Laundry Day on Colonial One
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Pairing: Laura/Billy (borderline; with Dee/Lee and Dee/Billy mentioned)
Disclaimer: Moore’s the man with the master plan.
Summary: Billy can’t even get laundry done without it being an “adventure.”
The laundry facilities on Colonial One were terrible; most people did theirs somewhere else, but one of the few benefits of being the official presidential aide was that Billy had priority access to the washer and dryer.
This usually worked out fairly well, but it was one of those days where nothing was working out for Billy, so instead of having the quiet solitude of the laundry room to enjoy, found the president leaning against the dryer, humming something to herself.
In a flimsy robe and probably nothing else.
Billy averted his eyes, and the president jumped when she realized he was standing there.
“Oh, gods, do you need the machine?” she asked, arranging the robe just in case something was visible. “All of mine are in the dryer.”
“Um, that’s okay. I can come back,” Billy said, looking at his shoes.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” President Roslin insisted. “If you want, I’ll keep an eye on them for you.”
Billy would have thought that was a much better idea except that the load included all of his underwear, including the ones that were, well. Really dirty.
“It’s really all right,” Billy said. “I was kind of looking for a place to be alone, so it’s not a problem to wait.”
The president smiled sympathetically. “Hiding from the real world in the laundry room? That’s fair,” she said. “What’s wrong?”
What was wrong was that he was having an entire conversation with the president in her robe, the really thin silk one that was completely modest but somehow suggestive. Probably because Billy was sure she wasn’t wearing anything else.
But Laura had that look on her face that said she wasn’t letting him go anywhere, if only because she was deeply bored herself, and oh, frakking gods, that was a bra hanging on one of the hooks over the radiator vents. Actually, that was two bras.
Frak him. This was going from bad to worse fast.
“I kind of, um, ah, broke up with Dee,” Billy said, looking away as fast as he could, back at his laundry. His laundry was safe! Well, no, his laundry included stained boxer shorts, but if he stuffed them into the machine fast, maybe she wouldn’t notice.
“You broke up with Dee?” Laura asked, reaching out and touching him on the shoulder. “Oh, Billy, I’m so sorry!”
He was sorry himself; he was more than sorry. There had been plans for tears and self-loathing and bitter plots against Lee Adama while he did his laundry, but now Billy was trapped. Trapped in a comedy where President Roslin didn’t seem the least bit uncomfortable having a heart-to-heart with Billy in her robe.
“It’s fine,” Billy said. “Nothing to be worried about. We just…she’s dating Lee now, and they seem kind of happy and I guess it’s good she told me before I really got hurt.”
Laura tilted her head. “Billy,” she said. “It’s not really fine at all.”
“I guess not,” Billy said. “But what am I supposed to say?”
“Say, Laura, could I have some privacy?” the president suggested. “Dee broke up with me and I’d like to be alone.”
“I couldn’t say that,” Billy said.
“Why not?” she asked. “I wouldn’t be offended in the least.”
He shrugged. “I couldn’t call you Laura,” he said. “And you’re clearly not dressed for leaving the laundry room.”
For the first time since the conversation began, President Roslin looked like she was aware of her state of dress, or undress, as it were, and grinned.
“Oops,” she said, not sounding the least bit sorry. “Could be worse. Half the time, I’m tempted to do my laundry naked. It drives me crazy having that one piece of unwashed laundry with all the clean clothes. How about you?”
Billy flushed bright red and dropped his laundry on the floor. Laura started laughing, contemplating Billy with a very sympathetic but almost serious look on her face.
“I just suck it up, I guess,” Billy mumbled. “It’s a guy thing.”
The president nodded. “I’m really sorry about this,” she said. Billy realized suddenly that her hair was pulled back, and this was the first time he’d ever seen Laura Roslin with her hair back. It was different; she looked less like the president somehow, more like a normal person. “Let me help you put your stuff in the machine.”
Before Billy could protest, she had crouched down and was handing Billy his clothes, including the incriminating boxers, a shirt with a coffee stain on it, several undershirts that must have smelled awful, and, of course, his sock. The sock.
All of it went into the machine without comment, and Billy thanked the gods he worked for someone with a sense of discretion. Laura then handed him some of the very rationed laundry flakes, which he poured in, and gave him a look when he didn’t adjust the machine settings.
“It should all be on cold,” she said. “And that’s a medium load. I’d set it for fourteen minutes. Some of your clothes needed the extra soak.”
Billy’s face flared scarlet again, and he did what President Roslin said, fiddling with the knobs as quickly as he could.
“Those are your only good pants,” she added. “You have to wash them too.”
Oh, frakking gods. “Um.”
“I won’t look if you don’t want,” Laura teased. “See, I have turned around and averted my eyes.”
Billy closed his eyes and yanked off his pants, making sure that he didn’t even touch the boxer shorts. “This is ridiculous,” he complained.
“What’s ridiculous is cleaning all your clothes but not your good pants,” she replied. “Get the jacket, too. And your shirt, if you’re comfortable taking that off.”
This was definitely not what he’d planned, though he had meant to wash his suit. Much like the president, Billy did want as many of his clothes clean as possible, and the idea of sitting down and having a pity party had been really very appealing.
With a particularly noisy clang, Billy slammed the machine’s lid closed bitterly. Laura chuckled softly.
“You’re not looking, are you?” Billy asked, wishing that he had a robe and not daring to open his eyes.
“My face is turned,” Laura assured him. “You can open your eyes, if you want.”
“Hey!” Billy said.
