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She stands in the back – off to the side. Helena Cain is dead, shot by the Cylon prisoner. The irony is not lost on her. She and Bill had planned Helena's execution and now they see her dead through no effort of their own.
She listens to the eulogies – Jack Fisk describing her fortitude as a commander, Starbuck extolling her bravery and unflinching spirit – and nods quietly.
Cain was everything they were saying, and yet, as everyone there was aware, that wasn't the full picture.
She wraps her arms around herself. What would be said about her upon her own death? The thought makes her shiver; death looms closer than she would like to admit.
Bill is scowling as Kara continues to eulogize Cain, and then the short ceremony draws to a close. She follows the crowd out. This is not her first fleet funeral, and yet it feels different.
As the doors shut behind them, she realizes why. She's not sad. Unlike the other fleet deaths, she doesn't regard this one as a loss.
She watches the preparations, the precautions that must be made before the airlock doors can be opened. None of this is new to her. She's sent Cylons to their death using this very method of execution. She's attended other funerals. She knows what will happen.
And still she watches as though seeing it for the first time. The flag is removed: they'll use that again. And again . . . she sighs at the knowledge. Too many deaths.
She looks up again. People have already begun to leave. She stays and watches as Adama operates the controls to open airlock. The coffin shoots out the hatch as soon as it is fully open. She can't help but smile as she watches the body of Helena Cain absorbed by the vacuum of space.
It is over.
"Are you okay?" Bill lays a hand on her shoulder.
She nods. "Fine," she says. "Just thinking. I'll see you later tonight?"
"You will -- " He smiles.
As she enters the shuttle, she thinks back on the day they first discovered Cain and the Pegasus. Everything had seemed so fresh, so full of opportunity.
She remembers her first impression of Cain – how she'd wanted to trust her, wanted to get to know her better. How she'd wanted something more. She wasn't entirely sure what, just something. She remembers listening to Bill describing her, and being intrigued, thinking that perhaps in Helena she would finally meet a woman who could understand her. She laughs now -- and yet with the bitter irony is the slight tinge of regret -- that if there'd only been a little more time.
She picks up the phone for the third time, and for the third time puts it down. Inwardly, she berates herself for behaving like a frakking schoolgirl with her first crush. That's not what this is; she only wants to talk to the admiral -- Helena -- in a less formal environment.
"Buck up, Roslin," she tells herself. "The worst she can say is 'no'."
For the fourth time, she picks up the phone, and this time she actually places the call.
"Yes, this is the president," she tells Hoshi. "I was hoping to talk to the admiral."
"Of course," she says after being told that the admiral was unavailable. "I'm sure she's very busy. If you could just tell her I called. I'm really hoping she can make time to discuss fleet issues with me."
"I'll relay your message, ma'am," Hoshi tells her, sounding stiff, formal. "But you must realize that tactical issues take priority."
"Of course -- " Laura sighs. "Thank you."
She takes a sip of tea and looks at the bottle of pain killers. Her head aches--her whole body aches -- but she doesn't want to lose her edge. It's a balancing act; only when the pain gets to be so unbearable that she can't function will she allow herself to be dulled by narcotics.
"Madame President." Billy steps in and she snaps to attention.
"Billy." She coughs. "Yes?"
"Commander Adama on the line for you, ma'am," he tells her, diplomatically ignoring her discomfiture. "Shall I put him on?"
She sighs and then immediately feels guilty. She'd always enjoyed her time with Bill -- before. "Yes," she says, forcing a smile. "Please."
"Madame President . . . Laura -- " Bill's warm, deep baritone booms through the earpiece. "I wondered if you might have a chance to meet with me this afternoon."
"As it so happens, Commander. . ." She pushes back from her desk and smiles in spite of herself. "My schedule is wide open."
Her disappointment only grows upon the culmination of the meeting with Bill. Admiral Helena Cain may be avoiding her, but it was immediately clear that the Galactica was gaining a great deal of attention.
She says her good-byes, quietly, teasingly, letting Bill know of her displeasure while trying to avoid sounding bitter or entitled. She's aware of that she's one of many competing priorities, but she's beginning to feel irrelevant.
She ascends the ladder, preparing to board her shuttle, and once again resolves to get the admiral to work with her. She just wishes she could figure out how.
She picks her phone up on the first ring.
"Madame President," Helena Cain's voice rich, thick, and slightly bitter -- like rancid honey.
"Admiral," she answers with a touch of irony and feels a rush of blood to her head. Is it her illness or something else? "I'm glad you found the time to return my call," she begins, trying to force warmth and geniality into the conversation.
"Yes, well -- " Helena answers abruptly. "Madame President, do you realize that we're at war?"
"I haven't lost sight of that fact," Laura responds. "Thank you."
"Because I don't have time to babysit civilians, and I certainly can't have you following me around like a homeless puppy," she adds. "I've got a war to fight."
"Pardon me?" The blood that had earlier rushed to her head now rushes away, and Laura feels her ears ringing as though she's been slapped. She bristles further, not giving the admiral an opportunity to answer. "With all due respect, Admiral," she speaks through gritted teeth, "cooperation between military and civilian leaders is essential to our survival."
