Laura sighed as she ran her fingers over the cool metal of the bulkhead, walking absent-mindedly down the corridor towards the bathroom. There was a creakiness to her brain as she dawdled idly, thoughts moving in and out of her conscious mind in small exhausted strands. They twisted and turned around each other to the point where she couldn't decipher what she was even trying to accomplish. She was tired. At this point in the evening, her mind was usually fuzzy with the ever-pressing tiredness that made it hard for her to think. Tonight wasn't any different. The weeks of sleep deprivation were now beginning to act against her. It had taken a while as President, but she had learnt to take in information like a sponge to put her in the best possible situation in her current role. However, she was struggling to take in any information because of how tired she felt, finding it hard to stay awake to do her job to the best of her ability and to stay alert and fresh-faced for her meetings, like the one she had been to earlier in the day with Bill.
The thought of him made a broad smile move across her face, her lips curving upwards as she moved to open the door to the bathroom. As she did, she pictured his rough face and she involuntarily sighed. There were things about him that never ceased to amaze her, and yet she felt as if she had known him for an age. You could tell by looking at him that he had seen and been a part of many things in his life, his time-worn features friendly and welcoming to her. To others, and she could tell, he looked stern and un-emotional like an Admiral should be. There were many layers to him, and the further you got under them the more complex they were. Over time she had worked her way into each, and she had come to know him and how he acted.
There was a lot of care and grace under those stern features, and she was thankful to be one of the few that knew him for who he was. Admiration filled her chest as she thought of him, thinking about all the things that he had accomplished in his life and all of the things she had witnessed him do. The dramatic decisions, the resolve under pressure and the skills and devotion to saving the fleet. In so many ways she was alive because of him, but this was more than physically, she had been saved emotionally by him on more than one occasion. They both knew their places in the current world that they lived in, accepted it, and although they teetered in and out of the blurred lines of their relationship, they both stood firm. Their situation was born out of morality, the desire to do right and keep every single person alive. It didn't stop her from thinking about him more than she knew she should. It didn't stop her from thinking about what it would be like if the pair of them were in a different reality.
As she moved into the bathroom, she took a moment to look in the mirror, instantly bringing up her finger to lightly trace the darkening bags that had taken precedent on her features. Over the past few weeks, it had looked like she had aged at least a decade, her wrinkles exacerbated by exhaustion, her eyes barely visible under the droop of her tired eyelids. The fact she was running on almost empty was as apparent as ever, and it frightened her as to how she was able to run on a daily basis with hardly any sleep. The air of duty was at the forefront of any of her thoughts because she knew that she was doing one of the most important jobs in the history of her people, and that was saving them from extermination. The way her body was reacting now as the days went on was a reminder that it was slowly giving in to the exhaustion, and worst of all she wasn't the only one noticing. Earlier in the day she had attended a meeting in Adama's quarters so that the military and government could discuss the fleet's current affairs. What she remembered most of all was the way Bill had looked at her. His eyes, the most open part of him, were worried and full of care. Laura let her mind drift back to the day's events.
The meeting began at 0500 hours, a little earlier than they usually were, but sometimes these things needed to happen before things picked up for the day. Laura had arrived in good time as she hadn't slept well the night before, so she was already awake and thought she would get there early. Usually, she liked to get a conversation going with Bill before the others got there, it being nice when it was just the pair of them. They didn't have to be so formal with each other, their familiarity mingling in the air like the scent of fresh flowers.
When she had stepped out of the Raptor she had been disappointingly greeted by Colonel Tigh, who escorted her with his usual cold silence to Bill's quarters. The man didn't do small talk. Of course, she was early, but it had surprised her that everyone else had also gotten there earlier, so her intentions of having a quiet talk with Bill had gone out of the window. Once she had greeted everyone, she took her seat and picked up the paper that was lying on the table next to her and gave it a skim with her eyes. Although Laura strived to always keep herself fully involved with every aspect of the fleet, it was hard, and in her current state of mind, it seemed like a big mountain to climb.
The meeting had started, and as hard as she had tried, she hadn't been able to keep control of herself enough to stop herself from drifting. The self-control she had wavered at almost a quarter of the way through whilst Bill had been talking about the fuel situation. It had been difficult to establish as to whether she had fully fallen asleep or if she had been in a focused daydream, but she recalled that the loud objection from Colonel Tigh had brought her back to the room. The sudden noise of his voice had brought her eyes back to the piece of paper in front of her, and she had to take a minute to get her bearings. Then, realising that her attention had fallen, she mentally had to scold herself for not maintaining her focus as she should have. Laura Roslin was the President, and although her eyes still felt heavy from her half-hearted slumber, she knew that she had let herself and her people down.
It was not her will and want that was the issue, it was the sudden and physical demand that sleep was having. It brought its ugly powers into her mind and took hold of her. The intent was aggressive, overpowering and unavoidable as her eyes had grown heavy under the warmth of his quarters. That in itself had made her angry with herself for allowing it to happen in the first place. The intention was, and always had been, to protect the fleet and do whatever she could to get them home. She was falling short. Laura Roslin didn't like to fall short.
After those few moments of trying to refocus and concentrate on the task at hand, she had lifted her gaze to the man ahead of her. When she did, she could see that Bill was staring at her intently, but with a deep sense of curiosity through his glasses. Bill Adama was the epitome at probing silences. There were creases in his brow as he furrowed them in her direction, clearly curious as to what was happening. The way his eyes sparkled under the dim light of his quarters, the way they probed her features with a raw intensity made her blush. He had noticed. Laura had diverted her gaze away from him briefly, trying to brush off the moment and get herself back into the conversation.
"Well, I think that those frakkin' Cylon worshippers should give it a rest!" Colonel Tigh yelled, breaking Bill's gaze from Laura's face. "I can't believe after all the frakkin' mess we have been through, they haven't realised that they aren't cuddly fluffy animals. These THINGS are murdering toasters out to destroy each one of us." Tigh's face had scrunched up, his eyes narrowing as his posture tensed up to reflect his aggravation and rising temper.
"Calm yourself, Colonel Tigh," Bill had replied sternly as he watched his long-time friend let out a harsh puff of air. "It is a cause for concern, I agree."
"They took out two officers who were down on that ship for a routine inspection. Both of them were nearly killed." Tigh's eyes had grown dark and cold. "It's getting out of hand, Bill, you have to see that. We can't let them continue bashing the military and endangering the human race. Next time it could be much worse." There was a deepening of his already gravelled voice, and he grumbled under his breath.
Laura had watched as Bill had moved his eyes to her, his gaze and expression questioning and thoughtful. "Madame President, what do you suggest?"
