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Unsteady (Hold On To Me)

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"It's been a crazy time, and sometimes it's still really challenging to be honest about what I'm going through,” Laura gave a sigh, shivering against a gust of cold wind. “but I wouldn't go back. I'm happy… Who would have thought three years ago when I met Bill that I'd find such a wonderful man and get to be part of his family? It feels like a gift from the Gods…” she smiled, taking a dry leaf from the plant in front of her and throwing it on the ground. “We went to a cabin in the mountains for the weekend before he left. It was so nice to be just us and the kids. I asked him to marry me, and he said yes,” her heart tightened as she wished the people resting there could’ve seen it. “You would've loved him. I really do.”

Someone walked past, and Laura glanced up at them before settling her gaze back on her family’s tombstone, with those names that had once meant she was alone. She’d been visiting the cemetery more regularly over the past two years, finding comfort in telling her family about her new life, hoping that somewhere, perhaps, they were listening. She felt stupid at first, talking to a stone, a bunch of gravel and some dirt, but Bill had encouraged her to try, and she found it actually made her feel a little better.  

"It's Zak's birthday today. We’re having a party,” she continued. “He called me mom last week when he was excited about his game. I think it was an accident, and I didn't know what to say. His mother isn't around at all anymore, which is a relief for Bill, but I can't help feeling sad about it.”

Laura checked her watch, but another rush of wind blew her hair in her face. She pushed it away and tried it again. She really needed to get home if Zak was to have a birthday cake. She secured the plant she’d brought so it wouldn’t fall and left the cemetery, stopping by a bakery to pick up the viper-shaped cake before she headed home. She’d have made that cake herself, but it was way above her baking skills, which were already way above Bill’s own baking skills. 

Going back to their apartment, she spent time hanging balloons and decorations and making sure the space was ready for a horde of children, keeping an eye on the clock. She hoped Bill wouldn’t be late. He’d spent the last two weeks in space, for the first time in a while, which meant she was alone and missing him dearly. Two weeks somehow felt like two months. Bill had been on the verge of refusing the job of showing pilots and instructors the new program, but she’d pushed him to, assuring the three of them would be fine without him. Being alone with the children had made her anxious at first, but in the end, it wasn’t different than usual, and she even suspected Lee and Zak had taken pity on her and avoided fighting as much as they usually did. 

“Laura, do you know where my white shirt is?” Lee asked, coming into the living room as Laura stood on a chair to hang a Happy Birthday banner.

“Have you checked with all your other shirts?” Laura asked back with a grin and Lee rolled his eyes.

“Of course I have.”

“Check if it hasn’t been put with Zak’s clothes,” Laura said, a bit of a more serious answer. “You’re close in size, I might have got confused.”

Lee nodded and left towards his bedroom. A minute later, as Laura climbed down from the chair, he shouted “Thanks, I got it.”

It was another moment before the first guests arrived -  some of Lee’s friends from middle school. Lee had got slightly jealous when they’d planned the birthday party, so he’d been allowed to invite some guests as well, nevermind that they threw a party just as big for his last birthday. Bill would probably beat himself up for missing two of them for years to come and try to compensate.

The second guest was for Lee, too, and the third was finally one for Zak. The fourth was for Zak again, but the fifth… the fifth got in the apartment on his own, and this one was for Laura. Bill only had time to drop his bag and open his arms before Laura stood between them, and he buried his face in her neck.

“Missed you,” he whispered into her hair.

Laura smiled happily, pulling back from the hug to take Bill’s face in both hands and kiss him soundly. She had only begun getting reacquainted with the taste of his mouth again when they heard a gagging sound behind them.

“Gross,” Lee complained, an almost-teenager now. It was more for teasing, and out of embarrassment of his parents groping each other in front of his friends. 

Bill wrapped his arms more tightly around Laura, not letting go, which made Laura giggle against his lips. She took pity on Lee and stepped back. “I love you,” she said with one last kiss. 

“Stay here, I’ll say hi to the boys and be back. I have something for you,” Bill said with an air of secrecy that had Laura narrow her eyes as he hugged Lee and disappeared down the corridor looking for Zak. 

When it was two minutes after Bill left and he wasn’t back, Laura shrugged and walked to the kitchen, taking drinks out of the fridge and setting them on the long table for the children. She was popping a piece of candy in the form of a ring into her mouth when Bill came back, and he laughed at the sight of it.

