Seduce And Destroy
by Jennifer-Oksana

i. Jocasta Rex

Baltar was a traitor and worse than a traitor; not even Baltar had denied that, but there was something horrible about the way Baltar had screamed and pled and wept, begging Lee to listen to him, to believe he hadn't known, that he deserved mercy, that had shaken Lee to the core.

Could Baltar be right? Could the president be using Baltar's crimes to cover her own? Was she silencing Baltar?

And the way the execution had been carried out. Lee, his gun, and then the final disposal of the body out of the airlock. There was something cold about it, something that had the marrow of Lee's bones frozen still.

"It's done," Lee heard himself say to the president, who was sitting there, quiet. "He's dead."

"He's dead and you killed him," she replied, looking up at him. "Thank you, Lee."

"Can I talk to you?" said Lee, even more disturbed. "I'm...Madam President, I find myself doubting our course of action in this instance."

She nodded, gesturing at the chair silently. "I would think less of you if you didn't," she said in a rich, warm voice. "Today, you killed a man. Not a Cylon, not in self-defense, not even in the heat of the moment. You looked at a defenseless, weeping man who begged for mercy and duty compelled you to end his life."

"You signed the warrant for his execution," Lee said weakly. "Do you think we did the wrong thing?"

"I think we did what we had to do," she answered. "Gaius Baltar betrayed the Colonial people. He betrayed humanity, but even then, he was human. It's a hard thing, to take a human life, even one as corrupted and adulterated as Baltar's had become."

Lee nodded, feeling a warm swell of gratitude. She'd taken the guilt and made it bearable, the way Laura had when they'd destroyed the Olympic Carrier. When they'd escaped Galactica, when they'd split the fleet. His father's comfort was always so uncomfortable -- basically, Lee's father told him to be a man and ignore the pain.

Laura acknowledged the legitimacy of Lee's guilt, and understood how doing the right thing, doing a duty, was not always a good or comfortable thing.

"Thank you," Lee said. "You always know how to do that, you know? Make it less horrible somehow."

Laura smiled at him. "I'd be a terrible friend and a worse leader if I didn't try to help you," she said. "And you've been so good to me -- the only one I can trust to do the difficult things. We have a kind of understanding between us, don't we?"

Lee shifted. It was true, but at the same time, it raised uncomfortable issues, things that he'd always felt rather than thought or said. There was something between them. Rapport. Trust. Laura understood things. She'd understood about the woman, about not being able to quite come to an understanding with Kara, about so many things that no one else in Lee's life got.

"My father would try, if you asked," he said, aware that this was not quite what he meant to say.

"I know," Laura said. "It's not the same. There's a certain kind of simpatico...oh, now I sound silly."

"No, I know exactly what you mean," Lee said, the strange feeling making him squirm. "There just aren't exactly words, are there? For what's between us."

She looked at him, resting her head against her hand as she did so, and Lee couldn't speak.

"What, exactly, is between us, Lee?" Laura asked in a low voice that gave the question added depth. Dangerous depth. Almost exciting depth.

"I don't know," Lee said honestly. "I've never known. All I know is that when I follow my gut, I'm at your side."

"What's your gut telling you right now?" she asked.

"That if I kissed you, right now, you wouldn't stop me," Lee said, appalled at the answer even though it felt right, felt so right, to admit that.

Even if sex was the least of the things between them.

"Then kiss me," Laura said.

He did. He'd always wanted to, from the moment she'd recognized him as his own man, not the great Commander Adama's son, but as a person, one who had value. It was so easy to want the person who wanted you back as you were.

But Lee's gut was telling him something else, and when he pulled away, Laura's eyes confirmed it.

"What is it?" she asked, reaching up to touch him, stroke his face. Lee didn't move away. And he didn't want to move away, though he supposed he should want to.

"He wasn't lying," Lee said. "You wanted him dead. You're glad he's gone."

"No secrets from you," Laura said softly. "Yes. I'm sorry that you had to do it, but I'm not sorry that he's dead. And I did it for every dirty reason you think."

And there it was. Desire and power and the coldness of a pragmatist, a woman who could lie and lie and lie and be honest in every word of it, could stain a man's hands with blood and not regret it.

