After dismissing Billy, Laura asks Bill to take her somewhere they can talk privately. His quarters are the logical destination, though the idea of being alone with her there makes him a little uneasy. There are too many things left unsaid between them.
When they arrive at the hatch, he supports her with one hand under her elbow and one on her back, helping her rise from the wheelchair and step over the raised threshold. Two steps inside the room, she toes off her shoes, leaving them tipped on their sides by the rug.
Bill guides her to the couch, supporting her as she eases into the soft cushions with a groan. She may be cured, but her body still has a lot of healing to do. Her frailty is more frightening to him now than when she was dying.
His concern must be obvious because she smiles wearily. "Doctor Cottle says it will take time for my body to realize I'm not dying anymore."
"That's understandable." He's been there. It does take time, and patience.
She unbuttons her jacket. "I think the treatment frakked up my internal thermometer." Struggles to pull her arm from an uncooperative sleeve. "I'm either too hot or too cold." Holds the offending sleeve in his direction. "A little help, Admiral?"
Bracing one knee on the couch, he reaches around her to pull the jacket off one arm then the other. He folds it before draping it over the back of the couch.
"Thank you," Laura says, unbuttoning the second button on her blouse and rolling up her sleeves. "That's much better."
When she grabs the front of her blouse and flaps it away from her chest a few times, Bill feels like his internal thermometer has gone a little haywire too.
"Let me get you some water."
While he's standing with his back to her, pouring two glasses of water with unusual care, she launches into the conversation she's brought him here to have.
"We have some loose ends to tie up, Admiral."
Glancing back at her, he says, "You mean the peace movement?"
" Peace movement. Yes, that, and the cylon child."
He brings their water glasses to the couch. "You made a good start with Jahee. Firm but fair."
"I'll need your backing if we're going to make an impression on them."
"And you'll have it."
"Good." She sips her water tentatively, resting it between both hands when she's done. "And the child?"
This question is trickier. They've agreed to let Baltar study the fetus further. Presumably that means they've agreed to let the baby come to term, but he can't be sure. If Laura was willing to abort it at six months, what's to say she'll have a problem doing the same at seven or eight months? Zak was born at seven and a half months. This isn't territory he's comfortable wading into.
"Perhaps we should wait and see what Dr. Baltar finds before making any firm decisions." Avoiding the issue won't make it go away but he doesn't have a better answer right now.
She leans forward so she can set her water on the table and stays perched on the edge of the couch, her elbows resting on her knees, studying her hands. "I understand your reluctance to terminate the pregnancy, given the extenuating circumstances, but we'll need to come to a decision soon."
Extenuating circumstances. Is that how she sees her cure? Much to his surprise, they haven't discussed it. He half expected her to wake up and slug him for agreeing to the transfusion. Truth be told, he also half expected her to wake up and throw her arms around him in thanks. In reality, all he got was a cool appraisal under half-open lids followed by a whispered dismissal. He has no idea if they've put that conversation off for another day or they're just going to circle it warily until the next crisis overwhelms them.
"We can talk about it later. Tomorrow. When you're feeling stronger." A familiar look of exasperation clouds her face. "Laura. You need your rest. Cottle will have my hide if I bring you back to sick bay in worse shape than when you left."
It's not an exaggeration. She looks exhausted, feverish, drained of the steely strength she'd shown in the brig.
Still, she's not deterred from her agenda.
"There is something else we haven't talked about yet."
He sinks back into the couch with a sigh. Here it comes. "What's that?"
Her finger is tracing one of the damp circles that her glass has left on the scarred wood of the chest. The pause before she answers is so long that he leans forward to sit on the edge of couch beside her, their knees nearly touching. He reaches out to still her hand.
"What is it, Laura?"
Taking her hand from his, she looks at him sideways, the hint of a smile creasing her eyes. "You kissed me."
"I thought you were dying." It's the first thing that comes to mind; it sounds awful.
Her body shifts instinctively away from him. She leans back into the couch and crosses her legs, clasping her hands in her lap in a move that he recognizes as all business.
Her voice is hard when she asks,"So it was a pity thing?"
"That's not what I meant."
What had he meant?
I'll miss you.
There's a long silence. He stupidly says again, "You were dying."
"And now I'm not. Which is probably an eventuality you hadn't planned for, but here we are."
"So what do we do?"
She rests an arm along the back of the couch, propping her head against her hand. Raising an eyebrow, she says,"So far, we seem to be pretending it never happened."
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"No, neither do I."
It's a relief to hear her say this. Even if it was a mistake, he doesn't want to pretend that it didn't feel right at the time.
"I've been in relationships with"--she searches for the right word--"colleagues. It never ends well."
More than one? He'd heard the rumors about Adar and had only half-believed them until now. Did she make a habit of becoming involved with men she worked with?
He tries to keep his expression neutral as he says, "I agree. There's a good reason for the fraternization regs. Things can get . . . fraught when you have to work with someone you're involved with."
"Then we're agreed. It will be best to keep our relationship on a professional level going forward."
He's disappointed but it's the only realistic course of action. "Agreed."
"Then I think we're done here."
She slides forward on the couch to stand but it's obvious that she'll need his help. He braces her with one arm under her biceps and one at her back, and when she's on her feet his hands are still resting there, an echo of the day she awarded him his admiral's pins.
She brings one hand up to cup his cheek, looking into his eyes with a smile, then leans forward to kiss him, pulling his lower lip between hers in something far more intimate than the kiss he ghosted across her lips that night. He can't stop his response, doesn't want to, and the kiss lingers, a fraction short of turning into something more, but undeniably the most unprofessional thing they've ever done.
Their freshly minted agreement goes crashing to the deck where it shatters around their feet.
He pulls back first, uncertain of what she wants, what she expects. The expression on her face is wickedly amused. She lays a hand on his chest, slapping him lightly. "You, Bill Adama, are a liar."
He's stunned. "I don't understand."
"I've been thinking about doing that for a while now and not because anyone is dying. We don't need excuses, Bill. Remember that."
Now he's completely confused and he can't even get some distance between them because she's leaning heavily against him in an effort to stay on her feet.
"You need to spell this out for me. Are you saying you do want a"--he fumbles for the right word-- romantic? sexual? --"intimate relationship?"
"What I'm saying is, don't bullshit me." She looks him in the eyes. "If this is going to work, whatever this is--and don't ask me to put a name to it because I can't any more than you can--but if it's going to work, we have to be candid with each other."
He agrees with her. How could he not? It all sounds so simple. He leans forward to press a gentle kiss to her forehead. It's nothing like kissing her on the lips. Instead of a surge of desire he feels a rush of affection.
There is no name for this dance they've begun with each other, and there doesn't have to be.