watching from above as the protectors of the Fleet went about their daily rounds, particularly the Admiral. She owed him so much. What he had said on Kobol was only partly true: that every day was a gift from her. She had convinced him to run, but he also deserved thanks. The decisions he made every single day were the reason for their continuing survival.
It was at that moment that Bill looked up at her, smiling and waving like he had done once before under different circumstances. He began moving toward her, and as he approached she felt a sense of warmth spread through her. He ordered his officers to clear the area. "Madame President, what a nice surprise to see you here. Is everything all right?"
"Yes, thank you, Admiral," she replied and smiled. "I just came from a checkup and decided to go for a walk. Galactica offers the best place for it."
"You walked all the way around?" he asked in surprise. Worry was almost palpable in his look along with something resembling tenderness and something entirely different and much deeper.
She softly smiled back at him. "I'm feeling fine, Bill." She put a hand on his arm in reassurance. "I wanted to take a walk so I could have some time to think. Colonial One is crowded and when I'm there people always seem to find something to complain about. I hope you don't mind that I'm using your ship as a refuge."
His smile made her insides flutter. "By all means, please do. Maybe I could help you spend some more time away from Colonial One. Would you join me for a drink in my quarters?"
Her smile widened. "To be honest, I was hoping you'd ask. So yes, I'd love to. Thank you."
He offered her his arm and she took it, walking beside him to his quarters. "How are you balancing the command of two Battlestars?" she asked casually, preferring not to discuss anything personal in such a public space.
"The crew of Pegasus isn't as large as Galactica's," Bill explained as he guided her protectively through his ship. "It was created so as not to require as much attention as a larger ship."
Laura nodded in understanding, and he continued. "However, after shutting down the computerized network the crew has found itself quite busy." He gave her a small smirk. "They have to teach themselves how to handle a Battlestar manually. It's proving to be quite a challenge for them."
"A challenge is probably a good thing for them right now."
"If we're lucky, we'll be able to build new Vipers. Pegasus has the facilities for it."
"That would be good news," Laura said as they arrived at Bill's quarters. "And we could use some good news."
Bill suddenly caught Laura's arm, closing the hatch behind him. "Your cure is good news, Laura," he said firmly, meeting her eyes.
She hadn't expected that. The only thing she could do was look at him in wonder. He held her gaze for a long time before he leaned in and kissed her, tenderly and chastely, just as he had done the day she made him an Admiral. She closed her eyes, but the moment was over almost before it had begun. She still had her eyes closed when he spoke again.
"Welcome back, Laura."
She hummed lightly and smiled, laying her hand upon his chest and slowly opening her eyes.
"Thank you, Bill," she whispered.
Bill nodded. "What can I get you? Water? Tea? Something stronger?"
The tone of his voice matched his look and his grip on her arm. He still held her there, not quite willing to let go of her, yet knowing that he had to, eventually.
She cleared her throat. "Some tea would be fine."
Reluctantly, he let go and went to the serving cart. She was still smiling when she kicked off her shoes and walked to the couch, sitting down with a sigh of relief.
"So, Cottle said you're fully recovered?"
"Yes," she said, pulling her legs to rest underneath her. "He still can't quite believe that Baltar's experiment worked and frankly, neither can I."
Bill returned to her with the tea and handed it to her before joining her on the couch. He didn't say anything; he didn't have to. Laura knew he was interested in what she had to say.
"Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that it worked. But it still seems like a miracle to me."
"It is," was all he said, sipping at his own tea.
"Bill, there is another reason I hoped you would invite me today," she said, and leaned forward a bit, her voice low. "I wanted to thank you for saving my life."
Bill's eyes widened in surprise as he swirled the tea around in his cup. "I didn't do anything."
"Yes, you did. You allowed it. You approved it. It was your trust in the Cylons, particularly in that one Cylon again, that saved me." She paused looking at him intently. She laid a hand upon his knee. "So Bill, thank you for saving me."
He didn't respond, just let his chin rest on his chest, covering Laura's hand with his and squeezing it softly. It was when she turned her hand and laced her fingers with his that he apologized.
Laura frowned. "Why are you sorry?"
"You have Cylon blood running through your veins," he explained, his voice curiously soft.
"You don't have to be sorry about it. It kept me alive. And Bill, I didn't want to die. I wasn't ready. Not yet. Probably never will be."
"So you're okay with that? With the Cylon blood?" he asked.
She withdrew her hand, stood up and walked over to the bookshelf, letting her fingers brush over the books while she was contemplating an answer. Bill silently followed her with his eyes.
"I'm not quite sure. It's strange when you think about it."
