The Girl Next Door
Bill ran up the stairs as fast as his legs could carry him, Harris following loyally behind him. When he reached the top, he saw his father and Laura's mother talking to the local doctor outside his bedroom. That meant Laura was in his room. Or at least he hoped that Laura was in his room. They would be safe in his room, he thought, frowning thoughtfully.
He wondered if he should interrupt them and stood at the side watching them discreetly. Laura's mother wore a worried look on her face but Bill was glad that he could make out some relief on her face. Before he could stop the dog, Harris ran past him and disappeared into his bedroom. Perhaps it was a good thing. He could use it as an excuse to see Laura should he not be allowed to.
"Sir?" he timidly called, looking up at the doctor. The kind-looking man stopped talking and gazed down at the young boy addressing him. "Is Laura all right, sir?" Bill dared to ask and then held his breath. Please let Laura be okay, please let Laura be okay, please let Laura be okay…
The doctor smiled warmly at him. "She'll be fine, son. Don't worry too much about Laura. She'll be up and running soon," he told Bill and then winked at him.
Bill grinned, finding himself able to breathe again. Laura was safe! He peeked into his bedroom as saw Laura lying in his bed, curled up under his blanket. Harris had made himself comfortable on the foot of the bed, watching over his other owner.
Bill straightened up and then half-glanced at the doctor. "Can I see her?"
"Of course. You can talk to her if she's awake."
"Okay," he said, nodding.
"Oh and Bill?" It was Judith who spoke this time. Bill snapped his head upwards and his heart started to pound hard in his chest. Was he going to be in trouble? And it was at this moment that Bill realized even if he was going to get into trouble, he really didn't mind. He couldn't explain why though. "Thank you," the woman finally said, gratitude radiating from her very being. "For taking care of Laura," she added and then smiled at him.
Instead of being glad that he was not in trouble, Bill could feel the familiar stinging at the back of his eyes and blinked several times. I didn't take care of Laura… If I did, all of this wouldn't have happened.
He nodded, as dignified as he could manage and then went into his bedroom. He wondered if he was allowed to close the door and looked back at the adults who were already resuming their previous conversation whatever it was about. Bill couldn't make himself pay attention to them when Laura was safe and so very real in front of him. On his bed.
He slowly pushed the door shut and then crept up to the bedside where she was facing.
"Are you awake?" Bill whispered to Laura and shot a glance at Harris which looked as alert as ever.
Laura's eyes fluttered open and her gaze fell upon Bill's deep blue eyes. "Hi," she said softly and then smiled up at him. This time, it wasn't a smile that made Bill want to smile as well. His little heart constricted at the sadness he saw in her eyes and he wanted desperately to make her laugh with joy. Cocooned under his blanket, Laura looked so small and Bill wanted to take her to their secret place and then make her happy no matter what it took him.
"Don't be scared," he told her, as reassuringly as he could. "You're safe now." He wondered briefly if she would mind him touching her but decided that since she was the one who first kissed him, she wouldn't mind. Bill reached out and pushed the curl of hair from her cheek. Laura's cheek was very soft, he thought, feeling his ears go red. He was sure that Laura's cheek was the softest cheek in the entire universe.
"I'm not scared," she declared bravely and Bill felt pride bursting out of his heart. His Laura was brave and strong. His Laura could climb trees and didn't mind scraping her knee when other girls feared even the merest height.
"Good. Do you feel okay?" It never hurt to make sure, Bill thought.
After a moment's silence, Laura spoke up again. "I don't have the locket anymore," she said quietly, trying her best to prevent the tears brimming in her eyes from rolling down her cheek. It had been her most precious thing ever and she had lost it. "I found it at the creek… But then when I woke up just now, I don't have it anymore," she told him softly. "I'm sorry," she sniffled, looking down.
Bill grinned. He could make her happy now. And it was all he wanted. "Look Laura," he prompted, holding out his hand so the chain would dangle from his fingers.
Laura gasped when she saw what Bill had told her to see. The silver chain and its locket caught the sunlight from the window and sparkled magnificently, making it look more magical than ever. "Where did you get that?" Her voice held wonder and surprise.
"You had it in your hand when my Pa carried you from the river," he explained. "I took it to keep it safe." He slid one hand holding one end of the chain around her neck and then closed the clasp, making sure that it was secure. "There, you'll wear it all the time, won't you?"
Laura nodded and beamed at him. "Of course," she said, like not wearing it would be the most ridiculous thing ever.
"And if you go anywhere, you'll make sure you tell me."
Now, his commanding tone was annoying her. "What for?" she snapped, frowning. She didn't like the idea of being controlled by anything. Or anyone.
"What if you get hurt before I become a Viper pilot and come back and marry you?!" he exclaimed as though the idea that it would be an awful long time before he would even go to flight school had never occurred to him. Perhaps it hadn't. "So I'll have to make sure you're always safe," Bill told her simply; logically.
Laura blushed deeply and then smiled. "Oh… I guess that's okay then…" she said shyly, her face and neck warm. The thought that Bill Adama wanted to marry her was the happiest thing that occupied her mind now. She yawned but then tried to keep her eyes open by watching Bill. He noticed her attempts at staying awake however, and knew that it was best if she rested.
"Are you tired?" he asked.
"No." The denial came fast and sharp and Bill knew she was lying.
"Don't bluff. You are tired. Go to sleep," he told her, making himself sound as adult as he could.
"I'm not," Laura protested, blinking to keep her eyes open.
"You are. Go to bed or you won't get well," he told her knowingly, hands on his hips.
Laura pouted. "What if I wake up and you aren't here?" She would never admit it, but when she was in the water, it scared her to think that she would never see Bill again. The smell of fresh baked blueberry pie had filled her senses and she heard Bill faintly calling out to her over and over again. And now that he was really there, she didn't want him to leave.
Bill seemed to ponder her words and then stalked over to the drawers where he pulled out a few pieces of paper and a box of colour pencils. He set them down on the floor beside the bed and then looked at her.
"What are you doing?" she asked from the bed, confusion etched onto her face.
He shrugged. "Staying here with you."
Laura beamed at him.
Feeling assured that Bill would not leave her, Laura settled back under the covers and drifted into a welcome slumber, safe and warm in Bill's room, under Bill's blanket and in the presence of the boy that affected her so deeply.
To be continued…