Morpha was a good thing, Billy discovered. He hadn't fully realized it before, but now that it was wearing off and he was starting to feel the pain in his gut, the fact was becoming crystal clear. Figured. Nothing that great could possibly be legal.
He blinked, trying to orient himself and seeing very little but white on white, accompanied by bright lights. He groaned and turned his head, and there was a blue blur.
"How are you feeling?"
It was a male voice. For a wild, distorted moment Billy thought it might be Lee Adama. Then he remembered exactly why it wouldn' be Lee Adama, and he closed his eyes. "Lousy," he admitted. "Incredibly lousy. I might even go so far as to say frakking lousy."
"So I hear. A hole in your abdomen does tend to mess up your day."
Despite himself, Billy's lips quirked up just a little, and he opened his eyes again. "Day was already messed up."
His visitor didn't answer, except with a noncommittal hmm. Billy forced his eyes to focus and saw Felix sitting beside his bed. He sighed and closed his eyes again, resignation washing over him.
"What are you doing here?"
"Visiting," Felix said shortly. "What does it look like?"
"Dee…" Billy began, and then cut off.
Felix sighed. "Dee's irrelevant. She's not the one I can actually discuss the Lost Legends novels with. Speaking of which…" he produced a book from somewhere. "When you're feeling better."
Billy knew that later he'd feel gratitude. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Felix twitched a little. "How are you doing?"
Blearily, Billy remembered that there was a time he would have considered Felix the rival, not Lee. This was way back, so long ago, when Dee insisted she'd never break regulations and date a superior officer. He forced a smile. "I'm all right. Doc says I almost wasn't, though." He remembered that, and President Roslin sitting with him, and talk of terrorists and justice. It made his head hurt.
"Yeah, well, I'm glad you made it," Felix said simply. He glanced at his watch. "Listen, I've got to get back up to the CIC, and Cottle said not to tire you out too much, anyway. But I'll come back after my shift."
"All right," Billy said, feeling a bit uncertain. Felix smiled and stood, all crisp and official, and nodded as he left.
Billy reached for the book. The mere motion of it pulled on the wound and it hurt, but if he didn't do it he'd think about Dee and Lee, and that would drive him insane. The book felt heavier than it should, but he managed to get it into bed with him. It was worn and dog-eared, obviously well-read and well-loved.
He sighed. He didn't know how he was going to get through the heartbreak of the next few weeks, or the healing process, but he suspected that superheroes and a good friend were going to be what made him survive.
He was walking down a corridor when someone called his name. "Felix."
Felix stopped in his tracks, sighing to himself. He turned around slowly. "Dee."
Dee looked upset… and angry. "You've been avoiding me."
"Yes," he admitted.
Dee thrust her chin out. "It's not between you and me," she said.
"I know," Felix said. "That's why I've been avoiding you. It's not my business, and you have the right to conduct your affairs as you see fit. I shouldn't be passing judgment."
"But you are."
"No. I'm avoiding you."
Dee gave a little smile. "How is he?" she asked.
"He's recovering," Felix said truthfully. "He's up and walking around."
"That's good. Felix… I didn't mean-"
"I'm not the one you need to have this conversation with, Dee," Felix said, cutting her off swiftly. "I am not involved. Got it?"
Dee nodded. "Yes, sir."
"Good." He inclined his head for her to move. "I need to get to the CIC."
"Sorry, sir," Dee said, stepping aside. She was stung; he could see it in her face. But he walked by anyway.
He was lying. He walked down the corridor with an purposeful stride, turned the corner, and headed for the infirmary, not the CIC. When he got there, Billy was sitting up in bed, reading the Lost Legends book.
"Hey." Billy put the book down on his lap.
"How are you feeling?"
"Better." Billy sighed. "Useless."
"Useless?" Felix asked.
"President Roslin stopped by," Billy admitted. "I asked her for some work, but…"
"You're a few days out of surgery after being shot by terrorists," Felix pointed out. "She's not going to dump your body weight in reports on you."
"She didn't hand me anything," Billy said. "She told me that I should rest and recover, and not worry because she found someone to cover for me."
Anyone else might have laughed, but Felix cringed. "Ouch."
"Yeah." Billy looked down at the book morosely. "Not exactly what I needed right now." Felix wasn't sure what to say, and then Billy made it harder. "I assume you've seen Dee."
"Yes," Felix said hesitantly.
"Did she…" Billy didn't look at Felix. "Did she ask about me?"
Felix sighed heavily. "I'll tell you what I told her," he said. "It's between you two." He looked at Billy and softened. "But yeah. She did. She's concerned."
"Concerned," Billy scoffed.
Felix shrugged. "It's something, anyway. Hey, Cottle said he found us a chess board, if you want to play."
"You're changing the subject," Billy accused.
"Absolutely," Felix agreed cheerfully. "Shall I go get it?"
"Fine," Billy sighed. "It's not like I've got anything better to do."
"Gee, thanks," Felix said sarcastically, but he knew better than to take offense. He went to find Cottle and the chess board.
"Billy, this is Tory Foster."
"We've met," Billy reminded Laura. He extended his hand. "Hello."
Tory's eyes flicked to Laura for just a second before she took his hand. "It's nice to see you again, Billy. I'm glad you've made a full recovery."
"Thanks," Billy mumbled. Tory looked from him to the President, and then cleared her throat.
"If you don't mind, Madame President," she said, "I'll go get started on the agenda for the meeting with the ships' captains."
"That's fine, Tory," Laura said, nodding. Tory gave Billy one more nod and then hustled out of the room, her heels clicking competently on the floor.
"Well," Laura said, turning back to Billy with a genuine smile. "I'm glad you're back."
"Me, too, Madam President," Billy said. He glanced awkwardly at where Tory had disappeared.
Laura followed his gaze and smiled. "You needed help anyway, Billy."
Laura's smile dipped a degree. "I heard that the proposal…" she began.
"What's first on our agenda for today?" Billy interrupted. "I'm sure I have a lot to catch up."
Laura took the hint, and her smile gentled. "All right, Billy. Let me get you back up to speed. But if you ever…" she touched his arm in a motherly fashion.
"Thank you," he said. "But I think it's best if I just get to work."
He wished he could feel like everything had gone back to normal, or would go back to normal soon enough. But it didn't. He wished he could believe that Dee had something to do with it, but he knew she didn't. But he couldn't put the words to the change, because if he did, they'd seem unbelievably petty. So he told himself to get used to it and go on. After all, what about the past year could possibly qualify as normal, anyway?
"So Baltar's running for President," Billy said to Felix as they sat in one of the bars on Cloud 9. Not the one that he'd been shot in; Billy couldn't go in there without shaking and feeling sick, but a darker one that reminded Billy of a bar he used to go to all the time during college.
"So I hear," Felix said, swirling his drink. He stared at it morosely.
Billy looked at him sharply. "I thought you would be happy about it."
"I am. But discussing it with the current President's chief aide doesn't seem like the best idea." Felix flashed a smile.
"Can I ask you something?" Billy said, leaning in. It was a question he'd been dying to know the answer to, but he had never had the courage to ask. But now that things felt so natural and easy between them, like they were friends rather than he was drinking with his girlfriend's best friend, the question came easily. "Why don't you like President Roslin?"
Felix took a sip of his drink. "I don't dislike her," he explained. "And truthfully, I think she's doing a good job with the government. But I also think this quest for Earth…." He shook his head. "I don't say anything, because I know why we don't just find a habitable planet and settle. The Cylons will find us and blow us all up if we do that. But at the same time, all this mysticism… I just can't believe in it. I feel better trusting in science."
"I can't argue with that," Billy muttered. Although the memory of the Tomb of Athena stood sharply in his mind. That had been real, whatever it was, and Earth did exist. The question of finding it, however… He could understand Felix's trepidation all too well.
"Then why do you support her?" Felix asked.
Billy shrugged. "Because she does do a good job as President. And despite the mystic mumbo jumbo, it's not like anyone else has any better ideas."
"No kidding." Felix lit another cigarette, and then offered the package to Billy, who waved it away. "Either way, it still feels like we're all still screwed."
"So then, they reeled out the target, and I don't think it even registered when it was Ryan!"
Billy burst into laughter, and Felix grinned at him, laughing himself. Those Academy days seemed so long ago now, and they hurt to think about, but at least he felt like in talking about them, they stayed alive, just a little.
"So what happened when-" Billy began, and then cut off. Felix followed his gaze and saw Dee talking to Lee further up the hall. He glanced sympathetically at Billy, but Billy just pressed his lips together.
"I need to get to the hangar deck," he said quietly. "The President is going to be ready to leave any minute."
"All right," Felix said as Dee and Lee exchanged a quick goodbye, and Billy hurried off the other way.
"Felix!" Dee said, her smile bright.
"What have you been up to?"
"Oh, Billy and I were just on the practice range. I was teaching him how to shoot a gun."
Dee laughed affectionately, although there was guilt all over her face. "Thank you," she said. "I hope he never needs it, but…"
"But these days everyone should know," Felix finished. He stood awkwardly for a moment, searching for a subject. "How are things going with Lee?" he asked.
Dee looked embarrassed, and he realized what a bad segue that was and mentally smacked his forehead. 'They're going well," she admitted. "I think…" she glanced back over her shoulder and shrugged, but Felix could see the light in her eyes. He had to admit he'd never seen her look this happy with Billy. "I think it might be serious."
"Good," Felix said, and he meant it. He shifted awkwardly again. "Well, I should go," he said. "My shift in CIC starts in ten minutes."
"I'm coming on in a bit myself," Dee said. "I'll see you there."
"Sounds good." He smiled, and started down the hall. He felt Dee's eyes on his back as he rounded the corner.
He knew, someday, things would get easier with Dee. But he had the nasty feeling they might never get back to where they had been before.
Felix wasn't sure that he really believed in Earth, per se, but he did believe in a home. When they found New Caprica, with its protective interference that would hide them from the Cylons, he was positive that this was it.
"It really doesn't look that appealing," Billy told Felix when he and Roslin were over on Galactica. "I think 'desolate' would be a better description."
"True," Felix agreed, his fingers lingering on the recon photo, "but the Cylons won't find us here. I don't know about you, but I can put up with an awful lot for that promise."
Billy sighed heavily. "I know." The words were pulled out of him reluctantly.
Felix smiled. "You're ready to settle, too, aren't you?"
"I didn't say that," Billy said. He glanced at where the President and the Admiral were talking. "She's against it, you know. She still wants to find Earth."
"Do you think we're going to find it?"
"No," Billy admitted.
"Well then," Felix said. "This is the best option we've been presented with in a long time."
"I suppose so," Billy sighed.
Felix looked at the pictures again. Billy was right; it wasn't what they were used to. But at the same time, it wasn't a ship and they could build lives, and that was enough for him.
Felix jerked to attention as Adama entered his study. "Sir," he said, standing stiffly.
"Have a seat," Adama ordered.
Adama looked at his notes. "Did you confide what you had discovered about the election in anyone else?"
"Only in Colonel Tigh, sir."
"You didn't speak to Petty Officer Dualla or Mr. Keiykeya about it?"
Adama's eyes fixed on him. "You will keep it that way."
"Yes, sir. I understand, sir." Felix cleared his throat. "Is that all, sir?"
The Admiral nodded tightly. "You're dismissed, Lieutenant." Felix stood, saluted smartly, and managed to keep from running from the room.
In some ways, he understood why Adama would cover this up. President Roslin had done a lot for humanity in a very trying time, and she'd done it far better than anyone expected a Secretary of Education to do. This was a repayment of sorts, he supposed. But the truth was, the entire thing made him sick. This wasn't democracy, and this wasn't how the system was supposed to work. He walked through the halls of Galactica and they looked different to him. This wasn't what he'd signed on to defend.
He was rounding a corner when the thought hit him out of the blue- had Billy known about this? Felix rejected the very idea out of hand. Billy didn't idolize President Roslin. He loved her, yes, but Billy would not do something like this.
He wouldn't. No way.
Felix swallowed hard and continued on his way to the CIC.
When Billy showed up at the entrance to the officer's racks, Felix knew that Billy hadn't known about the election fraud before, and he most definitely knew now. Felix swung off his bed, grabbed a bottle of whiskey and two glasses, and grabbed Billy's arm without a word. They found a storage locker, and Felix poured them both a glass of whiskey before anything was said.
"Did you know?" Billy bluntly asked him as Felix poured them their second whiskey.
"Did I know what?" Felix demurred.
Billy set his drink down on a crate marked Paper Towels. "About the election," he said.
"The tabulation error?" Felix tried.
"Error," Billy scoffed. "That's what they called it." He swallowed his drink neatly. "Did you know Dee was in on it?"
That made Felix's stomach ice over. He'd suspected, but to actually have confirmation… "How do you know?"
"Tom Zarek told me."
"And you believed him?" Felix swallowed hard. "It's not like he's got a lot of love for Roslin." He reached out and tried to steady Billy, but Billy shook him off. He didn't know why he was saying this anyway, except for the look on Billy's face and the desire to not have Dee associated with any of this.
"It's not anything conclusive," Billy said. "But what he showed me… it looks bad." He looked sharply at Felix. "You did know." It wasn't a question.
"If Zarek told you that much, he told you the rest," Felix sighed resignedly. "I knew."
"You reported it."
Billy swayed for a minute, a hard expression on his face, "Did you do it for Baltar?"
"No," Felix said, immediately and truthfully. "I did it because it was what's right."
"What's right," Billy said bitterly. "I thought…" he shook his head, and Felix refilled his glass. "I thought President Roslin cared about what's right. But she doesn't. Baltar's the wrong choice, but this isn't the way to go about it."
"He might not be wrong," Felix suggested. "Not about the planet."
"The planet," Billy repeated. He sighed heavily, and then looked at Felix. "I don't suppose you have a cigarette?"
"You don't smoke," Felix said.
"Now's as good a time as any to start," Billy sighed.
Felix grinned and pulled out his pack. "You'll hate them," he warned.
"That's okay. It goes well with the rest of my life," Billy said.
Felix hoisted himself up onto the crate they'd been using as a table. "What are you going to do?" he asked Billy.
"I don't know," Billy sighed, leaning back against the crate. "I told Laura I needed time to think about it."
"Are you going to tell anyone else?"
Billy shook his head. "No. I owe her that much. But I'm not sure I can work for her anymore."
"Yeah," Felix agreed, thinking of how quickly Adama jumped to cover the whole thing up. "I know what you mean."
