Laura Roslin's shoes tapped softly as she walked down the near-deserted Galactica corridor. It seemed wrong, seeing it so empty, she thought. Naked, almost. She hadn't been back too often since the settlement of New Caprica had begun in earnest. At first, the halls had been chaotic, overflowing with uniformed men and women moving things, barking orders and generally getting things done. No longer part of the "getting things done" class, she'd stayed out of their way. Today, she was just here to visit. Bill had gotten her smuggled on board on the (correct) hunch that she might like a hot shower and something to drink that wasn't badly filtered water. The admiral was certainly a gentleman. The last of a dying breed. However...
She sighed. The shower had been lovely, as had the glass of scotch he'd left for her. However, the relaxed, playful conversation she'd come to crave had thus far been missing. She could use the distraction too, especially today of all days. Still, she could hardly begrudge him the opportunity to get down to the flight deck and get his hands dirty, metaphorically if not actually physically. Though it was hardly a crisis, the new Chief was having some problems, and Bill was chafing at his enforced inactivity. From everything she'd heard, he'd been driving his remaining skeleton crew crazy with drills, tests and surprise inspections. Bill Adama was a man who needed a mission, however small. Even if that meant leaving a guest aimlessly wandering the decks of a virtual ghost ship for a few hours.
Unbidden, her feet took her around a corner to the door of a little-used observation deck. Once a prime spot for a romantic night out, the room had now stood deserted for months. Entering, she could see why. The floor to ceiling windows that had once displayed a galactic lightshow to starry-eyed couples now showed nothing more exciting than the grey, mud-covered edge of the ground settlement. Not exactly the romantic getaway most courting couples were looking for, even if there were any left on board. She turned to leave, but stopped at a small noise from the front of the room. For an embarrassed moment she thought that maybe someone was still using the room for amorous liaisons, but then the slight, subdued figure of Lt. Anastasia Dualla unfolded from one of the seats, and Laura relaxed. She didn't know the newly appointed lieutenant well, but she'd been at the wedding. If Lee was up on deck, she wouldn't be interrupting anything too intimate.
"Ma'am," Dualla raised a salute in greeting. Laura smiled.
"I'm not someone to salute anymore, Lieutenant Dualla," she replied. "And it's just 'Laura,' if you don't mind. Being called ma'am makes me feel too old." Dualla relaxed, and resumed her seat as Laura made her way down the aisle towards her.
"In that case," she replied, "Call me Dee. Everyone does, and I never know who people are talking to when they say 'Lieutenant' anyway." She gave a small smile.
"I'll pretend I didn't heard that question, Ma- Laura," she said evenly. Seeing Laura's questioning look, she added, "Family name. I didn't really get along with my family." Laura nodded silently. That, she could understand.
They sat in silence for a few minutes. Laura was about to leave, when the younger woman spoke, quietly. "Billy took me here on our first date." Laura said nothing, but inwardly berated herself. Of course, she should have remembered, should have known. The one other person in this fleet who was bound to be mourning today, on the anniversary of Billy's death. She should've reached out sooner. But with Dee's sudden marriage to Lee, it had been so easy to forget... "It was so romantic, then," Dee continued, unaware of Laura's self-flagellating silence. "Even if he was trying to pump me for information."
Laura looked up guiltily. "I-"
Dee smiled. "Don't worry, I don't blame you. I would've had him do the same thing in your place. Hell, if he'd said anything too incriminating, I'd probably have reported him to the Old Man myself. There wasn't much love lost between you two in those days."
'No," Laura agreed, smiling ruefully. "There certainly wasn't." Funny how things have changed, she thought to herself. Out loud, she added "He'd have hated to see the way things have ended up, though. Billy, I mean." Dee nodded sombrely. "Sometimes I think he should've been my VP, but the Quorum never would have stood for it. Besides, I needed one person I could trust in all of this." She paused. "He was a good man," she said finally. The younger woman remained silent. Laura turned to look at her, and saw Dee's lips pressed tightly together, a tear running down her cheek as she stared straight ahead.
"Dee," Laura said Gently. Almost unwillingly, Dualla turned her face towards the older woman. "I know it's hard," she said simply. "It's been a year, and I still expect to see him standing by my desk in the morning, even if that desk is in a cold tent instead of on Colonial One. I know, he was just the kind of man who was easy to get used to. He was a good man, a strong man and a kind man, and he died far, far too young. But he died a hero, standing up for what he believed in. He died to protect the ship, the fleet and the people he cared about. Besides, he died in love, and knowing he was loved, and to me, that's the best anyone can ask for."
Dee opened her mouth to speak, then her face crumpled and she burst into tears. "It's all my fault," she sobbed. Before Laura could say anything, she started speaking, words tumbling forth like water through a broken dam. "We'd been together for so long, and it was good, and he was nice, and sweet. I thought I was happy, I did. I had feelings for Lee, but I thought that was just a stupid crush, and besides, Billy's the kind of guy every girl's parents want her to settle down with, right? But then he took out that ring, and I just... I knew I didn't love him. I couldn't go through with it. Not then, not ever. I can't believe... I thought he would've told you. I thought you knew."
Laura could only shake her head, staring at the weeping woman in front of her. Lieutenant Dualla was normally so composed, seeing her like this was almost as shocking as her words. "He just came back, and asked me for the evening off. He didn't seem happy, so I wasn't sure it had gone the way he wanted, but-"
"And that's why you gave him the time off, right? You had no way of knowing. No idea that he'd go there, to our favourite restaurant. Or that when he get there..." Dualla closed her eyes, face clouded with grief. "I'll never forget the look in his eyes when he realized I was there with Lee. He assumed... Well, what else would he have thought? He was good, and trusting, but no man would have believed me that I had never cheated." She looked Laura in the eye for the first time. "I didn't, though. I swear."
There was a long silence. Laura, stunned, said nothing. Dee took a few deep breaths, composing herself. When she continued, it was in a flat, emotionless voice. "When the terrorists came through the door, Billy tried to protect me. It was sweet of him, but stupid. We both knew I was better equipped for combat than he was. He was good at many things, but fighting wasn't one of them." She paused, then forged on, face still expressionless. "He knew it, too. When he attacked them, he knew he was going to die. He looked at me, just for a second, then he went for the gun." Dee dropped her eyes to her hands clenched tightly in her lap. "He died for me." Tears sparkled in her eyes, but her cheeks were dry as she stood to go. "I know he was like a son to you," she told Laura, who had remained seated, rooted to the spot. "And I'm sorry. What Vinson and her men did that day was terrible. But please..." her voice cracked. "If you're going to blame someone for Billy's death, blame me."
Laura rose, preparing to comfort the younger woman, preparing to say... Who knows what? But Dualla had already left.