Better Than Sleeping Alone
by Jennifer-Oksana

There is no magic left to space travel. It's cold and it's black, and Laura Roslin is standing in the doorway of her own ship before her lover in her nightgown and feeling as though really, all romance is dead.

Of course, if romance were alive, if humanity were thriving and wonderful instead of a slow-bleeding species on the very verge of extinction, Laura would have never taken this particular lover. Too many complicated, thorny issues -- age difference, cancer, the military-civilian divide, the unresolved question of Bill Adama.

And she is trembling, but not with fear. With desire, possibly, but it seems to Laura as she looks at the toned and fit creature who is stripping before her, revealing layers of muscle rippling under skin that is slightly grease-smirched but improved by the imperfection. Like antiques with slight flaws, Laura thinks, thinking of a life where a dutiful daughter followed her mother into dusty stores and smiled faintly and distantly at the old women who nattered on endlessly about porcelain tea sets and the patina on a silver teapot.

That life is so far from her now that Laura wonders if she dreamed it. She is not the passive, dutiful daughter, the polite and dignified political advisor. She is dying, and she is angry, and she is undoubted and redoubtable in her resolve and personal courage.

A fire fed unnaturally, but still, Laura suspects it's why the girl finds her desirable. Because of the flare of life that comes from throwing everything into the flame all at once. The vague and colorless Laura of days gone by was a pleasant nonentity, but the Laura she is now is crackling with rage at the dying of her people and her own mortal edge bleeding out over the horizon.

Crackling with rage over all the things she suppressed for that empty and finished life. Could she have been as beautiful as the nude woman who strides up to Laura with the glorious confidence that must come from being Starbuck, the ability to put her arms around a lover's neck and pull her in for a long, slow kiss of mouth pressed against mouth, of Laura's arms resting against Starbuck's bared, warm back?

"You're incorrigible," Laura murmurs.

"You're wearing too many clothes, sir," Starbuck replies with the faintest hint of teasing disobedience.

"That is true," Laura says, sighing as she starts to kiss Kara again, shivering. Had anyone ever suspected, in her long-dead other life? Adar, possibly. He always said that the men didn't know what they were about.

Her mother? Her mother thought she had impossibly high standards. "You'll find out you'll regret it," she'd said. (Had she even had a mother, Laura wonders, steering Starbuck to the couch-bed that serves the Acting President of the Twelve Colonies for sleeping accommodations? Had her life before the attacks ever existed? Could she have been such a coward?) "You'll want someone to share your life with. Perfection is cold, Laura."

Starbuck presses her hand over the other breast, the one that is lumpless and gives the illusion that Laura is not doomed, kneading and squeezing cleverly. Shaking her head, Laura takes Kara's other hand and puts it on her breast and closes her eyes.

Kara shivers and touches very gingerly.

Laura swallows hard.

Starbuck leans forward and as easily as she can, starts to kiss her way down Laura's neck, between her breasts. Her fingers tug at the straps of the nightgown, and Laura throws her head back, eyes still closed and hair tickling her neck.

There are so many things Laura has not done with her drawing-to-a-close life. She's not a virgin; in fact, she lost her virginity in a men‎age a trois (the kind of phrase that dates her, but she doesn't quite like the word threesome), and isn't that telling? She wanted the girl more than the boy, and of course didn't know how to say so. But she never was bold enough to live.

Not until now. Not until desire floods Laura's system until she has Starbuck pinned to the couch-bed, molesting Kara's breastbone with her tongue while Kara's hands scrape up and down her spine.

Kara has beautiful scars, it occurs to Laura, very gently touching the one on Kara's abdomen. The Cylons did that. Laura did that, indirectly.

"I am so sorry," Laura says.

"Not your fault."

Isn't it? She sent Kara to Caprica, knew instinctively that there was something about Kara that would succeed, despite knowing Lee better, despite her other, closer advisors. There is something about Starbuck...

...something that makes Laura slightly fluttery deep down, the part of her that doesn't know why Laura should be so lucky, so lucky, so lucky to take vague hallucinations and turn them into a future for her people. The part of her that is as fascinated by Kara as that machine. Leoben.

This scar is most definitely Laura's fault, and her thumb runs over it carefully.

"I'm still sorry," Laura murmurs.

She has not yet been sorry for anything that she's done in the last months. She has been forgiven her sins and she's not sorry. But something about the smell of this warm body that is pressed against hers and is starting to rub up and down makes Laura regret that she can't promise anyone salvation, just everyone.