Laura had sat upright in response, holding out the paper as she tried to see if there was anything to read that might help the fact that she had missed nearly all of the conversation. It had left her feeling flustered, her mind scrambling to piece together the words that had erupted from Tigh's mouth to the information on the paper. Taking her eyes to Bill, she could see his expression flatten as he waited for her reply. It was so obvious that he was testing her. Usually, decisions like this would be at the forefront of his tongue. "Well," she hesitated. "I think that it would be best for you to decide on this, Admiral, as it massively impacts fleet security."
For a few moments, Bill didn't say anything, watching Laura's vacant smile as he thought about her words. "Well, if that's the case, we can arrest them and get them in the brig. We are in no position to allow this sort of behaviour. We allow this to happen it will pave way for others to act similarly. We might be able to interrogate them."
Baltar had been sat quietly to the side, most of his body covered by shadows. "I object," he said loudly, ceasing to doodle on the piece of paper on his lap. "Madame President, I don't think that it is the best option. Surely, it would be more adequate to warn them? Surely what the Admiral is suggesting would cause uproar in the fleet? To these, it's like religion, and we freely allow people and respect them in their walks of life. This would contradict that and persecute a small minority. It might be worth appealing to them, to reason with them. We don't know how many there are, and if we isolate a small section it could rile the rest and leave us vulnerable to a counter-response. Perhaps arrange a meeting?"
Laura, who had taken her glasses off to rub her eyes and to think, turned her attention to Baltar who she noted rarely participated in these meetings. Taking a moment, her eyes narrowed, watching as he nervously looked at the other occupants in the room who had all directed their attention to him. They all knew that these people had caused numerous threats to the fleet over the previous days. They had started small, and as time moved on their gestures were getting more and more violent. It made sense, in a fashion, to punish them and get the message out there that the government and military were unified in their response to violence. It would not be tolerated. Not only had they created dangerous scenarios in the fleet, but they had also even attempted to break Sharon Valerie out of her cell. However, on the other hand, he had a point in respect to people's beliefs. A conversation might be the best place to kickstart action. A warning. A line to be drawn.
Baltar lifted the paper that was in his hand and wafted it in the air. "I really do think that something should be done about it of course. Their behaviour has been unacceptable. Resorting to violence and other...military responses, should be the last resort surely? If I remember correctly they have requested a meeting with you last week. They outlined what they are standing for, what they are trying to do and believe that they are not being heard. I think-"
"Letter?" Laura had replied quizzically, racking her mind for a pointer to steer her towards the notion that she had received such a thing. Nothing came to her thoughts.
"Yes?" Baltar said, snorting under his breath as he did. "Madame President, do you not remember?"
Laura had taken herself into her mind, trawling through the events from the days before. It didn't help that she received so many different communications daily, that often the smaller ones were pushed to the back of her mind whilst she concentrated on the key issues at hand. That was the most efficient way to work in the given circumstances they all faced. It hadn't helped that she had hardly had any sleep at all since then, so the days had merged into one elongated expanse of exhaustion. There had also been a haze over her mind, like cotton wool, putting a shadow over her memories and stopping her from recalling things. "I'm sorry, Dr Baltar. I don't remember any letter." At that moment, her voice faltering, she had instinctively looked up to Bill, who still had that same look on his face.
Baltar had let out that high pitched nervous laugh he did. "I was there when you read it, Madame President. Big red envelope."
Laura felt frustrated. "I don't recall," she replied sternly, her voice rising a few decibels, laced with annoyance. It wasn't at Baltar really, it had been at her lapse in memory that she was frustrated with.
"My apologies," Baltar replied sheepishly, recoiling back into his seat. "Maybe I was mistaken. It has been a long week." Then his eyes moved to the others around the room and he shook his head as if appalled at the idea that he had gotten something wrong.
Bill, who hadn't said much, lifted one of the propaganda leaflets that he had on his desk from the same movement. "I am inclined to agree with you on this occasion. Perhaps we should talk to them. All of us. Military and government. We need to make it crystal clear that we are not going to tolerate any more of this behaviour. After that, if they do not heed our warnings, then we move forward with force."
"Frakkin' Cylon worshipers," Tigh grumbled under his breath. "These sons of bitches have been causing us hassle for far too long. They have been warned! We have had to increase security three-fold on that Cylon's cell. Throw them in the brig and let them rot. We don't deal in demands. In my opinion, this is a form of terrorism! We don't deal with terrorists! What a load of..."
"Colonel," Bill said as he had turned his eyes to his XO. "That's enough. I never said we would heed to their demands. I just think a little direct contact might be the best to get them in their rightful place. I think we should set this meeting for two days from now. We can't have any more people jeopardising what we are fighting so hard for. Now, I think that's everything isn't it?"
Tigh, who felt frustrated, stood to his feet. "Yes, Sir. I better get back down to the CIC."
Baltar shifted in his seat before getting to his feet. "Yes, well, I need to go down to the lab. If you would excuse me, Madame President, Admiral Adama."
Laura, who had sat playing with her glasses, watched as Baltar left the room. Then, out of the corner of her eye, as she placed her hand up to her forehead, she noticed someone sit down in the chair next to her. Turning, she met the blue quizzical eyes of Bill Adama.
"Is everything ok, Madame President?" Bill queried formally. Often when they were on their own he would use her first name. Altering their private equilibrium suited him when he thought it necessary and was usually saved for more direct conversations.
Laura smiled weakly, taking her hand back into her lap. "Yes. Fine, thank you, Admiral." Then she took the piece of paper that she had and placed it into her bag as she always did after her meetings.
Bill's eyes had followed her as she fiddled around with her bag. Of course, he wasn't stupid and could sense something was amiss. "Laura, I don't mean to pry, but you don't seem yourself. Is there something I can do? Anything I should know about?" The tone of his voice had lost its edge. It was soft. It was the way he spoke to her when it was just them and he was concerned.
Laura could tell the way that he was staring at her without even having to look at him. That penetrating Adama gaze was locked onto her, unyielding in both intensity and concern. Like the rays of the sun on a hot summers day, she felt the heat on the side of her face as if he was trying to burrow directly into her thoughts.
Time and time again he had been there, especially during the latter stages of her cancer. Many times she had ended up in his quarters, her mind and body battered and exhausted from the onslaught of the people, the Cylons and her disease. It felt like a thin silk thread was the only thing that was stopping her from folding in half, and even that was beginning to fray. The determination that had kept her upright for so long then evaporating into nothing. Often she told herself that she was only human, and nobody could be as focused and strong for eternity. That in itself was a luxury that she could not afford. Fighting for life, fighting for hope and fighting for humanity in every emotion-filled breath. That external persona that she had so defiantly built for herself was like a fortress that few had access beyond, and she had always done her best to try and not reflect what was going on inside in her day to day life. Bill Adama, so adept at battling Cylons and fortresses alike, had a keen sense when it came to her whether she liked it or not.
