Worth It
by Jennifer-Oksana

Someone's crying in the stall next to Dee's. Big, racking sobs, and Dee's ashamed to admit that the first person she thought it might be was Starbuck. Because Starbuck frakked things up good, and Dee would cry if Dee were Starbuck right now.

But Starbuck doesn't wear high heels on Galactica. Starbuck probably doesn't even have heels, being much taller than Dee and most girls on the ship.

The someone's still crying, and it hurts, hearing how much the woman's hurting. And Dee doesn't want to leave her stall, because she knows who it is, and she knows who she's crying for, and Dee has always been scared to death of the president.

In fact, Dee thinks, forcing herself to flush, open the door, and make for the sinks, if there was any really good reason why she and Billy didn't work out, it was the president. Dee knew how much Billy loved her. Dee always knew he was just gone on her. But when the president asked, Billy used their relationship to spy on the old man. Billy would sneak over to her bunk, but he'd never stay too long because the president needed him.

And now, Billy's dead, and the president's crying, and Dee is scared out of her mind.

But Dee's been scared a lot, and she can't just walk away. Not like this, holding the knowledge of the president's private grief in her stomach like poison. Who's Laura Roslin to cry for Billy like she'd had her heart torn out?

Dee knocks. "Are you all right?" she asks in a voice that loses its nerve by all.

"Fine," the president's voice answers, high and false. "I'm fine, thank you for asking."

Dee really should thank the gods that the president doesn't want to talk. But she can't let it go. Now that she's said something, she wants to say a lot of things.

"It's Dee," she says. "Um, Petty Officer Dualla. Can I talk to you?"

There's a very long silence, and a couple of hiccups that are clearly unfinished tears, but then the door bangs open and the president stumbles up and out like Ellen Tigh on a two-day drunk. Dee's fear wells back up and has kittens, because frak gods hell, she's never even imagined the president could look so upset.

"I knew it was you. And I was hoping you'd go away," the president confesses. "I think we should talk, but I don't know if now is good."

She looks like shit -- glassy-eyed, and her face puffs up when she cries, and the part where she's wobbling just adds to the terror for Dee. This woman is what stands between them and chaos and she looks like she's about to fall to the floor and sob.

Almost, anyway. Dee can see it in her eyes, that the president would do no such thing. That the crying in the toilet was as close as she'll get to breaking.

"Is there ever going to be a good time?" Dee asks, heart pounding.

"Not as such, no," the president admits. "But right now, I'm harboring some pretty ugly feelings toward you and I'm not sure if what I say to you will be fair."

"That's okay, ma'am, I don't like you much, either," Dee says, shocked at her own boldness.

The president laughs, the kind of laugh that's half shock and half anger. "How did you never catch my attention before, young lady?" she asks, looking at Dee as though she's a prize specimen. "You were vital in my escape from the brig, you convinced Adama to reunite the fleet, Billy was madly in love with you, and now you're involved with Captain Apollo. I should have paid more attention to you."

Dee blinks. "To me?" she asks. "I'm not..."

The president stares Dee down, and Dee feels as though part of who she is has just dissolved in the sun. But Dee doesn't want that part of her to dissolve, because if she is who the president is claiming she is, then Dee, Dee has responsibilities, and a frakload more guilt than Dee can carry.

"Don't give me that, 'I'm just a sweet naive girl, I'm completely unaware that I've effectively insinuated myself into the highest circles of power,' nonsense," the president says, and her voice is cold. "Billy could pull it off, because he was still young and unaware. You are not exactly as sweet nor as bright as you think, though gods know you're no Ellen Tigh."

"And Billy wasn't your frakking son," Dee replies, appalled at herself. The president was very close to Billy; she loved him, and Dee is being a complete bitch to her in her moment of grief. But this woman -- this woman stings things out of her.

"Did I say that he was?" the president replies.

"You said he was family," Dee says, glad that Gaeta pays attention and shares details when asked.

"I said he was the closest thing I had to family," the president corrects meticulously. "But do continue, Dualla."

Dee falters a little, but she hates Roslin right now, and there are things the woman should hear.

"You know why it didn't work out with me and Billy?" she asks.

"Because Billy moved too fast, you're nineteen, and Lee Adama is oddly irresistible when he shows interest in you," the president answers, and Dee's rocked again. What exactly is Roslin saying about Lee?

