24 Hours In The Life
by Jennifer-Oksana

Not dead yet.

That's something. Given that she is stuck in the brig, where anyone could walk in, put two bullets in her head, and walk out? That's something.

Tigh has declared martial law. Zarek, of all people, is agitating for her release. Adama's still out of everything, and Lieutenant Thrace is still missing in action. She hasn't gotten to take a shower since their adventure with the Cylons.

But they're not dead. Not even Adama, who keeps pulling through.

For herself, Laura has discovered dying is very far from dead. In fact, she's starting to get cabin fever, and with it comes unsettling dreams when she manages to get sleep, which isn't easy given people keep walking in to see if she's dead or babbling the location to Earth yet.

She's starting to nap a great deal, because they go away then. And unless it's Lieutenant Thrace with her arrow, Colonel Tigh with an apology and a key to her cell, or the gods with a message or a cure for cancer, Laura does not care.

It's almost good to have time to think.

Except that thinking keeps failing to happen. Everything becomes purely physical in a cage, and Laura Roslin is secretly a little claustrophobic, and the idea of the bars make her heart go faster with terror.

This is also not why she isn't thinking. The reason Laura isn't thinking is because every time she thinks, Lee does something and breaks her concentration.

She considers the plausibility of working with Zarek to secure her release, and he coughs.

She tries to think about whether or not she's sent Kara Thrace on a suicide mission, and he stares off into space for twenty minutes.

So after an hour of fruitlessly trying to ignore him, Laura abandons herself to Thinking About Lee, which, to her surprise, quickly turns into Thinking About Lee Sexually.

It's not that she thinks it's a good idea. Far from it. It's a bad idea, the worst idea she could choose to dwell on.

But Laura can't stop thinking about him, and the thoughts have long since strayed from gallant smiles, kind words, and the brush of one hand against the other.

Gods, she has to get out of here. Before she can't stop thinking about how Captain Apollo (your Captain Apollo, a greedy corner of her brain clamors, he always comes back for you) would look, trying to kiss her.

How much she'd like to be able to comfort him. He looks like he has a cramp in his shoulders from hunching over, from anger and worry, from the piloting. She used to be able to get those out without trying before being breathlessly swept into her lover's lap and putting her arms around his neck insistently.

The thought of Lee pulling her into his lap is too much. It's either talk, scream, or worse.

So she talks.

"Do you think the boredom is intentional torture, or just a happy accident?" Laura asks the room, unable to keep herself quiet any longer. "Or am I the only one about to leap out of my skin here?"


She's the president, she's older than he is, she's the president, she screwed everything the frack up, she's losing her mind, she's looking at him again, she's pretending to sleep again, she's the president, she's looking at him and now she's looking away.

Lee is going to lose his mind in the brig. There is nothing to do, nothing to think about, and so he sits and stews about how everyone is trying to frack him over for no reason.

And apparently, he realizes, pays attention to every twitch and twiddle of the president's body.

He started watching President Roslin almost by accident. It is, after all, Roslin's insanity that has them both stuck together in a tiny room with bars between them. He's pissed at her, and worse, she keeps acting like he's done something for her and she's glad. She will not accept he is pissed at her.

Then again, he keeps acting like she's still the president and not a recalcitrant prisoner in the brig. Keeping her alive. Telling Tigh, via the other pilots, that he has to keep the prisoner well-tended. Roslin thinks she matters to him because he acts like she matters, and Lee has to admit she does.

He hates the holy act. Hates the passive resistance and the feigned smiles of presidential-slash-prophetical wisdom and strength. It's like Laura's locked her real self inside a shrine when she does that, made herself sacrifice for the people when she should be leading them.

When she thinks no one is looking, she's so. Different somehow. Like she's slipped into a place where nobody cares that Laura is the president or a prophet or a patriot or a traitor. She squints and squirms and he keeps watching the way she smiles to herself like there's something keeping her warm.

It's a relief when she finally talks.

