SUMMARY: She hears a voice say, "Wake up, Madam President. You don't want to be late."
SPOILERS: Through Blood on the Scales. This will become highly AU come No Exit's airing, I'm sure.
WORD COUNT: 2,624
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended on my part.
NOTE: This is fluffy. Beware of tooth decay. Also, please note that anything in this story is purely based on speculation, not spoilers for future episodes.
THANKS: To leiascully for advice, for encouraging me to write this, and because I inadvertently stole a piece of banter from her, sort of. Hope she forgives me with time and/or the delivery of cute shoes. Also big thanks to icedteainthebag for the quick and awesome beta despite having a good chunk of the story blacked out for spoilers (catch up, already). You both have made my week and possibly my year. And to N, for four wonderful years of marriage as of tomorrow. I remain one of those optimistic humans.
She's dreaming that she's sitting at an outdoor table at the café near the Greenmarket in Caprica City, sipping a coffee with cream and picking at a cranberry muffin. Bill is by her side, tossing crumbs to the pigeons. The spring sunshine is on her face and she shuts her eyes, letting the rays bathe her face with warmth.
And then a hand touches her arm and she hears a voice say, "Wake up, Madam President. You don't want to be late."
She rolls onto her side and mumbles, "Tell the Quorum they’ll just have to wait."
Her eyes snap open and she remembers. The Quorum of Twelve are all dead, at least the original members, and she's no longer the president.
Kara Thrace grins down at her. "Out of that rack, NOW! I mean, please get out of bed, Madam President."
Laura sits up, embarrassed to have someone other than Bill see her without her wig or scarf. She fumbles for the green scarf behind the bed and starts tying it on her head. "I haven't been the president for forty-eight hours. You might as well start calling me Laura."
"That's gonna be tough for me," Kara says.
"How is Sam?"
"He's getting better every day."
"I'm glad to hear that. What time is it?" Laura asks.
"Time to make you beautiful," says Kara. She's in her dress uniform, neatly pressed and polished.
She raises an eyebrow. "And you're going to help with that?"
Kara snorts. "Hardly, although I'll act in a supervisory capacity. I've enlisted a beauty expert for this."
She stands up. "We have beauty experts in the fleet? How come nobody told me this before? Tory used to cut my hair in Colonial One's head."
"You'll see," Kara says. "Go take your shower. The expert will be here when you get out."
"You're a woman of many mysteries, Starbuck."
"You have no idea," she says, and pushes Laura towards the head.
Lee straightens the admiral's stars on his father's dress uniform. The role reversal does not escape Bill. He remembers adjusting his son's uniform collar for his first day of school, almost twenty-five years ago.
"I think you need a drink, Bill," says Tigh, who has been remarkably abstemious today. "Calm your nerves."
True, his heart is beating a little faster than normal, but he's still quite calm.
"I think we had enough drinks last night, don't you?" Bill says. He vaguely remembers endless glasses of home-brewed whiskey and a few games of triad, and later, marching down the corridors, singing old war songs. Luckily, a lot of water and two aspirin have cured him.
"There are never enough drinks," growls Tigh.
"Then have one on me," he says, gesturing at his bar setup.
"Nah, better not. I'll catch hell if the old lady smells liquor on my breath at this time of day."
Bill and Lee both smirk at the idea of calling a six-foot tall, platinum blonde Cylon "the old lady."
Lee gives his father's uniform a final pat. "Looking good, Dad."
"Thanks, son." He's amazed that this day has come, not only for the significance of the event, but that he and Lee are in a place where they can celebrate together without guilt or recrimination. Where the wounds may not be completely healed, but at least are showing definite signs of doing so. He smiles at his son.
"Need any manly advice before we go?" Lee asks, with a short laugh. "Although I'm not much of an expert in successful marriage." Something dark clouds his face.
Bill squeezes Lee's arm. "I'll be thinking about her today. I wish she could be with us." He pictures Dee's pretty, earnest face.
"Yeah, me too." Lee looks at the wedding ring he still wears on his finger.
There are so many people to miss today—Dee, Kat, Cally. And Zak. How he wishes Zak were here, sprawled out in one of the chairs, making bad jokes about his father getting married.
"Time check," Bill says, straightening his glasses.
Lee glances at his watch. "Ten minutes. I suppose it's time to make the long walk."
"Not too late to back out, Bill," says Tigh.
"Nope," he replies. He's never been so ready for anything in his life.
"I'm really happy for you, Dad." Lee wraps his arm around his father's shoulders. "Laura and I have had our differences, but you know I approve. Highly."
"Thanks, Lee. And I'm glad you're here. It's an honor to have the President of the Twelve Colonies at my wedding." Bill blinks away stray tears.
