Word Count: 4,138
Characters/Pairings: Adama/Roslin, Laura
Summary: The Lauras discuss how Bill Adama has changed; while resurrected Laura is in the brig, Bill and Laura finally come together again.
Link to Art: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v397/katamaran/BSG/divisionbell.jpg
Notes: Thank you to my wonderful beta ufp13, to icedteainthebag and mmegiry for their mad organizational skills, and especially to the entire team of writers, betas, and cheerleaders who participated in making this story happen and for restoring my faith that a fandom group project like this really can be a pleasant and wonderful experience. It's been one of the best, in fact. ♥
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
The dull roar of a waterfall, her favorite in Tethys Park, soothed the restlessness that stirred within her. She scooted away from the dappled shade and into a sunnier patch of grass, wanting to feel the warmth of the midday sun and allow it to lull her further into her sleepy, meditative state.
She'd come here frequently during her student teaching days, usually after a bad day when she found herself questioning what she'd gotten herself into, and whether she was really meant to be on the path she was heading down. When she was here, she could calm down, reevaluate, and maybe gain a sense of clarity from her surroundings. Life normally didn't seem so complicated once she was ready to leave.
After she'd been hired for her first job, she had stopped visiting as often and only could remember a couple of times when she'd even been here in the last few years before the Fall.
She missed this—missed having a place she could go to try to center herself. For all the realism that Cylon projections were capable of creating, they still could not compare or fully recreate the experience of actually being somewhere ...
The metallic grind of the hatch wheel turning caused it all to melt away.
As the peaceful visages melted away to reveal her actual drab surroundings and the stale air of Galactica, the Admiral and the President entered her cell. Though they entered together, Roslin was quick to place some distance between herself and Adama, clearly wishing to be anywhere but where he was.
"We'll be fine on our own, Admiral." The President dismissed him, frost lacing her tone. She did not look at him.
Adama, for his part, bristled at the dismissal and seemed ready to protest, his lips thinning into a stubborn line as he crossed his arms and glared at the back of her head.
Uncomfortable with the showdown currently taking place in her cell—and concerned about what it meant for her personally—Laura sat up straighter and unconsciously smoothed her hands over the wrinkled material of her clothes.
They paid her no heed, still caught up in their battle of the wills.
Still not hearing the telltale signs of his departure, the President finally snapped her head in his direction, exasperated as she jerked her head toward the hatch.
Another beat and he finally acquiesced, dropping his arms with a low sigh as he moved to leave. More than just irritated, he seemed defeated and a little hurt.
Before he completely exited the brig, he turned around to address Laura, ignoring the President's huff at what appeared to be another excuse to stall. "Is there anything you need, anything I can get you?"
She blinked at that. It wasn't at all what she expected him to say, and for a moment, Laura saw herself years ago, in another brig cell but with the same man standing before her. Back then, he'd emanated a cold, unflinching fury at her betrayal. Even if he had not been shot soon after placing her in that brig, he wouldn't have brought her books eventually to comfort and keep her occupied.
Now, that man, as rattled and heartbroken by recent events as he must be, exuded exhaustion beyond measure, a warier, sadder version of himself looking almost lost as he waited for her response.
So much had changed in the passing years, she mused. Was it for better or worse, though? She wasn't sure.
Laura shrugged. "Maybe something to keep me from feeling so bored? A few books perhaps?" she asked, giving him a tiny smile.
The President's already rigid posture seemed to stiffen even more at the suggestion, giving Laura the discomfiting feeling she was missing something important. It seemed best to brush it aside. "It's hardly necessary, though."
She could keep occupied with her projections. Maybe she could try conjuring up a library for her next one.
Adama's gaze was intent as he studied her. "No, I'll have a few brought down for you."
Well, she wouldn't argue with that. "Thank you."
With a nod toward her, Bill turned to leave, glancing one last time at the President. She continued to stare straight ahead and not acknowledge him.
Before the hatch swung closed, Laura caught a glimpse of Bill as he pulled a flask from his boot.
With sudden force, repulsion mixed with a dizzying wave of disappointed sorrow washed over her at the sight, and she realized she had her answer. So much had changed in the passing years, indeed. She did not want to parse the memory of the Bill Adama she'd known, the one she'd projected during her time on the Basestar to comfort herself, with this broken shadow she saw now. The cold realization horrified her.
She wanted to be able to love him, but she didn't think she could now. The man she'd known before, one she'd built her hopes and dreams around, didn't exist anymore.
An exhausted sigh pulled her from her reverie. She looked over to see her doppelgänger shuffling over to the other end of her cot, shoulders slumping as she settled there. At first, she said nothing at all, just regarded her with an air of detached interest.
Uneasy with the scrutiny and wanting to know what the real purpose for her visit was, she decided to start the conversation. "How are you, Laura?"