The Raptor doors closed, and the engines started. Felix felt almost naked in his civilian clothing; he could barely remember the last time he'd worn something not issued by the military. His bag sat beside him, heavy and anonymous in a drab blue. He strained forward, trying to see out the front window.
"Stop breathing down my neck, Gaeta," Racetrack ordered him good-naturedly. "We'll get you there as fast as we can."
"Sorry," Felix said, sitting back.
The Raptor touched down, bouncing just a little bit in the craggy field. Billy was standing on the edge, waving enthusiastically. Felix nearly jumped out of the Raptor in his eagerness, Racetrack laughing at him as he did so. "Don't laugh," he scolded her over his shoulder. "It's your planet."
"Only if it turns out to be a good idea," Racetrack agreed. "If it's not, Skulls found it." She ignored the whack that Skulls landed on the back of her flight helmet. "Good luck, Gaeta," she said with a smile. "Stay in touch, all right?"
"You, too," Felix said. He shouldered his bag and with a final wave, he headed over to where Billy was waiting.
"You made it," Billy said.
"Of course I made it," Felix said. "Why wouldn't I? Racetrack and Skulls found this planet once before, I'm sure they can find it again."
"Funny," Billy said. He turned and started walking. "I'm not sure any of us fully believed Adama would release you."
"He said he owed me one," Felix said dryly. "I'm still not sure exactly how he meant that."
"Don't worry about it. New life and all that," Billy said. They exchanged glances of perfect understanding.
"Where are we staying?" Felix asked. "Colonial One?"
"For a few days," Billy said. "They're already beginning to establish a tent city. It's going to take time to get housing built. As soon as we can get our tents requisitioned, it's best if we get set up like everyone else."
Felix nodded. "Makes sense."
"They're already starting to design the first apartment complex," Billy said. He glanced at Felix. "Is Dee coming down?"
"No," Felix sighed. "She's staying in the military." He didn't want to say anything about Lee, but Billy knew. He could see it. But Billy lifted his chin defiantly.
"Good," he said. "I really hope she'll be happy."
"She will be," Felix said. He surveyed the land and the horizon, far in the distance. There was sky above them, ground under their feet, fresh air all around them. "And we will be, too."
Billy entered the bar tent, looking around. There were a few smiles, a few frowns. He nodded to people he knew, and then spotted Felix sitting and waiting at a corner table, smoking a cigarette.
"Hey," he said, pulling out the chair across from Felix. "How did it go?"
Felix took a long drag. "Not so good," he admitted. "The union is still talking strike, and I'm not sure how much we can do to prevent it."
Billy sighed in exasperation. "What are they looking for?"
"The impossible," Felix said sourly. "They want the Colonies back."
"I'm sure they didn't say that." Billy took a cigarette from the pack sitting on the table and lit it.
"Of course not. But it's what they want. It's what everyone wants. Not that I can blame them." There was a bitterness in Felix's eyes that was new; Billy wasn't sure he liked it.
"Specifics, Felix," Billy said. "What are the specifics?"
"Better rations, higher priority on the housing lists, and first buying rights on certain choice areas of land."
Billy shook his head. "It's not going to happen."
"I know that." Felix's eyebrows rose, and he sat back. "Let me know if you want me to disappear."
"Huh?" Billy glanced over his shoulder, and for a moment he didn't realize what exactly Felix was talking about. Then he saw that Laura Roslin had entered the bar tent with Tory Foster and Maya Nome. "No," he said. "It's all right."
He noticed that the reception that the former president got was much warmer than the one he'd received when he walked into the tent, but he was used to that. Laura Roslin had a gift with people that Billy envied; a way of making them feel what she wanted them to feel, be it ease or intimidation. Right now she was all smiles and warm handshakes, but he knew exactly when she saw him. The corner of her smile dipped a little, and she glanced away for a second. But Laura Roslin would never be thrown for long; she glided over to him with that warm smile on her face.
"Hello, Billy," she said graciously. "Felix," she added as a polite afterthought.
"Hello, Laura." The name didn't come easily off of his tongue; despite the fact that he'd been in Baltar's administration for the past eight months, he still felt like he should call her Madam President. "How are you?"
"I'm fine," Laura said. She took the cigarette from Billy's fingers and stubbed it out. "After all, the cares of New Caprica aren't on my shoulders. How are you?"
"Can't complain," Billy said.
"Oh?" Laura said, arching an eyebrow playfully. "That's not what I hear. Do you mind?" she asked, pulling out a chair.
"Not at all," Billy said. "Have a seat."
"Are Tory and Maya joining us as well?" Felix asked.
Laura glanced over her shoulder. "They seem to have found other companions," she said. Billy spotted them talking to a man he recognized as one of the high school teachers. "So," Laura said, "the union is giving you trouble?"
"They're upset, yes," Billy admitted. He pulled out another cigarette and lit it.
"Mmm." Laura looked at him disapprovingly. "You know those things give you cancer."
"I don't smoke often," Billy admitted. "Just when I'm stressed."
"Which is all the time, if half of what I hear is true," Laura said. She sipped her own drink. "Have you talked to John Rearden? He's an expert in negotiations."
"He's working on it," Felix interrupted. "The problem is that what the union wants simply doesn't exist."
"Then make it exist," Laura said. "Change the order of priority of some of the projects, and move the greenhouses higher up the list." Billy glanced at Felix, who raised his eyebrows and looked down at his drink. Laura caught their silent communication. "Or perhaps I misspoke. After all, I did just drop by for a social visit."
"No, it's all right," Billy said. He wasn't sure if it felt good to have Laura still looking out for him, or if the way she was patronizing him annoyed him to no end. Maybe a little of both.
Laura sipped her drink, her eyebrows raising as she looked from one of them to the other. "How is Tom doing these days, anyway?" she asked neutrally.
"He's fine," Billy said. "Busy."
"Mmm. They're all busy," Laura said, and Felix kicked Billy under the table. Billy couldn't look at him, because he knew he'd burst into laughter if he did. Speculation about Laura Roslin made for entertaining work gossip, especially when coupled with the Vice President.
"Shall I tell him you were asking after him?" Billy asked as innocently as possible.
Laura made a wry face that told him he was fooling no one. "I don't think that's necessary, Billy."
Billy shrugged. "Just checking, ma'am."
Laura looked at his cigarette again. "You have changed, Billy," she said. "There was a time you wouldn't have dared to tease me." She smiled playfully, but the tone of her voice suggested that she didn't approve. Billy looked guiltily down at the cigarette.
"Not so much," he said, stubbing it out. "Maybe you're just a little more teasable these days."
Laura raised her eyebrows and lifted her glass. "Maybe I am," she said. She stood gracefully. "Well, I'll leave you two to figure out the problems of the world." She nodded to them. "Have a good night." Billy watched her drift away, and as she did, her shoulders relaxed.
"Well," Felix said as they sat alone, "it's not like we haven't thought of that solution before. We just never pursued it because getting the President to change his mind is nearly impossible." He sighed. "I guess that's our sign that we need to follow our instincts."
"We'll start with the Vice President," Billy said, relieved that Felix had come to the same conclusion he had. "He'll be a lot easier to convince."
Felix nodded agreement. "You okay?" he asked Billy.
Billy nodded. "Yeah," he said. "I'm fine. Really." He sighed. "It's just kind of strange. I respected her so much, you know?"
"All too well," Felix muttered, and Billy snorted. He lit another cigarette and raised his glass.
"To the Presidents of the Colonies," he said. "Maybe one of these days, we'll find one that doesn't let us down."
Felix clinked his glass against Billy's. "I'll drink to that."
"Did you and Felix meet with the union?" Zarek asked Billy.
"Not yet," Billy said. "The meeting is at two o'clock."
"That's right." Zarek consulted his notes. "It was the zoning commission that you met with this morning. How did that go?"
"It could have gone better," Billy sighed. "The commission is saying that-" he cut off, cocking his head. "Do you hear that?"
Zarek's brow furrowed. "That almost sounds like Raptors. But that can't be." They exchanged glances, and then both of them ran outside.
Billy knew he would never forget the day when he stood by Tom Zarek's side, staring up at the Cylon raiders as they streaked across the New Caprican sky.
The office was silent. Felix stood at Baltar's right elbow, fidgeting with the hem of his jacket and straightening into a military posture. The surrender was official; Felix couldn't quite believe it. He stared at the Cylons in the room. One of the Fours was sitting in a chair, and a Three and a Five were quietly conversing. It still unnerved him to see exactly how human they looked. He was used to the Eights… or more accurately, he was used to Sharon. He wasn't used to seeing multiple copies of her, or of any of the others.
There was a commotion at the door; and then two Fives brought two more officials in. Felix's heart sank for a moment as he met Billy's eyes. He'd hoped Billy might make a run for it and get away. But Billy walked in, shaking off the restraining hands of a Two. And behind him, two more Twos were flanking Tom Zarek.
"Is this it?" the One demanded, turning to Baltar. "Is this your entire staff? This is more like a mayoral office than a Presidency."
"We're not exactly governing twelve worlds worth of people anymore," Baltar pointed out, his voice slightly sarcastic. "This is everyone."
Felix flexed his hands, keeping his face blank and looking at the Cylons, trying to gauge their expressions. He didn't think they were about to open fire on the administration; they would have done so already, if that was their intent.
"Well, now," the One said as Billy and Zarek took their places among the others, across the room from Felix. The One half-sat on Baltar's desk, leaning forward a little, bracing himself with his hands. "We're all here, so why don't we play a little getting-to-know you game? We can go around the rooms and say our names, and if you intend to work with us, or if we should just kill you now and save ourselves some trouble down the road?"
Silence. Felix clenched his fists, desperately wanting to punch the One and wipe the smug expression of his face, but all that would result in was a gory, goopy death for him. He held his tongue.
"Well?" the One said. "Who wants to start?"
"I'll start." Zarek stepped forward, his arms crossed. "I'm Tom Zarek, and I refuse to collaborate." He lifted his chin and glared at the One. "So go ahead and kill me."
"All right," the One said, but one of the Sixes spoke up.
"No!" she snapped.
He turned slowly. "Excuse me?"
"That's not why we're here," she insisted, with an expression that Felix could almost believe was earnestness. "We're here to build a new society, not to become a gang of mass-murderers."
"I've got news for you," a second One put in, "we're a little late on that count."
There was a snort of appreciation from across the room; Felix recognized it as Billy. The One turned his head, but Billy said nothing.
But the Six didn't react. Her gaze was focused on the Ones. "When we voted, we agreed that it was God's will that we live in peace with the humans. Dragging them out in the street and killing them is not what 'living in peace' means!"
"We concur," an Eight said, and she stepped forward to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Six.
"Well, goodie for you," the One said. But he didn't push the subject. Instead, he turned to Baltar. "Well? What are you people using as a detention center around here?"
Baltar jerked up. "I don't… I…" he glanced at Tom Zarek, and then at the Six who had said that the Cylons only wanted to live in peace. She made an expectant expression at him, and he deflated. "Yes. We've been incarcerating criminals on one of the decommissioned ships, although I suppose-"
"We'll build something more substantial," the One said.
The Eight made a face, but she stepped forward anyway. "There's a nearly finished apartment complex that can be converted."
"The apartment complex?" Baltar said. "You won't need that much…" he looked at the Six again, appealingly. "Not that much space. Will you?"
She faltered, and Felix saw it. Era of peace, his ass. His fists tightened again.
"Well?" the One prompted.
"What?" Baltar asked, and the One cocked his head in Zarek's direction. "Oh. Oh, right." Baltar pulled himself up straight. "Take him away."
The One nodded, and two Twos grabbed Zarek by the arms.
"Anyone else?" the One demanded.
On instinct, Felix looked to Baltar, mutely begging him to stand up to the Cylons and defend this home that they were building. But Baltar was staring at his desk, tears hanging in his eyes. Felix looked away.
Across the room, Billy was watching the door where they'd taken Zarek. His face was pale, and the pain was clear in his expression. And yet, he didn't move to follow. Felix tried to catch his eye, but Billy was still looking towards the door.
The Eight stepped into his line of sight. "And you, Lieutenant?" she said.
With a jolt, Felix realized exactly who this was. He drew in a deep breath and looked Boomer straight in the eye.
"I'm good," he lied.
Billy's head snapped around in surprise.
Felix stopped in the hall, but he didn't turn around right away. Billy saw his shoulders tense, his hands clench. "Felix?"
He turned. "Hey, Billy." He tried to force a smile. Billy sighed.
"Don't bother. We both know there's nothing to smile about."
It hung between them. They'd surrendered. They'd had the opportunity to go with Zarek, but they'd both refused it. They'd both collaborated.
Suddenly, Billy found he couldn't look at Felix. He shoved his hands in his coat pockets, and shifted.
"Right," Billy said awkwardly. "Guess we both have a lot to do."
Felix nodded. "Yes, sir, Mr. Vice-President."
"I'm not-" Billy began, and then realized suddenly that, given what the Cylons wanted, he probably was. "I'm not…" he whispered. "Felix, I didn't want-"
Felix raised his eyebrow. "I never said you did. After all, I still serve the President," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "I'll see you later."
"Right." Billy watched him walk down the hall, his hands still in his pockets as he accelerated. Then he took a deep breath, steeled himself, and turned and walked back towards his office.
Two days later, Billy saw Laura Roslin by chance, in one of the packed dirt streets. She stopped in her tracks, then turned around and walked the other way.
He didn't call after her.
New Caprica had been nothing but a gray mudball, ever since they'd landed on it. Felix could see that now. He stood by Gaius's desk, waiting for the President to sign the latest ordinance.
"Like this will make the people accept anything," Gaius groused, his pen hovering. "They think that if they have my approval, then the people will forget that it comes from the Cylons."
"You could always refuse," Felix said, but there was no heat in it.
"What, and end up dead? No thank you." Gaius flopped back in his chair. "I've tried, you know," he told Felix. "I've tried to convince them that we've got nothing here. That there's no reason for the to bother us, and they should just…" he paused, and then waved his hand negligently, "go away," he finished. "But they'll have none of it."
So you waved your hand at the Cylons and ordered them to leave and expected that to work? Felix thought incredulously. That's really the best you could come up with? But all he said was, "Yes, sir."
Gaius looked up at him suspiciously. "Y-ou don't believe me." It was a statement, not a question.
"I never said that, sir," Felix said. "I'm just doing my duty."
For a long moment, Gaius's eyes didn't waiver. Then, finally, he looked back down at the ordinance. "Right," he said. "Don't you forget it. Otherwise…" he trailed off. The implication was clear, but Felix couldn't tell if was meant as a threat or as a warning. He found that he didn't care.