"Do you think the boredom is intentional? Or a happy accident?" Laura asks out of nowhere. "I am about to jump out of my skin here. Anyone else?"

Lee puts his hand up. "If we had cards, I'd suggest a rousing game of poker," he says. "We know you can bluff."

She tilts her head and then laughs. "Oh, only when the stakes aren't too high," Laura says airily. "I hate this. You'd think I'd be glad for a break, but I can't focus. I just keep thinking about..."

And Laura trails off. Lee is curious now. She's thinking about something she doesn't want to share with the group.

"There's been a lot to think about," the guard says. Laura half-smiles and nods, but then looks back at Lee and the smile turns real. Conspiratorial.

"Yes, there certainly has," Laura says bracingly. "What about you, Captain Apollo? Where have your thoughts strayed?"

"You don't like shoes," Lee says. "I noticed that."

"You sit hunched over," Laura replies. "Does it make your shoulders hurt?"

Lee looks surprised. "I didn't even know I was doing it," he admits. "Does it look painful?"

"If I were sitting that way, I'd have the worst knot in my neck, and probably my upper back," she says, touching just where she'd feel it.

"Usually it's my knees," he says absently, rubbing the back of his neck. "Pushing all those G's isn't easy. I guess I miss the other aches."

He isn't missing them right now, and there's something about talking with a woman casually. Something about admitting he notices she wiggles her toes and sits barefoot in the brig that is almost naughty because it's so personal.

She is looking at the way he sits and thinking if he hurts. And now Lee is wondering if she used to wear polish on her toenails. There might be a leftover chip. Or it could be grease.

Or he's looking too hard at her feet. That's possible.

"They could never keep shoes on me, not since I was little," Laura confesses quietly, glancing at the guard and then at Lee. "I always kicked them off the second I could, even when I joined the cabinet. There was a horrible time when I was at a state function for education and a pair of very expensive and very ugly pumps ended up in a mayor's soup."

They both remember Ellen Tigh and the other horrible dinner party at the same time, apparently. Their eyes widen and they both laugh.

Something is definitely in the air. Because that was not, Lee feels, a laugh between two people who are politically connected and are at odds because one of them has lost her mind. Nor is it a friendly laugh.

Something's in the air, and Lee, who doesn't know what to say, says, "You have nice feet, though."

Because he is an idiot. And because it makes her smile anyway.


He is going to kiss her.

She is going to let him.

Everything else is set dressing.

Including, of course, poor Billy, who has returned from his other vigil and other duties, ostensibly to keep her company and note her condition for the public.

Billy on Galactica has been so high-strung that she spends most of her time listening to him. But Billy also appears to have succeeded in his pursuit of Petty Officer Dualla; he is much, much less anxious than usual.

Which is possibly why he notices how calm she's not.

"You're restless today," says Billy.

"I'm in jail," Laura answers petulantly. "So far this week, I've been arrested and thrown in the brig, Cylons have tried to kill me and blew two holes in my favorite jacket, and Colonel Tigh has declared martial law. And I sit and sit and sit."

Billy is sweet, but he's painfully naive at times. "Sooner or later they'll have to let you out," he reasons. "You can't stay here forever."

"Under martial law?" Laura asks with a hoot. "Colonel Tigh doesn't like me much. He thinks I'm a devil-woman. Considering what he's married to..."

Half-sincere burp of laughter from Lee's cell. Billy doesn't know about Ellen Tigh, so he lets it go. Laura sighs and soldiers on.

"I think he has poor judgment," Laura concludes, noting her corporal is a little surprised to hear a non-saintly perspective from her. "Now I suppose I will try to get some sleep on this fantastic little bunk. Billy, when is Dualla off? I think you should see her as much as possible. And I'm sure you can do a late shift for the corporal later."

Billy perks up. He is being sprung early. Fifteen minutes later, he's gone, and the guard is hiding in the corner, almost not looking at either Laura or Lee. He seems to be under the impression it's presidential nap time, possibly. Or he knows and is pretending not to.

