Title: His Way
Disclaimer: All Battlestar Galactica characters and places belong to Moore, Larson and Universal and are used without permission.
Pairing: Laura, Laura/Adar implied
Spoilers: none; pre-mini.
Laura Roslin leaned her back against the stone balustrade on the balcony of the Great Hall and gazed back through the glass doors at the revelers inside. She was halfway through her second cigarette, the grey smoke curling around her face in the still, balmy air. She was glad she'd decided on the strapless black gown because the weather seemed to be celebrating Adar's win as well. The dry, oppressive heat of the day had long since given way to a warm, sticky night. The thin breeze did little to cool her. She knew she should just go back inside, back to the blessed air conditioning, but Laura just couldn't bring herself to move.
He was inside and she wasn't quite ready to say to him what she knew she must.
Still, it was a grand affair, even by inaugural ball standards. All of Caprica City was enthralled in party after party, the fireworks regularly coloring the sky with brilliant blooms of light. But the main gala was here at the Great Hall and after a long night of party-hopping and smiling and shaking hands, Laura had needed a break.
So she stood alone on the balcony and found her eyes drawn back to him. He was President now; the President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. She smiled a little and blew out the long drag of sweet smoke. She had told Richard Adar almost three years earlier that he would be President. She'd told him and he'd laughed and turned her over, lifted her skirt and slid into her from behind. He hadn't believed her that day (he'd even laughed through his orgasm) and now he was President and she had given that to him.
In the end, she never really stopped to ask herself why she'd worked so hard to fabricate and preserve a dream for a man who didn't really dream for himself. Adar was full of ideals but no drive to make his passions work for him or for others. He had talked about becoming mayor and changing things and improving lives, but then he had all but conceded defeat when he came in a dismal third in the primary. Those around him had to pick up the pieces and revamp the campaign and in the end, no one was more surprised that he'd won than the new mayor himself.
After years in the mayor's office, he'd began to broaden his vision … and his appetites. The women had become a problem and Laura had to admit that perhaps she herself became his lover partly cull his wandering. She, at least, could trust herself to be discreet. If one of his many women talked, any hope of advancement of his career would vanish. But, strangely, after Laura and Adar began their secret affair, he'd stopped looking at other women completely and for four years, they had planned and made love and put together a vision of his political future.
But the relationship was not in balance. Richard loved her. Laura could see it in his eyes, feel it in his reverent touch, and hear it in his voice. Once, just once, he said it aloud. They had been making love and he whispered it into her ear. Afterwards, neither of them acknowledged that the words were ever said. It just wasn't prudent.
Two months later, he met Juliana Litturi. She was a respected businesswoman from a good, hardworking family. Her background was spotless. She was savvy, flexible and ambitious. She was not gorgeous but she was attractive enough to get his attention and in the end, it had been Laura who suggested that she would be a great asset to the campaign. Adar hadn't liked the idea at first, but by then, he had wanted to be President and had become astute at recognizing the courses of action that would make him such. He started dating Juliana and after a year, they were married. She had become pregnant within a year after that.
Laura had been happy because Richard Adar, family man, was much more palatable to the electorate than Richard Adar, free-wheeling bachelor. And the campaign had been incredibly successful. Except the womanizing hadn't stopped; if anything, it got worse.
Laura turned at a noise to her left. Gary Lancon smiled as he approached.
"I wondered where you got off to," he said joining her on the balcony. He passed her a fluted glass and produced a bottle of nectar with a wag of his eyebrows.
She grinned and held out her glass to be filled. "Needed a cigarette," she told him. "And a break."
"Yeah." He smiled at her. "We did it."
Their glasses clinked together with a sharp ting. Laura drank deeply of the cool, bubbly liquid. It was excellent, of course; a perfect vintage because there was nothing but the best for the new president.
Laura switched her cigarette to her other hand and assessed the man before her over the rim of her glass. Gary had also been with them in the early days, coming onboard in the mayoral campaign. He was a big man, tall and burly and he commanded a handsome, gregarious presence that made people instantly like him, even if they just as instantly feared him if they found themselves on the wrong side of his fierce temper. He was ruthlessly charming and knew the ins and outs of the political game better than almost anyone. It had been Gary more than anyone who had been Laura's touchstone for all of these years. If something needed attention, Gary would see it done. She could count on him for almost anything.
"Yeah, we did it." Her voice sounded hollow, even to her own ears.
He frowned at her. "So, what, after a dozen years, we finally get the big prize and you're not happy?"
Laura laughed. "No, it's not that. I just … hate politics."
Now it was Gary's turn to laugh. "You ran a hell of a campaign for someone who hates the game," he observed.
She shrugged and flipped the stub onto the ground and stamped it with her foot. She drained her glass and held it out to him for refilling. "I did it for him." Her grey eyes shifted to Adar, who was talking and laughing as the life of the party.
"I hate to ask you this," Gary began.
Laura stopped him with a hand up. "I'll take care of it," she told him firmly.
"It's really got to stop, Laura," Gary said, his voice hardening. "He's the President now, for frak's sake. He can't afford the distraction –"
"Gary, don't you think I know all this?" she snapped. "There's only so much I can do. I'm not his frakking wife."