The moment he had placed his lips against hers, her body wasting in on itself, had been a huge turning point in her relationship with him. It was as if a magnet had exploded into her chest, navigating her heart towards him the more they spent time together. Just being close to him now had her heart hammering in her chest. That dance that they did around that line of propriety was dangerously close to making it vanish. She wanted more and more of him as the days went on. It was hard to keep him at arm's length, especially when he looked at her the way that he did. Duty before pleasure she had repeatedly told herself. Most of her decisions when it came to him were lead with her heart rather than her head. That line they danced over became harder and harder to ignore. There had been moments when she had tried to push herself and him further away from the line, but then she knew that she couldn't do it. She cared for him much more than she could admit to herself most of the time.
Bill Adama listened. Generally speaking, he was a man of few words. The famous Adama silence penetrated everything, it made his listening as intense as his gaze. Every word that she said to him she knew that he would absorb, rotate, analyse and rationalise before he took the time to verbally respond. There were obviously other times when he needed to act and think quickly to a scenario, but generally, he absorbed what he could before creating a response. There had also been times when she had been in the reverse role, comforting him and helping him with his problems. For two people that started at such loggerheads, they had come a long way. Laura knew him more than she thought he realised. There were tells, signs, and expressions to his expressionless face that she could read. As emotionally enclosed as he was, she could read him like a library book.
"Laura," she had heard him press again and she supposed, like her own thoughts about him, that perhaps he could read her like a library book. As hard as she tried to keep the binding closed, there he was, waiting for her to tell him the truth. Accepting her predicament as something more than just not being able to sleep troubled her. The human race depended on her, and she was strong, she had to be. Always.
As her thoughts went to the human race, she had to take a moment. Those three words resonated within her, and she thought back to the meeting and how she had lost her focus. Maybe pretending everything was fine was doing more damage than good? Giving in, she sighed and leant back into the chair, letting her briefcase fall to the floor with a gentle thud. Then she put both of her hands over her face and sighed, her posture indicating that she was letting go of that rigid façade.
Before she knew it, Bill had gotten up from the chair and stood behind her, placing his hand on her shoulder. The warmth from his touch travelled into that fortress, forcing down the drawbridge. "Tell me."
A part of Laura, the vulnerable side that she constantly tried to hide, teetered on the edge of breaking free. Over the years she had shaken off a lot of her vulnerable side because it was hard to navigate a world of politics when you had so much emotion on your sleeve. Often it drove a lot of her decisions, but it laced itself with practicalities and duty above all else. Giving in, accepting she was struggling, was one of the hardest things she could do. Talking to Bill wasn't the issue, it was allowing herself to openly tell him that there was a problem. Taking her hand, she reached up and rubbed at her temple, trying to alleviate the building pressure in her head. "I'm tired, Bill. Just tired." Just speaking the words allowed her to lean back into her chair and go limp.
Bill's hand squeezed gently before he moved back to the chair and shuffled it closer to her so that he was sat directly ahead of her. "It's not hard to miss. You fell asleep, didn't you?
Laura groaned. "Yes, and frankly I am appalled."
"How have you been sleeping?"
Laura opened her eyes and lifted her head back up, restoring her upright posture. As she did, she took in his features. The way his glasses sat on his nose, the way his eyes probed her, the way his elbows rested on his knees as he leant forward to give her his attention. This has been a frequent question of his over the weeks, ever since she had mentioned that she had been struggling with her sleep. It was her theory that she hadn't slept properly because she had so much work to do over the recent weeks. The days got longer and the nights shorter, more hours spent working through paperwork and catching up with herself. The sleep she did have came in small intervals, with some evenings not coming at all. There had been a deep sense of foreboding that she hadn't been able to shake, a sense of requirement and duty. Everyone needed a rest, but then she would counter with the human race requiring a leader. She could sleep when she was dead. But was it just that? Or was there something weighing on her mind that her subconscious brain was toiling over? Shaking her head, she cleared her throat. "Not sleeping well at all."
Bill had taken a moment to reach over to grab Laura a drink of water. "When was the last time you have managed a decent nights rest?"
Laura puffed out a pillow of air from her lips. "Weeks ago. I barely sleep two hours a night, if at all. I feel like I could sleep for a solid day, but no matter what I try, I just can't do it. I feel worse for trying even. At first, I felt exhausted in body, but now," she said shaking her head as she pressed her index finger to her temple. "Now, it's up here."
Bill took a thoughtful sip from his glass that he had poured after hers. "Have you spoken to Doc' Cottle?"
"That man has more patients than we realise. He's busy enough without me to add to his never-ending list. I'm sure he's sick of the sight of me after everything that has gone on over recent weeks."
Bill looked down at his hands, thinking about his reply. Then he lifted his gaze again. "I think you should. He'll be able to help you, he-"
"Bill," Laura exasperated. "Stop, please. You know as well as I that he is bogged down with more work than he has time. I'm just tired. It's just sleep. I'm fine." If she was being honest with herself, she had thought about seeing the grizzly old physician just a few days previous, but then abandoned the idea when she saw the people hanging around the sickbay. Since then she had pushed the idea further and further away as she had convinced herself it wasn't needed.
"Fine," he grumbled. "At least take the day to rest, to try and recoup. You need to rest."
"No. The raptor isn't due to leave for another few hours yet and the meeting finished early. I could use the time to catch up with some of my work. I could do that here? The lighting is easy on the eyes." Taking her finger, she massaged her temple again as she tried to ease the throbbing sensation that indicated the incoming of a headache. It was pretty usual for her to get headaches when she was tired, but she always managed to push through them. It felt like it was going to be intense by the way she felt her heartbeat pulsating behind her eyes.
"You're talking to the Admiral of the fleet," Bill said smiling at her. "They work for me, remember?" Then he took a pause, his face changing into that caring and probing expression he had had on his face for most of the meeting. "You don't look good, Laura," he said honestly. "You're pale, distant, irritable. Lack of sleep can do funny things to people. We've seen that happen. Do you remember what happened during those first few days? The way people were? I'll not take no for an answer."
Laura watched as he moved over to his phone, taking it in his hand as he looked back at her. Sighing, she felt her head begin to feel like someone was cracking it open with a hammer. Closing her eyes as she took a sip of water, she reached out to put the cup back down. There was something about his quarters that made her feel safe, and the haze that had washed over her during the meeting began biting at her eyes. For a moment, she let it do as it pleased and let herself relax. After a few moments, she felt the heavy feeling of sleep begin to take her, her head bobbing as she slipped further and further away.