His father or Kara would have turned from her in disgust, feeling used and duped. Lee knew that as well.

Lee didn't move. Nor did he feel betrayed or angry.

"You trust me enough to tell me," he said. "I could bring down your presidency with this."

"You could," Laura agreed. "I trust your judgment. If you think I should resign, I'll resign. If you think I should have myself arrested, I'll do that. I need your guidance, Lee."

She was playing him, but she wasn't lying. And if Lee wanted to survive, he had to show that he could play just as well as Laura in this game.

"There's blood on my hands," he said, putting the out for her to look over. "You put it there."

Laura nodded, and took one of his hands between her own, eyes bright and steadfast as she met his before bringing his hand to her lips and kissing it.

"I can't make it go away," she said. "But you don't need me to, because you know what you did was right."

She kissed his hand again, and slowly, very slowly, Lee put it against her neck, her shoulder.

"I've got your back," Lee said. "I'll always be there for you."

"Always you. Only you," Laura agreed.

His father would hate him for this. Kara would -- well, it was no good thinking of Starbuck, was it?

But she was his, and she trusted him, and Lee helped her to his feet before fastening his mouth to hers, feeling exhilarated.

And just the tiniest bit cold.


ii. La donna é mobile

"How long have you known?" Gaius asks, staring at his legs.

"Since the beginning," Laura answers, leaning against her desk with folded arms and an air of endless tolerance. "After all, one can't entirely ignore your behavior. Or hers."

"You can see her?" asks Gaius, looking up at his destroyer with wide eyes, both hands in his hair.

It was to have been another commonplace afternoon on Colonial One. A meeting, a tryst, the usual bored exchange of witticisms that let the other know that they were neither friends nor lovers, and that any use of this exchange of fluids would lead to mutually assured destruction.

Apparently Laura has bored of him and their game.

"And here you thought she was an unfulfilled older woman looking for a good frak," Six says. "If she can see me, we should have had a threesome. Madam President Roslin certainly has more tenacity to her than I'd suspected."

"Not now," Gaius says, looking up at his blonde not-quite-angel.

"Does it really matter if I can see her? I imagine she's a version of the Cylon you were conspiring with on Caprica," Laura says, her eyes firmly on Gaius. "The blonde. Shelley Godfrey."

"I think it matters, yes, if you can see my fancied woman," Gaius says. "It makes you as mad as I am."

"Doctor Baltar, you're mad," Laura replies. "I'm touched by the gods. And a respected and respectable leader. You are a power-hungry bit of a joke I used to bolster myself against that opportunist Zarek."

"And yet, my dear, if you can see the blonde Cylon, it would suggest we're either both mad or you..." and Baltar tries to smile, ignoring the terror he feels to the soles of his feet.

Laura leans forward, the smile on her face clearly of the frak-you-die variety. "Oh, you want to be very careful about the accusation you're about to make, Gaius," she purrs in a voice that is half-contempt and half-amusement.

"You're a Cylon," he says. "Are you not?"

"Oh, Gaius, certainly you can make your j'accuse speech with a little more flair than that," says Laura, though the phrasing is so Six that Gaius is uncomfortably aware that yes, the real, live woman he's been frakking since she blackmailed him into silence, is a Cylon agent.

"Perhaps you might give me a few examples," Gaius says, the entire zest of life suddenly gone. Laura laughs, her eyes bright and hard.

"Oh, Gaius," Six says, resting her hands on his shoulders. "Have you ever thought a moment about the consequences of treating a prima donna so cavalierly? She really might destroy you with the force of her personality alone."

"Now that's just absurd," Gaius mutters. "No one can do that."

"Focus, doctor," Laura says, bringing his eyes back to her, and the unhealthy glow in her cheeks. "Your speech. The one that you'll make that will be your death warrant. It should be absolutely dramatic."

She gives him a look that would be seductive if Gaius weren't ready to ball up and weep in a corner over how doomed he is.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, Admiral Adama...well, everyone, really," Laura says in an accurate but cruel satire of Gaius's own tones and mannerisms, fluttering a bit. "I've got an announcement that you might find, well, shocking really."

