|Event Horizon: Defiance
Author: setivalen PM
AU, beginning with "missing year" on New Caprica. Different leadership is in place on Galactica and Pegasus as the invasion/occupation is about to begin. Multi-arc story, covering occupation through to discovery of Earth and final conflict with Cylons.Rated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Romance - L. Adama/Apollo & K. Thrace/Starbuck - Chapters: 24 - Words: 362,679 - Reviews: 212 - Favs: 99 - Follows: 137 - Updated: 06-14-11 - Published: 02-10-08 - id: 4066111
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Event Horizon: Defiance
Author's Notes: I don't own any of these characters, but I'm honored to be able to borrow them for play—no profit of money is being made whatsoever, only profits of the soul in writing for a while.
Story is AU from the time shortly after the Groundbreaking Ceremony on New Caprica. Rating is M for mature themes (violence in different forms) and some sexual content (more description provided in certain chapters, when essential to convey a character's state of mind or his/her personal growth/regression). The story is large in scope; I've roughed out all of it, and have 40 percent of it written, so I hope you'll stick around for the later major developments!
The tale has a significant action-driven main plot involving nearly the full cast, with several romantic sub-plots. Although we begin with the Adama/Roslin dynamic, the Lee/Kara relationship is the central focus; it underpins the plot developments throughout. Our core characters are not big talkers, so I've taken some license with longer dialogue. More importantly, I've provided internal narrative—these individuals may not say much, but they are thinking constantly, and I wanted to reveal more of their inner workings, as I've imagined them.
I hope you enjoy. Nicole
Chapter 1: The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting
"Event Horizon: a theoretical boundary around a black hole beyond which no light or other radiation can escape. Figuratively: any point of no return." Oxford English Dictionary
" 'Our humanity got us into this. Our humanity will have to get us out of it.' " John Sheridan's character, Babylon 5
Sit Rep: New Caprica and Galactica, 10 months after Groundbreaking Ceremony
"So, how's the weather?" Bill asked humorously, knowing there had been several days of freezing rain planet-side.
"Let's just say it reminds me of a trip I took once to New Libra city on Scorpia—inhospitable, frigid, and damned dull." Roslin laughed a little darkly at the memory—it wasn't so far from the truth of their existence on this world at the moment. She knew Adama was tossing his dry humor at her in asking the question; it was one of the reasons she looked forward to their weekly chats.
"And, how's the weather up there?" Bill could feel the smirk through the line.
"Well, actually, about the same as your description—especially the 'dull' part. Present conversation excluded, of course." He tried to sound light as he said it, but an oppressive sigh escaped his throat instead.
"Admiral, that was a lot of air you just exhaled—are you smoking Starbuck's old cigars?" Laura knew she needed to keep the banter going; the reality of current situations was too painful to talk about straight-on, and they both knew it. Besides, she had something she really wanted to ask the man, and her nervousness might not be so evident if she could maintain the mirthful tone.
"How is she, Laura?" Starbuck had been planet-side for 10 months now, and he would give anything to ask her to "bring in the cat."
"She's good, Bill—really. Kara's been helping Galen in building some of the equipment we need, and she checks the grounded ships, making sure the nuts and bolts are still holding them together. She and Sam play pyramid quite a bit to keep in shape."
"Sounds about right—what does Sam do when he isn't trying to keep his wife out of trouble?"
Laura winced. She hadn't given anything away—how did he see through it? "Well, I don't think Sam sees it as trouble, you know—he pledged to take the whole package when he married her."
Bill pressed Roslin anyway; he'd heard some things…things that troubled him. "I recognize when you're dissembling, Laura—you realize that, right?"
She chuckled—it was always there, that sense of knowing her—easy and confident, as though he was sure he wouldn't make mistakes when it came to reading Laura.
"Yes, I realize. I don't know what you want to hear Bill…what are you looking to confirm?" She read him equally well.
"I…Helo said he talked to her when he took Ellen Tigh planet-side last week, and she seemed tense, restless. Some of the old Galactica crew told him they were worried because Starbuck got drunk every night, without fail now, and she started fights on a pretty regular basis."
"Bill, I'm not sure that's too different from her activities before she ever came here. What's really on your mind?"
"I miss her, Roslin." Adama said in a hushed voice, as though Kara might hear him. "I worry she's not happy, and I wanted to know she—I wanted her to finally have that."
"My sweet man," Laura started—she dared to be that intimate with him these days, at least over the com—"no one can guarantee that for Kara Thrace except Kara Thrace. She's not exactly the kind to confide in others, and she won't acknowledge what eats away at her, except to a glass of straight 150 proof liquor. Sam, Helo, Tyrol—they all do what they can, but…"
"Yeah. Has he talked to her at all?" Bill didn't have to say who; Roslin was on the same page.
