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Written for the bsg_remix 2014, and posting for posterity.

Title: Inhale, Exhale (The Ripples in a Lake Remix)
Characters: Laura Roslin, Bill Adama, Dr Cottle, Layne Ishay, Natalie, Caprica Six, Sharon Agathon, Hera Agathon
Pairing: Laura/Bill
Rating: T
Warnings: canon character death
Summary: A butterfly’s wings and a breath of air; musings on life lived.
Original Story: Pause, Review by obsessive_a101

On her first day of treatment, Cottle takes a break, retreating to his tiny office for a quick cigarette. He watches her through the crack of the door, eyes closing, chest rising and falling as she takes slow, deep breaths, forehead wrinkling as she tries to push down the nausea churning in her belly.

The auburn hair spreading like a waterfall over her pillow reminds him again of his eldest daughter. The sparkle in the green eyes and the quick wit always have too. It stopped surprising him a long time ago that he’s never been able to say no to her, no matter the weight of the request. She’s something special.

“How you can call yourself a doctor and keep filling your lungs with smoke like that, I’ll never know,” the familiar refrain coming round his office door before she does, her bare feet whispering against the carpet.

“When you get that medical degree, young lady, you can criticise my decisions about my health.” He leans back in his chair as his girl ruffles his hair, the worn argument comforting and well-practised.

Those he couldn’t save haunt him, sometimes. Never matters much that there was nothing he could do, their faces are still there, on the edges of his vision.

He peers out the door again, considering going to distract his favourite patient. He saved her once, despite his better judgement, and he’s never regretted it. He only hopes he can do it again.

The door closes quietly behind him. Just a breath of smoke curling from it, the cigarette stubbed out and crumpled in the ashtray has barely been touched.

* * *

He remembers the air on Kobol; the heavy, fecund lushness of it, ripe with portent and mystery. The way it made her hair curl damply around her face. He remembers rage, and the way it faded into gratitude, for him, for his son, for her. He remembers starting to trust her.

He remembers the air on New Caprica, in the summer, scented with wildflowers and the soft smell of smoke. The way her hair gleamed red gold in the sunlight, a cloud around her face. He remembers duty, and the way it faded into comfort, for him, for her. He remembers starting to want her.

He breathes the air in sickbay, the sterile nothingness pumped from the air filters. The way it makes her hair hang limply around her face, a dry curtain already growing brittle. He thinks of arguments, and disagreements, and how loving her is still worth it.

He doesn’t think of the air in an oxygen tube taped under her nose. He doesn’t think of no hair at all. He doesn’t think of the endings he can’t deal with.

* * *

Open. Attach. Pump.

Insert the cannula. Retract and withdraw the needle. Catheter – medically taped to place.

Ishay runs through it in her mind, methodically, the way she always has, the way she has since school. One step after another step after another step.

A wince of pain, and she apologises to the woman in the bed. She’s never dealt much with the president before, her regular medicals always having been overseen by Doc Cottle, and she’s a little wary, not sure how to speak to her. She tries to be breezy, airy but respectful, and she hopes it comes across that way.

“Did you do your medical training in the military?”, the president asks, making polite small talk as she is no doubt trained to do.

Ishay is never sure how to feel about this woman. She’s seen her at what she hopes is her worst, and her own vote went to Baltar, but there’s a part of her that can never forget that this woman is the reason this fleet exists. This woman is the reason she has the tiniest of chances at a life and a love and a future.

She’s gentler, the next time the president comes in for a treatment.

* * *

He reads to her of all the lives they never lived, all the stories they were never able to tell, the places they never saw. In their minds, they’ve had forever, hale and healthy and free to be whoever they wanted to be.

It’s not enough. Not for him.

Her eyes sparkle as he describes landscapes, love stories, and adventure, her body curling in on itself in the way it never is allowed to in public. She’s always been so tall, so strong, so indomitable, and it’s only with him, in these moments, that she allows herself to assume any air of fragility, of smallness.

It’s only with her, in these moments, that he lets himself be fragile too.

* * *

Hera dreams.

Sometimes she dreams of bright lights and hard fingers, a pain in her tummy that stabs and aches. Those dreams make her whimper in her sleep, until Mommy or Daddy gets up and brings her into their bed, where she snuggles between them, holding tight onto their arms.

Sometimes she dreams of bunny rabbits and fairies from the stories Daddy reads to her.

Sometimes she dreams of her other mommy, and of Rara, and of warm blankets in cold air, of cuddles and of Rara singing and mommy running her fingers through Hera’s hair.

There’s a place she goes in some of her dreams, a big room, all red and gold and full of stairs. She’s lost, in there, but it’s a game. There’s Mommy and Rara and the blonde lady, and they all love her, so she runs because she knows they will come too. She wants them all to come too.

She loves them as well.

* * *

Natalie has died twice before, a burst of pain and a momentary flash of terror for the period of nothingness she knew awaited her until she was downloaded. She’s come to view it as rebirth, a time of quietness and peace before she is able to begin her life all over again, wiser and stronger than before.

This kind of death is so alien. The human president’s dark hair is not natural, her limbs thin, her skin sallow and drawn over her cheeks. This slow fading away into a shadow of what one was, and then to be gone, forever. She wonders if this is the way she will go, once the resurrection hub is gone. She wonders if she will deal with it the way this woman has, this outward grace and inner fear.

She wonders what lies beyond. She wonders who she will see there.

When it happens, in a burst of pain, and a flash of terror, there’s a moment when she sees a boat, and a shore, and distant figures waving. For a moment, she wonders if one day, she’ll meet Laura Roslin there.

* * *

Athena runs, chasing her daughter up and down the stairs, round and round the corners, following the childish laughter she knows so well. She’s lost her before, and she’ll never forgive, never forget.

Caprica stands, waiting with arms outstretched for the tiny body to run into them, ready to take her away from the danger, this, that, the world. Ready to save her in ways she can’t save herself.

In their waking moments, they connect, with each other and with
her. There’s something there. Something on the edge of consciousness that binds them together. They don’t understand.

* * *

On her last day, Bill sits by her side, holding her hand, a tiny hub of calm in the midst of the bustle of people preparing to depart.

“I wish I could have given you the world,” he says, as he runs his fingers over the fine bones of her wrist and she smiles at him, a tired smile filled with more love than he ever thought one smile could hold.

She breathes in, breathes out, before replying, her voice cracking in the middle. “You did. Just look out the window.”

“No, Kara did. And you. You got us here. I just came along for the ride.” He tries to keep his voice light, airy, but pretending not to feel is something he’s never been good at.

She squeezes his hand, not as tightly as she used to, and he barely dares to squeeze back, afraid of hurting the delicate bones and paper-thin skin. The sparkle in her eyes never fades, even now.

“You gave me your world, Bill. It’s enough.”

Maybe it is.

* * *

Laura Roslin sits at the side of a lake and breathes. It feels good to take air deep into her lungs with no pain and no fear.

She submerges her bare toes in the coolness, looking down at her face reflected back at her. The water ripples gently out from where she disturbs it, and she watches the tiny waves and eddies move through the reflection and out further into the lake.

Remembering all the lives that touched her own brings her peace. The good and the bad, and the everything in between. Those already here await her, but she drifts for a while in the memories of those still to come, and feels content.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2014 01:45 am (UTC)

I shall leave a more coherent and relevant comment later, but I had somehow guessed that you wrote this. ;) Though it was only on my way home from work, and then I've been completely knocked out of it.

But thank you. It's more than I ever could have hoped for, and I think I like it more than the original actually. :P


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )