Laura glanced, for what must have been the millionth time, at the clock
on the wall behind the Picon representative’s head. She did know his name. But
it was hardly important right now. Her main concern was the fact that the hands
were still moving round the clock, and she hadn’t yet received the phone call
she was waiting for.
Her impatience with the meeting was no doubt radiating from her posture and expression as well as her obsession with the time. But it had been called at the last minute, apparently about a matter of urgency, and so far had been nothing that couldn’t have waited until next month if necessary.
She had kept her schedule free for today, and was supposed to be on Galactica right now. So if the Quorum were to be known only by their colony in her head today, she really didn’t care. They were keeping her from where she wanted to be.
Another twenty minutes of pointless arguing passed before Tory popped her head into the room, apologising for the interruption, but requiring Laura to take an urgent call.
Laura was out of her seat before the apology was even finished, smiling over-apologetically at the Quorum, as she tried not to run from the tedium.
She snatched up the waiting handset, trying to control her rising excitement in case it was a different call.
“Laura Roslin,” she greeted the caller, as neutrally as she could manage. Then her smile widened as she listened to the voice on the other end. She rolled her eyes when he changed the subject to the meeting, and told him, “Probably another four hours… But I have more important matters to attend to. I’ll be there soon,” she grinned, saying goodbye, before ending the call, and turning, chirpily, to head back into the meeting room.
“I’m afraid, I’m going to have to leave this meeting in your hands,” she told the Quorum, intending that for no-one in particular, as she didn’t really care which one took control of it as long as she was out of there. “I’m needed on the Galactica.”
The Aerlon representative was out of her seat protesting before Laura managed to back out of the room again.
“Madam President, with all due respect, you can’t just leave in the middle of a meeting without good reason.”
“I have good reason,” Laura smiled, defiantly.
“If there is something on Galactica that requires such urgent presence from you, then obviously we should know about it,” the hindrance replied.
Laura tilted her head, still smiling, because she just couldn’t help it. “I disagree,” she told the attentive group. “But, as you asked so nicely… I must go to the Galactica immediately, as my grandson has just been born.”
This time she did manage to leave before any of the Quorum members had recovered from their shock and confusion.
Laura smiled all the way to her waiting raptor; throughout the trip to Galactica; and all the way through the ship.
It occurred to her, about three times during the journey, that perhaps her comment to the Quorum had not been the most sensible. But, each time, she shrugged it off. There was no way of taking it back now; she would just have to deal with the consequences. It was like Bill said, people talk about them anyway. Her starting the rumour herself was just… different.
She arrived at Life Station grinning from ear to ear in anticipation of what was about to happen. Her security stopped outside the door, and, as she entered, Doctor Cottle smiled in greeting and waved her in the appropriate direction, and she nodded her thanks.
The curtain was drawn round the bed, but she could hear familiar voices talking quietly behind it. Trying not to let her smile grow any further out of control, she reached out to pull the fabric back slightly.
“Permission to come inside?” she asked softly.
Bill and Lee were both standing beside the bed, where Dee sat with the tiny bundle in her arms.
“Permission granted,” the new mother smiled at Laura.
She stepped into the cubicle, drawing the curtain closed behind her, and grinned at Bill as he indicated for her to join him on his side of the bed.
He stepped aside to allow her to pass in front of him, and she trembled slightly when his hand came to rest on the small of her back when he stepped back up beside her. Her comment to the Quorum flashed through her mind again – or rather the possible interpretations of her comment – and she swallowed hard before addressing Dee.
“How are you feeling?” she asked, as she looked down at the little face and hands that could just be seen peeping out from the blanket he was securely wrapped in.
“Wonderful,” Dee gushed. “Exhausted,” she added with a laugh, “But wonderful.”
Laura returned her amusement and reached out her hand to gently stroke the little one’s fingers. “He’s adorable. Congratulations… Both of you,” she added, glancing up at Lee.
The young man’s grin was very much like his father’s had been for the last six months. Laura was used to both by now.
“Thank you,” Lee replied. “Would you like to hold him?”
Laura knew her instant answer to that had immediately been expressed in her eyes, but out of politeness, actually answered, “I wouldn’t want to disturb him.”
“No, it’s fine,” Dee replied. “My arm’s going a little numb actually.”
Laura smiled, and glanced, subconsciously, at Bill, immediately wondering why she was so nervous – she had held many babies before.
“He survived me holding him,” Bill told her with a smirk, slightly increasing the pressure of his hand on her back in a gesture of reassurance.
She shot him a brief glance through narrowed eyes, before turning back to receive the baby from Dee.
She settled him in her arms, holding him securely against her. He stirred a little, his fingers drumming on the edge of the blanket before he settled down again.