"Laura, I have a raptor ready for you now if you want to go," she heard Bill's voice say distantly like he was at the end of a long tunnel. Then she heard him speaking again and the shuffle of his feet.
"Laura," he whispered. "That was a message from Billy. There are a group of people, accompanied by Tom Zarek on Colonial One. Did you arrange a meeting with him?"
"Frak," she cursed under her breath, the haze snapping away. "I knew there was something else I needed to do this morning. I was meant to cancel as I knew I wouldn't be back in time." Laura got up and picked up her bag. "I think I better go then." The sudden getting up had left her feeling unsteady, and she had to reach out her hand which then fell onto Bill's upper arm who in turn had taken her by the arm to keep her steady.
Bill's hand took her bag from her grip and placed it on the chair that he had just gotten out of. "No. You need to rest. You're in no fit state to be talking to a group of people, let alone with Tom Zarek. I'll let Billy know that you can't make it and I'll cancel your raptor."
"I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. You are going to stay here and get some rest. That is an order."
Laura grinned, knowing fine well that it wasn't an official order and that she didn't have to listen to him if she didn't want to anyway. Then she smirked. "Yes, Sir." The voice that came out was soft, hum-like, and she could see the smirk he gave her in return. It didn't happen very often, but she had decided that she couldn't argue with him. It was getting ridiculous as to just how tired she was feeling like she was pulling on a never-ending rope. Even if she could rest for an hour, she knew that she would feel much better. Maybe having some time in the day she could kick herself into getting more and more sleep.
Bill took her pause as resignation to the fact that she was going to do as he had said, and guided her into the chair before he moved his way back over to the phone.
Laura closed her eyes, taking the reprieve from the light and listened to him mumbling in the background. Instantly, she felt the sleepy state return to her mind and she thought about how she was thankful that she had him to look out for her. When she had not been at her best, when the cancer had come for her, the way he had gently kissed her on the lips had taken her by surprise. The further they went together, the more she had to question if it had been more than a friendly gesture. The feelings he had towards her were one of the only things she couldn't read about him, but she did wonder if she had done that to herself so as not to allow herself to fall into a predicament. Whatever it was, she was thankful for his presence. Taking her mind back to that moment, she sighed, the warmth of the room taking her away so that all she had was that precious moment, and then the sleep arrived. She felt safe, she felt comfortable and strangely, she felt at home there.
"My rack is pretty comfortable, you know," she heard Bill say quietly.
"Hmm?" she mumbled in reply, not feeling completely coherent as she felt his hand scoop behind her and get her to her feet. Then he gently guided her over to his bed, pulled back the sheets, and helped her get into them. Nothing more was said, and she could feel the peace help her gently drift off into a deep sleep. She slept for a solid three hours.
When she finally opened her eyes, she felt heavy and groggy, her body calling out for more of that delightful rest. As she adjusted to the room, her eyes sore and burning, she realised that she wasn't in a completely familiar bed. Sitting up slowly, her hand reaching up to flatten her hair, she peered curiously around at Adama's quarters for any sign that he was there. It was obvious that he had put her to bed, and a warm feeling washed over her as she realised that he had even gone to the trouble to take her shoes off. As annoyed as she had been at his push to get her to stop, she was also now completely thankful for it, a weight having been lifted from her aching shoulders. There was a slightly fresher and sharper edge to her mind now.
"How are you feeling?" came the quiet husky voice of Bill Adama as he appeared from behind the bulkhead with a book in his hand. At first, he didn't look directly at her, his eyes scanning the pages of the text as he moved towards where she was. Once he had finished the section he was on, his eyes raised to hers, carrying on with their critical observations. Patiently he waited, his eyebrows scrunched together, and his eyes soft.
Laura smiled. "Better," she said in response, trying to flatten her hair again. Satisfied that she looked a bit more respectable, she paused to watch as he smiled back at her. "Thank you."
"You have a bit more colour to your face."
"I do feel better. It's a wonder what a few hours sleep can do for you."
"You did well. I was worried that you were going to wake up. You moved around a lot, you seemed restless."
Laura knew what he had meant. Billy had pointed that out to her not too long ago. Not that he was there often when she slept, but like Bill, he liked to keep an eye out for her. It was potentially due to bad dreams, or just the feeling that there was always something else to do, not that she could recall the dreams if it were down to that. "You stayed the whole time?" she said curiously.
All Bill did was smile. It was that small subtle smile that felt like was only used for her. "I had to keep an eye on you."
"I'm thankful. It might have helped," she replied without thinking. Realising what she had said, her mind still filled with post-sleep haze, she blushed ever so slightly.
Bill's face didn't react much to her words, but she thought she noticed his eyebrows twitch. "How so?"
"Oh, I don't know," she replied quietly as she looked down at her hands, feeling a little embarrassed, straightening out her clothes. "I feel safe here. Your quarters. Galactica. I feel at ease here. It's comfortable. Sturdy. Familiar. Dim."
"Well, you are more than welcome to drop by at any time, Laura. If it helps then my rack is yours." Then he gave her that goofy grin of his, the one she had only seen a handful of time where he would show a part of his teeth. It was one that she loved. When Bill Adama smiled, he usually smiled softly. The edges of his lips would move just that little bit upwards, and his eyes would speak of his happiness more than his actual mouth. Then there was that smile, the toothy smile, the one where his whole face would open up for her. It always made her smile in return, no matter how bad she was feeling.
"I won't put you out like that. This is your bed." Laura reached out and gave his arm a gentle squeeze. "And anyway," she paused playfully. "People might talk."
Laura thought that he would respond with another of those goofy smiles. Instead, his face straightened itself out into something a bit more serious. "It's just words, Laura. Meaningless speculation. It would also be none of their business. If it means you can start to feel more like yourself then I don't care. You are a very important person to the fleet, and the more this continues, the more likely you are that you are going to do something drastic. You would never forgive yourself."
Taken aback by his sudden change in attitude, she nodded her head in agreement. She had thought something similar herself about messing up earlier. It was the fate of the fleet in her hands. As much as she wanted to reply to him, she knew he was right, and her mind returned blanks as she grimaced weakly as she watched him stare at her with intensity. Dropping her head, her eyes fell to the book that he had been reading. "Anything good?"
Bill was used to her diverting attention sometimes, and at first, he wasn't going to fall for it, but he knew that they were both keen readers. "Parables of the Day. One of my favourites. Do you know it?"
"Very well. It's a classic. An excellent read."
"Yes, it is." There was a loud silence between them as Bill tried to get her attention with his eyes. "I know what it's like not to sleep often, and although you think that it'll pass, and sleep will come back to you, It won't. Not unless you start giving your body what it needs in longer bursts. You need to get used to sleeping again, used to giving in to the tiredness and allowing your mind to block out everything else. You are going to work yourself into a state. Even now, after that short sleep, I can see that you are struggling. I know you. I know how you will chide and beat yourself up if you fall asleep during something again. The people need their President."