"Enough of this sensitive crap," Tigh says, standing up and giving his uniform a tug to straighten it. "Let's go get you hitched, Old Man."
She walks out of the head in her bathrobe, a towel turban on her head.
Kara squeezes her arm. "Promise me you won't be mad about this," she says.
On the living room sofa sits a tall, slender blonde woman. "You've got to be frakking kidding me," Laura mutters under her breath.
"Hello, Madam President," says Caprica Six. She's wearing a dress that's quite demure for her, cream-colored with splashes of blue flowers. She's still not showing, but she definitely has the glow of a pregnant woman.
Laura looks at Kara.
"Well, I thought to myself, 'Who's the most glamorous woman I know?'" Kara says, shrugging. "Plus, with the amnesty and all…"
"Don't worry, I'm not planning on hurting you or anyone else," Caprica says, standing. "I love doing hair and makeup. I used to be the one all my sisters came to for makeovers."
"There's not much hair to do," Laura says, pointing to her wig, resting on a wig stand.
"It's made of human hair. I checked. I'm going to make that wig gorgeous," Caprica says.
"And I'm going to have a drink." Kara pulls out a flask. "Anyone else?"
"None for me," Caprica says, patting her belly.
"Yes, please," says Laura. Her mouth is suddenly dry.
The shot of whatever moonshine Starbuck's got in that flask goes down like paint thinner, but it clears her head somewhat.
Caprica sits her down in a chair in front of a mirror and fits the wig on her head. She stands back to appraise the situation. "You know, it's a lovely wig, but I'd like to give it some body, make it look more like it…used to."
Laura shrugs. Clearly, this is out of her hands. "Do you what you have to. Just don't make me look ridiculous."
"I'll shoot her if she does," says Kara from the sofa, patting her sidearm.
"Play nice," Laura warns.
She closes her eyes and attempts to relax, as Caprica does various things to her wig with a curling iron and a hairbrush. Caprica hums a little as she fusses the hair; she smells like hairspray and sweet perfume. She seems so human, Laura thinks.
"Have you ever been married before?" Caprica asks.
"No," she says.
"I'm excited to see a human wedding. We don't get married. It seems unrealistic to many of us to pledge one's love to another for all time and eternity."
"Sometimes it seems unrealistic to me," says Starbuck.
"Hmm…it might be slightly unrealistic," Laura says, "but one quality human beings frequently possess is optimism. We always hold out hope that we'll love each other forever."
"And you think you'll love the Admiral for that long?" asks Caprica, brushing out a ringlet.
It won't be so very long, Laura thinks. Perhaps three months if she's lucky, Cottle told her at her last visit. "I do," she says.
Caprica smiles—a dazzling smile, teeth very white. "Once I thought I would love a certain man forever, but I was wrong. But I hope your love with Admiral Adama lasts for all eternity and that God will bless your union."
Kara passes the flask to Laura. "She'll drink to that!"
Forty-five minutes later, after much application of various creams and gels to her face and enough hair spray to pollute a small city, Laura looks at herself in the mirror. Tears spring into her eyes. Oh, she looks like herself. She looks like the healthy woman she was a year ago, pink-cheeked, tousle-haired, radiant.
She touches Caprica's arm. "I can't thank you enough," she says.
Kara comes over and circles her, admiring. "I have to say, you look like a million cubits. Now, what are you planning to wear?"
"I don't have much choice," she says. "I was thinking the blue suit with the pink blouse."
"A bride needs a wedding dress," says Caprica. "Even I know that."
"I'd look ridiculous in a big, white dress," Laura says, laughing. "Imagine, a bride in her fifties in a dress like that. With a veil, no less."
"We have something better for you," Kara says. She pulls a garment bag out of the closet and hands it to Laura.
"What have you two done?" she groans, unzipping the bag.
She pulls out a length of dark red fabric. For a moment her breath catches in her throat; she thinks it's the red dress she wore for the groundbreaking on New Caprica, but it's not. It was left behind during the frantic evacuation. It's the same color, though, and she smiles, remembering one of the few times the sun shone on that planet and how Bill sat with his feet buried in the sand. Alluvial deposits, he said.
"Try it on," Caprica says and she and Kara turn their backs, for modesty's sake.
The dress is a wraparound that hugs her body, made of a silky material. The sleeves are short, the hemline comes to just above her knees, and neckline is just low enough to show a hint of cleavage. It's perfect, as if it were made just for her.
"Gods," she whispers. She looks like the woman who danced under the stars on New Caprica. "Where did you get this?"
Kara grins. "You can find just about anything you want on Prometheus," she says. "I remembered how pretty you looked in that red dress that day on New Caprica, so I tried to find something that color for you."
