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Alpha Station: A Battlestar Galactica Fantasy Reboot

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LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

YEAR: 2315

She silently stood in front of the stasis chambers staring intently as she so often did. It was something she'd grown up doing. It could almost be called a habit, a ritual of sorts but this day was different. The cold recycled air of the space station's laboratory whirred in her ears. The sound was a constant comfort to her throughout her life in Orbit, though she would only have known that had it ever stopped, and it never did. Twisting a strand of her long dark hair around her index finger she peered through the glass of one chamber, then the other, fixated on the precious inhabitants suspended within the crystal clear solution. It had always been one of her favorite places to be. She all but grew up in the sterile laboratory. Hell, she was born there. When the man she called her father was still alive he would bring her there to watch him work. He would explain every process, every theory, every calculation and algorithm to her in great detail though she was only a small child. She was fascinated and enchanted by it all, because, as he told her from the time she was born, it was all for them; the lifeless bodies of the man and woman in the giant tanks.

"We owe everything to them, Yekaterina." She could still hear her foster father say. "The entire human race exists now because of them," He would tell her with such passion it gave her chills long before she was even old enough to understand just what it meant. "Especially you my little Katya, because I made you from them. And one day they may save you and all of us once again," He would say to her over and over. "That is why they are so precious, more precious than even you my koshka. This is why their care is indispensable and why you must look after them, even if one day I am not here with you."

And she did. Even after her father's death Katya continued to stay close to his cherished projects; training with the space station's scientists, monitoring solution quality, keeping up with program projections and even personally caring for the bodies when they were taken out of stasis for chamber maintenance and other procedures. She cherished those times most of all. When the the bodies were out of stasis they were put on life support. Katya would hold the man's cold hands in her own as if she could warm them. She would sit by his side staring at vacant cobalt eyes that so perfectly matched her own. They were usually closed in stasis. She was only able to see them on the rare occasions when he was out.

She would brush the woman's long red hair that seemed more alive than the body it hung from. Though it didn't match her own dark waves Katya was always mesmerized by how much the texture and thickness of the curls felt like her own.

She would always stay with them until they were safely re-submerged. Most days though, she would just come to stare, watching them age at a controlled unnatural pace. She did it even now that she was grown and her interests and capabilities had taken her attentions to other station priorities. She did it even though it upset her husband and took her away from time she probably should have been spending with him. She made sure that she spent time there with them as often as she could no matter what.

The couple who raised her on Alpha Station after her foster father's death had known them. They had known the original "them". They had touched and embraced the original bodies. They were even responsible for providing the materials needed to create the identical reproductions that now existed, but most importantly to Katya, they had known the souls who possessed them. They often told her stories of their times together. They told her of their fight to find the planet she and her people currently orbited. They told her of their character, their passions, their strengths and their flaws. Sometimes while she watched the faces through the glass she would imagine she could see hints of the personalities that her adoptive parents spoke about. Rationally she knew that none of it was really there. She knew that they were just copies, just reproductions of the people who had found Earth over two hundred thousand years ago. They were inanimate replicas, just lifeless shells; at least they would be until later in the day.

The thought made Katya's stomach turn. Though her childhood and adolescence had been consumed with daydreams of a time when it would finally happen age and cynicism had worn away at the fantasy of a happy meeting and warm familial interactions.

It was happening for a higher purpose. It was fulfilling a prophecy. It was for humankind, for the future of Earth, so that her people wouldn't have to abandon the home that so many had fought to find them thousands upon thousands of years before. It wasn't about her.

"Big day today, Captain," A voice startled Katya, interrupting her solemn thoughts.

A petite young woman with dark brown skin and warm happy eyes stood smiling at her.

"Yes," Katya agreed, trying but failing to force even the smallest smile in return.

The woman walked toward her in a bright white lab coat that was at least two sizes too big. She stopped by the chambers and quickly punched some numbers into the screen that sat between the two tanks. She then took a small transparent tablet device out of her lab coat. Like most image screens in Orbit the device looked like nothing more than a thin clear square of plastic but as she swiped her dark delicate fingers over its smooth surface it began to glow with colors and graphics and endless streams of data. The scientist recorded her findings onto the tablet before slipping it back into her coat pocket.

"We already started to decrease the chamber pressure last night. We should actually have them out within the next few hours if all goes as planned," The cheerful woman explained. "I'm sure you'll want to prep them for the download," She added with a smile.

Katya looked passed her toward the screen and then back to each tank before stubbornly crossing her arms in front of herself.

"Not this time, Sydra," Katya said without taking her eyes off of the glass.

"But why?" The smaller woman asked, visibly surprised.
When Katya didn't answer she went on.
"I just assumed that you would want to get the bodies ready. Maybe spend some time with them? You always take such good care of them during maintenance. Why not brush her hair today when she will finally be able to appreciate it?" The young doctor tried to joke.

"I won't be coming today," Katya said softly, still not offering the other woman any eye contact.

"Not coming?" Dr. Sydra gawked. "But why? How could you miss it? After all you're…"

"I'm just not coming today," Katya sternly cut her off before she could finish.

The young women reluctantly nodded in acceptance. More than a little confused she slowly walked away to return to her lab work leaving Katya to stare at the tanks alone.

"The hell you're not!" A grumbling voice suddenly shouted from behind her.

Katya winced but didn't bother to turn around.

"You can't force me to go, Uncle Saul," She retorted keeping her focus firmly intact as the grumpy balding man joined her by her side.

"Katya, come on now, we've been over this a thousand times. The download is scheduled to begin at fourteen hundred hours and I sure as frak expect you to be there," He barked.

"Expect it all you want. I'm not going." Katya said in protest.

"This is absurd. You know how important this is, to all of us," He argued glaring at her in frustration with his one eye.

Growing up Katya had always been surprised at how much emotion just one eye could convey. She knew his people probably had the technology to repair it for centuries. They'd sure enough gone through great lengths to stop the aging process on he and his wife, and yet she'd met him with a scowl and a patch on his face. She knew that when Saul and his wife had moved to Alpha Station the doctors aboard had offered to procure him a cloned tissue or digital ocular substitute quite a few times. He'd refused every offer. Katya had asked him once why it was that he didn't want his vision fully restored, let alone his face repaired. He had told her that it didn't feel right. He told her that the people he had fought alongside had suffered greatly and long been dead and buried. He lamented that he couldn't change it or anything else that was lost during their battles. He said that he already had to live an eternity without them; so he might as well live with a constant reminder of the times he struggled by their sides. For a moment Katya wondered if he would feel differently by the end of the day.

"We don't even know if it's going to work," She said looking away from him, knowing the anger that her snide remark would spark.

"It'll work, and you and everyone orbiting the planet better hope like hell that it does," He growled.

"I hope it works, you know that," She defended. "I just don't want to be there. Aunt Ellen understands, Alexi understands. Why can't you?"

She shook her head and Saul grabbed forcefully at her arm.

"I understand just fine, little girl. And for the record Ellen wants you to be there. She could sure use your damn support," He added as he wagged his finger in her face.

"And another thing; that husband of yours has a bigger chip on his shoulder than you do. Stop letting him take away your hope because he's got none."

Saul had a point. Katya's husband had his own demons to deal with over where he came from. Alexi was hopelessly ashamed of coming from the clones of the ancient cylon Six and the infamous Doctor Baltar. When their stasis chambers were destroyed during an attack on Gamma Station Alexi had insisted it was a blessing for him, no matter what the prophecy said. He said it was just one less reminder and that it would make it easier for him to forget about his birth parents altogether. He told Katya that she would do herself a service to try and forget as well before she set herself up for great disappointment. She used to think Alexi was a cynic, but Uncle Saul was right, and at some point she had started to believe her husband's way of thinking.

"We understand your concerns, but dammit this is it Katya! This is what the prophecy is telling us needs to happen and take it from me; I've learned a thing or two about this stuff having gone through it a few hundred thousand years ago! This is what it's all about!" He went on, turning her by her shoulders to face him.

"I know what this is about," She spit back.

Saul paused in the face of Katya's obvious anger and distress. He eased his grip on her and gave her as much of a smile as he ever gave anyone.

"Ya know, when you were a little girl you would sit on my lap and ask me question after question about the two of them. You had me tell you every story I could remember about 'em until you could recite it all back to me word for word," He told her, hoping to incite her lost enthusiasm. "You can't tell me part of you doesn't want to be there today to ask them all the questions I couldn't answer for you. Ellen and I know you're afraid of their reaction to all of this. Believe me, I am too. You know I'm not too overjoyed about tearing people away from what's supposed to be their eternal resting place, but we have the means now and unfortunately we have the need…And they would want to help, Kat. They will help. Trust me. If they have any notion of what's happened here they aren't resting peacefully. They didn't go through all they did so that their people's descendants would eventually have to hover over the planet held up in a bunch of bunkers. They gave their lives for Earth. They wouldn't want its people to give up on what they worked so hard for. This has all happened before, but it doesn't have to happen again, Katya."

She was silent for a moment, trying like hell not to let the tears in her eyes slip. When she went to speak he cut her off.

"I know you're worried about them finding out what…who you are...but we don't have to deal with that right away," He said with a soft squeeze to her shoulder.

"So are you finally agreeing not to tell them?" She tested though she knew his answer.

"Of course not. You know I won't lie to the Old Man, even by omission. Doing that wouldn't be any more fair to them than anything else we're doing. We owe them at most our lives and at the very least our honesty."

Katya nodded and let out the breath she held. She already knew that he wouldn't lie. She'd wasted countless hours trying to convince him. Dozens of family meals had been ruined by shouting and tears as they fought over the topic. Ellen was the only one who had even entertained the thought, but Saul wouldn't hear of it.

"They won't want to know me," Katya sighed, turning back to the chambers. "She's going to be appalled."

Saul put his arm around Katya's shoulders and hugged her close to his side.

"Kat, you don't know that," He attempted. "And if they don't…if she is…then so be it. This is the hand you were dealt. You didn't ask for it and it's not easy, but you have to walk your own path no matter how treacherous. We can't assume how they will react, but I know the Old Man. Even after two hundred thousand years I know the man he was and I think at least hemight be more accepting than you think…eventually."

Katya rolled her eyes and huffed.

"And Kat," He went on, "You know me and Ellen...we love ya. We love you no matter what. You're our little girl and we've always loved you just like you were our own. If nothing else, you know that won't change."

At that she nodded and leaned into his embrace. As gruff as he was he had always been there for her. He had always been so sweet to her and to Ellen when no one else was around to see his boorish reputation tarnished by kind sentiments and protective hugs. When the man she had called her father was killed she was only seven years old. She was so afraid of being alone, of being just another orphan on Alpha Station without anyone to call family. Then the ancient cylon couple had shown up. Once they learned of who and what she was they had scooped her up and embraced her, never allowing her to feel alone or abandoned again. Over the past fifteen years the three of them had made a strange yet relatively loving little family and Katya was eternally grateful for them with all of their quirks and oddities.

Katya's silence made Saul squeeze her even harder.

"DNA doesn't make a family. You know that, Kat," He told her more softly than before. "But knowing someone is your blood, that's a powerful bond. I've seen it. Why do you think you've had your eyeballs glued to those tanks your whole life? Cause the Old Man's such a looker? Hell, no. They belong to you, and you belong to them...in some way."

But Katya knew that she didn't. She belonged to their copies. She belonged to their lifeless clones. She was made from two hollow shells and not by the ancient souls they would soon house. She wasn't their choice. She didn't come from their love that she had heard about all of her life. Alexi was right; he and Katya were part of a failed experiment; the bright idea, the plan B of well meaning scientists like her father and government delegates who panicked when the project wasn't going quickly enough. She would never belong to Bill Adama and Laura Roslin.

"So I'll see you at fourteen hundred then?" Saul said turning to her, straightening his posture and assuming his typical exterior once more.

"Do I really have a choice?" She asked, reluctantly facing him.

"Gods no. It's time to buck up, Captain."

With that she saluted him. He returned the gesture and turned on his heels to leave.

She looked back to the tanks, the number on the control screen rapidly counting down to their goal.

Saul stopped at the laboratory hatch and called back.

"You know we'll be there with you, Katya" He said before turning to leave.

She only half turned and nodded but she could see the tentative hope in his face. She thought for a moment that he must be as nervous as she was. He surely wasn't an optimist but this was something he had to believe would work out.

"And make sure that husband of yours is there with you. Might as well make this as awkward as possible," Saul joked as he walked out the lab hatch and outside security closed it behind him.

Once she was alone again Katya ran her fingers over the cold clammy glass of each tank trying to commit the familiar sensation to memory. She knew it would be the last time she would stand there. For a moment longer she stayed staring at each chamber wishing she had been raised to pray to deities. One all knowing all powerful God would do, or maybe even an army of strong but flawed demigods. But there was no one to pray to anymore, no higher power to look to. She sighed again letting her shoulders slump. Her father had told her once; that was what happened when you looked to gods and found them to be but men.

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

ALPHA MED WARD

YEAR: 2315

In the end Katya had given in and prepped the bodies. She truly had not intended on doing it. She'd left the lab planning on allowing the lab staff to take care of things without her. She'd returned to her cabin hoping that the quiet of the private space would help to calm her nerves, but when an alert on her station cuff read: subjects out of stasis, suddenly the thought of anyone else prepping the bodies made her feel worse than actually giving in. She needed to make sure that they would be properly attended to. She wanted to make sure that they were modestly covered and presentable, that their nails and hair were trimmed and neat. Sydra had been right, Katya supposed. This time it really counted for something. To the scientist's congenial credit she hadn't acted surprised to see the Captain return to the lab despite her earlier protests. She had only smiled sweetly and handed Katya a new comb.

Katya stayed with the bodies all through their transport to Med Ward. The download was scheduled to take place after a briefing with military and civilian officials from all stations. Despite the classification it was expected to be anything but brief. Fortunately the press wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the event until the next day.
Once the small caravan of two occupied gurneys and minimal lab staff had arrived at their destination Katya was pleasantly surprised to find the ward sparsely populated. The few military patients who were being treated had been moved to a civilian clinic for the duration of the day. Only lab staff and medical personal buzzed busily around her in preparation, none of whom seemed to mind that she was there watching them work. They were after all, more than used to her company.

"Deep in thought, Yekaterina," A low voice gently nudged her out of her contemplative fog. Before her stood a short old man with wispy grey hair and a knowing smile.
"Dr. Xao," Katya greeted.

She was almost relieved to see him. It was his clinic and his familiar presence helped to ease her nerves as the unusual preparations continued around them.

"Today is one for warm embraces, don't you think?" The old doctor said as he hugged her without waiting for a response.

She giggled in spite of herself as the top of his head barely reached her nose. He had been her physician since she was born and she could distinctly remember the day she'd found that she had surpassed the doctor's minimal height. Ellen had taken her to Med Ward for a physical. She was just about thirteen and had lacked the tactfulness not to mention it. The good doctor had fluffed it off, joking that she must have been eating all of her vegetables. Ellen had admonished her for the comment in front of him, but when the doctor left the curtain she and Katya had laughed themselves blue in the face.
"I guess that it is," Katya said as she gave the man a squeeze in return.
"You're father would be very happy today," Dr. Xao told her as he released their embrace.

Dr. Ning Xao had been a close friend of her foster father's long before her birth. Knowing that he would be close by during the day's coming events was somewhat of a comfort.

Major Ning Xao was the chief military medical doctor aboard Alpha Station and one of the last remaining people alive who had originally started the project. Most of the others, including Katya's father had been killed during station attacks. Only Xao and one other originator were still alive.

The doctor was a strict but caring man. Katya grew up with his daughter, Tawny who now worked beside him in Med Ward as the military's only female MD. Katya enjoyed seeing them work together as a team. Tawny was a now a grown woman and had proven herself to be a fine physician. The father daughter duo worked well together.
"Yes, he would be happy," Katya agreed with a melancholy smile.
"But you are not," The doctor observed.

Katya only shrugged in response. She wasn't even remotely happy. She was close to throwing up every time she looked at the clock. She was terrified, she was anxious, and she supposed, she felt her father's absence at the event more keenly than she had expected.

"You will honor him by being here today," The doctor told her earnestly before taking her by the hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. Katya smiled and nodded at him sincere thanks. "You should go now, Yekaterina," He told her rather abruptly. "Tawny must examine the bodies once more before the briefing. You go get ready and I'll see you there."

It was more of an order than a suggestion so Katya did as she was told, reluctantly leaving the bodies to the Xaos and their capable staff.

Katya left only for a short while, returning to her quarters to freshen up and change uniforms. When she didn't find Alexi there she sent a message letting him know that she would meet him at the briefing.

She wasn't ready. Not by a long shot. She'd never been more apprehensive. She knew that if she lost her composure for even a moment she would start to sweat and shake. She couldn't allow herself to falter. She needed to at least appear as though she was prepared.

Her uniform was freshly pressed and her thick dark hair was neatly pinned back. With a glance in the mirror she lied to herself, insisting that she didn't care what kind of first impression she made on the ancient Admiral Adama. She had her own commander to make proud.

Commander Kaplan was a stoic but good man. He had commanded Alpha Station since Katya was just a young girl. He had a steely exterior on duty, but his compassion often shown through. Though only in his fifties his head didn't have a hair left on it, making his ice blue eyes the only pleasant feature he had. The commander was almost unnaturally tall and would have come off as authoritative even if he'd worked mopping the landing decks instead of commanding the entire station. He treated his men and women like a family but expected only the best from them. It was a trait that Saul often claimed Kaplan had in common with the Old Man. On her solitary walk back to the clinic Katya briefly wondered how the two men might get along. She quickly pushed the thought out of her head, once again telling herself that it didn't matter.

Upon returning to Med Ward Katya made her way to the secluded section of the clinic where the bodies were being kept. Anger quickly swelled within her as she saw that people had already started to arrive and were milling around far too close to the bodies for her liking. They were shaking hands and patting backs as if any of them truly had a thing to do with what was about to happen. Most she recognized as members of the EOC sent from Beta, Delta and Gamma Stations. Whoever they were, they weren't supposed to be there. Katya all but charged toward the small crowd of roughly six men and women.

"Katya!" Shouted a women's voice from behind her.

"Tawny, what the fuck?!" She turned and yelled at the pretty young doctor who had just called her name.
"Kat, I'm sorry! I finished up the exams and left them alone for five minutes. Sydra went to check on the machines and when she got back these people were all here. She came and got me. I just went outside to talk to the marine guards but they said that these people all have clearance," The woman explained in a slight panic.

Dr. Tawny Xao was obviously distressed herself and more than a little embarrassed that her clinic had been so quickly and easily invaded. Tawny recognized the rising anger in her friend's eyes. She needed to fix the situation before Katya's temper took over.

"I'll take care of it, Katya," She said, gesturing with her hands as if she were trying to stave off a lion ready to pounce. "Just give me a sec."

She turned and made her way to the small unwanted crowd.

"Gentlemen, ladies, I'm going to have to ask you to clear this area. You can't be here right now," She announced as firmly yet as politely as she could while trying to herd the crowd out of the general area.

When they didn't move fast enough Katya's anger surged through the roof. Seeing the two unknowing bodies exposed to so many unfamiliar eyes became suddenly abhorrent rather than simply off-putting. She couldn't stand it. She had to do something.

"Excuse me, but you're all going to have to leave the clinic, immediately!" She shouted as she came upon the group.

Katya knew that she had come off sounding more nasty than authoritative before she even saw Tawny wince but she shrugged it off. She could give a shit about the Earth Orbit Committee. They weren't supposed to be there.

"Cap, I've got this," Tawny attempted but it was no use.

"I mean it. You all need to go. Now. Right now."
"Miss," a particularly rotund man with thin reddish hair said in a rather patronizing tone, "We're here for the project download. I don't think…"

"It's Captain" She corrected cutting him off. "And you're here for the project briefing. As far as I know you have no business being over here."
"Well Captain," The man went on with a smug smile, "These are our supposed saviors are they not? As representatives of the people of Earth Orbit, don't you think we should be able to see the proverbial keys to our future?"

Tawny all but covered her eyes to hide from what was coming next. She nervously twirled her fingers through her long black hair and waited for the blow up that she knew was coming. Katya had a roaring temper and if anything was going to bring it out this was it.

"What I think, Sir is that you should get the hell out of here before I have you thrown out," Katya seethed.

The man's face turned visibly red which she found somewhat satisfying.

"This is outrageous!" The man yelled back. "We are here conducting EOC business! We won't be spoken to like this! I'm sure Commander Kaplan will be interested to know how his subordinates are treating committee members!"

Katya's fists were clenched so hard her knuckles had gonw numb. There wasn't anything the clueless man in front of her could say or do to scare or intimidate her. She just wanted him and his people far away from the unknowing bodies before them. Just as she was about to roar her heated response into the angry man's red face a deep thunderous voice sounded behind her.
"Captain Isakoff!"

Katya's name vibrated in her ears. She turned around to see her husband flanked by two other marine guards.

"Sergeant," she responded surprised.

Though she was relieved to see him she couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed knowing that she wouldn't have the satisfaction of removing the obnoxious official and his associates herself.

"I take it these men and women need an escort to the conference room," Alexi stated curtly, more to the small group of people than to his wife.

Katya looked back to the pudgy cherry-faced man and smugly nodded in response.

"If you would all please, follow my men," Alexi instructed.

With his ample height and strong features, Alexi could be quite intimidating, even out of uniform. With two other armed guards behind him the crowd didn't hesitate to head toward the clinic hatch as he'd instructed.