"Have you signed it, sir?" he asked.
"Oh. Right." Without reading the ordinance, Gaius signed his name across the line. Felix watched dispassionately, although if he was willing to admit that he was feeling something, it would be anger. Anger and hate and fire.
Gaius picked the document up between two fingers. "There," he said. "Hand this off to whomever it goes to, and then you can be done for the day."
"Yes, sir. Have a good night."
Gaius was already shutting down, retreating some world where Felix didn't exist. Felix thought about saying something, and then just retreated. As he did, he could see Gaius opening a pill bottle. He rolled his eyes in exasperation, and then glanced down at the ordinance.
It was a rations ordinance. Felix sighed. It wasn't something that anyone didn't expect, that was for sure. He wondered what he'd do with it if it was.
He'd known- very early on- that the reason to stay in his job was to help. Play nice with the Cylons. Find out what he could. And then… then help.
Problem was, it wasn't like the Cylons started doling out high-security information. They didn't even trust Baltar, not that Felix blamed them. He sighed heavily, and then glanced again at who was next on the signature list. It was the Vice President, William Keikeya.
There were no formal guards at the doors, and the Three that had an office right next to Billy's barely even flicked a glance at Felix as he knocked on the door. From inside, he heard Billy call, "Come in," in a harried sort of voice.
The office of the Vice President had never been all that large. Colonial One didn't afford for large offices in the first place, and the Vice President's office was little more than a converted janitorial closet. It had been very cramped when Billy had been serving as an aide to Zarek, and Billy and Felix had made a habit of doing more of their work at a conference room table, taking advantage of both the space and the camaraderie.
Now Billy sat at the Vice President's desk. After a month of occupation, he'd finally lost the look of a boy sitting in his father's chair. He looked up hurriedly as Felix entered, and he groaned.
"I don't even want to know what you have in your hand, do I?" he asked.
"Probably not," Felix said.
Billy extended his hand, and Felix surrendered the ordinance. Billy read it quickly, his brows furrowing. "Did you talk to Bagot about this?" he asked.
"I did, but he had no ideas of anything we could do," Felix said with a sigh. "He says that the Fives are fairly insistent on seeing this one through."
Billy rubbed his chin. "What about a nursing mothers' clause?" he asked.
"It would help," Felix said. "It won't solve everything, but-"
"I don't expect it to solve everything," Billy said with a sigh. "But like you said, it would help. Go after the Eights with that one. They're the most susceptible to the word 'baby'."
Felix nodded, and watched as Billy set the document on his desk and bent over it again. He looked terrible, Felix realized, with dark circles under his eyes and pale skin. And yet, there was something about the set of his shoulders and the air about him that seemed so much older and harder. With a start, Felix realized that Billy Keikeya hadn't surrendered to the Cylons, and that he never would.
Billy caught him watching and smiled grimly. Felix returned the smile. "How are you doing, Felix?" Billy asked.
Felix shrugged. "You know," he said casually. "I'm making do."
"Aren't we all?" Billy said, bitterness tinging his voice. "Hey, listen. I still have that copy of the Lost Legends issue that I never returned to you. Do you want to stop by tonight and pick it up?"
Felix had completely forgotten about the Lost Legends book he'd lent Billy so long ago. He stared at him blankly for a long moment, and then Billy raised his eyebrows and leaned in. There was something more here, Felix realized, and his heart accelerated.
"All right," he said slowly. "I'll come over tonight and get it."
"Great. See you then. And talk to the Eights about the nursing mothers clause, right?"
"Yes, sir, Mr. Vice President."
Billy smirked as Felix left the room.
Felix walked through the settlement, his hands jammed in his pockets, trying not to look around him. He could smell the cooking fires and the scent of coffee, and less pleasant odors as well, as he walked by the public facilities. He tried to ignore the ragged, cold faces and the clanking sounds of Centurions on patrol, but it was difficult. And probably for the best, he thought. These were things that shouldn't be ignored.
He'd only been in Billy's tent a few times; generally they saw each other in Colonial One or in the bar tent. And since the occupation had begun… Felix shook his head. It wasn't like he could pass judgment on Billy when he was doing the same damn thing.
He knocked, and Billy answered, flipping back the flap of his tent. To Felix's mild surprise, Billy was holding a large, heavy piece of wood as he answered. He glanced around, and then gestured for Felix to enter.
"What's with the club?" Felix asked, pointing to the makeshift weapon in Billy's hand. "The bogeyman isn't calling."
"The bogeyman is already here," Billy said sourly, glaring at Felix. Felix didn't bother to wince. If Billy really thought… he sighed. "It's not so much the Cylons," Billy said, when Felix didn't speak. "It's the humans."
Billy shrugged. "You think people are overly happy to see us these days?"
"Yeah, but…" Felix's eyes widened. "Have you been attacked?"
Billy looked away. "It might have gotten there," he admitted. "But an Eight stepped in, and…" he made a face.
"What happened?" Felix asked, sick to his stomach.
"They ended up in detention," Billy bit out. He flipped open a book. "Not exactly the sort of salvation I had in mind."
Billy looked up at him. "Do you?"
"What do you mean by that?"
Billy glanced towards the tent flap, as if someone was standing outside the thick canvas and listening in on their conversation. "I think the meaning is pretty clear."
"You always were a lousy communicator," Felix muttered, parroting Dee.
"Come on, Felix." Billy leaned in. "Do you really think I asked you here just to return a comic book that I've had for months?"
"No," Felix began, but he found himself hesitating. Their eyes met, and Felix swallowed hard. Trusting Billy could lead to one of two things; an alliance or a betrayal. "What did you ask me here for?"
Billy fingered the book he'd been playing with. "We've been friends," he said slowly. "Even after Dee went off with Apollo, we've still been friends."
"We've got a lot in common," Felix said carefully.
"We do. Including…" Billy looked at the tent flap again, and then lowered his voice. "I know you want the Cylons gone."
"Who doesn't?" Felix asked.
"Felix…" Billy nearly threw up his hands in exasperation. "You know there's a resistance, right?"
"I'd be an idiot not to," Felix said. "Explosions do have a way of alerting a person that there's violent unrest." Billy opened his mouth to argue, and Felix sighed. "Yes. And you know what the Cylons are doing to anyone found to be in the resistance."
The realization hit Billy hard. "You think I'd turn you in."
Felix shrugged. "Not intentionally."
Billy was offended; Felix could see it in his face and the stiff posture of his body. But then Billy relaxed a little, and Felix began trusting that this meant what he thought- Billy wanted to do something.
"I'm sorry," he said, and he knew at that moment he'd decided to trust Billy. And Billy smiled in return, an open smile that Felix hadn't seen since the Cylons landed on New Caprica.
"Come on," Billy said, pulling out a chair for Felix and sitting down on his cot. "We have a lot to talk about. I'll make us some coffee."
"There's no way we can get prisoners out?" Felix asked.
"Not unless we manage to get a Cylon on our side," Billy said, running his hand through his curls again. He picked up his third cup of coffee, then set it down without taking a sip. "And I'm not sure we can trust any of them."
"We could talk to Boomer," Felix suggested. "I know she's not happy with the way things are going here."
Billy thought about it, then shook his head. "Look, I know you liked her well enough on Galactica," he said. "Dee did, too. But we can't risk it. From what I can tell…" he paused, and his face twisted oddly. "Even if we could trust her, if a Cylon dies, their memories go into some sort of bank. She could betray us without meaning to."
"Frak," Felix said, sitting back. Then his eyes narrowed as he looked at Billy. "How did you know that?"
Billy looked at him evenly. "There's a Three," he said. "She sits right outside my office. It's not the same one that was in the Fleet- her hair is red."
"I've seen her."
"She…talks to me." Billy looked down. "I'm not trusting her, mind you. She's supposedly my assistant, but I know she's watching me. But she talks to me." Felix nodded, not sure what to say. Billy cleared his throat. "But my point is, if we do this, it has to just be you and me. We can't let anyone else in on this. Not a Cylon, and not even any other humans. The more people that know what we're doing, the more people that could give us away."
Felix nodded in agreement. "So the most we can do is get information to the resistance. How are we going to make contact?"
"I don't know," Billy confessed. "I'm not even sure who all is involved."
Felix sighed. "I can make some excellent guesses," he said. "But there are other problems."
"Like convincing them that we're legit?" Billy asked.
"Or making sure that if they're caught, they can't give us up," Felix said. "And vice versa. If we're going to do this… we've got to be ready. For anything."
Billy swallowed hard, and Felix knew that he understood the implications. "And you and me?" he said.
"We're going to have to trust each other," Felix said. "If one of us goes down, the other will, too."
"Right." Billy held out his hand. "So, we'll do this?"
Felix took it, shaking it firmly. "We will."
The Three called herself Leah. She looked up as Billy walked past her office and into his own. He smiled awkwardly at her, nodding. She blinked at him and then looked back down to her own work.
He and Felix hadn't actually done anything, but as Billy sat down, his stomach twisted with nerves. Up until last night, this had all been a vague mass of plans. Now it was real. He was an inside man. A spy. A double agent.
Or he would be, if he could get his hands on anything important.
He began to sift through the papers that were on his desk. Rations orders, plans for residential structures, the schedules for the New Caprica Police that the Cylons had formed… his hand hesitated on this last one. Schedules.
He pulled out a piece of paper and began to make notes. Then he hesitated, realizing that if the message was intercepted, the Cylons would know his handwriting. He sighed, and crumpled the paper. Then smoothed it back out, and tore it up into small pieces.
A photocopy would make the most sense. But Billy never used the photocopier; Leah was meant to do that for him. And he couldn't explain to her… definitely not.
He slipped the New Caprica Police training schedule into a pile of papers, and slipped them into a folder. He checked his watch and stepped out of his office.
"I have a meeting with Mr. Gaeta," he told Leah.
She looked at him. "I haven't heard of it," she said.
Billy kept his gaze even. "We were discussing it last night when I returned a book to him."
"A book?" Leah raised an eyebrow, and Billy flushed. Leah smirked, and Billy realized what she had extrapolated from that.
"A book," Billy said, his ears turning red. Leah's smirk actually gentled a little into something like a smile, and she let him go without any comment. He hurried towards Felix's office, folder in hand.
He was in luck. Felix was sitting in his office, writing something with angry, precise motions. He stepped in and shut the door. Felix looked up irritably, and then softened a bit when he saw Billy. "What is it?"
"I've got some papers for you," Billy said. He lowered his voice. "I need copies." He didn't say of which ones, but he figured that Felix would figure it out.
Felix nodded. "I can do that for you, Mr. Vice President," he said formally.
There were voices outside the door. Billy and Felix exchanged glances, and Felix tilted his head at the door. "You can't be seen here too often," he mouthed.
Billy shook his head. "I've got an idea," he mouthed back. The voices were getting louder- a One, and Gaius Baltar. The door handle began to turn, and Billy lurched forward, grabbing the back of Felix's head and pulling him into a surprised, awkward, close-mouthed kiss just as the door opened.
"Oh, excuse me," Baltar said, backing up. He looked something between condescending and pleased. "I didn't realize we were interrupting."
"No." Billy straightened up. "I was just… we were…."
"Oh, there's no need to be all prudish about it." The One rolled his eyes. "Mr. Gaeta, you can stop looking like a dying cow. We're not going to drag you out into the street and shoot you for swapping spit with the Vice President."
"Sorry, sir," Gaeta managed.
"Good. Now that that piece of ridiculousness is settled, let's get to the point, shall we? Have a seat," Cavil ordered Billy, gesturing to the chair in the corner of Felix's tiny office. Billy glanced at Baltar, but he wouldn't meet his eyes. This wasn't good. He obeyed and sat in the chair.
"The Cylons aren't happy with how this settlement is evolving," Cavil said. "The great peace that some of our sisters were picturing isn't just magically happening- imagine that. So we've decided it's time for some stricter measures."
"Stricter measures?" Billy said, trying to sound firm but not sure that he did.
"Earlier curfew, a new rationing system, imprisonment for resistance activities… Baltar, you can give them all of the details. It's all really very mundane; I'm sure two smart boys like yourselves won't have any trouble figuring it out."
"Yes, sir," Felix said evenly.
"The message has to come through, loud and clear."
"Work together for a better tomorrow, sir?" Billy asked.
"Well, I was thinking more like 'fall in line or suffer the consequences,' but sure, if you want to candy-coat it, you can do that." The One clapped his hands together and turned to Baltar. "Now that that's settled, I'll leave you to relay the instructions to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum here. Make sure they're clear on it, all right? "
"I'm quite sure we can accomplish that," Baltar said, and Billy had the impression Baltar was just as eager as they were to get rid of the One. "Don't let us keep you from whatever important business that you have."
"Watch yourself, Baltar. You're not that useful to us," the One warned. He glared at Felix and Billy as well, but then departed.
"Well," Baltar said, clapping his hands together and putting on a big fake smile. "That's a little more comfortable, isn't it? I must say, the Ones do unnerve me a bit."
"Just tell us what we need to know, Gaius," Felix said, his voice a lot angrier now that the One was gone.
"Well, yes. See, the Cylons are… not happy, I guess, with the way that this new dream of theirs is shaping up."
"Should they be?" Felix demanded.
"Felix, it's not that I want them here! Don't you see that? But they are here, and they do hold a tactical advantage over us, and life would improve greatly if everyone would just cooperate with them!"
"Whatever, sir," Felix sighed. "Just tell us what's happening."
As Baltar began to outline the new restrictions, Billy watched Felix from the corner of his eye. Felix kept eye contact with Baltar and a bland expression on his face, but Billy noticed that his hands were clenching and unclenching, and that his knee was shaking. It was probably the least composed that Billy had ever seen Felix in their entire friendship.
"So, Mr. Gaeta," Baltar's tone had switched from defensive to superior by this point, "you'll be in charge of writing up the changes and notifying the population. Mr. Keikeya, you need to form a board that can oversee the implementation. The Three that you work with- Leah, I believe?- will help you with this."
He smiled anxiously at them both, and Billy looked at Felix again. Felix didn't turn to meet his eyes. Instead, he was staring at the President through narrowed slits, obviously unhappy. But Baltar ignored it. "I know I can rely on you both," he said, and as he left the room, he added, "if I can't, I'm sure that we can find… alternative arrangements." Billy winced as the threat rang clear.
"You okay?" he asked Felix after the door shut.
Felix stared at the closed door for a long moment and then shook himself. "Yeah," he said finally. "Yeah," he repeated with more sureness. He turned to Billy. "By the way, brilliant idea for a cover, there. They both fell for it hook, line, and sinker."
