Disclaimer: There aren't mine, and never will be.
Notes: The titles are taken from the song 'Bless The Broken Road' by Rascal Flatts.
For those of you who were hoping this was another chapter of 'For Love Of Sarah', please be patient I've never left a story unfinished, and I won't with that one. At the moment, the characters have deserted me.
Pairings: Adama/Roslin with a sprinkling of Lee/Kara
Spoilers: Anything is fair game, but I've only hinted at things that haven't been aired in the US
Timeframe: Begins with the end of Home II.
The Broken Road
Ch 1. A Grander Plan
Suddenly the world flickered and turned black. Gone were and jeweled standing stones and the star-filled sky. Five people blinked and felt rock under there feet where before there had been grass. They were back on Kobol.
"Well," Laura Roslin cleared her throat as she attempted to adjust to the change in location and the vertigo that accompanied it. "Where we really there, on Earth?"
"I believe that's a question for another time," Commander Adama rasped and moved toward the heavy rock slab that had swung closed the moment Starbuck had placed the Arrow of Apollo into the lock of the Tomb of Athena. "Lee, you and Mr. Keikeya help me open this door." But no matter how hard the men pulled and strained, nothing happened.
"You guys, you know what you really need?" Kara Thrace swaggered forward. "What you really need is a bit of the old Starbuck touch."
"Yeah, right," Lee Adama's comment was tempered by the tender smile he reserved only for the blonde woman who wedged herself against his side, as tightly as she had wound herself around his heart.
"You're damn right I am." Her sassy words were at odds with the soft expression in her eyes as she grinned up at him.
'How had I missed that? They…love each other!' Laura watched the interplay between the two young pilots. She shook her head in wonder as her eyes were drawn to the elder Adama. 'I guess there were lots of things I missed.' Her heart constricted as she momentarily acknowledged all that William Adama meant to her, or could mean to her, if she let him. 'That line of thought is not productive!' She tightly gripped her emotions and looked around the cave for something to distract her from the sight of his indomitable will doing battle with the stone slab.
"Of course," she murmured and stepped toward the statue of Sagittaron. The answer was so simple she wasn't sure why it had escaped her. 'It's because of Bill that I can't think straight. That man has always been able to send my emotions into a tailspin,' her inner voice mocked.
For one moment she let herself remember the overwhelming feelings of relief and security she'd felt when he'd appeared in camp that morning looking grim and dangerous, but most importantly throbbing with life. It had taken her breath away and she'd had to clench her jaw to keep from sobbing in relief. 'Don't think about it, Laura, it will only lead to heartbreak,' she warned and let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding.
Giving herself a good shake, she squared her shoulders and once again approached the statue of Sagittaron. When she reached for the Arrow, it sparked before she was able to touch it. "Ouch!" she gasped, her fingers tingling from the unexpected shock.
"Laura?" Adama looked over his shoulder at the woman he hadn't been able to get out of his mind for longer than he wanted to acknowledge. She was exasperating, and stubborn, with a knack for getting under his skin, but Lords help him, he wanted her to the depths of his soul.
"Madam President?" Billy Keikeya rushed to her side.
"I'm all right. I'm all right." She shook her hand and refused to acknowledge the way her fingers still throbbed. "I've handled the Arrow before and it was harmless." Even as she said it, she wiped her hands on her jacket to rid them of any residual static and reached for it again.
"Wait, Madam President, let me try," Adama called out. "Your idea is a good one. The door didn't close until the key was placed in the lock. It makes sense that we wouldn't be able to open the panel until the locking mechanism is cleared." But when he reached for it, sparks shot out in all directions warning him off.
"It appears that we are not to touch it." The President brushed her bangs out of her eyes and looked across the statue of the archer directly into the deep blue eyes of William Adama. "Lt. Thrace, you did the impossible once before. Do you think you could do it again?"
"Hmmm, I can try, Sir…" Starbuck's swagger was missing this time as she moved across the cave saying a silent pray to the Lords. Her hand moved tentatively toward the Arrow, but as she wrapped her fingers around it her palm was filled with the cool metal shaft she'd felt a hundred times before. "Thank you, Lords," she closed her eyes in silent prayer.
