Merry Frakking Genesis
by Jennifer-Oksana

When Gaius Baltar had been a very little boy, he had discovered that Father Bounty was a fake in a rather disturbing way. After requesting a chemistry set and a transistor radio for Genesis Night, and being told that if he were a good boy, he would receive both, Gaius caught his mother buying the aforesaid items at a department store not twenty minutes later.

Rather shaken, Gaius returned to Father Bounty's temporary headquarters, tent and false foliage and little animals and all, to ask if the conclusion he'd reached was true. If there was no magic involved in Genesis Night, and Father Bounty really was a bowdlerized Silinus, and the terrible things he'd only heard whispered on the schoolyard.

To Gaius's surprise, he walked into Father Bounty's tent and discovered the jolly nymph engaged in an unspeakable act with another man, one who was most certainly not part of the holiday tableau as he looked up at the boy and leered.

Cheeks burning, Gaius had fled without saying another word, and when he received his gifts on Genesis Night, thanked his parents for them.

The Baltars, who were rather modern, anyway, were quite grateful that they didn't have to bother with the Father Bounty nonsense anymore and didn't ask questions.

Gaius had learned two lessons from the loss of his childhood illusions:

First, that most people believe in magic not so much because they've experienced magic, but because they keep hoping that someone else will via their efforts, and thus a superstitious cycle propagates via little more than good intentions and a dislike of cold, hard reality.

Secondly, that Genesis Night was always a good time for bountiful sex.


"I miss festival television specials," Billy is telling Dee when Laura Roslin wanders into the lounge on Colonial One. "My favorite was always about the three maidens who bring light back?"

"Oh, you only like that one because the one girl is really hot," Dee says, swatting him. "The blonde one, who's like seven feet tall with giant breasts, right?"

"She was cool. But I always liked that one because of the dragon guarding the gates," Billy says. "My sisters and I would dress up and play the Three Maidens of Light against the furnace while wielding stick-swords, and my mom would make us marchpane cookies and apple cider with extra-sweet cream."

Dee giggles. "You dressed up like a girl?"

"I was the tall one," Billy says, blushing as he looks up to see his president, who is leaning against a wall with a half-smile on her face. "Madam President?"

"Don't let me interrupt," the president says. "I was just looking for the reports on people who are willing to do ship exchanges and room shifts."

"They're over in that big stack there," Billy replies, threading his fingers around Dee's. "How about you, ma'am? Any Genesis festival traditions?"

Roslin shrugs. "The usual," she says. "Family, food, decorations. My mother did wonderful crochet for festivals."

She goes for the folder with surprising speed after that, and then withdraws back to her private lounge area. Billy looks at Dee uneasily.

"Did I say something wrong?" he asks.

"Not that I could hear," Dee replies. "Maybe she just doesn't love Genesis. There's always one. At my house, we had bad sweaters. My mom appliqued, and no matter how much we begged her, she always made us wear them."

Billy starts to laugh, and the president's brief visit is promptly forgotten.


One of the deckhands has a set of pipes on her that carries even into the lab. Baltar expects to be irritated by this sudden intrusion, but he finds himself charmed by the girl's pleasant, whipped-butter voice trying to belt out sacred music.

She's in the middle of a rendition of Gloria In Excelsis Deiis when Baltar steps out and smiles at her.

"Excited for the saturnalia, Miss..."

"Corporal MacNamara, sir," she says, bobbing. "Did I disturb you? I'm so sorry. I was just lonely, and I realized there were only two weeks until Genesis and so I started singing...I'm sorry."

"No need to be sorry, Corporal," Baltar says, putting an arm around the girl. She's not exactly pretty, but she has a nice smile and perky, if small, breasts. "Did you know that I'm also a big fan of Genesis?"

"Really?" MacNamara asks. "Gods, it's a damn fetish in the bunks. We all don't know if it should be canceled or if there should be the biggest damn Genesis festival known to humanity. Of course, we've got Venner around, and he's rewriting the sacred hymns. All in the feminine case."

"Feminine case?" Baltar inquires, moving his arm from her shoulders to her waist.

"Regina caelestis, Deus Mater omnipotens," MacNamara says with a smirk. "Venner has a big hard-on for the president, right? But he's having a hard time doing everything as feminine plurals, so his dumb ass might let it drop, but he thinks we should alter a few tunes. All it did was make me nostalgic for when I sang in the choir at home, you know?"

Baltar feels another arm slide around him. "How very interesting, Gaius," Six purrs. "I see you're intending to get an early start on the festivities. Maybe if you're really lucky, you can even try this regina caelestis."

"Ritual is a comforting thing," Baltar says to MacNamara, patting her cheek. "It reminds us of our bonds to one another, of course, and of the primal forces of our society."

"Gaius," Six says with a laugh. "How on earth do these girls keep falling for your act? You sound like a soundbite."