Billy smiled tentatively. "You didn't mind?"
Felix snorted and waved a hand. "Only that I didn't think of it myself. It's perfect." He sighed. "It's nice to be pulling the wool over someone else's eyes for a change. It's just too bad…" he shook his head. "Never mind. I'll make the copies you wanted, and then I'll come over tonight."
"Sounds good," Billy said. He looked down at the notes he'd taken during the meeting. "Suppose I'd better get back to helping oppress and enslave our people," he said wryly. "Do they really think they're fooling anyone?"
Felix shrugged. "Themselves, I suppose. See you tonight."
"Right. See you tonight."
The huddled in Billy's tent, the wind whipping through the empty streets outside. "All right," Felix said, "we got something worth getting. The next question is who do we give it to?"
"Laura Roslin," Billy said immediately. "There is absolutely no way she's not in the Resistance."
Felix shook his head. "Bad idea," he said.
"Why?" Billy asked, more curious than offended.
"For one," Felix said, ticking the points off on his fingers, "she's too high profile. Of course she's in the Resistance, and Gaius and the Cylons know it, too. Two, she won't believe you right away. She'll think you're trying to get back in her good graces. And three, whoever we give this information to, they can't know who we are and we can't know who they are."
Billy made a face. "I get the point of that," he said finally "It is dangerous. But how the frak are we supposed to manage that?"
"We need help," Felix sighed. "We need someone to help us set up a dead drop. Someone in the Resistance who would trust us, and that we can trust. Or someone who we can pay enough to not look into an envelope, anyway."
"Cottle?" Billy suggested.
"Not Cottle," Felix sighed. "He's too valuable. We can't get him entangled in this in any way."
They went through a list of names, but no one seemed quite right.
"I can't believe this," Billy muttered. "After all this time, we finally get something, and we can't hand it off. What's the point?"
"And what's the point if we get turned in on our very first try?" Felix asked. "After this, it will get easier."
"No it won't," Billy said. "It's only going to get harder."
Felix made a face and looked away. "Right. But we'll come up with something."
"We will," Billy agreed, and wished that they could come up with something now.
Mark McGee was exactly what Felix needed. He was a good sort; Felix knew him from working on the water reclamation plant. He hated the Cylons and wanted nothing to do with them, thanks to a dead wife and son. But at the same time, he wasn't Resistance; of that, Felix was sure. He wouldn't risk his daughter, who was currently in the Cylon detention center.
"It's a simple matter," Felix said, leaning forward. He was sitting in Mark's tent, only because of his position and Mark not wanting to be picked up by the Cylons. There was a sealed envelope on the table between them. "I need this to get to someone in the Resistance." He tapped the envelope.
"Why should I do this for you?"
"I'll tell you if you accept my conditions."
Mark regarded him sharply. "What conditions?"
"One. You don't join the Resistance, and you don't join the Cylons. You just lay low, and you just keep going. Two. If your dog's bowl is upside down, you don't touch it. Three. You never speak of this again, no matter what the circumstances." Mark waited, but that was it.
"Let me get this straight. I get this to someone who I'm positive is in the Resistance, and then I don't do a damn thing but not turn by dog's bowl over if it's upside down?"
"And what are you going to do for me?"
"Rachel is in the Cylon detention center, and it's for breaking curfew. I'll get her out."
Mark glared at him. "Shouldn't need to do anything to have that happen," he muttered. "A real man would get her out no matter what."
"In a real world, I'd be able to trust most people. I can't. I need to be sure that you've got a damn good reason not to sell me out."
Mark picked up the envelope. "What's in this, anyway?"
"I'm not telling you. It won't explode."
He tapped the envelope against the table. "And it won't get who I give it to in trouble?"
"I won't even know who you give it to."
"And you'll get Rachel out?"
"I'll do everything in my power."
Mark nodded. "All right. I'll do it."
The Three looked up. Billy swallowed hard. "Yes?" she said.
He tried to remind himself that she was his assistant, but they both knew the truth. Warden was a more accurate description, he thought sourly. "I was wondering who I could go to in order to review a prisoner file, and actually get results?"
Her expression became very guarded. "You know that Tom Zarek is on a restricted list."
"I know," Billy said, and amazingly, his voice stayed completely even. He would not let them see how much Zarek's imprisonment bothered him. "She's not a high-security prisoner."
Leah cocked her head. "Who is it?"
"Rachael McGee. She's a teenager that was out after curfew." He put the file down in front of Leah, and realized that his heart was pounding so loudly she could probably hear it.
Leah picked up the file and opened it up, and then her brow furrowed. "She's fifteen."
"That's extremely young, isn't it?"
Billy tried not to think of what might be happening to that poor girl. "It's the age of adulthood on some of the Colonies," he said. "But yes. It is very young."
Leah nodded and closed the file. "I'll talk to a One," she said. "I'll see if something can be done."
"Thank you." Billy smiled at her.
She smiled back. "Mr. Keikaya?" she said.
"Is it fair to assume that you will be having more… meetings… with Mr. Gaeta in the future?"
Billy flushed, and nodded. "Yeah. I guess."
Leah snorted. "I told them," she said smugly. "Given that you just won me a pair of shoes off a Six, I'll do what I can about this file."
"Shoes?" Billy asked, baffled.
She laughed. "Shoes."
"Don't you know anything about women?"
The memory shot through him, painful despite the distance. "Apparently not," he said, looking away. He remembered where he was and what he was doing, and forced a smile. "And these days, I don't need to, right?"
"Well, maybe you can help me understand human men," she said. "I'll report back to you when I find something out."
"Thank you." He smiled awkwardly at her once more, and then retreated into his own office. He closed the door gently, and then flopped into his chair in relief.
This might actually work.
It was late when Billy slipped into Felix's tent. "Well?" he asked, unwinding the scarf from around his neck. "How did it go?"
Felix brandished a message. All it said was Contact made. Understood. "We're in business," he said.
"Fantastic." Billy flopped down onto the bed, the only place Felix had to sit besides the chair he was sitting on. "Leah talked to a One, and they agreed to release Rachel McGee in two days."
"You're kidding," Felix said. "That's…"
"Well, she wasn't picked up for much," Billy cautioned. He knew that hope that was flaring on Felix's face- he felt it, too. "We've got to be careful. Rachel was one of those cases where there genuinely was no reason to be holding her, and she was young. Leah seemed to have some compassion for her for that."
"But still…" Felix mused. "If she's willing, we could ask about some of the others. Not people picked up for violence," he added hastily. "They'll catch on if we do that. But older people, or younger, or people who just had bad luck…."
"Let's wait and make sure they actually release Rachel, first," Billy warned. "And let's get the information going. Like you keep telling me, we can't risk everything by rushing too much."
Felix nodded, deflating. Billy hated to do that, but he knew Felix, and for once, Felix couldn't afford to believe the best about people, and he would if he was given half a chance. He decided to change the subject. "When are you going to take the schedules to the dead drop?"
Felix glanced at his watch. "In an hour. Stay here and make sure I get back all right?"
"I can do that."
Felix had a lamp, but other than that, he got his light from a few candles. They made the tent look warmer, and Billy found that sitting on Felix's bed, he felt like he was back in high school a little bit, planning debate strategies with his best friend.
Felix smiled over at him, and Billy realized that that was exactly what they were now.
Leah was going to get Rachel out, they got a dead drop set up, they were going to start passing information to the Resistance, and he had his first best friend since… gods knew when. Billy had never thought he'd have a day on New Caprica that was this good again.
There was a knock on his office door. Billy scrubbed his face with his hands and looked up. "Come in," he said wearily.
The door opened, and Leah slipped in. "I have those requisitions for you to sign," she said neutrally.
"Thank you," he muttered, not really wanting to thank her at all. He didn't even want to know what was on those papers. "They can go right there."
"I need them in half an hour."
"Of course." She turned around and shut the door, and Billy looked up with greater interest. "What's going on?" he asked.
"I did some research into Rachel McGee," Leah said. Without asking, she pulled the spare chair over closer to his desk, so they could talk more quietly. "And you were right. She was a fifteen year old girl who had been held for three weeks for breaking curfew, and I don't even want to think…" she shuddered. "I went in to see her myself, and when I saw her, I cried. The conditions… I didn't realize that my people were doing that to people who didn't deserve it. The punishment was far too excessive for the crime."
Billy remembered the reported D'Anna Biers, and her hard, professional face. He couldn't imagine her saying anything like this. And yet, Leah, for all that she was a carbon copy but with red hair, seemed to genuinely mean what she said. He swallowed and nodded.
"I got her out," Leah said.
His eyes widened. "You were able to?"
Leah nodded. "And that's what I wanted to talk to you about. Doing this… it was a real eye-opener for me. I saw what my own people are doing, and it breaks my heart. This wasn't what we intended. I'd like to help you get others out. Others who are being treated too severely. I know they're in there."
She voted for your extinction, Billy reminded himself firmly. She might be sitting here crying, but she's still a Cylon. Don't trust her. But even as he thought it, he fought against it. After all, she was saying exactly what he wanted to hear. He pulled out a handkerchief for her and handed it to her.
"What about forming a subcommittee?" he asked cautiously. "Something where we could review the cases, and get the approval of the other Cylons?"
"It won't work," she insisted. "At one time it might have, when it was so easy to convince each other and agree. But now… we argue too much. The people that don't deserve in there will sit and suffer as the Cylons debate."
He couldn't deny that; he'd been in government far too long. "Let me think about it," he told her. "And let me get a few names."
Leah nodded. "All right." She dried her face with his handkerchief and handed it back, and then took a deep breath. "Can you tell I've been crying?" she asked.
"No," he lied.
She smiled. "Good." She stood up. "I'd better get back to work, and so had you. We need those forms in less than a half-hour now."
"All right." He watched her leave. "Leah?" he said, as she was at the door. She turned. "Thank you."
Leah smiled. "You're welcome."
"What do you think?" Billy asked Felix. "I'm crazy for even considering it, right?"
Felix thought about it. "I don't know," he said slowly. He was trying to think, but his mind was already five steps ahead, rushing to the possibilities. "I mean, look. Boomer and Caprica, they really believe in this new idea. And they said they managed to convince the other Cylons." He sighed. "It's not inconceivable that they might have truly convinced some of them, right?"
"You really want to believe her," Billy observed dryly.
"Don't you?" Felix asked, his own smile wry.
"I do," Billy admitted. "But what if we're wrong?"
"We'll just give her a few names at first," Felix suggested. "And then, when we see that we can trust her, we'll give her more."
Billy nodded. "And what about information?" he asked.
To his surprise, Felix's face hardened. "No," he said firmly. "That we do ourselves."
"Good," Billy said. Felix's firmness on that matter made him fight down the impression that Felix was seeing what he wanted to see, not what was really there. Billy was sure that they could do this, but reminded himself that there were going to be times that he was going to have to be the level headed one of the two of them. Although there was a time that being more level-headed than Felix Gaeta would have struck him as ridiculous.
Funny how things changed.
The coordinate system had taken Felix three days to work out, but both he and Billy agreed that it was vital that the Resistance had this information. He was conscious of it as he walked to the dead drop, the packet in his breast pocket.
The sun was about to set, washing the New Caprica horizon with pale pinks and oranges. Felix barely noticed it, he was so nervous. He tried to look casual as he walked through the streets. His coat collar was turned up, partly against the wind, but also so it would hide his face, and the hat he wore served the same dual purpose of warmth and camouflage. It was well before curfew, he was inconspicuous, and no one on either side had the first idea of what he was doing. He shouldn't be so nervous.
He put the message in the designated drawer and flipped the dog's bowl. The dog- Jake, Mark had told him- whined up at him so pathetically that Felix had to kneel down and scratch the poor thing's ears.
The voice was low, but it made Felix jump anyway. He turned, expecting the worst. But it was only Mark, standing in the door of his tent, his arm around a young girl wrapped in a patched coat. "Thank you," Mark said.
Felix nodded gravely.
Mark smiled at him one more time. The girl might have, but it was impossible to tell with her scarf over her face. Felix thought that she might not have. But they both disappeared into the tent, leaving him alone to do whatever he had come to do in secrecy and peace. Felix breathed out heavily. Whatever else happened, Mark wasn't going to betray them. One piece of luck.
He gave Jake a final pat and stood back up, shoving his hands in his pockets. If he hurried, he could stop by the market and pick up some coffee before Billy came over for the night.
He whistled as he walked away.
Felix was rummaging through the memos that he was supposed to be typing for Gaius, looking for anything that might be helpful. The contact from the Resistance had been begging for the Cylon jamming frequencies, but so far he had nothing.
Gaius came into the office, lazy and unwashed. Felix looked down at the desk. "Good morning, Mr. President," he said.
"Morning," Gaius snorted. "Is it still morning?"
"Technically, yes," Felix said.
Gaius sat down in his chair, rubbing his temples. "What did you do last night, Felix?"
"I was with Billy," Felix said easily.
"Ah, yes. Billy. The Vice President. A substitute in more than one way, isn't he?"
"What do you mean?" Felix asked. He glanced up, noticing that Caprica Six was standing in the door. He looked back down.
Gaius didn't answer. He leaned back in his chair, his hair flopping down the back. "You know," he said conversationally, "Billy isn't the type I'd think you'd go for."
"No?" Felix said neutrally. "Shows how well you know me."
"You're too much alike," Gaius said. Now he was swiveling in his chair, still staring at the ceiling. Felix glanced over at Caprica, but she wasn't watching him; she was watching Gaius. Gaius didn't notice. "Honestly," he said. "You should be with someone who complements you. Someone who balances you."
"Oh?" Felix managed to keep a straight face.
"I could introduce you to someone. Someone… sweet."
"That's really not necessary." Felix sighed. "Mr. President, I need the authorization forms for the LE-729 task force."
"You really ought to consider it," Gaius said, ignoring Felix entirely. "I know that you're lonely."
"I'm fine," Felix snapped. "Can we please focus on what needs to be done to keep this settlement and your great society running?"
"He's right, Gaius," Caprica Six said, and Felix ignored her.
Gaius sighed heavily. "Fine," he said. "Let me see those forms."
Felix handed them over. Gaius signed them hurriedly and then handed them back. "Take them over to the detention ministry," he ordered. "They needed to be there yesterday."
"I know," Felix muttered, and then said, "yes, sir," more loudly. He glanced over Gaius's shoulder, and saw something that looked like a schematic. The letters NCP were across the top. He pulled back, marking the place on Gaius's desk in his memory as he took the forms.