"No…no. She would have told Helo if—I would have seen a clue, a shift of something." It was disconcerting, even after so many months, to realize Apollo and Starbuck had broken ties so completely. It was hard to say what about that severing caused so many others to feel off-balance, but she knew it was true. The schism between the two pilots had rippled throughout the former Galactica crew members now on New Caprica, setting superstitious nerves on edge; some whispered it augured dark events would plague the colonists on the planet. Roslin wasn't one to attribute broader meanings from the gods regarding a relationship that was volatile years before the second Cylon War. Still, she acknowledged it was troubling, if only for the larger impact on everyone else.
Bill's voice penetrated her digressive thoughts. "Laura—I—it goes without saying I miss you too." He wasn't sure if he was supposed to say that out loud, but her silence worried him that he had been remiss in making the point clear.
"Me too, Bill. Me too. Which is why—" she paused. It was time to just put the idea out there. "—why I wanted to extend a special invitation, from the 'Lead Teacher' of New Caprica, decision-maker of paints and reading, for you to come visit." The sentence hung there between them, as though it were coming over the wire letter by letter.
More exhaling whooshed in her ear. She could tell he wasn't sure what to do—which at least meant he was tempted by the suggestion. Maybe he needed a hint of more—what she might really offer him if he came to see her. "You could stay with me, Bill, avoid the others if you didn't want to answer questions or re-live war stories. There's a clearing about 2 clicks from here—"
"Clicks? When did you learn to use that term?" He was amused, hearing the former President use military words. He knew it was a gesture of respect Laura was making, but it sounded incongruous with her throaty voice.
"That's hardly the point, Admiral—don't answer a question with a question, especially a non-sequitur." There was a lilt in her expression, and anxiousness.
"Go on—what about the clearing?"
"You could land there, without drawing much attention, around dusk. No one would realize you were here, and we could—"
"We could spend some real time together. Alone. No titles, no crises, no prying eyes." She was getting bolder by the word.
Bill was uncomfortable. He knew exactly what was being intimated, and he found it damned unnerving. It was so—so on target for what he longed for, even ached for at times. Their desires were now out there—palpable. It wasn't possible to refuse now…he couldn't bring himself to do that. Frak duty and dulling responsibility and the sameness of every godsdamned day since they'd all left the ship—since she left his ship.
"I'll be there. Nineteen hundred hours at the latest. Can you send coordinates for the clearing? I'm not sure '2 clicks from Laura's tent' will be enough of a description…"
"Yes, of course, of course! I—it will be wonderful, Bill."
"With you, it's always wonderful." It was one of the most sentimental and romantic things he'd said to her in all this time; he was going to have trouble keeping his emotions tamped down. The realization made his hands clammy—it was time to end the call before something else was uttered, unbidden. "See you soon, Roslin."
"I'll be the teacher with the apple in her hand when you arrive," she said mischievously. "Good night, dear man."
"Good night—stay warm." He hung up the com. It didn't seem wise to try to wake up Tigh at this hour, given he was probably drunk enough to still be inebriated a good 12 hours from now—Saul was at loose ends while Ellen was gone. It would be better to call Lee to make arrangements for the trip and for coverage during Adama's absence.
Bill felt uneasy every time he thought about going down to the planet. The fear, however irrational, was the Cylons would appear when he was on the surface, and he'd be powerless to help the settlers. Adama steadfastly refused to leave the ship for that reason, despite the loneliness and his nightly fantasies about a certain alluring redhead. The dead weight sitting in the pit of his stomach, though, was pulling him into the metal of the bulkheads—he felt cold, flat, haunted—old. It was like staring at an event horizon—you knew you needed to break away, a safe distance out, but the sight of the mesmerizing blackness drew you closer, like the ancient tales of sirens at sea.
He rang Lee's quarters on the Pegasus. A sleepy female voice answered; it was Dee. "Dualla here…go ahead."
"My apologies for waking you up, Lieutenant. May I speak with the Commander?" Some rustling and whispering could be heard before Lee took the handset.
"Yeah?" Apollo had become quite lax in the past eight months, foregoing most military formalities. It really irritated the Admiral, but he'd tried to restrain his criticisms, since the monotonous patterns of their days circling the planet had put many into an oppressive state of apathy and disarray.
"I've decided to go to New Caprica for a few days." It seemed easier to explain nothing; the fact Bill was making the trip already revealed messages.
"Oh?" Lee was awake now. His father was calling during off-shift hours to announce a visit to the planet—something important was altering. "I'm sure there's a raptor making a doughnut run in the next two or three days—"
"I plan on leaving at 1700 hours tomorrow, and I wanted to go over a few tactical issues with you before then. I also need to know which pilot's free to give me a ride."
"Can't we do this a bit later? I would like to get a few more hours sleep, Sir." Lee was agitated; it was ridiculous, being awakened at this hour to talk about a plan many hours from now.
"I'm sure you can take a nap afterward, Commander—it wouldn't be different than any other day." That biting tongue, still baiting his older son to defend himself and be a better man. Gods, how Lee hated it.