Baltar smiles at the corporal, who smiles. "Do you think that sounds too much like a homily?" he asks her.

"I think it sounds like the truth," the corporal says. "You know, have you ever inspected some of the unique features of this corridor, sir? I think you might, um, find them interesting..."


"Genesis Night?" Tigh asks, snorting. "We've got people on the edge of starvation, and you're talking about holding a festival? Are you mad?"

Bill Adama looks away. "Saul, it's not that I'm unaware of the problems in the fleet," he says. "But when does it stop? When do we say that the Cylons can't take this away from us?"

"You're just saying that because you're a big sucker for the festivals," Tigh replies, raising an eyebrow. "Don't think you can get around me like I was a young pup, Bill. I know what's in your head."

"Then tell me it's a bad idea," Bill replies, straightening his uniform slightly. "Or tell the president. I've called her over here to figure out a way to have the festival with our supplies."

"Fantastic," Tigh says with deep sarcasm. "What the hell is going on with you and that woman, anyway?"

Bill Adama ignores his XO, which is not something he does often, but the circumstances call for it. There is no need for Saul to get testy about asking the president to Galactica for advice, no matter what else he -- or Dee, or Gaeta -- thinks was going on.

"We're working together," Bill says.

"Of course," Tigh replies with a snort. "Are you planning to ask her to dinner or what?"


"If you're going to do the thing, do it honestly and get it done with," Tigh says. "Though what you see in that woman is beyond me. Cold as hell, and those eyes of her are too close together."

Adama considers getting upset, but the door swings open and Roslin is there, a slight smile on her face.

"Commander. Colonel," she says warmly. "So you want to have a Genesis Night celebration? Do you really think we have the resources for it?"

"I think the rise in morale is worth the resource strain," Bill says, surprised at how uncomfortable Laura looks. "Shall we go to the conference room and discuss it?"

He finds out very quickly that Roslin has no real interest in promoting a Genesis Night festival; in fact, she gets nearly hostile at points. It takes the persuasive forces of Billy, Lee, and Baltar to even get her to grudgingly admit that it might work.

"I still think it's a waste of time," she says, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "But okay. Just as long as I'm only expected to attend and not coordinate a bunch of soirees I have minimal interest in attending."

"No, of course not," says Baltar, of all people. "Madam President, it would in fact, be my HONOR to be in charge of Genesis Night festivities. I think that as Vice President..."

"You do that," Laura says, leaning back. "Tell me when to arrive and I'll be one of my three outfits."


"The president doesn't love Genesis," Six says, taunting Baltar as he walks out of the meeting, elated and considering just how many young women he will be able to meet and how many responsibilities he gets to avoid at the same time. "It's pagan, anyhow. The one God frowns on such idolatry."

"Maybe, darling, the one God does not know how to enjoy a good midwinter ritual," Baltar says. "Sweetnog, beautiful women in festive red hats, music, and lax security so we can visit our daughter-to-be and find places to hide her after her birth."

Six beams. "You are truly devious," she says. "I adore you, Gaius. Even while you are indulging your personal desires, you still manage to accomplish a goal for us, and pretend it's your main interest."

"The benefits of being human," Baltar teases, noticing a friendly face. "Chief! Chief Tyrol, is that you?"

"Doc?" Tyrol asks. "Something I can do for you?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact," Baltar says, clapping the fellow on the back. "I've been placed in charge of the fleet's holiday preparations -- nothing too garish, of course, given the circumstances, but a day or so of celebration and remembrance, for morale..."

"Of course," Tyrol says, looking at Gaius curiously. "How can I help?"

"I've heard tell that you know how to, well, brew bootleg liquor," Baltar says. "I've got access to the food stores, and if I could provide you with apple cores and other fruit, could you get anywhere near a festive applejack?"

"It's possible," Tyrol says dubiously.

"Capital!" Baltar says cheerfully. "That's settled, then. I owe you a debt."

"He thinks you're up to something," Six says as they leave the Chief behind, scratching his head. "I think you are, too. What do you intend to gain from all this bacchanalia, Gaius? You seem rather bent on playing things very hail-fellow-well-met."

"And if I am?" Baltar asks. "Not only do I get to enjoy myself a great deal, it reminds everyone who is trying to put himself out among his people of the fleet, as compared to the isolated and elitist woman who finds no joy in the company of her fellow humans."

Baltar is pleased, if not surprised, to find Six wrapped around him, devouring his throat. She is wearing a red velvet dress trimmed in green and white, one that shows off most of her legs.

"My hero," she says. "I adore you, Gaius."

"Politics is so indirect, isn't it?"

"And wonderful," Six agrees, sinking to her knees.


She is acting like a petulant child. Laura Roslin is very much aware of the fact, but every time she thinks of the festivities of Genesis, her throat practically swells shut.

