I'm back and finally getting this posted. Sorry for the delay. Hope it provides a smile...

Disclaimer: They're still not mine. I still make no money. And I don't intend to offend with my imaginings.

Thanks for the reviews for parts one and two. They made ME smile!

Damage Control
By: Mariel

Part 3

Laura settled herself more comfortably on the sofa and tucked her legs beneath her. As Bill rounded the corner with their drinks, she saw him pause slightly when he caught sight of her. She smiled inwardly.

He was no longer oblivious.

"I brought the bottle, in case it takes more than one drink to put you out," he said. Passing her a glass of the coloured liquid, he then leaned over to set the bottle on the coffee table in front of her.

She tilted her head to one side and a corner of her mouth lifted. "You want me unconscious?" she asked.

He smiled and sat down beside her. Twisting himself slightly so that he faced her, he leaned against the back of the sofa. "Of course not," he said comfortably. "You're far more fun awake, but I thought you said you needed sleep. There aren't many better ways of ensuring a good night's worth than a couple glasses of this."

Without thinking, she said, "And the other, better ways would be...?"

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she thought of an excellent one. A wonderful one that involved two people getting naked and close and-

He did, too, because he stilled, and they shared a long glance.

She wished he hadn't done up his uniform top.

He wanted to feel the slide of silk against her skin.

Tearing his eyes away from hers, he cleared his throat and said, "I can't think of one at the moment."

A thrill of awareness shooting through her, she softly suggested, "You need to think harder, Bill."

Her comment was provocative, but it seemed to be the night for it. Gods knew the mood had changed drastically since her arrival hours earlier. Physical awareness of him hung in the air around her like a blanket, making it hard to breathe or think straight. All she wanted to do was touch him. She closed her eyes briefly. The thought of his bare chest beneath her palms sent a shot of hot desire pulsing through her.

Opening her eyes, she sought and met his. If she were any judge, he was every bit of aware of her as she was of him. Feeling her whole body flush with warmth, she held his gaze with eyes that were dark and full of invitation. Not breaking eye contact, she slowly lifted her glass to her lips and took a long sip.

Mid-swallow, she stopped abruptly, her eyes widening.

Making a choking sound, she leaned forward and brought the glass away from her lips abruptly.

Setting her drink down quickly, she untucked her legs from beneath her and put her feet on the floor. Hunching her shoulders, she gagged slightly, then began coughing loudly into her hand. So much, she thought, for a grand seduction. Suddenly torn between a desire to giggle and a strong need to get the liquid she had inhaled out of her lungs before she choked, her survival instinct kicked in and she coughed some more.

Turning away from Bill, she continued to hack up the ambrosia out of her lungs. Concerned, he shifted to the edge of the sofa and patted her on the back, asking if she were okay and if there were anything he could get her. She shook her head, and explained in a strangled voice, "I just... swallowed the wrong way," and then continued to cough until there were tears in her eyes.

He rose and brought her a cloth napkin to cough into and a glass of water. Wordlessly, he resumed patting her back.

As her spasms finally quietened, she took a drink of the water he'd brought her and sighed in relief.

The pats on her back became more circular.

He'd learned the feel of silk against her skin.

Slowly, she relaxed, allowing her body to move slightly with the pressure of his massage while she enjoyed the warmth of his palm through the silk of her gown. "Feels good," she said, her voice slightly hoarse from the strain she had put on her throat. She sighed slightly as her skin began to tingle with a heightened awareness of him.

She wondered if she turned around, if he would take her in his arms...

"I thought I was going to have to call in Doctor Cottle," he said lightly. He continued his massage, twisting so that he could use both hands as he moved his ministrations to her shoulders, down her arms, and then up to her neck. He kneaded lightly, loving the feel of the soft cascade of auburn hair that fell across his fingers. He pictured pushing the heavy curtain of it to one side and seeking the smooth softness of her neck with his mouth...

She made a humming sound in her throat. "I'm glad you didn't. I like what you do with your hands better," she murmured.

He considered the things he'd like to do with his hands, opened his mouth to say something suggestive, then caught himself. His hands stopped their movement and slid reluctantly from her body.

She turned to him.