"We all have our parts to play," Laura murmured as she watched the younger woman harmlessly grip the Arrow.
"It would seem so." Adama hadn't taken his eyes off Roslin so he was the only one who saw her slight tremble, as Kara lifted the Arrow from its perch and the stone door swung partially open. In the background he was aware of Lee helping Starbuck put the now harmless arrow back in its carrier. But his attention was riveted to the red-haired woman beside him and little else mattered.
"Yes, it would." Laura mouthed as her eyes fluttered closed and she wrapped her arms tightly around her body, to keep from flying apart. Her roll was that of the dying leader, the anointed one and everything she'd done in the last twenty-four hours only served as further proof. There would be no last minute reprieve, no miracle cure. It was a reality that she was being forced to face over and over again.
"Laura," Adama's deep quiet voice broke into her reverie as his warm palm moved against her back.
She cleared her throat and looked up into serious eyes that challenged and supported her. 'Does he realize how much strength I gain from his touch, from his mere presence?
"The map, the constellations," his words flowed over her like warm honey, "they're only the first step. We are a long way from the Lagoon Nebula, let alone finding Earth." There was a cold pain in his chest, which had nothing to do with bullet holes or surgery, and everything to do with the thought of her impending death.
"Are you trying to give me false hope?" She forced her facial muscles into the practiced smile of a politician. It was as close as they'd come to discussing her breast cancer. There hadn't been time that morning and there wasn't time now.
"As Commander of the Colonial Fleet, I am stating a fact to the President of the Twelve Colonies."
"I see." But she didn't, not really. His warm, reassuring hand on her back carried one message while his cool, expressionless face another. The woman in her wanted to press her body against his and be touched, skin to skin, hard places to softer ones. See if she could find the heat that he kept buried deep inside of him.
"Do you?" For a moment he dropped his customary reserve. They were once again Bill and Laura, as they had been that morning, when they'd talked for the first time since he'd placed her in the brig weeks earlier. All he could do was stare into her large frightened eyes and wish there was something he could do to take the fear away.
"Mmmmhhhh," she nodded, drawing on his touch, as she'd done during that dawn conversation, when they had sat so close her knee had pressed into his thigh.
"Commander," Chief Galen Tyrol called from the other side of the stone entrance.
"A moment, Chief," Adama felt Laura lean her weight into his hand. She took a deep breath and stood straighter, her shoulders squared and her body relaxed. "Are you ready, Madam President?"
"As ready as I'll ever be, Commander." Together they turned and took the ten steps to the cave entrance, his hand firmly between her shoulder blades. Just before they reached the sunlight and the probing eyes of the rest of their group she whispered, "thank you, Bill."
"Anytime, Laura," his mouth was so close to her ear that his breath warmed her cheek. In a moment of daring she pressed her shoulder against his draw to on his strength one last time before they separated.
The trip down the mountain wasn't as easy as they had hoped. They'd been traveling for less than an hour when it began to rain again. It was a gray cold rain that chilled them to the bone, and let dampness creep in and around their wet-weather gear. Footing became more difficult and as they went deeper into the valley below, the thick storm clouds brought an early false night. They were forced to set up camp, for the evening, far sooner than they had planned when the storm increased in intensity and travel went from dangerous to treacherous.
Four tarps were nestled among the rocks and trees of a small plateau. What the campsite lacked in comfort, was made up for in strategic positioning. The natural terrain provided camouflage and would be defensible from attack in any direction.
"Madame President, may I join you." William Adama ran his fingers through his rain-soaked hair and pulled off his wet poncho as soon as he was under the canvas cover.
"By all means, Commander," Laura Roslin sighed. They were back to titles again even when it was only the two of them. 'How unfortunate,' she thought. She had been watching him under her lashes, from a distance, as he made his way down from the rocks above and his turn at sentry duty. "Here, drink some of this. You must be freezing." She offered him the cup she was holding. "It's a weak excuse for coffee, but at least it's warm."
"Thank you," Adama put down the nasty looking automatic weapon he'd been carrying since that morning when he'd arrived in camp and reached for the cup. "Did you ask Billy to keep an eye on Tom Zarek?" He nodded toward the other side of camp where he knew the president's assistant and the ex-terrorist were pretending to ignore each other.
