His skin felt rough beneath my fingers as we shook hands to agree to lead the
fleet together, but his hold was reassuring. It was firm, it was strong, and
though doubts were flying through my mind, I felt hope. He had lied to everyone
he knew to give them hope, to give them something to live for. Whether or not he
was genuinely committed to our agreement would come out later. But at that
moment I wanted to believe him. I needed to believe him. I like to think I did
well exuding a confident persona, but I was terrified. I never once doubted my
decision to gather the fleet, and to aim for peace and safety, but once the
enormity of what we were doing sunk in, I doubted my ability to succeed. It felt
better to know I wasn’t alone.
When his hand closed around mine as we took our position to dance on Colonial Day, for a split second I wasn’t the President of the Colonies; for a brief moment, Laura shone through, and it felt good to be in a man’s arms again, to feel his hand on my back as he held me close. Of course the feeling couldn’t last, as my mind quickly reminded me of who I was, where I was… and most importantly, who he was. I glanced up at him then, seeing, for perhaps only the third time since we’d met, the man, and not the Commander. Then my eyes fell to the crowd around us again, and the President returned to her dance. I may have imagined the small squeeze of my hand. Or maybe he had noticed my distraction and was trying to reassure me.
Both those moments seemed to pale into insignificance as I betrayed his trust, and he betrayed mine. Separated almost by his death, but then actually by my escape, his hand passing me the book of Pythia on Kobol was our ultimate reunion: My forgiveness; his offer to lead the fleet side by side again. Our fingers brushed as I took it from him and our eyes locked. And there was hope once more.
The applause he led back on Galactica brought tears to my eyes. The sound of his strong hands clashing together in a slow steady rhythm, assuring the fleet I had his trust, and therefore deserved theirs; assuring me that we were back on track. It was a sound I heard in dreams for months afterwards, yet then the tears it brought were of sadness that I would once again break our arrangement. I would die; and he would be left to lead alone.
His hand trembled as he took mine the night we discussed the resurrection ship, and Admiral Cain; and then again, later, as I handed him the small velvet box promoting him to Admiral; ensuring his command of the fleet when I was no longer there to support him. He was my strength then, his hands holding my arm, helping me to stand, and then he was my weakness, when his fingers gently raised my chin, and his lips so softly touched to mine. It was a kiss of thank you; a kiss of friendship; a kiss goodbye.
A kiss I remembered as I lay by his side looking up at the New Caprican sky, committing to memory the new stars, the constellations that would form my night sky for as long as we were there. His hand rested lightly on my hip as I leaned against him, relishing his warmth, remembering his lips on mine, wondering what it would feel like to kiss him properly, to allow his hands to roam wherever they pleased, to tease and torment me however he wished. He tightened his hold when I shivered, understandably mistaking it for cold.
Though nothing happened that night, the Cylon return and the exodus only delayed the inevitable. His touch was soft when he cupped my face and I felt the tremors of his nerves. It was a drastic step for us; to end the dance we had perhaps begun those years ago on Colonial Day, but, after our conversation about memories of New Caprica, it became clear we couldn’t dance much longer.
His hands slipped into my hair as his lips made contact with mine. They pulled me closer, not that I needed the encouragement as I melted into the kiss, my own hands wrapping round him. It wasn’t long before his fingers slipped under the collar of my dress, deftly lowering it from my shoulders, his hands following it, caressing the newly exposed skin. He continued to gift me with his kisses as the dress was lowered past my hips, and released to fall as it would to the floor, then his hands captured my hips, and he lifted me out of the puddle of fabric.
His hands were soft on my skin that night as he learned where to touch me, where to kiss me, and how to drive me to the point of intensity and leave me begging for more. They held my hips as he entered me, holding me close as we both adapted to the contact, and they held my hands by my head as he moved within me bringing me closer and closer to the edge, and then joining me to tumble freely into bliss.
Two weeks later, his hand stilled on my left breast as we made love, and panic gripped my heart as he went very still and then his ministrations became more exploratory, and less for pleasure. He held my hand all the way to Life Station, and throughout Doctor Cottle’s examination.
Much as he holds my hand now: Safe and secure within both of his as I lie weak and nearing the end. No treatment available could fight the cancer this time; my body has failed me. I can barely even acknowledge his presence now. I fought this with all my might, but it’s out of my control. I know it’s time.
I summon every ounce of energy I can, and I squeeze his hand as tightly as it allows, hoping he knows it’s in appreciation for all he has done, and hoping it conveys how much he means to me. He squeezes back and lifts my fingers to his lips, pressing warm kisses against the cool skin. But my energy soon fades and my hand falls limp in his strong embrace.
This is it. I have come to accept that I must leave him, but I am grateful to have known and loved him for as long as we were permitted.
And it breaks my heart to break my promise to lead our people to Earth by his side, but we both know I must and we’ve made our peace with that. He tells me I can let go and I believe him.
The fleet will be safe: In his hands.