Bill Adama always knew what to say. It was that level-headed rationale that he mixed with emotion that got her. It wasn't often he twisted in that sort of low blow, the blow that pleaded with her sense of duty and all the emotions she had tied to it. It made her sigh. It was all true, of course, it was, and that pissed her off to know that she was so easy to manipulate like that. At the same time, she knew that she would do the same thing to him if she ever needed to. They were both cut from the same cloth. Although from different worlds, they worked in similar ways. As stubborn as she was to not give in, not wanting to appear weak and easily lead, she knew that she couldn't argue because he was right. "Yes, Bill. I know."
"So, do you want me to get a raptor to pick you up from your ship later?"
Laura thought about it for a moment. It would be nice to be here again, to have the company, but she didn't want to put him out. It wouldn't be the first and only time that Bill Adama slept on his sofa, as she knew of a few times after he had had too much to drink that he had slept there all night. She was even sure he had slept on the floor before. The more she stayed there though, the more she would get used to it. Not only that, but she knew that he might not settle if she was there. As he had when she slept just then, he would feel the need to watch over her. Laura did not want that. "I will see how I feel. I mean, your rack has enabled me to sleep longer than I have in weeks. I will genuinely consider your offer, but I'd like to see how the day pans out."
"Ok," he replied, seemingly content with her answer. "I can get a raptor to take you back to your ship now if you're ready. I'm sure Billy has been a little restless with your absence."
Laura got herself to her feet. "Thank you, Bill."
"It's just a raptor," he said as he moved to take the book back to the shelf.
"No," she replied, slipping her feet into her shoes before following him. "I mean for this. Letting me stay here and making sure that I'm ok. It means a lot." In reality, she truly was thankful for what he did for her. Even if it was just allowing her to see the light and truths that she had been ignoring. The man had rescued her yet again. Laura let her facial features soften, and she smiled at him, locking eyes with him as she reached out to squeeze his arm.
Bill smiled in return. "I'll walk you down."
The voice of Billy came through the bathroom door, bringing her back to the present. Taking a moment, she gave her eyes a few blinks before thinking about how long she had been in there. It must have been longer than she had anticipated, or he wouldn't be looking for her. "I'm ok, Billy," she shouted. Then she turned the tap on, filled her hands with cold water and gave her face a quick splash to wake herself up. Taking the towel off of the side she then dabbed gently at her skin.
"Admiral Adama is on the phone. He says it's urgent."
"Coming," she shouted back before opening the door. Billy's face dropped just a little, and she could see that he looked concerned.
"Is there anything I can get you, Madame President?"
Laura shook her head, trying to give him a reassuring smile as she walked over to her desk and picked the receiver up so she could put it against her ear. "Admiral?"
Billy watched her cautiously, her eyes looking heavy as she turned to stare out of the porthole window as she often did when she spoke to the Admiral. It seemed to him that she did it because it was as close as she could get to seeing him when she spoke to him on the phone. The gaze was there, but it seemed more and more vacant the more he saw her. Where her desk was there was a spotlight above her seat, it used to be a part of the gangway that people would walk up and down during flight. As it shone, highlighting the red tint to her hair, he could see how pale she had become. The Admiral was right, something had to be done. When he had picked up the phone the Admiral had spoken to him about his intentions to bring the Doctor on board. She needed her batteries recharging. Billy wasn't going to say a thing.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" she said, a small smile firmly planted on her lips.
Billy cared very much for her and saw her as a maternal figure even though he worked for her. Over the months they had worked together he knew that she always wanted to appear as strong as possible, not showing weakness so people could keep their faith in her. The time she had gone through her cancer he had watched her slowly deteriorate in body, but her mind was always sharp. It felt different now like her mind was losing more and more of itself the longer she went without sleep. It worried him. The fact that she had been able to stand so strong and so tall when her body decayed beneath her showed how strong she was. There was just something off, something different, and she knew it herself but struggled to admit she needed help. Maybe the cancer had taken more out of her than they all had realised? She had been selfless with an ongoing determination. Everybody had a moment where they just needed to stop. Taking himself back to the room, he looked over at her and could see she was staring at him with a polite smile on her face. It was a subtle statement to tell him that he was excused, so he took himself off after giving her a smile in return.
Laura listened as Bill spoke to her down the phone. Sometimes his voice caught her off guard, that deep gravelly tone came across as alluring even if the intentions were not of that. There was just something about it. "You are coming over to Colonial One? Whatever for?"
"There's something I need to do and go over with you. It won't take long. I will be over shortly as I already have a raptor ready." What Bill wasn't saying was that Doc' Cottle was stood behind him, cigarette in his mouth, grumbling under his breath as he packed some things into his medical bag. Billy had given him a status report not too long before, so Bill had taken it upon himself to have the conversation with the Doctor. As far as he was concerned, and as far as both Billy and Jack were concerned, it was better to be safe than sorry.
Bill's tone was slightly off like he was keeping something from her. A part of her wanted to tell him no, but at the same time, she wanted to see him. The presence of his being comfort in itself. "Bill?" she said suspiciously as she leant back into her chair. "Is there something you're not telling me?"
"I need to deliver something. Have you managed to get any rest at all today?"
Laura could sense his diversion, and she clicked her tongue as she tried to figure out what it could be. "No. Nothing. I tried to sleep, I did but it was like flogging a dead horse." Laura paused to turn to look back out of the porthole. "Bill?" she said quietly, trying to plead with the softer side of him. "Why are you coming over really?"
The other end of the phone stayed quiet for a few moments as Bill tried to push away that tiny minuscule piece of guilt that was resting in his chest. Of course, he never liked to lie to her, they had both come too far and trusted each other to be open and honest. However, the way their relationship had progressed also meant that he knew that she would push back on intervention, because she was strong, and so if he had to help then so be it. "I want to discuss with you the meeting we are going to have with the Cylon Worshippers later this week. I've got a few things that you might be interested in."
Laura tried not to scoff in response. Of course, she wasn't convinced by his words, she wasn't stupid. However, thinking about it, his company, regardless of the true intention, would be greatly appreciated. The hours she spent awake were relatively lonely as she always made sure that Billy got as much rest as he needed. Often he would push back and try and stay awake with her, but the poor kid faded quickly. Even if Bill's intentions were different, just seeing him would likely make her feel better. "Ok, Bill. I'll make sure I don't fall asleep before you get here," she joked playfully. Then they said their goodbyes and the line went dead.
