Paul and Miriam in Love
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Spoilers: The Farm
Disclaimer: Moore and Eick. I’m just trying to pick up readers, not cash.
Summary: Paul meets Miriam in a coffeehouse ten years ago and sparks could have flown. Or maybe it’s just all in their heads.
Lee is trying to pick up girls who read Tom Zarek.
Lee is failing to pick up girls who read Tom Zarek.
Mostly, they are picking each other up and giving him dirty looks for his haircut, the one that screams that they know he’s a militaristic pig (and the worst look is from a girl wearing the same haircut), and Lee wants to pound his head into the table. Except this is a joint for free-thinkers and hippies and there would be some unsavory substance that would inevitable show up on a drug test.
In fact, most everyone is gone to a concert or a poetry slam or to go smoke and make out far away from the military narc by the lake by now, except for a pretty woman in her late thirties reading a book and drinking a large coffee. And Lee is bored, and Lee is waiting for Rich to come back in an hour and take him to the kegger where there will be loads of blonde girls who will give him a blow job just for his last name, so he starts watching the back of her head and making up stories about her.
After ten minutes of this, he gets up, goes over to her and sits down. At least, he plans to. She looks up and smiles, surprised.
“I’m sorry, do I know you?” she asks. And of course she will be reading Zarek. No. Poetry, the kind he’s tried to write but sounds stupid coming out of him.
“We’re the only people in the cafe. I thought it would be rude not to say hello,” Lee will say. She’ll be pretty — he likes red hair and she has nice shoulders — and smile at him like they’re already friends.
“Hello,” she says. “I’m Miriam. And you are?”
“Jack,” Lee will lie. No. He’ll be honest. There will be something in her eye that makes him want to be honest. “I mean, Lee. How’s the coffee here?”
“Not wonderful,” Miriam will answer. “Which is why I’m glad I’m drinking tea. What were you reading?”
“Rebellious things,” Lee says, discreetly tapping the side of the book.
“Oh, so you’re a revolutionary,” Miriam says, smiling at him indulgently and winking. “No wonder you’re chatting up an older woman. The mores of the bourgeoisie must be overcome, including their foolish resistance to love as more than a function of class and ideology.”
“Also, I’m supposed to go to a keg party at the university and I don’t want to,” Lee says. “If I’m talking to a woman, my friend won’t drag me away.”
“Ah, so I’m your liberator,” Miriam answers. “Come, young man. Let’s escape before the forces of educational conformity lock you back in the arms of blonde girls at keg parties.”
“How did you know?” Lee asks.
“No real revolutionary boy wears dog tags,” Miriam says.
She grabs his hand anyway, and Lee hates to admit it, but he’d much rather frak her than any of the Delta Nu girls, and he follows behind her, even though he realizes he doesn’t even know if her name is really Miriam.
When she kisses him, she tastes like tea and cigarettes and the papery smell of books, and Lee puts his hands on her hips and she doesn’t push him away.
They have sex in the alley, and Lee groans at how good she feels, the way she guides his hand to her breast and whispers how she likes it. He wants to run away with her, start their own coffeehouse where she will read him poetry and teach him how to make decent coffee.
“Oy, Adama,” Rich actually says. “You’re staring at that old babe a little too hard, my friend.”
Rich looks down. Lee looks down, and there’s his dick tenting his trousers in a very real and very rude salute to his fantasy life with Miriam.
“She’s kind of hot, but Stacey Macmillan is going to suck your cock off,” Rich says, slapping him upside his head. “Wait until you’re old before you start banging old babes.”
“Uh,” and Lee is so embarrassed that he puts his copy of Zarek over his dick and runs out without giving the woman another look.
Stacey Macmillan indeed gives him a blow job, but Lee spends the whole time imagining the woman in the cafe instead, and he accidentally calls her Miriam, and this, understandably, causes Stacey to tell Lee to go frak himself.
Lee is not usually one to indulge in fond memories of his university days, but this comes to mind now, because sitting on the Astral Queen across from President Roslin, he thinks it was maybe her. Well, no. He’d like if it was her, even though it is a ridiculous idea caused by hiding out in the freezer compartment, but still.
“Madam President?” he asks.
“Yes, Captain?” she asks, turning her head over her shoulder and looking up from her latest intel.
“Did you used to frequent coffeehouses in Caprica City about ten years ago?” he asks.
“I wasn’t in Caprica that year. For two weeks in the winter, I was there. I had a small university gig as a Politician-In-Residence in Caprica City,” the president recalls. “Why? Did I meet you and forget all about it?”
“Did you ever go to Quills?” Lee asks. “I was trying to pick up girls who read Zarek at the time, and I remember a time where I met this woman who could have been you.”
“Oh, I see,” the president replies with a warm smile. “Did you happen to see her a lot, this mystery woman you didn’t speak to but remember anyway?”
“No, it was just the one night,” Lee said. “She was beautiful and we were all alone in the cafe while I was waiting to get dragged off to a stupid party. I humiliated myself. My friend Rich announced I was going to get…well, he said something rude and I had my Zarek book and I just ran.”
“And you think it could have been me,” the president says, taking off her glasses. “The beautiful woman in the cafe. That’s very romantic. I’m flattered.”
Lee is slightly embarrassed. “I suppose it could be,” he says. “Maybe I fell in love with her a little bit, the way you do with strangers. I thought we could run off and start a coffeehouse together.”
President Roslin chuckles, but with him rather than at him. “Well, if it was me, we’ve lived your fantasy,” she points out. “It’s not a coffeehouse, but we are revolutionaries with Tom Zarek. That’s got to count for something.”
“This is supposed to be romantic?” Lee asks. She shrugs. “I’m cold. I’m worried about my father. And Kara.”
