She knew why he was here. This conversation had been postponed until such time as the rescues from New Caprica were complete, and the newly reformed fleet was as safely away from the Cylons as they ever could be.
Though neither had ever spoken these terms, it had been clear to Laura from the anger that raged silently in Bill’s eyes whenever he saw her that the issue would not just go away. Regardless of how relieved he said he was to see her alive, this still plagued his mind and needed to be addressed. It was not however a priority in the early days of their escape. And both knew that.
Now that the fleet had evaded the Cylons – at least for the time being – and food, living space and other pressing matters had been, at least temporarily, resolved, it was time to carry out the repairs that needed to be done on a personal level.
She set her shoulders back, chin raised slightly, and emotions firmly hidden beyond brick walls behind her eyes. She would take whatever he needed to throw at her, but she refused to let him leave here until their relationship was back to that which they were beginning to share before the fateful election.
He stopped in front of her desk, and she offered him a small smile. “Admiral.”
“Please, take a seat,” she said, gesturing to the chair that sat opposite hers.
“I’d prefer to stand.”
Fully expecting, and therefore prepared for, this, Laura nodded and also remained standing. She locked her eyes onto his and waited for the onslaught.
She could see his hurt and anger swirling in his eyes, as he remained silent and was obviously looking for the best place to start.
“Shall we just cut straight to it?” she asked eventually, finding it more and more difficult to shake the urge to just hug him and make all his pain go away. She knew that wouldn’t work. Chances were he’d flee from her embrace and her ‘easy solution’ would be considered further insult to his intelligence and position. But he looked so hurt, it was hard not to want to hold him. “Hera is alive… I didn’t tell you.”
His eyes flicked narrower slightly. “Doctor Cottle assured me that she had died.”
Laura nodded once. “I’m sure you can understand the need for your Doctor’s involvement… I’m sure you also understand the need for secrecy.”
His head lifted now, and she saw his breathing deepen. “Yes, but I don’t – ”
“It was never an issue of trust.” She cut him off, knowing what was coming.
His mouth snapped shut, eyes hardened with anger he had not been permitted to release.
“I trust you, Bill. Of course I do… And if Hera’s continued existence had become a threat to the fleet I of course would have told you immediately.”
“Her existence was always a threat to the fleet – ”
“The Cylons were not aware that she lived. There was no reason why she couldn’t continue to do so without causing us any danger.”
“We don’t know for sure that the Cylons thought she was dead.”
“I made the decision. There is nothing to be gained from picking it apart now,” she stated, knowing he would agree with that logic at least. Which would leave them only with the issue at hand.
After a short silence, some of Bill’s anger subsided to reveal once again the pain that her omission had caused him. “You should have told me,” he stated.
His eyes widened at her declaration, and she raised one hand slightly to ward off his reaction.
“… I did not want to put you in a position where you would have to perpetuate my lie to Lieutenant Agathon and to the Cylon.”
She realised too late how that sounded as his eyes narrowed again and he took a step forward, his voice lowered. “You thought I wouldn’t be able to lie to a Cylon?”
“That isn’t what I meant,” she said, quickly. “Did I think that you were having difficulty accepting that Sharon Valerii had always been a cylon agent? Yes. I did think that… I never once thought it would put the fleet at risk though. Never. Not once…” She held his gaze firmly, making sure that he could see the sincerity in her eyes. “But the people of Galactica are your family… And it wasn’t that I thought you couldn’t lie to them. But that you shouldn’t have to… I’ve come between you and your family before. And I’m trying very hard not to do that again… If I had to put our relationship on the line to prevent it, then so be it.”
He was silent again. Clearly he had not expected that explanation.
She rested her hands on the desk and leaned towards him, softening her voice now. “Bill, I need you to understand that I didn’t have an ulterior motive then, and will never have in the future. When I decide to keep things from you, it is for your protection. We may lead this fleet together, but we do not need to go down together in the event that I make a bad decision – ”
His voice was equally soft as he interrupted. “If you would discuss it with me, it might not turn out to be a bad decision.”
She smiled slightly. “Some times that may be the case… And on those occasions I will remember that… But when faced with a situation I think would cause you more harm than good to know about. I will not discuss it with you. And I will keep as many secrets as necessary… I do promise to involve as few members of your crew as possible though.”
His jaw set, and the rough edge returned to his voice. “We need to have complete honesty – ”
“No… We need to have complete trust.”
“How can I trust you if I think you’re lying to me?” he ground through clenched teeth.
“It’s quite simple…” she replied, calmly. “You trust that I will only lie to for your own protection – to protect your position, your authority, or your life.”
“It is not your job to protect me!”
As he straightened up, then so did she. “It is my job to help you to protect the fleet… Protecting you is an integral part of that.”
He had paced away from the desk, and now he turned round, some of the shouting she had earlier anticipated, coming free. “Do you even realise what you are saying?”
She remained impassive.
“You are telling me that you will willingly lie to me in the future!”
She entwined her hands in front of her. “I am telling you that if it is necessary for me to lie to you in future then I will… I most sincerely hope it is never necessary.”
“But I’ll never know whether it has been or not… I’ll always be wondering if you’re keeping something from me.”
“And you will always know that if I am, it is for the best.”
“Who decided you get to deem what is ‘best’ for me?”
