Laura Roslin was not one to listen to rumour and gossip. Okay, she did
listen, but she had been around long enough to know that what she heard was most
likely unfounded. And where it did have a foundation in fact, it had most
probably been built up and built up to an extent that it too housed little
A good example of the latter was the speculation regarding her relationship with Admiral William Adama. Since the formation of their fledgling fleet there had been an abundance of gossip about its two leaders. Some alleged that they had been sleeping together since the beginning, each using the other to attain control over both civilian and military domains; another said that a secret liaison had followed their dance on Colonial Day.
If you believed everything you heard whispered to you on board a space vessel, then Laura’s imprisonment in Galactica’s brig, and the entire debacle on Kobol was the result of a lovers’ tiff, and the events of their reunion on the planet were far more… graphic than Laura remembered.
Then there was the one about Bill proposing to her as soon as they found out her cancer had gone, and their subsequent clandestine wedding on New Caprica.
Others weren’t as far fetched – they danced slightly closer than was ‘professional’; they spent the night of the groundbreaking on New Caprica curled up together under the stars. (Technically that was entirely true when stated like that. However, the intonation, when spoken, clearly conveyed intense insinuation as to what really went on.)
But what each and every rumour had in common was that, though the details were complete works of fiction, their basis was in a personal attraction between Laura and the Admiral. And that was true.
They both knew it was there, and out of a sense of duty to their fleet (or complete and utter insane self-sacrifice, depending on what mood Laura was in), they were both pushing it aside. They were friends. But there was a clear line and they would not cross it. They may have moved it slightly a couple of times – being snuggled together on New Caprica was certainly closer than they had ever been with any of their previous friends – but it had never been crossed.
Laura often wondered if ‘yet’ could be added to that sentence. There were definitely times when Laura would have been a willing participant in leaving the line so far behind that it was a blur. But at other times her sense of duty and commitment reigned and she saw the logic behind their unspoken decision not to pursue anything.
So, having been the subject of much untrue gossip for the last few years, Laura understood not to believe everything she was told. And by ‘told’ that was what Tory relayed to her that Clive, one of Colonial One’s technicians, had told Tory that one of the raptor pilots had told him. Of course no one would include the President in their gossip circle, so she had to have spies.
The latest information to come in from the field was that she and Bill had fallen out again. Laura found the vague, unembellished nature of this rumour to be odd. No explanation was given as to why this rumour had come to be, it was just that: They had fallen out again. Which was actually, in itself, an embellishment, but in comparison to the usual detail, this was strangely tame.
It was late one night when Laura should have been sleeping, but was actually thinking about Bill, as usual, that she realised she hadn’t seen him in over four days. They had spoken two days ago about fleet maintenance, but she had not been to Galactica in more than a week. That explained the rumour.
She resolved to put an end to it by relocating her meeting the day after tomorrow to Bill’s ship, rather than have him come to Colonial One. It had become clear early on in her gossip gathering that the time Laura spent on Galactica was more closely monitored than the time Bill spent on Colonial One. And she was keen to put an end to this latest rumour because she much preferred to hear daily updates on what the people thought she and Bill had been getting up to. Their thoughts on the two of them falling out were always a lot less interesting.
The mystery solved, and a plan in place, Laura drifted off to sleep, her mind presenting its own ideas on what she and Bill could get up to.
Laura’s three o’clock meeting with the Quorum had finished early – which was very surprising as they usually overran and knocked out her entire schedule. So now, Laura was early for her six o’clock meeting with Bill.
She had checked with CIC on arrival to see if Bill was on duty, and was informed that he was in his quarters and they would let him know she was on her way.
She smiled happily to any crew members who passed her on her way to Bill’s quarters. She was looking forward to this dinner meeting. It had definitely been too long since she had spent time with Bill.
On approach, she could see that the hatch was ajar, and as she got closer she heard Bill’s voice coming from inside.
She assumed he was on the phone until, as she stepped quietly into the room so as not to disturb him, she heard a soft, female laugh respond to his words.
‘He must be in a meeting,’ she instantly justified to herself, and so stopped as she was just inside the hatch.
