It's late, ship's night, but Laura can't sleep. She wanders through Galactica, past the hangar bay, past the ship that bears her name. It's a hollow tribute: Laura is flattered, but part of her knows that the damn ship's going to outlast her.
She's not sure where she's going, really, so when she passes Sharon's holding cell and the Cylon is staring out as if she'd been waiting, she stops.
"So what brings you here? Itchy trigger finger?" the young woman asks, looking at Laura coolly.
"Idle curiosity," Laura replies, walking closer to the glass. "You saved us all."
"I saved my baby and my friends. That just happened to include people I don't like as much," Sharon said. "You know, like you."
Laura grins. She's heard worse taunts from tenth-graders. "And it had nothing to do with not wanting to be thrown out an airlock," she says. "How touching. How noble." There's an edge of mockery to her voice, a tension she's been dying to release for days.
Sharon bares her teeth and presses against the glass, which might be more threatening if the girl weren't a hundred pounds soaking wet and cute. Her anger looks adorable, ineffectual, and Laura responds by folding her arms and looking unimpressed.
"You don't scare me," Sharon snarls. "After all, I don't have to do anything and you'll die anyway."
The threat would be less effective if Cottle's words weren't still raw, and Laura can't entirely repress her reaction. Sharon's eyes flash in triumph, and Laura's weakness is burned away in a glorious blazing rage.
"You're right," Laura snaps. "I'm dying. So why don't you give me a reason why I should continue to keep you alive, since I won't be here to benefit from your vast knowledge?"
"Because I've kept my promises," the Cylon hisses, her palm flat against the glasses and sneer sharp. "You don't have the right to kill me because I freak you out, or because you don't like me."
"No, I have the right to kill you because you're not human. You're not alive. You're a machine," Laura says, sitting down and staring her down. "And I have the duty to protect my people from machines. Especially machines who preach love and carry some kind of weapon inside of them they call a baby."
Sharon's hands fly to her belly protectively. "My child is not a weapon," she spits venomously. "She is going to bring us life and hope and you're - you are watching your life slip away and you don't want anyone else to go on, do you?" She holds her head high, and her fingers flex. "Just try and take my baby away. Just try."
Behind Laura, the guards lift their rifles.
"Open the door," Laura says, her heart starting to pound like a headache. The guards stare at her. "Do we not follow orders on this boat anymore?"
"She's dangerous, sir," one of them says.
"What's it going to hurt?" Sharon asks. "Even if I go Cylon on her, it's not like I'm ending a lengthy future."
"Open the door," Laura grinds out, standing with far more assurance than she actually feels.
The guards share a worried glance, but she is still the President, still in command, and a swipe card beeps as the door sweeps open in front of her. Sharon steps to the far side of the cell as Laura enters, but it's not a retreat as much as it is a chance for her to size Laura up.
"If I wanted your child dead," Laura says, "I would throw you out the airlock and it with you."
Sharon puts her hands over the almost-too-small rounding of her stomach. "Try it."
"Do you really think I'm going to drag you bodily from this cell and put you out of an airlock?" Laura asks, sitting down on the chair. "I want to talk to you. Possibly without threats."
Sharon doesn't move from her position against the wall. "Oh yeah? What the frak do you want to talk about? Fashion? Music? I'm sure we don't have the same tastes." She swallows, feeling the weight of Laura's eyes against her skin, and her voice wavers. "And I already told you, I'm not giving you the names of the other Cylons in the fleet."
"That would be assuming you knew them," Laura says, looking at her curiously. "Which I'm not sure you do. After all, why would they let you know that kind of information?"
Sharon's laugh is brittle. "So now I'm a pawn."
"Have you ever been anything else?"
"Yeah," Sharon says. "I've been a traitor, and a liar, and a saviour, and a lover. And now I'm a mother. And if I had to guess, I'd say you've been all of those things too." She smirks, sure she's hit a sore spot. "Except one."
Laura stands up, feeling strangely light and slinky as she walks toward Sharon, eyes fixed on the other woman's defiant posture and uneasy expression.
"Except one," Laura says, now close enough to the Cylon to touch her. To be touched by her. "And of course my life is a desperate attempt to make up for being barren and untouchable and a pathetic spinster. Isn't that what you think? That I cry myself to sleep wishing I had just had a baby after all? That saving my people is a way of making myself a mother symbolically because I'm all used up?"
They're almost of a height, and Sharon fights the impulse to stand on tiptoes to balance the slight inequality. Laura is too close, and her eyes are wide and a little bit vicious, but something about her still feels off-balance.
"Oh, you're supposed to be a mother to the fleet? Well, Mommy, you're not doing a very good job, are you? You can't protect them. You can't save them. Guess it's a good thing you've got me around to do that for you. Maybe you should step down. Admit you can't do your job any more. Admit that a Cylon, a machine, is taking better care of your people than you are."
Laura leans forward. "Thank you so much for saving my people, Sharon," she whispers. "After your people killed all of them, it's so humane and wonderful of you to deign to 'take care' of mine. Oh, wait, your people are the ones who send all those raiders after mine. So forgive me if I don't fall on my knees."