"Are you ordering me to have this discussion now? It seems like a waste of good command talent, Sir." He was angry and petulant. Same old Lee. Bill suddenly wanted to escape—now—run from the dreariness and Lee's incessant whining. He balled his fists, hoping the tension in his arms would take away some of the tension from his voice.
"Be here at 1500 hours. That is an order, if I need to be explicit about it. Arrange for Sharon Agathon to fly me out. Bump up the supply rotation, so the flight isn't wasted. Prepare to review the security coverage protocols for commanding two battlestars when the higher-level officer is off-ship and an enemy attack is probable." The phrases came out staccato, like alternating piston sounds. Lee loudly made a scoffing noise; Bill could picture the sneer on the man's face as he listened to the list.
"Understood. Commander Adama out." The anger pulsed down the wire, punctuated by the slamming of the receiver. The Admiral shivered. He'd lost his son, somehow in all this stultifying repetition, and he wasn't even very motivated to try to bring him back. What was the point? It took more energy than either cared to expend, and the relationship just went in big circles, going nowhere. Quite like orbiting an uninviting planet, really. Gods, Bill thought darkly, he was going to have to find more imagination from somewhere—even his analogies were lifeless and stale.
Sit Rep: Galactica, 10 months after Groundbreaking Ceremony
Commander Lee Adama stood on the flight deck, inspecting the raptor. The briefing with his father had been terse. It had ended with the admonishment Lee was to remain on duty for two shifts each planet day while the Admiral was gone, keeping watch for enemy contact. Under no circumstance was he to make any FTL jumps during this period—Lee's responsibility was to protect the fleet, both planet-side and in space. The Pegasus commanding officer could taste the ferrous trickle as it slid down his throat, blood drawn from biting his tongue so hard.
He had been opposed to this sordid military farce, orbiting a worthless planet for "protection" while 10,000 sane people remained frozen in time, unable to continue the search for Earth. Frak them all, the settlers, traitors to the fleet family. All those former crew members from Galactica and Pegasus, abandoning their sworn responsibilities for a tepid illusion—it was maddening. Tens of thousands of humans shuddering in tents that barely kept out the hard elements, all for the "opportunity" to breath fresh air. Two humans using their own body heat to keep out the cold…keep him out in the cold. Lee caught himself—what a frakked up thought.
He laughed aloud, defiantly mocking his piteous character. Uncontrollable memories pressed forward…the feel of her long, soft hair on his chest, the expression crossing her face as she climaxed above him, her nervous giggles as she shouted out her love for Lee Adama. Tears pooled, sliding down his cheeks, coming unexpectedly and without welcome. He hated New Caprica. It was a black hole, sucking everything into the well of gravity, including his soul. Try as he might, he hadn't been able to stop it. Now he walked around as a biological shell—no hope, no purpose, no energy. Sometimes he thought he'd take his own life, to erase the futility around him. Ironically—and he forced another harsh laugh at the realization—he lacked the drive to just do it. Instead, he drew on anger, every minute of every day, to keep him motivated to get out of bed, lead the minimal Pegasus crew, interact with his wife. Anger was a great fuel—it burned for a long time, could be amped up or ramped down in a flash, and it blotted out everything in its path. He was actually on the inside of the event horizon now, looking out, eager to suck the light out of everything in front of him.
The Admiral walked up to Lee, breaking his focus. His father was wearing civilian clothes—it was so odd. Lee could count on one hand the number of times he'd seen William Adama out of uniform.
"The raptor's fueled, loaded up with supplies, and ready for departure." Lee didn't look his father in the eye, preferring to talk slightly past the right of his head. His father acted as though he didn't notice.
"Where is Lieutenant Sharon Agathon?"
Flinching slightly at the phrase—it was hard to believe the Old Man actually reinstated the Cylon into the military—Lee found a splattered paint spot on the floor to examine. "She'll be here momentarily."
"I'll get settled in, then. See you in three days." The man didn't try to look in his son's eyes, and his voice belied no warmth. He was so damned sick of this Lee, the one who'd overtaken the body of the person Bill was proud to know and loved. It was too much. Maybe he'd try to talk with Kara over the next day or so; the Admiral was certain she had answers to explain Lee's changed nature. He was less certain he wanted to hear the details, but something had to be done. If Kara would be willing to see Apollo, talk to him…
Sharon stepped into the cockpit. "Good Morning, Sir." She smiled briefly. "Ready to go?"
The Admiral nodded, a small grin in return. "Appreciate the ride, Lieutenant." The raptor hatch eased shut and the launch was initiated.
