Like Water on a Stain (Something Borrowed, Something Blue Remix) [BSG; Bill Adama/Laura Roslin; R]
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Word Count: 3,000
Summary: Four times Laura Roslin wore someone else's clothes, and one time she wore what was hers.
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Through 4 x 22, "Daybreak, Part II"
Title and Author of Original Story: that dress looks nice on you, by leiascully
I. (Something Old)
She feels so frakking good in his tanks. Clean and old and worn to paper softness, they cling to her still-damp, flushed skin as she steps out of the makeshift bathroom. New Caprica might not be civilized, but Bill pulled some strings and got Chief Tyrol to build her a shower, complete with a water heater that actually works. Bless them both, she thinks, toweling her hair and relishing the bite of cool air. Wearing nothing but his tanks, the breeze between her legs makes her shudder as it fans the spark of her arousal. Her skin tingles.
"I don't know why you even bother," he says from her bed, covered with nothing but the blanket. He gives her a sleepy leer. "You're just gonna come over here and get sweaty again."
Her lips curve, and she feels the low growl of his voice as a tightening deep in her belly. "Mmm. I thought it might be courteous."
"Courteous, hell," he replies, sitting up. "I don't give a good godsdamn if you're clean or not. Come over here."
Her smile widens. "Is that an order or a promise, Admiral?"
"Take your pick."
She lets the towel fall and swings her hair over her shoulders, flinging droplets. The cot is small and prone to collapsing at the worst moments, but she manages to straddle him. He's hard again already, and she grins as she pulls the blanket aside in order to slide down onto him. She's still slick, and he goes in to the hilt at once. She closes her eyes and clutches his shoulder with trembling fingers, just breathing. "Oh. Gods."
"Yeah," he agrees, sounding a little dazed, tracing random patterns on her bare thighs. His big, warm hands travel up, after a minute, cupping her breasts through the thin cloth. His thumbs circle her nipples, and she arches her back, pressing into his touch. "You know, these look good on you," he manages, breathless. His flanks twitch.
She clamps herself hard around him, earning a heartfelt groan, and tugs at the tanks, feigning nonchalance. "What, these old things?"
He laughs, and she falls forward, elbows against his shoulders and her cheek brushing his. Gods, he smells good. Warm skin and musk, smoke and sex and the leathery man-smell that makes her dizzy. "You should keep 'em."
"I wouldn't want to be run in for misuse of government property," she says, and shifts her hips.
Laura breathes a laugh into his ear. "Surprisingly inarticulate of you," she chides, but then he slides his hand between them to rub between her thighs, and her scold turns into a moan.
II. (Something New)
The open-air market on Cloud 9 feels so real that Laura can almost forget it isn't as she walks beneath the bright summer sky, dangling her shoes. The short grass is soft beneath her stocking feet, and if it's true that it's undignified, it's equally true that, out here, no one cares. Everyone's too excited by the sight of the sky, the sound of running water, the prospect of new things.
Even Billy seems more like the teenager that he is, less held back and haunted, as he thumbs through magazines at the nearest stall. Laura smiles at his back and moves on, passing folding tables piled with books, toys, cigarettes, and, amazingly, even a box of assorted candies, still in their colorful wrappers. Her mouth waters at the thought of chocolate, but she quickly averts her eyes. Better to let the children have it. Better not to taste it again, and pray they have fudge sauce on Earth.
Clothing is hung on portable metal racks and spread on blankets at one end of the market, and she makes her way there, stepping back into her heels when she realizes someone might see them in her hand and get the wrong idea. Her toes feel too tight, pressed too closely together after a few moments of freedom, and she gives an equally tight smile to the woman who calls her name and waves.
Laura kneels on the edge of a ratty burgundy blanket to thumb through piles of shirts, arranged by size instead of style, fine silken blouses sandwiched between threadbare undershirts and stained work tunics. A periwinkle short-sleeved sweater catches her eye, and she tugs it out from the bottom of the heap slowly, fingertips grazing the soft, fine wool. She checks the label, confirming what she already knows: it's from Carmichael's, back on Caprica, and its twin, a size smaller, was (or maybe still is) in her bureau in the apartment she left behind.