It's instinctive, and Sharon cannot believe she's done it until the president's feet are swept out from under her and she's on her knees, on the floor, and the guns are cocked and waiting for the president's order.
The president, who runs her hand over her mouth and looks at the blood. "Thank you, Sharon," she says.
"What the frak is wrong with you?" Sharon asks, honestly curious, because the president is waving off the guards and standing up and not leaving, and this is probably the longest conversation Sharon's had with anyone but Helo in weeks. "You come in here and threaten me and my baby and then you want to sit down and chat? I'm sick and frakking tired of you playing with me."
She would walk away, but Laura is still there, still right in front of her.
"I'm not playing with you," Laura says, touching Sharon on the shoulder and getting even closer. "I'm trying to understand you. I'm trying to understand why you stay locked in this cell when you could be free of it. How this kind of life..."
She starts to cough and sway as she moves closer to Sharon again.
She looks like she's going to fall, and Sharon instinctively puts out a hand to steady her, then snatches it back. "Understand this," she says sharply as Laura gets her breath back. "I am here in this cell because I love Helo, and I love our baby, and I want to keep them safe. That's it. That's all. I love them."
Laura curls her hand into a fist and presses it against her lips. "I don't believe you," she replies simply.
"That's your problem," Sharon says. "Adama believes me. That's why he could trust me."
"Adama trusted you because I told him that he didn't have any choice," Roslin spits out. Her body's damn near rigid.
"He still believes me. That I love Helo, and our baby," Sharon says. "Maybe it's because he knows you don't love anyone that he listened to you."
Laura laughs. "Love is overrated," she says with a sharp smile. "Look where it's got you, after all. A nice glass cage with a lover who can't touch you and an armed guard. Oh yes, I feel so bereft because no one's frakking me."
Sharon rolls her eyes. "I'm not a little kid. I don't think frakking is the be-all, end-all of love," she says. Then she reaches out and runs her fingers over Laura's hand. "Don't you feel empty, with no one even wanting to touch you? All that respect, all that power, and nobody even wants to lay a single hand on you with love."
Then Sharon's hand fastens around Laura's throat.
The guards spring to attention, but Laura is between them and Sharon, and besides, Sharon hasn't even begun to tighten her grip. Her hand is just there, pressing into Laura's windpipe. Laura's breath rasps through a suddenly dry mouth, and when she swallows her throat flexes under Sharon's fingers, but her eyes are direct and she seems more sure of herself than before.
"You said it yourself," she forces out, her voice strained. "I'm dying. What power do you have to scare me?"
"Do you think this is a game?" Sharon yells, her thin hand wrapped around Laura's throat the way Adama's had found its way around hers. "Do you think that I couldn't kill you right now?"
Roslin's eyes meet Sharon's with uncanny force, given the woman is being slowly strangled. She doesn't look sad, or in control, or any of the things Sharon associates with Laura Roslin. She looks dangerous, merciless, and wicked.
"Maybe that's what you want," Sharon says, feeling the pulse under her finger. "To die."
"Just a little death," Roslin replies hoarsely, her tongue darting out to wet her lips.
Sharon feels a shiver run through her. "This the best touch you had in weeks?" she asks, her voice low. "Or just the roughest? The first time someone's touched you like you're not already dead?" She can hear Roslin's breathing as well as feel it now, harsh sounds whispering past her lips, speeding up, coming faster.
Laura reaches up and wraps her hand around Sharon's wrist, but doesn't try to break free. She's hot to the touch, almost feverish, and Sharon starts to sweat herself. Laura sways into her, presses their hips together, her eyes knowing.
"Do you want me to say yes?" she asks.
"I don't want anything from you," Sharon says, but that's a lie. She's completely fascinated now, and so are the guards. There should be about twenty bullets in her head already, but she and Roslin are so close that they can't take the risk.
Sharon can't avoid the risk, so she puts a hand on Roslin's hip to still her swaying.
Roslin whimpers, her mouth dropping open, her fingers tightening around Sharon's wrist.
Sharon starts moving her thumb, slow circles against Roslin's hipbone, out of the sight of the guards. This is the most human the president has ever looked, she thinks, watching her fingers move on Roslin's skirt. The most human, and the most alive.
Laura stops breathing, and Sharon looks up in alarm, but it's not her. Laura has her eyes closed and she's biting down on her lower lip, and frak if it's not the sexiest thing Sharon's seen in a long time. She relaxes her grip on Laura's throat just a little.
"I believe you," Sharon whispers. "I think you want to listen."
Laura doesn't answer, just nods.
And Sharon's hand fumbles down at an angle, rubbing.
Laura lets her breath out, a long cool exhale that raises the hair on Sharon's arms and the back of her neck. Sharon can feel the tension rising in the way that Roslin holds herself still, straining, and she doesn't breathe in, doesn't breathe in, until Sharon rubs harder, finds just the right place.
