'I have this pain.' She thought. Would that be the right way to explain it to Dr. Cottle? 'Hello, Dr. I have this pain.'

'What did you expect, Madam President?' She imagined him saying. 'A trip to the fun time circus?'

And of course he would be right. Which is why she debated whether to tell him in the first place. But she was supposed to be honest about this now. After all, hadn't she kept this a secret long enough?

She had expected pain. Of course she had. She wasn't naïve, she knew she would suffer, she knew it would hurt. But she thought it would be a total, body-shattering, can't-get-out-of-bed kind of agony. She wasn't expecting this. This…twinge. She wondered if her mother had felt this when she was sick. She had never asked her, preferring not to know some things.

She longed for something that would put her out of commission, something that the others would understand. This wasn't it. How could you explain to the Quorum of Twelve that you could make their meeting today because you just…..hurt.

So she didn't miss any meetings. She attended every one, and smiled with a sort of resentment when they all said "Look at how brave she is"

They thought they were showing how much they respected her, how much they admired her fortitude. Why couldn't they see how condescending it was? There were a few people that didn't do it, though. And those were the few people whose admiration she wanted. But she realized that those people had already given it to her, they just didn't do it in as quite an obvious way as the others.

And she is sure that they thought 'Look how brave she is' too. But when they thought it they were referring to how she was able to stand there and take the patronizing attitude of all the others.

She had to stifle a giggle at the memory of Captain Apollo holding Billy back after Tom Zarek had called her 'a real trooper'.

The two other people in the room noticed the laugh.

"Madam President. You okay?" Captain Apollo asked, the concern showing in his face.

"Yes. Yes, I'm fine. I just had a, um, tickle in my throat." She coughed.

"Okay. Well, I think we almost have something worked out here." He said.

"We?" Starbuck said still looking at the star chart that was spread out in front of her. "I didn't see you do much besides boss me around."

"I just wasn't sure that you even knew how to read navigational computations." He joked back at her.

"That's right, Adama. Cause Starbuck can't do math, can't do anything unless you count fly circles around you in anything with wings." She smiled up at him.

Laura smiled to herself as she noticed that Captain Apollo lightly put his hand on Lieutenant Thrace's shoulder as he leaned over to get another look at the chart. It was a small gesture, but she viewed it as confirmation that her plan to bring them together over devising the safest way to get to the Lagoon nebula was beginning to work. She wondered if perhaps she should stay out of it, but everyone needed a push every now and then, and she wasn't above using her position of authority to give it to them.

So few people knew what they really wanted. Well, that wasn't true. So few people knew what would truly make them happy. When those two things were the same, it would be a damn shame to let it go to waste.

So Apollo and Starbuck had this. Too bad she would only be around to see the beginning.

There were many things that she would miss.

She would miss the way her favorite purple silk shirt smelled after it came back from the laundry. She would miss reading that one line from the book that Commander Adama gave her over and over again. "some people are meant to live life, not just remember it." She would miss the way that Billy and Captain Apollo tried to shield her from unpleasant things. 'I wonder if this is the way boys act with their mothers?' She had once thought. Whoa. Where did that come from? There was a reason she had never had children. She was almost sure that there was. Just because she couldn't remember the reason right now didn't mean it didn't exist.

"What's this?" She asked pointing to a large empty spot on the chart.

"Nothing, Madam President." Starbuck said as she looked up at Apollo. "It's nothing that you need to concern yourself over."

Looks like the 'shield the President' thing was being spread around.

She didn't mind it really. Besides she always knew where she could go to get the truth.

"It's a black void." Commander Adama told her as he handed her a glass of water when she came to see him that evening. "A large expanse of negative space."

"Negative space? Is it dangerous?"

"It can be. But we know enough about it to make certain adjustments, so I don't think it will be."

"Are you lying to the poor, dying woman so that she won't spend her last poor, dying breath worrying about it?" She smiled at him.

He didn't return the smile. "You know I wouldn't do that." He paused to take a sip of his water. "Do you trust us? Do you trust me and my crew?"

"Of course I do."

"Then Kara is right. It's nothing that you need to concern yourself over."

She took another sip of her drink.

"Would you like to join us for dinner?" He asked her when she handed him her empty glass.

"If the 'us' in question is you and the Tighs, then I would have to say no." She laughed.

He laughed as well. "I put you through that first dinner before I knew you were dying. To do it again to you now that I do know would just be cruel."

She closed her eyes, loving that he just said that to her. Thanking the gods that he wasn't one of those people to walk on eggshells around her.

"Actually." He continued. "It's just Lee and Kara. But you'd be welcome to join us too."

Maybe he was just being polite, taking pity on the overworked, overstressed cancer patient. But she took it to mean something else. She made the assumption that it meant that she would be welcome into his family, for however little time she had left.

The look in his eyes told her that her assumption just may have been correct, and she found herself thinking that she had never felt so safe in all her life.

"I would like that very much but I'm afraid I can't. Cottle has scheduled a body scan that I'm afraid I am already late for."

"Do you need someone to take you?"

"I actually think I'll be able to find Sickbay on my own." She said getting up.

"That's not what I meant." He rose to meet her.

"I know." She paused. "Billy's actually waiting for me in the conference room. We'll go to Sickbay from there."

"Well then. Have a good night, Madam President."

"You too, Commander."

As she walked down the hall she noted the people in the corridor smiling at her. Small smiles, sort of 'Oh. There's the President. I've seen her walking around. Maybe she's not all that bad' kind of smiles. She didn't mind, but she wouldn't really miss it either.

There were many things that she would miss.

'Doctor. I have this pain.' She practiced over and over in her head. She was so busy contemplating what to say that she didn't notice the body that she ran into until she ran into it.

"Oh. I'm sorry." She said absently before looking up to meet brown eyes.

'That's quite alright, Madam President. I've been on this ship over two years and I still run into things all the time."

"I understand completely, Petty Officer." She paused looking down the direction that Dualla had been coming from. "Everything alright in the conference room?"

Dualla's eyes flashed with a sort of subtle amusement. "Yes, Ma'am. Just dropping off some papers."

"Well then. Carry on."

"Yes, Ma'am." Dualla started to walk away, then turned to look back at her. "Oh, and Madam President? If there's anything you need, just let Billy know. You'd be shocked at the seedy connections that I have throughout the fleet." She smiled a big smile and continued walking.

Laura smiled back to herself, relieved that she could take one concern off of her list. Yes, her boys would both be well taken care of.

'Doctor. I have this pain.' Maybe he would give her a pill or something and that would be the end of it. But she still wondered nervously how she would explain to him how a woman dying of Breast cancer had a pain in her heart.