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Fic: An Ever Spinning Wheel

Putting this here for posterity. One of these days, I'll learn to write something other than Laura introspection.

(Don't feel you need to comment. I just get excited about having actually finished something longer than 300 words)

Title: An Ever Spinning Wheel
Summary: Betrayal after betrayal. Where do they stop?
Characters: Laura Roslin, Bill Adama, Doc Cottle
Pairings: A/R
Rating: T
Title, Author and URL of original story: Civic Duty by whatever_lj
Beta Thanks: Thank you to the wonderful icedteainthebag and somadanne for being awesome and handholding my way through my first proper betaing experience. I apologise for the Googling I made you do, icedtea, and for leaving it all so late and sending stupidly long emails, somadanne!
Author Notes: Not my characters, however much I might wish they were.

Afterwards, as he relaxes into sleep, she listens to his heart beating, the gentle tempo of the thud, thud rhythmic under her ear. It's a steady heart, in a warm, strong chest, and she idly traces her fingers along the seam that bisects it, recalling the moment her Captain Apollo, blood drenched, had told her of the shooting. The panic she'd felt, the helplessness from behind the bars, the realisation that the loss of this man would be more than just a professional loss for her. That she'd come to care about him, somehow.

The aftermath of the first time she'd told herself that what Bill Adama didn't know could be for the good of the Fleet.

It isn't like it isn't true. Care as she does about this man, this stubborn, kind, awkward, wonderful man, he can't see what she sees sometimes. Won't see. The Fleet can't eat ideals. Can't breathe morality. Forcing him to look these things in the face only breaks his heart, and she's seen that look in his eyes too often in the short time she's known him to want to see it again.

No, it's better this way. What he doesn't know can't hurt him. What he doesn't know gives her the space to do her duty, which doesn't let up just because of a number written on a page. There's a larger number, carved deeply into the fibres of her heart, that supersedes it every time.

She'd planned to doze alongside him, but she's too worked up, unsatisfied and uneasy, her thoughts whirring. She shifts her over-sensitised body against his, and he tightens his arm around her waist in unconscious response.

"Kidding, right?"

"Of course, Bill."

It's too easy to lie to him sometimes.

She lifts her head from his chest and stares at the vase containing Bill's stolen seed, placed so carefully on the table beside her rickety cot as she waits for Bill's sleeping breath to even out before she gets it to Cottle to be stored. She can’t help thinking that this is not so different from that first time.  

She's going behind his back, taking away his children, putting the Fleet's need for future generations over and above his own wants.

... All of this has happened before ...

Her own desires and wishes vanish like the lazy curl of smoke drifting up from the herb-scented candle she extinguished as Bill drifted into sleep.

... All of this will happen again ...

Her own pleasures have been reduced so much now; she can barely recall the last time she allowed herself to want more in her life than the simple pleasures of the flesh. A sweet-smelling candle, a good night's sleep, a meal made with something fresh, a few hours spent with this man, in peace and quiet.

She stopped thinking about her role in the future when the cancer was still eating away at her body, and it's hard to think of that, even now. But Bill snorts in his sleep and she stares at the vase, and suddenly the image of her classroom flashes into her mind: Ms Roslin standing behind her desk, looking down at a child who is gazing back up at her with Bill's blue eyes and serious expression.

He'd always wanted a daughter, he'd told her on one of the rare long, lazy evenings they'd been able to spend down here. Maybe it would be a girl. A girl he would probably never know, would never realise carried his blood, was his wish fulfilled. She knows of his uneasy, awkward relationship with Lee, which neither of them seems to know how to fix, even now. She knows of the anguish of Zak. Would he be a better father this time, given the chance he'll never get and doesn't want?

What of her? Maybe Laura will recognise his child the moment she steps across the threshold of the school tent. Maybe she won't, and she'll spend years unknowingly teaching someone who in other circumstances may have been part of the family.

Family. She shivers a little and eases Bill's arm away from its favourite place, slung across her hip, his hand resting between her breasts. He snorts again, rolls over, and she sits up, swinging her legs over the side of the cot, feeling exposed despite the lack of observers. Her robe is tossed over the back of her solitary chair, and she stands and shrugs it on, wrapping the cord tightly around her waist. She settles down into the uncomfortable seat and tucks her cold feet beneath herself.