"But you should be," he shot back.
Laura glared at him. "You're a son of a bitch." She pulled another cigarette out of her little case and lit it. She tilted her head back and blew the smoke out with a long lazy exhale. Next to her, she caught Gary lighting one of his own.
"These things will kill us one day, you know?" he said, exhaling smoke through his nose.
"We should be so lucky," she murmured.
They were quiet for a moment before Gary said, "Seriously, Laura, we need to do something about the girl. We've managed to keep it a secret through the campaign, but this is the kind of thing that could destroy his presidency before we've even unpacked the damned boxes."
She snorted. "Yeah, I know. It's gone on for far too long. He could really ruin this for himself." Laura's eyes narrowed as she stared through the glass. "Oh, frak. Don't turn around if you care anything for your blood pressure," she told him quietly.
As expected, Gary whirled around and his curse a few seconds later was creative to say the least.
Cistan Rom had been a 24-year-old campaign worker who was a little too enamored with the candidate. Laura wasn't sure how or when it started, but she and everyone else on the campaign knew that they were having an affair. Even Juliana, who was eight months pregnant, knew. She had screamed at him to end it, telling him that he would ruin their shot at winning the election. But Adar had continued the dalliance throughout the campaign, using his trusted staffers to keep it discreet.
But they weren't being very discreet right at this moment, when the newly sworn in President of the Twelve Colonies was currently dancing quite closely with his young lover at the Presidential Ball.
"I'm not sure if he's brave or just stupid," Laura remarked. Again, she drained her glass and refilled it with the bottle she took from Gary's tense fingers.
"How can you be so calm about this?" Gary demanded. "This is a slap to your face as much as it is to Juliana."
Laura shook her head. "As I said, I'm not his wife."
"No, you're just the woman he loves," he said softly. He turned and followed her eyes as she stared at the President through the glass. "He married Juliana because you told him to and he's frakking that kid because you won't climb back into his bed. Make no mistake, Laura, this shit he's pulling is all about you." Lightly, he touched her arm to get her attention. When she looked at him, he continued. "I've given up twelve years of my life, my marriage, my finances, everything to get to this day. I'm not going to lose it because Adar can't keep his fly zipped or his damned priorities straight."
She looked down at her newly pedicured toes poking out of her high heeled shoes. Gary was right, of course. They had all sacrificed and for Adar to be this reckless now was a blow to all of them but that didn't change the situation. And if they'd learned anything over the last dozen years, it was that sometimes one had to think and act for Richard Adar when he refused to think and act for himself.
"There's a firm on Arilon that will offer her a job tomorrow morning," Laura said. "She will accept it, that's guaranteed."
Gary's eyes narrowed. "Guaranteed? How?"
"Don't ask questions, Mr. Lancon, that you don't want to know the answers to," she advised. "Cistan will accept the job and be gone within the next 48 hours."
"What if he tries to stop her?"
"How do you know?"
Laura sighed. "Because I'm talking to him tonight."
Gary nodded, satisfied. "Good."
"There's something else I want to talk to you about." She indicated that they walk around the far said of the balcony where the breeze was a little stronger. The heat was becoming oppressive. "I want you to be Chief of Staff."
Gary's eyebrows rose. "Shouldn't he be making that offer?"
"He already made it, but to the wrong person," she said acidly.
He regarded her with narrowed eyes. "You want out?"
Laura sighed. "I want at least a step back. I told him that I'd accept Secretary of Education."
Gary coughed on the last drag of smoke from his cigarette. "Secretary of Education!" he exclaimed with a laugh. "Laura, that's not a step back. That's a frakking mile back!"
She rolled her eyes but shared a small smile with him. "I want to go low profile, Gary. It's time."
"Laura, you've been low profile," he reminded her. "Hell, hardly anyone knows your name and you're the one who got him here."
"What I mean is I need to step back from him." Laura turned and looked up at the big man. He was more than a foot taller than her even in her heels. "You said it yourself that I'm a problem –"
"I didn't say –"
"His wife just had a baby and his marriage is failing. He's frakking a volunteer, for Gods' sake! I've been his crutch for too long." She frowned. "I got him to where he can do some good. He will be a good president. I know it. But he can't do that, he can't become what he needs to be if I'm there holding his hand."
"Even if you're holding him up?"
"Especially if I'm holding him up," she said fiercely. "I'm as much a liability at this point as I am an asset. You all know that. He is my weakness, Gary; I refuse to be his." Not anymore, she added to herself.
He stared down at her for a long, long moment before he nodded and leaned back against one of the columns.
"Secretary of Education?" he asked with a smile.
"I was a teacher," she reminded him.
"Yeah for five minutes more than a dozen years ago –"
"I taught for five years, ass, and I do have an interest in it," Laura shot back. "I could do some good there."
"You could do some good here."
Laura shrugged. "I'll be around. I'll still be a member of the cabinet; just not inner circle anymore."
Gary shook his head and leaned down to place a soft kiss on her cheek. "Sweet Laura, you'll always be inner circle but I agree that this move is probably for the best."
She smiled up at him gratefully. "Thank you."
