"I think that it's about time we lay all the cards on the table," said Adama.

"Okay…" He detected the marked hesitation from Roslin.

"You don't trust me," he said bluntly. "It's been over two and a half years and I'd like to think that we're friends, but you still don't trust me." Adama waited for the automatic response of "Don't be silly, of course I trust you," but it didn't come. He could see it in her eyes, she knew he was right.

Ever since they had reconciled on Kobol Adama had been under the impression that they were going to trust each other. He had let the election business slide on that count because they both knew he would have been against stealing the election, even if neither one of them had wanted Baltar for a President. His practical side had kept him from getting upset over that.

But Hera was a whole different order of magnitude. Roslin's actions had revealed the ultimate limit of her trust and that that limit apparently didn't extend very far at all.

Besides the need to carry on the bluff with the cylons as long as possible, Adama had pushed the situation with the Eye of Jupiter to the edge of launching nukes just to see if things had changed since New Caprica. When she had asked him "What are you doing?" the look on her face had revealed to him all he needed to know. Things hadn't changed.

Last night didn't really help, one way or the other. It could have simply been timing or his coarse behavior that led to him bearing witness to Roslin's emotional collapse, or it could have been that she did trust him to deal with that, of all things. As of today he still sided more with the former impression as opposed to the latter.

-x-

"I suppose you're right," she said. Roslin took another sip of her Ambrosia as an excuse to break eye contact. How could she explain to him that she couldn't afford to trust him as much as he wanted her to? How could she tell him that the President of the Colonies didn't have the luxury of total trust in anyone, especially in anyone as powerful as Admiral Adama?

It would make her vulnerable. To what she wasn't entirely sure, bad decisions, crippling emotional stress, a broken heart, it didn't matter. Whatever it was the President of the Colonies couldn't afford it. And she knew that ever since Kobol Adama had trusted her, explicitly and absolutely. For the longest time he had been the one who left himself vulnerable, even after that vulnerability had nearly killed him.

On New Caprica she had relaxed, but because of Hera she hadn't been able to let go completely. By then something had changed, she had been the one pursuing a closer relationship, but he had had a certain fundamental uneasiness about him whenever he was on New Caprica. She supposed it was his military training that had prevented him, until much later, from ever really believing that they were safe.

"So, what should we do about it?" she asked. She hoped he had an answer. Because I certainly don't.

-x-

"I think we should be honest," he said. "You're capable, pragmatic and intelligent. I see no reason why I should doubt either your abilities as President or your integrity and even if it makes me gullible I will continue to trust you." Time to get to the heart of it. "So, Laura, what is it about me that you doubt?"

When it became obvious that she couldn't answer him, Adama stood up and got himself another drink. This time he opted for a glass of Caprican Gold because it was stronger than Ambrosia. He stayed in the other room for a minute to think and to give her time to do the same.

It probably wasn't necessarily him; he was beginning to see that. Maybe it was the Presidency getting in the way, but he had the impression they were past that point. If the President of the Colonies put too much faith in him people might die, bad decisions might be made, but that was a risk regardless.

This was more personal than how their decisions might affect the Fleet. If Laura Roslin put too much trust in William Adama it gave him the power to do something that might really hurt. As if I haven't managed to do that once already. Still, the reality of situation was that the potential for betrayal increased with the degree of trust she placed in him. So how was going to convince her to take a risk that was natural for him, but too difficult for her?

Besides that, how was he going to deal with the fact that his excuses had run out and that it was about time they discuss the current and future extent of their relationship. He was working on an answer. He set down his glass on his desk and then, his decision made, laid his wedding ring beside it.

-x-

Roslin finished her drink while Adama was in the other room and tried to think of an answer that didn't sound like an excuse. What is it about me that you doubt? I don't know Bill, maybe it's not you. President Roslin had an answer for everything, but Laura sat there with no answer for this. It was too much, too much to think about, too much to ask of her. When he came back she tried to think of something, anything.

"Bill, I—" Still nothing. "I don't know what to tell you." He only smiled.

"That's okay," he said. "I just want you to promise me something." He sat down next to her on the couch, closer this time. "When you're worried that I won't agree with a decision you make, or that I might be doing something reckless, or if I'm being over emotional or if there's some other problem, just tell me. You don't have to go into specifics, but tell me, okay?"