It's a difficult word, family. It's been a decade since she had one connected to her by blood, the loss of them to illness and twisting, crushing metal sowing the seeds of this person she's become. The tiny beginnings of a new family she'd carefully risked building around herself shot down in a senseless hail of bullets.

For Bill, family is everything, and he gathers one around himself wherever he goes. But she … she doesn't seem to know how anymore. There's something inside her that recoils at the thought of the word now, that makes her glad that Lee has become so distant, that Tory cannot replace Billy in her affections.

Alone is her armour these days, and she huddles inside it, comfortable in its protection.

But the baby, Hera, is crawling her adorable way into Laura's heart, and she sometimes regrets that she ever chose to keep such a close eye on another of her secrets. And this man… this man wants to find his way into her heart and soul and is gently, steadily trying to wear down her defences. He chips away at the walls surrounding her, with sweetness and tenderness, succeeding more than she wants him to. More than she wants anyone to, and what does that say about her? The look in his eyes when he's inside her sometimes makes her hide her face in his shoulder so that she can't see it, like a child, hoping that if she hides her eyes, it won't be there. She'll face anything, except that.

But she never turns him away.

She's restless, uncomfortable in her own head, her thoughts churning in that way they have when her personal feelings start to leak from the lockdown she keeps them under. There's an unopened bottle of Tyrol's latest experimental brew on the table, a gift from Bill. She stands, re-igniting the candle and pouring herself a measure of the liquid glowing gold in the tawny light. This one is flavoured with herbs and berries, and the taste itself is pleasant enough, but it burns as it trickles down her throat. She stifles a cough, turning it into a silent grimace instead.

Her eyes fall on the crumpled letter beside the cot, and she bends to pick it up, smoothing the creases out and laying it on the table.

"... your President, Gaius Baltar..."

They'll never not anger her, those words.

It's not the loss of power. Her classroom is the Fleet in microcosm, and she's content enough with that. It's not even really her rejection, though thoughts of that do sting, after everything. It's the knowing, the absolute, rock solid knowledge lodged like a stone in her gut that those words spell disaster for humanity. Somehow.

Disease will strike, and Baltar will not have quarantine measures in place, and hundreds, thousands will die.

An earthquake will bring this unstable city down around their ears. No disaster relief. No hope of rescue.

The Cylons will find them, and everything they've worked for will be gone in a single flash of bright white light, the few ships left on patrol not enough to prevent it.




Her mind supplies image after image just reading "... your president, Gaius Baltar ..." - four words on a crumpled page. They burn like Tyrol's moonshine in her throat.

She chases the thoughts down inside her with another swallow of her drink, running a hand through the messy curls falling around her face, sliding quietly back down into the chair.

"The repopulation program is that frak-weasel Baltar's only reasonable policy decision."

And she'll support it, whatever it takes. It's the one declaration of Baltar's she can support, this attempt to bring more human life into the universe, to preserve the human race, by whatever means necessary. Whatever means necessary. It's imperative. Inescapable. And if it means backing the man she loathes more than anyone else in the galaxy, then she'll do it.

She throws back the last of the liquor, her throat gently numbing in the way her thoughts won't. She pulls her knees up under her chin, wrapping her arms around them for comfort. Her toes curl over the edge of the seat, and she contemplates the bare nails, remembering the woman whose toenails were always red, who never left the house without a dab of her favourite scent on her pulse points, who spent lazy Sunday afternoons trying complicated new recipes in her perfect kitchen.

Who once marched across Caprica City with a placard the day the bill to repeal Gemenon's abortion ban was shot down.

Laura stares harder at her naked toes, as if they hold all the answers as to where that woman went. What would she think now of this woman who inhabits her body? Where did she come from, this woman who instigated her own abortion ban, who is, right at this moment, stealing the right to choose from a man who loves her? Was she born the day the Colonies died?

Kara Thrace once told her of the farms back on Caprica. Of the experiments the Cylons were performing on those poor humans she'd abandoned.

Betrayal after betrayal.

The people they'd left behind. Going behind Bill's back to send Kara to Caprica. The people who have died because of her orders and her choices.

Where do the betrayals stop? Is what she's doing now to Bill that much different from what the Cylons wanted to do to those poor people?