"I know you're not asleep," Lee says. "Your toes keep wiggling."

"Oh, so now he speaks to me," Laura replies, turning to see him. "The corporal?"

A snore answers them. Laura cranes her neck; he is definitely out cold.

"Poor boy," she says. "This must be a wearing assignment."

Lee snorts and stands up. "Do you always have to be so understanding?" he asks, walking up to the boundary between their cells. "You're so diplomatic that it's starting to make me sick."

"Captain Apollo, is there a reason you're so angry with me? Did I do something?" she asks in a low voice. "Or are you now blaming me for what happened to your father as well as Lieutenant Thrace?"

"I blame us both," Lee says, and they are very close to each other now. "We should have done our jobs. Instead..."

"I did my job," she growls. "And how noble of you to share that blame, Lee. It makes me feel like part of the family."

"You are the president," he says. "Your personal beliefs about whether you are or aren't a prophet should NOT affect your policy."

"And if that means letting us all die, what then?" Laura asks. "Do you think I haven't thought about this? Do you think I enjoy having people stare at me like I'm going to do a miracle at any moment?"

"I think you're dangerously close," Lee says.

"Oh? What miracle will I commit today?" she asks, interrupting him in mid-thought by touching him on the shoulder.

He takes her wrist and very soberly removes it from his person. "You're not going to convert me," Lee warns.

"I'd be disappointed if I did," Laura replies, weary and dirty and exasperated. She pulls her arm back, but she moves so quickly that Lee is pulled along with it and suddenly they are nose-to-nose.

Their eyes meet, forthright and there's no hiding what they're thinking.

He is going to kiss her.

She is going to let him.

The rest is set dressing.


They're just standing there, fracking breathing on each other, and he's still got her wrist and she's still half-trying to pull away, but finally Lee sucks it up and leans forward to kiss her.

It's awkward, noses bumping into bars, fumbling lips just brushing against each other. Laura pulls back after mere seconds and smiles a wry smile.

"I'm sorry, that was..." he says, trying to look away.

"Really awkward," she says, but her pupils are dilated and her breath is coming a little faster. "You have a little...here."

She reaches out and brushes some streak of dirt and dried blood from Lee's forehead, and this time his hand fastens on her waist and Laura pulls him down so she can reach him and this time...this time...

Frack. She's warm, and even under the dirt and grease, she smells good. Lee feels like he's been hit with volts of electricity, like the whole world has shrunk down to the way her mouth is fastened to his, the press of the bars against his cheek and how he doesn't care now, and the way her fingernails dig into his scalp.

"Not awkward this time," he says when they come up for air, staring at each other like the floodgates have come down and behind all the politeness and anger and friendship was always this hunger all along. Like it was just waiting for the right moment, and damn, he thinks he needs to kiss her again, and immediately.

"No," she agrees, reaching for him and this time their hands reach and grab and fight against the inevitable reality of bars, but she's tougher than she looks. Her mouth is against his fiercely, and when she grips the back of his neck, it almost hurts.

Lee is having a hard time believing that this is the same Laura Roslin. Her ankle hooks around his leg and he keeps finding his hand on the small of her back as they twist and turn, trying not to crush bones against bars while they keep touching each other. Her jacket's gone and the first three buttons of her blouse have undone.

He knows he's doing something stupid, but he does not care, and apparently, neither does Laura. She is too busy catching his lower lip between her teeth and chuckling when he pulls away and strikes back.

It's possible that they wouldn't have stopped, that they would have just tried to take off more clothing and get as far as they could under the circumstances -- and the gaps in the bars are fairly wide -- but a small choked noise stops them.

The guard is fully awake, and he is looking at them in stunned shocked, at Laura's mussed top and the flush on Lee's face, and he, like Lee, can hear the low, gasping laugh that has bubbled out of Laura like water and sex and all its implications.

"What...what are you two doing?" he asks.

