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I Should Have Followed You Anywhere
"If you could go back and change a decision you made when you were young, what would it be?"
Bill Adama's eyes blinked open lazily. "What?" he said. "What kind of a question is that?
Laura Roslin shifted in his arms so that she was looking at him. Her cot was small but she liked the way her body felt pressed along his, even on nights like this when they both wore sleeping clothes. New Caprica was always cold those days and a small bed made it easier to share warmth. "One of the children asked me that today," she explained. " I was scolding him for skipping school yesterday and I think he wanted to know what sort of terrible things I did as a child."
Bill wrapped his arms more tightly around her. His visits to New Caprica were becoming few and far between. Baltar's objections towards his coming had increased since the ground breaking ceremony and Bill was having a harder and harder time getting through the red tape. He knew Laura understood but it didn't make it any easier to be away from her for so long. "What did you tell him?" he asked.
Laura smirked. "I told him I would have never agreed to be Jason Raider's girlfriend when we were seven." She looked up and caught Bill's eye, "He was a biter."
Bill laughed and kissed her temple.
Laura closed her eyes at the brief contact before looking at him again. "So what's yours?" she asked.
He sighed. "What's young?"
Her brow crinkled slightly and her eyes glanced skyward like they always did when she was making a decision. "Under thirty let's say."
Bill was silent for several moments. A war waged in his mind over whether or not to let this particular secret out. He had kept it for over a year. Ever since the first time he'd heard her laugh and had been transported back in time over thirty years.
His eyes snapped back to meet hers again.
"This doesn't have to be anything profound you know," she told him. "Mine certainly wasn't. And it's just a hypothetical."
"It is," he agreed. "Until it isn't."
Laura gave a very un-presidential snort. "Did you really just say that?"
Bill just smiled.
"Alright Admiral," she continued, "what's your answer then?"
Bill shifted so he was laying on his back, pulling Laura with him until she was curled against his side. It reminded him of the night after the ground breaking ceremony. Reaching up he slowly ran his hand through her hair, just like he'd wanted to that night. "I was twenty-five," he began. "I had a week's leave and went to Caprica City to visit a friend from the academy. He was having a Colonial Day party. There was a girl, a colleague of my friend's girlfriend. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen."
"Let me guess," said Laura, "you were a typical fly-boy. Left during the night and never called her again."
Bill shook his head. "We spent the whole party talking. Even when we danced, we never stopped talking." He watched as Laura's forehead became lined with confusion. She was reaching for a memory, one long since forgotten. In his ever-steady voice he continued. "I told her what it felt like to fly. How I was going to become captain of a battlestar. She told me how much she loved her students, and how she was going to become the principal of her school someday. She was the first person I'd ever told about my father and sister since leaving home."
Laura had forgotten how to speak. The memory of a party, and a young soldier came crashing down upon her. He had not been the most handsome man in the room that night. But he had had an air of calmness in his own skin that many of the other young men had lacked. "You talked with her until morning. Stayed up until after everyone else had left or fallen asleep."
He nodded. "And then I walked her home just before dawn. I kissed her in front of her building. She was the first girl I'd ever kissed without caring if it was leading somewhere."
Laura felt a tear run down her face. "She asked you up," she whispered.
"And I said no."
"When she never heard from you again, I'm sure she felt like you hadn't really cared at all. That if she couldn't even get a fly boy to…"
Bill wiped the tears from her face. "She was better than any port in the storm girl. I had to leave later that week. I wasn't sure when I'd be back. I didn't think it was fair to her. I didn't think I was good enough. She was brighter than life, going places and doing things I had no chance of competing with. But of all the things I did in my youth, if I could change just one, I'd have followed her up the stairs."
Laura tried to remember how to breathe. "When did you…? How long have you…?"
"Your first time aboard Galactica as President. You were standing next to Lee in the CIC and you laughed. It was like I was back at that party. Your laugh hasn't changed in thirty-five years." He pulled her close and spoke against her temple. "I'm sorry I didn't follow you. I wanted to. I wanted to follow you anywhere, for as long as you'd let me."
Laura bit back a sob and held him tighter. After a few moment she pulled away gently and smiled up at him. "Hello Will," she said, using the name he'd introduced himself with all those years ago.
Bill let out a breath. It had been so long since anyone had called him that. He'd made the change to Bill not many years later. Partly because when he met Carolanne, it didn't sound right when she called him Will. Laura was the last woman to use the name he'd always secretly preferred. He wondered if now she'd begin again.
"Hello Laura," he replied. "I'm sorry it took this long."
Laura looked up at him, the seriousness evident in her eyes. "Me too Will, me too."