The Colonial President
by Jennifer-Oksana

Time was not a luxury the gods gave to presidents.

They were all on borrowed time anyway, but hers was double-mortgaged and long-overdue, and she had no way to pay the piper.

She had no time, no clothes that she didn't want to shred, and had found herself relaxing in a shirt turned inside out that might have belonged to Billy, or maybe not. Either way, it was more comfortable than any of her own avowed shirts.

She had no time. She also had no privacy.

"Madam President," said Lee, knocking on the side of the wall. "May I come in?"

Laura sighed, pulled on a skirt, and called, "Please" as she smoothed her hair.

"I'm sorry," he said, looking away slightly as she buttoned another button. "You look busy. You look tired. I'll come back."

"Don't be silly. I'm the opposite of busy," she said, waving at her book. "I was reading. What's going on?"

He shifted slightly. "I'd like to talk to you. Privately."

"I see," Laura murmured. "Well. Here we are."

Lee nodded. Then fidgeted. And continued to fidget, in silence, for five minutes.

"Captain Adama?" asked Laura, realizing he wasn't about to say anything. "Was there something?"

"Yes," he said. "I mean, there is something, but I don't know how to say it. I'm not even sure if you'll want to hear it."

"Lee, if I only got to hear what I wanted, my days would be much freer," she replied. "Is something wrong?"

"No, nothing like that," Lee answered.

"Then what?"

"I'm...I like you, you know that?" he said. "I like you a lot. I think you're an admirable woman."

And suddenly the light bulb went on in Laura Roslin's head, and she was on her feet, arms wrapped around herself with a troubled expression on her face.

"Lee, either you're planning to assassinate me, or this is the most awkward declaration of love since Billy tried to get to know Dee and got her involved in a prison riot," she said, a rueful smile flickering on her face.

"You knew?" he asked, sounding upset.

"No, I didn't, as a matter of fact," Laura replied, taking a step back. "This is a bit of a shock."

Lee looked down. "I'm sorry I said anything," he said. "This is terribly awkward. I'll leave."

"No," said Laura, surprising herself. Of course he should go. It was awkward, and it shouldn't have happened. "Lee, you of all people realize that everything about what you just said is a bad idea."

That should have been discouraging; Laura had meant to be discouraging. Had she meant to be? Because instead, something flared in Lee's eyes.

"You care, too," he accused her.

"I am the president," Laura replied, biting her lip against all the possible stupid and encouraging answers. "You are nearly twenty-five years younger than I am. This is not a discussion, Captain Apollo."

"I'm glad we agree," Lee said, taking two steps forward.

Frack. Even she could see the subtle encouragement in the dismissal. She shook her head ruefully. "Don't do what you're about to do," Laura warned in a distinctly half-hearted tone.

"What, this?" asked Lee, putting his arms around Laura Roslin and leaning in for a kiss.

"Yes, exactly this," Laura said weakly. "I suppose I could attempt to say I'm not interested in you as a man, but rather as my protege?"

Lee paused. "Which is much more original than what I thought you'd say, which is that my father would pitch a fit."

Despite herself, Laura began to laugh and laugh hard. "That says more about this relationship than you'd like to think, Lee," she said, resting her forehead on his shoulder. "That your first fear is what your father has to say."

"You're the president. He's the commander of the military. Preventing conflict between you is a good thing," Lee replied. "And also, I was expecting the age problem. Not a question of politics."

"You tell me how it's not a matter of politics, and I will let you win the age battle," Laura said tartly. "Fair?"

"It's not a matter of politics," Lee said glibly. "I'm not running for office. You have the same right to love and happiness as anyone else."

Laura fixed her young man with a look that reminded her of her actual schoolteacher days, which had been closer to fifteen years ago. When Lee would have been perhaps thirteen. Teacher eye never really went away, or maybe it was simple preparation for mommy-eye, which Laura had never had much need for.

"Stop making this more difficult than it has to be," she ordered, putting a hand on his chest in order to push him away. "If it were that simple..."

Lee's face practically shone with hope. And frustration. And a number of emotions that were winning out over two sets of common sense because they were being pushed along by something Laura Roslin hadn't experienced in twenty-five years -- a young man's complete romantic attention.

"Why can't it be?" he asked. "I know it's not going to be easy, but it could be simple."

"You know as well as I do it can't work," she murmured, aware that the distance between them was far too close for comfort, and that any second, Billy would come wandering in, or some other passenger on Colonial One, or a staffer, or someone who wouldn't even ask why the president and her military liaison were pressed together like teenagers, having a breathless private conversation. "Ask yourself why you can't bring yourself to say things like love. Or want. Or why we keep dancing around using any concrete phrases."

"I love you," Lee murmured into her ear. "I want you. I know that you feel the same way. And I don't care who knows. If my father and fifty Cylons walked in right now, I'd..."

It wasn't Commander Adama and fifty Cylons. To Laura's mind, it might have even been worse.

"Madam President?" Billy's voice called. "I..."

"Frack," Kara said, almost reverently. "Lee?"

Laura pushed Lee away and then remembered she was wearing the half-buttoned inside-out man's shirt. She smiled her parent-teacher conference (as President Adar had referred to it) smile anyway.

"What is it?" she asked.

"It can wait, I think," Billy said.

"No, I'd like to hear it now," said Laura. "Captain Adama is leaving."

The glare Lee threw toward Kara and Billy was nothing short of poisonous. Kara responded with a sneer and a snort, and Billy looked away, which left him looking at the disheveled president. Which meant Billy started staring at his shoes while Kara looked back at the president.

"We could wait for you to put your shirt on right," she said. "What, you don't like seams?"

"They irritate my skin," Laura replied glibly. "But I'm fine. What do you need to discuss, Lieutenant?"


It should have ended there. But then Lieutenant Thrace informed the president, with something between amusement and contempt, that Commander Adama needed to discuss a recent major wrinkle in the Cylon detection process, and finding a way to ration Baltar's time more effectively.

Besides which, some of Zarek's more militant supporters were raising hell about the way the man had been "marginalized" with the election of Baltar, as if he hadn't been the one to attempt to force Roslin into a standoff.

However, it meant that instead of getting some much-needed sleep, Laura Roslin was now heading over to Galactica with Thrace, Billy -- and Lee, who apparently, if he wasn't needed, was going to go home.

She needed to talk to him. But if he wasn't going to listen, she wasn't going to get into a romantic quarrel in front of two people who had no need to be involved.

"Are you all right, Madam President?" Billy asked.

"Tired," she said, feigning a smile. "I might try to catch a nap. Wake me if I'm drooling, please?"

"Yes, sir," Billy said, looking at Lee suspiciously, then at Roslin, before going back to fidgeting with papers. Roslin sighed, yawned, and closed her eyes.

"I'm sorry that I have to go," he said, and the light was wrong and he was pale and almost blue.


"I have to go," he said, and she can see the long, jagged wound bleeding down the left side of his face. "I'm sorry."

Laura gasped, pulled out of the dream. She looked down at her hands, which looked normal. And here she was, half-expecting them to be covered in blood. Or worse.

"President Roslin?" asked Kara.

"Nightmare," she said, ignoring the concern on Lee's face. "Is the doctor aboard the Galactica?"

"Yes, sir," Kara answered. "Are you feeling well?"

"Just a touch of a headache. I haven't been sleeping lately," lied Laura. Both Billy and Lee didn't buy that, that much she knew. But there was too much at stake to tell anyone about these dreams. These possible visions.

And this one couldn't have been a vision anyway. Lee was very much alive. And not bleeding. Besides, why would he tell her that he was sorry? Sorry for what?

It didn't look like he was going anywhere, either. When Billy and Kara got off the shuttle, he made sure to linger behind and take her by the arm. Not in an inappropriate way, exactly, even if the way his hand lingered on the small of her back gave Laura the slightest giddy tingle. Simply the act of a solicitous friend and advisor.

"You don't have a headache," he whispered.

"You don't know that."

"I know that you're not feeling well, and my father should have held off on this meeting until tomorrow," Lee said. "I also know that our own discussion has been interrupted."

"Ended," Laura said icily.

"We'll see," he said, turning to his father with a crisp salute. "Sir."

"Lee," Adama said, returning the salute. "Are you well, Madam President? Lieutenant Thrace said something about a migraine?"

"Just a headache," Laura lied. "I'd like to see the doctor after our meeting. Do you mind keeping me overnight on the Galactica?"

"No, ma'am," Adama said. "I'm certain that Lee here can find acceptable quarters for you after your appointment."

So they would finish their conversation after all. Wonderful, Laura thought, smiling grimly at Adama and his thoroughly impossible son.

"I have every confidence in Captain Adama," Laura said, nodding a dismissal to him as she followed Adama to his quarters. "Now what is Zarek up to? And how can I help spike his wheels?"


Six was far, far too good at sneaking up on people when she was least expected. Especially when one had abandoned his quarters and any hope of sleep just to get a moment's peace.

"Sleepless, Gaius?" she purred, laying one paw on his chest and slowing his pacing to a mere furtive stroll. "Whatever could be keeping you awake? It couldn't be your conscience."

