Laura dropped the file back on the exam bed and folded her arms in front of her chest, refusing to allow the doctor to see her hands trembling. "How long?"
"Weeks." Cottle answered, with something of sympathy in his gruff voice. "A month at the utmost."
Laura flinched, feeling as if someone had just punched her in the gut. She had known she was dying, had known for months now. She'd also known her condition was getting worse, she tired so easily these days, didn't have much of an appetite and had lost weight. But there was a difference between knowing all that and learning that you only had about 30 days left to live.
Abruptly she turned away from the doctor, fighting her tears as she disappeared behind a curtain. She didn't want Cottle to see the stark fear that welled up inside of her. She didn't want anyone to see. For a long moment she stood, hugging herself as she fought to control her emotions. It took her a little while, but she finally managed to get her barriers back up, pushing the fear and despair into a small corner of her mind, cementing them away behind thick walls of indestructible durasteel.
When she was sure her composure was once more adequate she walked back out and faced Cottle.
"Will I be able to work?"
"Yes, unless the cancer moves to your brain, then…" She shook her head sharply, feeling no need to hear the possibility spoken out loud, she knew what it would be like, she'd already seen it happen once before.
Somehow she wound up back in his quarters. She had no recollection of making the trip from LifeStation to here, one moment she blinked and was surrounded by the warmth and soft light of his private quarters. Rows upon rows of books some stacked haphazardly across every flat surface. Papers lay strew across his desk, with only a mild semblance of order to them.
Abruptly the reality of the doctor's words hit her square in the chest, stealing the breath from her lungs and the strength from her knees. She tried to make it to the couch but failed and fell to the floor as sobs started raking through her body. With the hatch secured there was no one that would see her and in that one moment she let everything pour out of her, crying out against the injustice of it all she railed in the silence of his quarters, hugging herself tightly as she pressed her face into the rug, tears flowing unrestrained.
She had no idea how much time had passed when there were finally no more tears left to cry. Slowly she became aware of the fact that she was lying curled up on the floor of the Admiral's quarters, her back pressed against the sofa. Carefully she pushed herself up into a sitting position and with some effort she managed to lever herself up onto the couch. She was barefoot, having already lost her shoes somewhere. She didn't bother to look for them but rather sat and drew several shaking breaths before attempting to stand.
Her legs threatened to buckle under her again but she gritted her teeth and forced herself to remain standing. Through sheer force of will the weakness subsided a little and she started to make her way into the private section of the Admiral's quarters in search of a sink and a mirror.
As she emerged from the bathroom she thought she managed to look presentable again. On the inside she still felt like she were made of spun glass and would shatter at even the lightest pressure but at least she no longer looked like it. She stopped for a moment and closed her eyes, drawing another deep breath to prepare herself for what needed to be done. A wave of despair and futility hit her as she dredged up her schedule from memory. She really didn't think she could handle another meeting about rations at this point. She let out a trembling sigh and opened her eyes. She glanced around for a phone and located one beside the Admiral's bed. It took her only a moment to figure out how it worked, she'd seen him use similar devices often enough by now.
"CIC." Dee said crisply in her ear as she lifted the horn.
"Petty officer Dualla," She answered. "Would you put me through to Billy please?"
"Sure, ma'am." Dee answered and raised Colonial One on the wireless.
It took her but a moment to tell Billy what she wanted. It took a little longer to sidestep the concerned questions that followed her request. But Billy knew when not to push and after she flat out refused to answer his questions he dropped the subject and told her he'd clear her schedule for the rest of the day.
As she hung up on Billy she let out a silent sigh. Closing her eyes she leaned her head against the cool metal of the wall for a moment. She knew she was shirking her duty and responsibility. There was so much work that needed to be done, so many choices that needed to be made. But at this very moment she couldn't bring herself to care. She was dying, and she needed a little time to adjust herself to the ultimatum the doctor had given her. As she pushed away from the wall she opened her eyes and looked around, wondering what she was going to do with her time now that she had it.
It was only as she took that moment to really look that she realized where she was precisely. She was standing in the Admiral's private quarters. That in itself was nothing new, he'd offered her the use of his quarters before and she'd taken him up on that offer often enough. But in all those times she had never made it to this section before. She'd always stayed in the larger more public area that doubled as his living room and office, she'd never stepped into what she now realized had to be his bedroom. She was in fact standing less than half an arm length away from his bed. She stood perfectly still as she glanced down at the dark blue blanket, neatly folded and tucked in tight around the mattress. She marveled at the precision and care that had been invested into such a simple and mundane task.
