Bill charged through the corridors, oblivious to the fact that the crew he passed gave their commanding officer a wide berth, made a hole without having to be asked or ordered, because the fury he was feeling rolled off him in palpable waves and no one wanted to get caught up in the Admiral's dangerous undertow.
He was enraged by the actions of Wallace frakkin' Gray - that the man had taken advantage of Laura's vulnerability (after Bill had pushed her away), that he'd abused her trust in him, incensed Bill nearly as much as did the physical pain Gray had inflicted upon her. In addition to his betrayal of their friendship and subsequent brutal attack, the fact that Wallace Gray had forced Laura into the position of not being able to seek justice for the violence committed against her fueled Bill's burning hatred of the man. Gray was willing to use his intimate knowledge of Laura's life to render her defenseless, to ensure his freedom from prosecution, and that made what he'd done all the more abhorrent as far as Bill was concerned.
As he continued his mad march to the brig, anger at the others involved in the night's events washed into the turbulent sea of Bill's thoughts. Lee, who'd left Laura alone with the obviously drunk and disorderly Gray; Saul, who'd conspired with Laura in ditching her security detail and had left her unprotected in an unsecure location; Tory, who'd known about Laura's altercation with Gray aboard Colonial One and had called her to Joe's Bar in spite of it.
Bill was also angry, however irrationally, with Laura; first, for having failed to advise of him of the altercation with Gray aboard Colonial One. Regardless of the status of their personal relationship, she, as president, should have informed him, as admiral, of the threat to her safety. Bill was also mad at Laura for having gone to the bar, ditching her detail and going with the obviously drunk and disorderly Gray to an isolated area.
He knew that Wallace Gray alone was responsible for his reprehensible actions. Still, perhaps naively, Bill believed that had Lee, Saul, Tory and Laura herself adhered to established and proven protocol, the despicable incident might have been avoided.
Despite his desire to assign blame elsewhere, Bill felt the weight of his own culpability in the matter like an anchor tied to his neck. His having ended his romantic relationship with Laura had set in motion the whole chain of events, had caused the vulnerability that opened the door for Gray's advances and eventual attack. If he'd had the courage to face the fear that his feelings for Laura might affect his leadership abilities, Bill would never have walked away from the closeness they'd shared. As a result of his cowardly actions, Laura had sought comfort from a man who proved himself unworthy of her friendship in the most heinous of ways. It was, Bill knew, his fault that Laura was lying bruised and broken in sickbay. And on top of everything else, he hated Wally Gray for having saddled him with the burden of that guilt.
The swirling tide of his emotions had carried Bill through the long corridors from sickbay all the way to the brig. He pried open the hatch to the shipboard stockade, stepped purposefully through the opening intent on extracting his own brand of justice.
Laura had changed out of the ugly yellow backless hospital gown into the black pants and burgundy blouse Tory had brought her, sat stiffly on the edge of the bed and listened as the young woman ticked off details of the tasks she'd accomplished while the president had briefly rested.
Her chief aid had met with Vice President Zarek, advised him of the circumstances surrounding the president's stint in sickbay and her desire to keep the situation out of the press. Tory and Tom had invented a believable cover story - that President Roslin had been on board a Raptor which experienced a mechanical failure and was forced to make an emergency landing. Tory had written a press release that "recounted" the hard landing in which the president "and several others" sustained minor injuries. Tom had assured the press pool from behind the podium aboard Colonial One that President Roslin was resting comfortably in Galactica's sickbay, having suffered a broken nose in "the accident."
"They bought it," Tory said confidently in reference to the press corps. "Vice President Zarek will be keeping some of your meetings today and tomorrow, the rest have been rescheduled."
"Thank you, Tory," Laura said gratefully as Doctor Cottle pulled back the curtain and approached her.
"I'm not happy about letting you leave so soon, but since you insist, I've got some instructions for you, young lady," he grumbled.
"I'll just be outside, bringing Captain Thrace up to speed," Tory said, left through the opening in the drape when Laura nodded.