Bill simply nodded. Laura suspected that he himself might not be sure what to feel either. She hoped she was the same Laura to him, only stronger now, healthier. That it wouldn't break his heart anymore seeing her and knowing she might be gone soon, because now she was alive and not deathly ill. That threat was no longer hanging like a shadow over them. She was alive and happy to be alive. She didn't blame him, hadn't yelled at him for playing Gods and using the Cylon blood to save her. Laura had thanked him and was simply trying to adjust.
"The Cylons are trying to kill us—they are our enemies. Am I the enemy now, with their blood in my body?" she asked softly, speaking more to herself rather than to him. "I still feel human, as if nothing has changed. Shouldn't I feel different somehow? We're trying to run away from the Cylons, but how can I run away from myself? The answer is I can't. I couldn't run when my own body was falling apart. I tried—believe me. So I guess it's like before, only now I have to hope that the blood doesn't kill me like the cancer would have." She turned around to face him again. "Irony of fate. Don't you think? That my own body which should have kept me alive was about to kill me, and that a deadly enemy who is determined to kill us all saved me in the end." She scoffed. "My own body turned against me and my enemy became my ally. If you think about it, I would have killed myself, had the abortion taken place. Question is: what will the Fleet think when they find out that their President is half Cylon? And that is what they are going to think, Bill."
At this Bill stood up and walked over to her, stopping directly in front of her. "We don't tell anybody. They don't need to know the whole truth. Cottle and Baltar have already given some sort of explanation for your recovery, and that should suffice. We can't tell them about the Cylon blood. That'll lead them to the Cylon in the brig."
She smiled briefly. "And we don't want to let them know about that one."
He chuckled. "No. Wouldn't do the Fleet any good."
"You know what amazes me?" she asked softly. "How you've dealt with the Cylon, with Sharon. The way you faced the thing that shot you, tried to kill you. They look exactly the same. I understood your reaction on Kobol. I'm not sure whether I would have been able to restrain myself the way you did. And yet you trusted it, even granted it access to Galactica's computers."
Bill shuffled, looking to a spot on the floor. "It wasn't easy, but usually I stick with what I know until something better comes up." He looked up to meet her eyes. "In this case, a very wise person told me to look for common ground. I think you should do the same with your new chance at life."
Laura woke up in her apartment. Sun was bathing the room in a warm light. Birds were singing. She must have overslept—usually the sun wasn't so high in the sky when she had to get up. She looked around. Something wasn't right. Her apartment didn't feel right, it didn't feel real. Then, slowly, realization sunk in. She was projecting again.
"Your mind chose for us to come here. Only a Cylon could do that. You are accepting the truth."
Caprica's words still hung with her as she looked around once more. She missed this place. She had lived here for so long. She hadn't quite felt at home in the apartment like she had back at her parents' house, but still, it had been hers. This apartment had been big enough for all the furniture she wanted. She stood up to take a walk around.
These projections were amazing. She could conjure up anything, even the huge mirror she had only bought a short time before the attacks happened. She stared at her reflection in the mirror, reaching out to touch it.
"You have two copies."
These simple words cut through her vision like a knife, and the room began shifting. Her apartment was spinning, her head was spinning. She leaned heavily against the mirror for support, but instead of the cool surface, she felt the pulsating wall of her room on the Basestar under her hand. It felt like a heartbeat. But it could be just her own heartbeat instead of the ship's. Ships usually didn't have heartbeats to her knowledge, yet it felt like one, almost like it was alive and even sensing Laura's touch. Suddenly the pulsating became faster. Something had changed.
When she turned around she knew what had caused the shift. Cavil was standing there. She couldn't decide whether his grin was evil or just plain silly. "Enjoying your new home, are you?"
"This isn't home."
"At least that's where you belong and always had. You don't think that cozy little apartment on Caprica you just showed me was your home, or the other apartments, or even the Roslins' house?" He laughed.
Laura was beginning to get annoyed. "My parents' house was my home."
"Oh come on, you're smarter than that," he said. "You're a Cylon! Do you really believe the Roslins ever loved you? How could they? You weren't their child, weren't their own flesh and blood. You weren't real to them like your so-called sisters were."
"You know nothing about my family," she hissed.
"I know enough. They bought you. Just like you'd buy any device or machine to make life easier. That's what people do with toasters, and that's what the Roslins did with you. They discovered that they couldn't conceive, but they wanted a child." His voice became sarcastic. "They couldn't manage what every living creature is supposed to be able to do. They failed at the most basic aspect of life. They were less than animals, getting themselves—"
A heavy blow stopped him mid-sentence, and he staggered back. He didn't see the slap coming, and Laura put all the strength in it she could muster.
It wasn't true. The Roslins, her parents, hadn't bought her, hadn't seen her as a mere device. They had loved her. And they had been able to conceive.
