Laura sighed when she heard the commotion outside her office. It was a sigh of something between resignation and anger. She knew exactly who Tory was talking to without her aide having to say his name, and before his voice made it through the sound of shuffling people. And she couldn’t decide if she wanted him to barge his way past her security or not. They needed to have this conversation, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to.
She didn’t have much time to dwell on the decision. She hadn’t given express orders that Admiral Adama was not to be allowed in to see her, and therefore it stood to reason that her security wouldn’t put up too much of a fight to defend her, especially if faced with the Admiral’s infamous glare. And so, it was Bill who crossed the threshold first, closely followed by Tory, still desperately trying to get ahead of him.
“I’m sorry, Madam Presi-” she began as she managed to elbow past him as they came through the doorway.
“It’s okay, Tory,” Laura assured her still harassed-looking assistant. “The Admiral and I do need to talk.” Her look now was directed at said Admiral, and she could feel that she was injecting more than a hint of venom into it. Apparently anger was now winning out.
At the edge of her vision, Laura saw Tory nod and then the younger woman disappeared behind the man standing opposite.
“Thank you,” he stated once they were alone.
“I wouldn’t… We need to talk, because the past has proven that when we don’t, the remains of humanity suffer. We need to establish how communication between my office and the military is going to work without us having to – ”
“Laura,” he interrupted, a slight warning to his word, and a step closer in his action.
Though there was a desk between them, she took a step backwards to show him he was not permitted to be closer to her. “I don’t believe we have anything else to discuss.”
“So you’re not going to let me explain - ”
A disbelieving laugh burst forth from her throat and she stared at him with wide, but frowning, eyes. “Maybe I should. Because I’m intrigued as to what sort of an explanation you can have come up with for suddenly changing allegiance – ”
“I didn’t – ”
“He signed an order to execute me, Bill! To kill me!!” she screamed, resting her hands on the desk, leaning towards him, shaking with the force of her outburst. “I would be dead! Countless others would be dead! Thousands of people died on New Caprica because of him, and millions of others on the Colonies! What possible explanation could you have?!”
There had been a mixture of shock and concern on his face throughout her tirade, and now worry softened his eyes. “Laura, you need to calm down – ”
“I don’t want to frakking calm down!” she declared, slamming her hands against the desk once before pushing herself away. “I know what I went through on that planet, and I know what others went through. You can’t possibly imagine – ”
“Oh I imagine!”
She stopped short, her mouth actually snapping shut, and her eyes widening in surprise as he came back at her with the same force she had fired at him. She had heard tale of the Admiral’s wrath, but had never witnessed it.
“I imagined every frakking night when I closed my eyes to sleep after we left you there; and I still imagine every night since! I have wished every minute since those base stars appeared that I hadn’t followed the order to arrange settlement; that I hadn’t stopped you from stealing that election; that I hadn’t trusted frakking Baltar in the first place – ”
“Oh, so you let him off because it’s all your fault?!”
“You know it was more complicated than any of this Laura. I want to strangle him with my own bare hands for putting your life at risk, but there is a lot more to it than that and you know it.”
“Don’t you dare presume to tell me what I know,” she retorted, surprised to find that, despite the energy she was still putting behind it, her voice had weakened and her eyes were stinging with the onset of tears. “I know that Zarek told me this trial wasn’t a good idea, and I should have listened to him. I know that I have seriously messed up somewhere along the line, if it reached a point where ‘Captain Apollo’ would turn against me…”
Bill was moving past the desk now, and she found she no longer had the drive or the inclination to move away. “Laura, you can’t – ”
She closed her eyes and slowly shook her head, letting him know that there was no point continuing his sentence. Right now she couldn’t be talked out of believing Lee’s actions were as a result of her own.
Her eyes only opened again when she sensed him standing right in front of her, and they met his sympathetic gaze immediately.
“And I know,” she continued in a shaky whisper, “That this trial has very much been perceived as Roslin v Baltar… And in that case, your decision means that I’ve lost you as well…”
She was vaguely aware of him uttering, “You haven’t,” as his hands came to rest, one on her arm, one against her cheek, but she had continued speaking and was too lost in her feelings to register his assurance.
“… And I can’t deal with that. I can’t fight this on my own, Bill. I’ve drawn so much strength from knowing that you knew, and you were there for me to talk to; to cry to; to call when I need an order to get out of bed. I don’t know how I’m supposed to …” she trailed off, words still coming out of her mouth, but even she didn’t know what she was saying anymore. She was too exhausted, emotionally drained, and she crumbled willingly into Bill’s arms when he stepped even closer and pulled her against him.
“You haven’t lost me, Laura,” he whispered roughly in her ear as he stroked a hand through her hair. “I came here because I was terrified that I’d lost you…”
“It’s a mess, Bill,” she muttered against his chest.
“We’ve seen worse.”
“Liar.” She wrapped her arms more tightly around him.
“If the last few years have taught us nothing else, we’ve at least learned that we’re resilient. We’ll survive this.”
She appreciated his words, but was still lacking the energy to believe them. She lifted her head, pulling back from him slightly so she could meet his eyes. “We can’t know that,” she whispered sadly.
He nodded once in silent agreement and gently wiped some tears from her cheek. “But we’re not going to give up hope.”
Remembering that she had survived the last time those words had been spoken between them, Laura couldn’t help but smile. “No,” she agreed resolutely, “We won’t give up hope.”