"Now," Cottle began, sat down heavily in the chair opposite Laura's position on the bed. "These are not suggestions, Madame President. I expect you to do as I say - got it?"
"Yes, sir," she replied with as much of a smirk as she could pull off.
"Alright then. First, take one of these - " he held up a plastic prescription bottle, "every four hours, as needed, for pain."
"Every four hours," Laura repeated, nodded.
"Secondly, no sex for the next two weeks," he said, seemed to consider his words then amended, "No vaginal intercourse for the next two weeks," finished, looked pointedly across at her from under his raised eyebrows.
Laura returned the doctor's glare with one of her own.
"That won't be a problem," she said evenly.
Doctor Cottle eyed her skeptically, sighed. He reached into his breast pocket, pulled out a cigarette and stuck it between his lips. He patted his other pockets until he located his lighter, put flame to his vice and inhaled deeply.
"We both know that bedside manner isn't my strong suit, and I'm sure as hell no counselor," he said, puffs of smoke accompanying each word out his mouth. "But..." he said, appeared to be unsure of how to continue.
"Victims of sexual assault often have a hard time reestablishing intimacy - "
"Doctor - " she ineffectually attempted to interrupt.
" - and that's normal," he plowed on, looked down at his hands, "But I don't want you to let this thing come between - "
"Doctor," she said more loudly, knew she'd gotten his attention when he jerked his head up, met her gaze. "I won't have a problem ... abstaining from sex over the course of the next couple of weeks because I'm not ... sexually active."
"I thought ... you and the Admiral aren't - ?" Cottle furrowed his brow, gestured with his cigarette before he raised it to his mouth and took another drag.
"No," she said quietly, turned her head and looked down at the floor. "No, not any more."
"Okay, then," he shrugged, "Like you said - not gonna be a problem."
"No," she confirmed.
"Moving on - "
"Please, gods," she mumbled.
"You can ice the nose if ya want, but it's not necessary," he continued. "Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids and come back to see me in two weeks."
"I will, Doctor, thank you," she said, got slowly to her feet as Cottle stood.
"Call me in the mean time if anything comes up," he said, turned and walked off.
Tory reappeared as Laura reached out and plucked her glasses from the bedside table, made to put them on out of habit, thought better of it, folded them and hung them from the front of her shirt instead.
"Ready to go, Madame President?"
"Yes, Tory, thank you," she answered as Tory bent to retrieve from the floor the bag she'd earlier brought Laura.
"Oh," the dark haired woman said, dug around in the bag and pulled out Laura's silk scarf. "I almost forgot."
She shouldered the bag, stepped up to stand directly in front of her boss. Tory threaded one end of the printed scarf between Laura's hair and the back of her neck, pulled it carefully around to the front of her shirt, evened up the lengths of both ends and tied them together gently at her tender throat. She fussed with the fabric until she was satisfied it covered the deepening bruises on Laura's neck, stepped back and smiled.
"There we go," she said.
Laura returned her aid's smile sardonically.
"Did you bring a bag to put over my head?" she teased and Tory laughed.
"No, Madame President," she chuckled. "We don't need to cover the injuries you sustained as a result of the Raptor accident."
Despite the absurdity of the situation, Laura smiled at Tory's theatrical wink and the two headed out.
Corporal Venner jumped to attention from behind his desk, snapped off a salute when the Admiral stormed into the brig.
"At ease, Corporal," he rumbled, turned to level his narrowed gaze on the prisoner behind bars.
Wallace Gray had regained consciousness and appeared to have sobered up in the hours since he'd been "escorted from" Joe's Bar. He'd removed his sport coat and it hung over the end of the cot, had loosened his tie and undone the button on the collar of his dress shirt. He sat on the thin mattress with his back against the metal bulkhead, his arms wrapped around his legs and his head on his knees.
"He given you any trouble?"
The Admiral's quiet question was posed to Corporal Venner though he continued to stare into the cell in front of him.
"No, sir," replied the marine.
"Leave the keys to the cell door and wait for me outside," the Admiral ordered.
"Sir?" Venner questioned reluctantly.