There's no one reason. Singlehood, a sick mother, the usual backstabbing in political circles around the holidays, a slight contempt for materialistic shoppers, an uneasiness about her role in any religious festival, a few bad experiences being the fifth wheel at other peoples' homes -- all of it simply gives her a low-grade tension headache the two weeks leading up to Genesis Night.

Maybe if she asked very nicely, Bill Adama would give her a neck massage and promise he'd keep their parties low-key for her. Family dinners, small, smart events, and the like.

That could be pleasant, if the Tighs don't attend. Or even if she and Bill were to wander off during a larger party they'll inevitably be forced to attend, and find themselves in one of those shadowy nooks that usually favored younger revelers.

Of course, there is the ongoing problem that as many times as she tries to imagine that, it always ends with her laughing and the two of them swearing off romance for friendship. Bill Adama is a good man, and Laura is fond of him. But she tries to imagine it going anywhere and fails every time.

That goes for every man in the fleet. Billy is dating Dee and it would be a world of inappropriate. She's thought about Lee Adama, but he always blushes in the middle of unbuttoning her blouse and asking about his father. Gods, she's even weighed the possibility of Zarek, but there's no way. None at all.

Power is a lonely pursuit for a woman in a population this small.

"Madam President?" Baltar's obsequious voice interrupts. "Are you quite well?"

"Just a minute," Laura says. She has a habit of being unfocused because it tends to give her the best insights, but it also gives her a tendency to be easy to sneak up on. The recovery from her cancer has been a good excuse to keep it up. "What is it, Doctor?"

"I have a report to give you about the festivities," he says. "Everyone is quite delighted at the idea."

"I'm sure they are," Laura says, drawing the back of her hand across her eyes. "You seem particularly enthusiastic."

"A bit of normality is always pleasant," Baltar agrees. "You seem profoundly disinterested in participating."

Laura shifts, looks at her vice president. Slippery as a frakking eel, this one. Always playing some subtle game, and this one seems obvious -- he's angling for prestige by being the hail-fellow-well-met during the parties, compared to the dour and overly sober president.

He can't really believe she'll act like it in public, can he? She'll take the credit for knowing how to delegate -- Gaius Baltar is fantastic as a diversion, after all -- and still seem fond of festival periods.

"We have so much to do, Doctor," she says innocently. "And I trust you'll be a credit to this administration in your work."

It could be worse, Laura thinks. There could be a real problem, or Cylons, or the cancer could be back, or she could be a Cylon, or Baltar could be using his considerable intelligence and resentment to sell them out or any number of things. Things much worse than being annoyed because it's after the end of everything, and Laura still can't find a date for festival season.

And yet it galls, because Gaius Baltar, before Genesis Night arrives, will have several "dates" a day, network with the fleet on something they're interested in, while Laura keeps souls and bodies together, and damn it all. It was easier to keep her temper about what a complete ass Baltar is when she was dying.

"Of course," Baltar says with an oh-so-charming smile.

He's lying though his teeth. And Laura knows that, and can't blame him for trying. She sinks back into her chair and chants, silently, the list of things she needs to do before she has to start attending Genesis parties.


"Chief, may I speak to you for a moment?" Adama asks, feeling more self-conscious with every moment. He is damn sure his ulterior motive for having a Genesis Night party on Galactica shines through his every move, because Bill Adama is not smooth, stealth, or whatever the hell Starbuck and Lee call it.

He's having a Genesis Night party largely so he can ask Laura Roslin to attend, and it's embarrassing as hell, a grown man acting like a half-grown moron over a woman whom Bill isn't entirely sure thinks of him in a romantic sense.

"Yes, sir?" Tyrol asks.

"I've heard rumors that there may be some bootlegging aboard my ship," Bill begins, and Tyrol's face immediately colors. "No, Chief. I was going to ask about refreshments for Galactica's own festivities."

Tyrol takes a breath. "Thank the gods," he mutters. "I thought that arrogant frak Baltar had asked me to make applejack and then sold me out. That is to say, sir, that Vice President Baltar has already requested Galactica's services in producing traditional beverages for the festivities."

"Good," Adama says, trying to keep the smile off his face. "That's great."

"Sir?" Tyrol says.

"I mean, it's good that you're finding ways to work with the government," Adama says.

"Is there going to be a party on the Galactica?" the Chief asks, looking bemused. "I hadn't known that."

Adama thinks very fast. "On Genesis Night, yes," he says. "For the crew and for members of the president's staff. We work the hardest, and we deserve our own celebration."

Tyrol nods, smiling. "That sounds like a great idea, sir," he says. "From what I hear, the president's not too hot on the idea of crowds, so she might even like this one. I'll make sure to keep back the best of the applejack for us."

"Good work, Chief," Bill says, something like the festival spirit bubbling up in his chest. Everything is coming together nicely; now, to invite Madam President Roslin to the festivities.