"Your superiors will hear about this, Captain," the man shouted over his shoulder as he walked away.

"Promise?" Katya taunted with a smirk.

The man's only response was an irritated huff.
Once the two other marine guards had ushered the crowd far enough away Alexi spoke closely into his wife's ear. "You need to calm down," He told her knowing that she wouldn't like it.

"Alexi, they were shooting the breeze right in front of…"

"I know. I'm sorry," He said cutting her off with a short but honest apology. He could only imagine how she'd felt seeing the bodies so expose and vulnerable. Despite any of Katya's apprehensions she had always been extremely protective of then. "They had the right clearance. They shouldn't have, but they did. The guards outside didn't know. I'm sorry it happened but listen; I'm putting two extra men in here right by the curtain. Okay?"
Katya gritted her teeth and stayed silent. Her anger was taking its time to fade.
"I mean it though, uspokoit'sya, Katya," Alexi went on "You have to relax. You aren't doing yourself, or anyone else any favors like this," He sternly told her.

As Katya looked up at him she had to bite her tongue to keep from answering him with an argument. Reluctantly she nodded in frustration hoping he would back off for the moment.

Alexi looked passed his wife toward the motionless bodies connected to what looked like dozens of tubes and wires. He bit his bottom lip and softly shook his head.

"I'm sorry, myshka. I'll see you at the briefing." He said walking away from her and nodding to the younger doctor Xao where she stood waiting by the clinic's central counter.

Once the ward was cleared of the unwanted visitors Katya quickly made her way beside the quiet forms within the ward beds. She covered her face with her cold tremblig hands and out a frustrated sigh.

Tawny quickly joined her side, placing a comforting hand to her shoulder.
"I'm so sorry Katya. I should have been here. It just all happened so quickly," The doctor offered.

"No, Tawny, don't apologize. It wasn't your fault. It's just...those people shouldn't have seen them like this."

Katya moved to the side of the bed where the woman's body lain tucked under the snug white sheets. Reaching over she gently pushed back a few coppery red strands of hair that had fallen over her face.

"I know this can't be easy for you," Tawny said as she watched Katya move to the other bed and nervously smooth out the sheets that covered the man's body. "That fat guy sure was a fucking asshole," She added attempting to lighten the mood.

Katya produced a small quiet laugh which Tawny considered a slight success.

"He sure was," she agreed looking back to the doctor.

"Kat, I'll be here the whole time you're in the briefing. I promise I won't leave their sides again. Besides," Tawny smirked motioning to the rest of the empty ward, "I don't have any other patients for once. Plus I'm still waiting on our big delivery from the basestar."

Katya smiled and nodded.

"I should go. I need to find Uncle Saul before this whole thing starts," The Captain decided with a glance to her wrist. Her station cuff showed it was almost time for the meeting and she had several messages that had gone unnoticed during the commotion.

Tawny glanced at her own cuff.

"My dad is already there," She confirmed. "Go on. We'll be in the same spot when you get back," She joked.

Katya thanked her friend and took one last look at the patients in question before turning to leave the ward. She wasn't sure why but she couldn't but feel as though she was saying goodbye to them for the last time, instead of getting ready to say hello for the first.

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CONFERENCE ROOM 6

YEAR: 2315

The conference room was already starting to fill up. No one had really taken a seat yet. Instead they were clustered into small groups talking amongst themselves.

Saul impatiently checked his station cuff for what felt like the hundredth time. Where the hell was Katya?

After Alexi and his men had brought in the EOC members he had assured the Colonel that she would be right behind him. She should have already been there. Saul had sent her at least four messages, all unanswered. As he lifted his wrist to send her another a

petite manicured hand covered his station cuff blocking his view.

"Stop it Saul," Ellen told him. "She's going to show up. Trust me. If she told you she would then she will." His wife assured him.

"Yeah, well, you didn't see her this morning. She didn't look right. This has her thrown completely off. I all but had to order her to come."
Ellen gently squeezed at her husband's forearm hoping that he couldn't feel the unsteadiness of her hands. Inside she was as nervous as he was but the success of the day rested on her shoulders and she needed to appear composed.

"Can you blame her Saul? Think of how she must feel. She's scared and she's nervous and she has every right," Ellen defended. "We tried to prepare her for this her whole life, but think about it; we've had centuries to come to terms with it and she's only had twenty-two short years."

In the weeks leading up to the download Katya's behavior had been erratic. She'd recently had her twenty second birthday. Since adolescence the celebration of her birth had begun to negatively affect her mood. This year with resurrection looming ahead it had made things even worse. Though Saul and Ellen did their best to comfort and support Katya lately they had found themselves on the receiving end of her outbursts. She'd begged them countless times to keep her identity a secret. She cried and yelled when they refused. It had been years since she'd been so emotionally unstable. It hurt their hearts to see her so upset, but they couldn't change what was coming.

"She'll be alright," Saul said, mostly trying to convince himself.

"Of course she will. She's our little Katya. She's a trooper," Ellen agreed hugging on to Saul's arm and smiling up at him the way she knew could always get him to smile back, even after so many ages.

Ellen gulped down any unease that threatened to rise within her. She had to believe that Katya would be there, if for no other reason than to support her. Not only did Ellen have to lead a good portion of the briefing on her own, but most of the actual download process would be up to her as well. She was after all, the one who discovered the capability of human downloading. She and Saul had brought the technology to the people of Earth Orbit, hopeful that it would eventually help to complete the prophecy both the people of Earth and the cylons thought to be true. She certainly had a lot on her plate at the moment but deep down her biggest worry was for a far more selfish reason.

Ellen was hopeful that the first download would be a success and that they would then be able to then move on to the other clones. She was even hopeful that Bill and Laura would be able to transition to their new life smoothly. Saul was concerned about their reaction to Katya and for the sake of the poor girl who they had loved and raised for years, Ellen was as well. She knew that Saul would be happy to see Laura and the Old Man eventually connect and bond with their newly found offspring. As wrong as it was, no matter how much Ellen tried to convince herself that she too would be happy for Katya if that was the case she just didn't like the idea. She and Saul had raised her since she was just seven years old, newly orphaned and in need of love and protection. As soon as they had found out about the little girl's parentage Ellen knew that Saul wouldn't have it any other way. They'd adopted her right away. They had cared for her just like she was their own daughter and Ellen loved Katya deeply. She often fondly thought of how she used to braid her hair as a child and sing to her before bed. She remembered the times when Katya would jump into Saul's lap and she'd watch the girl's face light up as he told her stories about vipers and battlestars. Katya had become the child they never had, and even though she was now grown, married and serving at the rank of captain, she was still very much a child in many ways. She still needed them in so many ways. The thought of Laura Roslin stepping in and assuming anything close to a maternal figure made Ellen green with envy. She was aware of how self centered it was of her and how as a little girl Katya had always wanted to know her true parents, but she couldn't keep her jealousy from surfacing.
Ellen desperately clung to the hopeful assumption that the uptight and closed off Laura she once knew wouldn't be at all interested in stepping into her shoes. In truth, had Saul agreed, she would have had no problem honoring Katya's request to be kept a secret.

"There's my girl!" Ellen happily exclaimed as soon as the young woman walked into the conference room. When Katya approached them Ellen hugged her tightly and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "See, Saul, I told you she would be here," She teased, eliciting a soft chuckle from her daughter.

"Where the hell have you been?" Saul gruffly asked.

"Where the hell do you think I've been?" Katya halfheartedly challenged while trying to keep the smile on her face.

Saul knew that meant that she had prepped the bodies after all.

"Good girl," He told her with a wink.

"Are you nervous, Aunt Ellen?" Katya asked referring to her impending duty.

"I guess we all are, kitten," She answered with a sigh. "But ya know what? It'll be okay. Promise," She assured, smiling and wrinkling her nose.

Saul moved to place an arm around each of the women at his side.

"It will be," He agreed kissing one then the other on their temples.

For a moment they stood embraced in their protective little huddle, safe from the unknown future.

When the moment passed Saul leaned back and grimaced. He looked over Ellen's attire as if he'd only just noticed it.
"Good Gods Ellen, did you have to wear that?" He said wincing at the dress she'd chosen. "Now I've gotta sit here and watch half of Alpha Station and the EOC try and look up your skirt the whole damn time you're up there," He complained.

Ellen laughed and gave him a playful slap on the arm.

Katya rolled her eyes at their typical banter.

"Some things never change," she said with a smirk.

"Kat, why don't you go take your seat?" Saul suggested. "I want you between Alexi and me up front."

"Yes, Sir, Colonel, Sir," Katya teased with an over exaggerated salute before leaving to join her husband.

"She's okay," Saul said rubbing his wife's back.

"She is," Ellen said softly, watching as the girl walked away.

Neither was convinced.

Alexi was not yet seated up front. Instead he was toward the back of the room casually leaning against one of the chairs and chatting with a young man and woman in uniform. They were friends of theirs; good friends- more like family really, but Katya wasn't sure she was up for the group at the moment. With a sharp breath she gathered her composure and joined her husband's side despite her apprehension.

"Well here's Killer Kat now!" The young man standing across from Alexi greeted with a sly smile. "Heard you just bit the head off of a committee member and spit it out on the Med Ward floor."

He wore a big toothy grin and was obviously greatly amused by his own humor.

"And you're on the road to being my next victim, Blazer," Katya snidely spit back with a smirk. "Keep it up. Just try me."

The young blonde women beside him feigned a gunshot wound at the captain's sharp words .

Alexi chuckled under his breath and shook his head

"I really wouldn't test her, Blazer, not today." The sergeant warned.
"I'm scared, truly, I am," Blazer said with his hands up in mock surrender. "I just wonder what Kaplan's going to say when he finds out."

"He'll probably be relieved the guy's still standing," The blonde added, getting a laugh out of both men. "Let's face it, Katya's responsible for half the missing hair on the Commanders head."

"Thanks, Margot," Kaya said with a caustic smile.

"C'mon, Captain, lighten up," Blazer winked, his smile unaffected by Katya's irritation. "Today should be a happy day," He added.

Alexi only rolled his eyes but Blazer could always count on Katya for a comeback.

"Yeah, well let's see how happy you are when it's your turn to take your parents out of their giant fish tanks and introduce yourself," She posed.

Blazer laughed and shrugged.

"I'm looking forward to it, Koshka. Besides, what's not to love?" He said with his long arms out in a faux display.

"Is this man serious?" Alexi balked, only half feigning his annoyance.

Margot covered her mouth with her hand trying not to laugh too loud while Katya shook her head at Blazer's performance.

While Lt. Blaze "Blazer" Bishop could be a wise-cracking jackass he was also a loyal and compassionate friend. The other three knew that his current antics were at least in part to lighten the collective mood and take their minds off of the impending day ahead. With his firm features and substantial strength, he could have seemed rather menacing had he not assumed his signature goofy yet charming demeanor.

Blaze was born on Beta Station within the same year as his three companions. He'd been raised, as they each had, by a project originator; a Dr. Kyle Bishop, now dead over twelve years. Blazer was conceived by Dr. Bishop using the reproductions of a human Colonial pilot and a cylon Eight known as Karl and Athena Agathon. After Dr. Bishop's murder Blaze was sent to Gamma station to be raised with Alexi by his foster father, Dr. Mikhail Petrov. Petrov was responsible for the clones of the cylon Six they called Caprica and the Colonial doctor called Giaus Baltar. In turn he was responsible for, Alexi. Once Blaze came to live with them Petrov raised the two boys together as brothers. Blaze proved to be the perfect counter to Alexi's serious and sometimes apathetic nature. Only a few short years later Dr. Petrov was killed during an attack on the Gamma space station leaving both boys orphaned. At the request of Saul and Ellen Tigh both boys were brought to Alpha station to finish their schooling. As teens they'd lived in the petty officer's barracks with the cylon couple serving as their legal guardians. Now as an adult Blaze served with Katya as an Orbit Patrol Pilot for Alpha Station and Alexi as a marine.

"I am serious, Lex," Blaze said confidently. "I mean Tigh said that they had a kid before. He said they seemed to like her okay. Why not me?" He joked bearing his teeth and flexing a bicep in jest.

"You're ridiculous," Alexi jabbed. " You know that, Blazer?"
"Ya know, Blazer," Katya posed, her tone changing as her patience wore thin. Blaze was only trying to make her laugh but somehow it felt wrong to even smile. "that kid was their choice. Don't forget you were against their will," She reminded crossing her arms. "We all were."

Blazer's grin faltered for a split second. Had the other three not know him so well they would have missed it. He reinforced his smile and put a hand to Katya's shoulder.

"They've got no will Cap'n," He answered, matter-of-factly "At least not yet," He added before taking his hand away. "What about you, Margot?" He asked eyeing the woman who had been the only one giving into laughter during his silly performance.

"Me?"

"Yeah, you," Blazer mocked. "Do you see any other freaks at this show? I mean now that Alexi's out of the game, your turn will be coming up sooner than you think...if this whole thing works that is."

The four held a moment of strange unease before Margot could answer. Though Alexi claimed satisfaction in being rid of the bodies of his infamous would-be parents, the missing clones had everyone concerned. There was worry that the prophecy wouldn't be fulfilled without them; that the others wouldn't be enough. They were already missing another that the scientists were mysteriously never able to produce. That in itself had been the looming shadow over entire project from the start. The destruction of the Six and Baltar had been another huge blow. Their hope was placed in the ones that remained.

"I guess I don't know how I feel anymore," Margot admitted. "I mean, my Mom's still alive. I guess I don't feel like I need another one. And blood or not I've never had a father."

Margot's foster Mother, Dr. Michelle Le Blanc of Delta Station was the last remaining project originator other than Dr. Xao. She now directed the entire project with Ellen as her cylon counterpart and was also scheduled to speak during the meeting.

"You guys know I feel like I have weirder situation," Margot went on. "I'm dealing with a fill in. At least you three came from supposed couples who in theory might warm up to the idea of you based on that alone. I got the default match up," She tried to joke but technically she was right.

When it became clear that the DNA needed to produce one of Dr. Le Blanc's intended subjects was curiously not viable the suggestion came from Saul Tigh to use another in its place. Le Blanc and her team, though skeptical, went ahead with the substitute addition to the project.

Margot was the last of the four born to the cloned bodies. She was the offspring of two cylons of supposed significance; Samuel T. Anders and a Three known as D'Anna Biers. She was a sweet girl; always extremely friendly and willing to help. She had shown remarkable athletic abilities growing up, participating in many station sports. She had hoped to become a marine guard but under the watchful and sometimes demanding eye of Dr. Le Blanc, Margot was encourage to pursue a more academic career. She now worked aboard Delta, her home station, as a military communications engineer, though she visited Alpha regularly.

"You shouldn't see her as a fill in," Katya defended. "Uncle Saul says D'Anna was special. He says she saw things. I think she's supposed to be here."

Margot looked skeptical. She shrugged and gave her friend a nervous smile.

"Well whatever she is, it's going to be weird as hell to see her up and moving around. She just looks so much like me. It's been freaking me out since I was tall enough to see inside a fucking stasis chamber."

Though the young woman said it in jest it was quite remarkable how much she looked like the cylon body of the Three. Her hair was quite lighter, her grey eyes somewhat softer and the frame of her body a bit thinner but she resembled her forebearers more than any of the others did theirs.

"Speaking of the F word…" Blaze said clapping his palms together in exaggerated enthusiasm. "You want in on today's little bet we've got going, Koshka?"

"What bet?" Katya asked with a suspicious scowl.

"When they're gonna say it," Blaze said with a mischievous glint in his eyes. "C'mon Cap, I've got twenty credits on it being the first to third word out of either of their mouths."

Katya suddenly knew exactly what he was referring to.

"What? No. C'mon you jackass, this isn't a game." She turned to give her husband an accusatory look. "You're in on this too?" She asked with a shove to his arm that only served to make him smirk.

"He's got fourth to tenth," Blazer answered on behalf of Alexi.

"Blazer's idea," The marine said trying to get the focus off of himself.

"It was. So what?" Blazer confirmed. "Hey, Margot took twentieth and up. She's going down," He said playfully nudging her.

"I am not," Margot protested. "How often do you wake up cursing?" She said between giggles.

"It's just for fun, Katya," Alexi said putting his arm around the waist of his agitated spouse. "To keep our spirits up, myshka."
"Yeah Cap," Blazer prodded. "C'mon what ya' think?" Blazer prodded.

"I think someone sneezed in your test tube before you were born," Katya shot back, finally getting a hint of a frown from the young lieutenant. "Why the hell do you guys even care? You hear Saul and Ellen say it all the damn time."

"That's just it," Blazer answered. "They are the only ones who we've ever heard say it and it's been hilarious. The way the Colonel really drags it out," He added with emphasis. "It's great."

"Katya says it sometimes," Alexi threw in with a smirk.

"I do not," She protested getting more frustrated by the moment.

"Yes, you do, Yekaterina," Alexi divulged. "You know you do. You lived with the Tighs for years, you grew up around them and sometimes you slip," He stated precociously.

"I've heard her," Margot confirmed pretending to duck behind Blaze.

Katya rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated huff. "Oh, frak all three of you," She muttered, giving in with an impish smile.

"Yes!" Blazer shouted in pseudo triumph causing the other three to shush him in unison.

"Maybe we can bring it back, you guys," He attempted at a lower volume.

"Commander on deck!" Shouted a booming voice from somewhere toward the hatch.
All four snapped to attention as did most of the room.

Commander Kaplan had arrived and there was nothing else to wait for. With a return salute and quick murmur of 'as you were' the Commander made his way to the front of the room, shaking some hands along the way. Katya noticed that Ellen was already seated in the first row along with Dr. Le Blanc and Dr. Xao. She looked nervous.

"Captain, Sergeant," Saul called from their seats, motioning for Katya and Alexi to join him.

"Poydem, da'vay, Katya," Alexi whispered in his wife's ear as he softly nudged her at the small of her back.

They joined the Colonel quickly, sitting in the front row beside Ellen and the doctors.

Margot and Blaze followed taking the chairs directly behind them.

As Katya sat she quickly decided that her friends had been pleasant distraction after all. The feeling of dread was returning in full force and she felt the blood draining from her face. Saul put a comforting hand over hers and gave her another quick wink of encouragement. She was grateful for him. If nothing else Saul Tigh had always made her feel safe.

"C'mon, let's put on a brave face for Ellen," He said motioning toward the front of the room.

Katya nodded.

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"Poydem, da'vay, Katya," Alexi whispered...
(( Come on, lets go, Katya))

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CONFERENCE ROOM 6

YEAR: 2315

Ellen's palms were sweating as she listened to Commander Kaplan's opening remarks. It was times likes these she that wished she had devoted part of the last two hundred thousand years to altering some of the more annoying aspects that made she and Saul humanoid; sweaty palms, morning breath, the jitters. Not that Saul would have gone for any of it. He was intent on staying as human as possible. She could have done something useful besides stopping the trait of physical aging that Cavil had imposed on them. She would have settled for any change in programming that would have helped her calm down, but the fact was that she had to bear her very human trait of anxiety. Only confidence, determination and a low cut dress would get her through the day.

"Today is a milestone for us all," Commander Kaplan's deep voice drummed in Ellen's ears. "It is a day of promise and of hopefulness."

Ellen thought it sort of funny that she felt so nervous. It wasn't as if she hadn't been in situations just as dire. It seemed to be her eternal circumstance. She had witnessed the destruction of her home planet. She had pioneered the recreation of cylon resurrection and traveled thousands of years to bring it to another galaxy. She had all but single-handedly ended the First Cylon War on the Twelve Colonies of Kobol by creating humanoid models for the Colonial Cylon. She did all of that only to have her creations turn on her and then have to watch it unfold all over again. The rational part of her brain told her that she should be used to it by now, but she wasn't. People were still at stake; souls were still at stake, and no matter what anyone over the eons had thought about her, she never took that lightly. Now she was at it again; on a quest that started not long after the last had ended.

Upon finding the planet they now called Earth the Colonial Fleet and its inhabitants had decided to spread out across the globe. Some went on raptor shuttles, some on foot.

In hopes of a fresh start for both the cylon and colonial races they sent their abandoned caravan of ships on a final journey toward the sun and handed over the cylon basestar to the centurions.

At first Ellen and Saul Tigh had been no exception to the global dispersion. For days they walked and set up temporary camps looking for a place to settle. Initially they stayed close to others; some Colonial human and some cylon, finding comfort in numbers. Soon as more and more settled or went off independently the Tighs one day found themselves alone. Though their surroundings were less than comfortable they found peace for a while as they spent their time focused only on each other and their survival. Social as she was Ellen missed the company of others but she couldn't help but be relieved to have her husband all to herself after all that happened between him and the Six they called Caprica. For what now only seemed like a moment in time they had been happy and content.

It didn't last.

One morning while bathing in a stream Ellen heard the distinct mechanical zoom of centurion motion. At first she had thought it to be a vivid daydream, an auditory hallucination, even the start of an involuntary projection, but when it didn't fade she turned toward the direction it had come from. On the bank of the stream were two centurion cylons. At first she froze, still unsure of what she was seeing. Looking past the sight before her an acre away from her makeshift tent was a heavy raider docked upon the grass field. She quickly looked for a sign of Saul. When she didn't see him she curbed her trepidation and strode out of the stream toward the bullet heads not bothering to cover up. What she found out upon scanning their glowing red eyes set the course for the next battle she would fight.