“I know you, remember?” Laura answered, laughter in her voice. “You’re adorable when you get like this. I don’t know what in the name of the gods Dee was thinking.”
Billy snorted, forgetting that he was basically naked and the president was wearing that robe, and he was embarrassed by everything ever. “Dee was thinking about Lee,” he said. “Can you blame her?”
“Actually,” Laura said, her voice going flat and a tiny bit pinched, “All things considered, I can’t really appreciate that choice, no. Then again, I remember who was sitting next to me in my darkest hour and who wasn’t.”
Frak. Billy had forgotten that Lee hadn’t come to visit during the president’s harrowing almost-last-days. Which was particularly painful given that even Baltar had made an appearance, but Lee? Not even an inquiry.
He hadn’t realized that Laura had been so hurt by Lee, but then again, they’d been close. They’d done crazy things together, and then after Kobol? Nothing. Not even good-bye.
“I…well, you’re my job,” Billy said. “I wouldn’t know where to be if I wasn’t with you.”
“Don’t underestimate yourself, damn it,” Laura answered fiercely. “You didn’t have to spend every minute there. I’m sure Dee would have liked to see you. I’m sure there were things you could have done. You’re not my nursemaid, Billy, and I’m well aware of the work you do for this fleet, even if no one else is.”
Billy blinked. He didn’t know what to say to that. Admiral Adama had told him that he reminded Laura of Adar — and from what Billy knew about the president and President Adar, that was not entirely…that was saying something. But to hear her say what she said, it felt good, and he knew he was smiling like an idiot.
“Sorry,” he said, jumping. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Say thank you,” Laura suggested gently.
“Thank you,” Billy said. “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said about me in a while.”
He had opened his eyes, and of course, the president was peeking. Well, looking over her shoulder for quick looks and looking away, but they happened to catch each other looking at the same exact moment.
“You peeked,” he said.
“I did,” she agreed. “You had your eyes closed. Also, why are you still wearing your socks, Billy?”
“My feet get cold,” Billy said.
“Oh,” Laura answered. “I’m not really cold. But I am wearing more clothes than you.”
She leaned back against the dryer again, and Billy, deciding that as long as they were staying at this level of clothing, it couldn’t get any more embarrassing, followed her lead and leaned next to her. The dryer was warmer than the washer, and she moved over to give him more room.
“I can’t believe she broke up with me,” Billy said after two or three minutes of silence.
“You want me to go talk to her?” Laura said.
“No,” Billy said emphatically. “That would make it seem like you were my mom or something and, no offense, Madam President, but that’s not right.”
“No,” Laura agreed, kicking her foot out idly. Billy noticed that she had really nice feet and ankles.
“I loved her, I think,” Billy said after another silence.
“She’s a nice girl,” Laura said. “One that’s making a mistake, but it’s easy to understand why you loved her. She’s tough — Bill told me about what she said to him before he came to Kobol — with a good heart. Of course, I’m going to have to keep that in mind the next time I see Miss Petty Officer Dualla.”
“Why?” Billy asked.
“She hurt you,” Laura said. “I can’t help thinking that anyone who doesn’t see your worth isn’t good enough for you anyway.”
Billy blushed, but before he could thank the president for the compliment, the dryer buzzer made a noise, stopping the conversation in its tracks.
He wasn’t sure what he was thinking — she’d helped him with his laundry, so maybe Billy’s unconscious was thinking he should return the favor, but he leaned over and down just as Laura did, and the two of them bumped into each other headfirst.
“Ow,” Laura said, putting her hand against her temple. “Collision.”
Billy nodded, not sure why he wasn’t moving, and then he leaned forward and just. Kissed the president. A quick peck on the lips before he’d even realized what he’d done, eyes wide and hand over his mouth.
“Um,” said Billy.
“Oh,” said Laura, who then leaned up and kissed him again. Not aggressively. Not even for very long. “Better?”
“Your clothes,” Billy said. “I was going to help you with them. The other thing, it was an accident.”
Laura nodded sagely, bending down to open the dryer again. This time, Billy, aware that if they collided again, there might be another kiss. Then it wouldn’t be an accident, and that was bad, so Billy held back.
Awkwardly. Because that was what he did.
“Turn around,” Laura said. “I think I should get a little more dressed before I emerge and scare the crew with presidential deshabille, don’t you think?”
Billy turned around, trying not to think about how less than three feet away, the president was getting dressed. Or about how he really wanted to peek, because geez, how frakking pervy could a guy get?
Just because Laura had kissed him, now he thought he could think naked thoughts about her? She’d laugh in his face.
“Done!” Laura said triumphantly. “I haven’t gotten dressed that fast since I was at university.”
Billy turned around, and indeed, the president was dressed, and the beige bra was off its little hook to boot. Which reminded him that he’d been staring at Laura’s bras.
“Great,” Billy said. “You didn’t have to get dressed on account of me. I’m okay now. With laundry undress. It’s sensible.”
Laura smiled radiantly at him, eyes lighting up, and without warning, threw her arms around him for a long, very non-sexy hug. A hug which Billy, after the initial shock, was glad to give back, just having someone to hold without any expectations of anything except being held for a few moments.
The hug did end with her head resting on his shoulder as she rubbed his back gently, which was kind of ambiguous, but kind of restful given the day Billy had had.
“I’m glad that I have you,” she said at last. “I’ll leave you alone now to your laundry day angst, okay?”
She patted him on the back again and then let go, and Billy nodded awkwardly as Laura gathered up her clothes and left.
Right. Now that he wanted her to stay, she left.
Laura was right: he didn’t understand women.
Especially not her.