Failure to Communicate
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Spoilers: Unfinished Business
Disclaimer: Moore’s the man with the master plan.
Summary: The less drippy ending to Unfinished Business with the grown-ups sharing what they did with the audience while the kids were being, well, drippy.
“So was that a hint, Bill?” Laura asked as she helped him lumber toward his quarters. His face was sore and his muscles ached like hell, but at least Laura was with him. “That big, noble speech you gave us, including and especially naughty, frivolous me, I mean. I bet it was a hint.”
Bill never had quite gotten the hang of Laura’s moods. One minute she was all but begging him to drag her off to the bedroom with naughty smiles and seemingly casual touches, and now she was seethingly, viciously angry over something he thought she agreed with.
“We let our guard down,” he said. “We let our own personal interests get in the way of staying prepared against the Cylon. I should have never let Tyrol go.”
“Ah, yes, keeping Tigh and Tyrol on the ship would have turned the tide and the Cylons would have never come back if you’d forced them to stay,” Laura said acidly. “Do you forget who ran the insurgency on New Caprica, Bill? Do you think that if they’d been there with you, things would have turned out better?”
Gods, she was beautiful. But even though he knew her body now, knew things about Laura that no one else living did, Bill still didn’t understand her. Couldn’t find words to soothe the anger that lit her up, never understood quite what he was touching.
“We got soft,” he said again.
“They would have come, soft or hard,” Laura replied, opening his door easily. “And now our people have good memories. Of what it’s like to be at peace. Of what they might want besides the fighting. So blame yourself and a few months of happiness if you want, but don’t expect me to nod along, Bill.”
Bill looked at her and saw the beautiful woman in red from a year ago, the breeze catching her hair and skirts as she laughed, beckoning him to follow her.
Laura Roslin, laughing as she fled the celebration, running ahead with a tablecloth she’d stolen trailing in the wind, and daring him to chase after her. The sun had caught her hair and kissed her face and Bill had suddenly never wanted anything as much as he did Laura at that moment.
He followed, taking in the sight with nothing but pleasure.
“Do I have to hand you an engraved invitation, Bill?” she called merrily. Gods, this woman. This woman was going to kill him because she was again, nothing like the Laura he’d come to respect, the Laura whose quiet obstinate strength had attracted him. She was part of this Laura, but this Laura was quicksilver bright and afraid of nothing, even a bad reputation.
He waited until he couldn’t, crossing the distance between him with fast strides as she stood there, hands on her hips and a wicked little smirk on her lips.
Before Laura could manage her next pretty, witty taunt, Bill seized her by the waist and kissed her, every last pent-up frustration he’d had let go, turned into an act of desire.
This time, she more than met him halfway, her lips crushing his as her arms found their way around his neck, the blanket tumbling to the ground as her hair blew against his face.
“Woman,” Bill said, hoping she didn’t hear the little shiver in his voice. “Woman, you’ll be the death of me.”
“It’ll be a happy death,” Laura replied, her smile bright as the sun. “So are you going to kiss me again or do I have to wait another four to six months?”
He kissed her. On her forehead. As Bill had expected, that earned him a pout and a sulky little noise. He kissed her on the cheek then, on her nose, quicker and quicker, teasing her with every one. Laura tried to kiss him back, a real kiss, but he knew how to evade her.
Until she caught him, putting her hand in front of his mouth, touching his face, and giving him a look.
And then Laura pulled his head down to hers, the kiss turning from sweet and warm to hot. Intense. Body-melting, the way he remembered kisses feeling before the kids being born.
He couldn’t stop with a kiss, and she didn’t want him to.
“Yes?” he murmured into her ear.
“Yes,” she answered, smiling at him again. “Definitely.”
Now, back in his quarter, back on their quest for Earth, Laura was fussing with his face, her expression closed and sour. Laura always crackled with energy, but when she was irritated, Bill could almost see the sparks fly off her fingertips.
“You’re angry,” he noted as she cleaned the blood off his face, catching one of her wrists momentarily before Laura pulled it away.
“You noticed,” she said sharply. “Have you ever thought of the real reason New Caprica happened? It happened because you decided we shouldn’t steal an election. Do you regret that now? Tom Zarek told me he wished I’d done it. I suspect even Baltar does. What about you?”
