Tory announced Bill’s arrival, and Laura instantly stood from behind
her desk, and walked round to greet him.
Concern and intrigue were etched on her features, though she tried to hide them behind a confident smile as always. They had received a call from Galactica merely fifteen minutes ago to say that the Admiral was on his way to Colonial One, and needed to meet with the President urgently. The caller also urged her not to worry. Of course, that was easier said than done given the mystery and secrecy surrounding his visit.
“Admiral,” she addressed him as he entered, “Is something wrong?”
He shook his head, and the rare, huge smile across his face seemed to support his answer. “I have something to show you,” he declared, unfastening the top buttons of his jacket, and reaching his hand inside.
Frowning as she watched this, Laura noticed, over Bill’s shoulder, that Tory was still in the room, and was looking as intrigued as she felt. “That will be all, Tory,” Laura dismissed her aide politely.
Tory nodded and offered a small smile - and one more puzzled glance at the almost giddy Admiral - and then left them alone.
“Bill, are you – ” Laura began, dropping the formality as it seemed to be clear that he wasn’t there on fleet business.
“Look!” he said, stepping up to her so that he was standing right beside her, his chest touching her arm.
In his hand, he held out what appeared to be a photograph. Laura looked dubiously at him for a second, before accepting the photo, and examining it more closely. Her own smile grew slowly wider and wider as she realised what she was looking at, and she angled her body to face Bill as she spoke.
“I take it this is – ”
“They just told me,” he grinned. “They wanted to wait a few months before telling anybody. They came straight from the scan to see me.”
“And you came straight here?” she smiled.
“Of course,” he shrugged. “This,” he said, taking the scan photo from her, and pointing to the baby shape in the middle, “Is our first grandchild.”
Laura laughed now, remembering their conversation over six months ago in which Bill had offered to share his grandchildren with her. “Ah yes,” she nodded, perching on the edge of the desk, and looking up at him.
His smile reduced briefly, as his forehead creased into a small frown. “My offer still stands, Laura,” he told her.
“That’s not necessary, Bill. I wouldn’t want to intrude on – ”
“It’s not intruding,” he interrupted her again.
“I doubt Lee and Dee want a complete stranger adopting their son or daughter as a grandchild.”
“You’re hardly a complete stranger,” he intoned. “You’re the President of the Colonies and – ”
She chose to interrupt him this time. “That doesn’t give me the right to invite myself into families,” she laughed.
“And,” he emphasised, seemingly ignoring her comment, “You’re a friend. To Lee, to Dee, and to me.”
“Dee and I haven’t – ”
He stopped her this time with a finger across her lips. “Laura…” He paused until she met his eyes and was completely focussed on him, and not on the argument she had been trying to make. “You are family… And babies need grandmothers, to fuss over them and spoil them rotten,” he smirked.
“And won’t your grandchild calling me ‘Grandma’ add fuel to the gossip fires?” she asked with a small smirk of her own.
“Laura, you and I standing in the same room adds fuel to the gossip fires. Half my crew is probably currently occupied thinking up absurd reasons for my sudden trip over here.”
“You really should find them something better to do, Bill, these are the people protecting the fleet,” she smiled sweetly.
“People talk, Laura. We could not see, or speak to, each other for months and they would still gossip about us. They’ll talk anyway, you might as well get the pleasure of having a grandchild.”
“Bill, that argument could be used to justify a whole manner of things… ‘Well, people will talk anyway, so we might as well have a torrid affair.’”
Bill grinned wickedly, and Laura realised she had never seen him grin wickedly before. It was almost unsettling.
“A torrid affair would legitimise your Grandmother status,” he mused, his eyes twinkling with mischief.
Laura smiled at his expression. Impending Grandfatherhood certainly agreed with him. This was a giddy, excited side of Bill she’d not met before.
“No,” she clarified his statement, “Marriage would legitimise my Grandmother status. A torrid affair would probably give your son legitimate reason to keep his child as far away from me as possible.”
“Are you suggesting we get married, Madam President?” Bill teased, actually wiggling his eyebrows!
Laura couldn’t help but laugh again, and her head made contact with his chest, as she dropped it forward in amusement. She remained there for a minute or so, giggling to herself as the behaviour so uncharacteristic of Bill replayed in her mind.
“I’m glad the thought of marrying me is so amusing,” he remarked, as she straightened up, flicking her hair back over her shoulders.
“Oh I don’t think I could handle being around you every day once this baby’s born. Your excitement would wear me out,” she grinned, her breathing still slightly erratic from the laughter.
“I do feel insanely happy,” he commented, grinning back, and sitting beside her on the edge of the desk.
“And it suits you,” she complimented him, dipping her head slightly as she smiled at him.
He held her gaze, and she felt her own smile widening as she watched his grow.
“So,” he began eventually, his voice just louder than a rough whisper, “Will you join me in looking forward to being a grandparent?”
She tilted her head to one side and feigned deep thought. “Hmm, could you clarify the terms? There’s been a lot of conjecture in this conversation.”
Bill laughed and shook his head. “No terms,” he said. “No marriage, no torrid affair – unless you particularly want either – just you and me, loving our grandchild and spoiling him, or her, rotten.”
It was difficult not to allow her insides to completely melt as Bill’s soft, tender, and clearly heartfelt, words drifted to her ears. “I still think Lee and – ”
“Lee and Dee are fine with it. I’ve already told them you would be honoured to be their child’s grandmother.”
Laura felt her eyebrows rise. “You just dropped it into conversation?”
“Something like that.”
“And what did they say?”
“Well, Lee just smirked, and Dee said ‘We’d been expecting as much.’ And then they left.”
“So you didn’t really explain to them that I’m in no way involved with you – either torridly or otherwise – and that, in fact, you just invited me to be his, or her, grandmother?”
“If I’ve never told them that we are involved, then they shouldn’t even be entertaining the thoughts. I shouldn’t need to tell them that we’re not,” Bill smiled.
Laura’s eyes narrowed slightly and she pursed her lips. “I think that you enjoy being the subject of gossip, Admiral.”
His eyes twinkled again. “I find it entertaining,” he grinned. “However, we seem to have gone off on quite a long tangent here, Madam President…” He nudged closer to her, and held the picture from the scan out in front of them. “This is our first grandchild.”
Laura looked down at the tiny form pictured on the screen, her eyes tracing the shape from its head to its feet. She was unable to control her smile. In truth, she knew she would consider this baby to be like a grandchild to her, regardless of whether Lee and Dee chose for her to be given the title. She had considered Bill, and therefore Lee, to be family for a long time now, and her connection to them would extend to their next generation.
And it made her heart skip slightly – in a ‘schoolgirly’ way she hadn’t felt in many years – to know that Bill wanted her to have that place in their lives. She had dismissed his comment as a joke to cheer her up when he had first said it, but his words today made it clear that they both felt the same way about their relationship.
They danced round their attraction; they hid behind their responsibilities; but their lives were inextricably entwined nonetheless, and they were fine with that. It wasn’t marriage; it wasn’t a torrid affair; it wasn’t any kind of affair… yet (there was always the element of ‘yet’); it was just a President and an Admiral, Laura and Bill, united by their leadership of humanity and shared desire to protect their people, then by a deeply developed trust and confidence, evolving to a friendship and comfort unparalleled in either life. It was, ultimately, love that held them together, she was sure: For their extended ‘family’, for each other, and now, for their grandchild…
She smiled, hearing Bill’s words once more. “This is our first grandchild.”
First: There would be more.
She nodded and turned once more to face him. “Yes it is.”