Bill was seated at the table, and opposite him sat a blond woman Laura couldn’t recall seeing before. She wasn’t in military uniform, and she looked far more at ease than most of Bill’s crew did when in the Admiral’s quarters. The laughter had subsided but, as both of them turned to look at Laura, smiles remained on their faces.
“I’m sorry,” Laura apologised with a small smile, “CIC said they would tell you I was on my way. They didn’t tell me you were in a meeting.”
The mystery woman stood as Bill did – she was dressed in a black trouser suit, very smart and business-like, and yet Laura’s brain still worked frantically to come up with an explanation for her presence that she liked.
Her attention was soon drawn to Bill though, who had approached her.
“It’s good to see you, Laura,” he said, quietly, smiling at her as he always did.
And she returned the smile, reaching out to take the hand he offered, and trying desperately not to allow her eyes to flick between Bill and his guest in a questioning manner.
“I actually wanted you to meet Juliet,” Bill continued, leading Laura further into his quarters.
At this, the woman’s smile widened and she took a step forward. “Madam President…” Her voice was soft, with a hint of a south-Caprican accent, “It’s an honour to meet you.”
Laura shook her hand quite professionally.
“Juliet will be taking over our childcare facility,” Bill explained. “And hopefully developing an interim education system on board. As you know, we’ve many more children on Galactica since the exodus.”
“You’re a teacher,” Laura found herself stating.
Juliet nodded. “I taught on Picon before the attacks.”
“And yet you haven’t been working as a teacher within the fleet?” Laura knew that she had been aware of everyone teaching on board each ship. She may be President, but her heart still lay in education, and as such she retained a large amount of control over that aspect.
“No. Prior to going into teaching I was a deckhand on the Prometheus – ”
“You were in the military?” Laura interrupted, unnerved by that fact.
“Yes. For a couple of years. It wasn’t the life for me,” Juliet smiled, glancing at Bill as she spoke those last words. “But I’ve been working as a technician on the Rising Star since the attacks. And now that I’ve trained up some younger, stronger candidates, I thought I’d offer my teaching services again… I heard that childcare on Galactica was overloaded since the exodus so I contacted Bill.”
“You two know each other?” Laura asked next, further unnerved by that fact.
While Juliet nodded, still smiling pleasantly, Bill explained, “Juliet went to high school with Carolanne…”
They had history. Even further unnerved, Laura forced an interested smile. “Ah…”
“Yeah,” Juliet continued the story, “We were friends for years afterwards, that’s how I met Bill. Actually Bill was the reason I joined the military. He made it sound so exciting and different… Turned out life in space wasn’t really for me though.”
All of their smiles turned slightly sad at the unfortunate irony that statement now held.
“Anyway, I should go and leave you to your meeting… It was nice to meet you, Madam President…”
Laura nodded a polite response and then watched as Juliet turned to address Bill.
“Bill, I’ll see you in a few days,” she smiled brightly.
Bill nodded and smiled back, and Laura’s heart clenched as she registered the smile she thought he saved for her. Fighting the wave of disappointment that rushed over her, Laura managed to smile convincingly as Bill and Juliet passed her for the hatch.
Once her back was to them, her smile fell and the jealousy gnawed at her mind again. She tried to use the time to suppress it and convince herself she was being irrational, but it soon became apparent that all she actually accomplished was converting it to anger.
“Were you planning on discussing it with me?” she turned on Bill the instant they were alone.
He frowned deeply, understandingly confused by her outburst. “I thought you were rather busy being President and wouldn’t have time to teach as well,” he quipped.
She ignored his attempt at humour. “Setting up an education system on Galactica. Were you planning on discussing it with the President, or even my Secretary of Education?”
She noticed Bill adopting his calm but defensive posture before he replied, “I was going to discuss it with you at this meeting.”
“After you’d already made arrangements for a teacher!”
From the narrowing of his eyes, Laura could tell Bill was studying her closely, trying to figure out where this had come from.
“Juliet contacted me, and asked was there any way she could help – ”
“She could help by looking after some children! Setting up an education system is outside of her remit and yours!”
He took a step closer to her now, obviously angered by her tone. “You’ll note I said ‘interim’ system. Just to establish some semblance of order with the children on board until your government gets round to establishing the fleet-wide system.”