Her hands rise to press against her temples, and she squeezes her eyes closed, trying to stave off the headache threatening to arrive.

It's different. No, it's different. So different.

She holds her hands in front of her face for a moment, clamping down hard on the thoughts etching themselves like acid in her head. When she opens her eyes again, Bill has rolled over in the cot, and his sleeping face captures her gaze.

He looks so peaceful when he's asleep. So still. Calm and trusting and comfortable. She knows that if she were to slip back in beside him, his arms would gather around her automatically, pulling her close, his lips pressing themselves to her shoulder in instinctive recognition as he stirs. His body always relaxes more when she is next to him, as though only her presence allows him to rest easy.

It can’t matter that he loves her. It can’t matter even if she loved - loves - no, loved him. There are things greater in importance than Bill Adama's desires.

Everything is greater in importance than her own desires.

She tears her eyes from Bill's sleeping form and brings them again to the vase on the table next to her.



It's early evening when she ventures out of the tent, the wide cobalt expanse of sky gently fading to purple. Bill's still asleep inside. The sounds of chatter and clink of glasses drifting from Joe's Bar, with Kara Thrace's voice rising above them in a loud, cackling laugh, make her smile as she passes. There are things that never change, no matter what, and the human need for a place to congregate and socialise and fight and love is one of them. They’re the sounds of life, and it lifts her heart to hear them.

There's always a lantern burning outside the medical tent, and she stops to inhale the faint scent of cigarettes that always lingers here. That has become a comfort, in a strange kind of way. Cottle is grumbling about something within, and she listens for a moment to another thing that never changes.

Someone opens the tent flap and exits, and Cottle catches sight of her standing outside.

"You come about the baby? I told the girl the kid only had a cold, and to stop worrying every time that child so much as coughs. I haven't got time." He wipes his hands on a cloth and motions with his head for her to take a seat. "Every idiot on this planet seems to think they're some kind of godsdamn wilderness expert. I'm treating more allergies and twisted ankles since we got here than I have in my whole career. I swear they save up the injuries for the days they know I'm planetside."

She refuses the seat, and holds out the vase. "I want you to add this to the repopulation project."

Cottle looks at her, to the vase, and back to her again. "I'm not even going to ask where the hell you got that, if that's what I think it is. Don't suppose you sterilised that thing before you used it as a damn test tube?"

She puts the vase down on the makeshift consulting table next to her and folds her arms. "I did what I could. It's important. You know that."

"How long has it been sitting in there?"

She looks at the watch on her wrist. "An hour. Maybe an hour and a half."

He sighs, picks up the vase, glances into it and hands it back to her. "Then it's probably unusable anyway. Looks dry to me. I'd go wash that up if I were you."

She frowns, taking the vase from him as he continues.

"You tell whoever donated that sample"-- he looks at her, knowingly raising his eyebrows --"that he needs to come here and do it properly in controlled conditions. It's nothing to be embarrassed about." He fumbles in his pocket for a cigarette, bringing it to his lips and lighting it, looking at her over the flickering flame between his fingers. "Didn't you have anything to do with the Colonial sex education curriculum? Don't you know how long sperm is viable?"

Did she? Had she known this, from the start? That she was wasting time, that her spontaneous betrayal of Bill's trust was worthless all along?

Yes, she admits, silently. Yes.

Sabotaged by her own treacherous subconscious.

And what really counts? That her subconscious refused to allow her to betray Bill Adama yet again, or that she'd done it in the first place - talked herself into believing it was the right thing to do?

Cottle lifts the tent flap and ushers her out into the clear night air. She wishes him good night; he pats her shoulder, and she turns to walk away back home, the moon and stars bright enough for her to see her feet and save her from stumbling on the muddy path.


When Bill awakens, the vase is filled with fresh wildflowers, picked from the patch of grass that serves as a tiny communal garden to this part of the city. Laura is cutting up root vegetables in her makeshift kitchen, and on hearing the sounds of his waking, she turns her head to smile over at the cot.

Unselfconsciously naked, he rises from the blankets and moves behind her, slipping his arms around her waist and nuzzling the back of her neck.

"Missed you." He plants a kiss on her cheek, then reaches out for a piece of food and pops it in his mouth.

She affectionately raps the back of his knuckles. "It won't be long. Hungry, are we?"