The CO swung his head around and glared menacingly at the guard.
"You have a problem with your hearing, soldier?" he asked through clenched teeth.
"No, sir," Venner answered. "It's just that Major Adama gave strict instructions -"
"I don't give a frak what Major Adama said!" he barked. "Youfollow my orders, Corporal, or you'll be spending time on the other side of these bars, you got that?"
"Now put the keyson the desk and get the frak outta here."
The Admiral's venomous tone and deadly glare clearly expressed his disgust at having to repeat himself. Corporal Venner unclipped the keys from his belt, set them on the desk and hurried to the exit with his tail between his legs.
As soon as the hatch closed behind the departing marine, Bill scooped the key ring off the desk, turned back to face the cell in which the prisoner was confined and met the hesitant eyes of Wallace Gray. He'd risen from the cot to stand in the center of his enclosure and Bill took a long, hard look at the man. He felt some satisfaction in seeing the cut above Gray's eye, the swelling of his jaw and lip, the fear in his eyes. When he noticed the dried blood that dotted the other man's shirt, Bill's nostrils flared and he ground his teeth. 'That could be Laura's blood.' When Gray shifted his weight from one foot to the other and clasped his hands in front of him, Bill's attention was drawn to the bulky class ring on the man's left hand. Doctor Cottle's graphic description of Laura's injuries came hurtling back to him, crystallized his rage and propelled him into action.
"How's Laura?" Gray asked, cleared his throat of the slight waver in his voice.
Bill shot him a murderous look, turned the key in the lock and flung open the cell door. Gray didn't flinch when he stepped over the threshold, rather, raised his chin in what Bill interpreted to be defiance. Silently seething, Bill turned his back on Gray, wrapped his fingers around the bars of the cell door and slowly slid it closed.
"If you're here to - "
Wallace Gray didn't get the chance to finish whatever it was he'd been about to say. Bill whirled around and landed a crushing blow to his face, the force of which knocked Gray to the floor. He crouched over the prone man, grabbed him by the front of his shirt and shook him.
"She trusted you, you frakkin' piece of shit, and you hurt her," Bill ground out, slammed Gray's head to the deck with a sickening thud. As Bill raised his arm to hit him again, Lee threw open the barred door, grabbed his father under the arms and hoisted him roughly up and off the prisoner.
"Dad!" he shouted, tightened his grip when Bill began to struggle against him. "Don't do this, dad. It won't help - just ... stop. It's not worth it."
Bill's chest was heaving as much from the effort to free himself as from the effort to rein in his blood thirst as Wallace Gray pushed himself into a sitting position. He spit blood, turned toward Bill, shook his head and laughed.
"Hypocrite," he said scornfully, grabbed the foot of the cot and hoisted himself to his unsteady feet. "You godsdamned hypocrite."
Lee felt his father sag almost imperceptibly, felt more of the Old Man's weight press into his chest.
"She trusted you, too," Gray sneered, wiped the fresh blood from his nose with the back of his hand. "You hurt her, too, Bill," he accused.
Bill recognized the ugly truth in that statement, knew that Laura's trust in him had been shattered, her fragile heart battered when he'd selfishly put an end to their romantic involvement with nothing more than a bullshit excuse. But he refused to allow the man who'd raped her to compare the two situations.
"I never tried to take something from her she didn't want to give," Bill spat out.
"You didn't have to," Gray countered bitterly. "Laura gave you everything she had! Her loyalty, her heart, her body -"
"Shut the frak up," Bill warned dangerously, strained against Lee's grip.
Wallace Gray laughed, shook his head.
"Those nights on New Caprica?" he started, grinned lasciviously and Bill stiffened in Lee's grasp. "I sat outside her tent, ya know. Heard you in there frakking her, heard her cry out and call your name when she came -"
Gray flinched when Bill lunged for him, laughed again when Lee managed to hold him back.
"Let's get outta here, dad," Lee said, dragged Bill back a step with great effort and glared darkly at Wallace Gray.