Lee walked away as the hatch came down. He was particularly ill-at-ease; it was probably the discussion over worst-case scenarios with his father that caused the roiling in his stomach. In a compartment deep in his psyche, though, Lee knew there was more to his feelings. It was the mere thought of someone talking to Kara, seeing her—seeing them together. His blood surged every time he pictured Sam—arms around her shoulders or sweeping her backwards into a passionate kiss. He trembled with dark emotion, wishing he could somehow wipe out all memories of those two. He wished even more fervently he might erase all memories of "Starbuck and Apollo," Kara and Lee. It was then the Commander realized he was starving; the food would quiet his stomach and calm his nerves. He headed straight for the mess.
The Admiral sat silent in the raptor as it traveled, watching the interplays of light before him—distant stars, nearby sun, curvature of a brightly colored world coming into full view. He didn't feel like talking. Bill wasn't sure how to prepare himself for the next few days, but he looked forward to putting his feet on solid ground. He allowed himself to enjoy the pleasurable tingle of anticipation as well—he longed to feel Laura against his chest, burying his nose in the sweet smell of her soft hair. With a start, Adama realized Sharon was talking to him—he didn't know for how long.
"Ummm, I'm sorry, I was lost in my train of thought—what were you saying?"
Sharon turned to him, a twinkle in her eyes. "I was asking for permission to ask you a personal question."
"By all means, Lieutenant."
"I may be overstepping my bounds—"
"Spit it out, Sharon." The Admiral was slightly annoyed; if she wasn't going to leave him to his private musings, she'd better jump in with both feet for the discussion.
"It's Commander Adama….I—quite a few of us are worried about him. I was hoping you—"
"Sharon, I'm not much help. He and I aren't exactly spending quality time together."
"Lee's lost, Sir. It seemed, when he took command of the Pegasus and married Dee, that he'd found his footing. Now, I'm not sure that's what happened at all, and…no one knows how to reach him. His appearance, his cynicism, the complaining—it's negatively impacting his leadership. And his marriage." Sharon looked over at Bill, gauging his reaction as she finished the statement. He met her gaze, regret flickering in his eyes.
"I suspected it was." Yet another sigh—gods, he was doing that entirely too often these days. "Honestly, I don't understand him. An awful confession, to be sure, but…he's just…I never expected Lee to change this way. He's let everything go."
"Actually, Sir, it may be that he's let nothing go."
"Explain?" Bill was surprised at this idea; it didn't fit with his observations.
"Something happened, something specific—I'm not sure what or how, but it had to do with Starbuck."
"I've considered that, Sharon—I was thinking about trying to talk to her about it on this visit. But how does that translate into 'letting nothing go?' "
"I'm speculating…I think he's angry and hurt. He's trying to numb the pain however he can, and it isn't working. He can't let go of the source of the resentment and repair the emotional wounds."
"Kara had been his best friend, but he's married now, and Dee should…they should…I guess I don't see how Kara could have something do with his current emotional disarray."
Sharon marveled the older man could be so obtuse. She decided it was better not to intimate too much, since he must not be ready to face the dynamics of Kara and Lee. Still, if Adama could get Starbuck to talk with his son, it could make all the difference.
"I don't know if she's the root cause or not, Sir. I believe she could help him get past whatever's eating at him, though."
"I'm not nearly that certain, Lieutenant—according to Helo, Starbuck's pretty untethered right now too." Surely Sharon and Karl had discussed these things—
"Yeah, he shared his observations with me. I guess that's why I think they're both—well, whatever is upsetting them, it may be linked. If the two could hash it out…"
Bill just gestured his head in agreement. He was beginning to perceive something deeper in this situation. "I'll get Kara alone while I'm on the planet. She's not easily convinced to tackle personal situations head-on, but I'll see if I can make something happen."
Sharon smiled with relief. She couldn't tell the elder Adama how important his son was in the scheme of larger events—it was a guarded secret among the Cylons, the knowledge of Lee Adama's assigned archetype in the scriptures, and the humans had yet to discern his identity embedded in the sections of the sacred Pythia text. His friends and family had to keep the younger Adama on his feet, though, to be ready for what was coming. "Thanks for hearing me out, Admiral."
He took the woman's hand, squeezing it briefly. "Any time. It was equally enlightening for me."
Sharon looked at her control panel and realized they were over the coordinates for the clearing. With minimal movement, the raptor landed, sitting behind a large cluster of brush. No one would easily spot the craft from the air or the ground. Adama would have his privacy, at least as much as could be expected. Tomorrow, Galen would have to bring a few people to help unload the supplies; Bill would stay in Laura's tent, and Sharon in Tory's, to keep sightings and questions to a minimum.
Sit Rep: New Caprica, 10 months after Groundbreaking Ceremony
A half-hour later, with the sun now below the horizon and the cooler air of night blowing around their ears, Sharon and Bill arrived at Laura's tent. They could hear her lightly humming, but no other voices, so they quickly stepped in through the flaps. "Laura…" Bill said, hoping not to startle her too much.