"Exchanging secrets," Laura says cruelly, but with that smile that puts honey on the sting. "My apologies, Corporal. We've put you in a difficult spot."

She lets go of Lee, gives him a look that shoots fire down his spine and promises later. Balls-achingly, cock-hardeningly later, and how does she do that while maintaining that saintly smile and recovering her composure? Lee's fingers are gripping the bars and he's sure the corporal's got a good look at his half-erect dick.

And Laura Roslin simply smiles as though she wasn't just pressed against it and sits on the bed to meditate.

"You can't, uh, do that," the corporal says. "It's against the rules. I have to report you."

"Oh, Corporal," she says sweetly. "I didn't realize...it was only the once, and there are much more important things going on. Haven't you ever gotten caught up in the heat of the moment?"

"Colonel Tigh told me..." but Lee knows the corporal isn't going to be doing any telling. He forces the joints in his fingers to relax so that he can go back to his side of the brig.

The brig has just taken on a newly hellish aspect. Five feet away, and she might as well be on the other side of the fleet and he might as well have declared his undying wish to frack a toaster.

A new level of torture. He hopes that someone is enjoying it.


Laura is so frustrated that she could scream. Why couldn't he have slept for a few more minutes? Ten minutes and both of them could have achieved some kind of satisfaction. Less. They were both so overwrought and in need of release that it could have been five.

She's not kidding herself. Tense circumstances, personal and professional boundaries, and now a cage? Tigh would start looking good, and there was already a bit of attraction between herself and Captain Apollo. This was inevitable, especially given they are stuck together in this locker.

People respond sexually to stress. This was an accident.

But Laura can't take it back, and she doesn't want to. She wants to finish what she's started and keep going. Because she doesn't think it was exactly a mistake. A bad idea, certainly, but any woman who has seen Lee Adama would hardly be able to disagree with her that it was worth it to be in his arms.

Worse yet, the guard is staring at her like he expects her to sprout horns. Or wings. Or do something. Or maybe run back and throw herself at Lee until he tears her clothes off.

She might do that. Especially considering how good it felt to feel his stubble burn on her cheek, and the taste of someone else's sweat and all of it. And he's so...it's been a long time since Laura has been pressed against someone young and athletic and in shape. Not even her best-looking lovers had those arms, either.

And she is now biting her lip.

Gods, she is going to drive herself crazy thinking about what they could have done if the poor, confused corporal had just slept ten more minutes.

"Are you meditating?" Lee asks petulantly.

"No," Laura replies, wiggling her big toe and thinking salaciously about how much better he would look without his shirt, especially if she could get rid of hers. "No, I am not."

"Are you all right, Madam President?" says the corporal. "You look a bit feverish."

"I'll survive," she says, uncomfortably aware that they're both staring at her and she's a dirty, shot-at, sweaty mess. "I'm rather embarrassed. And I need a shower."

Embarrassed, but not embarrassed enough. Her pulse is racing, her mouth is dry, and she's mostly irritated that she was interrupted in mid-kiss because he can kiss, he can grope, and he was worth getting an indent of a cell bar against her cheek for.

"I'm sorry," the corporal says. "It's against the rules, sir."

"Yes, we know," Lee says. "Could you repeat that a few thousand more times?"

She closes her eyes, and drifts back into her private world of tangled tongues, sweaty palms, fingers curled around each other, the way material rides up and sticks.

About how she much she wants to bite down on Lee's earlobe and then...

And then Laura is aware that she is drumming her fingers against her thigh and the pitch of her breathing is hardly appropriate for thoughts about the gods, leading the people, or doing much beyond touching Lee.

Lee who is out of reach for now, even though she can smell him.

Yes. Maintaining composure is going to be a trial.


Lee has found out a great deal more about Laura Roslin in the three hours they have been sitting and not speaking.

For one thing, she's at least as agitated as anyone else in the room and doesn't hide sexual frustration particularly well. Pretending to meditate lasted twenty minutes. The almost-certainly-fake nap was forty-five minutes. The attempt at personal conversation with the guard was...Lee stopped taking count.