Laura picked up her pen and began fiddling with it as she stared out of the porthole, watching the giant beast of a battleship gliding next to her. The ship reminded her very much of Bill. The Galactica was a protector, it held authority in comparison to the ships around it, and it was old but it was reliable. A lot of people looked to it in their time of need for comfort and strength. Galactica was the old man of the fleet, just like people referred to Bill Adama as the 'old man'. He was all of those things that the Galactica was. The man had been beaten, pushed to breaking point, dragged over the galaxy and seen losses and yet he still stood tall. Wherever he went he was able to command respect and loyalty. Laura knew that when she looked out at that ship, she was looking at him, even if she couldn't see his face.
Removing her gaze from the porthole, she turned her attention to her desk and realised that she had let her organisation lapse enough to make the place look messy. It was uncharacteristic of her, as she had always liked to keep things organised so that it was one less thing to worry about. The last thing you ever wanted was to not be able to find something during a crisis. Sifting through the scattered papers she began to pile them up in accordance to the subject matter, her eyes trying to focus on the words as she lifted each piece to look at the contents. Then, something stuck out against the vast sea of pale pages. Lifting it, she could see that the whole page was blood red. Atop of it was a hand-drawn Cylon, staring back at her with menace, making her curious. There was large white writing all over it, a complete contrast to that deep red. It made the words on it seem loud and angry.
"Cylon's are not our enemy. To make this war stop we need to bow down to them and make them our leaders. We are being lead by frauds. The government and military need to be stopped."
Laura scoffed angrily as she read the words again in her head. Both herself and Bill had put their lives on the line repeatedly, worked tirelessly, made hard decisions and denied themselves a lot of things to ensure that the people of the fleet were safe. It was ridiculous. Absurd. It made every drop of her blood boil beneath her skin like she was in a cooking pot. People had their right to an opinion, but considering what had taken place over the previous months, it just made her sick. The Cylon's had destroyed nearly everyone that the people of the fleet had ever known. They had stripped back the things that people had that made them feel joy. An entire past and an entire race had evaporated into nothing. As tempted as she was to throw it in the bin, she had to continue reading it.
"When the two leaders fall, we will once again be able to worship what we were meant to worship. On the 28th day of bombardment, the people will understand what we know to be true."
Laura slammed the piece of paper down on her desk and ran her hands over her eyes. Was this a threat? Was this propaganda to try and drive fear into people? She would be damned if she would even listen to such crap.
The distant muttering of voices brought her eyes up from her desk as she turned her attention towards the curtain at the far end of the room. The closer they got, the more familiar they were, and she rolled her eyes in response. The deep gravel to Bill's voice was clear, but she could also hear that distinct voice of a certain doctor. Laura felt her jaw tense as she narrowed her eyes, her whole face showing her disapproval before the curtain even twitched. This was not what she wanted. The anger from reading the flyer had exploded in her chest when it mixed with the annoyance and dismay of what was going on behind the curtain. Taking her arms, she crossed them over her chest and glared at the entrance as she waited for her guests to arrive.
When the curtain opened, the first person to enter was Bill, whose gaze she met with angry eyes. Although she was sure that her emotions were pretty obvious by the way she was looking at him, he didn't falter his gaze with hers. Instead, she could see that it looked like he was apologising without saying a word.
Doc' Cottle popped his head into the room. "Madame President," he said happily as he dug around in his pocket.
"What a pleasant surprise, Doc," she said with fake sincerity and surprise, her eyes accusing Bill without saying a word. Then she pushed her lips together so that they were in a thin white line, almost camouflaging themselves against her pale skin. Whether her anger was justified or not, she couldn't help but look at him to gauge his expression. There was a deep and penetrating focus in his eyes as he watched her, likely gauging her expression as she was doing to him. Initially, she thought she could see an apology there, but the deeper she looked, the more complex it seemed to be. There was care, an attitude that he was doing what he believed to be right and there was something deeper that mingled with the worry. Bill Adama was doing what he thought was best for her. Even when she watched as Doc' Cottle shuffled towards her, mumbling something to her, she never broke Bill's gaze. What she wanted was for him to see how she was feeling, without outwardly expressing it in the presence of the other man.
As Bill watched her, his stomach knotting tightly as he saw the shimmer of contempt in her eyes, he saw her posture move to that of defence. It was something he had seen many times, and he knew that she felt that he had wronged her. Of course, it wasn't like that in his eyes. Laura Roslin was important to them all and him. With everything going on, with the ever-pressing stresses of their lives, it was important to remain diligent. The fact that she had survived her previous health predicament was a miracle unto itself, and he knew that there could be repercussions that they hadn't even thought about. If Bill Adama had to be the rational side to her, then so be it. If he had to deal with her hating him for a while, he would deal with it. Of course, he knew that eventually, she would likely give in, but for now, he could tell that she was angry.
Nearly every intention that Bill Adama started with was with a well thought out internal argument. How would it impact the fleet? How would it impact the military? How would any of it pan out if it were to continue? In this instance, he knew that it could all go horribly wrong if whatever this was was to play itself out. Sleep deprivation reduced the rational thinking and the sensible side. Decisions were more instinctive and without logic, driven by emotions that usually would play no part. Just looking at her sat there, haloed in the light from the spotlight above her, he could see that she was struggling. Those bright green eyes of hers, the ones that probed him incessantly for answers, were bloodshot and framed by shadows. That gorgeous auburn hair of hers that usually sat like fire on her head was limp and lifeless, not even being brought to life by her incessant tousling she did when she was thinking. This was not Laura Roslin, this was a fraction of her person, and he wouldn't sit by and let this become who she was. Not in a million frakkin' years. Bill Adama would not stand idly by whilst this beacon of hope, strength and power spiralled into nothing.
Sensing the tension in the room as Doc' Cottle looked between the pair, sensing the non-verbal stand-off between them, Bill cleared his throat. "Madame President. I thought it would be wise to get some medical advice on the current situation you find yourself in."
Bill could see her eyes narrow, that small contemptuous smile creep onto her lips. It wasn't the first time he had seen it, more often than not it being thrown into meetings with the Quorum, and it was difficult to be on the receiving end of it just because of who she was to him. He had seen worse, felt worse and received worse, but very rarely from her.
"You thought it wise, Admiral Adama?" She replied coldly, her arms pulling tighter against her chest as she pulled herself further into her personal space. There was a bitter tone to her words. Usually, she preferred to use his title in official capacities, or if she was irritated. That irritation was clear to see from any angle he looked at it. The man named Bill was a confidant and a friend. The man Admiral Adama was someone she had blocked off in the beginning. They were almost like two different entities to her. Oh, she was pissed.