"I came along to help, " Caprica adds. "I didn't trust Captain Thrace's taste in wedding outfits."
"Just because I got hitched in my tanks and a pair of fatigue pants doesn't mean I don't know anything about fashion."
Caprica rolls her eyes.
Her glasses, a pair of black heels, a spritz of perfume from Caprica's arsenal and she's ready to go.
Oh gods. She's getting married. It hadn't really hit her before this.
"Time to go," says Kara. "The Old Man demands punctuality at all times."
Laura takes one last look around her quarters. She touches the framed photo of Billy on the desk. She wishes he could be here with her.
She steps out into the corridor; takes a deep breath. But it's too late. She bends over, hands clutching her knees.
"Are you all right, Madam…I mean, Laura?" Kara asks.
Too late. The giggles bubble up inside her and escape through her mouth. She laughs and laughs as various crew members and officers pass them by, staring at their former president in hysterics.
"I do this," she gasps, between giggles. "When I get nervous…"
"How odd," Caprica says, wrinkling her brow.
Kara asks, "Would it help if I slapped you?"
"Don't you dare ruin her makeup," Caprica growls.
Laura stands up as straight as she can, takes a deep breath. There's nothing to be nervous about. She's marrying Bill. Bill, who would walk through fire for her. The only man she's ever truly loved. Her cabin in the woods by a babbling brook. Bill. No need to be afraid.
Another deep breath. The giggles are subsiding. She takes Kara by the arm. "I'm ready," she says.
"Good," Kara says. "By the way, for the record, I'm really sorry I held you at gunpoint."
"And I'm sorry I took a shot at you," Laura says. It feels like that was years and years ago.
"Glad to hear we're all good now. Let's go to a wedding," Kara says, with a crooked smile.
Bill and Saul stand by the windows of the Observation Lounge. Katrina, the priest, fusses about, lighting candles and incense. None of the guests have arrived yet.
A year ago, if you'd told him he'd have a Cylon as his best man, he would have punched your lights out. Then again, if you'd told him a year ago that he'd be marrying Laura Roslin… Life is strange, indeed. Strange and wonderful.
"Nervous yet?" Saul asks.
"Not at all," he says. "Funny thing is that I was scared as hell when I married Carolanne. Sweating, shaking, the whole bit."
"That should've told you something right there," Saul says.
"Laura Roslin is one hell of a woman. Sure, we've tangled a time or seven, but you know I like her, Bill. Plus, she's got great legs."
Bill elbows his friend in the ribs. "That's my future wife you're talking about."
"Doesn't change the fact that she's got great legs. Count yourself as lucky."
Guests begin to file into the Observation Lounge. Chief Tyrol, Helo and Athena, Doc Cottle, Laura's former staff, most of the officers. He nods in greeting at all of them.
Suddenly, he chuckles to himself.
"You all right?" Saul whispers.
"I just pictured Laura, walking here, laughing her ass off."
"Why would she be laughing?"
"She does that when she's nervous." He smiles, thinking of her peals of giggles the night of the first presidential debate and how she manically tossed index cards all over his quarters. He loved her even then. He probably always had, even before he'd met her.
Starbuck walks into the Lounge. She marches up to him and kisses his cheek.
"What do you hear, Starbuck?" he asks.
"Nothing but wedding bells, sir."
"Then grab your bouquet and bring the bride in."
"That's your son's job."
"Tell him I'm staging a military coup if we don’t get this show on the road." Life is short. He wants to be married now.
"Wilco," she says and strides off.
He takes a deep breath, looks at the faces of their guests, human and Cylon, Fleet and civilian, all of them playing a part in their love story.
For one moment, he can almost believe in happy endings.
Lee is standing by Observation Lounge's hatch, resplendent in a dark suit and red tie.
"Madam President," he says, holding out his hand.
She clasps his hand in hers. "Mister President," she replies. "I'm just plain Laura to you now."
"As long as I don't have to call you Mom."
"Lords forbid. Never."
"You look gorgeous," he says, and kisses her cheek.
"Thanks to Cylon technology," she says, smiling.
She remembers how, once upon a time, she almost had a crush on the dashing young Viper pilot.
"Are you ready?" he asks.
She pushes down an errant giggle. This is serious business. She's marrying the man she loves. She will spend the rest of her life by his side, gods willing.
Laura takes Lee's arm. She can hear the familiar strains of the Wedding March begin inside the Lounge.
They step forward into the hatchway. She sees Bill standing at the end of the aisle, looking stern. He spots her and joy spreads across his face.
Deep breath. It's going to be all right.
"I'm ready," she says to Lee. He squeezes her hand.
They take one more step and begin the long walk down the aisle.