Blood Makes Noise
by Jennifer-Oksana

There's a cut on her head that keeps dripping blood into her eye. Not constantly, but an intermittent drop of sweat-tinged blood will cloud her vision as they drag her along. Just enough to be random and unbearable.

It stings, and her eye is running from the tears that try to protect her from the iron-protein sting of her own blood.

The air in the corridors is hot and stale and silent, as though it's been overused. A thousand whispers turned into suffocation and bad breath hissing death at her.

Charlotte Adar, whom Laura hated deeply once upon a time, when it mattered, told her once that it was never the knowledge of her husband's indispensable advisor and mistress that made her angry. It was the murmurs she couldn't hear.

"All the air was gone before I could even make an outraged entrance," Charlotte said, playing some idle, mocking thing on her clavichord while Laura tried not to feel patronized by her lover's sophisticated, evil wife. "Have you ever tried to breathe in a room smothering you with innuendo that you can never hear?"

"Not much further," one of the guards says.

Laura can hear the whispers of her own execution, and they are even worse than Lotte's innuendo, because Laura had felt that. Had been slapped in the face by the words that had always marked her in Colonial political circles: the other Mrs. Adar.

Nothing Jonathan could ever say, nothing even Charlotte could say, would take the sting from that. And Charlotte could insult and soothe with one ironic eyebrow.

Her life is a lie; it has always been a lie. If she can save the survivors, it might even redeem her from all the wrongs she's committed. But now she is going to die a liar with an angel's face. A martyr who believes and fears believing. The other woman for twenty years. The power player no one ever suspected and the one who believed that the Cylons were never going to come again.

The one who had finally swayed Jonathan toward the military path that had killed the Colonials.

She may even deserve to die. Networked battlestars seemed like such a little thing, and she had not understood why they needed to live in so much fear. A modernized defense would open up more money for education and environmental clean-up.

When they come to a stop it jars her, because it's fast and she is busily trying to justify herself.

She trips.

She falls.

The blood drips into her eyes again and it burns worse than the lack of tears.

Had she ever loved Jonathan? Yes. Once upon a time. When he was a small-town mayor with dreams, when she was twenty-four years old and he had given her that white flower and put it over her ear at the party while she had smiled into her champagne.

"You, my dear Miss Roslin, are very bewitching," he'd said to her. "Would you like to dance?"

The doctor had asked her how she could be such a fool and avoid breast self-examination. Laura had stopped looking at herself naked the day of Lotte's funeral, the day she told Jonathan Adar she would not marry him, then or ever.

The day she had known she had not been in love with him for years. That their affair had always been more about politics than love. And that she had been a fool to let him have both herself and Charlotte all that time.

No one has touched her in four years. It got to be easy to avoid touching herself.

"President Roslin," someone says. He holds out a hand and Laura takes it, almost grateful, still suspicious.

Will it be two bullets in the head? Poison? Strangulation? Shoved out an airlock? How will she die today?

When her head comes up she almost screams at the person who awaits her.

"Captain Adama," she says, her breath coming too fast. "I -- oh, Lee."

She throws her arms around him to hide the fact that she is crying, that she wants to kill him for engineering such a sloppy rescue, for the small but inevitable damage to her circulatory system for the adrenaline rush and thready pulse and hyperventilation.

Most of all, she wants to hide that no one has touched her in four lonely and barren years and somewhere deep and dark inside herself, Laura Roslin would prefer it to be him.

"Are you all right?" he asks, lifting her head up to look at her critically. "How did you get that cut on your head?"

"When the guards came, I resisted," she says ruefully, smiling and crying and not letting go of him. "I thought they were there to kill me. I wasn't going to go without a fight."

His fingers trace over the wound, which stings and sends the tiniest hint of a shiver down her spine that slows the sobbing. "I will have to take care of this when we get on the shuttle."

"All right," she says, nodding. "I suppose this wasn't for me, either."

He pulls back a little and fixes her with a strange look. "What?"

"I'm teasing you," she says, but she's deadly serious and the way Lee is looking at her, Laura knows that he knows better than that. "I was scared out of my mind and I'm trying not to cry, Captain."

"I'm sorry," says Lee softly. "I didn't realize you'd be this upset."

"Sir," one of the masked and apprehensive guards say. "Are you ready to ship out?"

He nods, and Laura tries to smile. "Thank you," she manages to say, but she seems unable to let go of Captain Adama, her head collapsed against his shoulder like a tired and afraid child. They salute and walk away, and Lee puts an arm around her shoulder.

"Will you be all right?"

"Yes, I'll be fine," says Laura, letting one arm drop back to her own side. "I'm sorry. Things shouldn't have happened this way."

"It's all right, Laura," he says. "I had to make a choice. I made it. I choose democracy. And yes, I chose you."

"And me," she whispers, brushing her fingertips across his face. Lee doesn't pull away, and Laura knows what he has just chosen.

It staggers her, the way he can say something and make her whole world turn upside down, split open wounds that are so old that the scar tissue is part of her now. He doesn't know what he's just said, but she does. Because she said something very much like to it to Jonathan when she was Lee's age, and believed it as much then as he does now.

And she knows, even now, even with the consequences, she would have chosen the same path. For the man who put a flower in her hair and kissed the inside of her wrist all the way to her elbow and promised her the world.

And for the man who is holding her up right now. The man she is letting take her into the shuttle, leaning on him the whole way.

The man who she will kiss, slowly but fiercely, as he dresses her wound on the shuttle, and who will kiss her back after a moment's surprise. Who will whisper that she is human and mortal and his before he takes her in his arms as he is forced to travel with her on a path that will take them places he did not plan to go and into troubles that she does not want him to suffer.

The man who will genuinely mourn her at the funeral, even as he leans against his brother's fiancee and the inevitable starts to happen.

All this, too, has a purpose. Because even when Laura Roslin does not give a damn about the gods, they find a way to whisper in her ear and remind her that she dances at their pleasure. Mortal, woman, and beloved...but never not a prophet.

Not anymore. She has promised and Laura Roslin's life may be a lie, but she does not break her word once given.

But six months suddenly burns like cold fire and she wants, oh, Laura wants as if she has never wanted anything and has just discovered how much she can want.

Another drop of blood rolls down her forehead as they cross the threshold onto the shuttle. Laura can almost feel the heartbeat that pushed it out.



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