Gaius finds himself unable to move, especially when Laura looks over her shoulder immediately, at just the moment Six might say or do something, and wriggles.

"No, now is not the time," she whispers. "As I was saying, this shocking announcement is that President Roslin, far from being the beloved political leader we all see her as, is, well, a Cylon. More than that, she's been having an illicit, erotic, and frankly quite kinky affair with me -- and gods know how many others -- for weeks now. I can tell you, if you'd like, all about her preferences in the bedroom."

Laura is magnificent in her performance, alight with malice and glee and sexual satisfaction. Gaius cannot look away from her, even though he wants to vomit, scream, do something other than listen to her mock his forthcoming destruction.

"But no, that's not what's important. What is important, um, ladies and gentlemen, is that I, Gaius Baltar, have discovered this Cylon in our midst, seducing and destroying her way through the fleet," Laura continues, leaning forward and giving Gaius a simpering smirk that's teeth in his heart. "As Vice President, I think that it is our duty to remove President Roslin from office and, ah...detain her for information. Yes. And then we can put me in charge, as that is the agreed order of succession."

And at that moment, Laura Roslin, who has been braced against her desk, leans back and places her bare foot into Gaius's lap and leers at him. Hungrily.

"Was it good for you, too?" she asks.


iii. Song of Songs

There are very few places where Bill Adama can't make himself feel comfortable, or at least, his own man who has every right to feel uncomfortable in an alien sphere.

But something about the stateroom where Laura lives and sleeps leaves him befuddled and confused, as though he were a smaller and sillier man.

She is unlike any woman Bill has ever known, stubborn and frakking perfect, dangerous and wonderful. Laura gets to him, from the way she can tilt her head, to the way he feels slightly inadequate for the deep and passionate need he has for her.

"You have stolen my heart, my sister, my spouse," he murmurs, remembering one of the passages from the scriptures he'd actually paid attention to in school. "You have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace."

"Ohh, flatterer," Laura answers, rising from the paperwork that's had her attention.

Bill chuckles. "I thought it might get your attention, the old man reciting poetry," he says, smiling at her.

"My attention? Is that all you want?" asks Laura archly, walking towards him with a pronounced sway. "I have taken off my robe -- must I put it on again? I have washed my feet -- must I soil them again?"

Her feet. She would remind him of her feet, and her legs, and Bill's forgotten the scripture and poetry, and his eyes are on Laura's shapely calves and ankles and inching up toward her thighs.

"I'll help you do both," Bill offers, putting an arm out to circle her waist. "Deal?"

She laughs. "Forgotten your scripture already?" Laura asks, tapping him on the nose.

"I'm a simple man. The gods have gifted me with you to remember that stuff for me," Bill says, kissing her throat.

"But this is really good stuff," Laura says with a low growl, pulling back and leading him toward her couch, eyes alight. "My lover thrust his hand through the opening; my heart began to pound for him. I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock."

"I can do better than fingers," says Bill, pulling her back into his arms roughly as they sink down onto the couch.

"I bet you can," Laura replies, kissing him over and over. "If you find my lover, what will you tell him? Tell him I am faint with love."

He really is a complete sucker for her, the way Saul is for Ellen, but Bill has a feeling that Ellen's never started quoting poetry at Saul until Saul couldn't think of anything except for his need to make the woman in his arms faint with love.

After, Laura offers him a mug of tea as she pulls on her robe and looks sadly back at her paperwork. Bill's in no hurry, and he lets her go back to her work, watching her and feeling comfortable.

"You know what? I'm taking you out to dinner," Bill decides aloud. "Did you know there is still steak left in this fleet? For your birthday. Or any day you want, I am commandeering the steak and we're having a dinner for two on Cloud Nine, just you and me."

"No, you're not," Laura says, not even looking up.

"What?" asks Bill. "I can't take you out for dinner? I'm the commander of the fleet and you're the president."

"Yes, but you are not Zeus, and you don't have any more right to that steak than any other person in the fleet," Laura says, still working on whatever report she was doing before he interrupted her.

"The hell we don't," Bill says. "Laura."