“What’s so funny?” Laura asked, and seeing him laugh pulled a smile out of her, but a bemused one.

“I also have a ring for you. This one I’m not sure you should eat,” Bill said and took a box out of his pocket under Laura’s curious gaze. When he opened it and got down on one knee, Laura’s smile menaced to split her face in half, and her heart threatened to jump out of her chest. They had an audience, too, with Lee, Zak and the party guests having gathered there to see what was happening. 

“Laura Roslin, I love you more than Lee loves being right and Zak loves Pyramid. Combined,” Bill said, and Laura couldn’t help a teary laugh. “Will you marry me?” 

“I asked you already, Bill Adama, you're already mine,” Laura pointed out, making Bill give her a playful smile.

They’d been at a cabin in the mountains for a weekend, and Bill had been playing by the stream with the boys, building boats out of twigs and leaves and trying to get them to float. He'd looked up at her and she'd just known she would ask him right there and then. There was no one else but him. He’d said yes, after a second that seemed to last an eternity, and the boys had cheered and almost broken her eardrums.

“Yes, you did, but now I have a ring for you, so you have to say yes to me again,” Bill grinned at her, taking the ring out of the box, and Laura held out her hand for him to slip it on. She didn’t remember telling him what she liked, but somehow, it was perfect.

Laura shook her head as she beamed at the ridiculous man she was engaged to. “I’ll marry you then. But only because we’re engaged twice,” she declared, pulling Bill back up so they could seal it with a kiss.

More gagging noises, but they ignored them until the doorbell rang, announcing more arriving guests. Lee made his way to the door when it was clear the parents wouldn’t for a while.

“How did you get a ring?” Laura asked, resting her left hand on Bill’s chest so she could look at the jewel. “You were in space.”

“I have my secrets,” Bill said, and refused to tell her, no matter how many times she nagged.

“How did it go with the new program?” Laura eventually asked, once the euphoria of being engaged once again dissipated just enough to allow for other thoughts.

“I explained how all of it works. It was nice being back,” Bill replied. “It will be good to have flight simulators on the ships. You can never have too much practice.” 

“Well, I missed you, and I’m glad you’re back,” Laura said, and they shared another tender embrace. “We should watch that this party doesn’t descend into chaos now. I’m sure you and I can celebrate later,” she winked and swore Bill’s gaze became slightly heated.

They went back to the living room, and greeted more children, soon being outnumbered ten to one. Most of the children invited were in Zak’s class, and therefore in Laura’s as well. They spent the first half an hour behaving perfectly, not a word above the other and sitting in a circle, which Laura found deeply amusing. She launched a game with them to get them comfortable and step out of the teacher role, and soon quiet turned into very loud, and she almost regretted the moment when they sat on the floor instead of the current stomping their feet and screaming. But Zak was happy, and that was all they’d tried to accomplish today. 

The cake was a massive success, Zak’s eyes widening at the sight of it, and it even drew a few gasps from the otherwise unimpressed guests.  Bill stuck eleven candles on it and lit them before he found his spot again behind Laura, wrapping his arms around her front. She smiled and intertwined the fingers on her ring hand with his. Zak took in a big breath, ready to blow his candles when Lee stopped him, and Zak deflated like a balloon.

“Did you make a wish?” Lee asked.

“Yeah.”

“But a good one?”

Zak frowned at his brother. “I don’t know, what’s a good one?” 

“One of mine came true,” Lee said, not answering the question. “You need to think of a good one.”

The way he glanced at Laura when he said that left her intensely curious and wondering what this wish had been. Better grades? He’d been top of her class two years in a row, that would be a wasted wish. Before she could come up with any more theories, Lee spoke again. “When Laura was with us on my birthday, I wished she’d stay with us. And she’s here.”

Laura’s heart swelled, and she felt Bill hold her ever closer. Lee’s wish was hers too, every day, and she made it true. They all made it true.

Zak considered the response for a long moment before he nodded and blew out the candles under heavy applause. 

Laura leaned back against Bill and he placed a loving kiss on her shoulder. 

In the end, their world was everything they ever wished it to be. Yes, it was imperfect, sometimes unsteady, but every day, they chose to lean on each other.