"I'll be back in time for the Quorum meeting," he told Gaius, glancing at his watch.
"You'd better be. We need to start discussing the NCP graduation."
"Yes, sir." Felix glanced once more at Gaius's desk, and then headed out the door.
He didn't exactly relish heading over to the Cylon detention complex; the sight made him sick. But he did appreciate being out in the fresh air, and away from Gaius and the constant presence of the Cylons. He walked quickly, breathing deeply. The cold air felt good in his lungs; no matter how miserable New Caprica was, he did relish the air.
The detention center came into sight- a massive, gray concrete building originally meant to be an apartment complex, surrounded by fences, twirled barbed wire, and watch posts. He cringed, wondering about the people inside. How many of them did he know? He didn't want to think of it.
A Centurion looked at him. "I'm here with the authorization forms from the President," Felix told it. The Centurion nodded and stepped aside, and Felix entered.
The detention center was oddly quiet, the silence broken only by footsteps, soft voices, and the muffled sound of sobbing far off in the distance. Felix stepped into an office, looking around him curiously despite himself. Colonial One was still very much as it had been when they landed, still designed and lived in by humans. This office was Cylon through and through, with red light, drawers against the walls, and shapes that Felix simply didn't understand.
There was what looked like a trough in the center of the room, and several Cylons stood around it, their hands in the water. They were talking quietly, but nothing that he could hear made any sense to Felix. He stood quietly, but no one seemed to notice him. Finally, he cleared his throat.
An Eight turned. "I'm sorry," she said, coming over, "have you been waiting long?"
"Not too long," Felix answered, wishing desperately that he had the first clue of how to use any of this equipment.
She noticed his interest and smiled at him. "Would you like me to show you around a little?" she said.
"I know you were the tactical officer on Galactica," the Eight said. "Boomer told us that you had a great interest in computers."
Felix thought of Leah, and all the help she'd been able to give him and Billy. He thought of the jamming frequencies that their contact had been asking for and how they'd been unable to get them. "That would be great," he said, "if you don't mind."
"Of course not." The Eight took the papers from him. And for the next half-hour, she showed him the basics of the Cylon operation system.
Despite his hatred of the Cylons, Felix had to admit the system was fascinating. He wasn't foolish enough to think that the Eight showed him anything of importance, but he filed it all away anyway, hoping that it might help pieces fall into place later.
"You really are interested in this, aren't you?" the Eight asked, smiling with amusement as Felix studied the console.
"Well, like Boomer said, I like computers," Felix admitted.
The Eight smiled and ducked her head, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear. "It's nice to actually have a human interested," she said. "It gives me hope that we can make New Caprica work."
"Right," Felix said. He thought of what was happening just outside that office. New Caprica was never going to work, and it never should. "Well, thanks for showing me around," he said. "I need to get back to Colonial One."
"Of course," she said, stepping aside. As he left, she put a hand on his arm. "I have to be over there tomorrow," she said. "Perhaps I could catch up with you again?"
"I'll be there," Felix said noncommittally.
He thought of the Eight as he walked back to Colonial One. Was it possible that she might be like Leah, willing to help them in an effort to make New Caprica "work"? He'd discuss it with Billy that night; they had a public "date", and he could bring it up then, or afterwards.
With a sigh, he re-entered Colonial One, reminding himself to excuse himself during the Quorum meeting so he could get a good look at Gaius's desk.
"You really think she'd help us?" Billy asked Felix as they sat in the bar. It was crowded that night. There was a band playing, and the tables had been pushed aside to make room for a makeshift dance floor. The music was a perfect cover for their voices.
"I don't know, yet," Felix said. "It's not something I'd ask right away, you know? But it might be worth cultivating a friendship."
Billy nodded. "If nothing else, maybe you can get a little more information out of her," he said. "If she works in the detention ministry. This is the closest we've gotten to having any sort of contact there."
"Yeah." Felix sipped his drink, and studied the dance floor. It was crowded with people who hated their guts. He cringed. "I don't know how much we can get out of her, but…"
"Right. Worth trying. Hey- slow dance."
"Oh. Right. Come on."
Billy laced his fingers through Felix's, and they took to the dance floor. A few couples moved aside marginally, although most of them did their best to ignore them. Neither of them were good dancers- even a slow dance highlighted that as they kept stepping on each other's toes- but it was enough to keep their ruse alive.
They moved together, chest to chest, Felix's hand on Billy's shoulder and Billy's hand on Felix's waist. "It's kind of nice," Felix said suddenly.
"What is?" Billy asked.
Felix leaned closer. "Dancing with a friend," he said, so only Billy could hear him.
Billy smiled at him. "Yeah," he agreed. "It is."
Felix laid his head against Billy's shoulder. It was meant to look romantic, for the benefit of everyone else, but there was something else there. A need for camaraderie, for closeness, and an intense loneliness. Billy squeezed his hand in comfort. No wonder Felix was even considering trying to get this Eight to help them. She was probably the first one that had spoken nicely to him all week.
He brought it up again as they walked back to Felix's tent. "So are you going to meet up with her tomorrow?" he asked.
"It's worth a try, don't you think?" Felix asked uncertainly.
"Definitely worth a try," Billy agreed.
The alarm went off. Felix groaned and smacked it, and then glanced down at the ground. Billy was still nestled deep in the nest of blankets and rugs, still sound asleep. Felix sighed and sat up, scrubbing at his face with his hands, and then padded over to make coffee.
The Eight. Felix had been thinking about her all night. There was something about the way she spoke to him… something genuine. Something that reminded him of Boomer. And Boomer… of all the Cylons, Boomer was the only one that Felix came close to trusting. Boomer meant what she was saying about living in peace, Felix could see that in her eyes. And from what Billy said about Cylon communication, it seemed most likely that Boomer would be able to convince her own model line of her point of view first.
The more he thought about it, the more he thought that getting to know this Eight would be a good idea. And maybe, if they were really lucky, she'd help them like Leah was helping. Leah had managed to get twelve people out of detention so far, and find out the status of eighteen more. It gave both Billy and Felix hope. If they had two Cylons helping them…
Felix smiled and put the coffee on.
The force of the explosion knocked Billy to the ground. He covered his head as debris flew around him, dust and sand and pieces of who knew what else. He waited, listening to the screams, and counted to ten. Then to twenty. Nothing happened, and he clambered slowly to his feet.
The marketplace was in chaos. Humans were running, genuinely terrified, and the Cylons were desperately trying to keep order. Billy noticed several Centurions and at least four skinjobs lying on the ground, in bits and pieces. He smiled savagely.
Someone fell against him, and he turned to catch them automatically. He almost regretted it when he saw who it was.
"Laura," he said, steadying her. "Are you all right?"
Laura pulled away from him like he'd been pawing her. "I'm fine," she said shortly.
"You don't need to concern yourself about me, Billy," she said coldly. "Believe me."
He bit his lip. I'm helping, he wanted to tell her. I've been helping for over a month now. I thought you knew me well enough that you'd come up with that idea on your own. But he couldn't say it, and he knew it.
Instead, he cleared his throat. "I heard that one of your students was picked up for chasing a ball into a restricted zone," he said. "Was he released?"
Laura narrowed her eyes. "After a week of trying to petition any office I could, yes. Two days ago."
Billy tried not to let his relief show on his face. Leah had told him she'd gotten him out two days ago, but he hadn't seen the boy since. He'd believed her, but he always felt better once he got independent confirmation. "I'm glad," he told Laura.
"Yes, well if it really matters to you, next time you could actually do something. I don't know how you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning- you or Felix." She spat the name at him.
"We do what we can," Billy answered her sharply.
"Right. Well, take care of yourself, Billy," Laura said, preparing to dive back into the commotion of the market place. "Apparently, it's what your best at."
He wanted to shake her and make her see, but instead, he let her go, watching as she darted among the people, trying to calm them, trying to do damage control. In her mind, Laura Roslin was still President; Billy could see it.
He turned away, wiping irritably at his face. For the first time, he noticed the blood that was trickling from his temple. He sighed, and headed away from the marketplace and towards his own tent.
To his surprise, Felix was inside, waiting for him. "I didn't expect to see you here," Billy said.
"I heard the explosion," Felix said. "I wanted to make sure you were okay." His eyes raked over Billy's face. "Sit," he ordered.
"Thanks," Billy said, obeying and sitting on his bed. Felix poured out some water and found a cloth, and began to clean the wound.
"I was going to stay tonight anyway," Felix said, "but now I'd definitely better. You're going to have a concussion. You might even want to go see Cottle."
"Not really," Billy groaned. "I'd rather not see anyone right now."
Felix didn't draw back; he just focused on the wound. "Something wrong?"
"Ran into Laura in the marketplace."
"Yeah. She had… words."
"I imagine so."
Billy sighed. "Do you ever think about what Dee would say? If she was on New Caprica?"
"Dee?" Felix sounded a little surprised that Billy had even asked. "I try not to."
"Yeah." Dee's words would make Laura Roslin's look… well, not kind, since Laura had an acrid tongue, but… well, he'd rather hear Laura's chew-out than Dee's. "I'm just tired, you know?" Billy admitted.
"I know," Felix agreed. He gripped the back of Billy's head gently as he firmed up the pressure on the wound. "I don't know how I'd get through this if I didn't have you to do it with me."
"Yeah." Billy thought about it for a long moment. "You know, that explosion today. They did that without anything we gave them. I'm sure of it. Do you really think we're helping?"
"I have to," Felix said. "I'll go insane if I don't." He let the pressure up and checked the bleeding. "This is going to bruise, but the bleeding's stopping pretty easily," he said. "We have get another list ready for Leah. I brought some files with me."
"Sounds good," Billy said, although without any fire. Tonight, it just felt like it was all worthless. All the worrying, all the planning… all for nothing.
Felix smiled at him, but there was no light in his eyes, either. He looked just as worn and drained as Billy felt. "We're going to get through this," Felix said. "Somehow or another, we will do it. Come on. I think this has stopped enough that we can do some work."
Billy nodded and took a file. Felix was right. They were both too tired to feel, and the only thing either of them could do was work through it.
Three days later Leah brought their list to Billy. "I could only get one out," she said, and she looked so upset. "Just this one- Andy Remkin. The other four… one is already dead, and the other three the Ones say no. I'm not sure what's going on," she admitted. Billy pulled out a chair for her.
"Maybe Felix and I didn't do our research well enough," he suggested as she sat next to his desk. "Neither of us were thinking that well that night."
"Or maybe the Ones are starting to get suspicious," Leah said. "There's talk of tightening down even more."
"More?" Billy asked, recoiling slightly. "But-"
"You know about the bombings," Leah said. "It's not going according to plan at all. I don't understand it."
"Why people would be bombing the Cylons?"
"No. Why they'd risk their own people."
Leah sighed. "Oh well. I'll see what I can find out about the Ones and the detention center. I mean, I completely understand keeping dangerous insurgents in there, but all of the people you've ever given me… they're only in there for minor infractions."
There was no safe answer to that, so Billy nodded.
"How's Felix doing these days?" Leah asked tentatively. "I know he was at your place the other night."
"He's fine," Billy answered. Something about the inquiry bothered him. "Is something wrong?"
She bit her lip. "They've been asking about him."
"Not just the Ones. All of the Cylons. And Caprica Six and Baltar."
Billy's heart accelerated a little. "Why?"
"I don't know. I can't put it together. If they suspected him of being involved in any of the bombings or any sort of treason, they wouldn't be pussyfooting around it. They would take him right in for questioning."
Billy sighed, rubbing his forehead. So much for that idea. "I'm not quite sure how this works, but I've seen that the Cylons can communicate without speaking. Accessing data banks or something?"
Leah grimaced. "It doesn't work quite like that," she said, a touch of scorn in her voice. She looked down at the desk. "But there's nothing that I can find out. Nothing that I can access…."
"Nothing. I'll see what I can find out," Leah promised him. "But do you have a few more names for me?"
"I do." Billy dug the list of four names out of his pocket. He hesitated for just a moment, and then handed them over.
Leah pocketed the list. "I'll find out what I can," she promised again. She stood gracefully. "I'll go do what I can."
"And tell Felix to keep his head down. I don't know what's going on, but they're planning something for him."
"So tell me," Felix said, leaning in. "I've heard the Cylons mention projection. What exactly is that?"
"It's interesting," the Eight said, moving the sprouts aside with her fork. "It's a way of viewing our surroundings. We choose how we see them; change the input. For example, instead of sitting in a conference room with you, eating something resembling lunch, I see us as sitting in a marble room with crystal chandeliers." Felix made a face and she laughed. "What's wrong with that?"
"Not really my scene," Felix admitted.
"No? What would you project?"
"New Caprica," he answered immediately. "Finished and thriving." He glanced at the drawing that hung on the wall. "When I came down here… I could see the place so clearly in my mind. I really believed that this was it, and if I just worked had enough, if I just believed hard enough… it would become a reality. And I think I was realistic- I wasn't imagining the cities of Picon or anything. Nothing like I would have once come up with. But just…" he sighed. "Not this," he finished. "Something so much more."
The Eight listened sympathetically. "You really love this place, don't you?"
"No. I love what this place should have been."
"But you love humanity."
It was such an odd statement. Felix shrugged. "I am human," was all he could think of to say.
She rested her chin on her hand. "It bothers me," she admitted.
"What does? That I'm human?"
"No," she laughed. "That there was this dream- this glorious city and an alliance… and after three months all we have to show for it is frozen mud and blood." Felix looked away. "There are so many things wrong," the Eight said, and her voice was soft. "So many ways this could have been prevented… so many wrongs that are happening. It's not what we intended. It's not what we… it's not what I came here to build."
"Well, it's what got built," Felix said bitterly.
The Eight covered his hand with hers. "It's not too late," she said. He looked up at her inquisitively. "Maybe we can right the wrongs. Maybe I can help you. Not a lot, but maybe some. Maybe we can start working towards what New Caprica is meant to be."
He met her eyes. "Maybe we can," he agreed.
"How many names did you give her?" Billy asked.
"Three, just like we agreed," Felix sighed, stripping off his jacket. He sat down on the bed roll he used when he stayed at Billy's tent. "That okay?"
Billy busied himself at the desk. "Nothing."
"What is it?" Felix asked, because he knew Billy well enough now to know.
"It's nothing," Billy said, but he still didn't look up.
Felix wrapped his arms around his updrawn knees. "No," he said. "It's something. What is it?"
Billy sighed and tossed the file he'd been examining down. "It's just… are you sure we can trust her?"