This was a very bad choice of words. With a deep breath, Laura’s ire rose. “Oh, I’m sorry, Admiral! We’ll put accommodation and food supplies to one side and focus on helping you adapt to having more children – ”
His fingers gently landing on her lips stopped her.
“Did you get out of the wrong side of bed this morning?” he asked her with a smirk.
She managed to glare at him a few seconds longer, but it soon lost intensity the longer he smiled at her, and then she laughed once at her own pettiness and ducked her head as she let out a sigh.
Bill retracted his hand as her head dropped.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly, rapidly thinking of an excuse. “I’ve just come from a meeting with the Quorum,” she told him as she raised her head to meet his eyes again.
His eyebrows rose. “They let you out early,” he grinned.
Laura nodded. “Yes… It was very strange, but I didn’t argue.”
“Maybe they wanted to get away from you?” Bill teased.
“Do you want to incur my wrath again, Admiral?” Laura threatened, playfully.
As Bill laughed, Laura reprimanded herself for letting jealousy control her, and then for being jealous in the first place. She and Bill would always have this. No woman was going to come into their lives now and take that away.
Jealousy is a fickle thing. One day you can convince yourself that it is completely unnecessary and you were foolish to feel it; and the next, it comes right back.
The mind is similarly fickle when it comes to gossip. You know that it is predominantly lies or embellished conjecture, and yet still allow rumours to affect you.
Two days after her meeting with Bill, Laura had yet to hear any further gossip about the two of them. There had been nothing to say that in fact they hadn’t fallen out, or to say they had made up. In fact, there had been no mention of them at all.
It was the first occasion since Laura had discovered that the grapevine was rife with stories of her and Bill that there had been no gossip at all. And this made Laura suspicious.
So, instead of reviewing reports from ships’ captains, she was gazing absently into space wondering what could be the reason for the sudden silence.
As Tory entered the office to bring some more reports, Juliet’s face suddenly flashed across Laura’s mind. The familiar jealous constricting of her throat accompanied it, as did a realisation.
“Tory…” Laura said, turning to face her aide.
“Yes, Madam President?”
“Have you spoken to Clive recently?”
Panic flashed across Tory’s eyes, but she quickly hid it.
“I saw that!” Laura stated, standing from her chair.
“Saw what?” Tory frowned.
“Oh don’t feign innocence Tory! You’ve been keeping rumours from me. Why?”
“I don’t – ”
“Tory!” Laura reprimanded in a tone she used to use on schoolchildren who were about to lie to her.
Tory bit her lip as if she really didn’t want to speak and then finally said, “Well, I knew they were complete lies.”
“That’s never stopped you before… Or did you believe that the Admiral and I have rendezvous in raptors, and that I’m pregnant with his love child?”
“No! Of course not!... But these are different,” Tory responded, shifting awkwardly.
Laura was highly intrigued as to what had her usually unflappable aide so on edge. “Different how?” she frowned.
“Well, they’re… Well, for a start, they’re not about you and the Admiral so I thought you – ”
“Who are they about?” Laura interrupted, her tone deadly serious now. This was what she had feared.
Tory looked reluctant to answer, but Laura’s stare told her she must. “They’re about the Admiral and - … The latest rumours are that you and the Admiral had a falling out…”
Laura nodded impatiently, she knew that part.
“… and that he has met someone else.”
Laura forced her expression to remain neutral as she nodded again. “I see… And why did you keep this from me?”
Tory shifted uncomfortably again. “Well, I – ”
Laura decided she was being a little cruel. “As you say, it’s complete lies.”
Tory nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
“I take it this other woman is Juliet Simsin?”
Laura forced a reassuring smile. “Miss Simsin is going to be teaching on board Galactica. I’ve met her. She’s nice.”
Tory just nodded again.
“You don’t need to protect me, Tory,” Laura said, softening her tone. “I’ve been around gossip long enough to know not to believe it.”
Tory nodded once more.
“Now, please keep me informed from now on,” she implored, hiding her true reaction to the rumour. “I need to know if there’s any nonsense about me being insanely jealous and liable to cause another fleet wide split.”