The pacing has lasted an hour. Maybe longer. He managed to get some sleep, because he might not get too much more time to sleep between patrols and because at least in sleep, he got to finish touching her.

Kat saves him at last, even though he's pretty sure that she's seen him staring at President Roslin with blatant want and so it's only a temporary reprieve.

"Sir?" she says. "You've got to fly a patrol. Tigh's orders."

"Okay," he says, standing up. "Kat? Corporal? Do me a favor. Tell Tigh that the president needs a change of clothes and access to the shower. We need to keep her in good condition."

Laura smiles at him, walks over to the edge of her cell as his is unlocked. The poor corporal looks miserable, and Lee intends to make him a little more miserable for waking up too soon.

"Madam President," he says, taking her hand and squeezing. Her eyes half-close and she squeezes back.

She smiles at him wickedly. "Captain Apollo," she replies breathlessly, pulling him in for a quick, seemingly motherly hug that includes several unmotherly touches. "Good hunting."

"Make Tigh let you clean up," he insists, brushing her fingertips with his as he moves toward the door with Kat. She very casually waves him off after her hand has accidentally touched her face and lips, as if she was concerned about how dirty she was. "Okay?"

"Okay," she agrees.

Kat stares at him as they walk down the hallway. Maybe it's because he's whistling. Maybe it's the grin on his face. Lee's not sure.

"Sir, I'm not one to question, but do you usually get so touchy-feely with President Roslin?" she asks. "It was somewhat unusual."

"She's upset," Lee says. "Long week."

"Upset enough to give you a quick grope?" Kat replies. "I wouldn't have guessed she had it in her, but you are awful pretty, sir."

"Soldier," he says, trying to find a lecture within him and failing. "You gonna say anything to Tigh?"

"If she keeps you alive and on your toes, I don't give a frack, sir," Kat replies. "We need you in the game."

"Thanks," he says.

"Don't mention it."


Tigh doesn't like it, but between Dualla and the corporal pleading the case, he grudgingly grants Laura a shower and a set of clothes like all the soldiers on Galactica -- the two tanks, the cargo pants, underwear. She refuses the boots, even though her civilian shoes don't look right with the outfit.

But Tigh lets her take a shower. In fact, he lets Dualla walk her up to the head, which is a relief.

"Why did you send Billy up this afternoon?" she asks, and Laura hears the real question: what are you up to, woman?

"Too many people in that tiny room make me claustrophobic," Laura replies blithely. "Or maybe I was trying to seduce the corporal."

Dee snorts. "Wouldn't that make Captain Adama jealous, sir?" she asks pointedly.

Laura blinks. "I beg your pardon, officer?" she asks in surprise.

"It's not my business, sir, but if you're trying to pretend that you're not interested in him, sir, you might try a little harder," Dualla said, no change in expression.

"Oh, I don't think that's any of your business," Laura says as she walks into the bathroom. It's busy, and everyone is staring at her again. "Which one should I use? Do you have to guard me? Is there a time limit?"

"Whatever's free, yes, and no," Dualla says. "I bet he's a good kisser."

"That will be all," Laura says, trying to sound angry, but there's a shower, and enough time, at least, to get clean.

And if Dee questions why it took Laura twenty-five minutes to wash her hair, she's not saying anything aloud.

Nice girl. Laura approves of her for Billy. She'll keep him together quite well.

"Are you hungry?" one of the girls with Dualla asks suddenly. "Ma'am? I have chocolate."

Laura looks to Dualla to see if she's allowed to speak to them. When Dualla nods, Laura smiles.

"You should keep it for yourself," she says.

"No. I want to -- we'll share," the girl says. She's redheaded, a little rangy, and she breaks off a good-sized chunk and hands it to Laura. Conversation has temporarily halted as Laura takes it. "Are you being well-treated, Madam President?"

