ON YOUR HEAD


Colonial One

Billy was dead.

"Madame President?"

Billy was dead and he was lying in that cold, sterile, dark place – practically on top of that Cylon corpse Adama spent so much time just staring at. As if she'd suddenly spring to life, apologize for not being the woman he'd trusted; apologize for putting a bullet in his chest. Why did Bill spend so much time in there? She'd heard rumors, and when she'd gone to see Billy, there he was. Just… looking at her. Looking at her like she herself had ooked at Billy. Maybe feeling just as empty as she did?

Billy…

Billy was dead.

"…Madame President?"

She'd always thought Billy would stand over her body. Morbid, yes—Gods, it was morbid—but she used to hope he'd stand over her body. In this world of Cylons and Cancers, yes, it only made sense. Billy would be the one to remember her, not the other way around. She would never have to stand over his body; never have to prepare a speech for his funeral.

But this wasn't the world it should be. Recycled air, constant jumps just in time. Terrorists. Cyclons and Cancers, all of it—that's what the world had become. It wasn't the world that had pushed her to teach. But she knew that. It was the world that forced her to become—

"Madame President."

"…Gods," Laura shook her head, turning to the nameless pilot who'd provided her escort from Galactica to Colonial One. She should know his name, this man Bill had asked to personally see her back. She should know his rank. He couldn't be older than Billy is. Was. She should know his name before the Cylons and Cancers claimed this poor, poor boy. Before she was sending him out of an airlock, too. So say we all.

"Madame President, we've arrived," he nodded.

"I'm so sorry, son," Laura pulled her glasses from her face, resting her tired eyes in her palms. She took a deep breath, straightening her back and unhooking herself from her restraints. "How long have you been waiting for me to come to?"

"Not long," he nodded again. "Though I may need to refuel."

"You let me sit here, silently, gazing into this docking bay. Didn't you?"

"The old man said you might need to."

"The old man," Laura repeated, more to herself.

"Madame President, if I may speak candidly?"

"Please," Laura nodded.

"It's going to be alright."

Laura's hand left her knee and found its way to his. She nodded solemnly with a forced grin. "Thank you."

She would ask Bill this young boy's name another day. A day where she'd personally go to him, thank him again for his kindness. A day when the only thing she wanted to do wasn't scream. He was trying to help her, trying to console her – though for what, he probably had no idea.

Laura nodded at the hatch—it was all she could muster. The transport had grown remarkably smaller after she'd come to, after she'd realized where she was and squeezed a thank you and smile in the pilot's direction. She had to get out.

He released her, offering to see her to her office if need be—probably as instructed by Adama. She politely refused, placing her hand upon his shoulder and nodding her goodbye. Moments later, or perhaps hours, she wasn't really sure, she found herself standing in the Press Room. It was empty. Lonely. Quiet. Billy was dead.

Her office was a few more steps away, but she couldn't seem to make it. She fell limp into a seat, her shoulders on her knees, her face in her palms. Her glasses fell to the ground, bouncing to the floor just in front of the podium.

Gods.

Billy was dead.

"Pull yourself together, Laura," she said aloud, sitting back in the chair and squinting to stare at her glasses lying on the floor. She sat forward again, getting closer to the glasses but leaving them. They seemed fine; completely intact. She stared at them quietly.

And then she laughed.

Uncontrollably, she laughed.

"Madame President," she remembered Billy saying just days ago in her office. "May I?"

She'd nodded, shuffling a pile of papers to the side. "Of course, Billy," she'd motioned him to sit opposite her.

They were in the middle of some water shortage, or perhaps a fuel leak. A rations crisis. Something.

"I need to talk to you. Something serious."

"More serious than whatever-was-going-on?" she'd asked.

"I need to speak freely, Madame President.

Laura."

As a sign of "proceed," she'd inadvertently placed her pencil in her mouth. It was a habit her father had spent years trying to scare out of her. ("You have a beautiful smile, Laur', but you don't need to write with it.")

Thankfully, Billy didn't seem to mind it, and understood it completely. He had free reign to reveal the severity of whatever had happened, he could do so candidly, and he knew this from a pencil in her mouth. He knew her.

"Billy. Please," she'd urged.

"I don't know how to say this."

"Freely, I would presume," Laura had smiled.

"It's something I've noticed. Something—maybe it's silly—I don't know."

"Is everything alright with Dee?"

Billy's eyes flashed to a red ring on his finger, if only for a moment. "Yes," he'd smiled, and Laura made note to make further inquiry into his sudden affinity for jewelry. But she would save it for another time, Billy continuing. "Everything with her is… great, actually. Well, it's great. But this isn't about her. This isn't about me."

"Well, please," she'd sat forward. "What is it about?"

"Your glasses."

"My…"

"Your glasses," Billy repeated.

"What about my glasses?"

"I've just been noticing, Madame—Laura—that you don't take very good care of them."

"Excuse me?"

"You've taken them off seven times since I entered the room."

"I have not," she smirked, looking down to find them in her fingertips. "Gods."

Billy smiled. "You really ought to leave them on your head. Unless you think finding a replacement pair is worth the collective effort of the entire fleet."

Laura had laughed—as hard then as she was now—and suddenly she found herself far from that room, far from that day, and back in the Press Room staring at her glasses in front of the podium.

She cleared her throat, stood, and placed them "on her head." The room was clearer, and she moved through it and into her office, straight to her desk.

Laura pulled the drawer open, grabbed a marker and turned to the white board on the wall behind her. She stared at the number she'd written on it just days ago and it stared back.

She felt the weight of her glasses, and of Billy's advice, on the bridge of her nose. All of his humor, all of his love and understanding was still with her.

She took a deep breath, smiled briefly…

And decreased the number on the board.