"He volunteered," she shrugged. "But I would have asked if he hadn't. I don't trust that man." Her eyes narrowed and she glared out into the rainy night unable to see the men they were discussing.
"Yet you went to Zarek for protection," Adama spit out the words as if they caused a sour taste in his mouth.
"No…no…There's nothing safe about that man!" Laura was unprepared for the sudden verbal attack and the rush of emotions that accompanied it. In her short association with Tom Zarek, she'd felt nothing but distrust for him.
"But you turned to him when you chose to leave my ship!" He accused. 'Stop it, Bill,' a little voice shouted in his head. 'You're jealous because she went to another man for help. She wouldn't have had to if you hadn't put her in danger in the first place.'
"It wasn't a matter of choice. You weren't there..." Laura had always known that under the Commander's veneer of 'an officer and a gentleman', there lived a dirty in-fighter. She'd just never expected to have it directed at her.
"No, I was in Life Station fighting for my life!" Adama interrupted, unable to stop pushing.
"You think I didn't know that? I saw your son's hands red with your blood when he was locked into the cell next to mine." All the hurt and fear that she'd kept carefully hidden since she'd been forced to flee the Galactica exploded in her face.
Laura ground her teeth to keep from screaming when she thought of all the death and destruction that had surrounded her lately, but she had to go on. He had to know what it had been like for them…for her, after he had been shot. "And I saw you between your first and second surgery…you…you looked as if you'd died." Unconsciously she rested her hand on his sternum. Her eyes not seeing the fatigues he wore now, but the line of suture that had glistened black against skin pale from blood loss.
"Saul let you visit me?" He frowned, caught off balance by her touch and the idea that she'd seen him at his most vulnerable.
"Of course not, Captain Apollo sent us to Life Stations when the Cylons boarded the ship, while he and his party went to fight them. It took us hours but we finally made our way from the brig to…to…where you were. I didn't think there was anything that could have frightened me more than that trip through the darkened corridors of Galactica, with the dead all around us and the only sounds distant gun shots." She shook her head and hugged herself tightly to keep from shaking. "But I was wrong."
"Laura, I shouldn't have said what I did. You don't have too…" All he wanted to do was hold her and sooth away her pain and fears. In the past she'd always met him head-on with her emotions in complete control and that was the way he'd liked it. This new Laura, with her feelings in the open was a danger to his self-control.
"Yes, yes I do." She rose to her knees and was inches away from him. "You need to understand this, all of this, if we're to go on." She stopped suddenly confused, unsure if she was speaking as the President or Laura.
"In that case you'd better tell me." His voice flowed warm and sure between them, telling her it didn't matter, because he was listening as both man and commander.
"As long as you were alive and well, I knew everything was all right. The fleet was safe and so was I, but once you were shot, everything changed." She took off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose, as she searched for words. "In a way, you were still in command, but couldn't issue any new orders. Col. Tigh's loyalty to you dictated that he follow what he believed to be your wishes. You put me in the brig and as far as he was concerned I was going to stay there, the fleet be-damned!"
"What makes you think I would have changed my mind?" His memory was fuzzy of that last day. All he had was impressions of feelings, mostly cold anger and betrayal.
"Because," she shrugged. "We've always been able to work things out in the past. It might have taken a few hours, or even as long as a day, but we would have worked it out."
"Humph," he grunted. "How can you be sure of that?" He had doubts himself. It irked him that she thought he could have been so easily controlled. Did she know how attracted he was to her? Would she have used that to advance her agenda? As quickly as the thoughts entered his head he dismissed them. 'Get it together, Bill, this is Laura you're dealing with not Carolyn, or worse yet, Ellen Tigh.'
"You're here now," she smiled. "You came to Kobol despite the danger or your personal doubts."
"This is now, what about then?" He hated that some small part of him needed to be reassured.