"Pretty, isn't it, Madam President?" the vendor asks, obviously hoping to make a sale. She gives Laura a smile that's far too old for a girl who's probably Billy's age, if that. "It's really your color."
It really was. She used to wear hers with a gray skirt and a scarf printed with irises knotted around her neck. She used to wear pretty clothes, and used to care. "I'm not sure it's quite what I'm looking for," she says gently, standing.
In the end, she trades a pair of earrings for three new blouses and a pair of plain black slacks; pays another seller outright for a nightgown and a few other informal things. This one has an open leather suitcase full of bras and panties, off to one side of his blanket, and she tries not to be disgusted at the thought of anyone wearing secondhand underwear. Tries not to want them, too. Hers are getting awfully thin.
Laura looks up from folding the last of her purchases over her arm and blinks at the man running toward her. Red-faced and heavy, with patches on his trousers and a broad accent, she certainly doesn't recognize him, but she puts on an inquiring smile anyway. "Yes?"
"Johann Callea," he says, holding out a thick hand. "It's an honor to meet you, Madam President."
"The pleasure's all mine." Her smile warms a few degrees as he beams with pleasure. "Now, what can I do for you, Mr. Callea?"
"Nothin' at all! I just wanted to give you this," he replies, and shakes out the bundle of crimson cloth he's carrying to reveal a beautiful cardigan sweater. It's truly exquisite, obviously expensive, and Laura's breath catches as her gaze flies to his expectant face.
"Oh, I couldn't possibly accept--"
"Please," he interrupts. "My wife, Naomi, was a schoolteacher, back on Aerilon. She was a great fan of yours, even before. She passed, a month ago, and--" He swallows. "Well. This was her best, and I know she would've wanted you to have it."
"I'm so sorry," she murmurs, stricken, and he nods as he refolds the sweater and sets it gently atop the pile she's already carrying. He makes to turn away, head ducked, but she catches his wrist. His eyes are overbright, and now that she knows to look, the grief etched on his face is clear. "Thank you, Johann," she says, and means it from her heart. "I'll treasure it."
When she takes her new things back to Colonial One, she touches each of them in turn, wondering.
III. (Something Borrowed)
Laura never would have expected to find herself in Saul Tigh's quarters in quite this way. Wouldn't have expected Bill to be the first one to pass out, either. But, she supposes, more than a little fuzzy, it all makes sense. Tigh is the one with the bottles in his closet and the inhuman alcohol tolerance, she's the one drinking lightly on the cancer drugs that don't mix well with booze, and Bill's under more stress than either of them.
Even so, she's going to kill him in the morning, if the hangover doesn't do it first. Sprawled on the bed, content and snoring, while she has a one-eyed, drunken Cylon sobbing incoherently into her shoulder. Gods, she thinks, squinting up at the blurry ceiling. She is personally going to tie him up and shoot him.
And then, without warning, Tigh vomits all over her shirt, and she revises that. She's going to kill them both.
"Sorry," he slurs, "gods, so sorry..."
"Shh," she says, over and over, need to comfort outweighing her disgust. Her hand rubs gentle circles over the back of his open, rumpled jacket. "It's all right, Saul. Nothing to be sorry for. We just have to get you up, and to the toilet. Come on," she urges, and tries to stand. It's easier said than done. She's weak these days anyway, more than a little drunk herself, and he's heavy, mostly dead weight. But after a moment of shaking him, he's able to lurch to his feet. He clutches at her, and they both stumble, and of course--of course--her wig slides off.
Laura closes her eyes briefly, one arm around his shoulders, the other braced against the wall. "Frak," she whispers, and does her best to kick it to one side, out of the way. It looks like some sort of animal, an auburn heap beside the wall, and she bites off a whimpering noise that might be a laugh and might be a sob as she and Tigh make their way to the bathroom.