“If you’d known about Hera, it would have torn you apart to know that you had separated a father from his child. But it was the only course of action and I was not willing to put you through that guilt.” Her own anger was coming out in her tone now, but she ensured her volume remained low as she spoke of the delicate subject.
“You do not get to decide what I go through!”
She pursed her lips, furrowed her brow, and slowly moved to the other side of her desk. “Okay… Let’s say I admit that you’re right. And I tell you now that I will never lie to you again…” She tilted her head to one side. “Would you believe me?… Or would you still always wonder whether I was keeping things from you?”
His silence was the answer she expected.
“Exactly… So in my eyes, it’s better that I leave myself the option of withholding information in the future… You will suspect that I’m doing it either way… And this way at least affords me the ability to protect you – ”
He took a breath to speak but she didn’t let him. Her voice was small as she continued, and tears prickled behind her eyes.
“Because I could not live with myself if I shared with you information that jeopardised your position, your relationship with your crew, with your son, with Kara… or, gods forbid, put your life in danger… It is not a risk I am willing to take.”
He echoed her tone of voice. “Yet you’re willing to risk our friendship – ”
“To know that you are alive, and secure, and leading this fleet? Yes. Without hesitation.”
She knew the tears were now forming along her lower eyelids and she took a deep breath, focussing her energy on willing them away. She took a step closer to him, pleased that he didn’t back away, and she placed her hand – so softly it was barely touching – on his chest.
“I know that you would keep secrets from me if you believed doing so would protect me…”
His expression shifted and she could see him readying himself to defend his position. Her lips curved into a smile and she continued before he had chance.
“… And because I know it is pointless trying to convince you that you don’t need to do that, I am willing to live with it… I trust that you will tell me anything I need to know… Am I wrong?”
His head tilted in resignation. “No.”
“Then allow me to do the same for you.”
“But I don’t need – ”
She moved her hand to an inch in front of his lips to silence him. “You are...” She desperately fought not to let her voice break. “…as important to me, as I am to you.” She took in a shaky breath, and then added, with a small smile. “Unless of course, you think that because I’m a woman…” She trailed off, pleased to see her words had the desired effect, and a smile formed on his own lips.
“I’m never gonna like it,” he told her definitively.
She nodded understandingly, returning her hand to his chest, and patting absently as she spoke. “I know… But we’ll live with it… Because we have to… for the fleet… and for us.”
His eyebrows quirked. “Us?”
The smirk on his face made her own smile widen. “Yes…” She took a deep breath. “I missed you… So much that it physically hurt sometimes… And I have to take that as a sign that you mean more to me than I was willing to admit before,” she informed him, matter-of-factly. However, the tremble of her voice betrayed her nervousness.
He laughed once, and snaked a hand into the hair at her neck, his thumb gently stroking her cheek. “I missed you too… More than I expected I would.”
His touch and his words combined and Laura Roslin – newly reinstated President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol – felt positively giddy. She leaned into his caress, absorbing the comfort of his presence, then one of her tears escaped down her cheek – and giddiness soon gave way to the impact of their situation.
“Gods, I’ve missed you,” she whispered into his touch.
His arm moved, wrapping around her shoulders and pulling her against his chest. She returned the embrace, clinging to the back of his jacket as she buried her head against his shoulder. His other hand fell onto the small of her back, stroking soothingly as his head nuzzled into her hair.
“I missed you too,” he murmured, holding her closer.
They remained like this, neither of them counting for how long, just both releasing the emotions they had kept locked away for the sake of rebuilding the fleet and saving what remained of their people.
Eventually Laura pulled back, stepping out of his arms, and looking down at her feet as she straightened her suit. She returned her gaze to Bill as she wiped the remaining moisture from her eyes, and couldn’t help but smile when she found him smiling wistfully at her.
“What?” she asked, shifting, a little uneasy under his intense stare.
“I came in here to shout at you,” he stated.
She smiled. “I know… And you did… Were you not expecting things to be resolved?”
“I wasn’t expecting … this,” he replied, gesturing between the two of them.
She giggled as he pulled her towards him, his hands on her hips slipping beneath the hem of her jacket as he held her against him.
His expression became serious, so hers did too. “I still don’t like it.”
She nodded acceptingly.
“But…” He ran his right hand across her waist, as he moved it to take hold of her left. His fingers played with hers and he spoke softly. “I’m not willing to lose you over it.”
Their hands entwining as he moved, her eyes drifted closed as he gently touched his lips to hers. Grateful that this time she could return the kiss, Laura nudged her head closer, pressing their lips together more firmly.
“I’m glad,” she whispered, as they broke apart, their foreheads resting together.
“I should get back to CIC, before Saul thinks we’ve murdered each other,” he said after another short silence.
She nodded briefly, not wanting to break their contact. “Given the way you’ve been glowering at me these past few days, I’d say it’d be a fair assumption.”
Bill laughed and stepped away from her. “And an excellent cover for the truth,” he smirked, eyes sparkling with mischief.
Laura let out a laugh of her own, and perched on the edge of her desk as they exchanged goodbyes and Bill disappeared through the hatch.
Thinking back to the moment he had arrived in the office, she realised she had not expected things to turn out like this either. Knowing what she had to tell him, in his arms was the last place she would have thought she would end up.
She smiled, both at the memory of his embrace and with relief that her insistence to protect him hadn’t driven him away.
This might just be the most complicated relationship in the history of the Colonies, but Laura Roslin didn’t care. She was going to do it anyway.