"All that, but you know, what got me is that I never -- I knew he was crazy for me, you know? I'm not stupid," Dee says, trying not to break down and ask about Roslin and Lee, because that's. That's crazy. Kara, Dee knew about. The hooker, old girlfriends, that's all fine. But no, no Dee is not sharing another boyfriend with the president. "But he was devoted to you. And -- gods damn it."

The president looks at her mildly. "Yes, Dee?"

"I'm not sharing another frakking man with you," Dee says. "And Lee's not like Billy. He won't put me second for you."

President Roslin nods slowly. "I definitely underestimated you," she says in a measured voice. "And please keep in mind, young woman, that I'm barely keeping myself from screaming at you right now. Don't ask about things that aren't your business."

"I know," Dee says, seeing the anger that has the president practically rigid. "So you have something to say to me?"

"Two things," Roslin replies, eyes flickering. "The first is to tell you to stop lying about what you want. You're a bright, observant woman who wants to be a part of saving the world and making a better one. As much as I may be angry with both Adamas, I trust them. And I trusted Billy's judgment. They all think you're worth something. I think they're right. But don't...don't become Ellen. Or Kara. You're strong enough to get what you want and face the consequences if you don't frakking LIE..."

Her voice breaks, and the president immediately turns away, her breathing ragged as Dee, who suddenly realizes there are tears running down her cheeks, looks away. How long have they both been in tears? Dee's been so angry at Roslin, and now it's infinitely worse because Roslin knows Dee better than she knows herself.

But Dee is also aware that Roslin thinks Dee could be, well, like the president.

"So that's one," Dee says. "And?"

"I want to know if you think you're worth it," Roslin says. "Billy died for you. Not for a grand principle, not for hope of reward. He died for you. Were you worth that sacrifice?"

That's teeth in Dee's heart. And Dee doesn't want to answer the question, but she has to, because the president looks ready to strike her down with a look if she lies.

"No," Dee says, and it's not a meek whisper or a grand declaration. A simple no, the plain truth. No, she wasn't worth Billy's death. Billy shouldn't be dead for her. "You hate me for that, don't you?"

"Right now, I do," the president answers. "But you're nineteen, and you didn't ask him to throw his life away for you. It's cruel to blame you for something I know was his choice."

Dee nods, wiping away the tears that have come back. "So is that it?" she asks.

"No, it's not," the president replies. "You need to do something for me and something for him."

"What's that?" Dee asks.

The president fumbles in her pocket, and there's the damn debate team ring, and with a look that is just a little malicious, she holds the ring out to Dee.

"Take it," she orders. "He would have wanted you to have it."

"You should keep it. To have something to remember him by," Dee tries. She does not want his ring. She doesn't want it at all.

"Take it," Roslin says, thrusting the thing at her. "No's not an option, Dee."

Dee takes it, and it's huge and heavy and she hates it already, weighing her down, making her feel like scum for just wanting to go back to Lee already.

"Thank you," Dee says.

"You don't want it, and I didn't do it for you," the president replies snappishly. "This is what you're going to do for me, Dee. You're going to live your life as though it were worth the death that paid for it. Do you understand me?"

Dee realizes every thing she's feared and loathed about President Roslin is entirely right. She also realizes, with another jolt, that Roslin is asking for something true and fair and right. Something that Roslin would be willing to do in her shoes.

That's the worst part.

"Petty Officer Dualla?" the president says.

"I heard you," Dee says, cursing her rudeness. "I'm not sure how to best respond, ma'am."

"Yes," Roslin says. "That's what I expect you to say."

"Of course yes," Dee says. "But I don't know what to say to you so that you might even understand why I'm afraid of you."

The president's nod is modestly impressed, and she looks at Dee again, a long, searching look.

"You weren't worth his life," she says. Not cruelly, matter-of-factly, and Dee would give anything to say she disagreed with Roslin. She can't. "But you definitely could be."

"Is that your expert opinion, sir?" Dee says, shaking with anger.

"Is it any different than yours?" Roslin asks, going to a sink and trying to lessen the obvious signs of grief. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go pretend that Billy's death hasn't weakened me at all so that the vultures don't pick at my bones. And I'm certain Captain Adama is waiting for you."

She brushes past Dee, who watches her leave and sags against the wall, gobsmacked (definitely gobsmacked, even though that word makes her think of her father, and how things were left, and it's worse now) but not devastated.

After all, Dee knows it's true: both that she wasn't worth it, but also that she could be.

And part of being worth it is getting up, even feeling the wounds of the president's cruel assessment of her, and going back to Lee.

Because even at her weakest moment, Dee is strong enough for what she has to carry.


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