"No complaints," Laura says. "You do good work on this ship, and if I must be here, I'm glad to know that I'm being guarded and protected by the best."

The girls, even Dualla, all preen a little. Laura feels a little sad; it's so easy. They're all young and afraid, and with Adama out of commission and herself stuck in a cell, hope is being lost quickly.

"What's your name, soldier?" she asks.

"I'm Specialist Harrier, sir," the girl says, looking at her friends like she can't believe it. "Iliana Harrier."

"Well, Specialist Harrier, give my regards to the crew," Laura says as Dee tenses up. "Thank you for the gift. Gods be with you. All of you."

They like that she's wearing the uniform. They all start talking amongst themselves as Dualla leads them back to the brig, an excited buzz that makes Laura feels simultaneously better about herself and ashamed of what she's doing.

"If they knew it was your fault that Lieutenant Thrace is gone, they wouldn't be so nice," Dualla says quietly. "If they'd seen Boomer shoot the old man..."

"Kara Thrace is coming back," Laura says sharply. "I know she'll come back."

Dualla stops firmly. "You know that?" she asks with raised eyebrow.

"I know it the way I know that Commander Adama will survive," Laura says confidently. "It will be all right."

Dualla shakes her head, almost in amazement. "Damn," she says. "You're good. You've even got me thinking that it could be true."

"What's that?" asks Laura.

"Corporal says the gods are watching you," Dualla says. "That you're a prophet."

"That's just a word," Laura says. "I am a prisoner. And a very frustrated woman in search of the way to best do what she has to do."

Dee starts to laugh. "I got the frustration part, Madam President," she says. "Of course, the head's had more than its fair share of folks in need."

Laura's eyes widen. "Oh, dear," she says.

"Don't worry about it. We're all having those days, and it makes you human," Dee says. "Though it does make me think that you're not telling the whole truth about what's going on with..."

Lee and four of the pilots pass the hallway as if summoned. His eyes get big when he sees Laura in military gear. One of the other pilots whistles at her, and Lee gives him a look.

"Captain Apollo," she says wryly as they pass. "I'll see you soon."

"Madam President," he replies as someone catcalls. "Nice outfit."


"Frack me!" Hot Dog says. "This place is a fracking madhouse these days, man. President looks pretty good in the uniform, though. When's she gonna see you, Apollo?"

"When I go back to the brig, Hot Dog," Lee says patiently. "Remember? We're both stuck there while Tigh is deliberating our fates."

Hot Dog hasn't said anything Lee wasn't thinking, but it's a little galling to have to hear someone else catcall over Laura's new clothes.

"Frack, sorry," Hot Dog mutters. "She was givin' us the eye, though. We lookin' extra hot today or something, Kat?"

"Oh, please," Kat says snarkily. "Why would the president, who is old enough to be your mom, look at you?"

Lee takes a good clean breath when she says that without telling on him. Thank the lords...

"She's got Lee to watch all night long," Kat teases to hoots and hollers. "And all her boys are so pretty, she can look in any direction she wants and be happy. There's that Billy kid Dee's got, and corporal's not bad, either."

Hot Dog snickers. "You gotta be joking," he says. "She's all...older. Like, the old man's age. Too old to be looking."

"Don't you know frack nothing?" Racetrack says, thwapping him on the back of the head. "Women's sexual peak is right at her age. I bet if she was after you, you'd be the happiest nugget in the nugget-town. Bet she'd lay you out flat, Hot Dog."

"Ay, mami!" Costanza says in a high-pitched voice. Something in Lee breaks a little, and he halts the pilot suddenly.

"Whether or not she's committed a crime, she's still the president," he says. "Be respectful."

Kat and Racetrack share a look when they hear that. It's only when Racetrack gets to the door of the brig that she shares it with Lee.

"Sorry," she says. "Hot Dog's stupid sometimes."

"Not as stupid as me," Lee says. "Right?"

Racetrack chuckles. "Sir, I would personally like to say," and she clears her throat, "About fracking time you got some. And? Good hunting."