Doc' Cottle moved his eyes from side to side as he waited for the showdown to end. The tension was palpable and he was beginning to feel uncomfortable. "Oh for Frak Sake," he grumbled under his breath. "Shall we just get this out of the way? I need a blood sample. Let's see what's going on underneath the hood, see if there's anything that needs addressing. It's simple. Easy. Will do nobody any harm."
At first, Laura said nothing, keeping her gaze on the man standing before her. The anger was still rife in her chest, and she couldn't do anything to quench the fire that burned there as she thought about how he had gone against her wishes. It was easy to get caught up with emotions when you were tired, they were less easy to control and tended to follow a path of their own. "This really isn't necessary."
Cottle opened his bag and started to remove some vials. "Look," he groaned, moving over to where she sat. "You're struggling to sleep. You're likely not eating well, and from the look of it, you have as much energy as a pound of nothing. Let's be realistic here, Madame President. You are in charge of a fleet of people who are running for their lives. What sense is it to keep pushing through when we could potentially help you and find out what the problem is? The longer this continues, the harder it'll be to make it go away. Stop being so Gods damn stubborn for once and let me do my job!"
"The Doc's right," Bill agreed, finally breaking the silence between them.
Laura grabbed the cuff of her shirt and undid the buttons so she could roll up her sleeve. It was frustrating to have decisions made for you. Then she rested her head in her hand and held out her arm so that he could take whatever was required for this medical intervention. At first, she thought about giving Bill another glare, but she didn't have the energy, so instead, she closed her eyes and waited for the pinch in her arm.
"All done," Cottle said, placing a cotton swab on her arm and taking her hand to rest on it whilst he put everything away. "Now, I'm going to get this over there right away, get it under a 'scope, run it through some machines, and see if there is anything we need to worry about. If I were you I would try and get some downtime. I can look into getting you something to help you sleep in the meantime. Pop by and see me the next time you're over." Then he turned, looked at Bill, nodded and left the room, not wanting to be a part of the suffocating tension any longer.
Bill followed Cottle's body as he left the room, before turning back to give Laura his attention. She sat, head in her hand as her other held onto the cotton swab as she subtly shook her head. Without even raising her eyes, she straightened herself up, checked there was no bleeding under the cotton before putting it in the bin. Then she lifted the papers on her desk and carried on sorting them, paying no attention to the man still in the room. Bill stepped forward and took a seat in the closest chair to her desk, keeping his eyes on her, watching as she purposefully ignored him. "Laura," he said quietly as he waited for her to acknowledge him.
"Please don't," she replied angrily. "Don't try and justify what just happened."
"Madame President?" Billy called out as he entered the room, stopping when he sensed a thick cloud of tension in the air around the occupants. It was obvious that she had not been impressed with what had unfolded. A slight slither of guilt spun in his stomach as he thought about the fact that he had known about the plan, but at the same time, he knew his decision had been the right one. You could never be too careful.
"Yes, Billy, what is it?" Laura's voice replied in her usual friendly manner that she had with the younger boy.
"I have a message from Tom Zarek. He is requesting a reschedule of that meeting with you tomorrow. You have space around midday. What would you like me to tell him?"
Laura sighed. There was never a conversation with Tom Zarek that didn't require the utmost restraint and concentration. The words he spoke were usually laced with underlying tones and hints of what he was really saying. To most people his words were very direct and to the point, but she knew that the real messages were hidden beneath his powerful choices of words. Nothing with him was ever simple. "Ok. Fine. Yes, tell him noon." Then she watched as the young man left the room.
Bill couldn't help but think about the potential issues that the meeting with Tom Zarek could unleash. The man was shady, pointed and rarely his words were spoken without some sort of undertone. The man could not be trusted, and with everything that was going on, when the trust was so hard to give out, everything felt exacerbated.
"I'd like to attend the meeting," Bill said flatly, staring at Laura as he waited for her to respond. The silence he got back was vicious.
"With everything going on I think it is important to have some sort of military presence." Again, nothing. "I think it's the right decision."
A cold and unfamiliar expression fell over Laura's face as she looked up from her paperwork. "Well, considering your current track record, regardless of my wishes, why don't you just please do as you wish. You seem to disregard what I want anyway." Laura kept her eyes locked on his for a few moments to add resonance to what she was trying to get across. Uncharacteristic anger sat in her chest, coursing through her veins like fiery hot lava, pushing against anything rational and level headed. She felt strange. Strange in the sense that she didn't fully know what she was doing any more like she had no conscious control over her emotions. Laura often lead the way with anger but in a level-headed sort of way. This was something hot, fully fuelled and unmanageable. It made her want to bash her hands on the table. She wanted to scream and shout and tell him how betrayed she felt, even though she knew that he was only trying to help.
Bill could sense her rising anger in the air. Like static electricity he could feel it teeter on the edge of an explosion, so he knew he had to say something. Bill Adama rarely apologised for his actions, as he knew that they were usually calculated to evaluate risk versus reward. The instincts he had to ensure that she was fine was of the highest reward with such a nominal risk that it made perfect sense. "Laura," he said through a huff of air, swallowing as he brought the words to the forefront of his tongue. "I'm sorry that I got Doc' Cottle involved. I was, and still very much am worried about you. I'm not the only one. Billy has been almost beside himself and told me that you haven't been yourself, and he spends a hell of a lot more time with you than I do. I thought I was doing you a favour."
As Laura raised her eyes to his, she caught the sight of his apology that rested heavily, and almost reluctantly behind his eyes. That same look, the one of concern and care, remained heavy in his eyes and around them. A segment of her, the rational side that was pushing against the raging anger, wanted to forgive him. The anger kept on rising. "A favour? Do you call going behind my back and going against my wishes, a favour? Bill, I think both you and I are on different pages in the scrolls of life."
The patience, the stoic and rational side to his mind that nearly always won out, was teetering on the edge of a small cliff. It was important to him for her to see that he did it because he was worried. The bitter timbre to her voice felt like he was being lashed with a rope of fire. Maybe he needed to counter with his own form of malevolence, the way he would if he was in a war. "Are we both wrong?" he countered with a deep and angry resonance. "Are you perfectly fine?" Then he took a moment to look down at his clasped hands. "Let me answer that for you. No, Laura, you are not. I am not going to sit by and watch you slowly deteriorate until you are just a fraction of the strong woman that I know you are. Your stubbornness and desire to appear as rigid and forthright as you've had to since we got here is clouding your visibility to see that you are struggling. I'm not asking you to give in or to show weakness. It's just a small check. You don't know what it could be. It could be several things...it could be something to do with your cancer."
The room went completely quiet with only the gentle murmuring and vibration of the ship's engines filling the air. Laura stared at him, wide-eyed as she reflected on his words. Something inside of her lurched, and she felt her anger pull itself back until she could see the wood from the trees. Bill was just trying to look out for her like he always did, as he had earlier in the day. "It's not cancer," she denied, knowing what it felt like to be at the mercy of her own replicating cells.