"Welcome to our end of the world," Kara says faintly, tilting her hips up and pressing a wet, sloppy kiss against Laura's wrist. "It's okay, you know. To be upset."

"Upset?" Laura asks, feeling for a moment like the woman who controlled her life so thoroughly she didn't know what she could ever want. "Why upset?"

"It's not fair," Starbuck says. "You deserve better than this. Than a bed and a girl like me at the end of the world."

"At the end of my life, you mean," Laura says, cupping Starbuck's face. "I don't...I don't mind."

She must seem so much more glamorous than any Laura Roslin ever really was. A smart and take-charge woman, classy and sophisticated and too good for just anyone, except was she? She was a mouse, and now she's not. Now she's like someone flipped a switch and discovered the mouse can roar, can take what she wants (Kara arches as Laura touches her there, right there, and this is good, this is very, very good) and burn with it.

And she is practically thrusting into Kara's offered thigh, writhing her way toward presidential ecstasy. The thought makes Laura smile and chuckle, and Kara smiles back. She has a delightful grin, open and honest, and Laura pulls her down and starts kissing her again.

"You are beautiful," Laura says. "You are special, and whoever says you're not is wrong."

Kara turns luminous and electric at those words, rocking against Laura hard, hand fumbling between bodies to rub faster. It feels so good that Laura's eyes close again and she bites down on her lip so as not to moan at the top of her voice.

It's strange, and funny, that they're looking so hard for someone to make happy, that they're both turned on by knowing the little things they say and do are making the other feel good. Laura can accept Kara wanting to do it right, to make Laura feel it down to the marrow of her bones, shiver and come over and over in the girl's arms.

Just like Kara will glow every time Laura whispers that she is beautiful and valued and special, that she is loved by people who know her. There's an ancient hurt there -- Laura knows by the childlike gleam of gratitude and the oh-so-young smile that darts across Starbuck's face like a shy girl's.

"Oh," Laura says in a high gasp as that still-novel burst of pleasure shudders outward. Her hands grip Kara's shoulders. Part of her would almost bite down on that perfect skin, leave a small mark, but she's left her scar on Starbuck, hasn't she?

Starbuck presses closer against her, and Laura shifts her thigh upward, soothing the places where her fingernails bit into Kara's skin, cupping a breast and enjoying the way that this is becoming easier. Commonplace, pleasurable, to do this to someone else.

To rest two fingers against Kara's mouth, feel the speed and heat of Kara's breath as she gets closer and closer to coming herself, eyes screwed shut.

"Yes," Kara whispers as Laura puts her hand where Kara's had been earlier. "Oh, yes, yes, yes..."

Starbuck is warm and sweaty and soft when she finishes, saying yes over and over with teeth that are chattering. It reminds Laura of how cold things are and how romance is dead.

But instead of letting herself sink into the pain of that, Laura strokes Kara's hair, pretends that in a month or less, she won't be dead. If she could have this girl, this woman (for Kara isn't really a girl -- she's a woman who can make herself seem younger than she is) in her arms, she would touch her constantly.

Reassure her that she is wanted. Enjoy having a body next to her own.

She is very much wanted, Laura whispers into her ear. It's a little bit of magic woven around this very unromantic and supremely pragmatic liaison. That instead of being a weird mutual pity frak, or cold comfort between the gods-touched women who sacrifice for the people, this is a happier story.

This is the story of someone who came to life on the day everyone else died, and discovered the only thing holding her back was herself. This is the story of a woman who wouldn't grow up because she was afraid of being the woman her mother said she would become.

This is a healing story, where the fear goes away and they find the strength to be heroes and legends and demigods, to be stories told over and over again by mothers who smile at beautiful children under the stars of the twelve lost colonies. By fathers with blue eyes and honest smiles.

A tiny bit of magic, to replace all that was lost.

Laura kisses Kara again. "Can you stay?"

"If you want," Starbuck says. "Do you want me to?"

"Only if it's convenient," Laura says, searching for a robe and smiling. "It's better than sleeping alone, wouldn't you say?"

"A hell of a lot better," Kara answers. "I just. Wouldn't think you'd want me to stay. You're very dignified, you know? Tidy. I'm not tidy."

"And I'm tired of using dignity to cover for fear," Laura replies. "I'd like you to stay."

"Then I want to stay," Kara says, looking at her president quizzically. "Was it really so hard to ask me?"

"You'll never believe me if I tell you just how much," Laura says, feeling a little flicker of delight. "But I'm glad you'll stay."


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