Title: Good For What
Fandom: BsG, spoilers through season two.
Notes: Written for (lj) selenayx in the (lj comm) billykeikeya ficathon! She wanted Mom, Billy, comfort, and tea. Thank you to melyanna for the beta work!
On their trip to the Galactica, the stewardess comes by with the drink cart somewhere around the two-hour mark. Billy smiles at her, flirting just a little. Laura watches, eyes nearly closed in the bright light of the cabin. The other woman is slight and pretty in a generic way, but young enough that there's a little something extra in her face when she flirts back. A sparkle.
She shakes her head, almost unconsciously, and bites her lower lip. Gods, they're so very young, she thinks, and rubs a hand up the side of her neck, studiously avoiding the line of her body. It's been five hours that this knowledge has been brightly burning in her mind.
Absently, she tries to remember the last time she flirted with a cute guy in a public transport. Years ago, she thinks, keeping quiet as Billy chatters on to the girl about an upcoming art festival in Caprica City.
"I'm having tea, would you like something, ma'am?"
She jerks a little, strangely startled that he knows she's awake. Looks up and stares at this boy and the little girl standing behind him. A jealousy she doesn't understand and instantly regrets swarms her brain and floods her throat so that all she can do is nod. She feels stupid and weak and angry, but knows this is not the time. This is not the place.
Billy's face is nervous but eager and she has to remind herself that this is his first day. Probably his first assignment. He's waiting for her answer, as is the pretty girl hovering next to him.
"That would be nice, thank you." Her voice is steadier than she expected, but not what she'd consider vital or strong. It didn't matter. The girl was nodding and had turned back to her cart to get everything ready, and Billy was smiling at her as though she'd just hung the moons.
She thinks, maybe, it's a good thing she won't be extraordinarily long for this position because all that eager sweetness would get on her damn nerves.
The mug is hot in her hands and the tea is strong and pungent on her tongue. Gemanon's best, the tag reads. She settles back in her seat, staring at the stars beyond her window. Contemplates the next few hours and sighs.
Next to her, Billy breathes and sips his tea.
"That's it, I'm taking the next fifteen minutes off."
She watched as Billy slumped down, face first, onto his desk and groaned a little. If the situation weren't so dire, and wow was it dire, she'd have laughed. It's the first time in the six days she's known the man that she's ever seen him at something other than completely professional. All told, under the stacks and stacks of other things she's has to worry about and deal with, she'd been wondering when he'd finally snap.
Looks like it's now.
She grunts at him – wouldn't her mother be proud, and that's a line of thought that she doesn't have the mental fortitude to delve into at this juncture – and stands up, stretching her legs. They're six minutes in, and she can afford to stretch and move so she doesn't go crazy. Er. Crazier.
Her legs are stiff and sore from too much sitting and too much recycled air, and when she moves around her desk, Billy rolls an eye back to look at her.
"Can we go home please?" He asks it in a completely forced whiney tone, his baby face pulled into an exaggerated grimace. It takes her a couple seconds to realize that the snicker she's hearing is coming from her.
"Not yet, sweetie," she plays along, patting him on the back and giving in to the odd temptation to ruffle his curls. She hasn't slept for more than a few minutes in over four days, so if they ever make it out of this alive and in one piece, she's got a defense all worked out. He is warm and solid under her hands, a boy who's handling this with more grace than she'd ever have given him credit for. She doesn't hold it against him when he leans into her hand a little.
She lets the hand rest, pressing against the base of his skull and waves her fingers just a little. They all deserve a little comfort. Even her.
She lets herself smile then. Just a quick thing. Leans into his chair and squeezes her fingers once before letting go, letting him go, and walking towards the quickly diminishing coffee service.
"Tea?" She asks over her shoulder, but when she looks back he's slumped over, eyes closed. She smiles again then, her mind too exhausted to crush her wandering thoughts. When she turns back to the electric kettle she's still thinking about mothers and missed chances and the resiliency of youth.
The night before everything goes to hell and she gets arrested, she and Billy get back to Colonial One giggling like children who've had free run of a candy shop. It's a strange experience for her, but the emotion and relief of the day had been enough to do what the alcohol she wasn't supposed to have been drinking hadn't. And Billy, well. Dee had kept refilling his glass when he wasn't looking and making smirky faces over at her. She's sure that their escort is ready to chuck them by the time their shuttle returns.
Snickering and leaning heavily on her desk, she thinks that her life is more than a little surreal when she's conspiring with her aide's girlfriend to get him drunk. Watching Billy shuffle and sway in a rather unpracticed two-step, Laura makes a mental note to utilize Dee in the future, because if all their evil plots are this successful, well.
She laughs louder as Billy knocks into the edge of his desk, grunting, and making a rather surprised face. He slumps down to sit and gives her the brightest, happiest smile she's seen on someone in months. Maybe years.
"It was a good night."
She nods, feeling her face stretch out, letting tonight be happy and okay. "It was. I saw you and Petty Officer Dualla dancing for most of it."
His eyes glint in the dim light of the cabin and somehow, he manages to look a little bit happier. "Yeah. She got me drunk and taught me how to waltz."
Surprised, she laughs and flips on the electric kettle. Six months on and she knows this man well enough to just act rather than ask. She's a bit startled to note that the movements are automatic. Still, there have been enough late-night tea breaks to make this second nature. "Noticed that, did you?"
"What? The drinks or the dancing?" His eyes twinkle merrily in the dim lighting of the cabin, and his smile is bright and wide. "And while I'm not as drunk as she intended, I am drunk enough to say, that was dirty pool, Madam President."