“So am I,” the president agrees. “It’s freezing.
I would give anything for one of those triple-espressos they made at Quills. It was right across the street from the apartment I was using, so I’d go there a lot when I couldn’t stand to be alone.”
Lee stares at her. “You’re joking, right?”
“I’m not,” Laura replies. “I used to people-watch there quite a bit in the evenings and imagine what they were up to. Who knows? Maybe it’s our destiny to spend time together in cold places.”
They both chuckle, but Lee cannot quite believe that they went to the same coffeehouse in Caprica City, and yet never met each other. It seems weird somehow, even if he knew, logically, that the government quarter and the university were close, Quills made excellent coffee, and it was always possible that they had met at a party. Or his mother had met her at one of those awful government affairs, or vice versa.
“That’s quite a coincidence,” Lee says. “So maybe you were Miriam. That’s what I thought her name was. Miriam.”
“Oh, that’s sweet. I had one I used to watch in particular, and I decided he was named Paul,” Laura replies. “He was a transfer student, and he’d never been to the big city before. And you were lonely, and I was going to sit down and tell you to tell me all about it.”
Lee notices the shift from he to you, but now he’s sure that it was her, so he’s all right with that. It’s too much of a coincidence. They’re both convinced, or pretending they are, and it’s good enough of a game to pass the time.
“Miriam teased me about reading Zarek,” he said. “She said the reason I was chatting up an older woman was that I was trying to be a revolutionary about love.”
“Paul didn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t married,” Laura says. “And then he said that he wanted to buy me a cup of coffee. And I told him to forget the coffee, that my apartment was right across the street.”
“Miriam, she, uh, said she needed to liberate me from blonde girls at keg parties,” Lee says, remembering just how much he’d wanted the woman in the cafe ten years ago with a sharp, warm pulse of nostalgia. “And that she knew by my dog tags I wasn’t the rebel I said I was. But it was okay anyway.”
“Paul kissed me in the middle of the street,” Laura replies, looking off and suddenly biting on one of her fingernails as though it were offensive. Lee is stunned, because he wasn’t expecting…well, he didn’t think they were going to get that deeply into this. “And I tell him that he can stay the night if he needs to. I’ll make him dinner — he looks like he could use a good meal.”
“We only made it to the alley,” Lee admits, wondering why neither of them have stopped talking, considering how deeply inappropriate the subject is, and how it never happened anyway. “And Miriam’s smiling at me and I want to frak her right then and there. She tastes like tea and cigarettes and the city.”
Laura puts a hand over her eyes. “I dropped my keys, and Paul comes up behind me and puts his hand under my sweater,” she counters, her voice soft but undeniably — something. Lee isn’t going to say turned on because they’re just talking. About nothing. “He licks the back of my neck and just keeps…touching me. Even with my hand on the doorknob to my apartment, he won’t stop. He says…well, you know what he says.”
He does. Even though he knows there’s no way they should be saying this to each other. Or what could have provoked it. The cold, maybe. The idea that they could have known each other, that whatever undercurrent of attraction that is rapidly surfacing is destiny and fixed and based on a night that never was, with a non-encounter that didn’t happen.
Somehow it’s easier that way. Paul met Miriam in a coffeehouse in some quantum universe and ten years later Lee and Laura are telling each other how it plays out. Somehow it makes it not them who are wanting each other, even though the words are theirs.
“I can’t believe we met like this,” Lee breathes out. “You’re amazing.”
“We can’t keep doing this right here,” Laura says, uneasy but inviting him to keep going. “Let me unlock the door.”
“Frak it,” Lee answers urgently. “I need you now. Please, let me…”
“I want to. Oh, I want to,” Laura half-moans, the last cry of defense flickering in her words. “But someone will see.”
“I don’t care,” Lee says confidentally. He believes it, too.
“Yes,” Laura answers, her breath steaming in the cold air, surrendering. “Gods, yes, you’re driving me out of my mind…”
It’s possible things will absolutely spiral out of control (of course it already has), because there is nothing left to do except fall into each other’s arms, but the door screeches open and both Lee and Laura jump and when their eyes meet, they both immediately look away.
Zarek walks in and smiles broadly.
“You two look miserable, campers,” he says. “What were you plotting?”
Laura recovers first; she always does. It takes more than a half-assed seduction based on a ten-year-old fantasy to flummox the President of the Twelve Colonies.
“Nothing particularly interesting, Mr. Zarek,” she says glibly, and she hasn’t even broken a sweat. “Captain Apollo and I were discussing how small the world is. Did you know we both liked a little coffeehouse in Caprica City? Quills was the place. Excellent espresso, but the croissants were always stale.”
“Yeah,” Lee says, mouth dry and forehead sweating. “Can we get out of the cold storage bin, Zarek? The president looks like she’s about to freeze, and I can’t feel my toes.”
Zarek snorts. “You’re worried about your toes, Captain?” he asks. “Worry about the announcement going out over wireless instead.”
The president rolls her eyes. “Yes, Mr. Zarek, I’m aware you still don’t like the idea of using religion instead of Captain Apollo’s words against his father. However, in the off chance that Commander Adama rejoins us, I would prefer that we not sabotage our military commander entirely.”
“Whatever you wish, Madam President,” Zarek answers, giving Lee’s groin a good look and a smirk. He would appear not to be entirely fooled by them, but he’s not going to say anything.
Lee’s grateful, even if he does want to deck the guy anyway. And Laura — the president — is as calm as if she wasn’t whispering how much she wanted him less than five minutes ago.
Maybe. When she passes him, her pupils are dilated and she almost smiles, but then she folds her arms around herself and looks away.
And so, for Lee, the story ends the way it begins. Trying, and failing, to pick up a girl who reads Tom Zarek.
Even if he has run away with her this time.