She finally twists her head around to look at him, and she's absolutely serious, is Laura. Her face is expressionless and weary.

"You're too good to me," Laura says. "But we have to set an example."

"I know that," Bill says. "Don't you think I know that? But what's the use of letting the steak get freezer burn because we're so morally righteous that we won't ever use a little bit of our power selfishly?"

Laura stands up and walks over to Bill, that curious blankness still on her face as she brushes her hand over his shoulders.

"We aren't righteous," she says suddenly. "We are doing the hard work of keeping this fleet from despair and death, and we've done every dirty thing in the book to do it. I can't cross that final line and claim that because I've saved humanity, I deserve the best steak, too."

Her voice trembles a little at the end, and Bill looks up cautiously, to make sure she hasn't tired herself out. Certainly, she's not as ill as she was a month ago, but Laura still has bad nights.

"I think you're taking this too seriously," he says, putting his arms around her thighs. "But consider my offer of dinner withdrawn. We can have fried eggs on Galactica instead."

"On one condition," Laura says, falling into his lap bonelessly and putting her arms around his neck, eyes full of love.

"Anything," Bill answers, and he means it.

"Recite me more poetry."


iv. Song to the Moon

The president's fingers were ice cold, and she couldn't seem to stop staring into space. Kara was starting to worry about her, especially because Roslin kept shivering and her eyes weren't exactly focusing.

"Are you gonna be okay?" Starbuck finally asked.

"I'm...oh, gods," Roslin said, shaking her head hard and blinking several times, very fast. "Lieutenant Thrace."

"What did he do to you?" Kara said. "Maybe you should see Doc Cottle."

"No," Roslin answered, putting up a hand. "No, I'll be fine. I'm just very, very cold."

As the room was slightly warmer than a summer day on Caprica, Kara took off her jacket and handed it to the president.

"I'm not cold, sir," she said.

"Thank you, lieutenant," Roslin answered, draping it around her indifferently. Starbuck, still feeling like she should insist the president go see Cottle, took the jacket back, and made sure it covered the president properly.

"It's not going to do you any good not giving you an extra layer," Starbuck said. "You need anything else, sir?"

"A cup of coffee? I don't know. I just can't seem to get warm," Roslin said. "I keep seeing his face. Don't you?"

Kara nodded. "He was so..." and her voice trailed off. "I wish I could believe in something like that."

The president tilted her head. "Does it matter to you so much, having faith in something?" she asked, putting her hand on Kara's upper arm. "It killed Leoben."

Starbuck suddenly shivered, even though it wasn't cold in the room at all, and in fact, Roslin looked feverish. Feverish and a little strange, and Kara couldn't help but feel that something wasn't exactly right.

"He wasn't afraid," Kara said. "Not to die, not to suffer. All because he believed."

"Fear makes us human," Roslin said, moving into Kara's space gracefully. "It gives us something to overcome, to fight against so that we keep going. So we don't get complacent."

Kara was starting to get colder and colder, but it was cold that came from inside, not outside. Something that was making her wish she had her coat back.

"I don't think," and Kara was finding it harder to articulate what she was thinking, "Most people would say fear is what makes us do horrible things. Dehumanizing things. We're so afraid of the Cylons that we torture them, suspect each other..."

"I thought you weren't cold," Roslin murmured, looking at the goosebumps that were now rising on Kara's arms.

"I wasn't. Sir," Kara said, thoroughly confused as she met the president's eyes.

Gracefully, almost too smoothly, Roslin removed Kara's jacket from her own shoulders and set it around Kara's shoulders. Her hand brushed against Kara's, and this time, it was hot, so warm that Kara was starting to wonder if she was the one hallucinating.

"Thank you," said Kara, leaning forward. "I..."

Roslin rested her fingers on Kara's mouth. "Shh," she said. "Just relax. Trust me."

Kara didn't trust her for a moment. But she wanted to, enough to move closer and know that she was falling into a trap and just not care.

She was cold.


v. More Human Than Human

It makes her human. That's what he says and that's what he means and she nods and shivers and suddenly she sits down in one of the chairs and sighs.

