“Gods, Bill, I just don’t understand why people can’t stop complaining all the time! I know the ships are overcrowded, I know everyone is sick of algae-food, I know everyone is tired of rationing! But the constant bitching doesn’t do anyone any good and, frankly, it just pisses me off!” Laura exclaims, gripping her stomach as it lets out a loud growl.
Bill’s lips are pressed together tightly trying to prevent a smile from forming on his lips as he watches Laura lose her cool in front of him for the second time in as many days.
“Dammit, I’m doing it again, aren’t I? I’m bitching to you about people bitching all the time and you’re sitting there laughing at me,” she says rubbing her stomach as it growls loudly again.
“Are you always this cranky when you’re hungry?” he asks in his best serious tone leaning back in his chair as he watches Laura pace back and forth ranting in front of his desk.
“Yes, I am. I’m sick of algae-food, too! I can barely choke it down anymore – it just isn’t satisfying in any way, so I don’t eat as much as I should.”
“You need to eat, Laura, to keep your strength up. A cranky starving president isn’t what this fleet needs right now,” he chides her.
“Oh, really, Admiral Obvious?!” she snaps.
Bill gives her a shocked look, surprised she would resort to name-calling, at least to his face. He’s certain she had a few choice names for him after they first met, but that was a long time ago, and she never said them in front of him. He had a few monikers for her, too, but only Saul was privy to those, except for the ones that were sexual in nature which he kept to himself.
Laura softens her tone at his stunned expression. “I’m sorry, Bill, I shouldn’t have said that. You’re right, I need to eat more. I’m acting like a lunatic right now.”
“Laura,” he says standing up from his desk, “join me for a drink.” He motions to his leather sofa and walks to his drink cart, pouring two glasses of whiskey for them.
“Whiskey on an empty stomach, Bill? I’ve already made a fool of myself,” she says in a tone disgusted with herself, hesitating as he hands her a glass before she sits down on his sofa.
“Do you trust me, Laura?” he asks taking a sip of his drink.
“Of course, I do,” she replies, immediately concerned with his question. “What’s going on?”
He places his drink on the coffee table in front of them. “Close your eyes. Don’t open them until I say so.”
“Bill,” she says in a suspicious tone, “what are you up to?”
“You’ll see. Close your eyes and keep them closed.”
A smile tugs at the corners of her mouth as she stares at him, studying him for a hint about what’s going on. His trademark stone face stares right back at her not revealing any clues. “Alright,” she sighs, cocking one eyebrow at him and placing her drink on the coffee table next to his. “I’m closing them.”
“Keep them closed,” he says before rising from the sofa.
She hears him shuffling around his quarters, a few drawers open and close, some tapping, and more walking around. She’s certain he’s making most of those noises to cover up what he’s actually doing. After a few minutes, the sofa sinks down close to her, and she hears him set something on the coffee table. “Can I open my eyes now?”
“What are you doing, Bill?” she asks again, very curious about his unusual behavior.
“You’ll see. Open your mouth.”
“I said open your mouth. You trust me, right?”
“Um, yeh, but this is kind of weird.”
“It won’t be once you figure out what’s going on,” he says taking her hand in his and giving it a reassuring squeeze. “It’s something good, really good. Open up.”
Laura takes a deep breath, then musters up her bravery and opens her mouth. Bill places a small piece of food on her tongue.
“Oh!” she exclaims before she begins to chew the morsel. “Ohhhhhh,” she says again as her saliva glands go into overdrive at the taste of the spicy food. “Oh, my Gods!” she continues to chew. “Where did you get this? It’s fantastic!”
“I’ve had it hidden away for a while now. I try not to eat too much at once, just a little bit at a time to keep me going.”
“Can I open my eyes?”
“Sure,” he replies.
A plate rests on the coffee table with several little chunks of salami but when she reaches for another, Bill lightly slaps her hand away. “Can’t I have more?” she asks, her eyes pleading for another piece.
“I’m the only one who touches the Adama salami,” he replies with a playful twinkle in his eyes. He picks up another piece and holds it to her mouth. She happily takes it from him and savors it, rolling her eyes in the back of her head at the tasty mix of flavors. “How long have you called me Admiral Obvious?” he asks.