She seemed somewhat taken aback at the question, and it took her a moment to catch up and respond. "I have good days ... "
" ... and bad," her counterpart finished. "Which is it today?"
"It's a good day, I suppose. Such as it is. Tomorrow may be a different story."
She nodded, remembering those good and bad days from before. "I assume this isn't just a social visit."
"No, it isn't. I thought you should be aware that Caprica suffered a miscarriage." She tried to sound clinical, but her voice still wavered.
Gasping, tears welled in Laura's eyes as she remembered the joy on Caprica's face. Her heart ached at the knowledge of how crushed she must be. "Anything else?"
"You might also want to know that Admiral Adama has accepted the offer to use Cylon technology to patch the ship together. It won't save Galactica, but it will help us make a few more jumps before we'll have to abandon her."
She sat back, reeling. "My Gods. I'm not sure what shocks me more: Bill Adama accepting Cylon technology or the idea of him actually leaving Galactica."
"He's changed a lot since you knew him."
"Yes. He certainly has." She didn't quite keep the bitterness from bleeding into her tone, and irritation flashed in her counterpart's eyes.
"You have no idea what any of us has been through. I wouldn't be so quick to pass judgment on him if I were you," Laura snapped.
She found it odd that, as irritated as she appeared to be with Bill when they first came to the brig, she was quick to defend him. "He's an alcoholic, Laura."
The President tilted her head back and exhaled before looking directly back at her again. "Yes. I know."
She shook her head, unable to understand how she could just take it in stride. "He's not the man I knew during that first year anymore."
"No, he's not. He's much more."
She tried not to scoff. "I think I preferred the old Bill to this one. I hardly recognize that man. Doesn't it bother you?"
"Of course it bothers me. But he's lost so much already, mostly because of me. Earth was hell, and I'm the one who brought us to it. He's lost so much of his crew, his family, and he's been betrayed by some of them; his best friend's a Cylon, and now, it turns out I'm one, too. I can't stand it, but I think the alcohol is the only thing he has left to help him cope. He feels too much."
"He shouldn't be making command decisions when he's not sober," she insisted.
"Saul's there to counterbalance him."
Her laugh lacked any humor. "Isn't that a bit like the blind leading the blind?"
"Not anymore. Colonel Tigh is completely sober now."
Laura had nothing to say to that. What kind of topsy-turvy life had she returned to, anyway? Instead, she said, "I have a hard time being comfortable with the fact Bill is a drunk when it was an alcoholic that killed our father and sisters."
The President scowled. "They weren't really my—our—family."
"No! They were. Don't talk like that." Carefully, she reached for her sister's hand and clasped it tightly in her own. "It doesn't change or diminish anything. Not the pain we experienced in losing them and certainly not the love we felt for them or that they felt for us. That was real. I know it was."
The other Laura opened her mouth to say something, the expression on her face a bit odd, but then she shook her head slightly.
"Real ..." The President sighed as she pulled her hand back. "Some cosmic joke, isn't it? I thought the cancer was hereditary. Instead, it's just an unfortunate defect."
Neither wanted to dwell too long on the subject of their adoptive family. It was time to change the topic.
"Tell me about Bill. Make me understand him and how he's changed."
"Gods. Where to even start?" She exhaled as she gathered her thoughts. "You did know that Gaius Baltar ran in and won the election, right?"
She pursed her lips in disgust. "Cavil mentioned it, yes."
"He shouldn't have won. Probably would not have were it not for bad timing. We came across a semi-habitable planet right before Election Day and that became his campaign platform. It was a disaster in the making, but the people wanted solid ground under their feet, and he made a lot of promises I refused to make and that he couldn't keep." Her brow furrowed at the memories. "I tried to stop it, even went as far as allowing the election to be rigged. Tory made all the arrangements. But ... then Bill found out. And he was upset, didn't want me to do it."
Laura almost smiled. That sounded like the Bill Adama she knew.
"It was a mistake, though. He would have let me steal that election if I'd just said the word, but I was beginning to fall in love with him, and by that time, I'd come to respect him so much. It took a long time to earn the same from him, and I wanted to be worthy enough to keep it in return." She looked down at her hands. "He saved my soul that day, but I'm not sure it was worth the ones of those we ended up losing because of that decision.
"That bastard Baltar had the audacity to call it New Caprica. It was a mud pit. It was cold most of the time, and it was miserable. Baltar's administration made almost no efforts to make it more habitable. A lot of people died even before the Cylons showed up," Laura spat and took a deep breath before continuing. "There were parts of it that weren't all bad, though."