"As much as we can trust Leah," Felix fired back. "She said she'd help."
"And you don't find that suspicious at all?"
"Leah's been helping us," Felix pointed out angrily "Why is it okay for you to trust Leah, but not for me to trust an Eight?"
Billy sat down on his bed. "Because I worry," he said. "I trust Leah, yes. But I trust her to a point. When you decide that someone is trustworthy, you…."
"I what?" Felix demanded.
Billy sighed. "You trust them completely," he said.
"And what's wrong with that?" Felix demanded.
"Two words. Gaius Baltar."
"Look, I get that now, all right? I-"
"What about Adama?" Felix asked, sitting up.
"You really believe he's coming back for us, don't you?" Billy asked.
"You don't think they will?" Felix shot back, standing up.
"It's been three months!" Billy shouted. "No, I don't! We're on our own! They're not coming for us!"
They stared at each other for a long, silent, tense moment.
"So what does that change?" Felix finally said stiffly "Nothing. We keep doing what we're doing. We keep feeding information to the resistance, and we keep getting people out of detention. The Eight can't help us with the first- we agreed on that. But she can help us with the second."
"I still don't think-" Billy began, but Felix cut him off.
"You're not the only one who gets to trust a Cylon. I-"
"Do you have any idea how idiotic that just sounded?" Billy demanded.
"You know what I mean!" Felix shouted back. "There is no reason to think that you are less-"
"Shhh!" Billy hissed, and clapped a hand over Felix's mouth.
Felix's first impulse was to stick his tongue out and lick Billy's hand, and when Billy recoiled to continue shouting at him. But as they stood in silence for a moment, he heard it too. Someone was right outside Billy's tent.
"Yeah," Billy said loudly, "well, I swear to the Gods, Felix, if I even catch you looking at him one more time…"
Felix stared at him, and then realized what Billy was doing. "And I keep telling you, there's nothing between me and Rodriguez! We're just friends!"
"Then keep your hands off him!
"He was the one groping me! And while we're on the subject, let's talk about you and…" Felix cast about for inspiration, and then decided to go right back to the actual argument. "Your superior attitude! I know you were the frakking valedictorian of Caprica High or whatever, but it is about time you admitted that you don't know everything!"
"I never said I did!" Billy countered. "I just said that you don't, either!"
"Stop patronizing me!"
"Then stop being such a trusting idiot! There is no reason for the- for RODRIGUEZ- to be so frakking interested in you! You are not his normal type!"
"Well, maybe I'll just go home tonight, if that's the way you feel!" Felix shouted.
"Maybe you should!" Billy shouted, thrusting Felix's coat at him. "Hurry," he mouthed. "Catch them."
"Fine!" Felix shouted back, nodding and pulling on his coat as fast as he could.
"Fine!" Billy shouted, and Felix ran for the door.
He burst out into the cold air of the open street, and he saw a shadow running away. He sprinted to the end of the next tent, barely managing to catch a glimpse. The shadow was tall and broad. He couldn't make out who or what it could be, but he had his guesses and he knew better than to chase it down. Instead, he continued storming angrily to his tent, muttering about faithless boyfriends as he went.
When he arrived at his tent, he examined it carefully. Nothing seemed out of place, and there were no footprints that he didn't recognize on the dirt floor. And yet, he couldn't shake the feeling that someone had been there; that someone was watching him. Was watching them.
He sat down at his desk. Everything was exactly as he'd left it- even the Lost Legions book was still open to the same page. He took a deep breath and tried to push the feeling away. He still had a lot to do, and tonight, he was doing it alone.
But every time he heard a noise, he jumped.
Felix was sitting in his office when a bouquet of weeds appeared in his line of vision. He looked up to see Billy. "What's this?" he asked, startled.
"Flowers," Billy said. "Well, as near as I can get to flowers. Don't lovers give each other flowers after a fight, to say they're sorry?"
"I don't think so," Felix said. "No lover I've had has ever done that."
"Imagine that," Billy said with a sheepish grin. "That makes me the best boyfriend you've ever had." He nudged the flowers closer. "Anyway, I wanted to say I'm sorry about last night. You were right, and I should be trusting you."
"Thanks," Felix said softly, fingering the weeds. "You were right, too. I'll be careful."
Billy glanced at the door. "Are we supposed to kiss and make up now?" he muttered.
Fortunately, at that moment Baltar entered, and they both snapped back from their conversation. "Honestly, Mr. Gaeta," Gaius said, rolling his eyes, "you never change, do you?"
Felix flushed, but Billy just nodded. "Mr. President," he acknowledged.
"Mr. Vice-President," Gaius sighed. "I don't suppose you'd put a bullet through my head and take my position today, would you? The last thing I want to deal with is the New Caprica Police."
"They're all yours, sir," Billy said. "Only you could do the job you do." He smiled at Felix. "I'll see you for dinner tonight?"
"Sounds good," Felix agreed, and Billy left. Baltar watched him go, and then sneezed.
"The typical response would be bless you, sir," Baltar said.
"I'm sorry, I wasn't listening," Felix said.
Gaius came over and looked at the bunch of weeds. "Are those ragweed flowers?" he asked, sneezing again.
"Yes," Felix said.
"He brought you weeds. How very…"
"It was thoughtful," Felix cut him off. He bit his tongue before he added anything more.
"Well, take them home tonight," Gaius said, sneezing again. "I still don't understand you. You have a lovely, beautiful Eight drooling over you-"
"She's not drooling over me."
Gaius laughed. "You truly are an idiot when it comes to relationships of a sexual nature, aren't you, Felix? The lovely young lady is, I assure you, extremely interested in you. And you'd really rather frak Billy Keikeya?"
"There's more to life than sex, Gaius. I promise."
"Whatever. Just make sure you get those out of here as soon as you can," Gaius said, and sneezed again. "I'm highly allergic to ragweed."
"Oh," Felix said, and tried to hide his smile. "I'll take them home tonight."
"Good. Now I need coffee. Get me a cup, will you?"
"Of course, Mr. President."
Leah walked into the office and shut the door. Billy looked up. "How'd it go?" he asked her quietly.
"A sister came to see me last night," she said. "Another Three. She told me that they know what we've been doing."
"They know?" Billy asked, alarmed.
"They know. They've known for a while."
"Frak." Billy ran a hand through his hair, fighting down panic. "What are we going to do?"
"Pretend we know nothing," Leah ordered. "Just quietly desist."
Billy took a deep breath. "All right," he said, calming himself down. "All right. We can do that. We can-"
"There's more," Leah said. "Something worse."
Billy eyed her cautiously. "What?" he asked.
"The Eight- the one that's been following Felix around."
"What about her?"
"She's going to try to get names from him. She's going to tell him that she'll get them out, but…" Leah shuddered. "She's planning on killing them."
Billy goggled at her, horrified. Finally, he managed to choke out, "Why?"
"Some of the Cylons believe that New Caprica was a mistake, and the only way to remedy it is to destroy humanity," Leah explained. "But aside from the Ones, they can't admit that to themselves."
"So she wants to, what, shift the blame?"
"I think so. I don't know for sure, Billy. That's the best I can come up with. I can't pretend I understand it. The Eights have never been all that reliable, and I can't exactly ask her without answering some very awkward questions myself."
"It makes no sense!" Billy protested. "I mean, you know that we have no connections to the resistance forces, right?"
"We know," Leah said calmly. "Believe me. If we thought either you or Felix had resistance loyalties, you wouldn't be in the positions you are in. For that matter, you'd be dead." She said it so matter-of-factly that Billy's skin crawled, and for the first time in weeks he remembered she was the one in power here, not him. "But what she's planning on doing… it's one thing to execute humans who have been participating in the resistance. It's another entirely to execute those who have been picked up for minor infractions. It's not justice," Leah emphasized with a shrug of her shoulders. "And I know what Felix means to you. So make sure you warn him, will you?"
Billy nodded. "I will."
"All right." Leah stood up. "Well, I'm glad I could help you while I could. But if I continue what I'm doing, they will box me. I can't risk that, Billy."
"I understand," Billy said. "Thank you. For everything you did for us."
Leah smiled. "You're welcome," she said. She kissed him on the cheek and ruffled his hair. "We will make New Caprica work, Billy," she said. "If only more humans were like you." With that, she left his office.
"Oh, good Gods!" Felix said. He picked up his bowl of soup, stared at it, and then set it down again. "She really was going to… I don't… but why?"
"Leah didn't know," Billy said. "Believe me, I asked the same thing."
"Gods," Felix breathed again. Then the thought occurred to him. "Are you sure?" he asked. "I mean, could it be that Leah's getting pressure to stop, and she's telling us this so we don't get another Cylon to help us?"
"It's a possibility," Billy admitted. "But if Leah's getting pressured to stop working with us, then this Eight will get it, too. We can't risk it anymore, Felix."
Felix nodded. "I wonder if she was the one watching us the other night."
"Could have been. We're going to have to lay low for a bit, I think."
Felix sighed. "We can't. Not on the information score. I got a message from our contact today. They're still asking for the jamming frequencies, and which ones are the weakest."
"Have you had any luck?"
Felix shook his head. "I haven't. I've been trying to test them from my office, but I'm really not sure who all is tapped into my computer. What I really need to do is test them from Gaius's computer. They don't have his tapped- Caprica Six insisted. But I'm not sure how…" he trailed off.
Billy smiled. "You've got an idea, don't you?"
"I do," Felix said, and he broke into an evil grin. "I most definitely do."
"Mr. Gaeta," Gaius said, his eyes red and watering, "I think I need to step out for some air."
"Of course, sir," Felix said.
"I don't know what it is, but I-" Gaius sneezed again, sounding miserable. "I really think that I… I must be coming down with something."
"Perhaps you should go to the medical tent, sir."
"Perhaps I should." Gaius glanced at his watch. "If Caprica Six comes in, please tell her that's where I've gone."
"Thank you, Mr. Gaeta." Gaius threw his coat on and left the room. He looked so miserable that Felix almost regretted seeding the carpet with ragweed.
As soon as Gaius was gone, Felix shut the door. He didn't immediately go back to Gaius's desk, but to a side table, where the computer that Gaius used sat. He glanced at his own watch. Caprica Six was in a meeting with her fellow Cylons, and Gaius hadn't realized that the appointments that he had that morning were all fictional; Felix had put them into the system merely to make Gaius look busy all morning. He was reasonably sure of having the office to himself for a good hour. He booted up the computer, grateful that Gaius hadn't changed his password from the days of the Cylon detector.
He was starting the program he planned to use to test the jamming frequencies when he noticed the file that Baltar had most recently modified. There was something about the sequence of numbers that looked familiar, and when Felix opened it, he saw the plans for the NCP graduation. As he explored the file more thoroughly, he realized that everything was there, including the security plans.
He glanced at the closed door, and then put in the print command. The printer started up, and the hum that Felix rarely noticed seemed to roar into the room. He waited anxiously, and then snatched up the papers as they came off the printer.
Security plans. He couldn't believe his luck.
By the time Gaius returned from the medical tent bearing antihistamines, Felix was sitting back at his desk, working on the speech Gaius was meant to give at the graduation, the computer off. He didn't have the jamming frequencies- he'd need another few hours alone with the computer for that- but he still considered the morning a success.
The day after the NCP graduation bombing, Leah's tiny office was empty. Billy had stood in the doorway for a long moment, staring at her desk.
"She'll be back," a Two had told him. "It just takes time for Cylons to resurrect."
"It does?" Billy had asked, surprised. He hadn't known that. "How long?"
"Thirty-six hours," the Two had said off-handedly, and then he had moved on. But even though Leah would be back tomorrow, the thought that she had been killed by a suicide bomber still wasn't one Billy was truly comfortable with.
The next day, as he came into Colonial One, Leah was sitting at her desk again. Her hair looked slightly different, although Billy couldn't articulate how. He also wasn't sure exactly what to say to her. "Hello," he said, standing in the door. "Are you… how are you?"
Leah glanced up, smiling briefly. "I'm fine, thank you." She gestured with her head for him to enter, and once again Billy was forcibly reminded who was really in power. He obeyed her, and closed the door. The small office felt tight and claustrophobic.
"Does it hurt?" Billy asked.
Leah raised an eyebrow. "Dying? Or resurrecting?"
He shrugged. "Either."
"Dying didn't," Leah said. "It was too sudden. But resurrecting is not the most comfortable of experiences. I'd be very grateful if I didn't have to do it again," she said, sounding more like she was referring to dying her hair than to her consciousness entering a new body.
"They said it was a suicide bomber," Billy said carefully.
"Mmm. You're lucky you weren't there."
That had occurred to Billy; his absence hadn't been something he had engineered. "Why wasn't I?" he asked.
Leah shrugged. "The human resistance has thrived, despite our attempts to quell it or quash it. If Baltar had died, you are next in line for the Presidency. It's wiser not to have you both out in public at the same place."
"Oh." The simple, cold logic of that chilled him, and he decided not to think about it. "But what about Baltar?" he asked, rather than pursuing his own fate. "He ended up not going to the graduation."
"Yes," Leah sighed. "You'll be hearing more about that today, actually. We're having a meeting for the entire administration. We have reason to suspect there's a leak."
"A leak?" Billy pretended mild surprise.
"Yes. Someone is feeding information to those butchers." Contempt and disdain dripped from Leah's voice. "Do you know what bothers me? It's the utter lack of respect for the sacredness of life," she said, before Billy could respond. "Whoever is doing this wants people killed. They know that Cylons are dying, and they know that humans are dying because of the resistance. Whoever is doing this is a murderer, plain and simple."
Billy nodded, a lump of fear in his throat. He schooled his face to look horrified as well. It wasn't hard as he thought of what would happen if Leah suspected it was him and Felix.
Leah looked at her desk. "I have a lot of work to catch up on," she told Billy, albeit kindly. "Thirty six hours away from this place leaves a backlogged desk," she said.
"All right." Billy stood up, and then put a hand on her shoulder. "I'm glad you're back, Leah."
She smiled up at him. "Thank you, Billy," she said, and sighed. "It's too bad that you're with Felix. You really are one of the good ones."
Billy forced a laugh. "Yeah, well, so is he. I'll see you later." He went back into his office and sat down slowly at his desk. It took all of his energy and willpower not to hyperventilate right there.
"Frak." Felix was pacing the length of his tent. "I thought they might be catching on, but… FRAK!" he slammed his hand down on the desk. Billy winced. "How are we going to get around this?"
"They'll let up," Billy said desperately. "They have to."
"They won't until they catch the source."
The idea bloomed in Billy's head at the same moment it showed on Felix's face. "That's it," Billy said.