This seemed to relax Tory a little and she smiled. “Yes ma’am. Will there be – ”
“No,” Laura smiled, “Thank you, Tory.”
Her assistant nodded again and left the office.
Laura sank down onto her chair, and her eyes found the window again. Yes, she had been around gossip long enough to know not to believe it; but she had also learned how to know what had basis in fact and what didn’t. So it unsettled her that the fleet had gone from stories about her and Bill that were, in some cases, very close to the truth, to stories of Bill and Juliet Simsin. Obviously the gossips believed there was something there; and from the jealous flame that flared whenever Laura remembered the way Bill had smiled at Juliet, it was obvious that Laura believed that too.
And if Tory had felt that it should be hidden from Laura…
With a sigh of frustration at herself for even thinking those thoughts, Laura turned to her paperwork, determined to focus.
The next two weeks that passed were as devoid of rumours about Bill and Laura as those two days had been, but were full of information about Bill and Juliet. There had been mention of Laura six days ago – that she was taking the rejection well; so perhaps she really had only been in it for the power. But nobody seemed to think she was jealous. And somehow the positive fact that this meant it wasn’t showing wasn’t making her feel better. No, that wasn’t nearly enough to overpower the feeling that, not only did she have a sense of duty to stop her acting on her feelings for Bill, but now she couldn’t even enjoy the relationship she’d been having vicariously through the gossip.
Needless to say, Laura’s knowledge that gossip was normally false or embellished, had been pushed aside by the powerful jealousy she felt every time she heard Juliet Simsin’s name and every time she arrived at Bill’s quarters to find said name working at his table. Surely she had her own frakking quarters? Bill’s explanation was that Juliet was in shared quarters and that the makeshift schoolroom was hardly suitable for paperwork. That Laura agreed with his logic actually only irritated her more – now she was in favour of Bill and Juliet spending time together.
On one occasion she pondered telling Bill that her office on Colonial One was being fumigated, to find out whether or not he would evict Juliet in favour of giving her a place to work. She decided not to take the chance though. Through her jealous haze she did manage to remember that sometimes it can be better not to know. Instead she had avoided Galactica for the last week.
So after two weeks of building jealousy that Laura hated with a passion, not least because it wasn’t a flattering emotion, the last place she wanted to be going later today was to the official opening of the new school room on Galactica. But, immature or not, she was the President, and the office she held had been asked to cut the ribbon. She did like to think that Bill wanted Laura there, not just President Roslin, but there were stronger thoughts reminding her that Juliet would be there, so why would he?
And, with the information Tory was currently relaying to her, she was beginning to seriously consider coming down with the flu in the next couple of hours.
“… was seen entering the Admiral’s quarters last night,” her aide was saying, “and leaving this morning.”
Fighting the wave of hurt the words initiated, Laura leaned forward in her seat, resting her hands on the desk, and looking up at Tory. “Based on what you’ve heard, is this relationship affecting Admiral Adama’s work?” she asked in her most Presidential voice.
Tory frowned. “No… Madam President, do you think it’s true?”
Laura swallowed. Hard. “I think it could be. And as the President I have to consider the safety of the fleet first and foremost. But if there’s nothing to indicate it’s affecting Bill – Admiral Adama’s work then I don’t need to do anything.”
Tory seemed confused by Laura’s reaction. “Laura, it’s just gossip,” she said, taking a step closer to the desk, in friendship.
“I have to think of the fleet. Two weeks ago, I’d have thought it was just gossip. Now I have to consider that maybe there is some truth to it.”
“Laura, there were rumours about you and Admiral Adama for over two years – ”
Laura raised a hand to signal for Tory to stop speaking. “That will be all, Tory… Thank you.”
Tory nodded, and offered Laura a small, sympathetic smile, before leaving the office.
Laura dropped back in her chair with a sigh. Tory did have a point. If two years worth of rumours about her and Bill had been exaggerated, why was she so quick to believe that wasn’t what was happening with Bill and Juliet? Then she caught sight of the Presidential seal on a document on the desk, and there was the answer.
Because there was nothing to stand between Bill and Juliet.