If someone sings the one about how Zeus is merry with the three maidens, or about Father Bounty's date with Mommy, Laura Roslin is going to throw something -- maybe a paperweight, definitely something that can cause a concussion -- at the singer.

"Excuse me," she says in her scaring-tenth-graders-straight voice. "Did someone tell the Cylons it's six days before Genesis, or are we just taking the month off and hoping they understand, people?"

Scared silence, and the staffers go from a merry roar to a dull murmur, which Laura and her nerves find much more comfortable.

She knows she's being hateful and unpleasant, and nobody understands why. Laura barely understands it herself, but she suspects it has to do with fear.

Strangely enough, Laura has depended on her own death to keep her strong. She could do anything, because she wouldn't have to do it for long, but now, with the uncertainty intrinsic in not knowing when she will die, Laura feels adrift. Not charmed, not gods-blessed and gods-cursed to lead. Mortal. Normal.

And the normal Laura Roslin? Laura isn't sure she's quite capable to handle this entire fleet. So instead she's resorted to petty tyranny and scare tactics because the peace and strength that came from accepting her death and resisting everyone else's is gone.

Much like her blessed silence. Some brain-dead IDIOT has people singing again. And not just any festival hymn; oh no, this idiot has people in a merry and off-key chorus of the Twelve Gifts of Genesis Night.

Laura stands up, straightens her jacket, and making sure that her anger and disdain show, strides down the corridor, ready to rend whoever it is into pieces.

"Six days of feasting..." and the chorus goes quiet as the president's look has people melting back. "Did you all forget the words?"

"Did you all forget what I asked?" Laura asks crisply.

Everyone runs, leaving Bill Adama looking confused, which only heightens Laura's unhappiness at her own petulance and attitude. He attempts a smile, and hers is so feigned that he winces.

"Do you have a headache?" he asks, shifting his weight.

"A small one," she lies. "It's nice to see you, Commander Adama. What brings you to Colonial One without warning?"

"Genesis Night," he says. "I wanted to invite you and your staff to a gathering on Galactica, for only our staffs. No politics, no masses -- just the people who keep this fleet running. Mostly, I'm here to personally invite you to the festivities on Galactica, Madam President."

A thrill runs right down Laura Roslin's spine, along with a sudden burst of elation.

"I'm pleased to accept," she says, managing a real smile. "You didn't need to come to Colonial One just to ask. You could have called."

"I wanted to make my invitation in person," Bill says, and there's another burst of elation. "I'm glad you accept."

There's an awkward but pleasant silence because they're both smiling at each other but not saying anything, and finally Laura starts to laugh.

"I hear from Baltar that there will even be the traditional holiday liquor," Laura says. "I'm kind of looking forward to this, even if I do imagine I'll end up the same way I always do during festivals -- alone, in a corner, drinking sweetnog and thinking about how much the marchpane will add to my thighs while drunken idiots yodel about Father Bounty."

Bill immediately shakes his head. "Never happen at my party," he says. "We can keep each other company."

"Oh, gods, Bill, I didn't mean," and Laura bites on her lip as she smiles ruefully, "I wasn't trying to angle for attention. I just...oh gods, now I sound ridiculous."

"We'll keep each other company," Bill repeats. "You look like you could use the break from the spotlight, and I'm glad for any excuse to sideline myself from the traditional nog-guzzling contest."

Laura starts to chuckle again. "You don't have to do that on my account," she says, putting a hand on his shoulder.

It's entirely possible that this marathon awkward flirting session might produce results, except that Baltar, with impeccable timing, blunders in, holding up a glass of what looks like alcohol, followed by an improbably attractive woman.

"Madam President -- Commander Adama!" he announces jovially. "I am delighted to announce that I have arranged the various bacchanals, festivities, and parties for the Colonial Fleet's Genesis Night saturnalia."

Six days. Well, it beats the usual month of distraction and now Laura thinks, sneaking a look at the slightly rattled Bill Adama, that maybe she has something to look forward to on Genesis Night, besides the endless recounting of urban legends about how the physical ardor is at its highest and if you conceive a child on Genesis Night, it will be blessed and lucky.

Counting the days, Laura herself was a Genesis Night baby, and she's never found much to back up the legend, really.


Everything for Galactica's celebration of the midwinter festival is as perfect as the limited resources can manage.

There is sweetnog and applejack.

Presents have been exchanged, and Adama has been informed that the religious ceremonies on various large ships have been so well attended that they've kept going all day long, with everyone patiently waiting for their turn.

A couple dozen people who can carry a tune, read music, and harmonize despite the extreme difficulties of doing so under current circumstances recorded a wonderful variation on the traditional Genesis Night candle hymn. Bill's sure it's not perfect, but the rhythm isn't bad, and it's been circulating and raising morale.