Not long after the centurions had taken control of the cylon basestar their hybrid began to react strangely once again. The centurions would plot a course out of the solar system only for the hybrid to jump them back immediately. It rambled and babbled a new message fraught with terror, one that warned of the story repeating once more. Realizing that they would not be able to leave the system and heeding the hybrids words the relatively primitive cylons sought out the one they knew to be their emblematic matriarch and located Ellen on the surface of Earth to ask for her help.

The decision to go with the centurions had not been an easy one for the couple to agree on. When Saul had first seen the heavy raider upon returning from gathering wood he was filled with nothing but dread. Even after learning of the explanation he wanted nothing more to do with them. Ellen wasn't sure why she was so inclined to go with them. She considered that perhaps it was an instinctive need to help her kind go on. Perhaps something more spiritual was telling her to go, or maybe she just wasn't looking forward to a life of living off the land on an alien planet without the technology and amenities she had always been surrounded by. Ellen had made up her mind, unwilling to listen to Saul's pleas. She gave him an ultimatum. Deciding that his life wasn't worth much without her, he followed. They had spent less than sixty days on the surface of Earth. Soon they found themselves on the cylon ship. While it was battered it was swiftly repairing itself and all appeared to be in working order until Saul and Ellen were brought to see the hybrid. It seemed to speak a string of erratic nonsense but they knew better than to ignore its words. Even the limited centurions had understood something was significant about the lines it had been repeating over and over.

THE ONCE LOST FLOCK WILL START A NEW. LAND WATER STILL THE CYCLE WONT END. SIN AND WAR. AN EVOLUTION OF IMPERFECTION GROWS TO POISON THE BLUE AND THE GREEN. REPEAT THE SINS OF THOSE WHO LEFT THE SEEDS. AN ANCIENT PAIR BRING HOPE IN ALCHEMY AND WISDOM.. THE BYGONE LEADERS WILL ENTER IN THE DARKEST TIME BEFORE THE FLOCK MUST FLEE THE NEST. WAITING FOR APPARITIONS IS FUTILE. THE BUILDING BLOCKS MUST BE STACKED BY HAND. A LEGACY LEFT BY THE BLOOD THAT WAS SPENT AIMS FOR THE BURNING CENTER. GO NOW. TIME IS A FLAME IN THE GRIP OF THE WIND. IF NOT RECOVERED ALL WILL BE WAYWARD LEFT UNREDEEMED. LIFE HERE BEGAN OUT THERE THEY SAID AGAIN. AGAIN. CONJURED LEADERS THE MOTHER THE FATHER THE TRAITOR A STAR A STAR RETURN FOR SALVATION OF THE LEGACY. END OF LINE

The couple sat by the hybrid's side for what must have been close to a week. The centurions saw to their needs as they listened to the message repeat. Saul grew impatient. He regretted leaving Earth and tried to convince Ellen to have the centurions take them back. He was worried that whatever was wrong with their FTL would suddenly fix itself and that the hybrid might jump them out of the solar system before they had a chance to change their minds. He had all but worn Ellen down the day she suddenly dipped her hand into the fluid surrounding the hybrid. When she did she immediately shot back as if propelled by an electric charge. Ellen could still remember opening her eyes to see Saul's face as she came to in his arms.

"I saw it Saul," Ellen had told him through tears, her throat tight and dry. "I know what we have to do." She'd insisted with quivering lips
"What did you see, Ellen?" Saul asked, holding tightly onto her trembling body.
Ellen blinked fresh hot tears and tried to swallow.

"I saw blood…and fire," She told him between strained breathy gasps and sobs. "We have to go now and we have to hurry."

When she had recovered she was sure that she knew, at least in part, what the hybrid's message was telling them to do and she understood that it was their destiny to do it. They needed to get to Galactica before it got too close to the heat of the sun.

Saul watched his wife from his seat in the briefing room as she waited for her turn to speak. He could tell that she was on edge. Dr. Le Blanc was up front holding her part of the meeting, but he couldn't focus on what she was saying. He hadn't even noticed when she'd taken the commander's place at the podium or that she'd turned on the screen capability of the wall behind her. The graphs and charts being displayed for the audience were all a blur as Saul focused on Ellen's face. He watched her, beautiful as ever and struggling like hell to appear confident and composed.
He wished that he could grab her, kiss her, and tell her that everything would be alright.
Sometimes Saul Tigh was downright sick of protocol and duty. The people of Earth Orbit needed something from them. Why couldn't they skip the administrative crap, forget the speeches and just get it done?

There were times when the responsibility of authority threatened to dive him to the brink and yet something always called him to rise to the occasion. He did it when his Earth had been destroyed. He'd done it again when he and Ellen traveled to warn the Twelve Colonies of their probable fate. He had done it once more during his service on Galactica. Now he'd been called to step up again. He'd sworn allegiance to the people of Earth Orbit and donned yet another uniform. He followed their protocol, went along with their customs and he did it all respectfully.
Saul wondered constantly if it would be the last time. He wondered if he and Ellen would get through all of it only to be pulled into the cycle once more. He wondered if he was ever going to truly die, if he would ever rest peacefully. He often swore that next time he wouldn't answer the call if it came. He swore that this time was to make sure that what he'd through with Bill Adama and the people on Galactica did not happen in vain.

Saul could still remember the last time he was on Galactica. He'd been so sure that he would never see its halls again. He thought that he had taken his last look at it as they abandoned ship and sent it to burn away into the depths of a star. He was wrong.

When Ellen recovered from her episode with the hybrid she was finally able to explain what had been revealed to her. When she first told him he'd wanted to forget all about it and let fate run its course, but Ellen was so driven. She was so enraptured by her vision that he knew he had one choice; follow her or to be without her. Ellen was sure that she understood part of the cylon hybrids message.

"We need to get their DNA, Saul," She had told him without any doubt in her eyes.

THE BUILDING BLOCKS MUST BE STACKED BY HAND. A LEGACY LEFT BY THE BLOOD THAT WAS SPENT AIMS FOR THE BURNING CENTER.

Ellen explained that the hybrid had shown her a vision. Something would eventually force the people back off of Earth and those who had brought them there would return to reclaim it for them. She didn't know when and she didn't know how but she knew that it would happen and that only the original leaders who had taken them there would save the people of Earth.

THE ONCE LEADERS WILL ENTER IN THE DARKEST TIME BEFORE THE FLOCK MUST FLEE THE NEST.

She was convinced that it was their duty to ensure the hybrid's prophecy was able to be fulfilled. She knew that no one else would or could do it.

AN ANCIENT PAIR BRING HOPE IN ALCHEMY AND WISDOM.

Ellen knew enough about human genetics from thousands of years of trying her best to mimic their characteristics. She'd made the perfect cylon form; a mechanical body almost indistinguishable from colonial human. She knew science would be the thing to bring them back when it was time, not mysticism or chance.

WAITING FOR APPARITIONS IS FUTILE. THE BUILDING BLOCKS MUST BE STACKED BY HAND

"We need to intercept Galactica and get any DNA samples that we can of anyone of prominence during the journey to Earth. We need to go now before it gets too close to the heat of the sun," Ellen had explained.

THE BLOOD THAT WAS SPENT AIMS FOR THE BURNING CENTER. GO NOW. TIME IS A FLAME IN THE GRIP OF THE WIND. IF NOT RECOVERED ALL WILL BE WAYWARD LEFT BEHIND.

Saul was unconvinced but there wasn't much he could do to stop her. By then the centurions had become very protective of Ellen. When he as much as raised his voice in a threatening manner the bullet-heads would flank her, making their guardian presence known. They would help Ellen to do whatever she needed. They had been given free will and they were choosing to do with it.

After running the calculations they found that the course that had been set for the fleet toward the sun would have taken the ships just over one hundred and fifty days at max speed. There were no jump coordinates set and unless Sam Anders suddenly had a whim to jump or change course Galactica and the fleet were at least half way there. It wouldn't be very hard to catch up with it using the basestar. Though the hybrid was impeding attempts to jump out of the solar system it didn't seem to take issue with jumps within it. The trouble was that according to their calculations the fleet was getting dangerously close to the point where the star's heat and radiation would start to wear down at the already battered ships structures. They had to go quickly before Galactica was too dangerous to jump near, let alone board.

Saul made a last ditch effort to persuade Ellen. He suggested that they return to Earth, that they make a list of people of note and try to track them down to get samples of their genetic materials. Ellen had all but laughed at the notion and she was right. They could track down the cylons on Earth but locating individual colonial humans would be a task that could take years. It was an unmapped globe and people had been dropped all over it. Galactica was their surest bet. Between Baltar's old lab and Sick Bay there was a waiting collection of samples for the taking if they could just make it there in time.

The plan was set in motion. The basestar would scan the system for the fleet and then jump to Galactica's approximate location. From there Saul and Ellen would board a heavy raider along with a few centurions and catch up to the ever moving ship. They would have to blast their way on board without control of the landing pods. Once they were aboard they had one goal. Saul would make his way to Sick Bay, Ellen to Baltar's former laboratory and they would collect any blood samples or genetic materials that they could find of those they thought the hybrid might be referring to.

Even now when Saul thought back to that day it made him squirm. Before they even docked on the battlestar they could feel the heat within the pressurized heavy raider. Once they were on Galactica they could barely stand it. Without the circulation of the ships air conditioning the ship had turned into a hot box. Though the centurions didn't feel it in the least Saul and Ellen were stifling. They were both drenched in sweat after only minutes of walking in the halls which creaked and whined as the already weakened metal of the hull below them expanded from the rising temperature. They split up, each with two centurions and planned to meet back in the CIC by Sam's tub before returning to the heavy raider. Ellen had given her husband instructions on what to look for. They were focused on a handful of humans and cylons. She told him not to waste too much time looking for any of the Sixs, Eights or Threes, if he couldn't find them. She was sure that the basestar held their genetic material in excess. His goal was to find samples from any of the final five and any humans of interest.

It was hard to breathe the ship's thick, hot humid air. When Saul got to Sick Bay he thought he might pass out. Not only was he finding it hard to take a satisfying breath in the heat but he hadn't been expecting the memories of Caprica and his little lost Liam that all but punched him in his gut upon arrival. Once he was able to clear his head he went to work. The centurions carried a small footlocker which Saul filled with abandoned test tubes, cultures and smears. When he could find nothing else that seemed of any value he left. Putting the memories behind him for a final time, he went to meet his wife. When Saul and the centurions arrived in CIC they found soaked in sweat and Ellen kneeling on the floor. She was hovering next to Sam Anders who still lay in his vat of fluid staring into nothing. He was babbling and rambling. Ellen cried silently beside him, her tears mixing with the perspiration on her face as she caressed his hairless head. It took Saul only a few moments to realize that Anders was reciting the same lines as the hybrid aboard the basestar.

AN ANCIENT PAIR BRING HOPE IN ALCHEMY AND WISDOM. PATIENCE. PATIENCE. THE BYGONE LEADERS WILL ENTER IN THE DARKEST TIME BEFORE THE FLOCK MUST FLEE THE NEST. WAITING FOR APPARITIONS IS FUTILE. THE BUILDING BLOCKS MUST BE STACKED BY HAND. A LEGACY LEFT BY THE BLOOD THAT WAS SPENT AIMS FOR THE BURNING CENTER. GO NOW. TIME IS A FLAME IN THE GRIP OF THE WIND.

"Sam, honey," Ellen had said through her tears, "it's Ellen and- I just want you to know that we hear you. We hear you and we're listening," She told him, her voice shaking as she ran her thumb over his cheek.

As Saul watched on he heard the creaks and cracks of the hull getting louder. He felt the vibrations of the straining bulkhead increasing. After one particularly loud groan within the ship he started to grow more concerned.

"Ellen, we need to get out of here now," He'd warned her.

She had nodded in agreement and leaned over to kiss Sam on the forehead.

"Goodbye, Sam. I promise we'll do all that we can," She'd said rising and moving away from him."I'll see you when the time comes."

Ellen joined her husband. The centurions that had been with her followed carrying the footlocker which she had filled in the lab with old samples from Baltar's useless Cylon Detector. Through the screeching groaning hallways they quickly made their way back to the docked heavy raider. After loading their precious cargo they headed back to solemn safety of the basestar.

Once they were back on the basestar they jumped away to a relatively safer location and took time to recover from their feat. The samples were stored away, preserved and secured as safely as possible. The hybrid had quieted and a test jump showed they were able to leave the solar system if they wanted to without it sending them straight back. They took it as a sign that they'd done the right thing.

"What in the hell to we do now, Ellen?" Saul had asked.

"Now we wait," She'd answered

They knew warnings wouldn't do. Both races had just had the biggest warning possible. Maybe the people had learned their lesson for the moment but the Tigh's knew from experience how quickly history could be lost. They would have to wait until it all started over again.

Ellen's first task after the recovery of the genetic samples was to stop the trait of physical aging. Though her vanity helped her decision, she knew that if she and Saul were to see their mission through they would need to be bodily able. They would need to permanently alter their software. With the ship's seemingly endless source of cylon information within the stream, Ellen had it figured out in less than a year. Their next task was to jump out of the system. They had to go far enough away to wait undetected yet stay close enough to keep tabs on their little burden of a planet. They wouldn't interfere until they had to.

After some years Ellen had decided they should do something about the seemingly endless waiting. She and Saul devised a way to auto-box themselves. Their bodies would be stored in altered resurrection tubs. Their consciousness would be boxed not unlike the cylons had done to D'Anna for a time. After a predetermined period had passed the stream on the basestar was set to automatically return their consciousness to their waiting bodies. Ellen and Saul did this for hundreds of years at a time, awakening now and then to check on the status of Earth. The centurions sent raiders to the solar system regularly for status reports, sometimes even breaking the Earth's orbit for a closer view. They saw society grow and spread all over the globe. They watched empires rise and crumble and rise again a thousand times over. They saw great floods and world wars. The centurions were instructed to manually stop the Thigh's auto-boxing if and when the planet seemed to be in trouble, which they did, more than a few times. Earth was a volatile place; far worse than their home planet or the Colonies had been. Though Saul and Ellen's existence left much to be desired there were times when they were happy to have never made the planet their home. It was plagued with never ending conflict. Though they had awoken many times to find Earth in turmoil they knew the calamity that they were awaiting would be a familiar one; one they had seen before. As the hybrid and Anders prophesied, it would be something that would drive the people away from the planet. As Ellen and Saul lay boxed for ages the basestar and its raiders and centurions remained ever watchful guardians.

Saul was interrupted from his internal thought when the wall behind Dr. Le Blanc changed to show a specific image. It was of the Quartz Plates;!the discovery that had alerted the people of Earth to the prophecy. They were discovered in a remote North West section of the continent formerly known as Africa in the Earth year two thousand and seventeen. A university team had found them during an archaeological dig. Though carbon dating approximated that the plates were well over one hundred and ninety thousand years old they found them to be internally etched with an almost futuristic code; the likes of which could only have been done with a laser or some such technology thought unavailable at the time of their supposed creation. The code was eventually deciphered. When run through a simple computer system it told a story. It told the story of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol and the Cylons, and it told of their journey to Earth. The story spoke of the the fleet, the dying leader, and many of the plights the people went through trying to find the planet. It even warned against the dangers of creating artificial intelligence. Most notably the story ended with the prophecy of a Colonial oracle.

"Life here began out there and the ones who led humankind to their home must return to save them when the cycle repeats once again."

The plates were originally perceived by most to be a brilliant forgery. They were mocked for years by reputable scientists and historians,inspiring only cultish followings, but when the centurions learned of their discovery during an Earth status check they knew that Saul and Ellen had to be awoken to hear the news. Just about one hundred and fifty years from the date of the plates discovery it started. Following a relatively short period of rapid technological growth and discovery the people of Earth were retreating to space stations within the planet's orbit fleeing from a new and dangerous threat made by their own hands. A slave race of robotic entities had turned on their creators. That was when Saul and Ellen decided to make contact to confirm the prophecy and offer their help.

Katya could tell that Dr. Le Blanc was nearing the end of her speech and she knew that Ellen wouldn't spend much too time on hers. The end of Ellen's words would mean it was finally time. The handful of officers and officials with clearance for the actual download would follow Ellen, Xao and Le Blac into Med Ward and the event that they had been waiting for would begin.

Katya mentally ran through a list of things that might miraculously delay them. Perhaps the fire alarm would sound, perhaps there would be a power outage, or maybe she could hold her breath until she just passed out. That ought to buy her some time, she thought. Ellen wouldn't go ahead with the download with her passed out blue on the floor. She couldn't believe how childish she was being, then again, she didn't exactly care.

"I'd like to give the floor to Ellen Tigh," Dr. Le Blanc announced. "To whom we,'the People of Earth Orbit, owe the possibility of our future. Without whom today would not be possible," The doctor affirmed. "Ellen…" Le Blanc motioned for the other woman to take her place.

As Ellen made her way to the podium Katya unconsciously held her breath. From the corner of his eye Alexi saw his wife's face turning red.

"Dyshat'," He harshly whispered forcefully elbowing her in the arm.

She let her breath out with a loud gasp earning her a glare from Saul. She quickly crossed her legs bringing her eyes to focus on the front of the room and acted as if nothing had happened. The two men exchanged perturbed glances before bringing their attention back to the front.

Ellen's smile was somewhat shaky, though only those who knew her well could see it. She licked her lips and looked to Saul for encouragement before she spoke. He winked at her and she was able to go on.

"I want to first thank Dr. Michelle Le Blanc for her kind words," She began, "They mean more than you know," She said looking over at the other woman who smiled politely and nodded.

Ellen took a deep breath and blew it out.

"When my husband and I decided to first make contact with the people of Earth not a person in this room was alive yet," She laughed gaining some small smiles from the crowd.

Ellen wasn't telling anyone in the room anything they didn't already know. Everyone in Orbit knew the story. The entire population knew now that their species was a chimera of sorts; one made from an ancient amalgamation of Earth Human, Colonial Human and Cylon. They now knew the stories from the Quartz Plates were historical accounts; ones Saul and Ellen figured had been left by a group of Cylons and, or Colonials who still had some access to the technology that was supposed to have been sent to burn in the sun; a technology lost to history soon after.

Ellen knew this story was now all common knowledge, but she also knew this would be the last time she would get to tell it. A new era in history was about to start and she felt as if her part in the story was nearing its end.

"We began by sending wireless messages that went unanswered. Your grandparents and great grandparents, as they were, seemed to be quite shocked by the idea of contact from an unknown, unearthly source. We were, in fact, alien. We knew they would be afraid. When our attempts at wireless contact didn't work, we sent our raiders into orbit, hoping to get their attention. They were shot down, time and time again." Ellen paused and swallowed hard. "We didn't stop, though. We spent over two generations trying like hell to get the people of Earth Orbit to listen and our message was always the same; We are contacting you in peace. Look to the words of the Quartz Plates. The prophecy is true. We can help." Ellen shrugged and let out a soft giggle. "I can't say that I blame those in charge who decided not to listen. It's a pretty strange message," She mused. "And it must have been terrifying to hear it from a source that many thought unfathomable." Ellen bit at her lip when she thought she felt it quiver. She quickly looked to Katya, her pride and joy, the person she hoped to give a peaceful future to the most. The girl's face could inspire her to to anything. For Katya she would move mountains, she would cross oceans. Ellen licked her lips again before continuing. "It took just over a century from our first attempt at contact; years of us watching the attacks and atrocities continue on the surface of Earth, of watching more and more of your people retreat to the Orbit space stations until only the smallest percentages were left on the planet. Then a group of young scientists and officers convinced your government to listen to what we had to say. Most of those people have lost their lives over the years to the fight, but two still stand with you today and I believe you owe them just as much gratitude as they seem to think you owe to me and my husband, because without them I'm not sure how we would have ever been able to help," Ellen affirmed giving a grateful nod to the two doctors by her side.

Le Blanc gave an appreciative smile and Xao humbly bowed his head.

"It took leaders like them to bring your forbearers to this planet so many, many thousands of years ago. They were people who dedicated their lives to a future they wouldn't see. My husband and I were fortunate enough to know those people… and we hope after today, you will be as well."

As Ellen spoke she thought back to the time before she and Saul moved to Alpha Station. Though the governing officials had started to listen to them it was a while before the Tighs thought it safe enough to come aboard an Orbit space station themselves. With the agreement that the cylon basestar would jump inside the edges of Orbit to help to protect the stations from surface attacks, regular contact and the exchange of information ensued. Once the prophecy was officially accepted by the government and Ellen was sufficiently satisfied with the level of their human cloning capabilities she and Saul made their first physical visit to Alpha Station. They took a heavy raider along with four centurion guards. Their mission was to bring the project's scientists the DNA samples personally. They did and the cloning process began. Ellen and Saul went back to the basestar with the promise of returning once she had perfected the ability of human downloading, but due to circumstance they returned before it ever happened.

Years after the bodies were first cloned the biggest attack in Orbit history occurred. When Saul and Ellen had learned that Alpha station had been breached and Dr. Isakoff had been killed they boarded Alpha for a second time. The doctor had been in charge of the cloned bodies of Bill Adama and Laura Roslin. The Tighs made the trip to the station to make sure that a suitable scientist took over the care of the precious bodies. It was then they finally learned of Katya's existence, and of the other three children.

Enraged at what the cloned bodies had been used for and concerned for the young girl's future Saul and Ellen made the space station their home. They hadn't lived anywhere except Alpha since. Though the basestar still stood guard under their leadership, Alpha had become home to the Tighs and soon, would become home to Bill Adama and Laura Roslin.


 

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"Dyshat'," He whispered forcefully elbowing her in the arm.