Lee stares at her in disbelief and lets himself be led back into the brig as she walks off. Women.


It seems like forever, but it's maybe an hour between seeing him in the hall and when he is locked in the next cell, showered, shaved, and fed. The look on his face is very informative, and Laura continues to lay back and not say anything.

"Have they told you how your father is today?" she ventures after the door clacks closed.

There is a flaming butterfly in her stomach. Either she's going to get nervous or she's going to get aroused. It hasn't decided yet, but it's waiting to attack either her gut or her spine, and Laura's not enjoying the anticipation at all.

"Not yet," Lee says flatly. "Doc Cottle must still be operating."

"Doc Cottle's a good man," says Laura. "He'll get your father through."

"Nice uniform," Lee says in the following awkwardness. "I almost thought you were Kara for a second, there. They'd just have to cut your hair."

It's definitely still fire. And it is starting to chase up her spine and into her face. Definitely getting warmer in the brig, Laura thinks. And it is definitely not just her, though the guard might not agree with them.

"Never the hair," Laura replies, putting her hand to it. "I just grew it out."

Lee is quiet for a moment. "Will you need Doc Cottle soon?" he asks. "For your...allergies."

"I'm sure that Colonel Tigh will make sure I'm cared for until I rot away," she says, tapping her foot. "It'll make it easier for Zarek to let him keep me out of sight while he takes over what remains of the civilian government."

They're both quiet at that. "I'm sorry," she says. "That was unnecessarily bitter of me. I don't like being locked in a cage, no matter how congenial the company."

"It's all right," he says. "You should be out there, leading the people."

Usually, she'd agree with him. But suddenly that sounds like the most ridiculous, pompous thing since Baltar's speech on the Cloud Nine. As if the people were on her mind when her real problem was sprawled out across from her in the other cell.

"Lee?" she confesses. "I'm not thinking about the people. Not today."

He pauses again. "You know? Neither am I."

They both laugh ruefully. "This is insane," she says. "I keep trying to think of something else, but instead my thoughts keep drifting to life's prurient concerns."

"Like how you can best exploit me for sex and power?" Lee asks, turning on his bunk to face her. She grins shyly.

"Oh, that's sweet of you to offer," Laura says. "But I think Billy's first in line for the exploitation."

"I'll just have to trade with him," Lee replies.

Laura smiles. "I don't think he'll mind," she says. "Do you?"


Billy comes on duty twenty minutes later, and the corporal excuses himself with great relief. He did a better job controlling his reaction than Billy, who is gaping in their direction with utter disbelief.

Lee imagines that it must be deeply uncomfortable to watch the private lives of prisoners. Especially prisoners who are flirting with each other as hard as they can.

Especially prisoners who are lying on the respective floors of their cells, as close to each other as possible, so that Laura can hit him with her bare feet if needed, talking like they are not behaving inappropriately.

"This is worse than summer camp," Lee complains as Billy looks on and shakes his head. For some reason, this almost makes Laura burst into gales of laughter.

"Why's that?" she asks as Lee notices that without her glasses and without her formal clothing, she looks younger, and her expression is begging for mischief.

"No campfire," he answers. "I always liked sleeping out under the stars with a stick and some marshmallows to go with. Kind of peaceful, you know? And romantic with the right person..."

"Are you using a line on me?" Laura asks in mock-horror, moving closer to him. "You do realize that I have seniority in this sordid affair, so I am the one who is supposed to use lines."

Billy chokes and Lee suddenly feels a surge of panic. "Is Tigh here?" he asks, looking up.

"No," Billy says. "I..."

"Good," Laura says. "Keep an eye out for him. Captain Adama and I are discussing the absolutely inappropriate nature of his pick-up technique, and we'd prefer not to be disturbed."

Lee is balanced on his elbow, and they are back to being inches from each other. Even if they intended to restrain themselves, Lee gets the feeling that won't happen.