"I'm sorry," he said in a low tone. "I feel as though I'm in some really bad novel. This is getting-" He didn't finish his sentence, but she knew exactly what had been left unsaid because the alarm bells ringing in the air between them were saying it loud and clear.

"Too close for comfort?" she asked. Pivoting to face him more directly, she looked down at where he had dropped his hand on the sofa between them. Carefully, she placed her hand over it. The skin-to-skin contact made her shiver.

"Oh, it's comfortable enough," he replied. Moving to encircle her small hand with his larger one, he reflexively drew small circles on her wrist with his thumb. "Too comfortable," he added huskily. It was far too easy to envision himself laying her back onto the sofa and covering her body with his own. Far too easy to imagine sliding his hands across her skin and peeling her robe from her shoulders and- He inhaled sharply. "This is dangerous. I-" He paused, then finished lamely, "We can't. You know that. As enticing as the idea might be, we can't."

Now that she had decided that making love with him was as inevitable as the sun rising on Caprica, Laura silently begged to differ. She had a feeling they could - and very well, too. She kept her thoughts to herself, however, and watched him silently.

When she didn't respond, Bill looked down at their joined hands. Squeezing her fingers gently, he lifted his eyes to meet hers and continued, "And this...If there's one thing life has taught me, it's that one thing leads to another. We've come close before, but this is pushing it far beyond that." He looked at her and resisted the urge to lift a hand to touch her face.

"I'm not made of stone, Laura," he rasped.

"No?" she asked, her eyes cloudy with emotions he wasn't sure he dared interpret..


"That might not be such a bad thing," she suggested in a soft voice.

He closed his eyes.

She watched as he struggled for control; saw his resolve to do what he had determined was right.

And knew just what to say to make it impossible.

She squeezed his hand and allowed a small smile to curve her lips. "It's not polite to make a woman beg, Bill."

He looked at her then, his eyes darkened to a midnight blue. He hesitated, then released a terrible tension in a brief rush of air from his lungs. Humour warmed his voice when he said, "No, I don't suppose it is - but you know that's not my intent."

Still, he didn't move towards her. He hadn't been lucky in love, and whether this was love or something else entirely, if he frakked up whatever it was, there'd be more to get through than walking away after a simple divorce and division of property.

Finally, his eyes filled with hope and affection, he released her hand and lifted it to gently touch her cheek.

"I don't want there to be regrets," he rasped.

"There won't be," she promised.

He admired her certainty, but did not share in it. On some level he knew she was both right and wrong. The wrong was easy to ignore, though, when he was staring into eyes filled with invitation. Giving in, he leaned forward. The kiss he gifted her was tentative, a warm caress of her lips. Tasting her gently, he teased her mouth until she let out a breathy sigh.

She'd been right; he kissed like a dream.

With one hand at the nape of his neck, she relaxed as he slowly lay her back on the sofa and moved to partially cover the length of her body with his. Holding him with her free arm, she shifted herself to press more tightly against him and lifted her mouth to meet his.


Hours later, after very satisfying lovemaking followed by peaceful slumber, they lay together in his rack contemplating their next move. It was morning, and almost time to get up - and Laura was silently debating how to get Bill back into the guest quarters without causing comment.

Lying contentedly beside her with his arm beneath her head, Bill swore he could hear the wheels of Laura's brain turning, and knew damned well what they were turning about. Cursing himself for falling soundly asleep after their exertions, he considered his options and automatically went to Plan B. Thinking he should probably alleviate Laura's worry by telling her of Plan B's existence, he turned over on his side and moved to hold her against him comfortably. She rolled towards him and slid her arm over him. When she lightly kissed his neck, he opened his mouth to speak-

Before he could utter a sound, there was a knock on the hatch. Both stiffened in alarm.

"Gods. Who can that be? It's only six!" Laura muttered. Rolling away from him quickly, she rose, scrambled for her nightgown, and drew it over her head. Picking up her robe, she pulled it on as she walked towards the entrance. Bill left his rack just as quickly, picked up his pants from a chair and his underclothes off the floor, and strode in the direction of the head.

Checking to make sure Bill was safely out of sight, Laura released the hatch's lock. It soon opened, and Tory slipped inside and pulled it closed behind her with a determined tug.

"Tory, this is early even for you. Is there something planned I've forgotten?" Laura asked.