"Breathe"

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

MED WARD

YEAR: 2315

When they arrived in Med Ward everything had already been set up. Centurions had delivered Ellen's two altered resurrection tubs from the basestar and Tawny and her staff had already situated the bodies within them according to plan. They each lay unmoving except for the mechanical rise and fall of their chests due to their ventilators. The slick milky fluid in each vat was filled just below their shoulders. Katya was relieved for the bit of modestly it provided Laura's would-be body. Centered between the two tubs stood a small waist high pedestal that Katya could tell had also come from the basestar. Its top looked like a shallow pan-like structure filled with similar Cylon fluid. The base of the pedestal was transparent and seemed to filter the conductive fluid that Saul and Ellen called the stream. The structure protruded with several wires on each side, some of which seemed grossly organic. A few were sleek and chrome-like. Others were blue, purple and pulsating like arteries, their ends all disappearing beneath the fluid within each tub.

Ellen's creation made Katya' stomach lurch. The Tighs had explained the complexities of Cylon mechanical organics to her many times over the years but she still couldn't get used to it. The sight before her was in such stark contrast to the sleek, sterile, crystal clear fluid of the stasis chambers. Within the chambers the bodies needed no tubes and no respirators. There the bodies seemed at peace. Their peace was over, Katya supposed, at least for now.

Ellen had instructed the project team to mature the bodies in stasis to approximately match their last known apparent ages. Saul and Ellen were able to help the staff choose a good stopping point for Bill and Laura's awaiting bodies. Though the aging wasn't exactly necessary, they figured that it would be less jarring for each of them if they returned to their bodies looking as closely to how they had left them as possible They were sure about Laura. The last time they had seen her she was fading away. They were positive that she'd died soon after. Ellen was less certain about Bill but Saul seemed confident in choosing his friend's stopping point. He suspected that Bill hadn't held on for very long after losing Laura. He remembered the time she had gone missing on the Cylon basestar. Bill had parked himself out in the middle of space all alone on a raptor and waited for Laura or certain death to come find him. Saul was relatively sure that when Bill had finally put Laura to rest he wasn't far behind her.

The Tighs would be able to offer the same courtesy of a familiar body to Athena, Anders and D'Anna; and to Caprica too, had her body survived. They knew when Anders died and the Threes, Sixes and the Eights would have never aged. Unfortunately they wouldn't be able to offer Helo the same comfort. Ellen and Saul had no way of knowing how long he had lived after they'd said goodbye to him for the last time. They'd gone to Beta Station and directed the lab staff to physically age him close to Athena, the way they had last seen him, and just hope that he could cope. Had Baltar's body still been available they would have had to do the same with him.

Katya stood with Alexi watching as Saul and Ellen spoke to one another in hushed tones by the pedestal where Ellen would soon take her place.

"This is so fucked up," Alexi whispered to his wife.

"Thanks. That makes me feel a lot better," Katya returned.

Her face felt hot but she could feel herself shaking as if she were freezing.

"I'm sorry, Katya, but it is. What the hell is that thing?" He asked referring to the grotesque pedestal.

"That's it. That's Ellen's…creation," She said chewing on her thumb nail as she watched Tawny take her place by the woman's submerged body.

"Are we sure she wasn't drunk when she made that thing?" Alexi asked, his eyes uncharacteristically expressive in their revulsion for the device.

"I wouldn't bet on it. It is Aunt Ellen," Katya darkly mused.

She watched as Dr. Le Blanc took her place next to the man's body. Dr. Xao up post behind her and Sydra behind Tawny to provide assistance when needed.

Alexi looked over his shoulder to find Margot and Blaze standing with the Commander. Margot's gaze was focused on her mother, but Blazer looked as white as a sheet as he gawked at the Cylon contraption.

"Not so funny now is it, L.T.?" Alexi called back at his friend.

Blazer slowly shook his head, unable to take his eyes off the sight in front of him. Commander Kaplan glanced at Alexi giving him a lukewarm warning to be quiet.

There was no one else in the ward except for a few extra medics and some staff from the lab who were on standby. Everyone else who had been invited to the initial briefing had been given the option to leave and wait for word or to say in the conference room and await official in-person confirmation of success. Filled with excitement, hope and curiosity most had opted to stay and wait.

With his focus back on his wife Alexi took the hand that Katya wasn't currently chewing the nails off of.

"It'll be okay, myshka," He attempted, though he wasn't sure that he even believed it.

Katya tried to appear grateful for his words but she was sure that she was failing miserably.

"Kat," Ellen suddenly called from the center of the room.

She motioned for the younger woman to join her.

Katya shook her head in defiance, not wanting to step too close to the creepy new cylon devices. She was worried that they were going to try and persuade her to stand with them during the download; something she wasn't up for.

"Just get over here, Katya," Saul ordered, annoyed by her stubbornness.

"Just for a second," Ellen added with a reassuring smile .

Alexi nudged Katya lightly and she started toward the older couple.

As she walked closer she couldn't help but look inside the tubs. Stopping in front of Ellen and Saul, her focus was stuck on the woman's vacant form sheathed within the fluid. Katya's mouth hung open in a mix of horror and awe.

"Sweetie," Ellen called to get her attention. "Kitten?" She continued with no success.

"Captain," Saul barked.

Katya's focus snapped to attention.

"Sorry," She said as her eyes started to water.

"Baby, it's okay." Ellen quickly moved to hug her. "Look, we just called you over here to tell you that we love you," She said giving the girl a tight squeeze. "And that no matter what happens we'll get through it together as a family. Isn't that right, Saul?" She asked prompting her husband.

"Damn straight it is," He concurred as he reached out to embrace both women.

Katya couldn't help but be touched. She loved them both as much as she had ever loved her father. Sometimes she considered that she loved them even more. They'd been with her for most of her life. They'd seen her through so much. Saul had provided her with the safety, compassion and stability of a dedicated father and Ellen had given her an endless maternal love that knew no bounds. Katya trusted that no matter what happened with her so called birth parents she would always have the Tighs. They weren't perfect, but they were her's.

"It'll be alright, kit, you just hang tough," Saul asserted, giving Katya a quick peck on the temple and then straightening his posture.

Katya nodded and flicked away a tear that had escaped her the corner of her eye. She glanced back at the woman's tub.

"Aunt Ellen?"

"Yes, kitten," Ellen said sniffling back the emotion of the moment.

"When…when she wakes up, will you make sure she's, you know, covered?"

Ellen smiled at the younger woman's sweet concern. She was surprised that the jealousy which Katya's sentiment toward her birth mother would normally inspire seemed to absent. She considered that perhaps she was too nervous for envy at the moment.

"I got it covered, baby," She promised with a wink.

Katya nodded. She cleared her throat and tried to take Saul's lead in reasserting a composed militant exterior.

"Thanks, Auntie. The last thing I need is Blazer making any stupid ass comments about her. He makes enough about you as it is."

The jesting remark earned a typically flirty laugh from Ellen but Saul scowled in Blaze's direction.

Saul cared for Blaze but had little patience for the young lieutenant's signature goofy disposition. He couldn't help but be amused by the current level of fright on the pilot's usually impish face. The boy was more than stunned over Ellen's cylon engineering and Saul suspected that he was probably thinking of his own birth parents' coming download. With a grimace Saul returned his focus to his little family.

"We love you, kit. It'll be fine. You get back to Lex," Saul instructed.

Katya obeyed, leaving them with a salute that Saul returned as Ellen blew her a kiss. She returned to the relatively safe distance and comfort of her husband's side.

"You okay?" Alexi asked taking his wife's hand.

Looking back at Saul and Ellen she shrugged then nodded.

Ellen cleared her throat gaining the attention of the handful of attendants. Saul took his place at her back as she centered herself behind the download pedestal.

"I guess- if the doctors and their staff are ready we can begin," Ellen stated.

"Whenever you're ready, Mrs. Tigh," Dr. Xao answered on his staff's behalf.

"Yes, we're ready when you are," Dr. Le Blanc confirmed. "I just want to make sure that everyone is clear. Once we remove the ventilators we are on the clock. If they aren't conscious and breathing on their own within three minutes we intubate them again, no matter what, understood?" Le Blanc said sternly.

As the lab and medical staff acknowledged her instructions Ellen gulped down the giant knot that had taken up residence in her throat

"I just want to say something before we start…" She said hesitantly. She looked to the bodies in the tubs and then back over the small gathering of staff and officers. "I want to say that...the reason we are able to do this…the reason that I have found makes this possible, is that we all go home to the same place when we die. All of us. Our souls…these precious passengers that take up residence in our bodies; they eventually all go to the same point of existence. They live at the same frequency of vibration and there they receive their retribution or their reward…be they Colonial, Cylon or Earthling. Our souls are the same and when they are shed of our bodies they hold no difference from one another." She paused for a moment, carefully contemplating her next words. "And I think…that going forward...it's important that we all keep that in mind."

Whether or not the small crowd understood her reasoning she had to say it. Though she was on their side and would help them to the end, she knew that if the cycle was ever going to stop her message needed to be learned. Though the enemy force from the surface seemed evil and hell bent on destroying them she had seen firsthand, now too many times, the ways of thinking that had lead to it.

"Go on, Ellen," Saul whispered in encouragement behind her.

Ellen nodded to Tawny, then to Dr. Le Blanc. Each doctor moved to lean toward their respective patients; Tawny and Sydra by Laura, Le Blanc and Xao by Bill.

"Begin to remove intubation on my count," Le Blanc instructed.

Katya held tightly to Alexi and even the Commander had one sturdy hand on Blazer's shoulder and the other on Margot's back.

"Three…two…go," The doctor ended.

As she disconnected the ventilator and started to slide the endotracheal tube from Bill's throat, Tawny mirrored her actions with Laura.

"All clear!" Tawny shouted.

"Go Ellen!" Le Blanc yelled.

Ellen's palms were in the small pool of the pedestal's fluid before Le Blanc could finish saying her name. She shut her eyes tight and tried to clear her mind.

It felt right.

Her hands were tingling, prickling like pins and needles. She just needed to concentrate; Laura to her right, Bill to her left.

"Two and a half minute mark, Ellen," Le Blanc shouted the reminder.

Ellen tried to block the doctor's voice out along with the beeping and chirping of the machines around them. She knew focusing on the time crunch wouldn't help matters.

in the front of the room Katya was squeezing the life out of Alexi's hand but she couldn't seem to ease her grip. He would have marks from where her nails had dug into is flesh once it was all over. Her stomach cramped and she could feel herself breaking out into a cold sweat as her eyes darted from Ellen, to the tubs and back again.

"Ninety seconds," Le Blanc called out.

Xao was ready behind her with an oxygen mask. Sydra did the same beside Tawny.

Ellen could tell that Le Blanc had just given her another time warning, though she hadn't heard much more than a muffled interruption. Her ears crackled and buzzed with a static that ran from the tips of her fingers to the top of her skull. She had it, she was there; tapped into the space where she needed to be. What she needed now was memory, no, she needed two, separate from each other. She had to think but the electric humming was so loud.

"Sixty seconds, Ellen!" Le Blanc yelled out.

They were cutting it close. If they went at all over the three minute mark they couldn't guarantee there wouldn't be brain damage to both bodies.

Ellen could taste electricity in her mouth. It reminded her of the smell of the rain on Caprica during a thunderstorm. Caprica…Caprica City…the bar where she first met Bill.

Saul was on shore leave. He said he had someone he wanted her to meet. When she first shook Bill's hand he seemed like a real drag. He seemed like he didn't approve of her.

"Dr. Le Blanc," Tawny called out by Laura's body, "Her blood oxygen level crashing fast!"

"Ellen!" Le Blanc shouted "Thirty seconds!"

Ellen shook her head trying to keep her train of thought.

Bill had been cold at first, but she didn't care. She smiled all night, cracked jokes and made sure that his drink was always full. By the time the three of them left the bar he was calling her sweetie.

A loud strained gasp came from Ellen's left side but she couldn't lose focus now.

It was Bill. He'd come to. Le Blanc placed the oxygen mask over his face and Saul rushed to his side.

"Dr. Le Blanc, we really need to intubate her!" Tawny yelled from the other side of the room.

Laura, Laura, Dammit, Ellen thought. Did she have to ruin this? Was she always such a stick in the mud? Mud...mud…New Caprica…before the Cylons took over. Ellen remembered. They were visiting from Galactica. She had gone out for a walk one night alone when she couldn't sleep. Saul had been snoring and she wasn't used to sleeping under a glorified tarp. On her walk she'd passed Laura's tent just as the other woman stepped outside for some air. Ellen had stopped, surprised to see her up at the odd hour. She'd noticed Bill's boots by the flap of the tent right away. He was down visiting the planet with them as he'd often done before the occupation. He always claimed that he was going in order to check on the progress of infrastructure, but she and Saul knew he was going to see Laura Roslin. Ellen had snickered at the sight of the man's shoes outside of the tent, cocked her head and smiled slyly at the former president turned school teacher.

'Make him stay after class and bang the erasers, did ya?' She'd teased.

To her surprise Laura chuckled and nodded.

"Something like that," She'd answered before Ellen winked at her and walked away.

It was as amicable an interaction as they'd ever had.

Another gasp to Ellen's right finally snapped her out of the zone.

"Got her!" Tawny shouted as she quickly grabbed the oxygen mask that Sydra held out for her and placed it over the woman's face.

Ellen rushed over to Laura's side when she saw that Saul was with Bill.

Katya watched in horror as both bodies heaved for air. When she heard the hoarse muffled grumblings coming from Bill's tub her horror intensified.

"Keep him still!" Le Blanc yelled as the man struggled to move in the tub.

Saul moved behind his friend's head and tried his best to hold his shoulders still in the fluid as Xao and Le Blanc attempted to take the man's vitals. Bill's hand came up from beneath slick substance and reached toward the mask that covered his mouth. He managed to pull it down and into the goo before Saul could stop him.

He choked out a string of strained noises that could have been words, but Saul couldn't be certain. The Colonel moved to where he was sure that Bill could see his face.

"BillBill, it's me, Saul. It's Saul Tigh. I know you're confused right now, Old Man, but you've gotta stay still. You're okay, you're alive and ya gotta trust me," Saul tried. When he attempted to place the mask back on to the terrified man's face an angry hand came back out from under cylon the fluid grabbing Saul's wrist and yanking it into the tub with a sudden force of rage. Saul's body was pulled forward and he and Bill were suddenly face to face. Bill's fist held the Colonel's arm with an unexpectedly powerful grip. The Old Man's eyes bulged and his teeth gritted.

"Laura…Where the frak, is Laura?" He hissed into Saul's very startled face.

Before Saul could answer a low strained voice came from the right.

"Bill?" Laura called out as loud as she could manage while she too struggled to pull off her own O2 mask. "Bill?" She tried again before starting to choke and cough on her words.

Her body was suddenly wracked with hacks and heaves as the fluid of the tub sloshed around her.

"Laura, keep still honey," Ellen tried to calm the startled women. "You have to try and take deep breaths."

She tried to hold Laura's shoulders steady as the slippery bottom of the tub proved a hazardous environment for an uncontrollable coughing fit.

The cylon solution spilled over the sides and on to the Med Ward floor as Laura's heaving made waves within the tub.

Upon hearing Laura's voice and her subsequent wheezing struggle for air Bill had become more erratic; fighting like hell to get his bearings and attempting to sit up within the tub. He had yet to let go of Saul's arm.

"Bill, Bill, she's okay, I promise you. Ellen's with her! Ya gotta let go, Bill so I can get you out of here and over to her," Saul tried to reason.

Bill just snarled in response tightening his grip around Saul's wrist.
The machines that were now monitoring their blood pressure and heart rates were sounding with alarm as they picked up on the panicked state of both bodies.

Dr. Le Blanc reached into the tub and tried to loosen the patient's hold on the Colonel. The fluid splashed as they al toiled beneath its surface. It was no use. The slick matter and its cloudy appearance made it hard for Le Blanc to see or maneuver. She didn't have enough strength in her hands. The older and smaller Dr. Xao was hardly in any physical shape to assist.

"Alexi!" Le Blanc called over to the Sergeant. "I need your help," The doctor shouted.

"Me?" The young marine asked in shock over the current display in front of him.

"I need you to try and get his hand off of Colonel Tigh!" She affirmed.

"You want me to put my hand in there?" He asked stunned and disgusted.

"Just get over here and do it Godsdammit!" Tigh yelled obviously straining in the position his old friend had him in.

Alexi left his terrified wife's side and rushed over. Kneeling beside the Colonel he winced and reluctantly plunged his arms into the tub. Amidst the splashing goo he did his best to locate the man's trapped wrist.

Rushing to move out of their way Dr. Le Blanc slipped on some of the cylon gel that now dangerously slicked the ward's floor. She collided with a nearby surgical tray which joined her on the ground with a clattering crash.

"Mom!" Margot yelled out as she rushed to help her mother.

Ellen badly wanted to go to her husband's side but she couldn't bring herself to leave Laura until her breathing was under control. The poor woman continued to cough and gasp for air and Ellen could do little other than attempt to comfort her as Tawny and Sydra worked to improve her breathing.

Katya felt like she was going insane. How could it be going so badly? Then again, what had she expected?

"That's it!" Xao yelled taking command of the room. "I'm sedating them!" He announced as he moved to retrieve a syringe pistol from the prep counter. "Do it, Tawny! Kuài yīdiǎn!" He called to his daughter who immediately went to work prepping her own instrument. "She won't be able to breathe if she can't calm down."

"But, they just woke up!" Le Blanc argued as she got back on her feet. "We can't just put them to sleep now," She tried to persuade; obviously distressed with the turn her project had taken.

"What good will it do you, Michelle, if they kill themselves before we can even get them out of the tubs?" Xao shot back at his colleague.

"Ellen?!"

Le Blanc looked to her in hopes of an ally but Ellen shook her head as she struggled to hold the oxygen mask over Laura's wheezing gasps.

"Mom, c'mon this is nuts!" Margot tried to convince her mother who was still shaking her head in either defiance or disbelief. "C'est de la folie! Please, Mom!"

"Do it!" Commander Kaplan's baritone broke through the chaos. The doctors all looked at him. "That's an order," He confirmed. "Go ahead, Major," He directed at Dr. Xao.

With that Xao leaned over Bill Adama putting the small pistol device to his neck and quickly injecting him. His patient's grip went lax before his eyes closed and he succumbed to a drug induced sleep. Only then were Saul and Alexi free of their slimy struggle.

Tawny followed with a shot to Laura's neck. The woman quieted and within moments her breathing took on a steady though still raspy rhythm.

The room calmed as the beeps and ticks of the monitors slowed and the shouting ceased.

Everyone stood in silence for a long moment as the situation sank in. No one seemed to want to speak first.

"Well, I think that went about as well as we could have expected," The Commander finally facetiously remarked.

"Holy shit," Blazer gawked earning him a few glares.

Margot left her mother for Katya's stunned side doing her best to support her friend's seemingly unsteady stance.

"Are you okay, Kat?" She asked as the other young woman just looked at her with wide horrified eyes.

"Look," Tawny began, hoping to appease the room, "It worked…That was awful…but it worked. They're back and from the looks of it they are both stable."

The doctor was right. Despite the ordeal that had followed it, Ellen Tigh had just successfully downloaded Laura Roslin's and Bill Adama's consciousness into their cloned bodies.

"I think what needs to happen now…" Tawny continued diplomatically, "…is for my staff to get them up and out of this…stuff, get them cleaned up and into some warm beds. My father and I can evaluate them more precisely once that's done. They will be asleep for a while with what we just gave them. It will give us all some time to clear our heads and…clean up," She finished looking around at her sticky surroundings.

"I agree, Doctor," The Commander affirmed. "This was not ideal but it was, for all that it's worth, a success."

"They were terrified," Saul barked to no one in particular as Alexi helped him off of his knees.

"But they're alive, Colonel," Kaplan asserted. "Now, I'm going back to the conference room to state just that and only that to everyone who is waiting to hear. Dr. Le Blanc, if you're up to it, I'd appreciate if you'd get cleaned up and make a follow up statement. I'll announce your impending arrival when I get there. Minimal details only," He added. "Lt. Bishop, if you'll join me," He motioned to Blaze who still stood mouth agape. "Sergeant Petrov, once the word is out we'll be in need of extra security. I'd like you to wash up, quick as possible and alert your platoon."

"Yes, Sir," Alexi firmly replied.

"Colonel and Mrs. Tigh," Kaplan continued. "I trust you'll stay close by in case they come to. I suggest you both take this time to consider a plan for their second…awakening."

Ellen and Saul each meagerly nodded at Kaplan's suggestion.

With a curt nod the Commander turned on his heels and left followed by Blazer.

Once Tawny grouped with her father and Dr. Le Blanc to go over a plan for the extraction and evaluation the support staff went to work cleaning the mess.

Ellen was finally able to join her husband's side. She forcefully embraced him letting out a few quiet sobs into his shoulder.

"You did it Elle," Saul said rubbing her back with his still coated hands and forearms.

"Oh Saul, that was a disaster," She cried into his tunic.

"It would have been a disaster if it hadn't worked. It did. You said you would do it and you did. We'll figure out the rest later," He assured, kissing the top of her head.

As he kissed his wife he peered over to where Katya was standing. Alexi had gone to her and Margot still stood close by seemingly supporting half of her friend's weight.

"Dammit," Saul mumbled into Ellen's hair.

"What?"

"Maybe we shouldn't have made her come after all," He said looking over at the distraught young woman.

Ellen turned to see Margot and Alexi fussing over Katya who looked like she was about to snap like a twig. She quickly made her way over to the three officers. Saul followed.