"So pick me up," he says. "Remember that I'm not impressed by your presidency, because we're in jail and I know of your misdeeds."

"Well," she says, smooth as silk and with her best frack-you smile pasted on her face. "Ever have kinky prison sex with a bad girl in uniform? Because I can arrange that if you ask me nicely."

Billy's head hits the table and stays there. Lee's mouth drops open. He just stares at her. Yes, yes his potential lover, who is twenty-three years his elder, just said that to him. She bursts into laughter.

"That was wrong!" Lee manages to say at last, feeling like his world is upside down.

"I hate to be dared," she replies with a certain coolness in her voice that doesn't go with the warmth in her eyes.

"So I've learned," Lee says, absolutely in awe. "Kinky prison sex with a bad girl in uniform. Frack, Laura, I don't think Kara would have said that."

"Probably not," Laura agrees, reaching for him. "But you're very inspiring."

The bars make kissing rather implausible, so there is only a little of that, and a lot of careful, furtive caressing. Fully clothed touching.

"We need to stage an escape," Laura murmurs into his ear, stroking his arm. "This is getting ridiculous."

"And very public," Lee says, even though Billy is ignoring them studiously. "We are being foolish."

"We are being romantic fools," she says, kissing his knuckles. "The best kind of fool. Lovers, madmen, and poets."

"So you're gonna be my girl, huh?" Lee asks. "This isn't just a desperate encounter between two stressed and unhappy people in a dark hour?"

And it's like he's always the fool, because that breaks the spell. She rolls over, and looks up at the ceiling, hands over her eyes.

"I don't know," Laura says softly. "Do you?"

He wants to say he does, but she's right. An abortive make-out session and hours of light flirting do not constitute a relationship with a future. Especially not with the space between them, his father, Kara, the whole damn world looking on in horror.

And that's not even talking about the literal lack of future.

"No, I don't know anything," Lee says. "With you in particular, I don't know. You make everything unclear."

"Nothing is clear anymore, Lee," she says lightly, hands riding on her stomach as her rib cage fills and expels air. "I could have met you two months ago and you wouldn't have even been a part of my real life, if the Cylons hadn't come. And I find that profoundly depressing."

"That I'm not a part of your real life?" he asks bitterly.

"That it upsets me to think I wouldn't have known you," she says. "That I keep thinking that it would have been a shame."


It would be so easy just to be in love with him, and let that be that.

Laura's head is full of reasons why and why not. The reasons collapse down to: well, she is already in love with him, and that in love doesn't mean anything given the circumstances.

It would be cruel to make him fall in love with her. Even her best intentions -- knowing that the affair has an expiration date, knowing that when Kara Thrace comes home, things will be different, knowing that she genuinely cares for him -- are easily twisted into the selfish desires of a middle-aged woman chasing a younger man for her own self-aggrandizement.

They're retreated to their bunks without speaking, and Billy is keeping watch. Lee is asleep. Laura is about to fall asleep, because there isn't anything she can do.

No, that's not true. It's a false dilemma, one that comes from accepting her role as a prophet too easily. But it is the kind that feels real, especially when confronting the absolutism of the positions she can take in her life. A prophet with a boyfriend. In bed with a skeptic. The president who has made mistakes, possibly dangerous ones, but needs to stay in charge.

There is nothing that says she cannot be all three, but if she wants to have any kind of power over the people, she has to choose decisively. It's a lesson she learned young: in politics, nobody wants a human being with the usual inconsistencies. They want a symbol. Someone who can stand for something, and not three things that don't quite match.

Laura wants him so badly, so baldly, that it genuinely aches. And for that reason alone, she knows it's not simply a matter of closing off the part of herself and moving on.

So Laura prays. Odd, she thinks, that she doesn't usually pray. But now she's praying as hard as she can.

It's a very simple prayer. Help me, she prays. Make the impossible possible. Help me know the next step. Do whatever it is that you think you have to do, but help me.

She falls asleep.

She's still praying for the answer when she does.


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