"No," Felix said. "No. Absolutely not."
"Felix…" Billy jumped to his feet, "this is it. This is what we have to do."
"No. I am not letting you do this, Billy. They'll kill you!" Felix's face was angry, but Billy could see the fear and desperation on it. He could feel the same emotions clogging his throat, driving his heart. But oddly enough, his stomach was calm and there was a large part of him that was at peace with this.
"It's what we have to do," Billy said calmly. "You've got to turn me in. They'll believe you, and if it's you, my lover, turning me in… they'll really believe that you're on their side." Felix shook his head angrily, but Billy ignored it and continued on. "You've got to be the one that stays out, because the resistance needs those jamming frequencies, and I can't get them."
"I could tell you how to do it," Felix said.
"You know that's not the way to do this," Bill said. "It's got to be you."
"But the jamming frequencies…" Felix said. "What if you're right? What if there is no way that Adama's coming back for us? What if-"
"If it doesn't work, then you'll keep passing what you can until you get caught yourself," Billy said. "But those frequencies are the big payoff. If you're right about that… if Adama really will come back for us… those are the one piece of information that could change everything. That's the big one. And whoever it is that's communicating with us in the resistance, they believe it, too."
Felix closed his eyes, and Billy saw the resignation creeping across his face. But his back straightened and his hands clenched, and when he opened them, his eyes were clear. He moved over to Billy and pulled him into a tight, brotherly embrace. "I won't let it go wrong," he whispered. "I'll make Gaius give you some sort of protection. And I swear, Billy, I will get you out of there."
Billy hugged him back. "I know," he answered, and then pushed Felix away before he started to tremble. "Come on," he said. "This is our big gamble. Let's make sure we've got it all worked out."
Felix looked in the mirror one last time before knocking on Gaius's door. His eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot, with dark circles underneath, and his hair looked unkempt. At least it wasn't hard to look the part, he thought sourly. He desperately wanted to stop by Billy's office one more time, but he knew if he did, he wouldn't be able to go through with this. Instead, he went and knocked on Gaius's door.
"Come in," Gaius said.
Felix entered, and was relieved to see Caprica Six sitting on the sofa near Gaius's desk. Gaius himself was slumped in his chair. Felix swallowed hard and shut the door. That caught Gaius's attention, and he looked up.
"What is it, Mr. Gaeta?"
"I have something of a confidential nature to tell you," Felix said.
"Should I leave?" Caprica said, standing gracefully.
Felix forced himself to look at her. "No," he said. "It's best if you stay. That way I only have to say it once."
Gaius leaned forward, standing up. "What is it, Felix?" he asked. "I just realized you look…" he came over and took Felix's arm, guiding him to the couch. "You look terrible," he said.
Felix nodded. "I found out who the leak is," he said, and his voice cracked.
He sensed more than saw Gaius and Caprica exchange glances over his head. Caprica put her hand on his knee. "Who is it, Mr. Gaeta?" she asked quietly, with great sympathy.
Thy knew who he was going to say- he could see it. And there was sympathy there. Good. "Before I tell you," he said, "you have to promise me one thing, Gaius."
"What's that?" Gaius asked.
"That he won't die. Please. I can't live with myself if I thought that he…"
Gaius looked at Caprica, and she nodded. "Of course," Gaius said magnanimously. "I can't promise you much, Felix, but I can promise you that."
"All right," Felix said, and he took a deep breath. "I went to his tent last night, and I was a little early. He was still out, and I found… I found a copy of the security plans for the New Caprica Police graduation. His name wasn't on them anywhere. He shouldn't have had them, I know that. But he did." He drew a deep, shaking breath and cursed himself horribly. "But he did," he repeated. "It's Billy. Billy is the leak."
Billy sat in his office, trying not to jump at every noise. They'd be coming for him. Any moment, they'd be coming for him…
And the minutes ticked by.
Footsteps outside his office, but they kept going. Leah came in, but she seemed normal. A shot outside, but it was just a truck backfiring. Billy tried to breathe, tried to work, but the palms of his hands were sweaty and his chest was tight. They were coming for him.
They came at 11:13, while he was trying to write the agenda for the Quorum meeting. The door to his office slammed open, and two Centurions flanked a One.
"Mr. Keikeya," the One said. "Are you coming with us quietly? Or do we need to do this by force?"
Billy tried to dissemble, at least a little. "What is this about? I've done nothing-"
"A search of your tent proves otherwise," the One coolly. Billy looked down so he wouldn't smirk at the One. They'd spent several hours selecting just the right information to leave lying on the desk, getting rid of the bedroll Felix used when he stayed the night, and making sure that no one but Billy could possibly be implicated. "You have a lot of questions to answer, Mr. Vice President." The One studied him, and smiled. "And apparently you're not good at lying under pressure, so why don't we just adjourn to someplace where most of us can be a little more comfortable?"
Billy nodded mutely, surrendering. "Fine," he said, standing up. "Let's go."
He had only taken five steps when the One's fist connected with his jaw, sending him sprawling on the floor, blood in his mouth.
"Oh, I'm sorry," the One said. "Did you think this would be easy?" Billy got to his knees, spitting out blood. He tried to stand, but the One kicked him in the ribs, and something cracked. Pain like he hadn't felt since that day on Cloud 9 shafted through his midsection, and he nearly choked on bile. He coughed, blood splattering on his hand, and he knew that this was just the beginning.
"Believe me," the One said, echoing his thoughts, "I am very much looking forward to this. And I can't wait to tell you exactly who it was that turned you in." Billy looked up, and the One grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet. "Come on," he said.
Act like you don't know, Billy ordered himself as he stumbled after the One, his arm still clenched in the Cylon's vice-like grip. Act like you don't know. He hesitated by Leah's office. The One felt it and laughed.
"Nice try, but no." And they were walking again, the Centurions clanking as they followed them closely.
Laura will kill them if they get oil on the rug, an irreverent part of him snickered, and he almost smiled.
They were hauling him to the entrance of Colonial One, and there, next to the truck that waited outside, standing in the sunlight, was Felix. He was flanked by Caprica Six and Gaius Baltar, and when they brought Billy out, Felix looked away.
Billy inhaled sharply.
"Love," the One said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "For all that you people believe in it, write about it, sing about it, and frakking worship it, it really screws you over, doesn't it? This is what love gets you, Billy boy. Frakked."
"Felix," Billy said, his voice cracking. "Tell them I didn't… tell me you didn't…"
Felix kept looking away. It was how they'd rehearsed it, figuring the fewer words and interactions, the better, but Billy was surprised how much it hurt. They were dragging him off to prison, possibly to die, and he wanted one last look from his best friend… one final moment of comfort. "Felix!" Billy shouted. "Don't do this to me!"
Gaius squeezed Felix's arm, and Billy could see that there were tears streaking Felix's face. But it wasn't what he needed.
The desperate scream ripped out of his throat as they pushed him into the truck. And Felix turned his head and their eyes met.
I love you, Felix mouthed, as the One climbed into the driver's seat.
Billy closed his eyes in gratitude. I love you, too.
The truck started and drove off, and Felix stood in the dust, watching as they took Billy away.
"He won't die. He won't die." Felix didn't realize that he was repeating it out loud, until Gaius squeezed his arm again, tugging gently.
"Come on, Felix," he said, guiding him back inside Colonial One. "You did a very noble thing today."
"Your sacrifice will ensure that generations of humans and Cylons will live together in peace," Caprica Six added.
Felix nodded, letting them lead him back inside. As he did, he noticed the people that had gathered to watch. There were a lot of Cylons, and one of them was Leah. And as he passed her, her eyes narrowed.
Felix thought that he had better work very, very quickly if both he and Billy were going to have any chance of surviving this.
They took his clothing. The suit he'd been wearing for over a year, gone, disappearing into a bin as a Four handed him a sloppy gray top and pants. No shoes, no tie, his watch gone… Billy felt oddly naked in the prison garb.
He would have preferred it, he discovered, to what came next.
He'd heard stories of torture. Felix had told him he'd seen the former Colonel Tigh wandering around with a cane and an eye patch, and one of the prisoners that Leah had let out had come without a hand. He'd known this would happen going in, and Felix had briefed him.
Everyone breaks, Felix had said. You will, too. Give yourself three days. At the end of three days, you can tell them what you want. That gives me enough time. You will break, and there is no need for forgiveness, because you will have done nothing wrong.
There was pain in electricity, coursing through his body. They liked electricity, which made sense. After all, they were machines.
Recite, Felix had said. Anything. The Articles. A poem. Nursery rhymes or lyrics to songs. The multiplication tables.
"What did you tell them?" the One demanded. "What do they know?"
Billy's voice was broken and ragged when it reached his ears, but what came out was the words of a song, not any information that a One could want.
Dissociate. Take your mind away.
He remembered the song his mother sang, so long ago. It was low and depressing, about three wishes and… and. He couldn't remember it all. But he sang it, even as his hands were burning with pain and his entire body trembled with it.
And if it gets too bad, just count.
"Seven hundred and two, seven hundred and three… seven hundred and…"
Blackness overcame him.
The computer made a sound, and Felix stared at it. He rubbed his eyes, alleviating the strain, but the signal didn't go away.
He'd found them.
He hastily pasted the data into a file and printed it out, making sure that the file was then erased from Gaius's computer. He stared at the paper for a long time.
"I hope you're worth it," he told the frequencies. "And you'd better not cost Billy his life."
The paper didn't answer. He shut the computer down and returned to his desk. The papers burned in his pocket, but he couldn't leave for another hour. Not without attracting attention. He sighed and began the laborious process of approving and denying ration increase applications. At least, he did in theory. Instead, he found himself doodling on a lined yellow pad.
A shadow fell across his desk. "That's cheerful."
He looked up to see Leah, and then looked back down at his drawing, a crude, dark representation of a dagger and a dark cloud. "I suppose it doesn't take a psychologist," he muttered.
Leah pulled a chair up without asking and sat down, her legs crossed as she sat back. "You must be having a very hard time with this," she said.
"Not to put too fine a point on it, but yes," Felix groused. "I never thought Billy would betray us like that."
"I didn't either," Leah admitted. "It still doesn't make sense to me."
"He used to work for Laura Roslin," Felix said. "I guess his loyalty to her was stronger than either of us suspected." He silently willed her to go away. "If you don't mind, I'd rather not talk about it right now. I have work to do."
"Yes. New Caprica benefits greatly from your artistic endeavors," Leah said.
Felix sighed. "Look, I don't mean to be rude," he said, "but it's been a rough few days. What do you want?"
Leah regarded him for a long moment. "You turned Billy in yesterday," she said slowly. "You had the courage to do that. And yet, I heard you were pleading with Baltar to be sure that he didn't die."
"That he wasn't executed. Yes." Felix traced the dagger. "No matter how betrayed you feel by someone you love, you don't necessarily want them dead."
"Especially when you spent so much time with him."
"What do you mean by that?" Felix asked, genuinely puzzled.
"In the past month, I can only remember one of you coming to work without the other two mornings, and one of those mornings Billy didn't show up at all because he was sick. I find it very… interesting that the two of you were practically living together and you never suspected."
Felix shrugged. "We weren't living together, though," he said. "We still had separate tents. And I don't go into his office."
"Yes, but I do. And there's been absolutely nothing there to indicate that he was doing this. He must have been leaking the information from home."
"Well, when I was in his tent, my eyes weren't exactly on his desk, if you know what I mean," Felix scowled. "I was sort of thinking about other things."
"I'm sure. I also find your timing interesting."
"That you discovered this very shortly after it was brought to your attention that there was a leak."
Frak. That was something that neither of them had thought of. But he had those damn jamming frequencies… as long as he got out of this room alive and got them to the dead drop, he'd be okay. "Coincidence?" he suggested. "Maybe I suspected all along and was in denial, until it came up and I couldn't ignore it any more? I don't know. But believe me, I didn't want to turn him in."
"I believe you," Leah said. She stood up. "I just hope that the others do, as well, if they put the pieces together like I did."
Felix's head snapped up. "I thought this was a threat. Is it a warning?" he asked. "Am I under suspicion?"
"Everyone's still under suspicion," Leah said. "Everyone always has been. Take care, Felix. I'll see you later."
With that, she left the room.
Felix decided that, as much as he didn't want to delay, he'd better wait a little to visit the dead drop.
The cell door jerked open. Billy looked up from where he huddled against the wall, trying to scramble back against the corner. Two masked NCP guards stood in the doorway.
"On you feet," one ordered.
He tried to stand, but the truth was he didn't want to. Wherever he was going, he was sure that he was safer here in this cell, with no Cylons and no electricity and no questions. But the guard grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet, and the other cuffed his wrists.
Moving hurt. His muscles kept spasming, and there were deep bruises along one leg. His hands felt like they had needles stuck in them, and he was deeply, intensely thirsty. The guards dragged him between them, and he stumbled along.
Bright light hurt his eyes, and he averted his face. It didn't last long- they hauled him up into a truck, pushing him forward and then onto a bench. He groaned, blinking to try to adjust his eyes to the dark.
"What the frak are you doing here?"
That voice was familiar. Billy turned his head slowly, and he saw Tom Zarek looking at him. His eyes widened. "You're alive," he croaked.
"No thanks to you," Zarek said, his face set in angry lines. "I see you're alive as well."
"No thanks to you," Billy managed.
"At least I didn't collaborate."
"No, you sat in a jail cell and did nothing." He meant it to sound angry. He was angry. But he was sick and hurting as well, and it came out weak and tired. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall of the truck.
Someone touched his knee. Billy opened one eye, and then the other. Laura Roslin was sitting next to Tom Zarek, her hands cuffed as well. She said nothing, but her fingers lingered gently on his knee. He managed a smile at her.
The truck bounced over bumpy, unpaved roads. The motions made Billy sick to his stomach, and he closed his eyes again, concentrating on not throwing up. But Laura's hand stayed on his knee, and wherever they were going and whatever was happening, he knew he wasn't alone.
The list would have been horrible in itself.
Over two hundred names, all neatly typed out, lined up under the execution order. Codes and coordinates, a simple, inoffensive font. And at the bottom, Gaius Baltar's signature, approving the execution of these people. Of his people.
But worse- by far the worst- was on page two, where Felix saw the name "William Keikeya" emblazoned in the same capital letters as all of the others.
"You said you would protect him!" he yelled at Gaius, waving the list in his face. "You swore you would protect all of them! You're the President, for frak's sake! Do you have any idea what they're going to do out there? Look at these names, Gaius!"