"I'm under a great deal of stress," Baltar replied, unsure himself why he was pacing the corridors of Galactica. He was the vice-president now; there were many more glamorous places he could be. Much better company, away from the stark, godforsaken military and their endless demands.

"Poor baby," Six replied, her hand snaking downward as the tip of her tongue flicked out to catch his earlobe. "It's terrible, isn't it? So much pressure, leadership. Some people handle it better than others. Like the estimable President Roslin."

"What about her?" asked Baltar, nodding hastily to one of the junior officers who was looking at him strangely. Then again, given the nascent erection he was sporting thanks to Six's wicked hands and delicate tongue, perhaps not so strange.

"I imagine she's under a great deal of stress, too," Six said, her breasts rubbing against his back. "Adama calling her over for a rare conference, Zarek's plotting? I wonder how she copes."

"I've no idea," Baltar said, turning the corner for the medical cabinets. He needed a sleeping pill...or some kind of get him through his latest barrage of pressure. It wouldn't be missed, and if it was, it certainly shouldn't be grudge the vice-president. "She probably relaxes with a good book and a cup of tea."

"Oh, are you sure?" Six asked, pointing one long, manicured finger toward a couple half-hidden in a shadowed nook.

Baltar fell back against the wall as the man brushed back the woman's hair to reveal the lip-locked couple to be none other than Roslin and Lee Adama.

"My, my, speak of the devil," Six said. "Should I be worried, Baltar?"

Lee was murmuring something to Roslin, who looked quickly over her shoulder and shook her head, smiling. His arms circled her waist, carefully, as if he were about to slow-dance the evening away with her.

"No need to worry," Baltar said softly. "They aren't paying any attention to us."

"No," Six agreed, sidling against Baltar. "But you're paying attention to them. The way he's looking at her. He could have anyone. He could have that questionable blonde you're so interested in -- Kara? But this is who he wants. Isn't that interesting?"

Baltar's breath was shallow, and he took some care to slow it down. Quietly, he thought. Neither lover was the kind of person who would like to be watched. If he disturbed them, it would be hell to pay.

"But you like to watch," Six said. "And be watched. Wouldn't you like it if someone looked at you the way Madam President is looking at her dashing young hero? Can you see what she's saying to him?"

Six's lips were hotly, stickily close to Gaius's ear. "Captain Apollo," she said thickly, doing a decent Roslin impression. "We have to be careful."

"We are being careful," Baltar breathed, his eyes half-closed and his attention focused on the restraint both Captain Adama and President Roslin brought to their tryst. Had it been Baltar, his hand would have found its way under her blouse by now, and discussing the undoing of buttons, but Lee seemed content to continue the schoolboy make-out session.

"That doesn't mean we haven't been seen," Six replied, her lips now on the nape of his neck. "God sees everything, Gaius. God sees our hearts. What do you think he sees in the gallant young captain and his schoolteacher?"

"Honor. A certain dreary bourgeois love of custom and principle," Baltar said as the ache in his groin began to beg to relief. "All the usual virtues."

Six chuckled as she pushed Baltar against the wall, where no one could see them but he could continue to watch as Roslin's hand twined in Lee's hair and trembled as he raised the other to his lips and kissed it gently.

"You can't tear your eyes away," she said, stepping out of her tissue-thin panties and drawing them over Baltar's nose. "Look at how innocent they are. A simple, secret love affair. A few stolen kisses. And you can't stop watching, because you know it's real. Like all children of God, you ache for real love, and worship it, even from afar."

"But if it's real, then why hide it?" Baltar asked in a choked whisper as Six impaled herself on his cock forcefully, knocking his head into the wall.

"They don't yet know God," Six said, her body sticky-wet against his as Lee's embrace on Roslin tightened, pulling her closer. "When humans finally understand there is no hiding from God, these hidden loves will emerge, and you'll understand that what you've called love is a child's game."

"It seems to me," Baltar replied, his hand resting on Six's hip, "That your god rather approves of hiding. Maybe he's blessed these lovers."

"He most certainly has," Six agreed. "The question is, will they be able to recognize that blessing when it comes in a form they don't want?"


Kara cornered Lee near the lockers after Roslin had gone back to Colonial One. And she wasn't in the mood to mince words.

"So what the hell is going on?" Kara asked, chewing on the stub end of a cigar that was more memory than stogie. "Am I losing my mind or are you suddenly hot for teacher?"

"Hey, could you lower your voice?" Lee asked, glaring at her. He wasn't doing a very good job at denying anything, and he also seemed a little bit distracted. "I don't interrogate you about your personal life, do I?"

The expression on Kara's face darkened, and she put out her cigar against the ground with the heel of her boot. "Don't give me the fracking runaround, Adama," she warned, leaning against her locker door and folding her arms. "What's going on?"

"Nothing you need to hear about," said Lee.

"That because she said yes?" she retorted as Lee subtly recoiled. "Look, Lee, even a political plebe like me can see why this is a bad idea. So two players like you and President Roslin? Should know that playing footsie is not an option. Or are you that hard-up for female attention, soldier?"

Lee's eyes narrowed into a semi-glare. "Give me a break," he said. "You think I haven't gotten the lecture? Laura gave me the lecture. Frack, I gave me the lecture. It's a political nightmare waiting to happen in the hands of someone like Tom Zarek. It's a potential conflict of interest. My father will probably want someone else to advise Laura."

Kara snorted. "Your father, if I remember correctly, possibly wants Madam President, in that 'you interest me if I don't have to kill you first for endangering my people because you're a glorified schoolteacher who knows frack nothing' way," she said, biting off the words before looking down at her cigar stub. That had been stupid.

"Don't be vulgar," Lee said snappishly.

"What?" Kara asked. "It's all part of the wrongness of the situation, Adama. You don't go around banging politicians. Especially not politicians who could be your mother or stepmother, and hey, here's a thought. It's just a bad idea to get personally involved with the fracking president."

"So you'd be giving my father this lecture, too?" Lee asked, his fingers tapping against the table. "If the situation were reversed?"

"No, because your father is not a subordinate advisor to the president. Nor is he over twenty years younger than her," Kara said.

"You don't think anyone would make noise over the military and civilian commanders uniting privately?" Lee asked, raising an eyebrow.

Kara's eyes flickered with tension. "Didn't say that."

"No, but you've made it pretty clear that what's got you up in arms?" Lee said. "Is that she's too old for me. You think I've got some kind of Oedipal complex, and it's got you acting like a child."

He stood up, and Kara sighed. Yeah, that was it. She was against Lee and President Roslin because of the age difference. Not because there was something unspoken between the two people sitting at this table. Not because Lee had danced with Kara first at the celebration two days ago.

Not because no one, not even that cute Billy kid who spent all his time with Roslin, had had the slightest clue that the president and Lee had fallen in love, let alone had become lovers. Whereas people were starting to wonder, just a little, about Starbuck and Apollo.

No, it was all about making fun of Lee's mommy complex. Because no one could see that Laura Roslin was an attractive woman, and there was a reason that three of the best-looking Colonial men were her closest advisors, and even Commander Adama seemed somewhat interested by their accidental president. Or maybe everyone was jealous. What was important, Kara thought, smirking-sneering Lee's way, was that he knew it was all about a simple age difference.


"Fine," Kara said, folding her arms. "Believe you're a poor, oppressed child who's being treated mean because you got some cold, hard truth from a friend. It's a bad idea, Lee. You'll regret not cooling off and thinking about things instead of letting your dick do the thinking for you."

"Aren't you the one who makes decisions from the seat of her pants most of the time?" Lee asked acidly. "Maybe it's my turn to be the brash one, Starbuck."

"Or maybe pride goeth before a fall, Apollo," Kara replied, knowing that she'd just driven him further away.

And she was right -- Lee left without saying another word.


"So, when do you next get away to the Cloud Nine, Mrs. Tigh?" asked Baltar, smiling over the table at the lady in question. Six looked up from under the table.

"She's not a real blonde, either," she murmured.

"Not soon enough," Ellen Tigh mourned, tipping back her mimosa. "My husband doesn't get nearly enough free time."

"The weight of responsibility," Baltar said with a sigh. "It tends to harrow a relationship."

"I'm sure," Ellen said. "Humanity's so busy running they don't seem to have much time to be human."

Baltar recognized the line; something Tom Zarek had been saying. He hadn't expected her to be one of his partisans. "Survival matters, Mrs. Tigh," he said lamely. "We have to think about finding a new home, one safe from extinction."

"What does safety mean if we're conditioned to behave like survivors, not people?" Ellen countered. "The Cylons are threatening our bodies, not our souls. We're the ones doing that."

"You should tell her about what we saw last night," Six murmured, slinking her way into Baltar's lap and toying with his hair. "That might give her something to chew on."

"I don't think I really should," Baltar said, grimacing at Six's complete abandon in front of the other woman. "It's not germane to the conversation."

"What's that, Doctor?" Ellen asked, looking back from her champagne.

"I was just saying that I think that you underestimate human ability to be human under stressful circumstances," Baltar replied. "I've seen any number of romances blossom, even now."

Ellen's head tilted. "Really?" she asked, running her teeth over her lower lip. "Anyone interesting?"