She remained quiet for a few moments, lost in some private memory, and Laura couldn't help but wonder what could possibly have been so good about it. Cavil's accounts of New Caprica, although an incomplete picture and misconstrued as they were, painted a horrifying experience, and, as she understood it, that much was at least true. What could possibly have made what sounded like an extended primitive camping trip tolerable enough for her to look back at any of it with some fondness?
"But the Cylons did show up, and the remaining Fleet had no choice but to jump away. We were at their mercy for four months before the Fleet was able to come back."
"What exactly happened during the occupation?" She knew some of it. Cavil had delighted in sharing with her the gory details of Saul Tigh's torture, after all.
"No." The other Laura's voice turned cold. "That is one topic that is not up for discussion."
Laura shivered at that, knowing the conclusions she might draw from the refusal to talk about it probably weren't that far off base, especially with considering the mastermind behind it all.
"Anyway, Bill came back, and I became President again. Things were almost quiet for awhile ... at least, until it turned out that Baltar hadn't died on New Caprica when we finally escaped." She plucked at the rough cotton sheet that covered the cot's mattress. "The trial we gave him was an absolute circus."
"None of this should be enough to make Bill want to drown his sorrows with a bottle," she pointed out.
"Separately, no, but the combination of all that with everything that came later was. No, I think the event that really affected Bill on his basest level was Kara Thrace's death."
"What?! Is she—" Laura nearly choked. Kara was alive as far as she knew.
"I don't know what she is or how she survived, if she really survived. But she showed up two months later. And Cottle's tests show that she's not a Cylon, and that's all the information we have to work with right now. She did appear to have died in a Viper crash, though, and Bill was absolutely crushed by it." Her tone lowered then. "Then, just as he was starting to recover from that loss, I found out the cancer was back. Everything started unraveling quickly after that. There was Earth, and the mutiny which maybe wouldn't have happened if I'd done my job. And now there's us. No offense, but that makes me want to break into his liquor cabinet, too."
She gave her 'twin' a chagrined smile. "None taken."
"Does that answer all your questions?"
"No, of course not, but it does fill in a lot of the blanks, and his behavior makes a little more sense. Thank you."
"Good." The President nodded at her and started to get up, but then she shifted toward her instead, looking uncertain about what she was going to say next. "Can I ask you a favor?"
"What is it?"
"When ..." Her voice hitched. "When I'm gone, if he'll let you, could you be there for Bill? It might make it easier for him if he has you to ... to ..."
Her stomach lurched at the direction she sensed her request was going, Laura gaped at her. Oh no no no.
"Are you asking me what I think you're asking me?" she responded once she found her ability to speak again. "If you are, then no, absolutely not. For all our similarities and shared background, I am not your replacement."
Laura felt almost nauseous at the suggestion. How could she even think such a thing?
"I think I should leave now," the President murmured, lifting herself off the cot. She was ready to step through the hatch when Laura decided she needed to say something.
"Laura? Before you go?"
Slowly, she turned back to her, wary of what she might say next.
"I may not know Bill very well anymore, but from what I do remember about him and what I see now? Somehow, I imagine there's only one Laura Roslin in Bill Adama's universe, and no one, not even me, is going to be able to take her place."
With that, she turned away and closed her eyes, only relaxing when the telltale creak and clank of the hatch told her the President was gone.
Laura left the brig feeling frustrated and rattled by her discussion with the other Laura Roslin. Having a 'replacement' ready for Bill wasn't really what she wanted at all, but the idea that there was another copy of her, a near perfect and healthy facsimile of herself, was almost a comfort.
The thought that Bill would not be left alone, could have someone to turn to that practically was her ... it soothed the part of her that was terrified by how he was going to handle her death. His continued denial of the inevitable meant he was setting himself up for quite a fall, and for all her efforts to prepare him for it, she wasn't sure he could handle it. She was afraid for him.
And yet, she was sick with jealousy at the idea of it, too. In a way, it was a relief to know that her other self had no plans or any desire to take her place.
Fifty years of the same existence, she mused. They were nearly mirrors of each other. It was a fluke that had created her copy and sent each of them on different paths. Yet it wasn't so long ago that they had been a single entity. Had their separate experiences in that short span of time really changed each of them so much and made them such distinct personalities?
And what would have happened if they hadn't been split? Would she have been able to return as the other Laura had? Would she have wanted that at all? How would she feel coming back to find everyone and everything so changed?
She wondered if it would have been better for everyone if Baltar had not been allowed to administer his cure on her deathbed.
Clearly, she wouldn't be the damaged goods she was now, falling apart as cancer crept throughout her body once more, steadily claiming her energy and leaving her with only a finite number of days and weeks to resolve her affairs. She would have resurrected properly to a healthy body, one unencumbered by a predisposition for cancer. There would not have been any confusion over what to do with two of her, only the shock that she wasn't really dead, assuming she chose to come back.
She knew she'd choose to come back too, though, despite how different everything might have been by the time she managed to do so.