And in a present that tops them all, they've stumbled across a moon that has not only methane, but a few mineral deposits that will alleviate some critical shortages in the fleet.

Bill would be a hell of a lot happier about that last one, but the freighter and two Raptors deployed to the moon are under strict secrecy orders, and he's going to be late to his own Genesis Night party.

Which again, wouldn't distress Bill Adama, given the circumstances of his lateness, but he can almost feel Laura Roslin's mood sour as the minutes tick by. She knows where he is, and he knows she'll understand, but.

But, after making promises and flirting -- Bill is fairly certain it was well-received flirting -- he's stuck on a crucial but routine bit of work with Tigh, Gaeta, and two or three other crew members who are already unhappy about missing out on the party.

And she is alone in a crowd of young folks, her distrusted vice president, and -- oh gods -- Ellen Tigh is not going to miss the chance to drink, eat, and be merry with that many crew members who are hoping to conceive or at least pretend they're hoping to conceive.

"How much longer do you think this will take?" Bill asks Saul, who is monitoring the CAP while Bill communicates with the Raptors and freighter via Gaeta.

"Half an hour. Maybe forty-five minutes," Tigh says. "Don't worry. The Chief'll make sure to save you some applejack -- and if not him, Ellen will."

"Not that," Adama says. "I'd promised the president I would keep her company at the party, and--"

Tigh grimaces. "Let's just hope she and Ellen don't run into each other, or we'll be celebrating Genesis Night the way we did in the last war -- breaking up a fistfight."

"I'm sure it won't be that bad," Adama says.

Both men pause. Tigh chuckles.

"Mr. Gaeta, you heard the commander," he says. "We've got wives and sweethearts to get to before it's too late, so let's get this finished up!"


Genesis Night is swinging in the Galactica hangar bay. Applejack is flowing, a tinny music system is playing the last Genesis record in the universe, and Ellen Tigh, already drunk, is working a room full of pilots, political staffers, and one increasingly teeth-on-edge president.

Gaius Baltar is completely enjoying himself.

Cally and Dee are a-dancing around, someone is singing a traditional holiday carol, but one that included many, many improv lyrics about what the gods, the festival spirit, and "this damn fine booze" could generate. The singer, cheered on by mug-lifting rowdies, has decided to lead a sing-a-long, which just makes Baltar's own heart sing.

Besides, Laura Roslin's eyes are following Ellen Tigh around the room, and with Commander Adama late, she looks out of place and unhappy. And knowing Ellen, Baltar is dead certain the woman is trying to drive the president mad. To which he says Godspeed.

"What do you think will happen?" Six asks, her dress now trimmed with tinsel. "I do think Mrs. Tigh seems to have it out for your president."

"Hopefully, we'll get a show," Baltar says, smiling at one of the petty officers who has red hair and cleavage that puts even Starbuck's to shame. "Well, a bountiful Genesis to you, young lady."

The girl giggles and gestures to a lithe brunette friend, both of whom bounce up to Baltar like something out of a pornographic vision as Six chuckles.

"Hi," the redhead says. "You're the Vice President, right?"

"Why yes, yes I am," Baltar says, trying to look dignified as Roslin's gaze has found him in a desperate attempt to avoid looking at Ellen Tigh, who has apparently caught scent of poor, awkward Billy.

"Do you, um, have a girlfriend?" the brunette asks. "Because um..." and she dissolves into giggles, elbowing her friend.

"Oh, Gaius, what a dilemma!" Six exclaims sarcastically. "On the one hand, I think the two cute girls want to have you help them return light to the world. On the other, have you counted the number of shots that Ellen and Laura have done between them?"

Baltar is genuinely torn, and this despite knowing he is about to be offered a frank and smutty threesome. "Do you think there's going to be a fight?" he asks. The redhead looks at her brunette friend in confusion.

"Well, there's always one..." the redhead says. "But we weren't, um...oh, my GODS, Becky."

Baltar and Becky look, because the president has stood up and is walking over to where Ellen is hanging all over Billy.

"I suppose, if we can't avoid it," Baltar says, putting one arm around the redhead, "We've got a good vantage point before the real festivities begin, and as you say, it's not really Genesis without a fight..."


They can resolve this like grown-ups. She has not been left sitting alone for two hours while Bill Adama twiddles his thumbs, and Laura knows she has had at least three of the applejack things, but Ellen is practically molesting Billy in front of everyone and Dee seems to be off in the bathroom or something.

"I, yeah, that's a good hat," says Billy to Ellen of her ridiculous and cheap Father Bounty hat. "Um, Madam President, ma'am. Hi. Was there something?"

"No, it's okay," Laura says, faking a smile. The entire room is still bustling, but she knows people are watching. "Ellen, why don't you go take the bounty somewhere it's wanted? Like to your husband?"

The entire room goes dead silent and Laura almost closes her eyes. Such a bad idea. Such a bad idea, but at least Billy has escaped and she is not sitting alone in the corner anymore.