Oh is that all? Did he have any idea what he was asking? She searched his expression. He knew exactly what he was asking. He was asking for her to take a calculated risk, make a compromise between what she felt was necessary and what he wanted. She could compromise.

"I think I can do that," she said with a level of confidence she found a bit surprising. I can do that.

Adama leaned back against the couch and nodded his approval.

"One last thing." Now he was the one who broke eye contact. Not only that, but he seemed to be staring at a blank spot on the opposite wall with intense interest. "What should we do about us?"

"What do you mean?" She'd had an idea that they'd have to have this conversation eventually.

-x-

"We're both adults and I think we can survive my being direct." Adama kept his gaze firmly planted on the wall ahead of him. "You can call it a conflict of interest, impractical, too risky, impossible, whatever you like, but we have something that goes beyond professional."

"And there it is," said Roslin. Adama's gaze slid over to her.

"There it is." He felt a slight smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. There it was. There was no going back now, but he was glad for that. It would keep him from backing out. He cared about her, more than he should, and he could deny it as much as he wanted but it wouldn't change that fact.

-x-

"I think," she said cautiously, "that you might be doing something reckless." Roslin saw him grin. Yes, I catch on quick. "We can't afford to Bill." The idea had its appeal, but it was impossible. His grin faded and he returned to staring at the opposite wall.

"So what are we going to do?" he asked. "Live in denial forever? Just, sacrifice everything for the good of the Fleet?" She wanted to say that yes, that was exactly what they were going to do, but the words wouldn't come. Roslin heard him sigh, but she knew better than to think that it was sigh of resignation or that he had even considered giving up.

-x-

"People have to have something to live for Laura." Don't you know I've been living for you? "Nothing complicated has to happen. We can keep it all very simple." Simple… was there any such word anymore? He hoped so.

"Just how do you propose to do that?" He could feel her gaze on him, but he didn't look at her yet. He needed to stay focused to get through this.

"We negotiate new boundaries," said Adama. "We don't let our feelings get anymore in the way than they have already. We decide that wherever things lead, even if it's to nowhere and for nothing, that that's fine. Simple." He waited for her response, but apparently she was having trouble again of coming up with something to say. He could take care of that. Perhaps all he needed to do to convince her was demonstrate just how effortless it could be.

-x-

"Do you remember Colonial Day?" Adama stood up and offered her his right hand. She looked up at him and caught a glint in his blue eyes that she thought was vaguely mischievous.

"What are you doing?" she asked with a smile of her own. Roslin remembered Colonial Day quite well and could easily guess where this was leading.

"Care to dance?" he replied with a broadening smile. Roslin took his hand and he pulled her to her feet.

"Now?" Of all the times…What was he thinking?

"Trust me." Bill leaned forward and kissed her gently. Then he pulled back long enough to take a few careful steps backwards around the table in front of the couch and draw her out into the clear space in his quarters. He lightly took hold of her other hand and before Laura could focus on it he laid her left hand on his shoulder, and slipped his right arm across her back. Once they were sufficiently close he initiated a slow waltz.

"See? Simple." Laura looked at him and shook her head. She knew that she should have known better to set foot in Bill's quarters today. Then she closed her eyes and let him lead for awhile. All right, you want to do this…then fine we'll see where this goes. Laura decided to go along because he had been right about one thing at least; people needed something to live for. What did they have to live for, but the Fleet and Earth? Sometimes that was more a burden than a reason. The only other answer was to live for each other and wasn't that what they had been doing all along?

-x-

"When the Colonial One is able to leave you're going to go back to your ship," he continued in a low rumble. "But tomorrow we're having dinner and you're going to stay here. I'll handle Tory. That is, if the President approves?" She looked up at him and answered with a deliberate nod.

He paused their dance and was going to let her lead when he saw her glance at his left hand. She finally noticed that something had changed.

"You took off your ring," she said. Laura ran her fingers across the bare spot on his hand where his ring had been. He brought her attention back to him with another kiss. In the midst of the kiss he concluded that he was going to rather enjoy this. No more excuses borne out of a need for restraint, no more wondering what do to about how he felt and now they could finally be together in the present, for as long as it lasted. Complications would probably arise eventually that would put an end to what they had, but for right now it was still as simple as he made it sound.

"So I did."


Fin. For now. We'll see if a sequel comes to mind.

SVR