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A Different Life

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At 1730 hours, Dave Roslin answers a knock at the door.  Friends and family have been stopping by all week with food and offering their condolences.  In fact, they have so much food, he’s certain he has gained 10 pounds in the last 3 days alone.

“Hello, can I help you?” he asks when he doesn’t recognize the man standing at the door.  Bill holds a bouquet of white roses in one hand and a book in the other. 

“Dr. Roslin?  My name is Bill Adama.  I’m so sorry for your loss,” he says holding the bouquet toward him. 

“Thank you,” he replies taking the flowers from Bill.  “Betty loved roses – were you a student of hers?” he asks curiously.

“No, I’m a friend of Laura’s.  Is she here?”

“Yes, she is – what did you say your name was again?” he asks.

“Bill,” Laura says, standing 10 feet behind her father at the top of the basement steps.  “I thought you left.”

“I came back,” he states awkwardly.  Dressed in an oversized sweatshirt and leggings, her face is clean, untouched by the heavy makeup Bill had become accustomed to.  The dark circles under her puffy red eyes tell him she has recently been crying.

“Bill, have you eaten?  Why don’t you come in and enjoy some food – we have plenty.  You and Laurie can talk in the kitchen,” Dave says.  “Laurie, honey, please eat something.  I’m going to gain 50 lbs if you don’t start helping out with this food,” he says before he kisses her on top of her head, glancing at Bill while he does so. 

Laura grumbles in recognition of her father’s motive.  He’s been after her all week to eat more but the rock in her stomach won’t allow her to eat much of anything at all.  “Follow me,” she says before turning toward the kitchen.

Homemade pies, breads, dessert bars, and fresh fruit cover the countertops in the kitchen.  Laura opens the refrigerator, and it is filled with casseroles, meats, and vegetable dishes.  “What would you like?” she asks.  “We have a lot of everything.”

“What are you having?” he asks, then realizes that sounds like a sneaky way of getting her to eat.

“I’m not hungry, but I’ll fix you a plate and reheat it for you,” she offers.

 

They sit at the table with two glasses of lemonade and a big steaming plate of meatloaf and green bean casserole with bread and fruit cocktail on the side.  It’s by far the best meal Bill has had in months and he has trouble controlling the urge to gulp it down and ask for more.  As he waits for the food to cool to an reasonable temperature, he turns to Laura and pushes the hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear.  “I missed you.”

Her head shakes slightly as she closes her eyes, as if she’s trying to control her emotions from overtaking her.  “I didn’t expect to ever see you again,” she replies in a whisper, glancing down at his plate.

Bill takes a bite of meatloaf followed by green bean casserole.  “This is really good.  Sure you don’t want any?” has asks holding the fork out to her.

She shakes her head, then takes a sip of lemonade, averting her eyes from him.  “Why did you come back?” she asks quietly.  She assumes Jean gave him her contact information, something she may need to have a discussion with her friend about, but she is genuinely surprised that he followed through in finding her.

“Well,” Bill says as he eagerly eats his food.  “I reported for duty on the Garrison, got my assignment, and started to work, but it was really difficult,” he says with a frown.

“I can’t believe a viper pilot would have any difficulty working on a freighter,” she says, calling him out on his lie.

He holds a forkful of food out to her again, but she refuses.

“I had a lot of trouble focusing,” he tells her.

Still not convinced that he isn’t just bullshitting her again, she stares at him rather than respond.

“Laura, you should try this food, it’s so good.  I’m not just saying that to try and get you to eat something, it is really really good.”

She continues to sit in silence staring at him.

“I brought you something,” he says pulling the book toward her that he had set on the table earlier.  “This is my favorite book and I want you to have it.”

Searider Falcon.  Laura has never read it but has heard very good reviews of it.  “Thank you,” she says quietly.  “If you give me your mailing address, I’ll return it when I’m finished.”

“No, I never lend books.  Books are gifts.  This one means something to me and I want you to keep it,” he explains taking another bite of food.

A large tear trickles from her eye down her cheek, coming to rest along her jawline.  “You’re very kind,” she says, then takes a few minutes to compose herself while he eats.  “You came back to give me this book?”

“Not entirely,” he says.  “Can I have some of that pie?”

“Yeh, let me get a plate.” After placing a large slice of pie on a clean plate, she turns around and walks directly into Bill, who had followed her into the kitchen.

“I can’t stop thinking about you.  I miss you.  I came back for you,” he says taking the plate and placing it on the counter, then wrapping his arms around her.