"Listen to me now," Sharon says. "I'm not here for anyone else, not any more. I'm here because it's where I want to be."
Laura's legs shift a little, and Sharon is impressed how wanting Laura is, how her hands are trying to find a way under her skirt.
"What I wanna know," she continues, "is what you want. Besides this. Besides not having to be in control all the time." Her fingers are against hot, wet flesh now.
Laura doesn't answer, but that's because Laura's trying her very best not to breathe.
She's light-headed and probably making stupid decisions because of it, but she doesn't care, because Sharon's fingers feel so damn good, against her clit and around her throat. She breathes out in a shuddering gasp, letting herself teeter on the edge.
"You're not going to find enlightenment so easily," Sharon taunts. "You think you can hold your breath, count to thirty and boom?"
Laura smiles, a pair of tears welling over her cheeks.
"Me, I think to really learn anything, you have to die and come back." Sharon tightens her grip again. "Wanna try it?"
Laura starts to spasm and rattle in her arms, a low whine escaping her as she wriggles like a fish on a hook.
"How about you?" Laura whimpers.
"Been there, done that," Sharon replies, and she's kind of surprised that she's still got her hand moving under Laura's skirt. Surprised, too, that Laura's holding herself up rather than turning to the guards for help. Surprised most of all at how turned on she is by the little choked noises that are all Laura can make now.
She squeaks again, and Sharon can almost make out the words, "Any good?" but that might be Sharon's imagination.
What's not Sharon's imagination is that Laura puts her hand on Sharon's stomach, and strokes it tentatively, despite the tension throughout the woman's body.
Sharon can't help but lean into the touch. She's more than impressed, now, and when Laura slides her hand down, past the waistband of Sharon's pants, she gasps and hisses. "Yes."
Laura hiss-spits out, touching Boomer lightly. And then she sucks breath in, sucks it in noisily and painfully and Sharon starts to wonder what they look like. Why the guards haven't pulled them apart.
Sharon turns her head and realizes the guards aren't there.
"They're sending in the big guns," she tells Laura. "We won't have much time."
"Don't need much," Laura whispers, her hips jerking against Sharon's hand, and Sharon knows she's right. She stops moving for a moment, and Laura groans wordlessly.
"Me first," Sharon says cruelly.
Without the guards present and watching, Laura moves faster, less discreetly. Her fingers are against Sharon's skin, stroking the damp flesh and working her thumb over Sharon's hardening clit.
And then Sharon chokes out a cry. "Yes. Like that."
She shakes and whimpers as Laura brings her off and then wraps her hand around Sharon's hip, digging her sticky fingers into the other woman's flesh. "Now," she says on the ghost of a breath, not waiting for Sharon to recover herself.
And Sharon wants to now, because somehow, letting Roslin get her off and then throwing her to the ground would be a defeat for Sharon and her people. Sharon wants to watch Roslin shake apart on the edge of serious damage, hard and uncontrollable.
"You think you'll be able to control me?" Sharon asks. "That you can get inside me and then it's all about you?"
Laura's head whips from side to side; Sharon's not sure if it's denial or just spasm. "This isn't about you," she says, even as her fingers twist against Roslin's clit.
But Sharon's not sure what it's about. The way Roslin's breasts push up and forward, the line of her throat caught in Sharon's hand, the warming flush in Laura's face. She looks alive, but a bad kind of alive, all rosy cheeks and livid eyes and unholy sparkle.
"You need this bad, don't you?" Sharon asks.
Laura's eyes snap with anger, but she's rubbing herself hard against Sharon's hand and the knowledge that the guards are bringing reinforcements nags at the back of her brain. "Yes, frak it, yes," she forces out thinly. "So what?"
"Mmm, nothing," Sharon says, and she feels like she's won something. "I just wanted to know." She runs her thumb hard up Laura's jawline and back down her windpipe to the hollow of her throat.
A shudder of pure pleasure shakes through Laura, and Sharon slicks her thumb against Laura's clit again, offering the woman a thigh. Laura agrees to it, bracing herself against it and thrusting against it, the sounds of her breathing thin and false.
"You like that, don't you?" Sharon says. "Come on. Come on. Just let yourself go."
Laura moves faster, and Sharon moves with her, watching as Laura builds closer and closer and finally comes apart. She makes soft noises as she shudders against Sharon's thigh, her throat flexing under Sharon's fingers as she gasps for air.
Slowly, Sharon lets go, watching as the pale flesh purples into lividity.
Laura begins choking, falling onto Sharon's cot and jerking, her body thrashing as her breathing slows and the pound of footsteps fills Sharon's ears.
"Will you live?" Sharon asks.
"I won't die from having an orgasm," Laura answers.
Six guards slam into the cell. Two of them drop to their knees by Laura, while the other four take great pleasure in pinning Sharon roughly to the floor. She doesn't bother struggling, only turns her head to watch Laura as she's assisted out of the room.
"Thank you for today, Sharon," Laura says as she passes. "I won't forget it."
And Sharon believes that. Really and truly.