"It's Genesis, Laura," Ellen Tigh says with poisonous good cheer. "Not all of us enjoy sulking alone because we don't have a date."

Out of the corner of her eye, Laura notes that Starbuck and Apollo are talking to each other, both looking like they have no idea what to do, and that nice Chief Tyrol has apparently gone running for someone. Fantastic. Bill Adama will certainly come to her rescue, but not before that for her company.

"Well, that's much preferable to behaving like a complete drunken disgrace," Laura replies, aware that the slight sway she has to make mid-comment undercuts the impact of the comment. "After all, a woman your age should act like she has sense."

Ellen's face takes on an ugly expression. "You know, just because yours is legally dead doesn't mean mine is," she announces, walking up closer.

The entire evening has become a bad episode of Caprica City, and Laura wishes with all her heart she had just let Billy twist in the wind. Or that she had the strength of will to turn on her heel and walk away, but it's Ellen and Laura has had a bad, bad Genesis so far.

Especially considering that in the background, she could hear Bill Adama's voice rumbling with Tigh's querulous tones adding a counterharmony. This is not going to end well, so why endure Ellen's sneer?

"Walk away, Ellen," Laura says quietly, trying not to clench her jaw and her fists. "One chance. Just walk away."

"Oh, please," Ellen sneers. "Why should I? Gods, when was the last time you ever did anything fun? Or you know, didn't act like a frakking killjoy? You've been pouting in a corner this whole night. Just like usual. I mean, hell, you had the best-looking men in the fleet on your crazy trek to Kobol and you probably didn't even get turned on. You're dried-up, Laura, and everyone..."

In a silent room, the sound of Laura Roslin's fist meeting Ellen Tigh's jaw is surprisingly loud.

"Ow," Laura says, turning away and looking down at her knuckles. "That hurt. I've never hit anyone before -- does it usually, um, hurt?"

Ellen, her hand over her jaw, spits out about two drops of blood-tinted spit. "Bitch," she says. "Don't turn your back on me, you dried-up holier-than-thou virgin bitch!"

She seizes a large handful of hair, and the entire room draws back -- except, of course, Lee and Kara. Laura, who is now fully aware that she is never drinking again, a complete disgrace, and wishes she could disappear, is glad to see them.

"Frak," Starbuck says. "Someone needs to get Ellen off the president, as that's kind of a crime. Lee? Little help?"

"Already on it," Apollo says, pushing forward and dodging fingernails. "Ellen. Ellen, you're assaulting the president."

"She hit me first," Ellen says grimly.

"I asked you to walk away," Laura replies grimly. She's not making an issue of it, but she is stepping on Ellen's toes with all her weight and she's already dropped an elbow into the other woman's gut. In for a penny, in for a pound -- and she does pay attention during firefights.

"Oh, that's so frakking holy of you," Ellen says, hissing. "Everyone's so frakking awed by your stupid act that they're afraid to say it. I'm not. Act like a woman, not a carving, Laura. You don't even have the stupid cancer excuse anymore."

"Get off me, Ellen," Laura orders, pulling back hard and falling into Lee. "I don't have the time to listen to a two-bit schemer tell ME how to live my life, especially when all you do is drink too much and show off your cleavage as if it were impressive."

Bill has almost managed to push his way into the room, but Ellen shrieks again and leaps onto Laura, knocking them both to the floor. The last time Laura has been in a fight like this, she was seven and fighting over her rights to use a fishing pole.

It's actually quite satisfying, though she will deny that to her dying day.

Then Ellen digs her fingernails into Laura's cheek, and Laura forgets to think about her dignity at all.


"What the frak is going on here?" Adama yells. This is not supposed to be happening at his party. Then again, he is not supposed to be two hours later to a Genesis Night celebration thanks to a freighter's fault equipment, but life after genocide isn't fair.

"Chickfight, sir," says Helo. "Hey, did the president just knee Mrs. Tigh?"

"Someone get this crazy woman off me!" Laura shouts, sounding offended. "I'm not the one who should be defending me from Ellen."

Everyone guiltily gets into action at that point, finally restraining Ellen Tigh as Laura tosses her head back to try to get her hair out of her face and recover her dignified composure.

Unfortunately for Laura, everyone has seen her land about three more punches, and can see both the fingernail marks on her cheek and the flush of excitement in her eyes and face.

She's going to kill him. It's going to be the best Genesis Night ever.

"That was the best thing I've ever seen in my life, sir," says Starbuck, thumping Laura on the back. "Wow, you gave her a black eye."

"She knocked me to the floor," Laura says defiantly. "What was I supposed to do, curl up and cry?"

"You fight like the dirty bitch you are," Ellen says, struggling against the two pilots restraining her.