Her hand trembled ever so slightly as she reached down and brushed her fingertips across the blanket. Inside her mind she imagined him lying here at night, sound asleep, this very blanket tucked in around him, brushing up against his bare skin. The image left her feeling weak in the knees for a completely different reason.
She almost laughed at herself, today was certainly proving to be an emotional rollercoaster, one moment she was crying over her impending doom and the next she was indulging herself in a forbidden desire. And yet, maybe it was only natural. Today she had been confronted with the worst news any human being could get, wasn't it only normal that her thoughts ran in the complete opposite direction? From the most horrible thing in her life to the thing she treasured most?
As she ran her hand up to the pillows she wondered if he knew how she felt about him. He might, there had certainly been moments between them that had seemed... electrified. Their dance together on Colonial Day was one such moment. And of course that faithful day when he came to Kobol and sat across from her under a tarp, offering forgiveness when she hadn't asked to be forgiven.
But through it all there had never been a single unambiguous moment. Each of those small gestures might still be nothing more than the chief military officer being courteous with the President of the Colonies. Even their recent habit to use one another's first name rather than their tittles when they were alone might mean… nothing.
She had always put off trying to find out if there was truly something there. Telling herself that she would make the time, someday. But with only a month left when would that time be? Abruptly she decided that she'd find out today.
He stepped into his quarters, his head down, reading over the last fuel reports. He closed the door behind him, spinning the lock without looking up. He made his way over to his desk, reaching up and starting to unbutton his uniform.
"Bill?" He stopped abruptly, startled by the sound of a familiar voice coming from the shadows obscuring his couch. He blinked when he found Laura Roslin sitting there. He had offered her the use of his quarters while she conducted meetings aboard Galactica. But he had known she had an appointment with doc Cottle in the morning, and several meetings afterwards and had frankly not expected her to still be here, much less alone. Nor had he expected her to look like she did. She had discarded the jacket of her suit and taken off her shoes and right now she was sitting on his couch with her legs drawn up, the edge of her skirt hiked up halfway her thighs.
"Laura?" He put aside the reports, forgotten, as he made his way over to her. She extended a hand to him, and he took it, frowning as he felt how cold it lay in his palm.
"Gods," He whispered, settling down on the couch beside her. "You're freezing." He folded her hand into both of his own and started to rub it, hoping to warm the skin. She said nothing, only sat there, looking at him. He was beginning to truly worry now, there was something about her, something in her pale skin and luminous green eyes that unsettled him. He opened his mouth to ask what was wrong but never got the chance.
Abruptly she leaned forward, putting her other hand on his chest as she pressed her mouth to his. There was nothing gentle about the way she kissed him, it was an assault, executed with a military precision that left the Commander reeling. He surrendered without offering any resistance and opened his mouth to the insistent push of her lips and tongue, groaning in the back of his throat as he put his arms around her and drew her to his chest. She flowed against him willingly, her arms slipping around his waist as she took the taste of him.
Time had lost all meaning and when their kiss broke the Commander wondered how long it had been, it had felt like an eternity, eternity spent in heaven. His heart was pounding in his chest, his breathing heavy and ragged as he leaned his brow against hers, feeling the warmth of her breath on his cheeks as he ran his tongue across his lips, sampling her sweet taste.
"Make love to me, Bill." She whispered. He looked at her, blue eyes meeting green. There was something there, something that had only been hinted at before. Something they had both felt but until now had not acted upon. He never asked her if she was sure, she was, and so was he. Instead he returned the favor and kissed her, hard and passionate as he slid his hands down her back to her waist.
"How do I…" She whispered urgently as she tugged with frustration at his uniform jacket.
"Here." He whispered, between a series of breathless kisses trailing down her jaw and neck, he took her hand into his own, brought it to the latch hidden within the folds of his uniform. Once released she hurriedly undid the remaining buttons and brushed it back, off his shoulders. Raking her fingers over the exposed skin she moaned into his mouth as his hands undid the buttons of her blouse and found the skin underneath. He smiled briefly as he felt the soft fabric of the undershirt she was wearing and slipped his hands underneath. He groaned as his hand moved up to find that she wasn't wearing her bra. He cupped her breast in his hand, running the edge of his thumb along the already hardening nipple. She broke away briefly from their kiss and grabbed two handfuls of his uniform jacket.