Human used to be the most meaningless word in the language, but Billy gets the feeling that now it's going to mean new things, now that you can look someone in the eye and not know they're not human.

"Are you all right, Madam President?" Billy asks, shifting back and forth and not knowing what to do. The president can't fall apart on them; she and Adama are the only people standing between the species and chaos and Billy has reasons to live. He wants to live long enough to see Dualla again. "Can I please help?"

"We can't tell anyone," she says in a stage whisper, looking up at him with big, uneasy eyes. "It would scare people. They would take it as a bad omen."

Billy nods. "No, of course not, you're right," he says. "I'd never betray your confidence like that."

"Thank you, Billy," she says tiredly, resting her chin on her hand and staring out toward a window. "You don't have to stand there if you don't want. Sit down."

Billy sits down. Billy feels butterflies in his stomach, Billy feels really uncomfortable, because she's clearly upset, but she's aware that she has to be strong.

"Is there something I can do for you?" he whispers to her. She's so sad. Not like his mom would be sad, because when Billy's mom is upset, she cries -- she cried, shit, that's not good to think about -- but in a way where the pain is the same, and he just wants to put his arms around her and say he's really, really, really sorry.

In response, the president nods. Touches her shoulders, her upper back.

It takes Billy a second to get what she means. "You think I should give you a backrub?" he asks.

"Would that make you uncomfortable?" she asks.

"I don't know if that would be appropriate," Billy manages, feeling like a jerk. This is because of that thing his friend Eric said before he met up with the president -- well, Minister Roslin at the time. That she was the kind who slept with her aides. That everyone knew she was probably sleeping with Adar, too.

Billy realizes that he would have probably done it, too. She's pretty, she has a nice smile, and it would have been really easy to have a couple of drinks after the decommissioning, tell her about his hopes, and end up kissing her.

Except there's that girl. Except there's Dee, and now Billy knows he can't ever imagine even making or receiving a pass at the president now. Because there's Dee, and he keeps thinking about her and feeling his heart beat fast.

"It's okay," she says, putting her hand atop his and smiling. "Don't worry about it."

Now he is completely and totally a jerk, thinking she has ulterior motives. Billy hangs his head slightly.

"No, I'll -- not a problem," Billy says awkwardly.

"Nothing like a scandalous reputation, is there, Billy?" she asks just when Billy's thumb digs into her shoulders, and there's an enormous knot right next to her left shoulder blade.

"I suppose not," Billy mumbles, relaxing a little as he gets into his work. It's kind of good to have something to do, and wow, her upper arms are tense as anything. "You're not offended, are you?"

"No," she says softly, making one of those little grunts of pain that Billy recognizes as a sign of work well done. "I think the first thing we need to establish in our relationship is the need for honesty. There will be a number of people in this fleet who'll be more than happy to tell me what I want to hear. I need someone who's willing to be straight with me."

"Honestly? You have, um, enormous knots in your back. Lean forward," Billy says. "Okay, move your hair."

She moves her hair, and Billy does the thing his sister (and he'd give anything to be able to say it was an old girlfriend, but it was his sister Kelly) taught him to do to pressure points on the back of her neck.

The president slumps over. "Oh, that feels better," she says. "Lots and lots better."

He keeps kneading, and she just stays slumped for a while, until Billy realizes that he's tired and the president is tired and maybe, given this is the first day of their new lives where they're both really important, maybe they should try to sleep.

Billy taps President Roslin on her hand. "Ma'am?" he asks.

"I'm good," she says blearily. "Thank you, Billy."

"You should, um, get some sleep?" Billy says. "There's probably going to be a lot to deal with later."

Blinking and yawning, the president nods and smiles at him, almost too pleasant a smile for Billy to stand right now.

"Go to bed," she tells him, rubbing her eye as hair falls into her face and makes her younger and softer. "I can take care of myself."

He's about to take her at her word, but a klaxon sounds, shattering every last iota of calm they've managed to build between them.

"Cylons," the president says, her posture snapping straight. "Get the captain."

Billy runs, all thoughts of sleep and women banished from his mind.

It's not until later -- much, much later -- that Billy ever thinks to ask how she always knows these things.

Honestly? She just does.


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