“Hmmm, it was sometime after Baltar became President,” she replies before taking a sip of whiskey.
“Do you have other nicknames for me?” he asks taking a sip of his own whiskey, carefully studying the expression on her face.
“Maybe a few,” she replies, hoping he doesn’t ask her about them. There are some she just as soon not share with him because he might get the wrong impression. When he doesn’t offer her another piece of salami, she figures out his game. “Oh, so if I don’t give you the answer you’re looking for, I don’t get any more Adama salami?”
Bill glances at the plate of food then back at her with a smirk on his face.
“Okay, when we first met, I may have referred to you as Commander Cranky-Pants once or twice,” she concedes.
“That’s good,” he says nodding his head. “I was kind of cranky when you were being Secretary Bossy-Butt about networking my ship.” He holds another piece of salami to her lips and after a five second scowl, she relents and takes it from him.
“I’m not that bossy. I’m the President,” she coolly explains.
“Sure,” Bill replies. “That must be it. Any other names?” he asks leaning back on the sofa away from the plate of salami.
“Admiral Asshole,” she says quickly, wanting to get that next bit of salami from him and possibly knock him down a notch from his pedestal.
“That has to be fairly recent since I haven’t been an admiral for very long. When was I an asshole to you?” he asks curiously.
When he makes no attempt to give her another piece of salami, she replies, “New Caprica.”
“What about New Caprica?”
“You know, when you didn’t bother to kiss me even though I dropped every hint I could think of,” she replies glancing at him over the rim of her whiskey glass.
“I thought you were just being Ex-President Tease,” he says before offering her another piece of meat.
“Ah! I don’t think so! I don’t tease!” she exclaims before taking the meat from him.
“The tight skirts? The way you slip off your shoes and pull your legs up on my sofa, like you are right now? The way you curled up next to me and kept your hand on my chest that night? If you want me to kiss you just say so.”
“I prefer kisses to be spontaneous, like that time you kissed me on Colonial One. Maybe I don’t want to order someone to kiss me – call me old-fashioned, Bill,” she says sneaking a quick glance at his lips.
“You’re a romantic,” he replies. “But we aren’t exactly living in a time of romance, are we?”
“No, I guess we aren’t,” she says with a trite expression. “The constant threat of annihilation does put a damper on things. I suppose romance is a luxury we don’t have anymore,” she sighs.
Bill senses the change in her mood from levity to melancholy. “Yet you and I wouldn’t know each other if it wasn’t for the cylons.”
“Probably not,” she agrees, still wistful at the thought that romance has no place in their current reality.
“Laura,” he says attempting to lift her spirits. “I couldn’t do any of this without you. You know that, right? You went from being the bossy politician that came aboard this ship that I couldn’t wait to get rid of, to someone I trust, respect, and lean on, not just as a leader but as a close friend.”
“I feel the same way,” she says raising her glass. “A toast – to Commander Cranky-Pants and Secretary Bossy-Butt – may they continue to work toward common goals and find solace within one another.”
“I’ll drink to that,” he says lightly clanking his glass to hers.
They sit in silence for several minutes sipping on their whiskey, glancing at each other, trying to read one another’s thoughts.
“What other names?” Bill asks, breaking the silence between them.
“It’s kind of inappropriate,” she replies with a blush. “Mr. Mustache-Ride,” she says wincing as the words come out of her mouth.
His face relaxes as he considers the implication of that particular moniker, and that Laura has her own nicknames for him that are sexual in nature. That night on New Caprica may have unfolded differently had he known the depth of her interest in him. He gives her an amused look before he chuckles, then clears his throat.
“Can’t call you that anymore unless you decide to grow it back. Then I might be tempted,” she admits.
He carefully places a piece of salami on her tongue and watches her chew, never dropping her gaze.
“Commander-Can’t-Get-Laid,” she says trying not to laugh. “That’s not very nice.”
“Most of the others weren’t nice either!” he reminds her. “And I’ll have you know I was on shore leave just a few weeks prior to the attacks, and I got laid plenty.”
“Mmmh, hmmm, sure you did,” she says not believing a word of what he said, her mood becoming light-hearted again.