"With all due respect, Madame President," Helena speaks with mocking irony. "You're hardly in a position to lecture me on military strategy."
"Commander Adama and I . . ." she begins.
"If you haven't realized," Cain interrupts her. "I'm not Commander Adama."
"That hasn't escaped my notice either," Laura sighs. "Still, Admiral, we've made it this far following that model."
"A small miracle, if you ask me."
"I didn't," Laura says. "Admiral, all I want is a half hour -- if you're going to be taking charge of the fleet you need to know what it is you're taking charge of."
"Fine," Cain relents. "Half an hour."
She looks up from her paper to realize that she's accomplished nothing in the past half hour beyond filling the page with meaningless doodles. As happy as she is to see her gone, the memory of Cain lingers, unsettling her, bitter, mocking her with truths that she will never, can never share.
"Billy!" she calls her aid, hoping to find something productive on which to spend her time. "I need you to find a jeweler."
"Half an hour," Helena starts speaking the moment Laura walks into her quarters, "and I can't offer you a chair; I hope that's not a problem."
"No," Laura says, knowing she will likely collapse the very moment she reaches her shuttle, but she won't complain or appear weak here, no matter how much it costs her. "I'll manage."
Cain says nothing, using silence as another finely honed weapon, waiting for Laura to talk -- she'll parry, but never open herself up by thrusting first.
"I've brought copies of the civilian manifests and our census of the fleet," Laura offers, extending a file folder.
"You can leave it on the desk," Cain says dismissively, and Laura complies, knowing it will likely never be reviewed.
Still, she pushes forward, she will get through to this woman. She will reach the element of humanity that she knows rests in there somewhere. "As I see it," she begins, "the most pressing issue among the civilians is . . ."
"Not my problem," Cain again interrupts her. "Civilian matters are your concern. My only concern is winning this war and trying not to stretch myself too thin protecting the fleet in the process. So -- my question to you, Madame President, is how you can help me do that. I want to consolidate the civilian vessels. Move as many people together as possible and strip the remaining ships for parts."
Laura is stunned silent. "You can't be serious."
"I assure you, Madame President," Cain raises an eyebrow and Laura feels a chill run over her. How can someone so ruthless be so beautiful at the same time? "I am not someone to speak lightly."
"No," Laura says absently, "of course not."
"Think about it," Cain snaps as though giving an order, "and give your input to Adama. I'll let him brief me."
"Give my input to . . . Adama?" Laura repeats. "I thought -- "
"You thought you and I would be best buddies with quiet dinners and slumber parties and stroll hand-in-hand through the artificial turf on Cloud Nine?" Cain asks, again the sharp irony cutting through her.
"No -- " Laura shakes her head, ashamed of how close to the truth her verbal barb had struck.
"I told you, Madame President; I've got a war to fight. You get along with Adama, so I'll let you keep working with him."
She nods and licks her lips, struggling to find a way to save this conversation.
"Is that all?" the admiral asks, a clear dismissal.
"I suppose it is," Laura says and raises her chin. Still, she can't bring herself to leave.
Helena notices almost immediately. "What is it?"
"Nothing." She turns on her heel. "I should go."
The admiral stops her with a hand to her shoulder. "You really did want something more; didn't you?" She seems surprised by the idea, and then her eyes narrow. "What game are you playing?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Laura says simply, licking her lips again and looking away.
"Don't you?" Cain asks, placing her hand under Laura's chin and directing her eyes upward. With no further preamble she kisses her -- hard, angrily, deeply -- and then pushes her away. "That it? That what you want? That answer your questions, Madame President?" She turns her head in disgust. "You're so frakking naïve!"
"I should -- " Laura brings her fingers to her mouth, stunned by the assault, the anger that had brought it on. "I should really go."
"I figured as much," Cain says. "Don't let me keep you, Madame President."
"Admiral . . ." Laura stops at the door, feeling as though she should say something -- apologize for something, though she's not entirely what.
"Just -- " Helena waves her hand in dismissal. "Go."
She walks slowly down the corridors, back to the hangar bay where her shuttle is waiting. Again, her hand makes its way up to her mouth. It isn't the kiss that surprised her so much, nor the violence of it -- it was the fact that she didn't hate it -- that she'd almost wanted it -- that she'd enjoyed it. Helena Cain, she realizes now, is dangerous.
Her mind is made up. Her only duty now is to find a way to convince Bill Adama of this fact without informing Bill Adama what happened between them.
Bill arrives as expected, and she's disappointed that she barely has the strength to rise to meet him. Billy is there, too, and she's grateful for his presence. He's grown more quiet lately, more stoic, less apt to question her decisions. She worries what will happen to him when she's gone. She's grown to think of him as family.
She can hardly contain her excitement as she hands Bill the pins promoting him to admiral. His surprise and gratitude is nearly palpable.
Yet she hadn't expected him to kiss her -- warmly, gently, sadly -- and she can't help but return it, meet his lips in an expression of everything she couldn't tell him. Could he tell, she wonders, could he sense the memory of Cain that still lingered on her lips – even days afterward?
She smiles as they break apart -- thankful for him, for his ability to make her memories a little less bitter, and a little more sweet -- thankful, that even if he's not quite as intriguing, the fleet is now in the hands of an admiral she can trust.