" - I'd go back to my tent, her voice ringing in my ears, jerk off -"
Bill's fierce growl rose to drown out Gray's offensive words and when he lunged for him again, Lee loosed his hold and let his dad go.
The first thing Laura wanted to do upon reaching her quarters aboard Galactica after having been released from sickbay was take a shower. She sent Tory to work, stripped slowly and carefully out of her clothes and stood under the hot spray for longer than was generally decent. She ignored the little voice in her head that tried to remind her of the importance of water and energy conservation, figured she deserved the indulgence after all she'd been through. The overall effect of the steaming shower was that Laura's aching body seemed to relax, though she experienced some pain in raising her arms to wash her hair. When she finally twisted the handles to stop the flow of water and stepped from the shower, she felt both literally and figuratively cleaner. Some of the filth, fear, guilt and disgust she'd felt since Wally had ... assaulted her was circling the drain along with the previous day's normal accumulation of grime, the lingering antiseptic smell of sickbay.
Laura hissed and cursed at the stab of pain in her ribs when she bent forward, but managed to twist her hair in one of the gray bath towels before she reached for the other and began to cautiously pat herself dry. She wrapped the second towel around her body, tucked one end under the other to secure it under one of her arms and crossed the threshold into the combined living/sleeping area of the guest quarters.
She jumped, cried out in alarm then doubled over in pain and clutched at her ribs when she nearly ran into Bill.
"What the hell are you doing, Bill?" she demanded raggedly, straightened but kept an arm around her ribs, batted the hand away he'd reached out to her. "You scared the shit outta me!"
Over Bill's shoulder, Laura noticed two of the marines from her security detail who had apparently accompanied the Admiral in his attempt to determine the state of her well being. One of the two guards, she realized, was Corporal Pryce - one of the marines she'd tricked into letting her into Joe's Bar with Colonel Tigh. He openly gawked at her cuts and bruises, all the injuries he could see because she was nearly naked before the three men. She saw the change in his expression when the fact that she was decidedly undressed, that he was staring at the bare arms, shoulders and legs of the president, registered with Corporal Pryce. His eyes widened, his jaw snapped shut and the marine turned six shades of red before he averted his gaze.
"I'm sorry, Laura," Bill said with a sigh. "You didn't pick up when I tried to get you on the phone so I came over and when you didn't answer the door -"
"Are you gonna break down the door every time you can't get in touch with me now?" she asked, moved her hands to tug the towel up higher over her breasts.
"No," he said calmly. "I was just worried that you might have -"
"Worrying about me is no longer your responsibility, Bill," she sniped.
Bill pulled the glasses from his face, pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. When he'd been unable to raise Laura on the comm upon his return to his quarters from the brig, he'd been just fractionally concerned. He'd taken a shower, shaved, redressed in a clean uniform, checked in with Saul in CIC and tried again to call her. The second time his call went unanswered, concern turned to all-out worry and he'd quickly made his way to her temporary quarters. He'd been nearly frantic when Laura hadn't responded to his repeated raps at the hatch, had feared the worst - that she'd succumbed to her injuries and was physically unable to respond, that the psychological trauma of what had happened to her had reduced her to an uncommunicative state. With those thoughts flashing rapid-fire through his mind, Bill had thrown open the hatch and stormed into the cabin, marines in tow, terrified of what he might find inside.
Though she was clearly pissed at the intrusion, Bill was relieved beyond measure to see Laura standing under her own power, in complete control of her faculties. He could deal with her ire.
"Thank you," he said by way of dismissal to the two marines, slid his glasses back onto his craggy face. They obediently turned and exited the president's quarters, sealed the hatch behind them.
When he turned back to Laura, Bill ignored the raised eyebrow, the arms crossed over her chest, the indignation her entire stance portrayed. He stepped up to stand in front of her, scrutinized the bruises under her eyes, already darkly purpled since he'd seen her in sickbay, the swelling of her normally delicate nose. He dropped his gaze to the darkening skin of her throat, swallowed audibly on seeing marks there that were obviously shaped like the fingers Wallace Gray had used to choke her. He noticed some slight discoloration around the toned bicep of one of her arms, a nasty looking bruise on one of her knees.