"I just knew, but since you want proof, I'll remind you of the Olympic Carrier." She had forgotten how much of a realist William Adama was. He had decided to accompany her on her journey of faith for the good of the fleet, but he was a man who was more comfortable with facts. "Though it was a civilian ship, once it was discovered to be carrying nukes, it became a military threat. You could have ordered it destroyed on your own authority and no one would have questioned it, but you didn't. You…you talked to me first. None of us had slept in over five days…anyone else would have fired first and asked questions later, but you…you…"
"Laura," he whispered and brushed her hair off her cheek. "It was a hard decision to make but it was the right one." His lips tightened as he thought back to that interminable time when the Cylons had kept coming, every 33 minutes. "It saved the fleet."
"I've told myself that every day since it happened, but somehow it doesn't make it any easier to sleep at night." Laura rubbed her cheek against his hand that still cupped her jaw. It radiated warmth and strength, two of the qualities that she associated with Adama.
Across the camp Starbuck moved her body against the warm male who had his arms wrapped around her. "Lee…" She gasped out his name as if in the throws of passion and shook herself awake ready to fight and run, if she found herself with Gaius Balter as she had once before. It was a mistake that had been haunting her dreams ever since.
"I'm here Kara, right here." Apollo pulled her closer against him and quietly soothed her.
"Thank the Lords," the blonde pilot murmured as a tear ran down her cheek and she fell asleep with her nose buried against his neck.
"I'm sorry I pulled Starbuck in on my plans to retrieve the Arrow," Laura murmured to herself. Her eyes were drawn to the spot where she knew the pilots to be sleeping. Due to rain and darkness the older couple couldn't see the tarp that covered Lee and Kara, let alone the people themselves. "I knew you cared about her, but I didn't realize how deeply. I should have, after what happened when she was shot down and missing."
"As you said before, we all have our parts to play. It would appear that Starbuck's is that of keeper of the Arrow." He pulled back physically and emotionally, not wanting to look too closely at the anger he'd felt when he'd discovered Kara had chosen to believe the president, anger that had been aimed solely at the woman sitting next to him.
"You do know how important you are to Lt. Thrace? If I'd known, I like to think I'd have done things differently." She turned to the Commander and unconsciously gripped his hand in her need to convince him. "She loves you, almost as much as she loves your son."
"Starbuck is family," Adama shrugged ignoring Laura's reference to Lee and zeroing in on the issue that had been bothering him the most. "You told her about your breast cancer, that you were dying, didn't you?"
"I…" She looked down and realized that they were still holding hands and tried to pull away.
"No, talk to me about this," his voice rumbled in his chest as he tightened his grip on her hand and pulled her closer. "Why couldn't you tell me? You withheld information from me. Was I so formidable that you couldn't have told me the one thing that might have made me believe you?"
"Would it have really made a difference?" She was wrong not to have told him and she knew it, but was unsure why she'd gone out of her way to hide it from him.
"Maybe, maybe not, it's something we'll never know." He sighed and tried to recall his exact frame of mind when she'd first come to him with her plan to find Earth. "I should have known from the beginning."
"Riiiggghhhttt," Laura dragged the word out as she exhaled. His hand holding hers was doing wild things to her thought process, so she focused on her memory of their first meeting as commander and president. "I can see it now. There I was trying to convince you that we'd lost the war with the Cylons and Galactica should take fifty plus civilian ships and run to…to who knows were." She shrugged. "And you think I should have added 'oh by the way Commander Adama, I have terminal breast cancer, so the total responsibility for this little adventure will be on your shoulders in about six months'?"
"When you put it that way," he grunted and smiled, "I can see your reluctance to mention it at the time, but we've been out here for months."
"I…you're right…I should have told you…But those first five days..." She cringed refusing to tell half-truths or give him evasive answers. "You're right I should have told you early on. Once we weren't still in shock from the holocaust or sleep deprived from the timed attacks that followed. I've never really talked about this with anyone, not even Eloshia."
"Laura, you don't have to…"
"Please…" She laid two fingers against his lips, astounded at how easy it was to touch him once she had begun. "You deserve to know. By my not doing so, your life was plunged into chaos and the two people you love most could have been killed."
They sat together, much as they had that morning, Adama leaning against a rock with his legs thrust out in front of him. Roslin with her legs bent beneath her was sitting so close to him that her knee pressed into his thigh. But unlike that morning, the rest of the camp was sleeping and the Commander of the fleet was holding one of the President's hands and gently caressed it.