"Shut UP, Ellen. Gods, can't you just master that one simple thing?" Laura shouts back. "Shut. The Frak. Up."

Bill Adama is trying not to laugh. He knows he must look somewhat thunderstruck, and with a glance over at Saul, he knows his XO is having an even harder time not laughing.

It's not that this is unexpected for Ellen -- when she's disappointed, she's a brawler -- but Laura Roslin? In a fistfight?

"Frak me," Tigh mutters. "Don't laugh, Bill. They'll both kill you."

Yes, yes they will, and Bill is trying to also not think about how Laura looks amazingly good right now, tousled and angry and awake for the first time since she heard about her remission.

"Get your wife out of here," Bill says tightly, praying his trembling looks more like rage than laughter. "Lock her in her quarters if you have to. Hurry before I can't help it."

Tigh hustles, and with both pilots attached, drags a shrieking Ellen out of the party as Bill walks up to Laura as though he is not late and she is not dabbing her cheek with a dirty napkin Starbuck's handed her.

"Madam President," Bill says, nodding to the clear victor of the fight. She shrugs a hello. "What caused you to throw a punch at Mrs. Tigh?"

"She said some pretty unforgivable things, Dad," Lee says, looking earnest as usual. "The President showed remarkable restraint."

"Did she?" Bill asks, favoring Laura with a look. Laura matches him with an arch sneer as Kara sidles up and whispered just what Ellen had said into his ear. "Are you serious?"

"Entirely," says Laura with a pained smile before wheeling and turning toward Billy, who is being supported by Dee. "Billy."

"I'm really sorry!" Billy says. "You didn't need to get involved. I was okay."

"It's okay. Be smarter next time," Laura says, before turning back to Bill, still crackling with energy. "So. Avoiding me?"

"I wasn't sure you'd notice," he says, supposing he deserves this for being late.

And there's That Look, but with a quick wince as Laura touches her mouth. "Ow," she says. "Could you maybe, just maybe, get me out of here? I need to be patched up. Privately."

Bill nods. It's not as though his Genesis Night isn't shot already, and sometimes, you have to do the right thing, even if it promises to be a long evening of getting yelled at.


This is much, much better than being stuck with a bunch of strangers. Even if Laura is fairly certain her supposedly drunken brawl with Ellen will be the only news in the fleet for the next month.

"You hit my XO's wife in the face," Bill says. Laura is sitting in his quarters with an enormous glass of decent nog flecked with cinnamon, a plate of walnuts, and shortbread she insisted they steal from the party, legs tucked underneath her. "Did it feel good?"

She must look a sight. Marks in her cheek. A fat lip. Sparkle in her eyes, half-smile, breathing hard.

"I'm terribly embarrassed," Laura admits. "I don't know what came over me. Besides the applejack, the hatred of the festival, and the fear that my strength came from fighting cancer, not really from me."

"Besides which, Ellen Tigh can challenge our best intentions at any time," Bill says. "You didn't answer my question."

Laura rubs her bruised knuckles before looking at Bill sheepishly. "I'm still so embarrassed I can't see, but there was something satisfying about it. I wouldn't do it again."

"I wouldn't recommend it, no," Bill agrees, before leaning over and kissing her.

Laura kisses back, and is impressed to note that Bill isn't a bad kisser, and nothing particularly bad happens during the kiss. It's a teensy bit sedate, but Laura thinks that's more because he's nervous and she's got a fat lip than because he can't be not sedate.

"Well, that finally happened," she says when he pulls away.

"What?" Bill says. "You expected me to...before?"

"Did you think that I was legally dead below the waist, too?" Laura asks plaintively. "I swear before all the gods, I should ask Ellen for advice more often."

Bill gapes. This is not precisely, Laura thinks, how he expected this to go. He probably expects more complaints about how things are going to look, or how they can't, or maybe even that she's carrying a torch for Lee or Baltar or Billy.

"I don't want you to be Ellen," he says, recovering quickly. "I like you just the way you are. Prickly temper and all."

"Prickly?" Laura asks, folding her arms and giving him That Look.

"Well, let's be honest. You are stubborn, manipulative, inclined to be sneaky, occasionally devious, and you've got the redhead's temper," Bill answers, meeting her eyes. "I've never been angrier in my life with another human being than I've been with you."

"Oh, I see," Laura replies, slugging back her drink with a definite swagger. "And you're pompous, overprotective, a bit of a chauvinist, inclined to be obsessive, and think far too highly of yourself because you compare your actions to Tigh's. Just if you were curious."

"Good to know," Bill says with a smile. "See? You're ready to claw my eyes out right now."

"You've got a funny way of trying to ingratiate yourself with a woman, Bill," Laura says snippily, getting to her feet.

"You've got a funnier way of demonstrating how lonely you are," Bill says, catching her upper arm. "Don't go."

"Give me a reason to stay," she answers.