Her aide turned from the door and regarded her with a serious expression.

"No, Madame President. I'm here for damage control."

Laura looked at her.

"Damage control?" she asked. Involuntarily, she glanced at the sofa to see if they'd left anything incriminating there before they'd headed for Bill's bed.

Tying the belt of her robe, she groaned inwardly. Bill's damned uniform top. Was the frakking thing possessed?

Tory, who had followed Laura's glance at the sofa and seen the Admiral's uniform jacket, turned to face the President, her face aghast. "He's still here!" she said, her voice filled with disbelief. Her gaze turned towards Bill's sleeping area. "He was here all night!"

She didn't feel a need to say who 'he' was, and Laura didn't need to ask.

The frakking uniform was busy gleefully shouting it out for them.

Tory turned towards her boss. It was far worse than she had thought. Gods, she fumed, none of this had been in any of Billy's notes.

-And how could they not have enough sense to at least make an appearance of sleeping where they were supposed to!

She drew herself up straight and got a grip on herself. In as calm a voice as she could manage, she said, "Ma'am, unless you plan to publicly announce your affair with the Admiral, you're going to have to be a lot more discreet. If this is how you've been handling things, I have no idea how you've managed to keep it a secret until now - but now that I'm aware, it's my duty to see that knowledge of this doesn't leak out to others unless we want it to." She stopped speaking, the horror of that thought making her shiver, then continued in a clipped tone, "And we definitely don't want it leaking out right now. At this point in the campaign, this sort of..." she paused, searching for an appropriate term. Finally giving up, she used the first thing that came to mind: "... mucking about with the Admiral could cost you the election." She moved to begin pacing, then stopped herself. "You know any perceived collusion between the military and civilian leaders would be used against you."

Laura listened carefully to what the young woman said. She made a mental note of the term 'mucking about' because she was unfamiliar with it. And silently ignored the desperate 'What in gods name have you been thinking?' sound in Tory's voice. Part of her mind also noted the word 'collusion'. She'd never heard that word used as a synonym for what she and Bill had been doing, but she thought she liked it.

She'd have to mention it to Bill...

Who'd have thought her aide would be such a learning experience?

Trying to rein in her random sense of humour, she bit her tongue. Tory was obviously taking it hard that she hadn't been consulted first. It was also obvious that the woman didn't give a fig about the ethics or morals of the affair itself, only the political ramifications of it.

"I see," Laura said slowly, stalling for time as she wondered if she should apprise her aide as to just how new her affair with the Admiral was. Taking in her aide's determined mood, she decided against it. First time or fiftieth, Tory would still feel affronted and still feel she needed to manage the situation.

When the President did not comment further, Tory made a motion towards the hatch and said, "Madame President, there are two guards standing out there in the corridor. Have you thought about how the Admiral is going to get back to his living accommodations without being seen?"

"I've been thinking about it, yes," Laura said in a defensive tone.

Caught up in her own thoughts, Tory didn't really hear the President's weak response. Instead, she shook her head in disbelief. "Last night was bad enough. That at least could have been dealt with- a meeting gone late, perhaps." She looked over at the offending uniform top again, then lowered her voice. "But him staying the night..." She gave Laura a look of utter disbelief and shook her head. The man had been doing up his uniform when she'd left. What on earth had possessed him to take it off again and-

She looked at the President's state of disarray and tried to stop her thoughts from going in the direction they were going.

She really didn't want to know.

She grimaced. Too late. Obviously what they said about the libidos of people in power was true...

Clasping her hands tightly in front of her, she took a deep breath and gathered her thoughts together. "Madame President, the Admiral must have been seen coming in here last night. It's equally obvious that someone noticed that he didn't leave." She unclasped her hands and lifted them in frustration. "Word about this is going to be out all over the Fleet by breakfast," she said.

Bill walked in then. Moving past the two women, he picked up his uniform top and shrugged it on. As she had the night before, Tory watched as he did up the buttons. She wondered how much of his life he spent doing them up. She glanced at the President. And then undoing them again.

She grimaced again and returned her gaze to the Admiral. It'd make her life a frakkin' hell of a lot easier if he'd keep them done up.

Noting Tory's intense stare, Adama turned to her and nodded easily. "Tory," he said, "Good morning. It's nice to see you."