“Zak, this is your grandma,” Lee said softly, and Laura looked up and met his eyes.
“Zak,” she repeated in a whisper, knowing the sense of warmth that flooded her heart, must have been nothing compared to what Bill must have felt to learn the name they had chosen. Subconsciously she lent back into his touch.
Lee nodded and they shared a sentimental smile. “Yes. Grandma, this is Zak,” Lee smirked, emphasising her new title.
She could feel Bill’s eyes on her. He had been teasing her with that title for months, but only ever when they were alone, and it had never come up with Lee or Dee. She knew he was waiting to see her reaction to hearing it from his son’s lips now, and not just his own.
“About that,” she said, turning to face Bill, schooling her smile into a more serious expression, “I think I may have, inadvertently, announced Zak’s birth to the Quorum.”
Bill shrugged. “Don’t look so worried, that’s not a problem. Most of the fleet knew he was due today.”
She bit her lower lip, some of the anxiety she had earlier shunned managing to sink in now. “Okay. I may have inadvertently announced the birth of my grandson to the Quorum,” she clarified.
“Inadvertently?” Bill queried, with an unconvinced smirk.
“Okay, it was quite intentional. They didn’t want to let me leave, and I was just so…” she paused and looked down at the form nestled against her, her smile instantly returning. His eyes were open now and watching her, brown and blinking against the light. “… happy,” she continued, taking in every aspect of his beautiful appearance. His little tufts of dark hair just visible from under the blanket; his tiny, perfect little nose; his little lips pursed as he seemed to examine her as she did him. “It just slipped out.”
She heard Bill chuckle and his arm came up to rest across her shoulders. “It was bound to happen some time,” he commented.
“Yeah!” Lee agreed emphatically. “Especially given the way you two have been smiling sappily at each other for the last six months.”
Bill’s head turned to Lee at the same time Laura’s did, and she felt confident he shared the same shocked expression.
“Oh, come on,” the younger man laughed. “You’ve been even more like a couple than you usually are.”
“We’ve been waiting for the official announcement,” Dee voiced her agreement, with a nod.
Laura looked between the new parents, knowing there was nothing she could say in argument, because she knew what they were saying was true. Every time she and Bill had seen each other since he told her about ‘their’ grandchild, they would immediately share excited smiles. Business was then dealt with, and, whenever possible, conversation then turned to the upcoming birth. They spoke on the phone on days when they hadn’t been able to see each other – without fail. The ‘yet’ of their ‘affair’ was getting closer and closer, and Laura knew that. It was difficult enough to convince herself hiding her feelings was necessary, without the added connection this little bundle of joy had brought.
Presidential responsibilities were being pushed further and further out of her mind where Bill was concerned. Zak was not only a further link for them, but he was a reminder for Laura of all the chances she hadn’t taken in her life. The world had ended. Wasn’t it about time she started to live?
“I’ll take your silence as acceptance of our words,” Lee gloated, interrupting Laura’s thoughts, and making her aware that Bill had also failed to respond to the accusations.
This made her smile, and she focussed her attention on the baby in her arms, so as to hide such a reaction from the others, as she felt a blush creep up her cheeks. Of course, that angle of her head meant Dee could see exactly what was going on on her face, and in the corner of her eye Laura saw the other woman’s smile widen.
Bill held back to allow Laura to step out of Life Station first, and her security escort fell into step behind them as they began the walk to his quarters.
“He’s so cute,” she said quietly, when they had barely walked four feet.
Bill laughed and nodded his concurrence. “He gets that from my side.”
Laura smothered her outburst of laughter with the back of her hand, and just giggled to herself for the rest of the walk.
However, this comfortable silence seemed to instantly morph into one heavy with anticipation the minute they were inside Bill’s quarters.
She stood awkwardly in the centre of the room, while Bill secured the hatch behind them. The fact that she had been there hundreds of times before suddenly seemed irrelevant. It felt wrong to assume the right to sit on his sofa without permission; it was as if this was her first visit, and she didn’t know what to do with herself.
She mentally kicked herself, and shook her head, inwardly cursing Lee and Dee (as much as she could bring herself to curse the parents of such a gorgeous little boy) for bringing up the issue Laura and Bill liked to pretend wasn’t always in the room with them.
“Would you like a drink?” his voice came from behind her.
She turned to face him, forcing her craziness back down, and allowing the smile that usually came when her eyes met his.
“That would be lovely,” she replied.
Bill nodded, and crossed the room to get their drinks, and Laura moved to the sofa, forcing herself to sit, as she had done many times before. She really had to shake the feeling that the ‘yet’ was getting even closer.