But it was no use. Gaius could- or would- do nothing.
It was a risk, to run for the dead drop now. He knew perfectly well that they might be following him. But if he let the Cylons do this without trying to stop it- if he let them kill his best friend without trying to stop it- then his life wasn't one worth living in the first place.
The trucks stopped, and the NCP guards let them out. The flats were bare and sandy, and Billy had to admit it was a fairly dismal looking place. He stumbled as he stepped out of the truck, and Laura caught him.
"What did Baltar put you in for, Billy?" she asked, but he had a feeling she already knew the answer.
"Leaking confidential information, informing the resistance, and high treason," Billy said.
Laura and Tom exchanged glances. Hers was triumphant; his was mostly skeptical but a little bit sheepish as well. He noticed, but he didn't feel like saying anything more.
Nothing happened as they stood there on the flats. There was watery sunshine and a cold, stiff breeze that cut through the sloppy prison rags as if he was wearing nothing. Billy shivered, wishing that his stomach would stop twisting and that he could just… just what?
Then they heard the clanking.
He found himself standing, just waiting for those Centurions to open fire. It's for the best was the thought that kept running through his mind. Then they can't touch me again. If I die, it's over. I won't tell, and Felix will be safe. He closed his eyes and lifted his chin, waiting for the bullets to end it all.
What happened instead was that someone tugged on his arm, and he went tumbling down a hill, the impact with rocks and dirt making already painful bruises explode into agony. Above him, he heard gunshots ringing out, and someone pinned him to the ground. Then there was silence.
After what seemed like an eternity, Laura eased off of him. "Are you all right?" she asked him. Billy nodded, and she looked over her shoulder. "Tom?"
"Been a while since I had a woman throw me to the ground," Tom said. "Not nearly as much fun as I remember."
Laura laughed, and someone else did, too. Billy looked up to see the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen- Galen Tyrol and his wife Cally were standing over them, smiling.
"We're going home," Tyrol said. "We're going home. Admiral Adama's coming for us. We're getting off this rock. We're going back to Galactica."
Tom bowed his head, and Laura breathed a fervent prayer of thanks. And Billy, who'd never fully been able to believe it, found himself wanting to cry.
Billy looked in the mirror, wiping away the last of the soap foam. It was amazing how his face really didn't look any different. He rinsed off the razor and tapped it against the bowl of water, and then lined it up neatly with the other grooming implements.
The smell of food and bitter coffee preceded Laura's presence in the underground bunker. "I thought you might be hungry," she said, when he turned to look at her. She smiled at him. "You know," she said, "Sam's clothes look good on you. I like this more casual side of you."
"Thanks," he said, still uncertain of what to say. He took the proffered food and coffee and sat down at a roughly hewn table. Laura sat down beside him.
"I should have known," she said, and she reached out and brushed a curl off his forehead. "I'm sorry, Billy."
"Don't be," he said. "It's good that you didn't know. That's how it had to be."
She nodded, but she kept playing with that curl. "I was surprised to hear about you and Gaeta," she began, and her voice hardened. "When I get my hands on him-"
He caught her hand. "Don't talk about it right now, Laura," he said firmly. "Please." He couldn't tell her more, just in case. They might still need Felix exactly where he was, and the dangers that had been there all along were still there.
He saw that steel in her eye, where she was biting her tongue fiercely. "All right," she finally relented, pulling her hand away. "But when we're back on Galactica-"
"We'll discuss it then," he promised. He picked up the coffee and blew on it. "So what happens now?"
Laura sighed. "Tigh says that it should happen within the next twenty four hours. They're coming down in a few minutes to go over the evacuation plan, and everything will be cleared up then." He nodded, and Laura's eyes narrowed. "You've changed, Billy," she said.
He smiled humorlessly. "I know. Got a cigarette?"
"As a matter of fact," she said, pulling a few bulky hand-rolled ones from her pocket, "I do. Colonel Tigh gave them to me." She lit them both, and then handed one to Billy.
"Still hate them," he said, considering the smoke.
"So do I," Laura agreed.
They smoked companionably, with the smell of earth around them and lamps throwing their shadows on the wall.
"You shouldn't go out," Zarek informed him.
"I know," Billy said. "But this is important." He wrote the letter in code. Just five words- Contact made. Get out now.
"So important it's worth risking your life over?" Tom asked incredulously.
"That important," Billy agreed. He pulled a cap over his curls. "I'll be back in ten minutes," he said.
After all, the dead drop was right near the bunker. As he walked back from a successful drop, it was almost enough to make him believe in the gods.
Felix burned the message, watching it curl and disintegrate into ashes, his mouth dry. Contact made. Get out now. Those five words said so much. Billy was alive, and he'd survived the thwarted execution. Admiral Adama was coming for them, and he was coming soon. And if Felix survived this, he'd have a lot to answer for back up on Galactica.
He desperately wanted to do what Billy suggested- to leave the administration and hide. But he had no idea where he could take refuge. There was no one who would take him in- a collaborator wouldn't risk their own life, and a resistance member would shoot him… or leave him to die in the street. But more than that, he couldn't leave. Not yet. Not until he saw this all the way through.
He shoved his hands in his pockets and turned away from the barrel and began the cold walk home. He had no clear idea of what was going to happen when Adama came, but he was sure there would be chaos. And for better or for worse, this was the end of New Caprica, and the Cylons would know it, too. And the possibility of summary executions… well, it wasn't a possibility. Felix realized he had to stay on Colonial One until the end, being the voice of authority and getting as many humans out as he could when everything went down.
He was so busy planning it all in his mind that the fact there was a light on in his tent barely registered. On some level, he must have assumed it was Billy, a mistake he only realized when he entered and saw Leah sitting at his desk.
"What are you doing here?" he asked. "Is everything okay?"
"Is everything okay?" Leah asked bitterly. "Is there a reason it shouldn't be? Take your jacket off, Felix. After all, this is your home."
He obeyed cautiously, and moved over to his bed to lay down the jacket. It also got him a little closer to the nightstand, where his service pistol was in the drawer. "What's going on?" he asked.
"That's a question I should be asking you," Leah said sternly. "The timing of you turning Billy in still bothers me. It's far too convenient."
"I told you," Felix said, "it's just a coincidence."
"So you said." Leah flipped her hair over her shoulder. "But there are other things that don't add up. Little things. Like the messages you mouthed at each other when the truck was pulling away. Like the way the resistance managed to stop the execution. And this." Leah held up a thin sprig of green.
"A weed?" he ventured, trying not to look at his nightstand.
"Ragweed which I found under the President's desk," Leah said. "I believe he is highly allergic to it."
"What's that have to do with anything?" Felix asked, mentally kicking himself. He thought he'd gotten it all.
"What is ragweed doing in the Presidential office?" Leah asked. "Especially since Baltar left his office yesterday in a fit of sneezing that he couldn't control?"
"I have no ide-"
"Yes," Leah interrupted. "You do. You and Billy have been working together this entire time. You turned him in to buy yourselves more time, for something."
Felix rubbed his forehead, calculating as fast as he could. "All right," he said hoarsely. "I did help him." Leah didn't answer, and she didn't make a move towards him. Encouraged, Felix went on. "I don't know exactly what's happening, Leah. But you… you've been a friend to Billy, and you've helped us. You got all of those people out of detention for us. You don't like what the Cylons are doing, either."
"I don't like blood being shed all over what was supposed to be a new age, no," she agreed.
"So come with us," Felix said. "When we go, come with us. We'll get you asylum, we'll tell the Admiral and the President what you've done, and-"
"Thank you, Mr. Gaeta," Leah said, smiling smugly. "You just told me what I needed to know."
Frak. He should have known. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"We knew something was going on, but we didn't know a time frame or what exactly was-"
The gun went off, and Leah fell backwards, a small, perfect hole in her head. Felix stood over her, breathing hard. the gun from his nightstand smoking in his hand.
"All right, Adama," he muttered, moving around his tent and grabbing only what he needed. "You've got thirty-six hours."
For all that they'd been at war for over a year, Billy had never seen the Vipers fly like this. It wasn't a view he ever wanted again as he ran through the streets of New Caprica, arms over his head.
"Let's go!" someone was shouting. "Move it! Move it!"
Laura stopped, and both Billy and Tom turned. "Tom," Laura ordered, "you go that way. Head to the shipyard."
"You're coming, right?" Tom asked incredulously.
Laura smiled and pointed to Colonial One. "My ship's up there."
Tom smirked, and even Billy rolled his eyes. "You do have a flair for the dramatic," he said.
Laura smiled. "Billy, you're coming with me." Billy nodded.
"Keep an eye on her," Tom ordered Billy. "Don't let her out of your sight. Do you have a gun?"
"I do," Billy said.
Tom considered this for a second. "Do you know how to use it?"
Billy's smile was dark. "I do. Felix taught me."
Tom and Laura exchanged glances, and Tom pulled another man forward. "Go with them," he ordered. "Keep them safe."
Laura smiled at Tom. "See you up there," she told him.
"Yeah, see you up there." Tom and the rest of the group ran off, and Billy followed Laura and their guard towards Colonial One, his breath coming hard and fast as he ran, gun in his hand.
"There are Cylons on Colonial One," the other man said. "How the frak are we going to get on there?"
"We're going to wait," Laura told them. "They'll clear out in the chaos. And the ones that don't…." She cocked her own gun.
They huddled together, watching the destruction of New Caprica. Billy had to admit that he reveled in seeing the Cylons panic, and the chaos that reigned.
The details of how they got onto Colonial One were later something that Billy only remembered in nightmares. He remembered being joined by others. He remembered explosions. He remembered Centurions firing at them, and he remembered people dying beside him. He remembered firing his own gun, and warm blood splattering his face. And he remembered the feeling of entering that ship at Laura Roslin's side, just like he had almost two years ago, when this had just been an exciting opportunity.
But what he remembered the most clearly was frantically searching Colonial One for Felix, and the terrible, horrible realization that he wasn't on board. And when Laura said that she was ready to go and the ship lifted off the ground, he had the terrible feeling that Felix was gone.
You have one chance to set things right. It was a chance Felix never should have given, but if there really was a nuke… He sighed and leaned his head against the side of the Raptor.
The Raptor was crowded with as many people as could fit, many of them clutching bundles. There was no room to sit, but Felix didn't care. All that mattered was that they were lifting off New Caprica, getting out. Getting away.
He hoped that somewhere in the Fleet, Billy was escaping, too.
Tory was still around. Oddly enough, Billy didn't resent her anymore, especially as she leaned over the President's desk. "We're assembling the first draft of the survivor manifests," she told her.
"Any estimates on how many people we lost?" Laura asked.
Tory's face looked smooth and impassive, but her eyes burned with pain. "We think it numbers in the thousands," she said. Billy, who was sitting on the couch, turned away, looking out the window. From his seat in Laura's office, he could see the blackness of space and the pinpoints of stars, and the ships of the Fleet, flying in formation around them.
"Thank you, Tory," Laura said. She glanced at her watch. "I believe it's time to go over to the Galactica," she said. "The shuttle should be here."
The Galactica. Billy stood up. "I'm coming with you," he informed her.
Laura's eyebrows rose at his tone, but she nodded. "All right," she said. "Tory…"
"I'll stay here and keep collecting the information for the manifests, Madam President."
Laura smiled. "Good." She glanced at Billy. "Well then, come on."
Billy was silent until they were settled in the Raptor. Laura glanced at him. "I didn't not ask you because I don't trust you, Billy," she told him. "But I rather thought you might want to avoid Galactica for a few days. I know what you did and the incredible risks that you took, but the rest of the Fleet still sees you as a collaborator and a traitor. It's going to take time for the story to get around, and I want you to be safe until it does."
"I know that," Billy said. "But I didn't do it alone."
Laura cocked her head. "What do you mean… oh. Oh.. Well, that explains…" She sighed and shifted. "Billy, something tells me you have a lot to tell both me and the Admiral."
Billy nodded. "I do."
Laura's pace was quick as she walked through the halls of Galactica, but to Billy, it didn't feel quick enough. He wanted to run ahead of her, searching everywhere for Felix before someone else got to him first. He didn't know why it mattered- Felix was more than capable of taking a few insults and even rotten tomatoes hurled at him. Billy had learned that long before New Caprica. But now that New Caprica was over, he didn't want Felix taking any more grief for the hell the two of them had endured alone. Not if they could stop it.
He saw a familiar figure in the hall, but he was so focused on his quest that he almost didn't register her until her arms were around him. "Billy!" Dee said. "You made it off! Oh, gods, I was so worried-"
"Dee." He hugged her tight, briefly noticing that the sight of her face didn't hurt nearly so much anymore. "You're alive, too."
"I am." She pulled away. "What are you doing over here? The things that people are saying…"
"I've come to sort it out," he said, gesturing with his head at Laura. "Dee, I need- we need to find the Admiral and to find Felix as soon as possible."
"Felix?" Dee said. "I heard he turned you in."
"You heard wrong. Well, sort of wrong." He glanced back at Laura, who was watching the entire exchange with crossed arms and a rather amused expression. "There's a lot more to the story, and I want to get it straightened out now. It's important."
"All right," Dee said. "I'll take you to the Admiral's study." She stepped aside. "Madam President," she said formally to Laura, gesturing respectfully.
Laura's smile deepened. "I'm glad someone remembers," she muttered to Dee, although her tone was more playful than annoyed. "Let's find the Admiral."
"How about it!" Tigh shouted, right up in Felix's face. "D'you know where my eye is!"
"Saul!" The Admiral's voice rang through the CIC. Tigh jerked around, but Felix was afraid to look.
"Well, I'll be damned," he heard Tigh mutter, but before he could look up himself, someone was grabbing him, hugging him tightly. Felix almost pulled away, because for frak's sake, it was the CIC, but then he realized who his assailant was.
"You made it off," he said. "You made it out."
"Thanks to you," Billy answered. "You told them about the execution, didn't you?"
Felix nodded, and then suddenly became aware that the CIC was silent, and everyone was staring at them. He pulled away from Billy awkwardly, and cleared his throat.
Billy put his hands in his pockets and looked down at his shoes.
"What the frak is going on?" Tigh demanded.
"That's what I want to know, too. Mr. Gaeta, Mr, Keikeya, come with me. The rest of you know your jobs. Do them," Adama ordered.
"It's over," Billy said to Felix as they walked out of the CIC. "New Caprica is over."
Felix nodded, although he couldn't bring himself to agree. And when he looked at Billy, he knew Billy didn't believe it, either. But they'd survived, and they would continue to survive. And they would do it together.