He does, and Laura feels her irritation with Genesis Night evaporating. Maybe there is something to the old legends about bacchanals and the energy they generated, after all.


Billy is hanging around morosely, the designated driver for the last woman at the party -- who is nowhere to be seen. Dee's back on duty, and Lt. Starbuck, Lee Adama, and Baltar are the absolute last dogs hung.

"Hey, little boy, where's your mommy?" asks Starbuck, giggling.

"Commander Adama was supposed to patch her up," Billy says. "Of course, that was about two hours ago."

Lee blanches slightly. "Oh, gods, you're right," he says.

"Apollo, you're not getting all prudish just because the old man got himself some, are you?" Starbuck says. "Come on. The president was pumping adrenaline. I bet she jumped him on the way to his quarters."

Billy and Lee gape at Kara, and then all three of them start laughing.

"She could hit people in the face every day," Lee admits, running a hand through his hair. "It's actually kind of hot when she does that thing where she just glares down assholes -- oh shit, how drunk am I, Starbuck?"

"Drunk enough that you just revealed you think your stepmom is h-o-t, HOT," Starbuck says, grinning like a loon. "Also that you liked her beating up Ellen."

"Who didn't love that?" Apollo replies. "Also, she is NOT my stepmother."

"Yet," Starbuck says, and Baltar is actually quite enjoying himself. Everyone except for himself is three sheets to the wind, and they are talking ridiculously loudly, despite knowing he's around. "Billy!"

"Yes, Lieutenant?" Billy asks.

"Do you think the president would get on Lee?" Kara asks, flashing her wackiest grin. "I mean, he is kind of pretty, isn't he?"

"The prettiest," Billy says. "I know she lifted an eyebrow over the towel footage."

Starbuck gasps with mock shock. "Get out! Footage of the world's shortiest towel got out?" she asks. "And I didn't get a copy?"

"No, sir," Billy says, looking Lee over. "I think, Lieutenant Starbuck, sir? That the president wouldn't hit on anyone who doesn't know how to hit on her first. Even if she'd be very flattered to hear that Captain Apollo thinks she is hot. Of course, right now, your dad is actually going for it with her RIGHT NOW."

"Shut up, Billy."

"She is hot, though," Billy says. "Is there any man in the fleet who hasn't thought about it? Doctor Baltar?"

"SHUT UP, NO WAY!" Starbuck shrieks when Billy, Lee, and Baltar all share a look.

"We'd all think about you, too, sir," Billy says. "Um. That came out wrong."

"Shut UP, Billy," Lee says. "You're getting us in trouble."

Starbuck is still shaking her head in what Baltar supposes is an attempt at outrage. "Ew, ew, ew," she announces. "You're all wrong and bad and evil. We were supposed to make fun of the old man and the president being the ones who decided to have ill-considered sex at the Genesis Night party, not reveal we all want to be the old man."

Baltar still owes Kara Thrace for the "Oh, Lee" so he decides it's worth the, "Lieutenant, are you saying that you don't think President Roslin is an attractive woman? She's brilliant, and quite --well, lads, you know what I mean. There's an indomitable will."

"Indomitable will?" Six hoots. "What, you want her to give you a spanking?"

"Do you think she would?" Baltar replies with a smirk.

"Come again?" Billy asks.

"Sorry. Talking to myself again," Baltar says.

"The way you often do," someone adds. There, swaying and being supported by a very smug-looking Adama, is the president, who looks like she's gotten a happy Genesis Night. "Hello, everybody."

"You all right, Madam President?" Lee asks.

"I've discovered the festival spirit," she says, laughing and leaning against the commander with blatant disregard for protocol. "Billy, sweetie, were you waiting for me? I'm so sorry."

"That's okay," Billy says. "Are we going to stay over?"

"There's damage control to be done," the president replies, pointing to the scratches on her face. "And besides, I think we need to set the example and get back to work."

Baltar stands up. "I could handle the initial damage control, Madam President," he says, stumbling over his words. "You deserve a bit of festival joy."

"That's kind of you," Laura says, still holding the commander's hand. "But we'll be returning to Colonial One. Come on, Billy."

The rest of the party ended at that point, with Baltar left alone.

Or as alone as Gaius Baltar ever is.

"So the Genesis Night festivities don't make a personal fundamentally different," Six says, watching the president and her entourage of heroes, goody-goodies, and horny followers leave Baltar behind. "Who would have guessed?"

"The magic of the season fails," Baltar says. "Well, except for the sexual urban legends that resulted in me having enough sex to repopulate humanity and enjoying it thoroughly."

Six chuckles ribaldly. "Aw, Gaius," she says. "I thought you feared fatherhood and politics. And now you're taking to it naturally."

They wander to the door, watching the people pass by. Gaius smiles.

Magic and sex and wonder all around. Perhaps Genesis Night is more than the sum of its parts after all.


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