"I received the diagnosis hours before I was to leave for Galactica's decommissioning ceremony. I remember sitting in the doctor's office and hearing him tell me that my tests were positive, then nothing. It was as if someone had flipped a switch in my brain and my ears were filled with a loud roaring noise. The noise didn't stop until we began getting news of attacks on the Colonies, on the trip back." She smiled slightly, looking a bit embarrassed. "I have almost no memory of that first visit to your ship, only vague impressions. I hope my conduct was…well appropriate."
"You did fine, though we had our first disagreement."
"I should have known." She smiled before gripping the hand that was holding hers tighter. "Billy had guessed from some things I'd let drop on the trip out," her voice broke and she cleared her throat to continue.
"I've always wondered if I would have done things differently, if I hadn't known I was dying…." Her words trailed off to a whisper and she drew deeply from the strength of their clasped hands. "When I gave the order to jump and leave all those ships behind, the ones that didn't have faster than light capability…" She shook her head trying to rid herself of the voices that had called out to her for help and received none, when Colonial One and the other ships capable of doing so, had jumped to safety.
"A solder is taught to think of himself as already dead when in a combat situation. Make no mistake about it, you were in combat." He watched her struggle with a decision that she'd made months earlier. "If you hadn't given that order, there would be no fleet. The Cylons would have won completely."
"I know. Intellectually, I know that, just like I know that I should have told you, as commander of the fleet that I was dying, but…" And there it was. Laura had finally dug deep enough to discover why she hadn't told him earlier. It had nothing to do with the commander and everything to do with Bill. "Oh…oh my Lords…"
He ran his hands up her arms and pulled her closer, until he saw the answer in her eyes and astonished face. "We've hidden behind the walls of our professions long enough. Don't you think it's time to be honest with each other, Laura?" he whispered her name and it made her breath catch. "Do you trust me?"
"I never stopped trusting you. The obvious question is do you trust me?" She sat very still, afraid to move, or draw attention to herself. Afraid she might show in some small way how vitally important this man's trust was to her.
"Yes," he whispered. "With my life and with the lives of all those I hold dear. No more secrets, Madam President." Adama held out his hand to seal their new bargain.
"No more secrets, Commander." Her voice broke on his title, but she gave as strong a handshake as he did. She was darned if she was going to let him see that she was hurt by his sudden switch back to formality.
"There's one more thing, Laura." He was still holding her hand and tugged her closer.
"This," he grinned, lowering his lips slowly to hers so she could pull away if she chose. He was never as glad for the cover of a dark and stormy night as he was at that moment. He'd wanted to kiss her since the first time they met, even if she didn't remember the incident and he was finally getting his chance.
"Ohhh," she sighed as his scent surrounded her and she could taste his mouth on hers. With their arms around each other they rolled to the ground. His body pinning hers beneath his while their hands and mouths learned every inch of the other's exposed skin.
"No, Bill, wait." She gripped his wrist when his right hand began to make its way under her shirt.
"I'd never hurt you or rush you," he took in deep mouthfuls of air as he watched her fight to get back her usual control.
"I know, but you have to know…you have to realize that I-really-am-dying." With fingers that shook she unzipped the top of her jacket and then unbuttoned the first three buttons of her shirt. "Here," she grabbed his hand and covered her left breast with his palm. "Do you feel that? I am dying."
"Laura," he gasped. He could feel the large hard lump that pressed against the soft tissue of her breast. "It doesn't matter; don't you understand that it doesn't matter to me? I want you for as long as I can have you."
She cupped his face in her hands. "You're a dangerous man, Bill Adama. I discovered that during the five days of Cylon raids, at the very beginning. You were always there for me, on the other end of the phone line, waiting patiently."
"That's your idea of dangerous?" His lips quirked into a half smile.
"Yes," she murmured. "It made me trusted you and feel safe. It allowed you to sneak in behind defenses I'd put in place long ago. By the time the Cylons broke off their attacks, I knew that if I wasn't very careful I would fall in love with you. I…ah…did fall in love with you."
"You hid your feelings well," he murmured as he cupped her breast and pressed his body closer to hers.
"I had a job to do, which took precedent over anything else." She shrugged with a smile and slid her hands over his muscular back.