Still, it was going to be so much worse for Bill this time than it would have been had she fully died two years ago. At the time, they'd been the dearest of friends who were only starting to understand what they meant to each other and could only dream of what might have been. Her death would have been bittersweet for him then, but she knew at the time that he could carry on. Now? Now, they were everything to each other.
Laura stopped in the middle of the corridor. She needed to talk to him, this time without pushing him away because of her fears and her failings. Changing directions, she headed toward Bill's quarters, steeling herself with each step she took.
When she arrived, he was already in his rack but still wide awake. As she came around the corner, he sat up and put his glasses on. He was surprised to see her here voluntarily for anything other than business, as that had been their only communication in the last few days; however, he swiftly covered that with a mask of wariness, protecting himself from whatever new way she might lash out at him.
She did her best to tamp down the guilt that sliced through her as she slowly walked toward him. She couldn't fix everything for him, but she did need to at least try to make some amends. She'd been so hurt and confused lately, but he had been, too. Trying to protect him from herself was no excuse.
"I've been unfair to you recently," she told him as she approached his rack and sat on the edge of the mattress.
His eyebrows were raised at that. He'd obviously been braced for anything but an apology. Finally, he said, "Any suggestions for what she might like to read? I figure you'd know better than anyone."
It wasn't the response she'd expected, but she tried not to be too disappointed. Shrugging in response, she tried to think of the titles she'd enjoyed. "The Delphi River Murders ... The Suns of Scorpia ... maybe Three Bullets, perhaps? And there's Searider Falcon, of course. You know that's my favorite."
"No. Not that one. That one's ours."
There's only one Laura Roslin in Bill Adama's universe ...
Laura smiled at him for the first time in days.
He gazed back at her with cautious optimism as she reached for him, sliding her hand up his arm then down his chest to feel the steady beat of his heart under her fingers. He covered her hand with his, his grip light as he lifted it to place a kiss on her wrist.
"C'mere," he rasped.
"Just a moment." Rising, Laura removed her wig and let him help her out of her clothes when he stood up to assist her. She gasped as his hands slid under her shirt, the heat of his palms igniting a tiny ripple of electricity wherever he touched her.
In turn, she guided his lips to her own as her hands sought the hem of his tanks once she was undressed, and he stepped out of his boxers. She only separated from him long enough to yank the material over his head, tossing it aside before she pulled him to her again, her tongue seeking entrance this time while her hand reached down to pump his cock.
He moaned as he hardened further under her ministrations until, eventually, he stilled her hand in warning and stepped back to regain a measure of control before pulling her down to the rack.
Bill climbed in first, settling in on his side as she joined him, facing toward him and wrapping her leg over his to hold him close. For a few minutes, they remained like that, satisfied just to touch one another for awhile and map each curve, plane, freckle and wrinkle as though it might be the last time.
And it might very well be, she realized when Bill rolled her onto her back.
Laura bit her lip in frustration as muted arousal coiled within her, there and growing but not yet enough if she wanted to have any hope of coming anytime soon. She wanted this so much now, to be able to give to him with more intensity and enthusiasm than her body could allow her. She could imagine them as they should be, all motion and energy and tangled limbs like it once was and never would be again, even if it wasn't the last time she was able to do this.
It'd probably drain all her reserves for the next couple days to give what she still could, but they needed this, and it would be enough.
Knowing her body as he did now, Bill was aware that she'd need some more time to be ready. He leaned over her to brush light kisses across her chest, moving upward toward her neck to suckle at the sensitive skin behind her ear. With one finger, he gently traced along the curve of her waist, over her outer thigh to the inside until he reached her apex. First with one finger and then a second, he pressed into her with gentle strokes until she began to roll her hips in counterpoint, asking for a firmer, steadier rhythm that soon had her clutching at his shoulders and ready for more.
She nodded her head against his shoulder, prompting him to remove his fingers and readjust his position above her. Together, they watched as he guided his cock inside her, and the sight was almost her undoing, as was the heady sensation of fullness that being joined with him always gave her.
After a few careful thrusts to assure she was definitely ready for him, he regained their previous pace. Threading her fingers into his hair, she whimpered as that familiar heavy warmth finally started to unfurl from deep inside, nearly stealing her breath away as it radiated outward in waves throughout her body until she reached the crest of her orgasm and floated back to awareness while Bill continued to seek his own climax.
She whispered his name against his lips in gratitude, and suddenly, he thrust into her one more time with a shuddering groan.
As he lifted his weight off her once he'd recovered, Bill smoothed his fingers over her brow with a tenderness that made her heart break a little. "Are we okay?"
"Yeah. I think we are," she responded as she settled against him, ready to sleep.
"Oh, Bill? She never did finish Dark Day. Give her that one to start with first."