“I still think you shouldn’t be doing this,” Bill told Laura as soon as they were in the privacy of the Chief’s office.
“I’d be worried if you didn’t,” she said, leaning against the edge of the desk for support, and looking up at him with a weak smile. “We’ve talked about this, though.”
“I need to do this,” she reminded him softly, wondering why he had brought her in here to go over what they had already discussed. It wasn’t like him. He knew that once a decision was made, they would stick to it. He also knew the raptor was waiting for her.
“I know,” he said, nodding again.
She frowned as she watched his gaze wander the office, never fixing on her, and she placed her book on the desk, and stood up straight. Stepping closer to him, she asked, “What is this about then, Bill?”
His eyes moved to hers now and for seconds he just stared at her and she watched everything he couldn’t say swirl around his eyes. He was scared, he was worried, he was nervous and he was –
“I wanted to say goodbye,” he told her, though she knew he wanted to say so much more.
“You could have done that out there,” she said, smiling, tilting her head slightly to indicate towards the hangar deck.
He laughed once and then shrugged. “I wanted to speak to you alone.”
Despite the seriousness of what she was about to do, of everything that was going on, Laura actually felt her heart skip a beat at his words.
She raised both eyebrows. “About?”
He moved now so his entire body was facing her. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”
Ignoring a niggling sense of disappointment, she told him honestly, “No… But I’m willing to take the chance, Bill. I have to understand what these visions have been about.”
He nodded, but looked unconvinced.
She took a step closer and gently took his hand in hers. “I’ll be gone a few hours. That’s all.”
He met her eyes again. “A few hours on a Cylon base ship.”
“Our people are all over it.”
“So are the Cylons.”
She smiled understandingly and stepped even closer. “You’re not going to talk me out of this,” she told him quietly. “I can’t sit around and wait for answers, Bill. I don’t have time.”
She saw sadness and regret sweep across his eyes and his free hand took hold of hers.
“I’ll see you in little while,” she smiled up at him.
“You’d better,” he warned.
Her smile widened and she slipped her hands from his and wrapped them round his waist instead, pulling herself closer to him. He returned the hug, his arms embracing her, and his head resting beside hers.
“I’ll miss you,” she admitted, her voice muffled against his shoulder.
She felt his laugh rumble through his chest and lightly slapped him on the back. He just tightened his hold on her and she found she had no objections. She took in the scent of him, the security of having his arms around her; the warmth and contentment – and she wished that they found excuses to hug more often.
However, reality loomed and she was just debating with herself whether or not to pull away when his voice drifted to her ears once more.
“I love you.”
It was so quiet that she wasn’t entirely sure he had really said it; it was quite plausible that she had imagined it. Such a distant sound in such a small space, it was also possible that he hadn’t intended for her to hear it.
She stayed in his arms a few seconds longer, trying to decide what to do. Should she respond, or even acknowledge what she thought she heard? Could she now, in her weakened, dying state, tell him that she loved him too? Was that fair? Was it fair not to? Then of course, what if he hadn’t said it? The sound had been barely audible. It could have been wishful thinking. So how would he react to a seemingly sudden declaration?
Closing her eyes and taking in a deep breath, she decided that the best thing to do would be to follow his lead. When she pulled back, if he looked like he was expecting her to say something, then she’d speak whatever came to her first. Her instinct never usually let her down.
So, a second later, she dropped back from him, looking at his face for a sign. When he frowned as if wondering why she was studying him, she laughed to herself at her own stupidity. Placing a hand gently on his chest she repeated, “I’ll see you in a little while.” Then, offering him a small smile, she passed him and left the office.
As she crossed the hangar deck she cursed her frakking imagination, and her ears for hearing things, and her body for reacting to what she thought she heard.
She greeted the deckhands waiting by her raptor and was informed that Baltar was on his way. Thanking them, she made her way up the ramp and sat down and leaned her head back against the seat. She was going to a Cylon base star to talk to a hybrid to find out what was going on with her visions, and all she could think about at this moment was Bill Adama. She cursed herself once more.
The voice of one of the deckhands startled her and she opened her eyes. The young woman was holding out a book to her.
“Admiral Adama asked me to pass this to you. He said you left it in the office.”
“Ah thank you,” she said, accepting the book with a pleasant smile.
The other woman returned the smile and left the raptor.
Laura looked down at the book and settled it on her lap. Stuck in a raptor with Baltar, there was no way she wasn’t having something to distract her. Thank the gods Bill had remembered about it.
Then she frowned. Why hadn’t Bill brought the book to her himself? Momentary panic that he had in fact said he loved her and her lack of response had offended him was pushed aside by the sudden inclination to open the book. Following her instinct, she drew back the cover, and there, on the front page, was written, ‘Yes, I did say it. See you when you get back. Bill.’
She smiled first, then laughed, before schooling her features into a neutral expression when she realised the people outside the raptor were looking at her like she might be crazy. She ran her fingertips once over the words and then closed the book – smiling internally if not outwardly.
Fifty-two years old and weak from her cancer treatments, Laura nevertheless felt like a teenager, giddy as she was with anticipation at seeing Bill again.
Murmurings on the deck cut short her distracted excitement though as it became clear that Baltar had entered the room. Reality entered with him as he stepped into the raptor and Laura pushed all thoughts of Bill to the back of her mind.
Right now she had to focus on what she was about to do; she couldn’t afford for her mind to be elsewhere. But, in a few hours, she would be back on Galactica and she and Bill would talk then.
And she knew exactly what she would be saying to him.