The Illusion of a Greek Necessity
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Pairing: Bill Adama/Laura Roslin
Spoilers: Home, Part II
Disclaimer: Moore’s, not mine.
Summary: She is used to this sort of thing. (Title and summary from Sylvia Plath, “Edge.”)
She is naked and cold and alone, and the world seems to spin away from her. It’s no excuse for what she’s just done, but it keeps the hollowness from filling her up.
His voice calls to her, barely distinct, from where she stands near the porthole, staring at the stars and darkness as they wait her out. The air is stale, warm, scented with sex and disappointment and cheap bootlegged alcohol. His room is ugly, small, masculine, and bereft of all virtue save its privacy.
Her thighs are sore and sticky and there is a small hickey on her collarbone that may not be disguisable. It’s not an unpleasant dilemma, but a dilemma nonetheless.
“Laura,” he says, more clearly this time. “Are you listening to me?”
She nods. She is not listening.
He put his hand over her mouth when she got too noisy, crying out in assent and passion; it would not do, of course, for the news to get out that Commander Adama and President Roslin have consummated their union physically. Even if he has symbolically placed her on a throne, the Ceremonial Goddess, the Ceremonial Mother, to be adored and ignored as strange and holy things are. Sex is beyond the pale.
“I’m listening, Bill,” she says sadly. It had been so ordinary, this seduction, this encounter; the quiet smiles, the accidental brushes of hands, her head leaned upon his shoulder as the night got later and the children carried on. A tasteful dance, the way their generation danced, reminding her that she is not a young woman, that she is fifty and dying. Her dancing days are almost done.
“Laura,” he says again. “You’re not listening at all.”
Ordinary. Slow. Methodical. Patient with the time it took to coax him to readiness. With the kisses and touches, and the sudden wet sound of his mouth on her collar bone as his knee found its way between her thighs. Resigned with the time it took to get anywhere at all, and that knowledge that it wasn’t enough. The heaviness of his body on top of hers, the quietness of his whispers of passion to her.
She’s lovely. She feels good. Does she feel good?
And then, suddenly, his hand against her mouth, the look of panic in her eyes that he tries to soothe away. He doesn’t mind the noise. He doesn’t. She can scream as much as she wants now, thanks to Bill, and no one has to know how close to out of control Laura really is.
She wants to sink her teeth into his hand, but she doesn’t, because if she’s allowed to make as much noise as she wants without restriction, Laura is afraid of what she might say. Bill is terrified of what Laura might say.
She’s there to listen, not to speak. When she speaks, the world becomes strange and dangerous and out of control. Bill Adama will not have things jeopardized by a damn fool woman and her passionate lunacy, and he knows that Laura is practical despite herself.
There’s too much riding on this for Laura to lose control now, to become the wild-haired maenad drunk on pleasure and passion.
They take it slow. And if she is left unsatisfied, he will make it up to her some other way.
“Are you saying something?” she asks, turning around. Bill Adama is still in his bunk, looking at her quietly, and that chill runs down her spine, the one that comes and goes and says to watch out, to be afraid. “I’m sorry. I can’t seem to focus.”
“You haven’t heard a word I’ve said,” he says, shaking his head.
“I told you that I can’t…”
“You only hear what you want to hear,” Bill says bitterly, his eyes barely focused. It’s hard to read his expression; she could use her glasses, but they’re close to the bed, and she does not want to go back near the bed. “And that’s not me, is it, Laura?”
“That’s unfair,” Laura says, feeling herself sway a little. “I listen to you, Bill. I respect your judgment. I am here right now…”
“But you’re not sorry,” he says in a voice so quiet she can barely hear. “I forgave you, and you’re still not sorry. You took my children, and you’re not sorry. You broke your word, and you’re not sorry. You divided the fleet, you interrupted a military operation, you turned to Zarek…”
“I did what I had to do,” she says, raising her voice. “You’re right, Bill. I’m not sorry. I don’t need your forgiveness. I found the path to Earth. I stood up to martial law and tyranny. I did what I had to do, and no, I am not sorry.”
He stands up, knocking over the late night snack they left unfinished on the floor. Walks three steps. His eyes are ice-cold, and his expression is mild. And Laura feels the chill, because this is Bill at the heights of fury.
“You said his name,” he says, each word precise and emotionless. “At the end. I heard you.”
The words strike her in the stomach, like a bullet wound, like being submerged in cold water, like a snakebite, the poison slowly seeping into her blood to cause the real damage. She couldn’t have said his name. Bill’s hand was on her mouth the whole time, practically before she started moaning, and he pulled it away as he finished, and it might have been finally or Billy, but it’s not what he thinks she says.
If she’d been looking at him, she’d know if it were true, but after he quieted her down, she stopped looking at Bill. Laura’s eyes were closed, and she was thinking of ordinary, she was thinking of why she had fallen into bed with Bill Adama (to apologize, maybe. Because it’s what the people want, a union of military and civilian, male and female, something reassuring and false as hell), she was close to orgasm, close enough to feel frustrated, but not close enough.
“Say something,” he orders, walking closer. Not too close. Bill Adama is a civilized man. He hates her. He may wish her dead, but he won’t do anything hasty.
There are benefits to being the ceremonial prophet, Laura thinks bitterly.
“How long have you hated me?” she asks, dizzy and cold and wishing that she had just gone home after the ceremony.
“Hate’s a strong word,” he says, not denying it. “I wouldn’t use it lightly.”
His presence smothers her. He would like to smother her, Laura thinks. Put a pillow over her face and wait for her to stop fighting, to watch her hands lose their grip on the sheets. To quiet her.
“But you do hate me,” Laura says. “You forgave me and I turned it away. And then, to add insult to injury, you found out the one thing you’d decided had to be false…”
“Don’t,” he warns her. “Do not say what you’re going to say.”
“It’s what you believed,” she says. “It’s why you were angry. So why not stop dancing around it?”
He draws himself up. “You want me to say something, Madam President. Madam Prophetess. Shall I say it?”
“You’ve wanted to say it since you woke up,” Laura says. “It’s what you forgive me for, isn’t it? The thing I should be sorry about.”
Bill’s face is motionless except for his eyes, and for the rapid and frightening change of color. Laura doesn’t know why she can’t shut up now. Maybe it’s because she hates him. Maybe it’s because she wishes he’d died as much as he wishes she were dead and the guilt of that has her tongue loosened and slowly going insane.
If he calls her a whore, tells her how angry and powerless and jealous he was of her for taking and seducing him, (and Bill can only imagine it as a seduction, Laura knows that now, no matter what is or is not there) it can be over. She can accept that rage, and make it end, make him understand.
She holds herself silent and waiting for the blow.
“I do not forgive you,” he says at last, turning his back on her. “I’ll never forgive you.”
The implications of that strike her in the chest now, and Laura reels. It never gets to be over between them. Not as president and commander, not as anything. He does not forgive her.
And she is not sorry.
“Then I think we’re done here,” Laura says, walking to her clothing as he returns to the bed, not looking at her. “Commander.”