“No. Not me,” Bill said, ashamed of the very notion. “I should have refused to settle us on the frakking planet.”
“Yes, because you caused the war, you caused the Occupation, you are the cause of all that is wrong with humanity because you are the divine father of all of us, including me,” Laura said, flashes of fury in her eyes. “I am not your frakking wife, Bill. And even if I was, I’m not your child.”
He grabbed her wrist again; this time, Laura slapped him hard enough for the crack to echo across the room.
And then she pulled back, staring at him in horror, staring at the blood on her hand with an open mouth.
“Laura,” Bill said, not sure what else to say.
“You’re right that we can’t do this,” she said, looking away. “It’s always the same, in the end. Men can’t seem to handle an adult woman as a full partner. Equal responsibility, equal blame. Richard was just as bad. He always wanted to blame me, but he never treated me like a child in the way of his quest for all the guilt in the universe.”
He looked away, thinking of how they’d done it before. Her body had been warm and soft as he’d drawn the sweater off her shoulders, touching her bared skin slowly. She had freckles. Not too many, but just a few, on her shoulders, on her arms, a smattering across the tops of her breasts.
Bill had kissed her collarbone, inhaling the scent of warm skin and the alcohol blending together, along with that woman-smell that he’d almost but not quite forgotten. Felt the rise and fall of Laura’s breathing. Put his hands on her ribcage as her chin rested atop his head.
“You’re so different now,” he told her. “I never thought I’d hear you laugh like that. It’s good that you can laugh.”
The merry, naughty woman in Bill’s arms had laughed at that again, taking one of his hands in her own and placing it on her breast. It had been heavy and sweet in his hand, and something had caught in him then. There was no way he was going to say no to this.
He’d squeezed it, caressing and teasing at it until Laura had whimpered.
“Don’t stop,” she’d said hoarsely.
Bill hadn’t, either. He took off her shirt, pausing just long enough to look at his long-desired prize and feel her smile reach his own face.
“Grab the blanket,” Bill said, and when Laura had, he’d picked her up and thrown her over his shoulder.
They’d both laughed, Laura shrieking and Bill grunting at the weight of her, but when she’d tumbled from his arms, the sigh of want from her had him half-hard and starting to sweat.
“Do you love me?” Bill heard himself ask back in his quarters and the now, shaken free of memory as Laura continued to stare at her hand.
She didn’t say anything at first. “Don’t make this about love,” Laura said softly. “This is not about love, this is about you. It’s always about you, Bill.”
“So what if it’s about you? What way do we do it to make it YOUR way, Laura?” he asked, feeling strangely stung that she wouldn’t even give him a yes or no. “I know that we could stay lovers. That you’d happily be my lover, the way it was on New Caprica.”
“My body, my trust, and my friendship are yours,” she said coldly. “That’s my way. That instead of making this difficult, instead of taking us somewhere where it has to be over, we take what the other wants to give. I want a partnership, Bill. I want you to stop blaming yourself for everything that has ever gone wrong because you have to protect me.”
It always hurt, how well Laura understood him and his flaws when he was unable to catch hold of the things that drew him to her as well as made him uncomfortable. She’d just had to explain it to him: Laura was angry at Bill because Bill tried to protect her from blame. Laura was not someone Bill got to protect, not that way, and she was not under his command.
And he still didn’t know how to say how profoundly he wanted her to love him.
“I’m sorry,” Bill said.
“I know that,” Laura answered, crossing the room to him, hovering above him like some sort of gift. “But you still don’t know how to stop, Bill.”
She had trusted him, trusted him enough that when he set her down, half-naked in the grass on that tablecloth, that she’d started undoing her skirt, easing it down over her hips in a nervous little shimmy.
And gods, that body. The sheen of sweat rising against her skin. The arch of her spine when Bill had set his mouth against her softly curved tummy, his thumbs rubbing slow circles on her hips. The increasingly not-so-soft cries filling his ears.
“Bill,” Laura had whispered, and he’d raised his head to see…vulnerability. Desire, that same bright and wicked wanting that had almost baffled him before, but also so much vulnerability it did surprise him.