She stands stiff in his arms at first, but he refuses to let go of her, instead rubbing his hand on her back, patiently holding her tight, hoping that she responds to him.  Eventually her arms move up to his back, lightly embracing him, then he hears her sob as she buries her face in his chest.  Shaking in his arms, she cries hard for several minutes, before suddenly pulling away from him.  “No, Bill, you’re just going to leave again.”

“Laura, look at me,” he says, a hand on her chin tilting her face up to meet his eyes.  “I’m not going anywhere.  I’m here for you.”

“What about your freighter assignment?”

“It’s over – the ship left an hour ago.  You are way more important to me.  I can find work in the city.  Come here,” he says taking the pie and pulling her by the hand to the table.  “Help me eat this.”  He takes a bite, then holds the fork to her.  She reluctantly accepts his offer and a meager smile forms on her face at the sweetness of the strawberries.  “It’s good, isn’t it?” he asks when he sees a hint of a smile on her face. 

She waits for him to finish his forkful, then eagerly takes the next bite he offers her.  “It is good,” she admits, watching him take another bite, remembering the feel of his lips the last time they saw each other.  She tries to push the urge to kiss him from her mind – it would be crazy to do that right now, with everything that has happened and as upset as she feels.  But here he is, sitting in her kitchen, comforting her, gifting her a book, and telling her that he came back for her.  The fact that he didn’t disappear for good after hearing from Jean about her mother is enough to embolden her to act on impulse.

“You need to try some of that casserole I had, that might be the best green bean casser-” He’s unable to finish his sentence because Laura’s lips are suddenly pressed against his, a wonderful distraction that causes him to lose his train of thought.  He forgets all about pie, green bean casserole, and crappy freighter assignments.  All that matters is Laura, the way her lips feel on his, the way they taste of delicious strawberries, the softness of her hair, and that fire she somehow has a way of igniting in his soul.  He doesn’t even notice Dave watching from the hallway, smiling to himself at the sight of his daughter behaving like a normal 23-year-old, something she hasn’t been able to do ever since she took over caring for her mother.

They break the kiss, then take turns finishing the pie. 

“Any chance I can get another plate of meatloaf and green beans?” Bill asks. 

She raises her eyebrows at him.  “Someone’s hungry tonight,” she comments on her way to the refrigerator.  Once the food is reheated, she returns to the table and sets it in front of him where he lets it cool for a few minutes.

“I’ve been eating military rations for the past several years.  Homecooked food is a delicacy when you’re military.”  He holds a forkful of meatloaf out to her.  “First bite?”

She stares at the fork, then opens her mouth and takes the food.  “Mmm, Bill, you’re right.  This is good!”

They take turns sharing the meatloaf and green bean casserole until nothing is left.  “Be honest with me - how are you doing, Laura?”

“I feel a little better now.  Could you -” she begins, then stops before she completes the question.

“Could I what?” Bill asks.

“Could you stay and read to me, from the book you gave me?  At least for a little while?”

“I’d love to.”

They move to a sofa in a small family room off the side of the dining area.  Laura pulls her legs under her as she rests her head on Bill’s shoulder.  The deep tone of his voice soothes her and she closes her eyes so that she can focus on the spoken words, denying her other senses the opportunity to distract her from the story.  Eventually her body relaxes enough to drift off to sleep, her head still resting on his shoulder.  He sets the book down and places his arm around her, letting her sleep peacefully against him. 

Bill feels a hand on his shoulder and looks up to see Dave standing behind him with a finger to his lips.  “Can you help me get her to bed?” he whispers. 

“I can carry her if you show me the way,” he whispers back. 

Dave helps Bill maneuver Laura so that she is easier for him to pick up, then motions for him to follow.  They walk down the steps to the basement where Bill gently places her in her bed.  He leaves the copy of the book on her nightstand, carefully bookmarked to the page where he sensed she was falling asleep, then follows Dave back up the steps.

“I can’t thank you enough, Bill.  She has barely eaten anything over the past week, barely even spoken since Betty passed away.  How long have you known each other?” he asks curiously.

“For about a month.  We met at the bar near the university,” he informs him.

“Ah, the one where Jean works.”

Bill nods.  “She told me how to find her.  I had no idea what Laura was going through until Jean told me this afternoon.  I wish I had known.”

“Do you have dinner plans tomorrow?” Dave asks.  “You’re welcome to join us, help us eat this food before it goes to waste, and spend some time with Laurie.”

“If it’s no trouble, I’d love to come back.  I’m going to stay with my family while I look for work here in Caprica City.  I’ll leave my number and address – can you please let Laura know?”

“I will.  Does 6 pm work for you?”

“I’ll be here.”