Laura grinned. He sounded as though he saw her aide at this hour and in these circumstances every morning. He was, she decided, unflappable. She glanced down. Even in his sock feet.

"It's always nice to see her, Bill," she said. Sobering, she told him, "Tory is here for damage control. She-"

"I overheard," he interjected quickly. "She's worried about my having been seen entering but not leaving," Calmly, he continued, "That's taken care of. Jake Editerror was on last night. I sent him off duty when I arrived, so he could pick up his daughter. I do it most nights he's on, so it definitely didn't cause comment. The guard coming on duty later would assume I was back in the GQ by the time he arrived."

Mollified, Tory relaxed slightly and nodded. Getting straight to the next matter of business, she began the next item on her list: "You're going to have to change the way your guards are stationed. I suggest-"

Lifting his chin to do the last button, Bill broke into her words. "I'll cut the guard in half." Finished, he smoothed the front of his jacket flat and shrugged. "We don't need his-and-her protection when we're in our quarters at night - and they'll be stationed at the end of the corridor so that they can cover this corridor and the outer one. It saves on manpower and, coincidentally, allows for more freedom of movement without being observed." He smiled at Laura. "It's not an unknown tactic."

Bill sobered when he saw Laura's eyes narrow.

She was wondering what made him such an expert.

Tory noticed the exchanged glances but was not interested in their silent conversation.

"And yet you didn't initiate this 'tactic' when you invited the President to stay in your quarters," she observed curtly.

Bill had no idea how long the young woman thought he and Laura had been involved, but he was hardly about to tell her last night had been their first time and that it had been totally unplanned.

He darted a look at Laura. On his part, at least.

He turned his attention back to Tory. "I'm afraid I forgot. I've been a bit preoccupied with cylon incursions," he explained blandly.

Not able to refute that fact, Tory stepped back slightly.

Laura looked at Bill and raised one eyebrow gracefully. "It's good to know you have your priorities straight," she said in a silky tone.

Bill inclined his head solemnly. "Always," he said, giving her a slow wink.

Thinking they were not half enough concerned about the ramifications of their actions, Tory broke into their shared moment and said, "But now we have new ones."

The two turned to her, their expressions puzzled. "New what?" they asked in unison.

"New priorities," she explained in an exasperated tone. "The cylon incursions have slowed down for the time being, so now you have to start thinking about guarding the secret of your affair more carefully. It can't become public knowledge."

They both nodded their heads, understanding that what she said was true.

"I'll do the guard detail change," Bill said. Looking Tory straight in the eye, he then added stiffly, "With that done, I don't think we'll require any further assistance from you. Providing we can rely on your discretion, I'm sure we're capable of keeping our...situation... discreet on our own."

Laura bit the inside of her cheek to stop from smirking. She'd been waiting for him to warn Tory off. He might be unflappable, but he'd hate anyone thinking they could comment on his personal conduct. In spite of his calm fa├žade, Bill was so hating this.

Tory, however, was not easily cowed when she was busy protecting her election results. Not even by an Admiral.

"That may be the case, sir, but please don't forget that you're in here and the guards are out there," she pointed out. "Editerror's absence covers you for last night, but how will you explain your leaving here this morning?"

From the satisfaction on her face, Laura could see Tory felt she'd just trumped the Admiral.

Bill, however, was a tactician, and a good one. "Laura's detail leaves when she does. All she has to do is leave before my military escort changes, in..." He looked at his time piece, then continued, "...about forty-five minutes. I'll take care of the rest."

Tory stared at him. "And how do you intend to do that?" she asked.

Bill stared back at her. No way in hell was he telling her that. Admiral-guarding while he was in his quarters had become somewhat slack and he'd been more than happy to allow it. At times, he even encouraged it - he found it pretentious under the circumstances, and having people lingering outside his doorway all the time was irritating. Still, he had no intention of letting this slip of a girl know just how easy it was to put something over on the men charged with guarding his life.

When he didn't respond, she demanded, "Well?"

Bill continued to stare at her. You don't question an Admiral. And you definitely didn't use that tone of voice.

Obviously someone had forgotten to teach her that.

Civilians, he thought.

Valiently striving for patience, he waited a beat before he spoke.

