The door closes behind the Quorum of Twelve and silence fills the room.
He watches her hands, white knuckled as the fingers grip each other, and thanks the Gods for the Corporal's actions. He thanks the gods for her.
She makes a believer out of cynics.
He's seen it often enough.
They come to her, full of scepticism, full of anger, furious and demanding; they leave with the sense that they've glimpsed an agent of the Gods.
Well, most of them.
Tom Zarek has a calculating look in his eyes as he leaves. It doesn't take much to guess what he's thinking. Billy's not quite as innocent as he was when Zarek took him hostage - along with Duala and Callie and Captain Apollo. He's learned that there are some people that no miracle can change.
He's learned a lot of things in the last few months, listening to the President, watching her work, and observing the way she deals with people. That's most of what her job is, dealing with people in the midst of situation. She does it well, too.
Of course, people being people, they have their own ideas of how to deal with matters. That's what landed them in this situation, after all.
The President looks at Corporal Venner, standing before the cell like a child awaiting a benediction. Her face retains the fey serenity that Billy has become accustomed to seeing in her as she looks at her jailer. "Thank you, Corporal."
The Corporal's gaze rakes the President's face, studying the pale oval surrounded by deep reddish-brown waves and while his words carry little of Sarah Porter of Geminon's fervour, there is a quiet awe in his voice. "Thank the Gods."
When she sits down - almost falling to the bed - her hands tremble, and Billy quickly moves to stand by the bars. "Madam President, can I get you anything?"
It's not cold in the cells, but it's certainly not comfortable. And even though her actions went against the Commander's wishes, she is still the President and will be - must be - until her term is up.
"No, thank you, Billy." She is almost unfailingly polite, yet he has seen her furious with white-hot rage. He served as her aide when she was nothing more than the Minister for Education, and he serves her now as she presides over the fleeing remnant of the Colonies. Hazel-green eyes look up at him.
Something inside him quivers, quailing beneath her gaze. It is as though the fingertip of the Gods has brushed across her soul and left its imprint there for all to see.
Then it fades; she is just a woman again.
"Are you sure, madam President?"
Her mouth curves with exasperation and gentle humour that expresses itself in teasing. "Isn't Petty Officer Duala off-duty in half an hour?"
He doesn't quite flush, but he knows Corporal Venner is grinning at the table by the door and opens his mouth to answer.
President Roslin holds up one hand. "I'm sorry, Billy, I shouldn't tease you. But you don't have to watch over me, now." Her hand, when it falls back to the bed, depresses the mattress, just a little, and the motion shifts the tiny bottle of kamala pills the Corporal acquired with a slight rattle.
He doesn't have to, but he feels he should. He's her aide and if she's responsible for looking after the remnant of the colonies, then he figures he can be responsible for looking after her. It makes sense in his head - and if she guesses, she doesn't grudge him the service.
"I'll bring your dinner in," he tells her, and she smiles and watches him go.
Corporal Venner glances at him as he hauls back the door. They are co-conspirators in their faith, yet with different goals, different reasons for their belief.
The Corporal believes because he is a man of faith, taught and trained in the scriptures. He looks at the President and sees the messiah to lead them home - and create a legend in the process.
Billy believes because he is a man of evidence, taught and trained in the practicalities of life. He looks at Laura Roslin and sees the woman who can get them home - and will drain her life and living to do so.
He walks down the hall of the Galactica, relieved by the outcome of the Quorum's visit, and yet, also, wondering.
She makes a believer out of cynics.
She made a believer out of him.
- fin -