"Well," Baltar said, swallowing as Six began biting his ear. "Mostly young people, personnel on Galactica, that kind of thing."

"Oh, Gaius, you're fibbing," Six chided, running a finger along his stubble. "That's not very nice to Mrs. Tigh. She's trying very hard to get valuable gossip out of you. And maybe more."

Baltar looked at Ellen Tigh, who was frowning and desperately trying to hide it. "I had a very interesting trip down the corridors last night," he said.

"Did you now?" Ellen asked flatly.

"Yes, I almost stumbled over young Captain Adama," Baltar said, savoring the sour look that crossed Ellen's face. "He's quite good-looking, isn't he?"

"Yes," Ellen said. "Remarkable lad."

"You're not the only one who thinks so," Six purred, smirking at Baltar, who smirked back at her. "Go on. Tell her everything, Gaius. You know you want to have someone to gossip with."

"It's really rather surprising, isn't it?" Baltar asked. "How rapidly Captain Adama has risen in the government. One of the president's top advisors. How do you feel about our Madam President, Mrs. Tigh?"

"I'm sure that somewhere, a kindergarten is missing her desperately," Ellen said, chuckling at her joke. "Though I will admit she has a lovely collection of teacher's pets. Including Lee Adama. Is there a point to our political discussion, or is this a fringe benefit of talking to the vice-president?"

"Mmm," Six said, shaking her head. "Not terribly bright, is she?"

"No," Baltar replied archly. "I didn't realize we were having a political discussion, Mrs. Tigh."

Ellen's eyes widened. "You cannot be serious," she said. "That dowdy old woman? When he...are you certain that's what you saw?"

"You might ask them," Baltar said. "I'm sure it would be wrong of me to speculate on President Roslin's personal affairs."

The woman's face brightened considerably. "Well, this has been lovely," she said, smiling warmly at Baltar. "Who would have thought that dashing young lad would get entangled by...I suppose power can be very seductive."

"Power," Baltar said, casting a glance at Six, who chuckled, "Is an incredible aphrodisiac."

"Yes, that's definitely true," Ellen replied, coming to her feet graciously. "If you'll excuse me, Doctor."

She beat a retreat so hasty that Six couldn't help but murmur, "That was almost rude."

"I wonder who she's calling," Baltar said. "I wonder if the good Mr. Tigh realizes that his wife's in bed with Tom Zarek."

"Very good, Gaius," said Six. "I didn't even have to help you figure that out."

Baltar chuckled and sank deeper into his chair, letting his legs splay out obscenely. "I can be taught," he said. "Now, the one thing I can't figure out is why you're so interested in petty gossip. So the president is involved with a younger man. So what?"

"So not everyone is a libertine, Baltar," Six said, trailing her fingers over his shoulder. "And nothing brings talk of liberal attitudes to a screeching halt like the appearance of impropriety. Humans pretend to be open-minded, but whenever they're tested, they prove themselves to be narrow-minded."

"Would you like to wager on your proposition?" Baltar asked. "It will come to nothing. You'll see. It's petty gossip at best."

"I'll wager," said Six. "But you have to remember, Gaius, the game's already fixed and in God's hands. Heads I win. Tails you lose."

"We'll see about that," Baltar murmured as Six sinuously sank to her knees and thus out of sight.


The last time Laura Roslin had found herself staring into space and smiling at nothing, she had been decades younger. Caprica City in the summer. Sudden rainstorms, running to a corner bakery with hands and newspapers futilely trying to shield them from getting soaked.

"You're beautiful," he said. "And I do love you."

"I know," she said, feeling her better judgment slip-slide away like a dream. "I love you. And I don't want you to get hurt."

"You could never hurt me," Lee said.

"Don't make promises I can't keep," she whispered.

"Madam President?" Billy asked. "Tom Zarek is on the line for you."

"Tell him...oh, damn it, give me a minute, and I'll talk to him," Roslin replied, sighing heavily. "Did he happen to mention what he wanted?"

"Only that it was private and urgent," Billy said with a sardonic shrug.

"Oh, that's useful," Roslin answered, clearing her head and picking up the line. "Yes, Tom?"

"I'm glad to hear that all is well in the government," Zarek said.

"That's private and urgent?" Roslin asked.

"Well, not exactly, but I did want to congratulate you for being so free of duty that you can find the time for a personal life," Zarek said. "And your taste in men is impeccable."

The blood began a slow drain from Laura's face as her temporary high bottomed out beneath her, leaving a lot of empty space between her and safe ground. "I beg your pardon?" she asked, each word precisely enunciated.

"I can't say that I'd recommend corridors on the Galactica for trysts, of course," Zarek said. "But I suppose Colonial One is crowded. Perhaps you could arrange a vacation on Cloud Nine? You are the president, after all. Though I suppose you and Captain Apollo might want some privacy after all the questions."

"Are you absolutely out of your mind?" Roslin asked. "Do you have nothing better to do than spread rumor and innuendo?"

"My source says the rumor comes from a highly placed member of the government's personal observation," Zarek replied. "I'd prefer not to reveal the source, but please don't take the high and mighty route."

"I will not have this discussion with you," Roslin said. "If you have no business to discuss, we'll talk at the next meeting of the Quorum of Twelve."

"I'm sure by then everyone will have something to say, Madam President," Zarek replied. "I just felt it fair to mention it to you in advance. Fair warning, you might say."

"Fair warning," Roslin replied. "Don't pursue this, or you will be sorry."

"We'll see," Zarek said. "Good afternoon, Madam President."

He hung up and Roslin slammed down the receiver, fuming. "What was that about?" Billy asked.

"Could you find Captain Apollo for me?" she asked. "Now, Billy."

Billy scrambled. Lee Adama was on the line in less than five minutes.

"What is it?" he asked, looking surprised to see her in a bad mood.

"Zarek is trying to blackmail us."

She didn't have to say anything else. Lee groaned and hung his head -- technically, he owed her a hundred cubits.

"Frack," Lee said. "How does he know? Nobody else knows. Lieutenant Thrace confronted me, but she wouldn't talk to Zarek."

"Lieutenant Thrace?" Laura asked sharply. "Lee, did I mention how much I'm not in the mood to have my credibility dragged through the mud? Especially not because you had a falling-out with Kara."

"It wasn't Kara," Lee said. "I'd bet my life on that."

"Then we provided quite a show for a highly-placed member of my government," Laura said. "Care to make a wager?"

"Can I hope it's Baltar?" Lee asked.

"Why would you HOPE that?" Laura asked, the idea of Baltar watching the incredibly tender encounter of the previous evening turning her stomach. It tainted everything, far worse than even Zarek, to think of Baltar watching, silently, with a lascivious smirk on his face.

"Because I don't like him much."

Laura chuckled. "It would be a highly convenient way for you to hit him a few times for me," she said, trying to hold down nausea.

"You don't much like him, either," Lee accused. "Despite the vice-presidency."

"We don't have to like useful people, Captain Adama," Laura said, her voice taking on a distinctly teasing lilt. If she was hoping to hide the affair from her staff, she was going to fail. Billy and at least two other people were looking at her curiously.

"What are we going to do, really?" asked Lee. "Even if it was Baltar, there's no proof he went to Zarek. It doesn't seem his style."

"No, but it would be his style to gossip ineptly and blurt things out without thinking," Laura replied. "Especially if he was gossiping with someone who actually enjoys political scandal with a side of sex."

"And someone who is in bed with Zarek," Lee added. "Which cuts down the list considerably. In fact, I can't think of anyone, which I suppose shows that we need to have better intel on politics around here."

Laura allowed herself a smile of triumph over the use of a political we. Whether or not he knew it, Lee was very much her man in the political arena. And all right, she thought to herself, he gave her the kind of butterflies in her stomach that she'd thought were decades out of date.

"I think I'll have a talk with our estimable vice-president," she said decisively. "Ask Lieutenant Thrace if anyone has been probing her for toothsome gossip. Delicately, of course."

Lee chuckled. "I'll ask her directly, Laura," he said, and there were the butterflies again. "Kara would think I blamed her if I tried to be circumspect. Or she'd think I was up to something."

"I'll leave it to your judgment," Laura replied. "When will I see you again?"

"I'm at your disposal," Lee said.

"No, really," she said, trying hard not to smile. "When would be a good time?"

"Day after tomorrow," he admitted, sounding ready to grumble.

"You won't die," she began to say, and then, remembering her dream, felt the smile fade. "Be careful?"

"Always," he said. "See you the day after tomorrow."

They broke the connection, and Laura Roslin sank deeper into her chair, ignoring the curious and uneasy glances from her staff. The day after tomorrow had suddenly become a lot further away.


"Dr. Baltar," the president said, cornering him with a pleasant, strained smile. "I think we need to talk."

"Madam President," Baltar babbled, quite aware that talking was probably going to go very badly for him. "What a pleasure to see you."

"Apparently you saw me the other evening, on Galactica," Roslin said, cutting through pleasantries with barely a shift in expression. "Or am I wrong in thinking that you're a highly placed source in my government with inside information?"

"Somebody's cranky," Six said, looking Laura Roslin up and down with a smirk. "I suppose it was only to be expected."

