She had never had children, but if she had, she liked to imagine they would have been like Billy. Billy, whose calm presence steadied her growing frustration with every new limitation, and whose seemingly endless patience never got irritated as she took longer to consider some proposal or shakily sign a document. Billy, whose days now began long before hers as he painstakingly sorted through the tasks (her tasks) that waited to be addressed and made sure only the most essential ones were left for her when he woke her gently. Billy, whose days ended long after the (now truncated) business hours of the presidency were through, who took his hesitant leave only after ensuring she had eaten something (albeit reluctantly, and only for him) and had everything she needed for the night.

Billy, who insisted he did in fact return to his own cramped quarters in the evening, but who somehow never failed to be at her side within moments when bolts of pain tore violently through her and ripped her from sleep. Each time he appeared, she insisted she was fine, and sent him back to bed as swiftly as she could, feeling guilty for disturbing his rest, and even guiltier for wishing he would stay with her until she fell asleep.

-
After a while, they both gave up pretending that he was sleeping anywhere but on the couch in her office. But by that time, she could no longer pretend about much of anything.

-

After she collapsed for the second time, Billy changed. When she returned to consciousness several hours after her meeting with Adama and Cain, Billy patiently answered her questions, updated her on the progress of the mission, and let her know the Commander would be coming aboard in a few hours for their nightly briefing. When she questioned why he was coming when it was her turn to go his ship, Billy just shrugged noncommittally. When she asked for another dose of the stims that Cottle had reluctantly left for her, he simply shook his head no, his resolve strong despite the current of apprehension that flittered in his eyes.

-

I have good days and bad days, she told the Commander. She didn't tell him that the bad days were all she had left. Though from the look in his eyes , she knew Billy had.

-

Three days later, and everything was changed. Cain was dead. The resurrection ship had been destroyed. And Commander Adama was coming aboard once more.

As Billy prepared for his arrival, she tried to take advantage of the moment, determined to be up and dressed for Adama's visit. He had made the gesture once before, to make it all feel real and official. She would show him no less of the same honor now.

The flaw in her plan was revealed to her quickly, and with it came an emotional pain that matched the searing in her chest.

-

Before, Laura had always thought she'd never be able to stand it. That if it happened to her, the shame and the embarrassment of it all would be too much to bear, and pure mortification would mercifully strike her dead before cancer could finish the job.

As it turned out, she had been wrong.

-

She wasn't sure when Billy had reappeared, only that he had. Wordlessly he took stock of the situation and set to work, supporting her carefully on the edge of the bed before retrieving what was needed and bringing it close.

She couldn't bring herself to meet his gaze; she had been acquainted with the expression that would be painted there for a long time. She also knew that if a mirror were to be held up to her now, she'd see the matching expression her mother had worn when it had come to this for her. As Billy gently guided her arms into her jacket and slowly fastened the buttons of the blazer, Laura could only say the same words that echoed from the cycle before.

"I'm sorry."

The air remained thick with words, but silence reigned. He held out a hand to her and she clasped it, gasping as he all but lifted her to her feet. He bent down to slip her shoes on, but on the way up he paused to look at her at eye level.

"Don't be." He looked so serious and sad. She reached out and gently tousled his hair and the action brought him to an instant blush.

The shared moment was lost to the ringing of the wireless announcing Adama's arrival.

A smile still pulling at the very corner of his mouth, Billy gestured towards her office. "Shall we?"

Laura nodded, unable to form words over the swelling of affection that blossomed in her. Billy turned and offered her his elbow with an exaggerated flourish, and together they made their way slowly towards the office.