"Katya, sweetie," Ellen said reaching out to take her hand but Katya snatched it away.

"You didn't tell me it would be like this!" The younger woman seethed in reaction.

Ellen was slightly startled by the anger in her voice but she didn't blame her.

"Baby, we couldn't have known," Ellen tried to explain.

"Don't baby me, Aunt Ellen," She spit back in tears. "Those poor people don't know where the hell they are, or what the hell they are! They were terrified," She cried.

"Katya, come on now," Saul started. "That's not Ellen's fault. It's no one's fault. We couldn't predict…"

"Couldn't predict?! Eto prosto pizdets!" She swore in frustration.

"Katya, stoy havatit!" Alexi scolded grabbing her arm but she tore it away from him.

"I need to get the hell out of here," She said shaking her head and rushing off out of the ward.

"Katya wait! Kitten, come back!" Ellen called after her.

Her heart hurt for the poor girl. She hated to see her so upset.

"Let her go, Ellen," Saul sighed, taking her hand.

Ellen blinked back tears.

"Now what?" Alexi asked in frustration. "I can't go after her. I need to report to duty."

"You just…go on, son," Saul said, still looking at the hatch Katya had just run through. "Just let her be for now. She'll be alright...eventually."

Alexi nodded and reluctantly left to get to work.

"I can go after her," Margot offered. "Unless there's some kind of communications emergency on Delta I'm here until my mom decides to head back…which by the looks of it won't be for a while."

"Maybe that's a good idea," Ellen said wiping at her eyes. "Saul and I need to stay close by in case they wake up and I have a feeling we would just upset her anyway. I don't want her to be on her own,"

"Maybe she needs to be alone Ellen," Saul glowered. "The girl's gotta toughen up. This is just the beginning."

"Toughen up?" Ellen balked. "Saul, the poor girl has grown up knowing that she was the product of and ill advised and failed experiment. She overcame it and forged on. She watched the only father she ever knew die a horrible death and she coped and accepted us as her parents. Now she goes to work, flies around inner Orbit into frakking combat zones, gets shot at half the time and then comes home and asks me 'what's for dinner?' like its no big deal. How much more do you want her to toughen up? I think she's more than entitled to react to what she's just witnessed," Ellen defended.

It wasn't as if she hadn't been hurt by the direction of Katya's anger, she just knew Katya was hurting more.

"Well she didn't have to take it out on you," Saul scowled

"She didn't mean it, Colonel," Margot offered. She understood what was going on in Katya's mind better than anyone else there possibly could. After witnessing what had just transpired any glimmer of anticipation that Margot held over her own parents' download was now extinguished.

Overhearing the less than subtle family dysfunction Dr. Le Blanc made her way over to where the Tighs and her daughter were huddled.

"May I offer a suggestion?" She interrupted.

"Not if you're going to criticize my parenting skills," Saul answered.

Dr. Le Blanc ignored him and smiled at her daughter.

"Margot, perhaps once you find Katya and she's calmed a bit you can take her to the quarters that have been set up for our new guests," The doctor proposed.

Saul almost interjected with another snide remark. These weren't their guest, he internally fumed. These were their saviors and there was nothing new about them. To add to it all they were, at least for the time being, there against their will. Guests hardly described them but he held is tongue.

"I know that Katya and the Tighs have worked hard to make sure that the cabin is ready for them. Maybe Katya would like to give it a once over and add some finishing touches? It might be a good way to remind her that this bump in the road will pass," The doctor suggested.

"That's not a bad idea, Mom," Margot nodded.

She supposed that maybe it would do them both some good to picture Roslin and Adama eventually living aboard willingly and comfortably.

"Good then," Her mother smiled. "Katya has clearance to the cabin on her station cuff, I assume?" She asked the Tighs.

Ellen nodded.

"We will message you girls if anything changes," The doctor added. "For now just see if you can't get her to cool down," She encouraged her daughter.

"Yes, Ma'am," The young woman answered trying to sound confident in her given task.

Dr. Le Blanc smiled at her daughter.

"You'll excuse me. I have to borrow some dry scrubs from the Xoas and change before I deal with awaiting crowd back in the conference room," She said as she turned to leave.

"Good luck, Mom," Margot bid her.

When she was gone Ellen let out a heavy sigh.

"I'm sorry, Margot," She said with a sad smile. "I'm sorry you had to see all of this. I'm just sorry, honey."

"It's okay, Elle. We'll be...fine. Kat will be fine. I'm just gunna hustle and try to catch up to her if that's okay?"
Ellen nodded.

"Good luck to you, Specialist," Saul added with a hint of cynicism.

"And good luck to you, Colonel," Margot said earnestly looking at him and then back to the people who now rested soundly in the tubs behind them.P

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C, MILITARY LATRINE 4

YEAR: 2315

Margot quickly caught up with Katya. She'd found her in the nearest latrine splashing water on her face. She'd offered the other woman a hug and they both cried softly for a moment, ignoring any others who came in and out.

"Katya," Margot started and she gently rubbed at her friend's back, "I won't tell you that everything is going to be okay, partially because I know you're damn sick of hearing it, but mostly because I don't know that it will be," She said honestly. "No one does. And I think you are perfectly entitled to freak out. I sure as hell would have flipped had that been my turn, and now…now I'm dreading my turn," She admitted.

Katya pulled away and turned to look into the mirror above the sink.

"I'm sensing a 'but', coming Margot," Katya dead panned.

Margot smirked and nodded.

"But…I will tell you that I know that we don't have much choice other than to just press on. Maybe that sounds harsh but there is no way out of this for us, Katya. We have been entrenched in this madness since before we were born. And yes, that makes me angry. It makes me angry all the fucking time but what can we do? We can try to run and hide and take our frustrations out on the people that care about us, or we can confront this and accept it, and continue to do our best to help. Even if this does nothing for us personally but cause us grief, we need to at least remember that it's all for a greater purpose...and Katya…you know that's all we were ever really meant to serve," Margot said with a shrug.

"Damn, this is the shittiest pep talk ever, Margot." Katya jested with a roll of her eyes.

Margot sighed as she went to the sink and turned the water on full blast.

"I'm not trying to pep you up, Katya," She said as she began to wash her hands. "I'm only encouraging you to keep doing what you have been doing your entire life," Margot explained before shutting off the water, running her damp hands through her hair and then wiping them on her slacks. "Now let's go. You and I are supposed to go and finish prepping their quarters."

"What?" Katya scowled. "No. I don't want to go there right now. Who the hell told you we needed to do that?"

"The Colonel, Ellen, my mother, who else? C'mon, Kat. Let's just go. This is what I'm talking about. So, okay right now your birth parents are in a drug induced sleep due to their hellacious reaction to the download. We can't do shit about that. On the other hand, it's very likely that they will wake up and eventually need a place to stay, right? If we can do anything to make that part easier for them and for everyone involved well, then that's what we should do. Now, I'm going. Your station cuff has clearance to get in and since I'm taking your arm with me, I suggest the rest of you come along with it," Margot said with a smile.

Katya let out an exasperated huff.

"I guess there are some crates of clothes we can put away," She surrendered.

"Wonderful," Margot said playfully tugging at her friend's wrist.

They left the latrine and headed for the cabin.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

MED WARD

YEAR: 2315

Xao and Tawny finally had their patients sleeping comfortably in ward beds. Centurions from the basestar had come to collect the resurrection tubs quickly and the Xaos were glad to be rid of them. Roslin and Adama had been cleaned of any leftover Cylon residue and cleared of any lasting physical damage. Things had become calm enough for both doctors to attend to other minimal tasks within the clinic.

Le Blanc had yet to return from the conference room so Saul and Ellen sat by the beds themselves in waiting silence. They had only been able to towel off from the tumultuous download and they sat in the sterile cold of the clinic uncomfortably chilly and sticky. The curtain had been drawn closed in the area they were in allowing for some sense of privacy. Ellen sat perched by Laura's feet while Saul occupied a chair between the two beds. He looked back and forth at both of their faces and frowned.

"You know Ellen, now looking at them, I don't know that we aged them enough," He proposed.

Ellen shrugged.

"I think they look fine."

"I dunno," Saul countered. "Bill looks alright...close enough at least. I think you missed the mark on Laura."

"I did not."

"I think you're off a good five years."

"She's fine," Ellen argued as she assessed Laura's appearance. "Besides their age is relative. Looks close enough to me."

"I guess," Saul said with a sigh.

"You know, Saul, we had to take their lives before into account," Ellen began to justify. "I mean, their new bodies have been mostly inanimate since their creation. These bodies haven't seen a day's work or dealt with any stress. They haven't ever fought in a war or gotten sick. It's natural…well...I mean it's logical that these bodies would appear less weathered, have fewer lines, no scars. I don't think we are off by much. Besides, I doubt they'll mind," She said rolling her eyes.

Sydra walked through the curtain holding two small foil packages in one hand and a programmer in the other. She hesitated to speak as neither Saul nor Ellen seemed to notice that she had entered. She cleared her throat, finally gaining their attention.

"I have their station cuffs. Is this bad time? I'm supposed to get the programmer back to Network Control by seventeen hundred. Plus I should get back to the lab," She said holding up the contents of her hand.

"Go right on ahead, Doctor," Saul instructed. "Better do it now before they wake up. If I know Bill Adama, asking him to agree to wear one would be asking for a fight," He said as the doctor nodded and opened the first vacuum sealed pack.

As Sydra worked by Bill's side, locking the cuff around his wrist and activating it with the programmer Saul watched on. His friend looked different. He looked more polished, not as hard. He had seen the body plenty of times in stasis but somehow Saul had figured that whatever character that had been missing from Bill's face would return when he did. When Sydra moved to fit Laura for her cuff Saul's eyes followed looking over at the sleeping woman. He had always thought she was good looking, especially when her mouth was shut and she wasn't busy bossing the Admiral around. Now she was missing some of the little creases around her eyes. Her frown lines were softer than he remembered Her skin was brighter too. She looked rested. Ellen probably hadn't been as far of the mark with her ageing as he'd implied, but something else was different. Saul thought for a moment. He wondered if he could really remember what Laura had looked like at a time when she wasn't sick, in pain and fighting through it. New Caprica came to mind but even then, they were all malnourished, exhausted and afraid. He considered that perhaps he was just seeing Laura Roslin healthy for the first time.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

The cabin was similar to Saul and Ellen's but it was missing the extra bedroom. It looked more like the quarters that Katya and Alexi had recently been assigned. It was the type of assignment that married officers without children were given; big enough for two, small enough to go crazy. The living space was sparsely furnished with a sofa, a narrow coffee table, a desk and chair. The wall facing the sofa had screen capabilities for access to the network or any data display. The only head was back in the bedroom. There was a small kitchenette that was more like a glorified wet bar with a tiny dinner table and two seats. In-cabin meal preparation was discouraged on all stations even for civilians.

The bedroom was toward the back of the cabin and its rack was fit for two. Margot was busily fitting it with clean sheets and blankets. Opposite of the bed stood a wardrobe. Katya sat on the floor in front of it folding clothes from a bin and placing them neatly into the drawers.

After the last blanket was tucked in on the bed Margot flopped herself onto the mattress and stretched out on top of it.

"Hmmph. I wish my rack was half as nice as this. I'm sick of Delta's officer's quarters," She complained, snuggling her face against a pillow.

"You could move back in with your mother," Katya suggested as she folded a blouse.

"Pass," Margot said with a roll of her eyes.

"You could get married, and get assigned a real cabin," Katya dryly suggested.

"Double pass," Margot announced emphatically. She nuzzled the new sheets as she watched Katya go about her folding. "Where did you get all those clothes anyway?" She asked.

Katya shrugged.

"Some are Ellen's, some are mine. Things we thought might fit her," She said as she folded another of Laura's new sweaters. "The rest I had printed new. I took their measurements the last time they were out of stasis for chamber maintenance. None of Uncle Saul's or Alexi's things would have fit Adama so most of his things are new. You know, Aunt Ellen told me that during their trip to Earth there really weren't any 3D printers or Bio Printers available on the ships. She said she spent like three years wearing the same four outfits over and over and cosmetics just ran out of existence. I mean I sure as hell wouldn't care. If we're not in uniform we're in tanks and sweats, but for civvies I guess it would suck," Katya explained.

"Sure would," Margot agreed.
Despite her outward apprehension of the download Katya had made a great effort in helping Saul and Ellen make sure there was a home waiting for Bill and Laura aboard Alpha Station. She had spent the last few months collecting clothes and shoes. She put her own credits toward ordering cosmetics and other toiletries from the civilian labs; things she knew the pair had gone without for the last years of their lives. Alexi had been recruited to rearrange the minimal furniture twice over and Katya even took it upon herself to purchase and display some artwork to give the cabin some character. It had become her little pet project. She'd been dreading their arrival and yet simultaneously planning for every detail of it.
"I have this pile left. The stuff in the head is already put away," Katya said as she worked.

"Wow, you really did go out of your way to get things ready didn't you?" Margot sounded both impressed and surprised. "And here I was getting on your ass. I haven't done anything like this yet. Should I be? I mean I honestly didn't even think about it," She considered, leaning up on her elbows.

"I'm sure your Mom's staff will probably prepare quarters for Sam and D'Anna," Katya suggested while rolling a pair of mens socks.

"I guess," Margot said with a sigh. "I mean my mom never even suggested that I help with any of that and it just never occurred to me to ask about where they were going to stay and what they were going to need." She paused and bit her lip in thought. "Does that make me an asshole?" She asked, only half kidding.

Katya smiled and shook her head.

"No Margot. You're not an asshole. You're the last person I would ever call an asshole. I bet you Blazer hasn't done anything like this either," Katya assured her.

"Did you just try and convince me that I haven't been an asshole by comparing me to Blazer?" Margot feigned a look of confusion before both girls broke into laughter.

"Look," Katya began, "I think it's just because…your Mom didn't know them. I mean, they're her whole life's work, they're everything to her…besides you," Katya added, "But she never knew who Sam or D'Anna once were so she's fine with whatever basic necessities are provided for them by her capable staff. Ellen and Saul, they knew Bill and Laura. For Uncle Saul, Bill Adama was like family. He wanted us to prepare their quarters ourselves because he and Elle just have a better idea of what they might want or need and they want to provide it for them. The Tighs have spoken so much about them over the years I grew up feeling like I knew them too in some way," Katya explained.

"I'm not sure if that makes me feel better or worse. I wouldn't know where to start and I have no one to ask," Margot said sitting up on the rack.

"If it makes you feel better maybe you can get a little something for each of them. Ask Uncle Saul. He didn't know D'Anna that well but he might have a suggestion about Anders. Anyways, I don't know how you're concerned about that when you've just witnessed the type of psychotic breakdown they are likely to suffer once they download," Katya said shoving a sweater into a drawer and slamming it shut.

"Katya, you don't know that they had a psychotic breakdown and you don't know that will happen with the others. We just have to wait and see," Margot replied swinging her long legs off of the bed. "Besides, what happened in Med Ward was kind of… romantic, in way," She added.

"Romantic?! What show were you watching?" Katya balked, looking at her friend as if she were insane.

"Yeah, romantic," Margot nodded. "He woke up searching for her. She woke up calling his name. They were so utterly desperate to find each other. I mean, wherever they were, that place where Ellen said our souls go, they must have been so completely entwined there, that to wake up and feel that the other was missing was just too much to bear," She said dreamily. "I want a love like that."

"Get real! He woke up enraged. She woke up choking and terrified. They were going nuts! That's all that happened," Katya responded.

"Well, that's not all that I saw happen. Wouldn't you feel like that if you were taken away from Alexi?" Margot posed.

Katya rolled her eyes.

"Ugh! Never mind!" Margot said feigning disgust. "You and Lex are worse than a couple of bots," The blonde scoffed. "You really were made for each other," She mocked as she stood up to pace around the small room.

On top of the wardrobe Margot saw two white rectangular items. They were strange and looked a little out of place. Picking one up she noticed that it wasn't a solid block as it had first seemed to be.

"Kat, what is this? I've never seen so much paper!" She said thumbing the unusual stack of bound pages and fanning them in her face.

"It's a book," Katya replied looking up from where she sat on the floor.

Margot looked perplexed.

"I mean...I guess I know it's a book. I'm not sure I've ever seen one in person though," She said flipping through the papers.

"I hadn't either but I got two of them printed."

"Why?" Margot asked putting one bound stack down and picking up the other.

"Because they liked to read," Katya answered as she stood up to take the book from her friend and place it back on the dresser.

"So what? So do you, but every novel, story or journal known to man is available on the network. Who would want a big stack of paper?" Margot asked picking one of them back up and opening it down the center. "It smells weird," She said crinkling her nose.

Katya possessively grabbed it again and then put it back in place.

"I know," She said with a frown. "I think it's the ink. And I did it because this is how they used to read. I guess it was something they had in common that they liked to share and the Admiral had lots of books in his quarters. I thought maybe they would at least like to have one or two stories the way they used to. Uncle Saul said the Admiral liked mysteries but he didn't know what kind she liked so I just had two printed that I thought they might enjoy…It's stupid, I know. They can't even function without freaking out right now. I'm not sure why I thought they would be kicking back and reading. I don't know what I was thinking," Katya said staring at the two plain texts.

"Aw, Katya that's sweet," Margot said with a saccharine smile, though she did mean it.

"Shut up, Margot."

"No, it is. It's so cute. You are a softie after all aren't you?" Margot teased leaning in to give her friend a hug which Katya stubbornly turned away from.

"Stop, Margot," Katya warned trying not to smile.

"C'mere, mon petit chaton," Margot teased grabbing on to Katya and hugging her against her will. "Meow, meow, Koshka"

"Get off me," Katya playfully whined.

Just then both women felt their station cuffs vibrate creating a simultaneous buzzing sound in the room.

Margot froze and Katya stilled within her arms. They had spent their time in the cabin with an unspoken suspense in the air. Both had anticipated being summoned back to the ward eventually but neither knew when they might get news on the status of their would-be-saviors.

"I don't want to look," Katya winced.

Margot took a deep breath and let her friend out of the frozen hug.

"I'll do it," Margot offered.

Katya bit her tongue hard as she waited.

"Looks like the Tighs want you back in Med Ward," Margot announced as she read the small message that projected over her wrist.

"What? Why?" Katya grimaced.

"Because," Her friend said as she continued to read the note, "They still have that sticky shit all over them and they want you to bring clean clothes," She finished with a grin.

Katya's relief only lasted for a moment. She really wasn't ready to go back.

"I'm a trained pilot and they have me acting like a pack mule," She complained.

"Well you're on leave this week, Captain. You're not a pilot right now. And remember what I said; we only live to serve," Margot shrugged.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

Med Ward

YEAR: 2315

Before Bill fully awoke he felt a burning pain deep within his throat. The pain was how he knew he was alive.

Saul and Ellen had been sitting there for what felt like forever. At some point Ellen had switched to a chair beside Laura's bed. Soon after in her exhaustion, she had leaned forward and rested her head on the ward mattress and nodded off. Saul stayed seated by Bill's side but didn't sleep. He couldn't. He was too busy going over how to approach them when they woke up. Xao had at least assured them that a repeat performance of the day's earlier turmoil was unlikely. The sedation they were given would leave them relatively placated even after they woke up, at least for a while.

Saul felt awful about how the download had gone. Bill had been truly frightened and it had come out in the form of rage. Whether it was from his confusion and concern about Laura, or because he had just been forcefully dragged into the world of the living, Saul didn't know. He just knew that he felt guilty and he understood now that Katya's reaction had probably stemmed from guilt as well as fear. They were doing this for the future of so many souls, but right now it seemed like the two souls within the ward beds would suffer for that future and it just wasn't fair. They had after all, already lived a life devoted to the salvation of others. Now they would be asked to do it again and Saul knew he would be the one to have to convince them that it was their fate. He wondered how he would be able to explain why they should bother to help a world and a people they never really lived to know. For once he thought he might be grateful to hold Katya's identity in his back pocket. If they wouldn't do it for an entire race of people, maybe they would do it for the sake of their daughter.

Lost in thought Saul was surprised when he looked up and saw Bill's heavy eyes blinking. Saul leaned over to nudge Ellen awake. She sat up in alarm and he quickly put a finger to his lips directing her to keep silent as he motioned toward Bill. Ellen quickly realized that Bill was awake. She could see his eyes moving and his breathing had become less patterned.

"Go," She whispered encouraging Saul to move closer.

Saul rose slowly and quietly made his way to the opposite side of the bed so that he could talk to Bill but still easily look to Ellen for encouragement. Stepping closer he looked down upon the face of his old friend. Bill Adama, the Old Man.

Bill stared back. For a moment Saul couldn't help but smirk as he saw the unmistakable ultramarine blue of Bill's eyes. For so many years he had seen them when he looked at Katya. When she was little he'd called them her 'Adama Blues'. She'd always gotten a kick out of it. He'd tell her that she had two brothers long ago who had them as well, that it was a family trait. It had been so long since Saul had seen them on anyone but her. In this existence at least, they had been uniquely Katya's. It was almost funny to see them on somebody else.

Saul looked back at Ellen and she nodded silently prompting him to say something.

Letting out a deep breath Saul made sure that he had Bill's attention and spoke in a low voice.

"Don't speak," He instructed the other man. "You had a tube down your throat most of the day and you already strained your voice but good," He went on. "The soreness and burning will go away in a day or so as long as you don't push it," He explained. "Now, I want to talk to you for a moment, and I want you to do your best to nod if you understand. Got it?" Saul asked.

