A/N: I'm brand-new in this fandom, just finished watching the second season. So this is set vaguely near the middle of the first season. (Sorry about the confusion, reviewers.)
Mutual Admiration and Respect
"I'm throwing a dinner party," Laura Roslin says, "and you're not invited."
This gives him pause, but only for the briefest of moments. Then he shrugs, the same one that can have a variety of meanings, from, "Mea culpa," to, "You're a complete moron but to each his own."
"Alright," he says, equably. She stares at him for a minute, stares him down, narrows her eyes, then shifts her weight from foot to foot.
"That's all you're going to say? 'Alright'?"
"It's bound to be a political, diplomatic thing," he observes. "You know how I feel about those kind of occasions."
She does the eye-narrowing thing again.
"Well, it's not," she says, and folds her arms. "It's going to be an evening of fun, with good food and entertainment."
He glances as the drab grey walls of his ship, all function and battle-scars, closing them off from the reach of outer space but not, it must be said, with any style.
"Good luck with that one," he says with a half-grin, and walks on.
"Bill," she says decidedly, when they're in the middle of a conversation about something else entirely, "I think that my aides and I should take a vacation."
He checks his watch. Five minutes till a briefing with a newly-returned Starbuck, and the walk itself will take up three and a half. He's not quite as fast as he used to be. He has a choice: argue with the President and lose, or give up right now and save his dignity.
"I think that's a very good idea," he says warmly, and puts a hand on her shoulder. "You've been looking a little peaky."
Just once, he would like to finish a conversation without having her eye him like that.
"Peaky?" she says.
A shrug. "In a good way."
"Where are you going to go?" He changes the subject deftly.
She wants to purse the peaky comment, but she's going to let it go. "Where else? Cloud Nine." She stretches a little, raising her face to the imagined imaginary sunlight. "Soak up some rays—"
"Simulated rays," he points out.
"Relaxation is good for the soul," she says, and nods deeply before examining him over the tops of her glasses. This look always makes him feel like a schoolboy, which is, he guesses, exactly what she's going for. "You could do with some yourself, Commander."
He's not going to contest that one. "So could we all, Madame President."
She nods. "True. But you understand, Bill, this should just be a political party. If we were accompanied by military personnel, things could get—" She pounces on the right word after a minute, and delivers it with a half shrug, just one shoulder up nearly to her ear. "Awkward."
"Don't worry." He pats her arm. "I'm not going to get in the way of your vacation. You enjoy yourself. Sleep. Get a simulated tan."
He's walking away when she shouts after him, "And what exactly is good-peaky, anyway?"
He's late to the briefing, but he wins this argument.
There's such a long pause after this that he's forced to carry things onward with a grave, "Laura." He accompanies the gravity with a smile, though, and after a minute of vague face-twitching she smiles back.
"Isn't there a card game on board?" is not what he expects to come out of her mouth, but it's what emerges all the same. He blinks.
"There is. It's practically ongoing, in the bunks. Why do you ask?"
She looks like she's thinking her answer over, slowly, in her head, trying to arrive at just the right set of words to accomplish something. What it is, he has no idea, but he watches her warily, just to be on the safe side. Words are magic for Laura Roslin, they help her win friends and intimidate people. She uses them on him less often but that's only, he suspects, because she realizes that he knows the secret. He knows how they work.
"I was thinking, perhaps, it might be a good idea for me to show my face there."
He arches his eyebrows.
"You know how to play?"
"I used to. You don't know everything about me, Bill Adama." She snaps her fingers, and grins sheepishly. "I could shuffle the deck."
He laughs, and she drops her head, her hair falling forward over her eyes, hiding her smile. She folds her arms and raises her head just as he tips his, his gaze finding hers. They meet directly, with no pretense. His laugh has faded to a fond smile.
"Well, while it might do wonders for morale, I doubt that it would increase their respect for the government," he tells her. "Better not."
She nods, accepts this. They stand for a moment in the hallway and listen to the echoing tramp of far-off feet. They have, for once, nowhere in particular to be for the next few minutes.
"Bill." Her voice softer this time. He doesn't respond, just waits. She shakes her hair back. "You'll have to teach me, one of these days."
"Teach you what?" He's honestly forgotten what they were talking about.
They both smile gently at the floor.
"So." He lets a pause drift by. "What's going on in your head? Dinner parties that nobody gets invited to, vacations that you don't take, card games that you can't play. Is there an issue at stake here that I'm unaware of?"
"Hardly." She laughs. "I wondered if you even noticed all that. It's just me being silly."
He can see that. "That's the only motivation? Or are you moving in a determined direction with this?"
Her arms still folded, she raises both shoulders in a shrug. "I— want you to ask me for something that I'm capable of delivering. I ask you for things all the time, and you've never once disappointed. I trust you, and I like you. You're my friend. And what do I have to give back?" She shakes her head, bites her lower lip. "If it comes to creating artificial situations— which of course it does. There is no situation, in our present life, where I have something that you want."
He clears his throat. "I beg to differ," he begins, choosing his words carefully and honestly. "You've given me much that I value. Your cooperation— at times. Your dedication to the fleet. Your integrity. Your friendship. I wouldn't take things like that lightly."
She's blushing underneath her hair, which she has shaken forward again over her face. It's the action of a young girl, a habit that she's never quite managed to evade.
"And I'm relieved," he says, "that you weren't just trying to make me feel inferior for your own amusement. I understand that life can get boring on these ships."
This, she laughs at.
"Never, with you," she says.
He holds out his arms, asks for something from her; and she moves into them, trustingly, believing in Bill Adama the way she believes in suns, in moons, in stars, in life. He holds her close for a moment, and she wraps her arms around his broad back and feels the steady beat of his heart.