He barely gets to the toilet before he's sick again, wave after wave of noisy, wrenching heaves. The sounds and the stench are almost enough to set her nausea off, too, but she splashes icy water on her face at the sink and tries not to breathe too deeply. Tries not to think about--or look at--the still-warm wet patch on her shirt, either.
After a moment, the toilet flushes. She glances down to see Tigh staring at her, one hand still clutching the rim of the bowl, pale and a little more sober than he was a moment ago. There's a glass on the sink ledge, and she fills it halfway and holds it out wordlessly.
"Thanks," he rasps, after he's pulled himself to his feet and taken a sip.
"Let's get you to bed," she says as brusquely as she can, with a voice that shakes only slightly. Gods, her wig is on the floor in the other room. Tigh has more hair than she does.
She gets him settled; helps pull his boots off and lines them up just as she did Bill's, beside the bed. Bill's elbow can't be a comfortable pillow, but Tigh's eyes close the instant he's horizontal, and Laura breathes a sigh of relief as she straightens.
Her eyes land on Tigh's closet door, still hanging open. Making her intoxicated way through the corridors of Galactica in the middle of the night is one thing, but doing so covered with vomit is a line she's unwilling to cross. Sure enough, Tigh has almost as many regulation tanks as Bill. She reaches for the top button of her shirt with a wince and peels herself out of it quickly, followed by her equally-damp and stinking bra, before tugging the nearest gray tank off its hanger.
"Gods," Tigh mutters, and she whirls, startled, to find that he's turned his head, watching her. "Those are some beautiful frakking tits."
She's too shocked even to cover them, these heavy, beloved, hated things. She can almost feel the color drain from her face as she stares at him. Can barely form words. "What did you say?"
"Yer tits, Laura," he repeats, and the reverent wonder in his tone might be the only thing holding her to the ground. His eye is as soft as his voice, dark like she imagines the cancer that's eating her alive. "They're godsdamn gorgeous. You're godsdamn frakking gorgeous, y'know? No wonder the old man can barely think straight."
"They're killing me," she whispers, as unable to stop the words as she is to stop her eyes burning with sudden tears. "Frak!" She is bald, and too thin, sick and drunk and half-naked and tired, and gods, she did. She used to be beautiful.
His arm flops out, gesturing weakly off the side of the bed. "C'mere."
And she does, picking her way across the floor and holding back sobs; tugging his tank over her head, over her godsdamned breasts with shaking hands. Lets Tigh pull her down until she's perched on the edge of the mattress, and feels it dip and sway when he rolls onto his side. "Hey. Hey," he murmurs, one hand propping him up, the other splayed against her back.
Behind them both, Bill's breathing is deep and even, slow bass to the counterpoint of her ragged, muffled sobs.
Tigh waits, motionless, until she's spent, then slides his hand around to her belly. Laura lets her hand fall from over her mouth; sets it on top of his. His fingers spread, lacing with hers. "Lie down, sweetheart," he says, very low, the endearment as much as his tone startling her. She surprises herself by obeying, settling into what little space remains on the edge. She shouldn't be taken aback, by now, at how warm and soft his body feels behind hers. How human. He smells like soap, clean, but sour from alcohol and bile, and she can smell Bill faintly, too. Funny how Bill Adama's sweaty skin has the power to make her knees weak.
"My Ellen had beautiful tits," Tigh says softly, trailing his hand up the thin fabric to cup one of hers. Laura shudders, but he doesn't do anything more than cradle the weight of it in his palm, strange and chaste and deeply, horribly comforting. She blinks back tears again. "That's one of the things I noticed first. Pretty face, great tits, and a nice ass."
"Hmm," she replies, amused. "Very civilized of you."
"Hah!" Bill makes a snuffling sound at the noise and shifts, grunting something. Tigh continues, more softly, "He's the gentleman. Went on and on about how brilliant you are, your beautiful eyes, all that godsdamn besotted crap."