Bill's jaw tensed but after a pause he nodded slowly. Saul glanced to Ellen to see her reaction. She motioned for him to keep going.

"Do you know who you are?" Saul tested.

Bill nodded.

"Do you know who I am?" Saul asked, fearing the answer.

Bill took a deep breath and nodded slowly. Saul couldn't help the smile that came to his face.

"That's good," He said grinning at the Admiral. "I'm glad of that. Very glad. Now I know you don't know where you are. I'm going to help you with that soon, Bill. But…" Saul hesitated, "Bill, you understand that you're alive?"

Bill closed his eyes for a moment. He was confused. He knew that he was alive now, but he also knew that he hadn't been before, not for a while. He remembered dying and then he remembered a peaceful state of existence; somewhere he knew very well yet couldn't recall the details of. The more he tried to remember the further it got from him. Only the knowledge that he had been happy there was for certain. He opened his eyes to see Saul awaiting his answer and he nodded.

"Alright," Saul affirmed. "And you know that before today…"

Bill nodded with a low groan before he could finish.

"Well, we're ahead of the game after all," Saul tried to muse.

Bill took another deep breath that stung his lungs. He swallowed painfully before he spoke.

"Laura," He whispered.

Saul didn't bother to admonish him for attempting to talk softly.

"She's here too, Bill. She's right here, over to your left. Ellen's been sitting with her all day," Saul assured.

Bill did his best to move his still stiff neck to glance toward his left side but it was a struggle.

"I'm going to get you over to her in just a second, Bill I promise," Saul affirmed.

Bill couldn't quite turn his neck to see her. He was stiff. His body felt strange. It didn't feel sick or weak as he last remembered it being. It just felt tense and unfamiliar. Frustrated that he couldn't move to see Laura, his eyes shot back to Saul. Ellen got up to move closer but Saul put out a hand to halt her for the time being.

"Don't worry, Old Man, I'll get you to her. She's perfectly healthy and so are you for that matter," Saul informed him.

Bill grunted in frustration and Saul watched as he seemed to ponder something.

"Family?" He mouthed.

"No, Bill. The boys aren't here," Saul answered. "It's just you and Laura, for now."

Bill wasn't sure if he was any less confused than when he had first woken. Wherever he had been before, he knew his family had been with him in some way. His heart sunk to know that was no longer the case.

"Where?" Bill rasped looking around the room for emphasis.

Saul looked at Ellen and she nodded.

"You remember getting to that last planet, don't you, Bill? On Galactica? The blue one with all the wildlife, the one we called Earth?" Saul posed.

Bill nodded again.

"Well right now we are orbiting that planet."

Saul stopped himself before he got into too many details. He wasn't sure how much information Bill could take at the moment.

Bill winced looking at Saul in frustration and shook his head.

"Why?" He whispered looking somewhat desperate.

Saul felt for his friend. He'd always known that explaining Bill's new reality was going to be tough. HeMd had years and years to plan and still it was a struggle.

"Well, Bill that's not an easy question to answer," Saul said rubbing his chin, "I'm going to answer it for you the best that I can soon, but for now…now I'll just tell you that, well, we need your help."

Saul and Ellen didn't want to bombard Bill with too many more questions and they knew calling Le Blanc back in to Med Ward so soon would be a bit much. They wanted to pace Bill's interaction with new people as much as possible. Still, they knew they needed to call Tawny or Xao in to examine him. The father and daughter team were far more gentile in their bedside manner than Le Blanc and her lab staff. They would help make sure that Bill was close by Laura when she woke up.

Once Saul had given Bill a few minutes to process what he had just explained he decided to try an interaction with Ellen.

"Bill," Saul started, getting his groggy friend's attention. "You remember Ellen, my wife, don't you?"

Bill rolled his eyes, showing a glimpse of minimal humor. Saul laughed.

"Yeah, that's my Ellen," He said waving her over. "She's here and she wants to say hello. Is that alright?"

Bill nodded and Ellen made her way to Saul's side. Bill looked up at her and she smiled and let her tears fall. She reached for his hand and held it gently.

"Oh, Bill, it's so good to see you," Ellen said as she wiped her eyes."We've missed you so much."

Bill's eyes softened at her reaction. Despite her faults they'd been friends once.

"Bill, I want to take you over to Laura," Ellen started. "She's still sleeping and I think it would be best if you were with her when she woke up. Don't you agree?"

Bill nodded as emphatically as his stiff neck would allow. He could see Laura beside him only if he strained, and even then it was from the corner of his eye. He had to make sure that it was really her.

"I know things seem strange now," Saul interjected. "And I'm sure that you are probably overwhelmed, but I'm asking you to put your trust in Ellen and me, at least for right now. Can you do that Bill?"

Bill had never had a reason not to trust Saul Tigh. He hoped that he could trust him now, wherever they were. And besides, what choice did he have? He nodded to both of them.

"Thank you Bill, that means a lot to me, to Ellen too," Saul told him. "I want to bring in two people. Doctors. They are friends of ours. Just to do a quick exam and maybe check that throat of yours. I think with their help we can get your bed situated closer to Laura's and then we can talk while we wait for her to wake up," Saul proposed.

"How's that sound?" Ellen smiled.

If it meant he would get to Laura sooner, Bill was all for it. He agreed and Ellen left to quietly alert the Xaos.

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

MED WARD

YEAR: 2315

When Ellen first brought in the doctors Saul had done his best to keep Bill calm.

"Bill, this is Dr. Ning Xao and is daughter Dr. Tawny Xao," He introduced.

The younger doctor placed her gentle hand on Bill's arm and smiled. "Dr. Xao, is my father, Tawny is just fine for future reference and I just want to say ,Sir, that it's an honor to meet you," Tawny said with a look in her eyes that confused Bill almost as much as what she had said. She obviously knew who he was, but what the great honor was he couldn't be sure. He did his best to nod pleasantly. All he wanted to do was get to Laura.

"It certainly is a pleasure to have you with us," The senior Dr. Xao confirmed. "Do you mind?" He'd asked Bill," Taking a digital stethoscope-like device to the man's chest. Bill hadn't bothered to answer.

After checking the monitor's display Xao seemed satisfied and excused himself promising to return. "My daughter will take it from here, but I'll be in to check on you shortly."

As Xao left the curtain Ellen followed him.

"What do ya say Bill?" Saul encouraged as Tawny smiled warmly by his side. "Why don't ya let the pretty young doctor put her hands on ya before Laura wakes up?" He tried to tease earning a grimace from Bill and an eye roll from Tawny.

"I promise this will only take a moment, Sir," Tawny added. "And if you'd like I can give you something for that sore throat?" She offered sweetly. Bill agreed without protest.

When Saul heard some muffled mumblings behind the curtain he excused himself and promised he would be back just as soon as the doctor was through. Beyond the curtain Saul found Xao and Ellen arguing in whispered tones.

"What's going on?" He asked.

"Oh, Saul, will you please tell the doctor not to call Michelle Le Blanc just yet? I'm trying to explain to him that we have to do our best not agitate them. Besides, Laura's not even awake yet," Ellen said in an exasperated but hushed voice.

"Mrs. Tigh, you more than anyone should understand the work Dr. Le Blanc has put into this. She should be alerted," Xao argued.

"Now, listen here Doc," Saul started in, "You saw just as we all did what went on earlier. You were the one that finally put a stop to it. You can't tell me that you don't believe their mental status is paramount," He said appealing to the doctor's sensibility.

"Certainly it is, but as head of this project Michelle deserves to be alerted of any changes," Xao defended his colleague's position.

"Doctor, I agree, but you know her," Ellen appealed. "She's very…determined, very eager. This is a very delicate situation and Saul and I have thought about this a lot since the download. We don't want anyone else in the room when Laura Roslin wakes up. Please believe me that it's best. We need the same time with her that we had with Mr. Adama. Please, Doctor Xao?"

Xao looked skeptical. His bedside manner and training told him that the Tighs were right but his sense of duty to the project and to his only remaining partner told him otherwise. He stared Saul down, or up, in his case, maintaining a stern unwavering appearance as he internally debated is options.

"Major, if I have to get a military order from Kaplan himself I'll do it," Saul affirmed. "Please remember that these are people in there and that they aren't your experiments any longer."

Xao was somewhat insulted by Saul's threat of going above his head but in the end his common sense and compassion had won out. He knew his daughter would be on the Tigh's side and he would have to take up with her as well if he went against their wishes. Michelle Le Blanc had been exhausted after the arduous day. After her announcement and the following question and answer period the commander had offered her a place to relax in visitor's quarters. She had taken him up on the gesture intending to rest for a while. She messaged Dr. Xao with explicit instructions to alert her of any changes. Xao would let her rest just a little bit longer, he rationalized.

"When I hear that the woman is awake," Dr. Xao started, "Dr. Le Blanc will be notified," He said turning to walk away.

It was a small victory, but they'd take it.

"Thank you, Dr. Xao," Ellen called back.

The doctor didn't turn around. "I'll send a medic in to arrange the beds for your friend," Xao said with his back toward them as he walked across the ward to his office. A short time after, Bill's bed was moved up against Laura's and their monitors were adjusted to fit around them. Tawny had a medic take the rails off of both beds and raise Bill up into a sitting position. Now he was able to reach Laura's hand and see her face as she slept. The Tighs sat close by watching the pair and waiting for Laura to wake.

Tawny had explained that her respiratory spasm had probably taken a lot out of her and it was most likely the cause for her prolonged sleep.

Ellen was shivering in the cold clinic. She hadn't expected Katya to answer their request for some dry clothes but she'd asked Saul to give it a shot and message her and Margot anyway. Now that Bill was awake she was considering going to their quarters to fetch some herself but she hesitated to leave Saul. If Laura woke up he'd be dealing with the two of them alone.

At first Bill just stroked the top of Laura's hand and watched her sleep. He was relieved to be next to her, to see and feel that she was truly with him. He was concerned about what he would say to her when she woke up. There was so much he didn't know.

Looking at Saul and Ellen Bill gestured toward himself and Laura. "How?" He asked with a perturbed scowl. The Tighs looked at each other as if they both figured the other would have the answer. They both looked back at Bill and he winced.

"Cylon?" Bill asked with fear in his eyes.

Saul couldn't help but break into a low chuckle. "No Bill, no you're not a Cylon. Sorry, Old Man, you're still not in the club," He joked. Saul saw the stern look on Bill's face and cleared his throat regaining a more serious expression. "But that is how we brought you back, Bill, how Ellen brought you back that is. Cylon technology. You remember it don't you Bill? How Cylons could download into new bodies? Well it's sort of like that, only we didn't use a resurrection ship. Ellen just found a way to tap into…well, the biggest resurrection ship of all I suppose you could call it."

Saul almost immediately regretted the amount of information he had just given Bill. How was the poor man supposed to process all of that? Saul was scrambled for a way to back track. He needed something to say to ease the blow of his last explanation but Bill spoke before he could manage to come up with anything good enough.

"Bodies?" Was all that Bill said in return.

Saul looked to Ellen and this time and she took a turn.

"Well Bill, we had to make you a new one," She tried to explain lightly. "Your body was cloned. It was made using your own DNA. It's exactly the same as the one you had before. Laura's too. It's just that you weren't occupying it until today when we downloaded your consciousness into it…and here you are," She added with a short lived smile. She hoped he had understood at least some of what she had just said. They had cloning in the Twelve Colonies but human cloning had been banned for years before the exodus. It had never reached the level of advancement that it had on Earth.

Bill was stunned. He was overwhelmed and the pain in his throat started to intensify as he held back frustrated tears. His instinct was to lash out in anger but he knew that he had to stay calm and get as much information as possible before Laura woke up. He went over what he knew so far in attempt to make some sense of it all. Saul had said they were orbiting Earth, second Earth, the planet where he and Laura had lead their people and taken their last breaths. He knew that they were alive and he knew Ellen Tigh and her Cylon technology had made that happen. And now he knew that the bodies they were in were not the ones they had before. How could they be? They had both died in those bodies; her's ravaged from disease and his surrendered to the elements in grief. These bodies were new. He looked over at Laura. It looked like her original body. She was beautiful and she looked healthier and more serene than he had ever seen her, maybe a tad younger too. But how was this possible? He remembered the decision to abandon Colonial technology. He knew his ship and his fleet along with any modern conveniences had been sent into the sun. His people had started their new lives on the planet rather primitively. Bill scanned his surroundings. This clinic certainly didn't look like it belonged to Cylons. It was far less advanced and streamlined than the Cylon basestars he had encountered, yet it was far more advanced than anything Colonials had when they settled on the planet. Something wasn't adding up. With a sudden pit in his stomach a thought occurred to Bill. He looked up at Saul peering into the man's single eye.

"How long?" Bill husked.

Saul felt the blood drain from his face and he felt Ellen squeeze his arm. He knew Bill wanted to know how long he and Laura had been dead. He and Ellen both knew the answer was going to be near incomprehensible for him.

"How long?" Bill asked hoarsely and a little louder as the beeps of his heart monitor increased slightly in their succession.

"Well, Bill," Saul started, "I really don't want to throw numbers at you right now. What's important right now…"

"Tell me," Bill said through gritted teeth.

Ellen shook her head in surrender. "Just tell him Saul, he's getting upset anyway."

Saul took a deep breath.

"Well Old Man, you were gone for approximately 200,000 years."

Bill's eyes all but bugged out of his head. This was madness. He could hear his blood drumming in his ears and feel his heart pounding in his chest. What the hell was this?

Before he could truly begin to react he heard a soft noise beside him. Bill and Ellen had heard it too and they shot up out of their chairs. It was a small subtle hum that turned into a few halting coughs. Laura Roslin was waking up.

In the end it hadn't been as bad as Ellen had feared. It helped that Bill was beside Laura as she woke. Ellen supposed that waking up in the arms of the one you loved was probably the ideal way to go in this type of situation. Laura had been scared, groggy and beyond disoriented but after an initial bout of her sobbing into Bill's arms Saul and Ellen had eventually been able to assess her much as they had done with Bill. It was somewhat easier now that they had him to help. Ellen was grateful that he had been the first to wake up. She knew it would never have gone as well if the opposite had occurred. It was strange for Ellen to see Laura so rattled in the beginning. The woman had been known for her confidence and her steely will. In her time she had tossed men out of airlocks, spurred mutinies and all but led the Admiral around by his stones for four years straight as far as Ellen was concerned. But, her demeanor when she first woke on Alpha was different. It somewhat reminded Ellen of the time she had gone to see her in Galactica's brig. Laura had been delirious and out of her mind from withdrawals at that point. It was the most vulnerable that Ellen had ever seen her. Thankfully, despite Laura's initial reaction it hadn't taken the ex-president very long to compose herself with Bill's help. After the initial shock had started to subside Ellen felt better about Laura's state of mind. She and Saul had decided to give the other couple some time alone. They used that time to alert Tawny and soon brought her in to examine Laura. They excused themselves once more to allow the doctor to perform the exam. When Tawny exited the curtains she let the Tighs know that she'd now have to alert her father to the fact that Laura was awake and that he would mostly likely be calling for Dr. Le Blanc shortly. The Tighs weren't looking forward to Le Blanc's return but there wasn't much they could do.

When Saul and Ellen returned they sat beside the beds and did their best to answer Laura's questions one by one just as they had done with Bill.

Laura's eyes were rimmed red and her chest muscles ached from her earlier episode but her voice, though a gravely version of itself, was in surprisingly better shape than Bill's. Like Bill she couldn't exactly remember where she had been before, but she knew that she had been blissfully happy there. The longing to return was strong and even though she was with Bill she couldn't help but yearn to go back to wherever she had come from. It felt like waking up too early from a pleasant dream and no matter how hard she tried she couldn't get back to sleep.

"But your bodies weren't cloned," Laura had observed at one point, focusing in on Saul's eye patch. It was then that she'd noticed that her own vision was perfect without the aid of glasses.

"No you're right Laura," Ellen confirmed.

"Then how the hell are you two here?" Bill said as loudly as he could muster.

"Well, it's a long story…" Ellen started.

Katya had procrastinated enough. She had retrieved her aunt and uncle's clothes and was childishly taking her precious time getting to them. She had taken every complicated rout she could think of to Med Ward. She skipped tram ways and walked, she used stairs in place of elevators and she was generally going as slow as she could without tripping over her own feet. She even stopped in two different latrines. In one she actually used the head. In the other she'd just stopped in front of a mirror to let her hair down, justifying that a long day of having her heavy locks pinned up was adding to an already horrid headache. Somewhere along the walk from the Tigh's cabin to Med Ward Margot had left her side to find her mother in the visitor's quarters so Katya had made most of the trip alone. She hadn't heard from Saul or Ellen since they'd requested the dry clothing. She felt bad for letting them sit there in a chilly clinic covered in goo but it had taken her some time to find Saul's replacement tunic. Now she had finally run out of obstacles. She was at the Med Ward hatch and she supposed she should just drop the clothes off as quickly as possible and get home to wait for Alexi. She should apologize to Ellen too, she decided as she made her way through the hatch. She wondered if the Tighs would sleep in the ward tonight as they waited. Maybe she should have brought them something to eat, she considered as Tawny caught her attention.

Tawny waved and smiled from across the clinic when she saw Katya enter. The young doctor figured that the Tighs had called her to come down. It never occurred to her that she hadn't gotten the news yet. Distracted by a voice call on her station cuff Tawny didn't think to ask. Katya became irritated at Tawny's cheerful greeting. Where the hell was she finding the will to smile after the day they had all had? As Katya passed by Tawny covered her cuff to muffle her voice from whoever she was speaking to. .

"Right in there," She whispered gesturing toward the closed curtain.

Katya half nodded. She left the busy woman to her call and made her way toward the enclosure. She hesitated for only a second before opening the divider. She wasnt sure she was ready to see the bodies again. With a deep breath she urged herself to continue. She would just drop the clothes off, give Ellen a quick kiss on the cheek then get back to her quarters and inside her rack to end the miserable day.

"What I don't understand is why?" Laura posed.

"We're going to explain that to you soon," Ellen answered, "We just want you to rest for tonight,"

Before Laura could respond a voice came from behind the curtain.

"Uncle Saul, Aunt Ellen, I have your clothes," Katya called as she gripped the curtain and pulled it back. Her eyes were downcast on the bundle she held.

"Katya," Ellen said in surprise springing out of her seat.

The younger woman thumbed through the material folded in her arms.

"Sorry, Uncle Saul but I didn't iron your slacks. Why don't you ever hang up your damn…" Katya stopped in her tracks as she looked up from the contents of her hands. The neatly folded stack promptly fell to the floor as Katya's jaw did the same.

"Shit," Ellen said under hear breath as she stood rushing to the girl's side. Saul shot up out of his chair but stopped himself from rushing over as well.

Katya couldn't feel her face. In fact she couldn't feel anything. It was like an out of body experience, the irony of which was lost to her in the moment. The two bodies to which she owed her genetic makeup, the two bodies she had cared for all of her life, the ones she'd spent countless hours watching hang lifeless in laboratory tanks, were now very alive, very awake and they were staring right at her.

Ellen ignored the clothes that had fallen on the floor and put a protective arm around the stunned young woman. Saul cleared his throat which snapped Katya's eyes toward his but her mouth remained open.

"It's alright baby," Ellen whispered into her ear.

"Laura Roslin, William Adama, I'd like you to meet Captain Yekaterina Isakoff," Saul announced with forced confidence.

Katya's eyes widened as he said her name.

Saul continued, "She's..."

"She's ours," Ellen interrupted, finishing Saul's sentence.

Saul squinted at his wife.

"She's yours?" Bill rasped, looking to Saul, then to Ellen and finally back to the young woman who appeared as if she'd just seen a ghost.

"Yes," Ellen said with a smile as she hugged on to Katya even tighter. "She's…well, we adopted her years ago when she was just a little one, didn't we Saul?" Ellen said looking to her husband for confirmation.

Katya's mouth closed as she watched her uncle and awaited his answer.

"Yes, yes we did." Saul said clearing his throat and looking back at Bill. "As I was going to say, she's an Orbit Patrol Pilot for the station I've told you we're aboard, but Ellen's right she's also our little girl," He said with a small and somehow solemn smile.

For now, Saul thought, that had to be enough of the truth.

"Well, then, it's good to meet you Captain Isakoff," Bill said looking right at her with a nod.

"Katya," She corrected.

It was all she could manage to say. It was all that would come out.

"Katya," Laura repeated with a tentative smile as she looked into the girls eyes. There was something about them, Laura thought. They were striking and almost familiar.

The sound of her own name coming out of the woman's mouth sent a chill down Katya's spine and the way she was looking at her was making it even worse. This woman had unknowingly given birth to her over twenty years ago and Katya had been trying imagine her voice for almost as long. She'd even imagined the woman calling her name thousands and thousands of times but she'd never dreamed that actually hearing it would be so unsettling. She tried to make herself look away from Laura but she couldn't. She felt stuck.

Saul cleared his throat again. Like a beacon the familiar sound brought Katya back to attention. She shook her head trying to clear her mind.

"Sorry," She said quickly. "It's an honor, to meet both you of you," She managed to get out as her eyes began to well and her face surged with heat.

Voices suddenly sounded from behind the curtain interrupting the strange meeting.

"Why wasn't I informed?!" Dr. Le Blanc's voice came from somewhere in the ward.

"Michelle, calm yourself," Xao sounded after her.

"Dr. Le Blanc, you were resting and we made the decision to wait until they were both awake to message you," Tawny's voice followed.