Baltar swallowed. "You...I...what on earth are you talking about, Madam President?" he asked, throat dry.

"Please don't make me lose my temper, Dr. Baltar," Roslin replied. "You were on Galactica two nights ago. You, or someone you spoke to, told Tom Zarek that I'm having an affair with Captain Lee Adama. True or false?"

"True, but I didn't speak to Zarek," Baltar said, horrified. "That's...I was discussing the triumph of the human spirit over lunch with Mrs. Tigh, but I never said you were...Zarek?"

Laura Roslin's expression was even less sunny. "Ellen Tigh?" she asked in a tight, high-pitched voice. "Ellen Tigh? I...there are no words. First, you stood and watched something that was none of your damned business, and then you shared all your innuendo with a woman like Ellen Tigh? What was I thinking, having you as a vice president?"

"Better you than Zarek," Six said impishly. "Do you think she still thinks so?"

"Now is not the time," Baltar muttered.

"No, now is NOT the time," Roslin agreed. She stared at the man with a mixture of hatred, exasperation, and anger, as she began to drum his fingers on the table nervously while Baltar felt his whole life slowly begin to parade across his mind. After all, Roslin had ordered the execution of the Cylon without appeal. If she decided he was a threat...especially given the Adama boy was not only clearly her lover, but her heir apparent...things could get ugly.

"The schoolteacher has claws," Six observed mildly. "Perhaps you should appease her if you want to keep yourself out of jail. Or the airlock."

"I swear to you, Madam President," Baltar said, "Laura--"

"Don't ever call me that," Roslin replied. "What do you swear?"

"I wasn't watching," Baltar lied. "I happened to wander by in the corridor, and thought it would be rude to bring attention to myself. My discussion with Mrs. Tigh, while it was quite rude, was meant to be nothing more than a bit of gossip to appease her. She's quite...insatiable when it comes to sex and scandal."

Roslin raised an eyebrow. "Oh," she said. "I think I see an opportunity to redeem yourself, Mr. Vice-President."

"An opportunity?" Baltar asked, aware that Six's demeanor had grown slightly more tense and her grip on his shoulder had tightened. "Of course. I'm covered in embarrassment that this situation came to pass in the first place. What do you want me to do?"

Roslin smiled at him, the kind of smile he remembered from the days of eating paste and pulling braids. The kind of smile that came before detention or notes sent to parents about how Gaius was a brilliant student, but he needed to keep his hands to himself.

"Find out how deep in bed Ellen Tigh is with Tom Zarek," she ordered sweetly. "By any means necessary."

Baltar's eyes widened as Six's hand tightened on his shoulder. "Am I to understand..." he began, stumbling over the words.

"Please don't feign morals now, Mr. Baltar," Roslin said, cutting off any retort. "You'll do it, or you'll serve out your term in the brig. Report back to me within thirty-six hours."

"But," Baltar began, but Roslin was already on her feet, nodding to him before she stalked away. Six made a strange noise with her tongue, but when Baltar looked up, she was gone, too.

All alone with his thoughts, Baltar decided that there was no time like the present, and tried to collect his thoughts for how he would convince Ellen Tigh to admit she was a Zarek partisan without making her too suspicious.

Alcohol. Alcohol would work.


There was only one more assignment before Lee got a half-day off. One more assignment, even if it was one where the other pilot attached to him was acting strange. After assignments where people were looking at Lee speculatively, never quite saying anything, but looking.

Gossip spread fast, given the circumstances.

Poor Cally had been the one closest to accuse him even indirectly. She had been in a hushed conversation with two of the other technicians when Lee had found himself in earshot.

"I thought it was Thrace," someone was murmuring. "They already act like they're dating."

"No, definitely the president," Cally said, looking around guiltily. "Mrs. Tigh was making a big deal about it. She's very rude, isn't she?"

"We would have been better off if the old man had left her to rot," another tech said. "Was she the one who made the joke about staying after school?"

"Until you get it right," the first tech confirmed. "Do you hear me, Captain?"

Lee didn't say anything. If it had been Kara, who was still so angry at him for even asking if she'd told anyone about their fight that that she'd spent the past day or so teaching people to fly at top voice, he would have. But Cally caught sight of him, nervously looked away, and shooed the rest of the techs away.

"So, Hotdog," Lee said as they finished the perimeter sweep. "What's the staying after school joke?"

Hotdog choked. "Sir?"

"I hear I'm the last person...except for maybe President hear it," Lee said. "And I know you're not responsible, so share the joke."

Hotdog was quiet for a long, long while. "It's not so much a joke as someone's impression of the president," he said. "I didn't realize it had gotten so far around. Most people, sir, think it's crass."

"Do they believe that the president and I are having an affair?" asked Lee.

"Are you?" Hotdog asked.

"That's not what I asked."

"Pardon me, sir," Hotdog said, as a few bleeps crossed the radar screen and both went radio silent until the bleeps turned out to be a few small meteors reflecting their own conversation. "Most people believe that it's plausible, though the pilots are mostly of the opinion that the creep watching you mistook Lieutenant Thrace for President Roslin."

"Kara? Why would I be...with Kara...?" Lee asked, suddenly realizing why his friend was angry with him. "Oh, frack. No wonder she's pissed off at me."

Hotdog went quiet again. "I wouldn't want to have Lieutenant Starbuck pissed at me, Captain Apollo," he said.

"You get used to it," Lee said dryly. "All clear on your end?"

"Yes, sir," Hotdog said. "You get your half-day liberty now, correct?"

"That's correct," Lee said. "I make a quick rendezvous with Galactica, and then I get my precious twelve hours of freedom. Sorry if I don't tell you what I plan to do with it; word gets around too fast these days."

They flew quietly for a while, and once visual contact was re-established with Galactica, Hotdog couldn't help but make a last, possibly misguided comment when he noticed something interesting.

"Colonial One's awfully close to Galactica," he said with studied casualness.

"That she is," agreed Lee, grinning like an idiot. He'd been worried that Laura would betake herself as far from Galactica as possible given the atmosphere. Instead, less than half an hour after getting in, he was going to show her people just how much he enjoyed staying after school.

"Sir?" Hotdog asked.

"You're correct, Hotdog. Galactica and Colonial One seem to be very close," Lee said. "Do you have more to say on the subject?"

"No, sir."

"Prepare to approach, then."


She was wearing that shirt again, inside out and sparsely buttoned. Even in her dreams, it was her most comfortable piece of clothing by a long shot.

"I'm sorry that I have to leave," Lee said, looking at her regretfully. His skin was still the chilly blue of freshly dead, but the head wound had gone away.

The world exploded. More precisely, the damp wooded area that Laura found herself in during all her nightmares ignited, caught flame, and then exploded in a splintery mass.

She tripped, and fell, and felt the smoking wreck pressing against her chest. But that didn't matter -- it had always been waiting. Where was Lee?

Lee was still very pale and possibly dead, but he was standing. Standing over her, who was looking at him from a wrong angle. A broken neck, maybe she was the dead one, angle.

"Don't go," she pleaded, grabbing at his pant leg.

"Stay alive," he answered, walking away, his boots crunching the embers. "Live forever."

And then Laura woke up.

No, didn't wake up, was woken up. By Lee, because who else would? Lee, hand on her shoulder, back sooner than expected after his half-day liberty, and turning around, Laura reached up for the expected kiss, only to see Billy, whose eyes were round, staring at her.

"Madam President," he said, pulling his hand back.

"Billy," she said ruefully. "Not really good at keeping secrets, am I?"

"Not really a secret," Billy answered. "The actual secrets, you do okay with."

Laura supposed she did at that. After all, no one had been in the bay when Lee's shuttle arrived, but they had been foolish. He'd grabbed her, swung her around, and kissed her until neither of them could breathe between kisses and laughing and the attack of tickling that Laura had found herself dishing out when he wouldn't let go of her.

The comments were not discussed. Laura supposed that her Captain Apollo didn't think anyone would dare do the hysterical impression of the supposed tryst between president and advisor. That was part of Lee's charm -- he had the slightest edge of idealism, and the idea of anyone telling a joke about the sexually voracious teacher and her dutiful pupil seemed impossible to him.

Actually, Laura thought, she hadn't helped matters by commenting, cool as she could, that whoever had come up with the joke really needed to move beyond schoolroom puns.

She hadn't felt the need to share that with her lover, either.

"Lee," she'd murmured after he'd finally let her go for a moment. "Are you all right?"

"I thought you wouldn't be here," he said. "Everything's fracked. You were right about the implications. It's worse than I could have imagined and no one's even said anything yet."

"That's true," Laura said, thinking of Zarek's threats and Baltar's mission. "Maybe it will stay sub rosa."

"I don't...I don't want that," Lee said, swallowing and meeting her eyes forthrightly. "I don't care what people say. It's better hearing it to my face than facing a hundred curious glances."

"Are you sure?" she asked, cupping his face in her hand.

"Yes, I'm sure," Lee replied. "You wouldn't believe what...doesn't matter."

She'd squeezed his hand, he had reached for her again, and all in all, it had taken a good hour for the president to finish officially greeting her liaison.

"What's going on? Cylons?" Laura asked Billy, who was still inching slowly away. "Worse than that?"