Roslin turned around, a warm smile overtaking her features. She offered her hand to Sharon first, gently squeezing Sharon's arm for welcome. Laura turned to Adama; they were both keenly aware they had an audience, so she offered her hand to him as well. He grasped it in both of his own, before leaning forward to kiss her cheek. It was subtle and natural, but she still felt the blood rise to her face as the warmth of his breath touched her.
Taking in the "room," Bill noticed a bed pallet held up by crates; a small hot plate and pails of water to one side; a table with four chairs; and a makeshift writing desk near the foot of the bed. He cringed, inwardly, thinking of her living this way—of any of them living this way. He had a difficult time reconciling the trade-off: fresh air and dirt under one's feet in exchange for solid rooms with four walls, warmth, hygienic facilities, working equipment, and running water. Deep space might feel like a prison, at times, but now these people were in living conditions no better than a prison.
"Bill and Sharon, I hope you'll join me for a meal—I've got a few things from our garden that might taste really good to you after processed food for so long!" She seemed pleased with herself—gods, she was so appealing when she radiated joyfulness, Bill thought.
"Of course, we'd love to," Bill hastily uttered, realizing he had been staring at Laura a little too long. As they took seats at the table while Laura prepared the food, Bill's thoughts wandered back to the conversation that took place a week before Roslin's full relocation to the planet eight months earlier.
"Bill, I've been thinking about the future…" She was pacing his quarters on Galactica in stocking feet, as he watched her from the couch.
He winced—never a good start to a conversation, those words. "Ummhumm," he murmured.
"Someone needs to be on the planet who can gather intelligence on how things are going, how the people are coping. Baltar's administration can't be trusted to tell the truth—they'll always be painting a rosy picture, despite the very real challenges you and I know face the settlers."
"Isn't that what the press is for?" Bill had a queasy feeling in his gut—he didn't like where this was headed.
"There's not much of an independent press—you know that. Baltar's already taken steps to severely curtail activities, citing the need for the equipment and 'all hands to work for New Caprica.' Plus, there's only one actual paper printing press available down there."
"So what are you proposing, Roslin?"
Silence vibrated in the room for a moment; Laura stopped pacing, instead studying the rug on the floor. She walked over to the couch finally, and with a heaving chest, blew out a long breath of air as she locked eyes with the man next to her.
"I think I should move down to New Caprica permanently, Bill."
He knew his mouth dropped and his features gave away the rising anxiety sitting uncomfortably in his ribs. "Laura, don't suggest something so….there must be other reasonable options. Your plan is an extreme response to—"
"It's not extreme, Admiral, and I am disappointed by your reaction." Bill broke eye contact with the woman; he didn't want her to see the full impact of her words.
"Roslin, I hardly think a school teacher's tone of voice is necessary or appropriate here. If you've already made up your mind to go—and let's call the game as it's really being played; you have already decided and probably begun the process to transfer—then I'm in no position to stand in Madame President's way." He felt his stomach drop out as he propelled the last words past his lips. Panic was starting to set in, and Bill was at a loss to understand the chaotic potion dancing through his veins, making him want to grab her in his arms and tell her under no circumstances was she ever to leave his side again.
Soft hands cupped his face, pulling his head around to those stirring eyes of hers.
"Bill, I know….don't think you are alone in your feelings." He must have looked shocked; she hastily added "I mean, I don't want to leave you either. That's what made this realization so hard for me to accept—"
On impulse, Adama gripped Laura's shoulders lightly and kissed her. He was finding this woman and losing her in the same moment, and his heart just couldn't remain quiet any longer. She responded, letting their lips explore, then giving him deeper access to her. Bill felt her hands press into his face, then slide behind his neck, as he involuntarily shivered. He pulled her flush against his chest, eagerly letting his fingers wander into her hair. Gods….Gods. This was exquisite.
Gently he pulled his head back, slowly, leaving his arms completely around her. Looking directly, he whispered "Why now, Laura? Stay—if you want to move somewhere, move to Galactica—please stay." It was the most vulnerable William Adama had allowed himself to be in many years, and his throat tightened with emotion.
The drop in her eyes told him everything; he abruptly let go and stood up, to quell the energy surging between them. "I see."
"No, I'm pretty sure you don't, yet—Bill--" Laura grabbed his arm, pulling him back towards the sofa as she stood up.
Roslin dared to take both of his hands in her own, then caress his cheek yet again. "I told you, before the election, I knew in my gut going to that planet would be a disaster. But it's done—it's done. I'm no longer President, and yet I feel I have to stand vigil over this fleet, that it's still my responsibility to ensure they're watched over by someone who gives a damn about them, not ruled by a sociopathic creature with a single focus on himself." Her eyes were flaring with intensity of purpose; Bill couldn't ignore the driveness that comes from surety of one's role.
"Someone needs to find out the events behind the scenes, be a witness, chronicle the story of the last survivors of the 12 colonies on New Caprica. That person can also help, when it's time, to rally the people around the goal of finding the real Earth, not the crappy substitute you and I know this planet to be."