"You still have a job to do." He was once again grim and serious. "If you are, as we both believe you to be, the dying leader as spoken of in Pythia, then you have to promise to live for as long as you can." He began to quote from the Scrolls. "'And the Lords anointed a leader to guide the caravan of the heavens to their new homeland. Unto the leader they gave a vision of serpents numbering two and ten as a sign of things to come. The new leader suffered a wasting disease and would not live to enter the new land.' We are a long way from finding that new land, so you need to live, not just for yourself, or me, but for all of us."
"All I can promise to do is fight as hard as I can."
"That's all I can ask." He slowly re-buttoned her blouse and zipped her jacket. "If you're going to have the strength to fight, you need to get some sleep."
"But I thought…"
"I know, and as much as I'd love to, I won't frack the president of the Colonies in the middle of a war zone, with my son sleeping twenty feet away." He pulled her back against him and tucked his legs up under hers. "But that doesn't mean I won't cop a feel now and then." His right hand moved up under her shirt and possessively over her breasts.
"Ohhh," she moaned at his touch and rocked against his body. "That's unfair."
"You're dying and you expect me to play fair!" Unexpectedly his anger slipped its leash. He gripped her tightly to him with his right arm, while his left hand slid beneath her slacks.
"Bill," she whispered his name and turned her face against his shoulder. He had her back trapped against his front. Evidence of his arousal was pressing into her bottom. One of her arms was caught beneath her and the other clasped to her side, by the iron strength of his arm.
He threw his right leg over her top leg to spread and separate her thighs, giving him better access to where his hand was moving lower and lower. Once he found what he desired to touch his fingers probed deeply.
She pressed her face tighter against his neck to keep from moaning out loud, but her lips vibrated their pleasure against his skin and a deep chuckle of delight shook his body. For a fleeting moment Laura remembered thinking 'he's a dangerous man, a dirty in-fighter.' She just hadn't realized how devastating it would be to her senses to have him turn it toward her, or how wonderful it would feel.
"Laura," he rasped. "Look at me Laura." Dazed she followed his order and turned to look at him over her shoulder. "You're safe; no one will hear, I promise. Let go Laura, just let it all go." He kissed her again, his tongue going deep in her mouth, following the rhythm his fingers had set.
Her body began to shake just before the world stopped and then suddenly exploded around Laura Roslin. A throbbing deep in her abdomen kept her spiraling out of control. If weren't for the arms wrapped tightly around her, she was afraid she would fly into a million pieces. Tears ran down her face and she could hardly breathe. There was a strange muted noise coming from somewhere, but she couldn't place it. She finally realized the sounds were coming from her as she sang to the tunes of intense pleasure.
"Shhhhh, easy now," Bill Adama whispered in her ear as he rocked her against him. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to be rough. Gods, Laura, did I hurt you?" He pressed his face against the back of her neck. He'd forgotten she was ill, that she was dying. She was too fragile to be treated the way he'd just treated her, but he'd be damned if he'd give in to her disease, or let her do so either.
"Oh Lords…" she shivered in his arms, unable to move. "No, you didn't hurt me. Oh Gods, Bill…Don't you want me to?..." She reached toward the bulge in his pants.
"No," he pulled her hand to his lips and kissed her palm. "Not tonight." As much as he wanted to relieve the ache that throbbed only for her, he knew that Kobol, with all its death and destruction wasn't where he wanted to remember making love to her for the first time.
"Why did you do what you did?" She turned in his arms so her body was pressed against his.
"You make me lose control. You make me feel and want like no one has in a very long time. Laura, you have make me love again." He kissed away the tears that kept falling from her eyes. "Even a leader anointed by the Lords needs something more than scrolls and scriptures to live for. Let that be me."
"Oh, Lords," she shivered and nestled against him. "But next time I want to feel you buried deep inside of me."
"So say we all," he intoned with a smile on his face.
"So say we all." As she fell asleep Laura wondered if he realized how long it had been since she'd been with a man, if he realized he'd given her the gift of treating her like a whole woman, one who wasn't dying. 'What a silly question,' her inner voice chided. 'This is Bill Adama you're talking about, of course he knew.'