"Well, that, and your great ass." She can feel his grin, stubble prickling rough against her scalp. "Think he might've said something about how you'd look frakking good in his rack..."
"Mmm. At least he's got his priorities straight." Laura allows herself to relax and curl back against him, and Tigh lets out a long, slow breath.
"He's a good man." All serious now, and she nods.
"I know," she whispers, and closes her eyes. Take care of him for me, she wants to say, but instead she brings her hand up, covering his over her breast. As if both of them together can somehow hold it back and protect him.
IV. (Something Blue)
"Oh, gods! Honey, I'm so sorry!" Ellen gasps, eyes round with shock.
Laura stares down at the rapidly-spreading stain on her skirt, then at Ellen Tigh, whose horrified expression is inexplicably hilarious, her gloss-slicked lips still forming an O of surprise. She snickers, swaying, clutching her own glass tighter.
Ellen's mouth snaps shut, and she gives Laura a sidelong, conspiratorial look. "I didn't mean to do that," she whispers, too loudly. "I think maybe I've had a few--one--too many. Shhh!" Finger to her lips, and Laura, taking a sip, nearly snorts ambrosia. She tries to hold back, pressing her hand against her mouth, but it's no use. She giggles, then laughs aloud, and then Ellen starts to cackle, which sets them both off beyond any hope of help.
As one, Bill and Saul look over from their end of the bar, eyebrows raised, which only makes them laugh harder, until they're clutching at each other like sisters and gasping to breathe. Ellen's hair is in Laura's eyes, and her glasses are pressed up against Ellen's neck, the smell of Ellen's perfume sharp and dark, all musk and sex and exotic fruit.
"Come on," Ellen manages at last, stumbling off the barstool. "I've got a dress that'd look gorgeous on you, Laura. We'll get you fixed up before the dancing starts, good as new!"
Or better than new, Laura thinks a little later, taking in as much of herself as she can in the Tighs' bathroom mirror. The royal blue sheathe fits her like a glove, though longer--and, thankfully, more decent--on her than on its owner. Elegant rather than blatant sex. She smoothes her hands down the front, silk soft as water beneath her palms. "Are you sure you don't mind, Ellen?" she calls. Funny how she thought she didn't like the woman, she thinks, turning slightly and standing on tiptoe to see if it makes her ass look fat.
"Honey, it looks like it was made for you," Ellen replies, coming to lean against the doorway with a drink in hand. Laura could say the same about the dress Ellen's wearing--long, strapless, and black, with a thigh-high slit up the front. With her messy golden curls catching the light and her frak-me-now lips, she looks like a movie star. And Laura, even in her own heart-stopping dress, feels like nothing more than a frumpy schoolteacher.
Ellen steps forward, as if sensing her thought, and holds out her fist. Opens it to reveal a pair of breathtaking teardrop sapphire earrings. "Keep the dress, and wear these for tonight," she says, smiling as if they're friends. "Saul bought them for me on Virgon, on our tenth anniversary."
Laura's hand falters forward, then stops. She draws back, a little dizzy. "Ellen, I couldn't--"
"For luck," Ellen says with a wink, and presses them into her palm. "Bill won't know what hit him."
V. (And Something Sacred)
He remembers that, in the tent on New Caprica, they tried to keep quiet. She muffled her mouth against his lips. The cot creaked, but there was enough noise, planetside, to hide that. Gods, she was so alive, so much the life he never had. He touched her the way he'd touched the controls of his Viper, guiding her higher and higher, tiny adjustments until she was shaking around him, gasping into his neck and taken to the brink. He held her close and followed her up, into the sky he'd missed so much.
Blinded by endless blue and green, so much life around them, his hand tightens on the stick, though he's long since touched down. His fingers unclench with an effort, and he turns. Takes her hand in his and thumbs the metal band gently, smooth and cool beneath his touch.
"You know," he says, when he can speak again, "it looks good on you. You really should keep it."
He holds the knowledge of what she would have answered in his heart, like a gift.