"Get this off!" She growled against his cheek as she strained under the line of kisses he was drawing across her jaw. He complied without argument, withdrawing his hand from her breast to shrug off his jacket. She reached for his tanks immediately, yanking them out of his belt in a desperate need for his warm skin underneath her fingertips. She pushed them up across his torso, pressing her palms against his skin, trilled to feel the warmth of him, the ripple of his muscles as he drew her once more into his arms.
Gods she needed this. Warmth, life. Someone to hold onto and forget for just a moment that she was dying. - Weeks, a month at the utmost - Cottle's words rang through her mind, a dissonant note interrupting the delicate vibration caused by William Adama's hands on her bare skin. She stifled a moan, one that had nothing to do with pleasure, against his shoulder, digging her fingers into his back. He withdrew from her a little, not far, only so that he could catch her eyes, giving her a quizzing look. She didn't answer the unspoken question but rather pressed her body against his, meaning to have as much of her bare skin touching his.
"Frak me, Bill." She whispered into his ear, unable to hide the note of urgency that had nothing to do with her mounting desire. If he heard her fear he didn't call her on it, perhaps he simply mistook her emotion for desire. He did however respond to her request and slipped his hands over her shoulders, pushing her blouse away. Her undershirt quickly followed. As did his tanks. He drew her into his arms once more, lowering his hands to her buttocks he pulled her squarely onto his lap, where she could feel his arousal pressing up against her thigh. She kissed him deeply, invading his mouth with her tongue and even as she ran one hand up into his hair she reached down with the other, touching her fingertips to the evidence of his desire.
She was on her back on his couch, the cool leather pressed against her skin. A skin that was no longer cold but rather sizzling hot and beginning to glister with sweat. The cold had been driven away completely, and with it the fatigue and pain. She felt alive again, more so than she had in quite a while. She moaned and arched her back against his mouth, which was firmly pressed between her thighs. One hand entangled in his hair, she used the other to cup her own breast, heightening the pleasure that his tongue and lips were causing in her body.
"Oh, Bill, please!" She cried as he slipped a finger into her and gently probed her depth. She could feel him smirk against the soft skin of her thigh as he planted a kiss there and continued his gentle torture. Her pleas soon dissolved into incoherent sounds of the purest pleasure as she felt her body beginning to spiral out of control. It wasn't long before he brought her to the edge one last time and finally pushed her over.
Even as she slowly started to drift down from the peaks of complete and utter bliss he didn't stop. His finger continued to stroke gently deep inside her, catching her in her decent and lifting her up again as he put his mouth to her clit and gently circled it with his tongue.
She had lost all perspective of the world around her, the entire universe had been compressed into their two bodies, but this time around she wanted all of him. Tugging at his hair she pulled him up, her skin tingling like mad as his body covered her own.
"I want you." She breathed, her voice hoarse with desire and the aftermath of her orgasm. "Inside me." She added even as she reached down to his groin and found the evidence of his desire. She closed her hand around it as she kissed him. Tasting herself on his lips and tongue. He groaned deeply into their kiss as she ran her hand up the length of him, squeezing lightly. He wasn't especially long, but gods he was thick. Even now she couldn't quite fit her hand all around him.
Kissing him deeply she ran her hand down to the hilt and spread the tips of her fingers into the thick curls at the base. He responded to her touch by leaning into her, his tongue penetrating her mouth as he shifted his body to take most of his weight on his elbow, positioning his hips above her own. She spread her legs for him, opening herself to his invasion as she guided him in. He broke off their kiss just before and took her chin into his hand, forcing her to look at him.
"Give me your eyes." He whispered huskily. The sound of his voice was gravel wrapped in silk and hummed across her nerves like wildfire. She did as he asked, gazing deeply into the maelstrom of blue fire as she felt his hand travel down her chest, brushing past her breast and across her stomach to were her own hand was still enclosed around him. He wrapped his hand around hers as he eased forward, brushing up against her. She moaned softly, letting go of him to wrap both her arms around his waist and digging her fingers into the small of his back, urging him to go deeper. His hand shifted to her thigh, rounding to grab on of her buttocks as he pushed further. For a brief moment there was pain, it had been a while since she had a man inside of her, and she'd never had one quite this thick. He noticed her flinch and halted, starting to withdraw as a look of concern crossed his face.
"No!" Laura rasped, digging her fingers into his back as she trusted her hips upwards. He groaned with her sudden movement and then held perfectly still. She could see the strain of it in his face and eyes as he spoke.
"Laura, I don't want to hurt you." She smiled, he might have hurt her a little, but it was the sweetest pain she had ever felt, and she had no intention of giving it up ever again.