"What makes you think they'll ever rally around the idea of traveling through space again? They want to rest, Laura—the fleet is too weary to continue. I don't think that will 'wear off' once the settlers grow tired of the harsh conditions. Despite the costs, I believe the colonials will still opt for terra firma—no matter how miserable—over the unknowns of a journey of undetermined length, facing an enemy we know damned well is out there, waiting to find us."
"That's just it, Bill. The 'tranquility' is an illusion, carrying great cost. The Cylons never rest—they are too dissatisfied and agitated. The longer we remain, the more significant the odds we'll be caught flat-footed, lulled by a sense of sameness and routine. I want—"
"Roslin, that's why the battlestars remain in orbit, why I kept a crew on each ship—we will protect the fleet!" He was angry—at her suggestion the military couldn't protect them, and at her insistence she needed to leave because she didn't think the defense would be sufficient.
"William Adama, leave your pride out of this! I know why you have to remain up here, why the battlestars won't leave with the 10,000 colonials who don't want to settle on that rock. But we both know your ships are woefully understaffed, and it's likely to get worse as placidity takes hold of everyone, settlers and space crews alike. The ships may well not be enough, when the time comes—you can't risk nuclear attacks that might fall to the planet instead, and there'd be no way to rescue 30,000 people rapidly. We're sitting ducks out there, no matter how you shift the pieces on the board." She was pacing again as she said the last, worry clearly pushing her in the decisions she was making.
This time, Bill pulled her to him, close and intimate. "That's exactly why you shouldn't go down to New Caprica, Laura. I can't…I can't…" he was struggling with real tears that taunted his control. "I wouldn't be able to protect you, and I refuse to risk losing you again." His voice was barely audible, but by now he was talking in her ear, gripping her body against his.
"Bill…" there was such longing in her voice. "Gods, I don't—" hungry lips devoured her last words, drawing the breath out of her. She relaxed into his massive chest, letting her legs bend and her arms tremble, moaning against his mouth as the feverish kisses continued. She felt his hands begin to undo her clothes, and she allowed herself to give in to all of it, gasping at the pleasure barred from them for so long.
Much later, spent and slack in the bed, he reveled in the radiating heat from her body, the softness of her curves against his hip. She propped herself up slightly, to look into his eyes, and he knew full well what was going to be said next.
"I have to do it, William." He felt her tears pelt his cheeks.
"I know." He didn't want to be asked to bear this separation, but there was no denying the soundness of her reasons.
"Come down, as often as possible—"
"No." His voice rumbled as he said it, like a threatening storm. "Laura, I can't be torn like that. Every time I might come planet-side, I'd want to stay. I already miss so many of my crew, the civilians we worked with…and this—" he gestured between the two of them—"this would cinch the deal. I'm old enough to want a peaceful life, want to settle down, want to spend all my days with you. I'd be as lulled into tranquility as anyone else, and probably happier than anyone else to do so. You mean that much to me." His eyes burned preternaturally in the dimness of the room, and Laura trembled anew at the passion there.
"Then…well, isn't there another way to work this? Bring you to New Caprica? I know there's a role you could play—"
"Don't you dare suggest I abandon my post, Laura Roslin." The words stayed raspy in his throat. "This is all about how you can't leave yours—it is incongruous to recommend
I desert mine."
"You're being petulant, Bill—"
"And you're being dismissive, which you should know by now is the one sure way to raise my ire."
Laura flopped back down next to him; the sound of increased breathing filled the space. Without preamble, she felt Bill's body over her, his mouth and tongue hungry at her neck. His erection pressed against her thighs, and as his mouth avidly moved down her body, she forgot how to form thoughts altogether, surrendering to the present moment.
"Admiral?" She was almost shouting, and Bill suddenly realized Laura had been trying to get his attention—probably for a minute or more. "Bill, are you alright? You seem a little dazed—are you lightheaded? Do you want some water?" Genuine concern marked her features, and as Adama stole a glance at Sharon, she had a similar look.
"I'm fine, I'm fine. I was just reminiscing…I was lost in thought, that's all."
"Well, Sir, maybe we need to tap into your level of concentration—I'm not sure I've ever been that honed in on a memory before," Sharon said, mirth in her eyes.
"So say we all, Lieutenant." Laura was giggling.
"Alright, enough humor at my expense. Can we eat? I've definitely worked up an appetite after all that focus!" They laughed, and the dishes were passed around.
Bill had to admit, the fresh vegetables were delicious—it had been so long since he'd had real food from the ground. He didn't ask what the source of the main course was—the taste was delightful to his tongue, and that's all that mattered. Well, that, and the company…her laugh filled his heart more each time he heard it live and in person again.
The meal was nearly over when someone entered the tent. Alarm flashed across Bill's face—it was Tom Zarek, and his presence was unexpected. Adama looked at Laura, questioningly.
"Welcome, Tom. Forgive Bill—all those months in orbit have made him a little rusty in his manners."