For good measure, Laura ripped a piece of embossed paper from her notepad and screwed it up and threw it across the room.
Laura stepped out of the raptor onto Galactica’s deck, expecting to find Bill and Juliet, all smiles, waiting for her. She was pleasantly surprised to find only Bill.
He smiled widely as she approached, and she registered the differences between that smile and the one he had offered to Juliet that day in his quarters. He hadn’t used ‘her’ smile for his new (technically, old) friend; that was still reserved for her. That made her own smile widen.
“Admiral,” she greeted him.
She raised an eyebrow. “No entourage?” she smirked as he offered her an arm and she accepted, falling into step beside him.
“Juliet’s at the schoolroom,” he replied, and her heart fell – because he had known what she meant; because he assumed his entourage would be made up of Juliet.
“Ah,” Laura forced a reply, “Is everything ready?”
“Of course,” he responded, a noticeable sound of pride in his voice.
Laura nodded tersely. “Good.”
In the corner of her eyes Laura saw him look at her. She hoped she didn’t look as tense as she felt.
“Laura, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she assured him with a smile she hoped he would believe.
He nodded once and his head turned back to the corridor ahead of them. Inwardly, Laura sighed with relief.
“I haven’t seen much of you this last week,” he stated a few steps later.
“No. I’ve been run off my feet,” she lied instantly.
A small smile curved the corners of Bill’s lips. “Well, I’m glad you could make it today.”
“Really?” she whispered.
Then she realised she hadn’t meant to say that out loud, and especially not so vulnerably.
Bill was looking at her, a frown of concern creasing his forehead. Her mind whirled, looking for a response before Bill spoke. Then it came to her.
She pushed her lips into a smirk. “You wouldn’t rather have had Vice President Zarek do this?”
For a split second Bill’s frown deepened and he looked like he was going to ignore her attempt at redirection then he smiled and said, gruffly, “Definitely not.”
Laura laughed out loud and then it settled into the most genuine smile she had felt in weeks.
Conversation was easier for the rest of the walk; natural and more in keeping with what they had come to share since Kobol, but arriving at the school room brought reality back.
As soon as they stepped through the hatch, Bill let go of Laura’s arm, and Juliet crossed the room to greet them.
“Madam President,” Juliet beamed, holding out her slender hand for Laura to shake. “I’m so glad you could come.”
Laura shook her hand cordially, and offered an encouraging smile. “Everything looks wonderful,” she complimented, looking around the room. It really did. The dull grey walls were draped with coloured fabrics, or papers and drawings; the alphabet headed one wall, and models of the twelve colonies adorned another.
“Thank you. The children did most of it. They’ve enjoyed getting the room ready for today. They were even more excited when I told them you were coming. They’re looking forward to seeing you again.”
Juliet was making it increasingly difficult to hate her. Laura smiled, genuinely again. “I’m looking forward to seeing them as well.”
Juliet smiled back at her understandingly, and Laura cursed Bill for having found someone nice.
“Do I get a welcome?” the subject of her curse asked now, and Juliet rolled her eyes at Laura and then turned to face him.
“Admiral,” she said, “Thank you for coming.”
Bill took hold of both of her hands and leaned forwards, kissing her softly on the cheek. “Well done, Juliet,” Laura heard him say, “This looks great.”
Though she was a little surprised that Bill hadn’t seen the room before, this logical thought was again squashed by the jealous ones, not enjoying seeing Bill and Juliet so close.
Fortunately some of her students from New Caprica chose that moment to barrel towards Laura and cling to her legs with a chorus of “Miss Roslin! Miss Roslin!” and a chatter of indistinguishable stories. Instantly transported into the innocent world of children – far from the land of jealousy and unrequited love - Laura laughed and crouched down to talk to them individually, ignoring whatever was going on with the adults beside her.
“Miss Simsin and the children have done a wonderful job with their new school room,” Laura smiled, looking out at the sea of faces gathered for the occasion, “I hope it will be the site of much learning and fun...”
The children giggled.
“… and I look forward to working with you all in future as we re-establish fleet-wide education. Now, without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to declare this school room open… And some of my former students are going to help me cut the ribbon.”