"Hmm?" She raised an eyebrow and smirked before flipping off the whistling kettle. Someone had apparently been in here earlier. Given her nice little buzz, that didn't worry her as much as it should have. "Oh, you mean how I was encouraging her?"
"Or how you kept going back to the bar for her."
They're both smirking and sly and it doesn't last all that long because they're both too happy to keep up the pretense. Hand pressed against her chest, she giggles and laughs and then squeaks when he reaches over and pulls her into an unexpectedly graceful turn before pulling her back and dragging her through that two step he'd been having problems with earlier.
She is laughing and happy as Billy dances her around the cabin, warbling a bad Caprican love song in a truly flat baritone that would have gotten him boo'd anywhere outside his shower stall.
The next day, staring at him across a tense and angry cabin, she remembers his merrily dancing eyes and giggling into his tie and tries to convince herself this is all going to be okay.
"Let me help you, ma'am."
She blinks her eyes open and suddenly she's not in Richard's office anymore. Not in the brilliantly washed out quad with the fountain even though her feet are still tingling from the cold of the water and there's warmth on her face, but that's not anything but the spotlight aimed at her head. She blinks again, trying to sort all of this and the fuzziness that has crept up on her over the last few weeks into some kind of rational sense.
And then he's there. Billy.
"Oh," she says (voice much weaker than she remembers) and she can feel his hands on her shoulders and back, lifting her so that she's not staring at the spotlight. Her eyes readjust again while Billy quickly stuffs a few of the thin infirmary pillows behind her back, and suddenly she's sitting up. She remembers a time (last week) when she could do that for herself. Doesn't bother wiping her face when the tears well up because, really, there is no point. She knows that.
Remembers watching her mother towards the end. Seeing that vagueness and fear and knows that if she made Billy go get her a mirror, she'll see all of that behind her own eyes.
"Yes, ma'am?" He scoots back, taking her hand in an automatic kind of way, and just waiting. She remembers that look. Remembers wearing that look. Feels her heart break just a little bit more at seeing it on his face.
"Do me a favor and even if I beg you, promise me you won't bring me a mirror."
His smile flashes quick and genuine across his face. It's sentimental and stupid, but she wishes she had the strength to raise a hand and brush it across his jaw. What a godssend this boy had been.
"Yes, ma'am. Come on. It's time for dinner." He quirks a half-smile at her and holds up one of his hands. In it is some of that horrible porridge that the ag carrier has been pushing. Her stomach reminds her that it's not all that enthusiastic on her best days, and today is very much not a best day. She makes a face and groans, but allows him to force a few bites down her throat before shaking her head. It's important to him. She knows this well and true, and it's more for him than anything else that she opens her mouth in the first place.
She's not fighting for herself. She hasn't been for months.
But this is Billy. Billy who's worked himself ragged. Billy who's gone to meetings and taken notes and made decisions and done everything she slowly stopped being able to do with grace. Who's never complained. Who's sitting here holding her hand, and doing everything he can for a dying woman who, a year a go, he didn't know from Persephone.
He sets the tin and spoon down on a nearby table and comes back with a cup. She takes a sip and lets herself laugh after he draws it away. The laugh is hollow and rattling by any estimation, but it's there.
"Tea?" She asks this with the taste still on her lips.
He shrugged and took her hand again. "Why mess with something that works?"
She falls asleep with his hand in hers and the knowledge that she'll probably wake up again.
It's an odd day when she finds herself humming through a power report. So much so, she stops in the middle, drops her pen and blinks.
"Billy," she asks, face careful. "Was I just humming?"
Across the way at his desk - his stack of reports considerably larger than her own - Billy doesn't even look up. "Yes, ma'am."
"How long have I been humming?"
"About ten minutes."
"Huh," she bites her lip and leans back in her chair, kicking her feet out in front of her. Her heels have long since been pushed off, so she gives herself the luxury of wiggling her toes in the carpet. It feels good. Everything feels good today. She smiles then. Hops up from behind her desk and almost bounces over to the drinks area to flip on the kettle.
Nothing like a completely implausible return from her death bed to lift her spirits.
Behind her Billy's chair squeaks in that way that means he's stretching, so she deliberatlely looks over her shoulder. Waits for the nod before grabbing an extra mug and dumping in a few leaves.
The rythms of this are warm and happy in her chest, and by the time she dumps Billy's mug in front of him, she's back to wanting to hum.
"So," she asks, staring down at him, leaning a hip against the back of his chair. "Are you going to ask me the question you've been wanting to ask me for the last few days, or are we just going to keep dancing around the issue?"
She grins at how he blushes and points his nose right back down to his report. She knows what he's going to ask - of course she knows - but one of the few pleasures she allowed herself over the past few months was winding the boy up. It's not something that she's wanting to let go now that she can walk and talk and skip under her own power. Life's too short to give up the little pleasures.
"Um, yeah. Um."
It wouldn't surprise her if the grin she's sporting cracks her face. "Yes?"
"I was wondering if I could have a day off next week. Um. To go to Cloud Nine. Um. With. Um."
She laughs then, loud and deep and bright. Second chances are funny things, she thinks, running a hand across his shoulders.
"Yes, Billy," she laughs, scratching lightly at the nape of his neck. He looks up, surprised, but doesn't pull away. "You can have a day off to go to the Cloud Nine next week."
He grins at her, eyes light and free, and for an instant she sees that young boy who flirted with a stewardess all those months ago return. She lets him go and does a quick little dancing turn around her desk, happy. It's only a moment, she knows, but that's okay. Moments are important.
His laughter rings in her ears, and it feels like freedom.