"You won't." She whispered back, pushing her pelvis tight against his, a silent confirmation of her words. He smiled ever so faintly and then leaned over her, pressing his mouth to hers and taking all of her. He pushed fully inside of her, filling her up even as his tongue mimicked the penetration. She held on to him tightly, wanting more of him still.
He set up a soft rhythm, withdrawing and then pushing back into her in a slow, rocking motion that reduced her to wordless, incoherent moans of pleasure before long. She had wanted to remain in control, wanted to give back some of the pleasure he had already bestowed on her, but she found it impossible. He was firmly in control here, she could see it in his face as he worked steadily to lift her up again, straining against his own impulses. And she gladly surrendered to him, willingly melting into his arms and following the guide of his gentle whispers, the touch of his hands. Before long her surrender was rewarded as she once more exploded with pleasure, and her orgasm finally put a crack in the iron self control of Commander William Adama.
She could see it, even as she quaked in his arms and cried out his name in ecstasy. He held still for the briefest of moments, leaving her full attention to savor the emotional and physical peak. But once the height of it passed he once more resumed his thrust into her, abandoning his previous languid rhythm in favor of a quicker pace. She welcomed him, using him shamelessly to prolong her own pleasure but wanting to see him come apart as well.
She rocked her hips in counterpoint to his thrust, clenching her muscles around him each time he hit bottom. And watched in delight when his control slipped and finally shattered as he pushed deep inside of her one final time. He gasped out her name against her throat and held her tightly as he emptied himself into her.
He almost collapsed on top of her, but managed to catch himself just in time and slid off to the side. Ever the gentleman, even after frakking her nearly senseless. She grinned at the notion, even as she felt tears brimming in her eyes. Blinking furiously she pushed them back, she wouldn't frak this up by breaking down now. She wanted to savor this moment, this one time when she was not the president or the dying prophet, right now she was Laura Roslin, a woman who needed to be loved like any other. She rolled with him, burying her face in the small nock between his shoulder and neck as she wrapped her arms around his chest.
The Admiral stalked into the CIC decidedly grumpy about being called down. It had forced him to leave Laura Roslin sitting cross-legged on his couch, with not a stitch on her. He had never been more tempted to leave Tigh to deal with this crisis on his own. But as he saw Lee standing with Tigh and Gaeta something of his annoyance drained away and was replaced with concern.
"Sitrep." He said as he made his way over to the three men.
"The environmental computer decided that the fire range was over pressurized and started bleeding out air to compensate." Gaeta said, a heavy note to his voice and a slump in his shoulders that hadn't been there before.
"Two more minutes and we would have been dead." Lee said, his voice gruff but steady.
"Power fluctuations. Equipment failures." Adama said.
"Sir I think I found what's causing it." Gaeta said, and tapped a few buttons on his console, a moment later his screen showed a long procession of code then flickered with static before continuing.
"What is that?" Tigh asked.
"A cylon logic bomb," Baltar answered. "A heuristic computer virus, it's capable of learning, evolving, probably running in parallel with every computer on the ship, just waiting to be activated. No doubt left behind when the Cylons infiltrated the network colonel Tigh set up, the day you were shot."
"That was weeks ago. Why now?" Adama asked.
"Most likely sir, it took that long for it to crack our encrypted pass codes and once that happened it started testing its ability to control our systems, electrical, environmental…" Gaeta's voice trailed away as the consequences of his words sank in.
"How do you kill it?"
"That is the tricky part if it is a cylon virus it is extremely difficult to eradicate." Baltar stated.
"Well I guess I'm pretty lucky then." Adama grumbled, "Because I have an expert on board." Something flickered in Baltar's eyes, a touch of pride perhaps, the Commander never saw it as he had turned to Tigh. "Tell Helo to run this past our prisoner." Adama was about to turn away when Baltar slithered up to him. It took the Commander a moment to keep his feelings about the vice-president from showing too clearly on his face.
"Commander perhaps I should sit in." Baltar said, "My expertise may prove useful."
"Mr. vice president I don't think that will be necessary." Adama answered gruffly, watching the man fiddle in front of him.
"You are going to let them talk to each other unmonitored?"
"I think you have enough work on your plate already." The Commander answered, close to snapping at the man. Baltar blinked, but the Commander had already turned away.
"I understand." Baltar said to the Commander's back. "Completely."
He was still brooding as he stepped into his quarters, finding Laura packing up her papers.