She remembered the day when her mother had told her about Sandra. She had been sitting on a bench in the garden, reading. Her mother had taken the seat next to her like she used to, putting her arm around Laura's shoulders. Laura remembered the touch so well; she could almost feel her mother's arm around her now, soothing her, telling her that this was all just a terrible dream. Her mother had spent a great deal of time telling her what to expect, what changes a new baby would bring, what it meant to be a big sister. She'd felt the love pouring from her, felt all the love her mother had for her. Not once in all those years had she gotten the impression that her parents had loved her sisters more. Of course, there had been the usual rivalries between siblings, but that had never affected the feeling of being an equal part of the family.
Nor did it now.
Cavil was lying to her again, trying to frighten her, to hold her down. She could feel tears welling up at the suggestion that everything she had known was wrong. She remembered her father taking her to the hospital, visiting her mother and the newborn baby girl. Her mother had said that the baby looked just like Laura had when she was this age, and how the baby reminded her of the day when she had first held Laura in her arms. This couldn't be real, it couldn't be real; Cavil couldn't be telling the truth, it couldn't be real—
Laura cleared her throat, forcing the tears away. "Tell me more," she said, her voice wavering. She needed to be sure of something, anything. Cavil might lie, but there was still some truth in his words, albeit deeply hidden. He played this game so well, the lying game. He was a master.
Cavil smirked at her distress. "They acquired you from Graystone Industries when you were just a baby. Apparently Graystone couldn't get rid of you fast enough, doubting you could survive on your own. Your prototype was completely frakked up, useless." He swept his eyes over her form mockingly. "It still is. Humans clearly have no idea how to build a proper machine."
"You're lying!" she hissed, clenching and unclenching her fists in increasing agitation.
"Sure," he laughed. "Have you ever heard about a machine getting cancer? Graystone Industries knew they had frakked up your prototype, but destroying you would have been a pointless waste of money and resources. So instead, they wanted to know if you could survive in the big, wide world." His smile turned positively feral. "So they found a poor, unsuspecting couple and sold you. They planted you with Judith and Edward Roslin and sat back and watched."
He let out a sudden laugh and shook his head. "Humans," he grumbled. "If only they had waited a little longer they wouldn't have had to deal with a defective device."
Laura couldn't stand it anymore and turned away, trying to put as much distance between them as she could manage.
It wasn't true. What he was saying wasn't true. She wasn't frakked up, her childhood, her entire life, wasn't a lie. She had to stop listening to Cavil and his insidious lies. She had been a true member of the family, not just some machine or gadget. She had shed tears with them when her grandparents died. Her mother had tried to comfort her; she'd told Laura about the place where she'd meet all the others who had gone before her. If her mother had known that she was a machine she would have never told her about it, never made her believe she had a soul which would go there.
But Laura knew she had a soul—she could feel it. She could feel it every time she felt grief and love and sadness and happiness. And there had been a lot of that in her life. She had lost her sisters and her father. Losing them had made her feel like a part of her had been ripped out so that she would never be whole again, a part lost forever. Nothing in the world could ever replace it. Her only solace had been the prospect of being reunited with them one day. She had believed her mother, because her mother had never lied to Laura.
Then her mother had died.
Laura had been older then, but the image of the reunification with her family still persisted. She still believed, until the moment she died and woke up on a Basestar. Her family wasn't waiting for her. Only Cavil and this miserable excuse for a life. She had lost everything, not only once, but twice. She had lost her family for the first time when they had died and she had lost them again when she had resurrected. This time hurt the most. All her memories of the people she'd loved, all of the happy times she had shared with her family were now lost, too. She'd lost her history, her beliefs and her faith. There was nothing left for her, not even trying to lead the Fleet to safety. Galactica was lost to her and Bill ...
She had nothing left but an evil machine trying to torture her into insanity.
"It's not true," she said flatly.
"You know, considering you were a schoolteacher, Secretary of Education and then President, I thought you'd be more clever than this," Cavil replied candidly. "I'm telling you the truth. The human race you were so keen to save from your own kind"—he snorted at that—"already had begun experimenting with humanoid Cylons. Graystone Industries, to be exact. They had been experimenting for quite some time before the Final Five finally showed their faces on the Twelve Colonies."
"The Final Five?"
Cavil went silent for a moment, as if remembering exactly where he was, and who he was with. "I think that's enough history for one day, Madame President. I think you have a lot to digest, don't you?" he said, rubbing his hands together in an almost gleeful fashion. "I do so love our conversations."
"What happened?" Laura interrupted, and Cavil shot her a look of irritation.
"I said that's enough, Laura. You're a machine, a faulty, defective machine. You have no family, only silica pathways to a mechanical brain. I suggest you get used to that. You'd be so much happier."
With that he left Laura behind, alone again.