Bill stood up stiffly, extending a hand to greet the man appropriately. Sharon got up as well, and Tom took her proffered hand.
"Welcome to New Caprica City. Don't worry—I understand this visit is on the QT. Believe me when I tell you I have no reason to share it with anyone."
Adama wasn't sure what to make of that statement. "Laura, how did Tom—"
"Bill, Tom has been helping me—us—gather information on Baltar's operations. He's the 'inside source' I've referred to in my reports."
"And why would you, as the Vice President, help with intelligence-gathering? You worked hard to ensure Baltar would win the election and settle on this planet." The voice was hard and piercing, though quiet enough—William Adama had never liked Tom Zarek, and he was trying to figure out why Roslin would trust this dubious character.
Laura interjected. "That's enough, Admiral."
"No, no, it's fine. I understand his suspiciousness—I'd feel the same, frankly, in his shoes." Tom smiled at Adama, genuine and open. "I made a mistake, Admiral. Simple as that. I'd undo the damage, if it were possible; given my options, I'm trying to make amends as I can. Gaius…well, he's frakking mad, in my humble opinion. I was caught up in my usual zeal, wanting to support the underdog, fight authority, decide the course of events for humanity, and I missed the signs. I was too focused on my own ambitions to understand the vile nature of Baltar's."
"And you want me to accept you had a 'change of heart'—just like that?" He snapped his fingers.
"You don't have to accept anything, Sir. I've earned Laura's trust, and that's enough for me at the moment. I'll continue helping her, making sure we're prepared for the inevitable Cylon return. Over time, you'll either see the value in my actions, or you won't. My mission remains the same—protect the fleet from what comes next, from Gaius' indifference, from the erosion of our rights as the President issues executive orders bordering on legitimization of slavery."
"Say that again? Roslin, your reports didn't suggest…" alarm was broadcast through Bill's voice.
"This just happened yesterday—I haven't had a chance to tell you." She kept her voice even; she knew the Admiral would be upset to learn of the latest turn of events.
Zarek took the lead. "Yesterday, in response to Galen Tyrol's organization last month of a labor union, Baltar issued an executive order requiring all citizens of New Caprica over the age of 16 to work 14 hours per day on construction, administrative, or infrastructure-building tasks. Failure to meet the requirement results in arrest. He'd begun building a detention center two months ago anyway—it's nearly finished."
"I knew about the detention center, but—did you realize this was Baltar's ultimate goal?"
"Suspicious again, are we Admiral? No, I didn't know about that plan. To be honest, I'm pretty sure he only dreamt it up a few hours before he announced it. The ambrosia gives him the balls he generally lacks otherwise." Tom smirked—it was without warmth, hiding gritted teeth. Adama thought he saw hatred in the man's eyes—Baltar had obviously frakked him over but good.
"Do you still have any influence over him?" Adama was curious.
"I'm not sure I ever really did…he's pretty much a one-man show. The liquor and the concubines have more of a say."
Adama sat down, disheartened. It was getting worse and worse—how could they help the settlers out of this mess?
"Tom, enough depressing talk for one evening, okay? The Admiral came here for a change of scenery and light conversation—we should offer that to him." Roslin's voice was firm.
"Of course, Laura—my apologies. I really came by to let you know the raptor's been unloaded, and I've arranged for an extra bed for Lieutenant Agathon."
It was Sharon's turn to be perplexed. "I thought I was staying with Tory."
Laura faced the woman. "I wanted to limit the knowledge of your visit to as few individuals as possible, Sharon. There are a lot of people who don't know about your reinstatement; given the current political climate, I didn't want to draw undue attention to you or the reason for your presence here planet-side."
Sharon nodded, acquiescing. She didn't trust Zarek any more than the Admiral did, but it was only for one night. The plan for a morning departure had seemed logical enough when they'd decided on it earlier; it would be noticeable to see engine burn from the clearing at this time of the evening. Helo wanted her to come back right away, but Sharon had assured him she could make it out at dawn—it wasn't that long to be apart, and she was bound to be tired.
No one believed it was a good idea for Sharon to remain on New Caprica for long; Lee had recommended, as the trip was being finalized, that Sharon return to the ship, then make a second supply run in two days to pick up the Admiral.
Tom, sensing her unease, shared "I have put up a divider, of sorts; you'll have privacy."
Grabbing her gear, Sharon stood next to Zarek, ready to trek to his tent. She was pretty sure Adama and Roslin wanted to be alone—they had been eye-frakking all evening, though she doubted they realized it was so apparent. Besides, some rack time sounded appealing right now.
"Good night, Tom." Bill shook the man's hand again. "Thank you for your efforts."
"You're most welcome, Sir. Laura—I'll stop by in another couple of days with some updates from 'the administration.' " He let the words slide sarcastically down his tongue, lest anyone mistake the phrase as a statement of respect for the current leadership.