"Vice President Baltar is here," Billy said. "He says it's vital to the security of the state."

Laura began to chuckle. "Oh," she said. "I told him he was going to jail if he didn't do some actual work for the Colonials."

Billy gaped, and shook his head. "Madam President?" he asked. "You feeling okay? Because that wasn't something you should say where other people can hear you. No matter how true it is."

"Sorry, Billy," she said, smiling at him honestly. "I suppose this is all very hard for you. Thought you had me all figured out, and then all of the sudden, you've got a pr disaster on your hands."

"It's new and exciting," Billy said lightly. "I'm just worried that the vice president might not think it's funny that you're grinning when he's here to do business."

"Grinning?" said Laura, a little surprised. "I'm not grinning. I'm smiling brightly."

"No, Madam President, that is most certainly a healthy grin," Baltar said, nodding a welcome. "You look well."

"And you look awful," Laura replied, not unhappy about that. "Do you have more good news for me, Dr. Baltar?"


Ellen Tigh was not a very good sexual partner. Not for lack of skills, or lack of willingness. There was simply a hint of desperation around her, and Gaius Baltar had been forced to hear about eight different versions of the so-called teacher joke.

"I mean, can you imagine? He must be a virgin," Ellen said viciously. Baltar winced; it was becoming all too obvious that Mrs. Tigh had fancied young Captain Adama for herself and was deeply jealous of President Roslin.

"Far be it from me to speculate," Baltar had tried to say, squirming away to the other side of the rapidly cooling bed. "He seems rather oblivious, though, doesn't he?"

Ellen snorted. "That doesn't surprise me. He's an Adama, and a man, no offense intended," she said. "It's his sheer lack of taste. First, running around with that blonde she-male, and then falling in love with his mother."

"It makes you wonder, doesn't it?" Six asked from her vantage point in the chair across from the bed, where she was stark naked and disappointed-looking. "Why would young Apollo fail to see the charms of a desperate alcoholic hanging onto her youth by her fingernails when compared to the polite and deadly Madam President and the wildly fascinating Starbuck?"

Baltar had been forced to contain a chuckle. Why, indeed. Even he, who had rather the perfect woman all to himself, recognized that Kara Thrace and Laura Roslin were rather in a class well beyond Ellen Tigh.

"Oh, Gaius," Six sighed. "Haven't you realized they outclass you, too? Poor baby."

"Sexual fixations are curious," Baltar said. "I could make a comment about your interest in our president's new lover, but it might be rather a mood-killer."

Ellen shot him a murderous look. "What are you saying, Doctor?" she asked.

"Yes, what are you saying?" Six asked, perking up. Her nipples pointed at Ellen Tigh like headlights, and Baltar was forced to bite his lip and look at his own lap. "Everyone's interested in the president and her new lover. You enjoyed watching."

"I think that perhaps the reason for the lurid interest needs to be questioned," Baltar said, leaning back. "Certainly, it's no crime for two people to fall in love. What if their ages were reversed? Who would bat an eyelash? And yet, rumor has it that Tom Zarek has taken quite an interest. Is he yet another admirer of Madam Roslin?"

Ellen Tigh chortled. "Mr. Zarek has much better taste than that," she said, patting Baltar's thigh. For the first time, Gaius Baltar did not feel flattered by the sexual attention. "He's an eye-opener, isn't he? A visionary. Slightly naive, but a visionary."

"Visions of political revolution, I imagine," Baltar said. "It's much easier when there's a scandal in play, isn't it?"

"Oh, you've no idea," Ellen said, arching. "Nothing's easier to do than play when everyone's eyes are somewhere else."

Baltar did have some idea, as Six began running her hands over her stomach, dipping closer and closer to her damp curls, and his breathing started to speed up.

"So who are you playing?" asked Baltar, glancing at Ellen before returning his eyes to Six as she threw her head back, eyes closing in near-ecstasy. "Your husband? The president? Zarek?"

"Do I have to pick just one?" asked Ellen, reaching for him again as Six's fingers brushed against herself wantonly...

"Did she really say that?" President Roslin asked, bringing Baltar to the present with a jolt. "Does she really think she's playing all three of us? To what end?"

"Who knows?" Baltar asked.

"More importantly, was she serious?" Six asked, arm resting possessively over Baltar. It gave him a bit of joy to realize that Six was jealous of President Roslin, in whom Baltar did not even have the tiniest bit of sexual interest.

Well, not beyond wondering how she managed to cause so much interest with so little obvious sexual interest.

"That's true," Roslin said. "It's possible that she was aware that other people would ask you about what happened. But at least she confirmed that she's got a connection to Zarek. Or can fake one."

"One they'll acknowledge?" Six asked.

"We'll see," Baltar said, smiling vaguely at Roslin. "Have I earned my keep today, Madam President?"

"Just barely," Roslin said, her pleasant tone not varying even a little. "How's the Cylon detection program?"

Six laughed. "Oh, she's going to be a joy to spar with," she said. "We just keep underestimating her. Don't we, Baltar?"


"I still think," Lee said, marveling at how everything old was new again when it was with Laura, like finding closets to make out in, "That you should have let me hit Baltar."

Laura laughed, brushing sweaty hair off her neck and forehead. "I picked him for his looks," she said in a low voice. "I can also think of much more productive uses for your hands than wrecking that handsome face."

This had been an accident; he'd been sent over to the Good Fortune (a dingy scow that was used to ferry raw minerals and volatile gases, for the most part) because of fears of sabotage. Laura had been there to discuss the Good Fortune's abilities and the captain's knowledge of fuel gas, and to recruit him for the energy task force. Captain Baliel was apparently one of the few members of the fleet with little interest in his fellow survivors, so there had been few odd looks when Roslin's path had intersected with Lee's.

"Like this?" Lee asked, rubbing awkward but increasingly confident circles over her back.

"That's a start," she agreed. "Does this remind you of being fifteen? Please tell me it does, or I will feel absolutely ridiculous."

"All that's missing are braces and snapped bra straps," Lee said, blushing a little.

"And a teacher or parent walking in on you just when you've managed to convince her that nobody will care if you take off her sweater?" Laura asked, tapping him on the tip of the nose.

"Not me. I didn't get caught," Lee said, kissing her forehead. "I always knew where parents and teachers feared to tread. There was the occasional custodian, but he could be paid off."

"Ooh," teased Laura, tugging him down for a lingering kiss. "The rebel Apollo."

"You're making fun of me," he said.

"Just a little," she said with a tiny grin. "I always liked when boys tried to tell me not to be scared, and I was busy trying to decide how far I wanted to go while he was chasing his tail. So to speak."

He squeaked with indignation, and while Laura was laughing at his expense, Lee seized her, tilted her backward in a semi-graceful dip, and began kissing her all over her face.

"Have you decided how far you're going to go now?" he asked, lips against her ear.

"Are you with me?" Laura asked, arms around his neck while she tried to keep balance.

"To the very end," Lee replied.

"Then we're going to go all the way," she said. "We need to talk to your father. Immediately."

Lee swiveled his lover to her feet and then let go of her as though she'd said she were a Cylon. "Why?"

Laura made sure that all the buttons on her blouse were in place before walking over and opening the door to the boiler room. At least five crew members were breathlessly listening (for whatever could be heard through a steel door, which Laura was sure was only laughter and a few shrieks that had been caused by an impromptu game of keep-away) as a small radio broadcast fuzzily.

She sighed, and Lee nodded his understanding.

"We're talking to Tom Zarek about the shocking allegations of President Roslin's misuse of her position," a tinny voice said. "Is it true, Mr. Zarek, that you have confirmation of this from the president herself?"

"Confirmation of what?" Zarek asked. "I know that Captain Adama is very much in love with the president. Whether or not she's simply using him for her own satisfaction, or if she's attempting to seduce a voice for justice and democracy -- one that has not always followed her party line -- is not for me to speculate upon."

"Very much in love," said Laura to Lee conversationally. "And here I thought you were using me for political gain and late night gossip with your buddies."

"Sorry to disappoint, ma'am," Lee said, giving the crew members a glance that scattered half of them. "But if you're looking for a perfect Machiavellian match, I'm not your man."

"Damn," Laura said, linking her arm around his. "Shall we go to the Galactica, then?"

"Exactly my thought," Lee agreed. "He's not going to be happy."

Laura sighed. "When has your father ever been happy to see me, Captain Apollo?" she asked.


The time would not be anytime soon. Galactica was a high-energy silence when the president and Captain Adama came aboard, met by Bill Adama, Commander Tigh, and followed by several young officers who seemed certain that at any second, there was either going to be a fight or a make-out session.

During the shuttle trip to the Galactica, members of the Good Fortune had contacted the radio show and breathlessly described the largely imaginary meeting between Lee Adama and Laura Roslin on the ship. Shirts had been ripped to shreds, Laura had found herself naked against the wall of the boiler room, Lee had been on his knees...

"If we'd done any of that, I'd totally frack my good pants," Lee said, scowling.

"I don't think you were supposed to be wearing them," Laura pointed out.

"Could we keep the discussion to a minimum until we're in private?" Adama asked, half-snarling at his son and Roslin.