"Too much exercise for this old man. There was this mischievous woman who helped me work up an appetite earlier. Which reminds me, someone deserves payback after dinner." One hand moves from her stomach to her hip, the other moving upward, and he pulls her gently back against his body, making no pretence about what that payback might entail.

He distracts her from her thoughts, and she knows why she never turns him away. She gives silent thanks for this gift he gives her, to escape for a few stolen hours from the endless spirals of her mind.

The test tube, stolen surreptitiously from Cottle's tent as he turned his back, remains in her jacket pocket - a talisman, a promise against another day, this tough decision that Bill Adama need not know about.

For now, it's enough to rest in his arms and think of nothing.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
This was amazing the first time. Still amazing
Apr. 19th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
Thank you :)

I really wasnt sure about it, so I'm relieved that you liked it :)
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
AH BUT I DO NEED TO COMMENT. Because oooh, brilliant and chilling premise. And this:

There's something inside her that recoils at the thought of the word now, that makes her glad that Lee has become so distant, that Tory cannot replace Billy in her affections.

hurts my heart.

It's imperative. Inescapable. And if it means backing the man she loathes more than anyone else in the galaxy, then she'll do it.


It can’t matter that he loves her. It can’t matter even if she loved - loves - no, loved him. There are things greater in importance than Bill Adama's desires.

Everything is greater in importance than her own desires.


and of course she would sabotage it, no matter how hard she tried to make herself do it. This is brilliant.
Apr. 19th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you. That means a lot considering how strongly you feel about Laura!

The original had that dark premise in it, but it was written to be humorous and fluffy and porny, and I really liked the idea of taking that premise and seeing why Laura would do that.

hurts my heart.

Laura hurts my heart a lot *sniffles* I wanna hug her.
Apr. 18th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
Aaaah, I may not have guessed this one was yours (only guessed the Roslin/Baltar because you were the only one I was sure kinda liked them) but I LOVED IT SO MUCH. So insightful and surprisingly believable.
Apr. 19th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC)
Heh, I do love Laura/Gaius, though I've never yet written any Gaius. I might have to try sometime. I'm sure it'd probably be the two of them having some huge snarkfest somewhere. Maybe I'll throw D'Anna in for a laugh.

I kinda assumed that only I would take a porny A/R fic and turn it into 3000 words of Laura overthinking everything, but thankfully, I'm not as predictable as I think I am!

Thank you - I'm really happy you liked it :)
Apr. 18th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
you have left me with: wow... I think that one might have broken my heart just a little..
Apr. 19th, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
Aw, sorry. It is a dark one! I still wanna give Laura a big hug at the end of it, mind you.
Apr. 19th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. You provide a wonderful window into Laura's head. I loved her thoughts on family in particular and the way she clings to what she thinks is the right decision, regardless of the cost to her or anyone else. And Cottle is always fab :). A great read!
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
Thank you, hon :)

I appreciate that. You're the Queen of New Caprica, so it makes me happy that you enjoyed my one and only (so far) take on it!
Apr. 19th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
I was so thrilled you chose this story of mine to remix -- and even more thrilled at the depth and emotion and darkness you brought to my light-as-feathers porn story.

You took my little puddle and turned it into a lake.

Wonderful job, just wonderful.
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you. I'm especially happy you liked it, as the whole idea of writing a remix for someone else scared me a bit, so your enjoyment of it is wonderful :)
Jan. 11th, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
This is just gorgeous! I love how you've gotten us deep enough into Laura's thoughts to reason out with her why she does something rather shocking - she does that fairly often on the show, and her processing is sometimes opaque, but her all her layers are laid bare.

It's not the loss of power. Her classroom is the Fleet in microcosm, and she's content enough with that.
I really loved this - it's so totally a teacher thing to think :)
Jan. 11th, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you!

Yeah, Laura's thought processes were so often opaque on the show (because damn RDM kept cutting all her scenes in which she made them clearer, grr). I always see her as a chronic overthinker, and I love teasing out how she might have been thinking when she does the things she does, and how she makes them fit in her mind. I think she's difficult to understand until you figure out her mindset, and then she suddenly makes so much sense.

Hee! I spend so much time around teachers, I love trying to drop teacherish moments into stories.