Laura nodded at Tom and Sharon. "My sincere thanks as well—I'll see you both again soon."
As all talking had ceased, Bill was suddenly aware of the stillness outside.
"Amazing, isn't it, the absence of noise? It took me a while to adjust; I was so used to the humming of the ship's engines."
"How do you know people don't overhear…conversations?" It wasn't what he was really worried about, but it sounded more casual.
"The tents are spread far enough apart to make sure sound doesn't travel quite that well. Mine is a little further away than most; I really wanted the silence, to help as I'm writing in my journals." She knew what was on his mind, and wanted to reassure him.
"So….I was hoping a big hug was in store for me now?" A big grin crossed her face as she said it.
Bill walked over and embraced her with all his strength. They clung together for some time, just soaking in the energy passing between the two of them. Finally, Laura stepped away, walking over to sit on the bed. "It's warmer here. We can talk—I'm not trying to push things—I just would like to get a bit more comfortable, and this is the only spot in the tent with any softness."
She swung her legs under the covers, still sitting up, and patted the spot next to her; Bill smoothly took off his boots and jacket, climbing in too.
Hours went by as they discussed everything—laughing, arguing, cajoling, lamenting. At some point, the emotions went into their body language instead, as they became steeped in scents, sounds and sensations of pent-up desire escaping its fetters at last.
Sated, drifting to sleep, Bill found himself saying the words he'd swallowed in his throat the day before: "I love you."
A soft squeeze of his chest made him aware he'd said the thought out loud, and she'd heard it. "Me too." He closed his eyes, more content than he remembered feeling in his adult life, and fell into a comforting blackness of dreams, carried along by the sensual brush of Laura's hair against his chin.
Sit Rep: Pegasus, 10 months after Groundbreaking Ceremony
Lee was standing in the CIC, staring into space. That's what he usually did these days; there wasn't much to observe. The planet looked the same; the dradis remained quiet and blank; the chatter of the pilots on CAP, when they said anything, was unmemorable. Yeah, just another day of important command aboard the battlestar Pegasus.
Forcing himself to look around the room, Apollo watched his XO, Karl "Helo" Agathon, carry on a conversation with the CAG. Helo and Luanne "Kat" Catraine had been transferred over to Pegasus four months after the Groundbreaking Ceremony. It was his father's idea, of course; apparently, the Admiral held on to the vestiges of military protocol and didn't think it was appropriate for Anastasia Dualla to be the XO and the wife of the Commander at the same time. It was all the same to Lee, really; he didn't give a frak who was assigned to his ship, given the crew totaled less than 150 personnel now. When Apollo had taken control of the battlestar, nearly 800 people made the ship hum. Now, with close to 200 birds sitting idle between Galactica and Pegasus, and only 50 pilots to fly them, the place was eerie.
Lee felt haunted, all right—the apparitions of his past seemed to enjoy playing with him. A song wafted into his mind: "…and of all my demon spirits, I need you the most/I'm in love with your ghost." He closed his eyes, trying to prevent the image of Kara's face from floating in front of him as the lyrics tripped his memories once more. It was no use. His eyelids flew open as the hair on the back of his neck stood up; Dee was watching him again. How did she always seem to spy on his thoughts, whenever he reminisced about Kara? Then again, were there times he didn't think of Kara? He shook his head, knowing it probably looked strange; he didn't care much about that either.
A signal came through, alerting the Pegasus CIC a call was coming in from one of the communications posts on New Caprica. Dualla picked up the handset. In a moment, with a very irritated look on her face, she handed the com to Lee. "It's for you, Sir." Apollo raised an eyebrow. "The Admiral?" Dee said nothing.
"Yeah, Apollo here. Go ahead."
There was a pause, a clearing of the throat, and then that voice. Gods—it was her voice. "Hey, Lee. I needed to ask a favor."
Apollo tried to keep his face still, knowing Dee was mercilessly staring through him. "What do you want?" His tone was uglier than he expected it to be; then again, he was that person, the one who used his anger towards this woman to keep him walking around at all.
"It's Sam. He's really sick, Lee. The physician assistant here said it's pneumonia; Sam needs an antibiotic to fight it, or he might die."
Lee snorted, a sound as ugly as his voice had been a moment before. It was too rich; no wonder he didn't believe in the frakkin' gods. Surely only an existential fate could explain the irony of moments like this one.
"Starbuck, I don't authorize that. You'll need to—" a red alert sound jolted him away from the conversation. He looked at Helo.
"On the dradis. Three base stars and a swarm of raiders, coming in fast. They've found us."
Lee dropped the handset, letting it clatter against the center console. He was totally frakked. They all were. William "Husker" Adama was down on that planet, the man who wanted to be a leader and a hero. The fleet was suddenly left with Lee Adama, a man with no will to live and no desire to lead. Existential irony had just moved into the realm of the absurd.
Lyric is from the song "Ghost" by the Indigo Girls