"Yes, sir," Lee said, saluting.

They reached Adama's ready room in record time, and he slammed the door as best he could before wheeling to glare down the now-famously-discovered lovers.

"What the hell is going on?" he asked. "By the Lords of Kobol, what were you thinking, soldier?Cylons not enough for you? Internal fleet stress not enough for you? And I can't even begin to express my complete disgust, Madam President, at the absolute inappropriateness of..."

Laura sighed. It was going to be one of those meetings. "Yes, I am old enough to be Lee's mother," she said. "Is that the extent of your invective, Commander Adama? That it is immoral of a woman of my age and position to take a young lover, particularly one related to you, and that I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself for the trouble I've caused?"

"Yes, madam, that is exactly my point," Adama said coldly. "We on Galactica have been tireless in supporting your continued rule, and to be repaid by childish behavior is rather galling."

"Oh, come on," Lee said heatedly. "If it were Billy, you wouldn't give a frack. Or would you prefer I'd taken up with Mrs. Tigh instead?"

Adama's eyes glared daggers at his son. "You are out of line, Captain."

Laura held up a hand. "Commander Adama, now is not the time for being a stickler for protocol," she said. "Do you really believe Zarek's latest rhetoric? That I am trying to have sex with your son, Billy, Baltar, and probably you and Tigh by now, in order to destroy Colonial democracy? Do you really believe that your son is risking so much for nothing more than a physical affair?"

Adama's mouth closed tight for a moment, and finally he managed, "No."

"That's a start," Laura said, sitting down. There had been far too much excitement today, and she was beginning to feel ill. "Now, I know that we are not friends right now, and you're not going to forgive me any time soon for being in love with Lee. But we have bigger problems."

"We?" Adama asked.

"Ellen Tigh," Roslin said. "She's the one who's been stirring up the gossip, and I have excellent reason to believe that she's working with Tom Zarek. That concerns us both."

The pained look on Adama's face deepened, and he groaned. "Zarek and Ellen?" he asked. "What next? Baltar is under Cylon mind control and giving away state secrets?"

Laura started to laugh, weakly. "That might explain his bizarre habit of talking to himself," she said. "We have Baltar under control. I threatened to send him to jail, so he's been gathering information on Mrs. Tigh and Mr. Zarek."

"Good," Adama said. "Are you going to share that information, or will I have to wait for a radio broadcast, like this illicit affair you two have been carrying on?"

"Carrying on?" Laura asked, turning toward Lee. "So far I count the Good Fortune incident, the one on Galactica, and one on Colonial One. Two if you count the big declarations. All in less than a week. That square with your tally, Lee?"

"Yes, it does," Lee said. "Also, I'm getting sick and tired of the words tawdry and illicit. I'm in love with you. I want to do the right thing. We can get married right now if you'd like, and damn the critics."

Adama shook his head grimly, but a playful, wistful sort of smile danced across Laura's eyes. "That's a kind offer, Captain," she said gently. "But the problem now is not so much the affair. Our problem is how to stop Tom Zarek -- and his allies -- from ruining both our names. And I think your father is a man who can help."

"Help? How?" asked Lee.

"What do you expect me to do?" Adama asked, interrupting his son and glaring down at the calmly-seated president. "Put her in the brig? Let Tigh put a leash on her?"

"Whatever will stop her," Laura replied with that cool bravado that had always gotten her through the bluster of Adama's all-military side. "I imagine Tigh won't be pleased to hear that Vice President Baltar has discovered Mrs. Tigh has been aiding and abetting Zarek. Or that she wasn't immune to the man's charms."

"Charms? He has charms?" Adama asked incredulously. "Never mind. I don't want to know."

Laura smiled sweetly, her posture relaxing slightly. Lee noticed that, and noticed that his father's attention was still fixed on her now that the worst of things were over. Kara hadn't been entirely wrong about his father's interest in Laura.

Damn Kara for not telling him the way she felt; he had been incredibly short with her, and he'd have to apologize later. After she stopped hiding from him.

"No, I'm sure you don't," Laura replied. "Now, what else do you want to know? I'll have to have a press conference by tomorrow at the latest, so if we're going to catch our rats, we're going to have to know when and where we're baiting the traps before I leave the ship."

"I'll approach Tigh myself," Adama said. "He won't listen to you, and if you deliver news that his wife is involved with Zarek -- let alone Baltar -- it won't be pleasant."

Lee, incredibly frustrated by his meditations on the relationship dynamics of his life and the upcoming fight with Kara, tried to rejoin the conversation.

"Is there anything I can do, or should I leave the grown-ups alone to talk about what's to be done?" he asked, looking directly at his father.

"You should be damned grateful that your head isn't the one to roll," Adama said, shaking his head. "Do you know what kind of trouble this is causing?"

"No, I'm too fixated on my new girlfriend to notice," Lee replied sharply. "And I'm tired of hearing about trouble. This is between myself and Laura. It is our affair, sir, and frankly, if I want to worry about it, I will."

"Watch that our, Captain," his father said. "I don't hear Madam President's consent to the use of that word, and I will not tolerate insubordination. Even from you."

Laura Roslin's head tilted, and the expression on her face got kinder and much more dangerous. "It's kind of you to provide me an out, Commander," she said. "However, Captain Apollo is correct. It is our affair, and I will not have him treated as anything less than a full participant in this meeting. If you can't handle it, maybe we should go talk to someone else who is less hostile."

Lee couldn't hide the grin. Or the slight whoop. Adama shook his head again. "So you're a party to this absurdity, come hell or high water, too, Madam President?" he asked with the faintest tone of bitterness.

"I don't particularly care for my relationship to my fiance to be written off so lightly," she replied coolly, punctuating the statement with a distinctly non-maternal look at Lee. "The damage is done, and we care deeply about each other. There's no reason to be anything but above-board now, especially if we can prevent Zarek and Mrs. Tigh from gaining any political advantage from it."

Lee, realizing that his offer had been accepted, rushed to Laura's side to seize her hand and squeeze it tight. "How about it, Dad?" he asked.

He would be a young widow, Laura thought as Adama stared at his son, speechless. The ache in her heart, stomach, and head belied the acceptance Laura Roslin had believed she had concerned her own death. She had long since come to realize that she would not see Earth, and that it would be enough to provide a way.

So she would not think of the pain of losing her young, gallant captain so soon after winning him. It was a blessing -- proof of life's sweetness despite the darkness and despair.

There could be no regret. She was happy, almost young again, and there would be no bitterness about the decades she couldn't have with a man a generation younger than her. Laura was not going to cause Lee unnecessary pain; maybe after she was gone, he could find someone more suitable, and be happy.

She truly wanted him to live a full and happy life after she was gone.

She planned to never let him go.

Lee was too young (delightfully too young, not in a bad way, but in a way where he forced her to rediscover all the emotions she had locked away early in her political career) to understand the tears in her eyes. But Bill Adama caught them, and the hasty retreat back into herself and the presidential reserve, complete with smile, that was her only armor.

"We'll need witnesses," he said, nodding at Laura with a private understanding they'd never need to discuss. Lee's face broke into a smile as Laura and Bill promised never to tell him the unnecessary truth that would ruin the marriage. "And...congratulations. Both of you."


His son was married. The idea of Lee being married was preposterous, and that was leaving aside the many, many things wrong with his marriage, including the bride's age and the political implications of the wedding.

And this. Bill Adama was waiting, impatiently, for Ellen Tigh, wondering if he had lost his mind. Trusting second-hand intelligence from Dr. Baltar was not, in any case, his idea of reliable information.

But he admitted to himself that it was something Ellen would do, and Zarek's philosophies were popular among the naturally contrary. Besides, there was nothing that would upset Tigh more than his wife's flirtation with revolutionary dogma and her usual tricks, and that was usually Ellen's motive for any action.

"Commander Adama," a familiar voice teased. "I see you've been waiting."

"Ellen," he said. "How are you?"

"I'm wonderful," she said, smiling at him. "You look nearly transparent, Bill. Something wrong?"

"A long couple of days," he said. "As you might imagine, the current media circus has me somewhat annoyed."

Ellen nodded, biting her lips very hard to avoid a smile. Adama noticed that and knew that Roslin's information had been completely on the money.

"Have you spoken to either of them?" Ellen asked, trying to sound concerned.

"No, my son and President Roslin have not seen fit to discuss their personal lives with me," Adama said. "Or anyone, as I suppose is their right."

"You're taking it well," Ellen said, patting Adama's arm. "Most fathers would have something to say to a woman of that age seducing their only child."

"You mean the way Saul will have something to say to Vice President Baltar?" Adama asked, moving away from Ellen. She looked at him, her mouth souring.

"Damn that idiot," she muttered half under her breath. "Where did you get that tidbit of information?"

"A highly placed source in the Colonial government," Adama replied. "Much like your friend Tom Zarek gets his information."

Ellen's eyes went flinty. "Are you suggesting that I'm committing treason, Commander Adama?"

"No," Adama answered steadily. "Just causing trouble in a desperate bid for attention. You seem to have quite a personal grudge against President Roslin."

"And you're terribly fond of the middle-aged bitch who's screwing your son?" Ellen asked acidly. "Don't make me laugh."

