Laura was standing by one of the many portholes that lined her office on board Colonial One when Bill entered. She was staring out into the darkness of space, arms folded in front of her. She didn’t move when he walked in; didn’t acknowledge that she realised anyone was there, until he took a breath to speak and she beat him to it.
“A new home?” she asked him, all trace of optimism and faith gone from her voice.
Heart breaking that she was still so devoid of hope, Bill prayed that he was going to be able to restore it. He stepped confidently towards her. “Yes,” he answered her question, resolutely.
“You promised them a new home,” she iterated slowly, as if trying to make him realise that it was a crazy notion.
“I promised us all a new home, Laura,” he told her, stopping beside her, watching her profile as she scoffed at his statement. “We made a deal. We would lead this fleet together to – ”
“To Earth,” she interrupted, rolling her head to the side to look at him with eyes completely lost.
“To an ‘Earth’ we didn’t even know was real – ”
“There was the dream of Earth, Bill. That’s gone.” She looked back to the window, out into space.
“The dream of a new home, Laura. ‘Earth’ was just its name.”
Her eyes weren’t empty this time when she turned on him. Anger flared in them.
“Kobol, Pythia, the thirteenth tribe. Earth wasn’t just a name, Bill. It was hope. I told them all there was hope, and look what I led them to.”
“You didn’t lie to them though, you believed there was hope. And we both led them here. If this planet wasn’t Earth we would just keep looking, Laura. Our goal was to find a new home. This wasn’t it. Like New Caprica wasn’t it… Are we just going to quit now and tell the fleet they can fend for themselves?”
“But how long can we keep doing this? We have no idea where we are or where we’re going – ”
“As long as it takes, Laura,” he implored, reaching out and grasping her elbows with his hands, relieved when she didn’t pull away, “Because this isn’t how it ends. We didn’t come this far to just give up.”
“It’s such a mess, Bill,” Laura whispered, her eyes haunted and vulnerable again.
“It’s not the first time we’ve been in a mess, Laura.” He tried a reassuring smile.
“But I don’t see how we get out of this one.”
“We do what we’ve done every other time. We stick together.”
He could see her mind working as her eyes stared into his; could see her doubt in her own strength.
“This isn’t how it ends for us, Laura,” he echoed his earlier statement softly, chancing another step closer to her. When she didn’t back away, he raised his right hand to gently cup her cheek. “Stay with me?”
“Everything I believed in – ”
“Believe in me.”
“Bill – ”
“Laura, I’ve been through all this. I wanted it all to end, I wanted to hide, to run. But who would that help? Everyone we’ve lost on our journey, Laura, if we give up now, then it was all for nothing. We can find this fleet a home.”
“How can you possibly know that?”
“Because the alternative is not an option I’m willing to consider anymore.”
She nodded once, his first sign that she might be coming round to his way of thinking. “The fleet deserves more than that,” she said quietly.
He nodded his agreement with relief. “And so do you,” he said, gently stroking his thumb across her jaw line. “Believe in me, Laura.”
Her eyes searched his for seconds, so full of exhaustion and uncertainty. Then he saw the gleam of moisture gathering in their corners, and her voice, barely audibly, said, “I just feel lost, Bill.”
He pulled her forward, enveloping her in his arms, pleased when she returned the embrace. “You’ve been lost before and you came back.”
He felt a sharp burst of laughter shake her frame. “And found you waiting in a raptor,” she whispered.
He laughed, himself, and pulled back so he could see her face. “Exactly…” They shared a brief smile, remembering their reunion, then Bill made sure she could see how serious he was as he said, “I’m not willing to let you give up. I’m going to be by your side whether you like it or not. The choice is yours now. Work with me, or good luck trying to get rid of me.”
“I have a good security team you know.”
“They ain’t got nothing on me,” Bill smiled.
Laura’s lips curved into a smile, before she let out a sigh, and her fingers toyed aimlessly with the buttons of his jacket. Bill let the silence continue until she was ready to speak.
“We’re back where we started from,” she said eventually.
“In some ways,” he responded, “But in many ways we’re not. We know what we’re doing now, we have fewer enemies after us, and those that are still pursuing us are mortal now. And when we find a suitable planet now, we can settle without wondering whether we should carry on and find Earth… Remember what you said to me at the beginning, Laura? We needed to leave the solar system and never look back. You didn’t know where we would go. Before ‘Earth’, we were willing to go anywhere we would be safe. We’ve just come back to that… It doesn’t have to be Earth, Laura, it just needs to be a home.”
Her eyes met his and they fell silent again. He wished he could read her thoughts, know what arguments her mind was presenting her with and counteract them all. After his conversation with Saul he had accepted that wallowing would get them all nowhere. He knew what needed to be done, but he also knew he couldn’t, and didn’t want to, do it without Laura by his side. He knew she couldn’t be there forever, but he couldn’t lead the fleet to a new home knowing that Laura had given up all hope of ever finding it. Somewhere along the way his strength had become intertwined with her presence, and now he needed her to join him for this – even if she couldn’t be there in the end, he would be stronger for knowing she had believed in him.
“I might not make it,” she said next, voice quiet even in the silence of the ship, her thoughts echoing his.
“And you might,” he said with a small smile, knowing she would roll her eyes at his optimism.
“What makes you think the fleet will follow us?”
“I’ve told them the plan, and no one has called me up to say they’re not coming,” he shrugged.
“Bill, I’m serious.”
“I know… I don’t know for sure that they will go along with whatever we decide. I can’t know that. But I know what I’m willing to do for you, for the Galactica, and for the fleet if they want it. It’s their choice. That’s all I can do.”
“Where did you find this confidence?”
Laura raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah. He wouldn’t shoot me; knew I wouldn’t shoot myself.”
Laura looked horrified and took a step towards him. “What?”
He tenderly cupped her face with both hands to reassure her. “Exactly how I felt when I found out you refused treatment. You wouldn’t let me do it, I’m not going to let you do it. We don’t have enough time together as it is; I’m not losing you any sooner than I have to.”
“But you – ”
“I got past it, Laura, and so will you. The fleet needs you, Laura. I need you... Please?”
Tears were trickling over her lower eyelid now as she raised her hands and held his arms. “I don’t know where to start,” she whispered.
He brushed his thumbs across her cheeks to clear the moisture, and offered her a smile of promise and assurance. “Start here,” he told her, then he tilted her face upwards and pressed his lips to hers.
She hesitated at first. She backed away slightly from him, staring deeply into his eyes, thoughts once more unreadable, before she stepped forwards and reinitiated the kiss. He accepted her passion, and matched it with his own, allowing her to feel what she needed to feel, and taking from her the comfort that he needed.
When they separated minutes later it was merely for air, and Bill was relieved that Laura maintained her hold on him. In this aspect, at least, they were back, standing united. The professional would follow the personal, he knew, and, though they continued to face an uncertain future, they were facing it together, and that was all he needed to know.