Title: Stumbling a Little
Author: A.j.
Fandom: BsG, post-ep to Sacrifice.
Summary: Everyone dies alone.

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Laura Roslin waits three days before she erases the number on her whiteboard.

Tory has gone back to her quarters for the evening, leaving the short casualty list from a minor engineering accident on one of the larger freighters sitting out on the suddenly messy desk.

Laura never knew how often Billy came in and rearranged things on her. Cleared things off. She'd just gotten used to it. Tory didn't do that yet. She didn't dare.

She stares down at the list on her desk but doesn't pick it up. Three people. Two women and a boy just out of his teens.

Earlier this week, she would have sighed, smiled sadly at Billy and gotten up. The short trip to the whiteboard a sad, but familiar walk. Or she'd have let him do it.

Staring at the board, she takes a breath. He'd changed the numbers the last time. It had been a birth. A little girl on the Cloud Nine. Billy'd grinned at her over his shoulder as she'd waved him on. He'd even drawn a little smiley face in the brand new zero.

She's staring at that smiley face now. She should have changed it to a nine three days ago. Should have swiped a cloth over this number, just so she doesn't have to do this now.

Her hand shakes as she raises it. Drops it.

He'd been so still in that morgue. So very, very still.

Everything in her grinds, like tissue being dragged over a road covered in glass. This is the only goodbye she's ever going to get.

A swipe of her hand and even this little bit of him will be gone. His handwriting. Such a little thing.

Pain radiates up through her as she raises her hand again, wiping a finger through the bottom stroke of the four, taking just a little bit of black marker away.

Billy Keikeya is dead. He won't fret about her health or laugh at something she says or get any better at his undercover information gathering. He will not stammer and blush when she asks him about a date.

She won't find his notes in her papers anymore.

The sob takes her unaware, loud in the empty cabin. She feels the tears pour down her face, and it surprises her just a little. She didn't cry like this after the attacks. She cried, oh yes she cried, but not like this. Didn't keep crying at the drop of nothing.

She didn't keep seeing the faces of the dead like she keeps seeing Billy's.

Almost angrily, she swipes at the numbers, missing the arch of a five and the curve of a six. Hits the board with the side of her hand, now covered in black smudges. Revels in the sting as she sobs louder, hunching into herself.

He wasn't supposed to die. She hadn't been prepared for him to die. It was supposed to be her. She was supposed to be gone, not that beautiful, beautiful boy.

He was the only thing she had. He wasn't her son, but he'd been the closest damn thing to one she'd ever had.

He is gone, and she seemed to be the only one who actually missed him.

Angrily, she wipes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Two. Five. Lets herself draw everything back in.

She doesn't have time for this. She doesn't have the luxury.

Laura stares down at the ink on her hands, and deliberately shuts this off. The anger and the grief and the pain. She had him for six of the worst months of her life. It had been a gift.

Face splotchy and wet, but clear, she writes down the new number.

-fin-