“Laura,” he said. “Are you all right?”
“I…” and she turned her head, smiling and deadly serious. “If you keep doing that, I’m not going to be able to control myself.”
“Trust me,” Bill murmured, kissing the underside of her breast. “I’ve got you. We’re fine, Laura.”
“I want to,” she said, trembling. “I want you. I want you inside of me. I want you to make me scream. I want…”
Laura shuddered, and Bill kept her gaze. “Is that right?” he asked, moving back up her body, so that her mouth was next to his ear. Giving her the chance to know he wanted her back. “Tell me what you want, Laura.”
The whimper he’d gotten for his pains as the passion in his lover’s body shook her like tree branches in a windstorm had been one of the great rewards in Bill’s life since the Cylon attacks.
She’d told him. At length. The words had poured from her mouth, raw and wanting and passionate, the ache of a woman who had been much-touched before the Cylons came. Very little of it had sounded like the poised, dignified Laura Roslin that Bill knew. But every word, even as they turned into, “oh, gods, I’m so wet, there, please, touch me there, it’s been so long, deeper, deeper, harder…” had been sweet.
Because she’d opened herself to him, trusted him enough to see that passion raging like a river of blood.
And now she was looking at him, his blood on her hand, with protected eyes. Eyes that told him nothing.
“I am sorry,” he said, looking up at her. “I keep thinking that if I do something right, you’ll trust me enough to give me your heart along with your body and friendship, Laura.”
Her lips brushed against his forehead, his cheek, and his mouth, and when Bill looked up at his erstwhile lover, his blood was on her mouth. And she was shaking her head at him.
“You always want the one thing you can’t have, Bill,” Laura said, pulling back and looking at him. “I’ve given you more than I’ve given anyone, and it’s not enough. I want to stay and you keep pushing until I have to go.”
“So it’s unreasonable to want the woman I love to love me back,” Bill said bitterly. They’d had this fight before. Right before the Cylons came. Practically on this very spot. “Is that it?”
“When the woman you love is me, and the mission we have is as important as it is…yes,” Laura said. “You said it yourself. We don’t get to be soft. We fight so they live, not so we get a happily ever after.”
She had felt good. Good like he hadn’t had in at least ten years, the press of her breasts against his chest, her fingernails digging into his back as she pleaded for one last release. One of Laura’s legs had wrapped around him as he thrust harder and harder, amazed at how many ways he could please the cool and controlled president.
Bill could have spent months listening to the different sounds Laura made when he touched her, restraint blown away like her skirt. The way her moans became screams, peaking with a sound that finally, finally finished Bill with a cry of his own as both of them crashed against the tablecloth and the grass, absolutely spent.
“Mmm,” she whispered then. “Scoot just a little.”
Half-asleep, Bill had done so, the minute adjustments that came with new lovers. Laura didn’t seem to mind being half-crushed, staying tangled against him with a soft little sigh of satisfaction. He nuzzled against her neck and she petted him, just as drowsily.
“Better?” he asked.
“Happy,” she said, accepting the arm he’d thrown around her and resting her head against him.
Bill closed his eyes against the memories. Laura had been absolutely happy in his arms. Not for too long after, but it was true. He had made her happy in that moment.
“Stay,” he said, reaching up to her.
“I can’t,” Laura said. “Not now.”
“Stay,” he repeated, standing up. His blood on her lips, a pained look in her eyes. This was not how they needed to end.
“Don’t ask me again,” she said, her eyes meeting his. There was no hint of a bluff. “You don’t get to have me.”
“Even if it makes us both miserable,” Bill said, sinking back down with an aching face and a sour stomach. “Even if it’s something neither of us wants.”
She turned away, but spared him a glance over her shoulder as she left.
“I thought this was what you wanted,” Laura said, leaving that Parthian shaft to hang in the air as she walked out of his room.
Bill looked down at his hands.
What he wanted, what she wanted, and what they needed were three very different things, he thought. What he wanted was for the woman in the red dress to whisper she loved him. What Laura wanted was for Bill to treat her as an equal, to let her share the blame as naturally as she shared her bed.
What they needed, apparently, was to find a balance between that.
And what they had, clearly, was an inability to do it.