"Madam President." He said, well aware of the fact that the hatch was open and there were marines right outside. Still he couldn't quite keep a certain warmth from creeping into his voice. "Your shuttle is ready."
Laura didn't look up but continued to pack. "Of course. Thank you again for letting me use your quarters." Adama frowned at the oddly distant tone of her voice. "Please." He offered. He turned back glancing over his shoulder at the marines.
"I wanted to return this." Laura said, drawing his attention back to her. He found her holding out a book to him and took it without much thought, glancing down at the cover. 'Dark Day' Abruptly he froze and looked at her.
"This was a gift." He finally said. Still she wouldn't look at him, continuing to stuff papers into her bag.
"Never lend a book I know." She said, smiling ever so faintly. "But I've had it far too long. Belongs in your collection." She put away the last of her papers and finally turned to look at him. Finding him looking at her, frowning.
Adama stared at the woman in front of him, still holding the book between them. Perhaps he was reading far too much into this but as he looked at her, took note of her pale skin, the shadows beneath her eyes and recalled how frail and thin she had felt under his hands not too long ago it finally struck home. She was dying. Soon. Her smile was slightly strained as she held her bag in front of her, unconsciously shielding herself from him.
"I'm late for a quorom meeting." She said, and started to turn but stopped as he didn't move. "Is there a problem?" There were a thousand things he wanted to say, but above all else he wanted to draw her into his arms and whisper into her ear that it was all going to be all right. That he loved her and would fight for her, tooth and nail. But when he finally opened his mouth he said nothing of the sort.
"Our computers have been infected by a cylon virus, corrupting systems throughout the entire ship. And I've just been notified that this is a prelude to an all-out attack by the cylons." For a moment Laura said or did nothing. Then she smiled ever so faintly, realizing that if she let herself she could truly love this man. For treating her like a woman, for expecting her to live up to her duties even when he knew she was dying. For the respect he bestowed on her. He could easily have taken this matter into his own hands, claiming it was a military matter, which it was. Instead he was talking to her about it.
"I assume you've tried to disable it." She said, setting down her bag. Adama nodded. "Mr. Gaeta and the vice president are handling that right now, but I'm not hopeful."
"Commander I'm not sure what I can offer you here besides my moral support."
"Actually madam president I could use your advice."
They had settled down at the table, and she sat across from him, her hands folded together.
"I've just come from seeing our cylon prisoner." He said, his voice taking on an oddly flat tone. "She's offering a possible solution to the problem."
"And you are wondering if you can trust her." Laura said. Something very cold stirred in his eyes as he spoke, his voice gruff with emotion.
"Took everything I have not to put my hands around her throat," He said, then sighed and raised a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "I can't believe I'm contemplating this."
"We both know the Cylons are experts at manipulations. They will do anything to confuse you."
"This is not the one who shot me." He offered, countering her argument, but not with much zeal.
"Can they really be that different from one another?" She offered in turn. When he said nothing she continued on. "Commander, if you are asking me if it is possible that your judgment has been clouded by your history with this particular Cylon model, I'd have to say yes." He glanced at her but there was no reproach in his eyes. "But," She continued. "We created them. There is always a chance we might find common ground."
Against her better judgment she reached across the table and put her hand over his. He didn't move and let her run her fingers across the back of his hand, lightly tracing the veins and tendons. There wasn't time and they both knew it, she needed to go.
With Galactica's computer systems compromised it would be extremely unwise for both of humanities leaders to be on board. She even considered for a moment making the argument that he should leave as well and come with her to Colonial One. For a second she smiled at the thought and indulged herself in a brief fantasy. He'd never do it, but wouldn't that be something? To have the Admiral all to herself in her private quarters.
"What are you smiling at?" He asked, drawing her back to reality.
"Nothing." She answered. Her smile faded. "I should go." For a brief moment regret played across his features but he nodded regardless.
"Indeed." He rose from his seat, taking her hand into his own and holding it as he brought her to the door of his quarters. Her heart ached when his hand let go just before they crossed the threshold and stepped out into the corridor.
He walked her down to the hangar deck. Even with the lights flickering and the old Battlestar groaning in protest all around them they both took solace in the quiet walk. They didn't say anything, they both knew the stakes.
As he extended his hand to her to help her into her shuttle she held on for a moment longer than was necessary and turned to look at him. Fully aware of the fact that it might very well be the last time she ever laid eyes upon him.
"Come back." She whispered finally. – Come back to me – was the thought she didn't say out loud.
"I will." He promised, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.