"Mom, just settle down, We're here!" Margot followed.

Bill and Laura looked alarmed at the commotion. Saul and Ellen looked at one another as if bracing for another blow. Katya felt her knees starting to buckle.

"Don't tell me to settle down, Margot, and you either, Ning. Now where are my patients?" Le Blanc asked in frustration.

Before anyone could stop the doctor she pulled back the first drawn curtain she found only to have Katya collapse right at her feet.

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MULTIPURPOSE CABIN; MCC4

YEAR: 2315

Bill sat waiting in a small cabin at what looked like a rec-room card table. The cabin was almost empty except for it and a few other mismatched tables and chairs. The space seemed to be a catch-all for unneeded furniture. One of the walls in the room looked strange and he thought he saw it flicker a few times as he waited. The cabin didn't seem to be used much and Bill figured the privacy it offered was probably why Saul had his guard bring him to wait there.

A day and a half after they had woken up Laura was demanding to leave Med Ward. Bill wasn't surprised she didn't want to stay there and he really didn't blame her. Before she'd died she had spent far too many precious days in Sick Bay hooked up to IVs and monitors. As soon as it had started to sink in that she was really alive she'd started asking to leave. Shortly after that in her frustration she'd started threatening to just walk out. Though Bill had no idea where they would be going next, he had to agree with her. They weren't sick as far as they could tell. They were a little stiff and sore and exorbitantly confused but they wouldn't stay and be gawked at by what seemed to be a continuous parade of ultra-fascinated scientists and doctors. It seemed they were celebrities of sort aboard this so called space station. Saul and Ellen saw to their release as soon as they could. The staff was hesitant, especially the doctor they called Le Blanc. The thought of the woman made Bill wince even as he sat alone in the empty room. From the first time he had seen her bust through the curtain in the clinic she had rubbed him the wrong way. When she'd all but hopped over the poor girl who'd fainted at her feet just to get to his bedside he knew she would be trouble. With Saul and Ellen's attention momentarily elsewhere Le Blanc hit Bill and Laura and their attending medics with a rapid onslaught of questions and probing. Once the fallen young lady had been taken care of and moved behind her own curtain Saul returned and quickly put an end to the medical skirmish. It had taken them each another sedative to get any rest at all that first night. Le Blanc had come back several times after that during their stay, but thankfully in a slightly less intimidating state. Saul and Ellen had promised Bill and Laura that after they left the ward they'd be dealing with her much less; another reason Bill had seconded Laura's request to leave.

So far the Tighs had been nothing but patient with he and Laura, even when they weren't being patient with them in return. After that first night they did their best to answer their questions and give them sound explanations. They gave them time to process the stories they told and promised earnestly to help them cope in any way they could. Bill had been angry at them after they told their story about leaving Earth with the centurions. The hybrid and Anders, the prophecy, their DNA harvest of Galactica and their subsequent boxed hibernation of almost two millennia was enough to make Bill feel like his brain was melting. He'd cursed Saul for bringing him into another war and he'd cried for Laura when she couldn't seem to shake her depression over being taken from wherever they had been. Then Saul had offered them an out. He'd given them the option not to stay. He'd promised that if they decided to leave this second life that they'd surly go back to where they'd come from, hell he'd even offered to take them out himself. Saul told them that he'd sacrifice entire race of people, an entire planet's hope for a future if that was what the two of them really wanted. They'd both known it was a bluff, and at the very least an appeal to their mutual sense of nobility but it worked. It was in that moment that somehow he and Laura had decided to go forward and press on. There was still a lot that they didn't understand but for now they would see where this life took them.

After being discharged from Med Ward, Saul had taken Bill to a nearby officer's locker room with the promise of a hot shower and the eventual delivery of some real clothes while Ellen did the same with Laura. At first they hadn't wanted to be separated, but Saul and Ellen had explained that all latrines and locker rooms on board were gender segregated, even for the military; something Bill found strange and unnecessary. With the assignment of marine escorts and Ellen's promise to take care of Laura they had gone their separate ways. The Tighs assured them that they would be reunited shortly.

Bill had to admit the hot shower had felt good on his stiff joints. When he was done he dressed in a robe and socks that had been provided by the infirmary and was then escorted by a marine to wait in the unoccupied room he currently found himself in. The marine told Bill the Colonel had gone to retrieve his clothes. When he had asked how long it would be the marine curtly told him he had no further information. Getting nowhere with his less than genial guard Bill had resigned to sit and wait, but now he was growing impatient. After what his wrist told him had been almost fifteen minutes he was sick of waiting. He was relieved when the hatch finally opened and Saul stepped in.

"Sorry it took me so long, Bill. Katya was supposed to meet me half way and she..."

Saul looked up to see Bill sitting with his forearm raised, his elbow flexed and eyes squinting obviously displaying the contraption on his wrist.

"What the hell is this Saul?" Bill asked. Saul noticed his tone was more accusatory than speculative.

"That's your station cuff, Bill" Saul answered. "You didn't just notice it, did you?" He asked putting the pile of clothes down on the table where his friend sat.

"No. I noticed it in the clinic. I figured it was some kind of medical device. When they didn't remove it that's when I noticed everyone else was wearing one too. When I went to shower I found I couldn't take the damn thing off," Bill said more firmly.

"No, they don't come off, Bill." Saul said shaking his head. "Well they can, but only with a special tool. Doctors have them, certain government officials," He explained.

"And what if I don't want to wear it?" Bill asked obviously irritated by the new information.

"It's the law here in Orbit, Bill. Everyone over the age of twelve has one fitted especially to them. It's how we communicate here and a big part of how we get around from place to place."

Saul looked down at his own cuff. It was a pearlized blue that matched the band he wore on his tunic around his left bicep as all military did. It was the only strip of color on their otherwise sleek black and white uniforms. The blue indicated residence or service of Alpha. Each station had its own color cuffs and their military had corresponding arm bands. Gamma had green, Beta; Orange and Delta; Purple.

"It's a wireless messaging system," Saul continued. "It has access to our Orbit-wide network but not only that, it also contains all of your important information. Doctor's can scan it and get your entire medical history. It's a credential system too. It's how people gain access to their cabins and offices. A scan of mine would show the level of clearance I have and what spaces I'm allowed to enter here on Alpha. It would show that I'm an officer and confirm my rank."

"This, from a people who you're telling me are already fighting a war against a network that turned against them?" Bill interjected but Saul ignored him.

"It also facilitates the credit system used; people pay for things by scanning it. We had devices just like this back in the Colonies before and after the First Cylon War, it's not too different. It's just that here, if you're a citizen, it's the law," Saul went on as Bill's face hardened.

"And what happens if you refuse?" Bill countered.

"Well then you can't do much with your life. Civvies are fined and eventually jailed. Military get's put in the brig, but no one really refuses. It's hard to function here without it."

"And what if you don't have any arms?" Bill scowled.

"Then you wear it on your ankle," Saul sternly countered with a raised brow.

This was the fight he'd been expecting.

"And what if you have no frakking legs!?"

"Then they put a frakkin' microchip in your neck!" Saul growled in return.

After a tense pause both men broke down and laughed and Saul took a seat across from Bill.

"I know it's your worst nightmare, Old Man, but it's not so awful. They have a pretty good handle on it; safety precautions, things like that. The systems never been infiltrated and with the basestar in range it gives the Orbit network pretty good protection. It can be a pain in the ass, but it's not all bad…look here," Saul swiped at the top of his cuff a few times before a small image projected over it. He held it out showing it to Bill. The image was of a young girl, about ten years old, with long dark hair and blue eyes. She wore a leotard and ballet slippers and was smiling at someone off to the side.

"That's the officer, your pilot," Bill said looking at the display.

"That's our Katya," Saul said with a smile as he swiped the picture away. "But, she was just a little girl there," He added.

"How is she? We didn't hear much after the medics took her away," Bill inquired.

Saul rolled his eye and rubbed at his forehead as he leaned back in his chair.

"She's fine. We'd all had a long day. It was just low blood sugar and a bump on the head. She woke up the next morning, went right back to being a pain in the ass. Got out of the bed, pulled her IVs right out of her own damn arm and left without telling anyone," Saul shook his head, "When I finally tracked her down and asked why, she told me it was because she just didn't want to be there anymore," Saul shrugged looking fed up.

"Sounds just like Laura," Bill said with a chuckle.

Saul paused for a moment.

"She sure does," He agreed smiling to himself. "She's actually on her way to see Laura now. Ellen's having her bring some clothes over," He said hoping that Katya was in fact doing as she'd been asked. They had her go to Bill and Laura's cabin earlier to get some things they would need after they got cleaned up. Saul and Ellen hadn't wanted the pair to travel all the way to Corridor B without getting showered and dressed before they made the trip. Katya had put up a fight but eventually she had given in, though she'd made Saul wait longer than she should have. When they'd finally met, Saul took Bill's clothes and ordered her to get a move on.

"Ya know it's funny to see you and Ellen talk about her. You two as parents, it's kind of nice actually," Bill clarified.

Saul nodded

"Through this whole dark ordeal, she's been the only light for us," He said nodding, "She's been trouble, don't get me wrong, but Ellen and I would do it all over again. We've been more than happy to have her trouble and all."

Bill shrugged and smiled.

"That's what it is to be a parent. You love them good or bad," He acknowledged.

"Yeah well she's mostly a good kid. She's a fine pilot, spends her off time tutoring a lot of the children on board Alpha, loves little kids. She's real smart too. It's just now and then she throws me for a loop. I thought she'd be less trouble as she got older, turns out that's not the case. She got married just about six months ago to that marine guard, the one outside,"

Saul started to explain as he motioned toward the hatch.

"You mean Mr. Personality?" Bill smirked.

"That's the one. Sergeant Alexi Petrov," Saul affirmed. "Anyway, before the wedding I kept telling Ellen, 'now she's his responsibility, she'll be his problem now'," Saul shook his head, "Didn't work out that way. Now we just have two problems, Katya, and Happy out there." He said rubbing the top of his bald head with his palm.

Bill continued to quietly laugh as thoughts of Zak and Kara, Lee and Dee came to mind.

"Sounds about right," He confirmed, "You don't like the guy?" Bill asked.

"Na, I like him enough. He treats Katya well and he's a fine marine. They've been dating since they were kids. I know they're a little young but we knew it would happen eventually anyway."

"What's with the stone face? Not very chatty," Bill joked

"He lightens up now and then, especially when you get a couple of drinks in 'em. And believe me you'd be shocked to know whose…"

Saul stopped himself. He had almost told Bill that he'd be shocked to know whose son he was. They weren't quite ready for that conversation yet. Saul had always been both amused and appalled that Alexi was the offspring of the so called genius-doofus-traitor, Gaius Baltar. He'd so often had to remember that it wasn't the boys fault. In fact, the kid was downright ashamed of it himself. Sometimes Saul wondered if it didn't affect his feelings toward the boy. What he knew did effect them for sure was his relation to Caprica. So often Saul saw glimpses of her in Alexi. He had his father's coloring, but his features had obviously come from the Six despite the masculine form they had taken in him.

"What I mean to say is, his demeanor's more a product of his upbringing. Katya too in some ways. I've been told the disposition is somewhat…cultural. See they were both originally raised by men whose families had come from a part of the surface called the Eastern Federation. You'll hear the two of them speak the old language now and then. We didn't get Katya until she was seven so she's fluent. They call it E-Fed. They really shouldn't be speaking it at all. As of two years ago there was an Orbit-wide universal language declaration, but you know, old habits," Saul went on figuring it was as good a time as any for some history. "Before the war started the planet was divided into four separate sectors; the United West, the Eastern Republic, the Central Union and the Eastern Federation. At one time each sector controlled one of the space stations in Orbit. Alpha was controlled by the United West. Well when the threat below became too great and more and more people started to retreat to the stations, they eventually opted for one government. Cultures meshed and melded but some traditions still remain. The doctors you met, the Xaos, you'll sometimes hear them speak what people call E-Rep, the language from the former Eastern Republic. No one teaches the old languages to children anymore though, at least they're not supposed to. The people have just sort of been changing and adapting out here in Orbit for the last two centuries, but they all want to get back to the surface. They won't survive forever out here."

Bill looked overwhelmed again, at first. Saul wondered if he should have saved the history lesson just a little longer but when Bill just let out a big sigh he kept going.

"These people, they may seem to have the same advancements as the Colonies did, some even far more advanced but in many ways they're a lot more primitive. Their manned space vessels still can't travel too far outside of orbit and they never developed FTL technology. Even synced up, our basestar's not enough to blink them all out of here if the need came." Saul finished.

Bill looked pensively down at his hands taking in everything Saul had just said. For a fraction of a moment he wondered where his ring was. Then he remembered. It was on Laura's finger somewhere down on the surface of the planet below them.

"And when exactly are you going to tell me what it is I'm supposed to do to help these people?"

Saul stood and moved the stack on the table toward Bill.

"We'll talk about that. But first, put your clothes on, Old Man."

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MULTIPURPOSE CABIN; MCC2

YEAR: 2315

Laura sat across from Ellen in what seemed to be a small unused meeting room. It was close to the women's locker room where she had been taken to shower and there was a marine outside the hatch. Ellen had said they'd have more privacy here. Laura sat in just a robe and slippers that Dr. Xao had graciously provided before they left Med Ward.

Her hair was still wet and was becoming a little uncomfortable as it dampened the back of the robe.

"You know Ellen, it's a little chilly in here," Laura told the other woman who sat busily fiddling with the cuff on her wrist.

Ellen looked up and smiled.

"It won't be long. Katya will be here any second with some clothes," She assured and looked back down at her wrist.

Laura nodded, trying to subdue her irritation. She couldn't believe she was there, alive and sitting around in nothing but a borrowed robe across from Ellen Tigh. Ellen had been more than helpful to her and Bill while they were in the infirmary. She was attentive and saw to Laura's comfort and care, but now that they were alone together the vibe between them had taken on a different feeling, an old feeling.

"Katya," Laura echoed the name. "That's that young lady, the one who fainted the other night? Your…daughter?" She questioned.

Ellen pursed her lips together before smiling again.

"Yes, yes she is," She said nodding.

"Then she's feeling better, I take it?" Laura posed.

"Oh she's fine now. The poor thing hadn't eaten all day. She was good as new in the morning. She has a little cut on her eyebrow, but she's at trooper," Ellen said trying to paint a prettier picture.

The truth was Katya had been completely overwhelmed by the sight of a conscious Bill and Laura. Tawny had done her best to mend the girl's adhesion and pump her full of fluids and supplements but as soon as Katya woke up early that next morning she'd fled the ward. With Saul, Ellen and most of the staff still overly occupied with Bill and Laura, no one had noticed except for the marine guards; all friends of hers who claimed to have seen nothing when questioned. When the Tighs tracked Katya down she had been in her own quarters. Saul became quickly frustrated with her snide remarks and accused her of pouting. He left soon after, satisfied that she was at least physically alright but Ellen stayed for a while.

Katya told Ellen that when she woke up she just couldn't stand to know she was in the same room with Bill and Laura. She said she could hear them talking from across the ward and that it made her skin crawl. She hadn't wanted to react that way but she couldn't help it. Ellen had tried to make light of it, telling her that it would just take some getting used to.

"It's no so bad, Kat," Ellen had attempted. "It's the same as if you'd seen your old stuffed bear suddenly start walking and talking after years of growing up with it sitting silently at the foot of your rack. You'd surly be scared at first but it wouldn't necessarily mean he couldn't still be a good friend," She has posed hoping to get a least a tiny smile from her silly analogy.

"That's the creepiest fucking thing you could have possibly said," Katya had answered, dismissing Ellen and diving under the covers of her rack.

After that they had given the girl some space until this morning when they'd asked her to retrieve clothes from Bill and Laura's cabin. She did after all know better than anyone where everything was. After some debate she'd agreed but now Ellen was starting to wonder if she'd changed her mind. She was taking forever. A message from Saul showed that he had at least gotten Katya's delivery but it was well passed the amount of time it should have taken her to get to where Ellen and Laura were waiting.

"Anyway she should be right in," Ellen stalled somewhat uncomfortably. "The Commander granted her leave for the week with everything the family had going on. The poor thing usually works so hard. She's probably distracted talking to some friends or something," She justified with a smile.

She and Laura had never really gotten along. They were two very different women with almost nothing in common. They sure had something in common now, Ellen thought.

"She seems so young to be an officer," Laura commented trying to keep up conversation. "And a Captain at that."

"She's twenty-two. She enlisted at seventeen with Saul's permission. Legal adult age here in Orbit is twenty-one so as you can imagine I wasn't too thrilled about it at the time but she was determined to get into the cockpit," Ellen informed. "I guess it um…runs in the family," She added with an arched eyebrow, pleased with her own sly joke.

"She calls you her aunt and uncle," Laura observed. "Why not mom and dad?"

Ellen licked her lips trying to come up with the best answer possible.

"Well, her birth parents were never able to care for her. She was raised by another man; a scientist on board who was killed when she was just seven years old. Saul didn't think it was right to have her start calling another man 'daddy' so quickly so he became Uncle Saul and I…well…" Ellen just stopped and shrugged.

That was at least all true.

"What made you and Saul take her on? I mean, with all the responsibility it seems you've had in this…situation. There must have been other people willing to take her in," Laura inquired.

Ellen wasn't sure if it was her own guilty conscious or Laura's line of questioning that fueled her irritation. Either way she knew her response was coming out slightly tinged with venom.

"Well you know Laura; I always regretted not having children. I truly did. Did you ever regret it?" Ellen asked not sure if it would cut at the other woman, but hoping it would. She didn't wait for her response. The immediate squint of Laura's eyes was enough for the time being. "Well when I saw Katya's sweet little helpless face I guess I saw a second chance. She needed us and we love her very much," Ellen said glossing over all of the major details and laying some of her signature antagonistic bedrock.

"You seem very proud of her," Laura remarked ignoring the rude inquiry and trying her best to seem even the least bit interested.

"Oh we are. She just got married a few months ago too," Ellen beamed. "You should have seen Saul that day. I mean they don't really do weddings here like we did back on the Colonies. It was just a formal signing of their license but I thought Saul was about to tear up a few times," Ellen went on smiling as she remembered.

Laura nodded.

"Tell me Ellen, does she also wear one of these pretty bracelets that so helpfully flashes the time every thirty seconds?" Laura caustically said raising the wrist her new station cuff was on.

Ellen bit her lip and then smirked.

"I'll just go see what's keeping her," She said promptly rising from her seat and heading toward the hatch.

Ellen rolled her eyes once her back was turned toward Laura. The former president certainly hadn't changed, Ellen thought. If this was how she was going to be Ellen decided, she certainly would not break her back trying to encourage Katya to converse with the woman, no matter what Saul said. Besides, she figured, they Bill and Laura were there to save the people, not form new warm and fuzzy relationships. Katya didn't need them anyway, Ellen told herself. She already had a loving mother and father. Still, she wished the girl would get there already. She'd had enough of their failing one on one interaction.

Laura watched as Ellen made her way to the hatch. She hadn't really meant to be so short with her but she still couldn't shake her old opinions of Ellen Tigh. Though she had learned before she died that there was far more to the woman than her propensity for slurring and flirting it was hard to dismiss first impressions. Ellen certainly had proved to be much more than Colonel Tigh's less than virtuous other half. She was an obviously brilliant and determined woman in her own right. Still, some of her distinctively unscrupulous attributes were still clearly apparent to Laura.

Ellen wasn't the only thing that was affecting her patience and attitude. More importantly she still couldn't shake the feeling that she and Bill had somehow just been cheated out of their eternal rest. Since they had woken up she'd taken to closing her eyes and attempting to remember more about where they had been but every time she tried it got further away from her. The memory of the feeling was fading fast and all that was left was the notion of how wonderful it had been. She hoped Saul was right when he said that they would be able to return one day. She'd learned ages ago that nothing happened by accident. Perhaps this was their fate once again but she didn't have to be happy about it. As she sat and waited she started to feel a little guilty about insulting Ellen's so called daughter. For all she knew she was a perfectly fine young women, despite being raised by the Tighs.

Katya was stalling all morning. Despite the underlying feeling of dread she'd had for the past few days she was otherwise grateful to be out of uniform for once. She was happy to be able to wear her hair down all day and put on comfortable clothes. When Alexi's cuff alarm had gone off at 0400, the feeling she got when she realized she could snuggle under the blankets and return to sleep was close to pure bliss. It had unfortunately been interrupted by a message from her aunt and uncle only a few hours later with their clothing request. After a few argumentative words with each of them she had donned her patrol tank and arm band, threw on a pair of gym pants and headed to the Roslin-Adama cabin. Though the pair had not yet stepped foot in their assigned quarters Katya couldn't help but feel that the air in the cabin had changed. Just a few days ago she had felt so at home there, setting things up and getting it ready. Now it felt as if she were standing in a stranger's home without their knowledge. She made quick work of packing them each a simple sweater and slack set. She knew every piece of clothing that was in the wardrobe, had picked them all herself. She used to imagine what they would look like wearing each outfit but today she did her best to dissociate, trying not to think about the people who would soon fill them out. Grabbing under garments, shoes, a belt and a few other items she figured might be helpful she'd left to find Saul.