“I saw your face when Lee called you Grandma,” Bill told her as he handed her a glass of what was no doubt Chief Tyrol’s latest brew.
She accepted the drink, eyeing him curiously, wondering where his comment was leading.
He continued, as he sat down beside her, “You didn’t believe it was going to happen, did you?”
She took a sip of her drink, cherishing the warm liquid sliding down her throat, as she tried to decide how best to respond. “You know that was a reasonable assumption,” she chose to point out. “We’ve been through the reasons why enough times.”
Bill nodded. “Yes we have. And each time, I’ve managed to counter each argument you had.”
Laura smiled shyly. “I guess I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Just in case.”
“I wouldn’t let you down,” Bill promised her.
“I know,” she assured him, not wanting him to think she didn’t trust him. “But it really wasn’t your decision. Lee and Dee didn’t have to agree to someone completely unrelated to either of them having such a role in their son’s life.”
“I’d have married you.”
Her eyes widened. “Sorry?”
“If they’d used the ‘completely unrelated’ argument: I’d have married you,” he said, matter-of-factly, before raising his glass to his lips.
“Would I have had a say in that?” Laura asked, amused, and a little giddy, at the thought.
Bill looked thoughtful for a second and then said, “Probably not.”
Laura laughed, shaking her head, and looked down at her drink, swirling it round the glass as she replayed his words in her head.
“It’s irrelevant anyway,” he continued when she was silent, “Obviously Lee and Dee don’t consider you to be completely unrelated.”
“Oh they made that quite obvious,” Laura retorted, without thinking about the conversation that would be initiating.
Bill made an affirmative sound. “They’re not very subtle.”
Laura raised her eyes to meet his. “I guess we should get used to that. As soon as my comment to the Quorum gets out, there’ll be a great many ‘unsubtle’ people I expect. Many of them members of the press corps.”
“And will you offer them the same response you gave Lee?” Bill enquired, an amused smile playing on the corners of his lips.
“Silence neither confirms nor denies,” she told him, ignoring his attempt at teasing her.
“But people tend to take it as confirmation,” he retorted.
“I can’t control what people think… Regardless of what I say, they’ll believe what they want to believe.”
“And what do you believe?”
This took her by surprise. “What?”
“Do you agree with Lee? Do we already act like a couple anyway?”
“I think we both know the answer to that,” she said, quietly.
“And do you think it’s time we made an official announcement?”
How was he keeping his face so neutral as he asked these questions? Laura couldn’t read him at all.
“I think…” She paused, if she allowed herself to be completely honest, then the only answer was yes. “… I think an ‘official announcement’ sounds a little extreme… I do think,” she took a deep breath for courage, “that it’s time we talk to each other. I know we’ve talked before, about the many, many reasons why we shouldn’t pursue a relationship… But, if there is any time in the history of the Colonies that it was clear life is short, it’s now. I think…” she paused again, glancing down at her drink while she decided if she really wanted to do this, then looking back to him with more conviction, “… It’s time we discussed the reasons why we should pursue a relationship.”
Bill was silent and pensive, and Laura wondered if it was possible to somehow get her words back.
Then he suddenly said, quite softly, “Love.”
Laura raised her eyebrows. “Sorry?”
“That’s the first reason I’m offering: Love.”
Laura nodded, hearing her heart pounding, and feeling the adrenaline rushing through her veins. They really were talking about this. They had reached ‘yet’, and from the expectant way he was looking at her, it was up to her to decide if they were going to move past it.
She felt her smile sneaking up on her face again, and looked down, in much the same way she had done in Life Station, to hide her blush. She knew what her decision was going to be. The inane smiling was really giving it away. She managed to get it under some semblance of control – she couldn’t have him thinking she was too excited by this idea – and lifted her head to level with his again.
“So,” she said, quietly, “Love.” It was a statement.
She paused for a second, latching her eyes onto Bill’s and losing all control over her smile again. And it made her smile even wider, to see that his grew as hers did.
“Love,” she stated again, now grinning from ear to ear.
Bill nodded again, also grinning from ear to ear.
“Do we really need any other reasons?”
Bill laughed now, and scooted slightly closer to her, raising his free hand and gently cupping the side of her face.
“Tell the Quorum, and the press, that you’re Zak’s grandmother because you’re in love with his grandfather,” he told her tenderly.
“Yes, Sir,” she giggled just before his lips met hers, lovingly caressing them as his thumb stroked her cheek.
It was a brief first kiss – well, technically their second – but the promise it held did not go unnoticed.
“Let’s have a toast,” Bill said as he pulled his face a short distance away from hers. “To grandchildren,” he grinned.
Laura nodded, and raised her glass to clink against Bill’s.
“And to grandparents,” she added with a mischievous smirk.