"Wife," Adama said.

"What?" Ellen asked, confused.

"I said that President Roslin is my son's wife," Adama said steadily. He found the word easier to say when he thought of the elated expression on Lee's face when he'd pronounced them married.

"What?" Ellen asked, no longer confused. "You're joking. You said you haven't talked to them."

"It's not anyone's business except theirs," Bill said. "So why are you playing with Zarek, Ellen? Jealousy? Power? Boredom?"

"None of your business," Ellen said, snorting noisily. "In fact, I think that we're done here. Congratulations on having a new daughter-in-law, Bill."

She turned to see Tigh standing there, remarkably stone-faced for a man who had just listened to his wife admit to an affair with the vice-president and a political (and possibly physical) dalliance with the most dangerous man alive.

"Saul," she said coldly. "I see that Roslin's better than I ever expected. She gets the boy, and the military is fiddling to her beat. It never ceases to amaze me how foolish men can be for their mommies, real or symbolic."

"You're very close to endangering the whole fleet with this, Ellen," Tigh said, looking past her at Adama. "We're going to have to take you into custody."

"You're ARRESTING me?" Ellen asked. "I refuse. I absolutely refuse."

"We're not arresting you," said Adama. "You are being voluntarily detained."

"Frack voluntary," Ellen replied, walking up to Tigh and attempting to press past him. "Let me by, Saul."

Tigh's face was impassive. "If you don't cooperate, we are under orders to have you removed to Colonial One and placed under President Roslin's jurisdiction. Otherwise, you will agree to a one-night detainment."

Ellen looked from Tigh to Adama, and back at Tigh, her face settling into an angry pout as she realized that the two men were entirely serious.

"Fine," she said, holding her wrists out. "Arrest me. But I want to make it very clear that this marriage is over the moment you detain me."

"This marriage has been over for years," Tigh said, taking her wrist but not putting handcuffs on his wife. "We're just celebrating the funeral now."

"Well, chalk up another successful save by Mrs. Adama," Ellen said loudly as Tigh began to lead her back to their quarters. "And all it took was an illegal detainment and my marriage. Tell her that I'm impressed at just how ruthless a bitch she really is."

Adama didn't answer. The detainment had been his idea. But the words caught him at the base of his skull and lingered as he looked down the long hallway and wondered how, exactly, even relatively simple things had gotten so difficult.


Scandal had animated the Colonial media. Most of the news was so unrelentingly grim that many commentators were secretly grateful to Laura Roslin for making the simple (and admittedly understandable) gaffe of sleeping with a toothsome young morsel like Lee Adama. Roslin herself was a poor target; everyone had tired of the schoolteacher jokes, and as Bean Vandurkoop had said during one of his late-night radio missives, for someone who had never expected to be president, she did well enough. Most of her decisions had been fair, and she had been surprisingly graceful under pressure.

It was still delicious, imagining how the kindergarten teacher would squirm at the press conference she would inevitable have to hold. And the political implications were staggering. Tom Zarek was once again making his place as the voice of the people, or at least, the voice of opposition. Even ignoring Zarek (and many did), the idea of Commander Adama's son, the brave, handsome, and heroic Lee "Apollo" Adama, was easy to talk about. He was mostly a blank slate, and speculation ran wild about his role in things.

Had he been the seducer, flattering a middle-aged woman to smooth his road to the throne? Had he been seduced by Roslin's easy, mild persona? Was Zarek correct to suspect that he wasn't the only member of staff who was hot for teacher?

The popular program Talkback was discussing all this and more, though the program had largely turned into a prescripted dialogue between Zarek and his favorite reporter, an odious gossip columnist turned political gadfly named Ruth Nerwin.

"Laura Roslin's many flaws as a leader can be overlooked," Zarek pontificated noisily. "She is no more responsible than you or I that so many great Colonial leaders are gone. However, if she is leading by example, what example is she setting?"

"Creep," Billy growled, thinking of the schedule he was on to clean the mess up. There were going to have to be press releases. A conference. Possibly begging on his knees to Wallace Grey to come back. "And this guy is humanity's best hope?"

"Billy, don't worry. Everything is right on schedule," said the president. She had looked incredibly happy from the moment Galactica had dropped her off. Billy had no idea why, but it was nice to see someone beside the punditocracy in a good mood.

Of course, he didn't know why she was happy. The incident on the Good Fortune had gotten more pornographic with each retelling. Now the press had been non-stop with how scandalous and trashy Roslin was for indulging herself with Lee Adama, and how Lee Adama was either some kind of oedipally arrested adolescent, or a power-mad predator.

That was leaving aside the part where Billy and Gaius Baltar had been suggested as part of "Madam Roslin's harem of pretty boys who are supposedly running the government." Dee had called, specifically to razz him about President Roslin's sexy parties, and they had kind of laughed. But Billy couldn't think of the president that way.

She was the president. She reminded him of his third grade teacher. It was wrong and unsettling to hear rumors of his long-standing affair with her tossed about casually.

"Yes, thank you, Mr. Zarek," Ruth said, her hand on her earphone. "Well, we have a surprise. President Roslin herself is on the line from Colonial One, and I'm told she is very eager to respond to you and her critics publicly about this."

Zarek blinked, grimaced, and then forced a smile. "That's wonderful," he lied. "That's all I wanted, some fresh air. President Roslin, it's an honor."

"I'm sure it is, Tom," Roslin replied as the press lights went on in Colonial One. The first of the semi-conferences was underway, and Billy was scared to death of what the president had planned. "Ruth. So kind of you to have me on at a moment's notice."

"Never a problem, Madam President."

Laura nodded graciously, and then went back to ignoring the camera. "I've noticed that there's been a great deal of concern in the past days about my personal affairs," she said. "Naturally, I'm flattered that so many people are curious about what I do in bed."

Nervous laughter from Ruth Nerwin and the personnel on the shuttle. Billy felt a big drop of sweat rolling down his back. What was she doing? Where was that shadow coming from? If that was Lee Adama waiting behind the curtain, Billy was going to resign -- and possibly commit seppuku -- after the segment. The last thing the presidency needed was lovesick statements from Lee Adama about how everything was honorable and not suspicious at all and...

"Are you willing to disclose the extent of your affair with Captain Adama, Madam President?" Zarek said, trying to regain his momentum. "I think the people have a right to know if you've used your position to silence an opponent of your rule."

"I think that you're right, Tom," Laura said sweetly. "My husband and I would be remiss if we didn't explain the events of the past few days. Would you mind if he joined us?"

Billy choked. "Husband?" he mouthed at Roslin, who nodded. "Days?"

"I'm sorry, Madam President, did we hear you correctly?" Ruth asked, staring at her producer with rage. She hated to be one-upped on her own show, and particularly by someone who as inexperienced as Roslin.

"Yes, you most certainly did," Roslin replied. "I'm sure you have questions."

"Number one: when did you get married, and who did the honors?" Zarek asked.

"And why weren't we invited?" Ruth asked archly.

"The ceremony took place very privately yesterday evening," Laura said, gesturing to Lee. "Lee's father was kind enough to do the honors. A very private ceremony. He and I couldn't be happier."

Lee took that as his cue, grinned at everyone, and took a seat next to the president. "That's right," he said. "What questions do you have for us, Ruth?"

"Many come to mind," Ruth said weakly. "But Mr. Zarek might have something to say first. Tom?"

"No, I'm just as interested as the audience," Zarek answered, shaking his head as Roslin gave the audience a definite smirk. "Congratulations are in order."

"Yes, they are," Lee said. "I married the woman I loved less than a week after telling her I was in love. What could be luckier?"

Billy could think of a few things, but none that would have left Zarek as sour-faced and sullen as the rest of the segment. Ruth went back to being a celebrity gossip hound, gushing over the details as if Lee and Roslin had been part of the high-profile entertainment crowd. Despite the high too much information factor, it was almost enjoyable to watch everyone squirm as Roslin and Adama demonstrated just how good they were.

Good and in love. And if Billy wasn't wrong, Roslin was doing her damnedest to let everyone know who her successor would be after she was gone.

"In the time I've known Apollo," the president was saying, giving Lee a sidelong look, "I came to believe that we had no better example of honor, duty, and loyalty to humanity's greatest institutions. Democracy, the rule of law, community. He's a good man. My respect for him far predates any kind of romantic feeling, and I think vice versa."

"But I'm sure you're not blind," Ruth teased. "After all, not only is Captain Adama brave and loyal and a leader -- he's awfully pretty."

She laughed as though she'd scored a point, and Laura smiled tolerantly. "I hadn't noticed that, Ruth. Thank you for pointing it out. My husband is a good-looking man. Did you hear that, Lee?"

"Well, I did hear that I might be the poster child for the Fleet," Lee said dryly, delighting Ruth while Laura put her hand over his and squeezed. "Good thing, too, or Laura would have never looked twice with all the other excellent men working for her."

The segment finally ended, and everyone on Colonial One cheered. Once when the cameras cut, and again when Lee grabbed the president and kissed her.

"Well," said Roslin. "I suppose now is as good a time as any to announce my marriage to Captain Adama. I'm pretty certain that will end the talk of 'scandal' for now, so why don't we stop worrying about the incredibly mundane details of my personal life--"

"I don't think it's mundane anymore," someone called.