Some of the children ran forward and all tried to get their little hands onto the oversized scissors Laura held. They posed for photographs for the press and then finally sliced through the piece of ribbon that covered a sign saying when the room was officially opened, and by whom. Applause filled the room, and Laura and the children stood for more pictures, being joined by Juliet and Bill when the reporters requested so. Bill standing between the two women.
Certain that her smile would look much more forced once the other adults had joined the photo call, Laura was relieved when it was over and she could slip away from them again.
She moved over to the refreshments table, children showing her which cakes she should try, and then, her plate full, she found a spot by the wall and ended up talking to one of the other guests. A gentleman about her own age, greying hair and dark eyes, who she hadn’t seen on board Galactica before.
“Sweet tooth?” he asked, gesturing to the plate in her hand.
Laura looked down at the selection of cakes and laughed. “They all want me to see what they’ve learned since New Caprica… I won’t eat all of them.”
“They’ll be disappointed.”
“Yes. But I’d be ill… I’ll sample them all, though,” she smiled.
“And if you find them all too delicious to leave?”
“Do you know something I don’t?” she quipped looking down at his empty plate.
He smiled a rather dashing smile. “Only the head chef.”
A friend of Juliet’s. Typical. Laura managed to smile, and then even managed to resist grimacing when she noticed Juliet and Bill approaching.
The four ended up in a small square formation, Bill beside Laura, and Juliet beside this new acquaintance.
“I see you’ve met Rob,” Juliet smiled at Laura. “What do you think?”
Laura frowned, glancing at the man opposite her. “What do… Er, we’ve just been talking about cake, we haven’t actually been introduced.”
“Oh!” Juliet exclaimed. “Well this is my husband, Rob… And Rob, well I’m sure you know that this is President Roslin.”
Rob smiled and draped his arm across Juliet’s shoulders. “I do. It’s nice to meet you in person though.”
Laura nodded. “It’s nice to meet you too. I didn’t realise, Juliet, that you’re married.”
“Oh yes,” the other woman beamed, looking up at her husband as she told Laura, “We met two years ago on the Rising Star. Love at first sight. Amazing to find such happiness after such devastation… He’s my own personal miracle.”
As the couple in front of her smiled at each other with obvious adoration Laura was aware of Bill’s eyes on her, and of a knowing smirk on his lips. She didn’t look at him.
“That’s a lovely story,” she told Juliet and Rob, honestly.
Juliet turned her attention back to Laura briefly, smiling. “Thank you… Now I hope you don’t mind but I just need to steal him away for a few minutes… Caprica’s falling off the wall again, and I can’t reach it.”
Laura watched Juliet and Rob walk away and finally couldn’t ignore Bill any longer.
“What?” she asked, turning her head to glare at his smug expression.
“Nothing,” he replied, smile widening further.
She placed her plate of cakes onto a table and turned her body now, folding her arms across her chest. “Whatever you want to say, say it.”
Bill took a step closer to her, and lowered his voice to a deep rumble that reverberated in Laura’s chest when he spoke. “You shouldn’t believe everything you hear on the grapevine, Madam President.”
She resisted the urge to clear her tightening throat before saying, “Oh I know that as well as you do, Admiral.”
Bill nodded and more seriously said, “Rob and Juliet were at my quarters last night. We had dinner. And they both left two hours later.”
Laura tried to look like she didn’t understand why he was telling her this.
“Juliet would have been at my quarters this morning to collect some paperwork she had stored there… I was in CIC on the early shift. Our paths didn’t cross.”
Laura nodded, still appearing uninterested.
Bill stepped even closer and she hoped the hitch of her breath wasn’t audible. “I have spies too,” he told her quietly, and her heart skipped as her temperature shot up. “And I much prefer the rumours about you and me.”
She fixed her eyes on his, his face mere centimetres from hers. “Even though you know they’re not true?” she asked him, an eyebrow raised, and lip quirked in challenge.
He smiled and then dipped his head, bringing his lips close to her right ear. “Yet,” he whispered.
And the next day Tory reported that Bill had turned to Laura in his time of need after discovering his new lady friend was married… And that Laura had been only too happy to oblige.