They turned and gazed out over the twinkling city lights, catching another fireworks display going off in the distance.
"When are you talking to him?" Gary asked.
She sighed. "As soon as I can pry him away from the party. I told Jack to block me some time."
She wasn't looking at him, but she knew Gary was nodding and she wasn't surprised when he said, "I'll go send him out now."
And that was Gary Lancon. If something needed attention, he would see it done; even when the parties involved were trying desperately to stall.
Five minutes later, she felt him behind her.
"You wanted to see me, Laura," he said.
She turned and faced him. She hadn't really talked to him all day. It felt somehow jarring to be face-to-face with him now. He was the President now. Not just her friend and former lover anymore. He was wearing the power of the President now. He was a different man.
He just didn't realize it yet.
"Mr. President," she began, "Are you enjoying yourself?"
Adar cocked his head to the side. "I'd enjoy it more if you were inside sharing it with me."
"Ah, but it seems you have all the company you need, sir," she returned with a rise of her eyebrow.
The President moved to the balcony and looked off into the distance. "And that means what, exactly?"
She stepped in close and pitched her voice low. His guards were close by and while Laura was sure they knew exactly what was going on between the president and the volunteer, she didn't want them to hear what she was about to say.
"It means that your girlfriend is being relocated," she told him.
He turned and looked at her sharply. "Excuse me?"
"She's gone, Richard; gone as of tomorrow."
His eyes narrowed. "So what? You were jealous and got rid of her?"
Laura's eyes flashed dangerously at him. "Don't even frakking dare," she hissed. "I've stood by for twelve years and watched you stick it to anything upright with a set of breasts and you think I'd be jealous now? I all but proposed to your damned wife for you. Remember who you're talking to."
He cocked his head to the side. "Regardless, it's none of your business, Laura," he said coolly.
She shook her head. "Actually, Richard, it is my business. I voted for you. You're the President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. Start acting like it. It's time to get to work. You don't need the distraction."
"But that was my decision to make."
"So make it. You know it's the right thing to do."
It took a long moment, but he did eventually nod. He was still a little angry, she could tell, but they had relived this scenario over and over again since the day they met and she realized that sometimes she needed to make him believe that her ideas were really his own.
"Juliana will be happy," he said almost bitterly.
Laura nodded. "No doubt."
He glanced over at her. "Did you tell Gary about your new job?"
She nodded again.
"How did he take it?"
Laura sighed. "Fine, I guess. I don't think he was expecting Chief of Staff, though." She paused. "You need to formally ask him."
Adar nodded. "I'll do that tonight."
"I still want you, though."
The statement was simple and between them, it could mean so many things. And did.
Laura turned and faced him fully, drinking him in. He was such a handsome man, attractive and charming. Some time ago she'd stopped denying the fact that he held tremendous power over her. She tried to tell herself over and over that it could not be love she felt for him but at some point even she had to wonder how he could drag her into politics, which she genuinely disliked, and keep her there for this long if not for her own attachment to him. He had a way about him, for sure, but she knew that that "way" had more to do with how she felt than anything on his part.
Except that he was damned attractive and sometimes – times just like these – Laura was acutely reminded of how much he could affect her. And how his hands felt on her body and how his lips tasted to her tongue.
"You can't have me," she told him. Her voice sounded so much less firm than she'd intended.
A chink in the armor, for sure, and Adar grinned at her. "But I could. If I wanted."
She had to smile back. He was insufferably sure of himself. And rightly so. "Oh, you want," she reminded him. She could do insufferably sure as well. "But you won't."
He laughed and snagged her nearly empty flute from her relaxed fingers. He downed the last of it and smiled at her.
"So, Madame Secretary," he began.
"Yes, Mr. President?"
"Shall we go inside?" He offered her his arm and guided her back around the colonnade towards the doors. As the re-entered the room, they were approached by Juliana.
Adar released Laura and swept his wife into a warm embrace. To anyone looking, they appeared a happy couple in love. Laura marveled at their acting skills.
"Richard, Laura, there you are," Juliana said sweetly. "I wanted to introduce you to Vice President Morova's new communications director." She pulled up a tall, pleasant-looking man who looked to be in his middle forties. "This is Wallace Grey."
Adar greeted the new man warmly and introduced him to Laura but got to say only a few additional words to him before he was pulled off in another direction, leaving Laura with the newcomer.
"This is very exciting," Grey said a little breathlessly. Laura fought not to smile. Adar had that affect on people, man and woman alike.
And on her especially.
She smiled and said, "Yes, it is. But you know what? The best is yet to come."
A/N: I rewatched Colonial Day and was again thrown by Wallace Grey's statement about how he never thought Laura was a cutthroat politician. I also was thrown by how politically astute she "became" over such a very short period of time. For me, the plausibility of this mere "schoolteacher" becoming as ruthless as she has is a little thin. Anyway, it occurred to me that perhaps it's just because we (the viewer and Wally) don't know her. Laura Roslin is largely an enigma. We know very little about her past, we know very little about her, period. My take on her is that Laura is not who she appears and what Wally begins to see in Colonial Day is not something that she's become but rather something she always was: a wolf in sheep's clothing.