"The President will make sure she leaves the door ajar when she leaves," he said in a dangerously quiet tone. "Then, as I said, I'll take care of the rest."

Tory held his gaze a moment. Her eyes soon flickered and went down in defeat. The unspoken - and no doubt finer - details of his plan were obviously going to remain unknown. What was known was that it was in her best interests to shut the hell up.

She nodded silently.

Then her eyes narrowed.

"Does anyone else know about you two?" she asked.

Both shook their heads.

"Good," she said.

When they looked at one another and smiled, her feelings of reassurance faded. "Are you sure?" she asked suspiciously.

Bill and Laura turned their gazes towards her, then at one another again.

"We're sure," Bill said.

After all, no matter how good the ship's grapevine, it had been only six hours or so since-

Tory's business-like voice broke into his thoughts.

"We've got to keep it that way," she asserted.

They both nodded, quite comfortable with that.

"And you're going to have to be far more careful."

They were both comfortable with that, too, though Bill was becoming noticeably irritated by Tory's manner.

Laura hid a smile, then asked, "Is that all?"

Tory sighed. With the look of a woman whose mission, for now, was accomplished, she said: "You've got forty minutes before your day starts, Madame President. I'll return for you then."

Nodding at them both, she turned and left, closing the hatch firmly behind her.


There was a moment's silence as the two left behind stared wordlessly at the hatch. Then, with a sigh, Laura turned to Bill. When she saw the look on his face, she raised her hand. "Don't say it. Remember, I live with her all the time. And she is good. She just lacks-"

Words failed her.

"You can say that again," he said huffily.

They looked at the door again. Laura turned to Bill. "Well," she said in a lighter tone. "I guess that makes this official, at any rate."

Bill's face relaxed. "I believe so," he agreed.

She smiled. He smiled back. Stepping forward, he wrapped his arms around her.

She rested her head against his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his waist..

"Tory thinks we've been at this for a while," she said.

"I gathered that. It means we have a lot of catching up to do, I guess."

Laura smiled against his jacket. "I love a challenge."

"Good." He kissed her hair. "Tonight?"

She looked up at him. "Tonight," she promised.

He bent his head and touched his lips to hers. "And now you'd best start getting ready for your day."

She nodded, but didn't let go of him. Instead, she put her head back against his shoulder.


"Let me enjoy this, Bill. I'm faster at getting ready than you think. It's amazing how easy it is to choose what to wear when you have only three outfits."

He settled his arms around her more comfortably. He felt lucky, fortunate, blessed.

Scared shitless.

In the tradition of all great admirals, he ignored the scared shitless.

"You won't mind finding me here when you return? You weren't very happy to see me last night," he teased gently.

She ground a certain part of her against a certain part of him. "That was before I found out what a surprisingly talented man you are. After last night's performance, you have an open invitation," she said.

His chuckle rumbled deeply in his chest. "Ah, so you're an opportunist."

"To the core."

He tightened his grip on her momentarily, then became serious. "This is very bad timing. You're not worried? About what could happen if people find out?"

He knew that the repercussions for him would be negligible: mostly sly looks and salacious thoughts that the Old Man had still had it in him. For her, however, there was the election to consider, and what knowledge of their relationship could mean to its results.

Laura lifted her head from his chest and looked up at him. "Excuse me? With Tory taking care of damage control? I don't think we have anything to worry about at all." Knowing her answer wasn't enough, she admitted, "And the timing would have been bad no matter when we did this. I'm worried, but not terribly, so let's wait until tonight to discuss it." She snaked her arms up and around his neck. "Let's just enjoy this for the moment. It makes me happy."

Bill sighed contentedly and let the matter rest. She felt good in his arms. The feel of her silk gown sliding against her skin brought back pleasant memories...

He looked at the clock on the wall and calculated rapidly.

"How upset would Tory be if we didn't answer the door immediately when she comes back?" he asked with a grin.

She lifted her head, her eyes dancing merrily when she saw the mischief in his eyes. Wordlessly, she took his hand and led him towards the rack. After all, she thought, there was little point in having a person to manage damage control if you didn't inflict a little of it to require it.

She looked back at Bill then, loving the look of anticipation she saw on her face.

Then she sighed.

Those damned buttons again...

Part 3/3