Thank you for the comment, hon :)
Jan. 11th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
...whoa! That was a shocking twist. And it's so something Laura would do, for all the reasons you describe. Because yeah, it's one thing to have a relationship that isn't going to lead to children, it's another to compromise the genetic diversity of the fleet.

I'm going to remember this story.
Jan. 12th, 2012 06:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, she does shocking things sometimes, and I've never wanted to pretend she doesn't, so I needed to leave the ending ambiguous rather than let her off the hook. What I love to do is look at why she does those shocking things, and delve into her thought processes, because we were so often left with none of that on the show. I like seeing if I can get people to understand why I sympathise with her even during her scariest decisions.

I'm going to remember this story.

That means a lot, hon! Thank you ♥
Jan. 11th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
Ok wow. This is now the second of your stories that I'm commenting on and I'm in complete awe of your writing ability, so not that you aren't busy moderating multiple comms or anything...but you MUST write more, this is all so excellent!!

Ok on to actual comments about the story, hehe. I love the description of Bill this man, this stubborn, kind, awkward, wonderful man, he can't see what she sees sometimes. Won't see.. I love her moral dilemma and how wonderfully you convey the complexity of her thoughts about what she's become (especially given how vocal your comments on the abortion ban have been in various discussions, I love how fairly you demonstrated the complexities of the issue). And I just absolutely adore the moment Sabotaged by her own treacherous subconscious. where even if she logically wants to do it, her heart won't quite allow her to reach that level of betrayal...yet. All in all Bravo!
Jan. 12th, 2012 06:33 am (UTC)
I wish I could write more. I find it so hard to get into writing mode, which is why I have so few stories. I have a ton of ideas! One day I'll figure out the trick of it.

Thank you for your comments! Yeah, the abortion ban drives me nuts with how OOC it is, because of the way it's presented in the show. I picked this fic to remix partly because I wanted to explore ways in which I could make it make sense for Laura to do something like that, or try to, at least. I adore getting into her head. It's my comfortable place :)
Mar. 4th, 2014 01:13 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is a stunning remix. I'm so glad I read this as my first remix challenge is coming up because the original is great in one way and your remix is stunning, haunting in a whole other way.

Who once marched across Caprica City with a placard the day the bill to repeal Gemenon's abortion ban was shot down.


Where did she come from, this woman who instigated her own abortion ban, who is, right at this moment, stealing the right to choose from a man who loves her?

I really love how you made this an introspective piece that's really, in essence, about choice and choices in a lot of different ways. I appreciate that you wrote about Laura the feminist, Laura the reproductive rights advocate who understands what she is doing and has done is wrong and yet sees no other choice in the post-holocaust world. It's one of the best representations of her thinking on this I've seen; people usually gloss over it or avoid it and I love that you took it head on here.

Thanks so much for sharing -- glad I asked and got to read some great fic today!
Mar. 4th, 2014 03:21 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you for this, hon!

Absolutely I wanted to deal with Laura the feminist, because that's so much how she is, to me, and trying to fit that into some of her decisions can be hard unless you really understand her thought processes, I think. And I always find that with Laura, I do, always. Other characters that I like, I might not always quite get why they do what they do, but it's pretty instinctive for me with Laura. So a lot of the fics I'v written for her tend to be of that introspective, thinky type that try to open her up a bit.

I'm really glad it worked for you!
Mar. 4th, 2014 09:06 pm (UTC)
I wasn't able to read the original, because it's member-locked, so I just read this one. Repopulation is something would have to happen at some point, if we were to grow from a few thousand people to millions, and yet, taking the choice away from someone who doesn't want *more* children is such a troublesome idea.

I love that this Laura is overthinky on this subject and still manages to sabotage herself once she's made a decision, that she wonders who she is, and still manages to be the person she's not sure she knows.
Mar. 5th, 2014 05:32 am (UTC)
Aw, that's a shame. I hope the premise of it was obvious enough through the remix?

I love that this Laura is overthinky on this subject and still manages to sabotage herself once she's made a decision, that she wonders who she is, and still manages to be the person she's not sure she knows.

I love that, especially the part of her still managing to be the person she's not sure she knows. That wasn't something that I'd consciously registered, but yes, absolutely. Although I wanted to leave things ambiguous too, because practicality and occasional ruthlessness is just as much a part of her make-up.

Thank you for the comments :)
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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