The two of them stared at each other for a moment, neither backing down as they sized up what all of the words and undertones had signalled. Bill broke the silence as he sensed her anger back down, her eyes changing from the narrow angry slits to wide and honest looking glasses. "How do you know?" his gravelly voice rolled out quietly.
Leaning back into her chair she twisted it from side to side as she stared out at a blank space on the bulkhead. Taking a moment to quantify her thoughts and feelings, pulling back memories and the pain that had poisoned her core, she sat quietly, a bemused look on her face. "I don't think you realise what it was like when I had it. I mean, you could see what it did to me through your own eyes, but you couldn't know." The words weren't there to make him feel bad, even if they may have come out like that. "I felt it there. I knew it was eating me up inside as it sucked the life out of my body like a leech. I don't feel that way at all," she trailed off gently. "I just feel...distant. I feel different within myself but not in the same sense as before."
Bill could see her beginning to process her own state of mind, and he kept himself quiet, as he often did, to allow her to speak. It didn't stop him from thinking about how he had watched her fall and deteriorate before, and how he couldn't let her know how much sadness it had brought to his chest. That moment when he had sat in front of her, her body weak but her eyes bright as she had handed him his Admiralty came to him. That bittersweet moment where he had instinctively reached for her and placed a gentle kiss on her lips had played over in his mind. It had been a lapse in his usual stoic self. Staring at her, seeing her so weak but so full of life at the same time had made him realise how much she had meant to him. That kiss was as pure as anything he had ever experienced, and over the time since, his feelings had only intensified. Bill was never going to let her fall again, not only because the fleet needed her, but because he did too. That meant he could live with her being angry with him if it meant that he knew that she was fine.
"I'm sure it started as a persistence within myself to stay on top of things, to make sure that I do everything in my path to ensure that the human race survives. The work is never-ending. It's been no easy ride, and I know you of all people will know that. We work, we fight, we repeat and we live each day as a new and exhausting mountain to climb. I know I'm faltering," she admitted sadly as she let her calm and rational mind take over. "I know I am struggling, but I can't afford to as the person that sits with the weight of the fleet on me. It will pass. It has to." Then she sighed sadly and brought her hand up to her face as she cradled her tired eyes.
"I know you meant well," she interrupted. "I'm sorry I reacted like that. You know me, Bill, trust is important to me. I trusted you. I trusted you to do as I wished."
As the cabin descended into another silence, they both mulled over their own thoughts. Laura contemplated how her rage had now transformed into vulnerability as a sadness rose in her chest like a tide. It ebbed and flowed through her veins, pushing against her heart as it reminded her of everything she had lost, everything she had felt. Not a chance was she going to cry, so she clenched her hands together and focused on Bill's eyes as he continued to search hers.
"I know I've upset you, but I'd like you to hear me out," he said firmly, feeling like she had fully allowed her anger to dissipate into the air. "You are very important to the fleet, to the people and even to me. I know that sometimes it feels as if the whole world is against you as if you are the only thing between the Cylons and the people. You aren't. You have me. You need to stay on top of this. At least now Cottle has your blood we can see if there is anything untoward there. We will know if it is anything, and can work on it if we need to. It's better to know the opponent than to always be looking behind you. I know you're angry, and you have the right to be, but see it from my side, ok? See it from Billy's side. We worry about you. A few weeks ago what would you say if you'd found out you'd fallen asleep in a meeting? What would you have said if you realised that you weren't fully prepared to take on the day? I know what you would have done, Laura, you would have told me that it wasn't going to happen. Yet here we are. I'm sure you are annoyed with yourself, but at the same time can't you see that it could be your body telling you to slow down? You have been through a lot these past few months, more than a lot of people in this fleet could ever give you credit for."
A small tear had squeezed its way out of her eye, even though she had done everything she could to keep it in. It seemed her resolve was not as steadfast as it could have been. "Oh," she paused, shaking her head sadly. "I'm all over the place, aren't I?"
"We're going to take each day at a time. Sleep and rest is your number one priority at the moment. I can handle the fleet. Things are quiet right now, so we better take advantage of that."
"We?" Laura countered as she smoothed away the drying tear track on her face, grateful for the man that sat ahead of her.
"Always," he said finally, his eyes fixing on hers as he made it crystal clear.
Laura gave him a gentle smile, her lips moving upwards just that little bit. Their eyes stayed locked on each other before the curtain behind them rustled open, breaking her away from the Admiral's beautiful blue eyes.
"There's a call from Galactica. Doc' Cottle wishes to speak to you, Madame President." Billy's eyes betrayed him, it was so obvious that he was worried.
Bill kept his eyes on Laura's face as he watched her eyebrows raise as she nodded her head. There was a slight twitch to her jaw that signalled her instant worry, and Bill leaned forward in his chair to give her some reassurance. He was there for her, as he always was.
Taking a second to check the time, she had realised that Cottle had been gone close to an hour which was clearly enough time for him to do whatever it was that he needed to do. Taking a moment to compose herself as she felt the rise of bile at the back of her throat, she let her hand hover over the receiver for a second longer than she normally would. "Yes, I'll take the call in here, Billy, thank you." She didn't even bother to dismiss him before lifting the receiver to her ear with a cold trepidation she hadn't felt in a long long time.
"Doc' Cottle," she answered softly, keeping her eyes off of the men who were staring at her intently.
Bill waited patiently as she listened to the voice at the end of the phone. The dulcet ragged voice of his CMO blared out from the receiver, but not enough for him to hear as to what it was that he was saying. Watching her for any sign or clue as to what was going on, he watched her, taking in anything that might give away what was being said. Bill was usually a patient man, but for some reason, he wasn't feeling particularly patient. Far from it in fact. Those green eyes of hers were fixed on a set point on her desk, the fingers on her other hand gripping the edge with such intensity that he could see the whites of her knuckles.
"Anomalies?" she whispered, a slight shake to her voice as she reiterated the word back into the room. "Yes, yes of course."
Upon hearing the word spill from her lips, Bill had already gotten to his feet when the receiver came to a clatter on the surface of her desk. Watching her as she turned herself away from them both, he felt his stomach twist as the worry he had for her had intensified to a new level. Checking to see if Cottle was on the end of the phone still, he lifted it to hear the crackle of an ended call.
Anomalies, she repeated in her brain. Anomalies could be anything, she told herself as she bit back the frustrated tears that were creeping into her eyes. All she wanted was a respite from the never-ending torment that life had become. Always running. Always surviving. Always faced with another challenge. Leaning into the bulkhead, she shook her head as she felt a rogue tear fall from her tired and exhausted eyes. That single tear was not her last.