“I did. Ask Saul if you don’t believe me.”
“I’ll do that,” she says accepting another piece of salami.
“I don’t really care what Secretary-Needs-To-Get-Laid thinks, anyway,” he retorts.
“For your information, I was in a sexual relationship with someone prior to attending the decommissioning ceremony, and we had done the deed less than 24 hours before I arrived here,” she replies with a satisfied smirk.
“Sexual relationship? What about romance?”
“No,” she says glancing at the plate. “There were no romantic feelings at all.”
“Is he in the fleet?”
“He died in the initial attack on the colonies.”
“How do you know that?”
“Bill, I just know. Don’t ask,” she says patting his arm in a way to let him know the subject is off-limits between them.
“Alright, I won’t ask. Any other names?”
“None that I can remember. What about your names for me? I’m sure you have others,” she says expecting to hear another derogatory nickname from when they first met.
“Nothing too original. Leggy Laura is one I like,” he says glancing at her bare legs on his sofa.
“Is that why you always stay and watch me climb up and down the ladders to the hangar bay?” she asks surprised at the sexist name.
“Guilty,” he laughs. “So guilty of that. How long have you known?”
“Since the first time I came on board. You weren’t exactly subtle about it.”
“It had been a long time since I’d seen legs like that on my ship.”
“Bill, you still do it.”
“Because I still like your legs, and other attributes.”
She considers pushing him to list these other attributes he likes, but another growl from her stomach makes her change her mind. “Do I get any more salami?” she asks glancing at the plate, then back at him.
He holds a piece out to her, and she nibbles it from his fingers. “What other attributes?”
“You’re putting me on the spot. I think you are an incredibly attractive woman.”
“What do you find attractive about me, besides my legs?” she asks standing and turning around slowly in front of him. “Is it my ass?” she asks glancing over her shoulder at him. “My eyes?” she asks removing her glasses, batting her eyes in a flirtatious way.
“Yes? Both of them? What else?” she asks seating herself next to him again, this time invading his personal space as much as possible without sitting on his lap.
He holds another piece of salami toward her lips. “Just a few more pieces.”
“Bill, why are you avoiding the question?” she asks with a grin, amused that she can make the Admiral of the Fleet uncomfortable. “Why won’t you answer me?” she continues to push, giggling at the thought of what body part he may admit he likes.
“Because my attraction to you is more than just physical.”
“Oh,” she replies, secretly pleased with his response. “I see,” she says taking the final sip of her whiskey.
“Last piece,” he informs her looking at the plate.
“You haven’t had any. May I?” she asks resting her hand beside the plate.
When he nods his head, she picks up the last tiny morsel and holds it to his lips, their faces just inches apart. Her mind tells her to pull away, increase the distance between them, but her eyes lock with his keeping her in place. They stare at each other not saying a word as Bill chews and swallows the final piece and when Laura’s eyes drop to his mouth, his hand brushes a wisp of her hair behind her ear. Her eyes close at his tender touch and she can’t stop herself from leaning forward to him, ready to capture his lips with hers.
Her mind suddenly takes over and she pauses before she reaches his lips, opening her eyes to him. “Bill,” she whispers. “If I don’t leave right now, I may do something that isn’t in the best interest of the fleet.”
He lets the back of his fingers slide down her cheek before he removes his hand from her face. “I know,” he replies, looking longingly into her eyes.
“If I wasn’t the President right now…” she replies, moving even closer, but turning her head at the last possible second.
“But you are the President,” he states, her head nodding as she looks away.
“I better go,” she says scooting forward on the sofa. “Thank you for sharing your food. I won’t tell anyone you have it, I’m good at keeping secrets,” she assures him with a pretty smile. She stares into his eyes again hoping he makes his move, knowing she won’t deny him anything he seeks from her, but he remains still. “Okay, I’m going.”
Halfway to the hatch, Bill quietly calls her name. “Laura?” He stands from the sofa, quickly closing the distance between them.
When he reaches her, he looks befuddled, trying to figure out the right words to say. “If you need a break from the algae again, or anything else, I’m here for you. I’m good at keeping secrets, too.”