Title: In Absentia
Spoilers: Sacrifice and up through LDYB.
Summary: Five times someone thought of Billy Keikeya.
It's close to three a.m., planet time, and Laura's still grading papers. Not that there is much natural paper left to grade, but they're making due with leftover scraps. One of the union boys has been making noises about milling some trees, but considering that absolutely no one in the fleet, outside of a very nice, very small older woman who was teaching crafts on one of the luxury liners, has ever even walked through the process before, it's going to take some experimentation.
Laura thinks about these things when grading papers because there's absolutely no one, and nothing to distract her. She stays awake because it's easier and she gets so much done.
She is most of the way through one of her older student's essays on the themes of nobility and honor in Gatestoke's "Millenium" when she starts to chuckle. Most of the way through is a phrase that is so Caprican in origin and so thoroughly unconscious in use, she wants to cry.
Distractedly, she looks up, seeking Billy out to share the joke and knowing he'd laugh too.
The smile dies on her lips, but she stops. Lets herself smile again and rereads it, in her head, just for him.
"We do tend to survive, don't we, Billy?" She says it plainly to the empty room. She's done worse things in her life than talk to the dead.
After she finishes the paper, she sets everything down and goes back to her tent. The air is crisp and cold at this late hour, and she wraps her sweater around her shoulders just a little tighter. The walk isn't too far, but for some reason, that night she feels just a bit safer.
She knows it's a flight of fancy, but she thinks that maybe, if she listens hard enough, she can hear Billy's shuffled walk, just behind her.
She falls asleep smiling.
Being on Pegasus is not like being on Galactica. Everything is newer and better and state-of-the art. The DRADIS screen doesn't freeze and need to be rebooted at horrible times. The water purification systems work just a little better, as do the water heaters, and the aft maintenance bay doors never get stuck.
In terms of amenities, Pegasus has it hands down over her last posting. When she'd arrived, thrilled and in love and more than a little smug over her status as Lee Adama's lover, she'd floated through the halls, knowing that everything was better now. They Cylons couldn't make it through the cloud, and soon there would be fresh food for everyone. Everyone was still dead, but there was hope.
Things shouldn't be different now. But they are. She doesn't know when they started to change – maybe they were this way all along and she never noticed – but she can't breathe on Pegasus. Not really.
Sometimes she watches the Galactica pass on the viewscreen. Just stands and waits as it drifts by. It's a strange sort of habit, but one that grounds her day. She misses that strange, grubby ship and all of her quirks. Even the godsdamn DRADIS.
She didn't think it would happen, but she misses Galactica like a limb. Late at night, when Lee is snoring and the Pegasus is pulsing around her, she lets herself remember Galactica and all that had happened in her bulkheads. She remembers her first shift in the CIC and how terrified she was that she'd screw up. All the early shifts with Felix and running with Jones and Dwight. Kissing Billy in the corridor near the bathroom.
She thinks about Billy more than she wants to. More than she thinks she should. It's not that she misses being in a relationship with him. It had been almost claustrophobic the way he'd used to look at her. Like she'd hung the moon and stars in the sky, just for him. It had been too much and too soon with too little glue to hold it together.
She knows that.
She still misses Billy. Because he'd been funny and sweet and had actually listened to what she said. She thinks it's almost fitting, in a way, that in Lee she got exactly what had wanted. She wanted away from Billy and the pedestal he had her on. It hurts to know that Lee's pedestal in her own mind had been higher than she realized.
She'll never say it – she has no one to say it to – but she thinks, just maybe, Billy got the better deal.
On the night after he and the fleet jump away from New Caprica William Adama dreams of Keikeya holding his hand and telling him it will be all right. Oddly, he remembers it when he wakes up. Bill doesn't remember his dreams, usually, and it's a bit disconcerting that the one he does remember involves holding the hand of a dead man. Especially one he didn't know all that well.
He can count on one hand the number of times he'd actually spoken to the man and only one of them had any kind of personal substance.
He remembers telling the boy that Laura Roslin thought he'd be president one day. At the time, he hadn't seen it. Hadn't seen anything in the boy, outside a talent for making himself invisible, that had warranted such trust from such a demanding woman.
He thinks now that he didn't pay enough attention. When it came down to the wire, the boy had done what he needed to. Died for it.
Later that night, he raises a glass to the kid. He never tells anyone why.
Tory stares down at her freakishly organized new desk and smiles. Not brightly or happily because this is a Trying Time for her President and showing any sign of personal satisfaction at her recent promotion would be in bad taste. And probably get her ass fired.
She runs her hand over the neat piles of paper and stacks of unfinished reports. Everything is in place and situated for maximum necessity. The pencils are sharp, the corners are squared, and there's an empty coffee mug with the Colonial Heavy's number stamped across the side, waiting for the day's first cup of warm beverage.
The desk is a marvel of function in form. She idly considers that Billy probably cleared his desk in anticipation of a day or two off, got everything ready so that it would be in shape when he returned. The thought is a bit morbid and a lot sad. Tory liked the younger man. He'd been intelligent and thoughtful, but almost painfully shy.
She's sad for what happened to him, but not too sad. He died and she got promoted. Cold as the facts were, they were the facts.
Determinedly, she plonks the only photo she had with her when the worlds ended in the upper right corner and sits down to get to work.
There's a lot to do, and it's her turn to do it.
Some nights, wrapped around his wife in their bunk, he lets himself know just how completely lucky he is to have her in his life. And, in the same breath, how frakking unworthy.
He knows that even if Keikeya had lived, Dee would still be his wife. He doesn't believe in fate or destiny. That's a bunch of shit someone in a situation like their own probably cooked up to try and make themselves feel better in the dark of the night. Maybe it was inevitable though.
Still. Keikeya had died. Left a hole that would have naturally disappeared otherwise. He knows Dee loves him. Loves Lee Adama. Can see it in the way she smiles and runs a hand through his hair sometimes.
But on those quiet nights where the universe presses in a little too hard, and the Pegasus thrums around them, he thinks, just maybe, the wrong man died.