Laura shifted, uncrossed her arms and grabbed the towel at her chest with both hands, uncomfortable under the weight of Bill's close examination. When he flicked his eyes up to engage hers, he saw the spark of anger recede, the suggestion of embarrassment slide in, and his heart ached for her.
"Are you okay, Laura?" he whispered.
She blinked her bloodshot, blood-stained eyes, nodded slowly.
"I'm fine," she said, a tad too brightly. "A little sore, but Cottle gave me something to take for the pain."
Bill took another step closer to her, put his hands gently to her upper arms.
"That's not what I meant."
"I know what you meant, Bill," she sighed. "And the truth is, I'm not sure how I'm feeling."
"You wanna talk about it?" he asked.
"No," she replied flatly, shook her head, turned and walked back into the head.
He watched her retreat, noticed her stiff gait and felt his anger flare at the thought of Wally Gray's ring, the damage it had done to Laura's tender flesh . Bill followed after her a moment later when he heard Laura suck in a loud breath, issue a curse. He stopped short of crossing into the bathroom, watched as, her back to him, she struggled with her thick white bathrobe.
"Can I help you with that?" he asked from the doorway.
She ceased her futile attempt at getting into the garment and slumped her shoulders in apparent acceptance of defeat.
"It's not like I haven't seen you naked before," Bill chuckled, moved to stand behind her.
Laura looked forlornly over her shoulder at him and he immediately regretted the insensitive comment, was unable to keep her sad gaze and looked down at his boots. When he saw the towel she'd been wrapped in puddle on the deck, Bill raised his head. Laura stood naked before him, her head bowed slightly, and held the robe out to her side.
Bill took the robe from her hand, helped her arms into the sleeves, pulled the thick terrycloth up and over her shoulders without a word. He kept his hands on her shoulders as Laura belted the robe in front.
She whispered a reluctant "Thank you," remained still until Bill turned her gently around to face him.
He reached up and pulled the towel off her head and her wet hair fell free in a mess of tangles.
"Go sit down," he ordered softly, turned to hang up both towels as Laura walked gingerly from the head.
Bill snapped off the light and moved out into the living area of her temporary quarters just as Laura was lowering herself onto the little couch there. She watched him cross the room, lifted the corner of her mouth in a half-hearted smile when she saw that he carried her hairbrush. He sank down onto the cushion beside Laura, motioned with a swirl of his index finger for her to turn around in her seat. She complied with his non-verbal request, pulled one bent leg up onto the couch and put her back to Bill.
When he began to pull the brush through her hair, Laura tipped her head back, closed her eyes and hummed at the soothing sensation. Bill expertly ran the bristles from the crown of her head to the end of each thick lock, worked the knots out gently as he did so. With practiced ease, he laid aside each section of smoothed hair, moved on to the next tangled curl until he'd skillfully brushed out the entire glossy mane.
Before she was aware of what she was doing, Laura pressed her back into Bill's chest, tipped her head back to rest on his shoulder when he slid his arms around her waist. Only when he kissed the sensitive skin behind her ear did she become fully and painfully cognizant of the fact that their embrace belied the strained nature of their newly platonic relationship.
The sudden fear she felt at having so easily and willingly fooled herself into forgetting that everything had changed between them turned Laura's stomach. She jerked up and away from Bill, winced and hissed as her broken ribs protested the hasty action, slowed her movements as she turned to face him.
"Why are you here, Bill?" she asked plaintively.
"I told you," he said, puzzled. "I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"You can see that I am. Why are you still here?"
Bill blew out a long breath, nodded his head and took her hand in his.
"Laura," he said, looked pleadingly into her eyes. "I ... miss you. I made a mistake and I -"
"Stop," she commanded, withdrew her hand from his grasp and stood more quickly than she should have, began to pace stiffly . "Just ... stop."
Bill remained seated, hung his head.
"I know I hurt you, Laura, and I'm sorry. But I lo -"
"Don't you dare," she interrupted icily, stopped to stare down at him. "Don't you dare say it, Bill."