"Yes, thank you, Kristin," Roslin replied. "But it's time to get back to work. We still have elections to plan for, we have supplies to coordinate, et cetera. However, Captain Adama and I have just been offered two nights on the Cloud Nine, and I think we're entitled. You know how to get in touch."

She grabbed Lee's arm, winked at everyone, and then pulled the young pilot away, leaving the shuttle buzzing.

Billy, suddenly very curious at how smoothly everything had worked out, put in a call to Dee on the Galactica.

"No, I haven't seen much of Adama or Tigh today," Dee admitted quietly. "I couldn't believe the old man married them."

"I can," Billy said, thinking of how cheerful the president and Captain Adama had been, turning the tables on people. "There's more going on here than people in love."

"They're really in love?" asked Dee, sounding a little suspicious.

"As far as I can tell," said Billy. "I've never seen President Roslin in a better mood. Funny, huh?"

"Yeah," Dee said. "Maybe we should have our own pr scandal. Seems to make it easier to cut through formalities."

Billy grinned. "Maybe," he agreed. "I get a day off in two days. You?"

"I'll trade someone. I'm sure someone on this boat won't feel like celebrating the happy couple."


There was something worse than humiliating about being bitter because your best friend (who you happened to be in love with, but knew was not for you, but who you loved anyway) married the president (who he happened to be in love with, knew was not for him, but whom he married anyway), and humiliated the terrorist calling for his head on fleet-wide broadcast.

Humiliating because until the moment she'd seen Lee with his arms around Laura Roslin, Kara had been sure they'd had something going. Maybe she was nuts; maybe Lee had always thought of her as his sister the same way the old man though of her as his daughter.

Bullshit. Maybe he was in love with Roslin, but he hadn't been completely blind to Kara, either. And when he had compared his entire insane passion for Roslin to something Kara would do, she had almost broken down.

How fracking nuts was it that Kara had been restrained about how she'd felt about Lee and been utterly screwed by it, and Lee had acted the way he thought Kara would and won?

"Looks like you're under your own personal raincloud, Lieutenant," a familiar and unwanted voice said, cutting into her brooding session. "Mind if I sit down?"

"No, sir," said Kara to Tigh. "What did I do?"

"Probably something you shouldn't have," Tigh replied. "But at the moment, I could care less what you've done, Thrace. I just wanted to go somewhere without the celebrating over Apollo's fairy-tale romance to that woman."

"What, you're not happy for them?" Kara asked with wide eyes.

"I think it's wrong," Tigh said. "I think she's blackmailing the old man. Something. Or maybe Lee has some damnfool idea that he's being noble by marrying his middle-aged lover. Setting an example or something."

"Maybe that's backward," Kara said darkly, glaring at her empty cup. If there was ever a time she wanted a hot cup of coffee, some scotch, and someone to fight with, this was the time. "Maybe Lee's setting an example because he wants to be president someday. After all, he'll be Lee Adama's son, and vetted by the first president in all ways. Who knows?"

Tigh's head jerked up with surprise, and then he whistled. "That's a nasty allegation, Thrace," he said.

"It's not anything," said Kara. "Like you say, we've got no idea, sir."

Snorting, Tigh laughed bitterly. Kara knew that Mrs. Tigh maybe had had something to do with all the press fuss, but Tigh seemed surprisingly miserable about the state of the world -- and he didn't even have a broken heart to drink away, far as Kara knew.

Didn't have a heart, couldn't have a broken one.

"I'll tell you this much," Tigh said. "We're going to have to pay attention to Lee's loyalties from now on. Can't expect a man to serve two masters, no matter what he and that woman say."

"Sir," Kara agreed gruffly. "How do you feel about a game of poker?"

Tigh, again with a surprised expression on his face, nodded curtly. "I'll have to check those cards, Lieutenant."

"You wouldn't be accusing me of cheating, would you, sir?" Kara asked.

"No, but a smart man makes sure that the deck's not stacked," Tigh said. "If there's any lesson to be learned from this fracked boondoggle, it's that, Lieutenant."

Kara shrugged, and pulled the deck from her bag. "Your call, Commander," she replied. "Hope you've got some money to burn."

"Hope your mouth isn't writing checks your ass can't cash," Tigh said with an almost-grin, taking the cards and looking them over.

Smirking, Kara waited. If she knew Tigh, she was going to find herself with some new cigars and maybe a few other bonuses.

It wouldn't make things all better, but there were worse things than taking Tigh for all he had in a poker game, and getting in some good trash talk to boot.


The honeymoon suite on the Cloud Nine was being used by a family of seven who could not be moved; even the president and her husband had had to settle for a second-class stateroom.

The president, who had not really had a bed since the end of the world, was more than content with the second-class stateroom, and had been amazingly rude to the nice woman who had tried to give the newlyweds the tour.

"Thank you, I've seen a bed before, even if it's been a while. We'll let you know if we need anything," Laura had said, not listening for an answer as she undid her jacket and let it fall to the floor as a very deliberate signal of her intentions.

Lee had glanced apologetically at the woman, but then his eyes drifted back to his wife, who was by that moment kicking off her shoes and sitting down to test the bed, looking around at the artwork on the walls and humming to herself as she started to work on her blouse.

"Did she get the hint?" asked Laura when Lee returned.

"Blind men got the hint," Lee replied. "We are alone behind a locked door at last, Madam President. Shall we commence overthrowing the government?"

Laura pointed at him with her foot and shook her head. "I have much eviler plans for you, Captain," she said, leaning back. "A generation of girls will cry themselves to sleep every night now -- and you have no idea how much that pleases me."

Laughing, Lee discarded his shirt, which landed not far from one of Laura's toppled-over shoes. "I'm absolutely shocked, President Roslin," he said, his hands hovering over her calf and sliding upward. "Don't you know that I'm much too young for you?"

"We'll see about that," Laura replied, laughing wickedly. "But enough banter. We've got better things to do."

The gods had finally given her a tiny bit of time and space, and Laura intended to savor every moment before returning to a world with 47,693 survivors, and one walking dead woman.

"That was..." Lee said much later, looking at her tenderly.

"If you say it was spiritual, I will divorce you and marry your father," Laura warned, stretching out as far as she could on the bed. She missed beds. If it weren't setting a bad example, she'd demand one for Colonial One. "I'm entirely serious."

Lee's expression turned lightly amused. "And negate my noble sacrifice to save the government?" he inquired, raising himself up on one elbow. "That's ungrateful of you, Mrs. Adama."

"Poor, noble Apollo, cursed with a heavy conscience and a loud and controlling wife," Laura answered, the smile on her face matching his. "Or did I mistake those three times someone pounded on the door telling us to quiet down?"

"I only counted one," Lee answered, blushing. "It was probably a joke."

"Lords of Kobol, I hope not," Laura replied, a downright evil glint in her eye. "We let passion win over reason -- so let's hear it for passion."

Lee's laughter was almost choked, but he managed to relax long enough to overcome his slight embarrassment at Laura's uncompromising embrace of things.

"Passion...passion is good," he said. "And we managed to hamstring Tom Zarek again, and maybe keep Ellen Tigh out of the mix."

"For now," Laura agreed, brushing a stray hair out of her eyes. "Everything we've accomplished is only temporary, you know. Even if we've saved my own presidency, that's only a stopgap measure."

Lee frowned, and kissed Laura on the temple. "Don't say that," he said. "You're going to fight. You're going to win."

"You're the one that matters," she said regretfully, placing a hand on his shoulder and stroking her way down his arm. "Whatever happens to me, I want you to be happy."

"You make me happy," he said. "Don't die."

His phrasing pulled up her dream, and for a moment, Laura felt a sick knot building in her stomach and looked away. No. It could not happen that way. She wasn't going to live, and he wasn't going to die. He would be president someday, and find Earth, and maybe marry Lieutenant Thrace after she forgave him for this marriage, and Laura would be a cherished memory for grandchildren not hers.

That was what was going to happen; that was what it should be.

"Everyone dies," she said, letting him pull her into his arms. "This is a very morbid post-coital conversation, in case you were wondering."

"Promise me you won't give up," he said into her hair. "I don't want you to let go because you think I should want something else."

"I'm not going to let you go," Laura said, twisting around and trying hard to smile at him. "After all the hoopla, you're all mine for as long as we both shall live, Lee Adama."

"So live for me," Lee said. "Promise."

"I promise as much as I can promise," Laura said, drawing back just far enough to try to rearrange them. "How much time do we have?"

"Not enough," Lee said, turning to look at the clock. "Another two hours. Then it's back to saving the world and surviving. Do you want to take a nap?"

"As tempting as the use of a real bed is," Laura said, sitting up just long enough to ease Lee onto his back before tackling him again, "I most certainly don't want to take a nap, considering it'll be at least a week before we can see each other again."

"I know," Lee said, arousal and sleepiness warring for primacy on his face. "I've also seen where you sleep. Fair question."

"I'll be okay," Laura said, leaning down to kiss him as his hand tangled in her hair and her body pressed against his, each breathing a little faster. "Promise."


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