Taking the long way had become a habit of Katya's lately. After she had promised to meet her uncle half way with Bill's things he was more than disgruntled to find her ridiculously off course. He left her with instructions to run, not walk, the rest of the way to Ellen and Laura and followed with a look that seemed to promise a future lashing. She'd run until she was sure she was out of his sight. Still, even after resuming her less than rapid pace she had arrived at the hatch in question too soon for her liking. The corporal outside had done nicely for her last diversion. Katya had learned a thing or two about occupying a man's attention from her Aunt Ellen and she had no trouble coaxing the marine into a lengthy yet boring conversation. She didn't care though; as long as he kept talking it would be rude to walk away. Her jig was finally up when Ellen stepped out of the hatch.

"Katya, how long have you been standing out here?" Ellen asked after the marine shut the hatch behind her.

"I don't know. I was just having a friendly talk with Corporal Booker here about his transfer request to be stationed over on Gamma," Katya stalled.

"Beta," The corporal corrected.

"Beta," Katya repeated with a guilty smile.

"That woman's sitting there freezing in nothing but a ward robe. Her hair is sopping wet and she's starting to get aggravated. Now get in there," Ellen scolded her.

"Her hair's been wet for like thirty years, she can't wait another minute? Besides, here's her stuff. I'm not going in," Katya informed her frustrated aunt.

"Oh yes, you are!"

"Why should I? I did what you asked. Look I even brought a halo dryer. I was going to hit the gym. Give me one good reason why I need to come in there."

"Because I sure as hell am not sitting in there with her alone anymore, now let's go!" Ellen said dragging Katya by her wrist. "Corporal, the hatch," Ellen instructed.

"Good luck on Delta, Corporal," Katya said as Ellen towed her along.

"Beta," He corrected again.

"Whatever," She answered as he closed the door behind them.

Laura sat with a forced smile as both women entered the room.

"Something wrong?" She inquired having heard some elevated yet muffled voices.

"Not not a thing," Ellen returned with an equally strained smile of her own. She made her way toward Laura leaving Katya standing by the entrance. "There was a mix up with the cabin number is all," She lied.

"Oh." Laura remarked looking over Ellen's shoulder at the younger woman. She gave her a small smile and then looked down at the bag she held in her hand. Katya didn't seem to notice.

Ellen turned around and saw that Katya hadn't made it very far into the room.

"Sweetie, why don't you give Ms. Roslin her things," Ellen said following with a silently mouthed 'get over here'.

Katya made her way toward the two women. She handed over the bag to Laura like some bot whose battery needed charging. Ellen gave her quick elbow to the ribs and she almost jumped out of her skin.

"Oh, these are for you. I hope they fit," Katya said looking anywhere but Laura's eyes. "Sorry, it took so long," She finished.

"That's alright," Laura replied with a smile.

"Laura, you remember Katya. I know you only met briefly in Med Ward…" Ellen started.

"Yes. How are you feeling, Captain?" Laura inquired glancing at the small closure strip over the girl's eyebrow.

Katya was internally debating between bolting for the door or answering the woman's question. She would never get used to this.

"I'm fine. Thank you for asking," She finally answered.

Sensing that Laura noticed Katya's nervousness Ellen felt the need to explain.

"You'll have to excuse Katya, Laura. You see, she used to volunteer in the lab where…well…where your bodies were kept and so she's just a little stunned to see you up and moving," Ellen explained gracefully dancing around the truth.

"Ellen," Katya whined shooting her aunt an irritated side glance that went ignored.

Laura's face somewhat softened at the explanation. It was strange to hear people talk about her body during a time she wasn't in it but at least it accounted for the girl's uneasy demeanor.

"That's quite alright, Captain. When I looked in the mirror this morning I was pretty stunned to see myself," Laura joked.

Katya attempted to smile in return. She was more than a little embarrassed and figured the woman probably thought she was a head -case at this point. She sure felt like one. When Katya noticed Laura staring at her pensively her heart all but stopped.

"Something the matter?" She asked feeling her stomach flip flop.

Laura cocked her head to the side.

"You're eyes. The deep blue...I've never seen that one anyone except…"

"Well the head is right behind you," Ellen interrupted "If you'd like to get dressed we can meet up with Saul and Bill as soon as you're done."

Katya stood wondering if she were too young to have a heart attack.

Distracted, Laura nodded in agreement and stood up taking a look into the bag that the girl had provided. Reaching her hand in she pulled out what looked like a big plastic hoop the size of a dinner plate. It seemed to have an on and off switch but Laura had no idea what it was.

When Ellen didn't offer any help Katya forced herself to speak.

"It's for your hair," She said noticing the woman's confusion. "To dry it," She added.

When Laura's perplexed expression hardly changed and Ellen remained purposefully silent Katya tentatively moved around to Laura's side of the table.

"Here," Katya said taking the device, cautiously avoiding any eye contact. "It turns on with a swipe to this dial."

Katya turned it on and the hoop whirred to life. A rush of warm air circulated in its center. Sensing the need for further demonstration she turned it off and continued.

"Just pull your hair through it until its resting on the crown of your head. Then turn it on and drag it back down to the ends. You'll have to run it through a few times. You're hair is just as thick as mine."

Katya paused hoping her last words had come off sounding more like a recent observation rather than prior knowledge from years of attending to its maintenance.

"We call it a halo," She added quickly.

"Thank you, Captain," Laura said with a smile.

As Laura reached to take it Katya couldn't help but notice her hands. They looked so much like her own. How could she have never noticed it before? She'd trimmed and filed Laura's nails so many times before but now animated with life she noticed the similarity like never before. They appeared slightly older due to the lab's artificial aging but they were almost identical to Katya's. They each had the same long bony fingers, the same hyper-extended pinky. When Laura took a hold of the dryer Katya hid her own hands reflexively behind her back, as if the other woman would possibly notice.

"I'll be right out," Laura said to Ellen Before disappearing behind the door of the head.

As the door clicked closed Katya quickly turned to Ellen.

"I'm getting the fuck out of here."

"The frak you are," Ellen answered.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MULTIPURPOSE CABIN; MCC4

YEAR: 2315

Bill came out of the head finally dressed and a great deal more comfortable.

"Everything alright, Bill?" Saul asked.

"Yeah, just fine," He answered as he took his seat once again. Saul gave a pleased nod, glad to see Bill finally up and moving around.

"You just happened to have these clothes lying around?" Bill asked leaning back in his chair.

"We've been getting ready for your arrival for a long time," Saul explained. "Like I said, there's a whole cabin waiting for you in the next corridor. It's the military housing area on the station. You won't be far from me and Ellen. We did our best to set the place up. Should be pretty comfortable. The clothes, well, those were mostly Katya. She helped us make sure you would have everything you needed. We'll go down there later today."

Bill nodded. It was so strange to hear about the perpetration for their arrival. People had been expecting them, waiting for them, and he couldn't comprehend why. Ellen had started to describe the way their bodies were cloned and kept in a military laboratory. It gave him the chills to think about his body being handled by scientists for years, just lifeless and waiting.

"Saul, you said we weren't the only ones here…that we aren't the only ones being brought back," Bill finally said. "You've told me Lee isn't here. I need to know who is…or at least who will be," Bill added with a grave tone.

Saul inhaled deeply. As much as he had been worried about overwhelming Bill and Laura they needed to know before things started progressing even further. Soon after the news of Bill and Laura's successful download had reached the Earth Orbit Committee they had started to pester Michelle Le Blanc for a scheduled date of download for the next pair. In turn she had started to pester Saul and Ellen. The Tighs weren't ready to move on just yet. Bill and Laura deserved to understand a bit better before the project went any further.

Saul began as best as he could.

"When Ellen and I first brought over the genetic materials for the project things were supposed to be different then they've turned out. The people here, they had the cloning technology, but they didn't know where to start. They looked to Ellen and me for direction and advice. They needed help sorting out the message of our hybrid and their Quarts Plates. You remember; the ones I told you had to have been left by someone in the fleet, or at the very least an early descendant."

Saul stopped and waited for Bill to acknowledge his words. When he nodded slightly Saul continued.

"I won't lie to you. You and Laura were first on the list. We had them start on your bodies right away. The prophecy called for the original leaders of the people and that was you two, no doubt in my mind."

Saul did his best not waver. He looked Bill in the eyes as he spoke.

"Then Ellen turned to Laura's old dreams. I mean, she was our prophet back then. Her visions helped us along the way. More importantly they let us know who needed to make it to Earth, the key players in our version of this ever repeating mess of a story. When Laura dreamed of the Opera House, she always saw an Eight; Athena, a Six; Caprica, and that idiot Gaius frakkin' Baltar, so, they were the next on our list. I know it seems preposterous to want to resurrect that immoral bastard but our hybrid all but called for him by name."

As Saul spoke he watched the storm behind Bill's eyes. He wanted to stop, to give him some time but it was just easier to get it out all at once.

"When we told the people here that Karl Agathon had been the father of the first Colonial-Cylon hybrid they wanted him too. We figured it wasn't a bad idea. Helo and Athena were one of the most important symbols of our time. They helped unite the races. Once that was decided Ellen thought it was important that one of the Final Five cylons be included. It made sense to choose Samuel Anders; we'd heard this prophecy come out of his own mouth on Galactica before it went into the sun. Ellen thought he was the best choice and that his eventual presence would be beneficial to our last cloned subject, but well, that's where we hit a road block. Its an issue that's bathed this entire project in an ominous frakking shadow from day one. See, the hybrid seemed to ask for Starbuck. I remember it myself; it kept saying 'a star, a star, returns for salvation'. I knew it had to be talking about Kara," Saul shook his head. "We had a full vial of her blood dated right after she mysteriously returned to Galactica. It must have been the sample Cottle used to make sure it was really her. We gave it to the Orbit scientists and when they went to start on her, well they couldn't. They said the blood contained no identifiable characteristics. When they looked at it under their microscopes or ran it through for analysis they said it was like there was nothing there. You could see it; plain as the nose on your face, but it was useless, it was like it really didn't exists. We don't know why. We had it preserved on the basestar same as all the others. There was no explanation for it. We had no way to bring back Starbuck."

Bill's face fell. This was all so bizarre and yet somehow, at least what Saul had told him about Kara made an eerie sort of sense.

"So that makes five other bodies," Bill said looking back at Saul.

Saul shook his head.

"It would have been six others," Saul continued "When it became clear that there was no hope in bringing Kara back, I made a suggestion myself," He admitted.

"Who?"

"The Three known as D'Anna. There was something about her, something different from the other models. She could see things, see the final five for who we were before we even knew ourselves. She had incite to the world beyond the physical and to be honest, I felt like she never got to complete her journey."

Bill looked at Saul as if he were insane but Saul did his best to ignore his perplexed expression.

"The last time I spoke to her was on Earth, the real Earth, my old home. After everything she had seen, after all that she'd been through, she was so disillusioned that she had us just leave her there to die. She told me she just wanted off the crazy merry-go-round that we were on. I know this sounds crazy to you Bill, but I don't think her life should have ended that way. I've had more than enough time to think about this and it always bothered me. I don't think her soul's path is over, and I think she might be able to help," Saul affirmed.

"I don't know what to say to that, Saul," Bill said honestly.

"Nothing to say. It's just how I felt and well, now her body is awaiting download. I just hope I wasn't wrong. I hope I'm right in my assumption that if Kara couldn't make it back here, then she wasn't supposed to. Maybe Ellen and I were wrong about the star being a reference to her. I just don't know."

"So that makes six more bodies then. Six that you're still planning to download," Bill assessed but Saul shook his head again.

"We lost Baltar and Caprica. Well, we lost their bodies. There was an attack on Gamma Station where they were kept. The EOC had the military split up the bodies for security reasons. You and Laura were always here on Alpha, Helo and Athena on Beta and Anders and D'Anna on Delta. The bot's know what we're up to. They've killed most of the project originators Ellen worked with during station ambushes. That's actually how we got Katya. Her father was your creator, Dr. Mikhail Isakoff and he died during an attack on Alpha protecting your bodies. Katya's husband, the marine out there," Saul said motioning to the hatch. "His father was Dr. Dmitri Petrov and he created what would have been Baltar and Caprica. There was an attack on Gamma, the man and his staff tried to protect them but the bodies were destroyed and he along with them. We're missing two key players here, Bill," Saul said symbolically laying his cards on the table. Bill's face hardened at the news of the missing bodies.

"Then why go on with the damn project?" Bill said coarsely. "Why bother? Why not destroy all of us when the other two were gone? You're telling me after all this you don't even have the right people?" Bill spat. Saul could see the veins on the side of his neck starting to protrude.

"We couldn't just give up, Bill. We've had to hope that the ones who survived would be enough. There's still a chance that this is the way it should be. To have given up on this project, for these people, well that would have been like surrendering to death. You never let your people do that. Why should they?"

Bill shook his head and looked at the floor.

"And I'll tell you another thing, Old Man;" Saul went on feeling a sudden rise of repressed frustration come to the surface. "I've risked jumping into the sun to collect a bunch of blood and snot from a near melting ship. I've boxed myself, resigned my own soul to thousands and thousands of years of waiting nothingness. I've sacrificed my own chance at whatever the hell paradise you and Laura just came from. And I did it for this moment," He said rising out of his chair. "You've been resting for 200,000 years Bill, but Ellen and I, we haven't. We chose not to because we knew if we did the descendants of the very people you lead here would have to give up the home you found for them," Saul said raising his voice to a level he hadn't intended.

Saul tempered his frustration and unclenched his fists before finishing.

"I'm tired, Bill. I wana know what it is to finally die and rest peacefully just like you did, but I can't do that without your help." He said more softly before lowering himself back into his seat.

Bill looked his friend in his eye.

"I want to see the bodies."

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MULTIPURPOSE CABIN; MCC2

YEAR: 2315

"Did you hear her comment on my freaking eyes?"

"Yes, Katya, so what? Lots of people have blue eyes. It's fine," Ellen falsely reassured her.

"I've dried her hair with a halo dryer a hundred times. Every damn time she was out for chamber maintenance or a procedure. Do you know how weird it was to just have to tell her how it's used?" Katya exasperatedly whispered.

"I know, Katya. It's weird. We know. We all know it's weird," Ellen dismissively mocked as her station cuff vibrated. She glanced at it before going on. "Look, Saul and Bill are on their way over here. You're at least staying until they get here."

"Why?"

"Because, Kat, this woman didn't like me the first time she was alive. Now she's pissed that I woke her up from the dead. You're breaking up the tension…or at least you're distracting from my tension with your own," Ellen teased.

Ellen was being honest. She had no interest in sitting around with Laura one on one but there was something more to her wanting to keep Katya around. She could easily dismiss the girl and help her to avoid her clueless birth parents at all costs but it seemed to Ellen that the more time Katya spent with Laura, the more adverse the girl became to the idea of getting to know her.

"Just stay until your uncle gets here. He'll let you know if you can leave or not," Ellen instructed.

"I'm not a child. He can't tell me where to go or what to do anymore."

"You know, Katya, saying that makes you sound even more like a child. Besides, he's your superior officer and he most certainly can tell you where to go and what to do," Ellen remarked.

"I'm on leave."

"You're on leave to attend to this very situation. Just wait on Saul and we'll see what he says," Ellen finalized putting her hands firmly on Katya's shoulders. "Now c'mere and let Auntie kiss that booboo," Ellen teased, pouting out her lips as she leaned toward Katya's injured eyebrow.

She'd always had a way of distracting Katya from her sadness or anger with laughter and silliness. Katya was such a serious child when they first took her in. It was Ellen who had taught the girl to laugh and told her that there was always time to make the ones you love smile.

Katya leaned away from Ellen as she made kissing noises and attempted to stand on her toes to reach the small cut with her comically pursed lips.

"C'mon, Ellen, quit treating me like a baby," Katya complained leaning further away and causing Ellen to giggle.

Both women momentarily froze in place as they heard the sound of the head's door shut. As they both turned they found Laura, freshly dressed and appearing only slightly amused at their antics. They quickly composed themselves and gave her their attention.

"Everything work alright for you, Laura?" Ellen asked.

"Yes, thank you. Everything fit perfectly," She assured them and held out the hair dryer for Katya to take. "Thank you for the use of this, Captain. It's quite a handy little device."

Katya held up her palm and shook her head.

"No. That one's yours. You hold on to it," Katya said with a small smile.

"Thank you," Laura nodded placing it back in the bag that Katya had brought the clothes in.

"Change of plans," Ellen interrupted.

"Bill and Saul are going to meet us here," She informed Laura just as they heard the unmistakable creak of the hatch wheel turning. "Oh and here they are," She laughed.

As soon as the men entered the room Bill quickly made his way to Laura putting an arm around her waist and hugging her close. Katya watched their embrace. They seemed so relieved to see each other even after what could have only been an hour or so. Maybe Margot was right about them.

"Katya, I need you to get us in a Shuttle-Hawk, ASAP," Saul instructed.

"What? Why me? I'm on leave," Katya questioned giving Ellen and Saul each a look they were more than used to when she was upset.

"Because, I said so. Your flight status has been temporarily reinstated," He said sternly.

"I was going to go to the gym. I'm not even dressed," Katya complained.

"You're flying us there, end of story. If it makes you feel any better about missing the gym I'll order you to do a hundred push-ups when we get to our first destination. Alexi's coming too. He's still Bill's assigned guard. Now run and I mean run to the lockers and change. We'll get Laura and Bill here something to eat while you're getting ready," Saul said looking over to the others. "We're going station hopping," He informed the group.

"What do you mean?" Laura asked. "Where are we headed?"

Bill gave her a small sad smile and squeezed her hands in his own.

"We're going to go visit some old friends, Laura."

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

Alpha Flight Deck

YEAR: 2315

Katya had done as she was told. She'd run to the locker rooms to change and retrieve her flight suit. What else was she going to do? Margot was right, she thought as she waited for her passengers on the flight deck; they were meant for little more but to serve. Still, that didn't mean she had to be happy about it. When she had arrived on deck Blazer had just been getting off of patrol. Since she needed an ECO to fly a Shuttle-Hawk anyway she'd asked him to join her as a favor. Upon hearing the details he'd quickly agreed. Katya was please with her wry plan. Blazer's presence would be perfect to get under her Uncle Saul's skin; a meager punishment for sticking her in such an uncomfortable situation.

"This is going to be one creepy little family reunion," Blazer said as they waited.

"Tell me about it. But quit that family innuendo when they get here Blazer, I mean it," She'd warned him.

"Did you really pass out when you saw them?"

"I just got light headed for a sec."

"Yeah, well Margot said you ate shit. This is real pretty," He mocked poking at the bruise beside her brow."The black and blue really brings out your eyes."

"Ow! Fuck you, Blazer! Quit it," She'd said swatting his hand away.

The more their banter irritated Katya the more it made Blazer chuckle.

"So how long do you plan on keeping it from them?"

Katya shrugged at his question.

"Long as I can. My uncle hasn't said anything about it since the download and that's fine with me."

Once Katya was on her way to suit up for their coming flight Saul and Ellen had taken Bill and Laura to Commander Kaplan's quarters for lunch. It was a quick and simple meal but the commander had been eagerly awaiting a meeting with Alpha's newest and most valued residents. Kaplan was more than welcoming to Bill and Laura. When he'd called Bill 'Admiral Adama' Bill had tried to tell him that he'd been an admiral a lifetime ago and that the title wasn't necessary. Kaplan had insisted that his title remain explaining that a respected retired officer never loses his rank or title. Saul agreed. They'd spoken about Saul's enlistment and how one of Kaplan's first orders as commander of Alpha was that Tigh join and serve at his old rank of colonel. Bill had to admit that he'd liked Kaplan very much, but he was anxious to get a move on and see what Saul had spoken about that morning with his own eyes. The group ate quickly and with a promise of a future dinner at the Tighs they parted ways and headed to the flight deck.

"You know I won that bet, Cap," Blazer claimed as he and Katya sat waiting on the floor of the deck beside the shuttle-Hawk.

"You did not. Alexi won," Katya challenged.

"Bullshit. I distinctly remember Adama said 'Laura, where the frak is Laura?' I won," The lieutenant insisted.

"You had words one to three you idiot, that's four. You and Margot each owe Alexi twenty credits."

"No way! The first thing he said was her name. A name isn't a word so it doesn't count. I won," Blazer explained emphatically.

"I don't think that's going to fly well with Alexi, but go ahead, tell him that," Katya laughed.

"It will if you and Margot back me up," He suggested.

"Trying to get one over on me L.T?" Came Alexi's voice as he and Corporal Booker walked up to the Hawk. Their party trailed nearby behind them.

"It's a name Alexi, I won." Blazer said as he stood. The marine put a hand out to help his wife do the same.

"Yeah, well we'll see about that," Alexi scoffed.

"What the hell is he doing here?" Saul grumbled as he stepped up toward the shuttle.

"It's nice to see you too, Colonel," Blazer returned with a smile.

"I asked him to fly with me. You're making me fly a shuttle, I need an ECO and he's it," Katya told Saul firmly.

Saul glared at the ever-smiling pilot beside her. The kid got on his nerves but he supposed it was alright. He'd been riding Katya all day. He'd let her have this. Besides, their first stop was Beta Station. They'd be visiting his parents.

"Fine. It's just as well. Blazer you'll serve as security to Ms. Roslin after we board Beta. Corporal Booker, you're dismissed," Saul told the second marine guard who promptly took his leave.

"Glad that's all settled," Katya said grabbing her helmet from the floor and boarding the shuttle.

Alexi and Blazer stood outside the Hawk as the rest of the party boarded.

"Lovely to see you as always, Ellen," Blazer greeted taking her hand and helping her aboard.

"Always nice to see you, Blaze," Ellen returned sweetly. "You haven't officially met our new additions have you? Bill, Laura, this is Lt. Blaze Bishop," Ellen said before she turned to take her seat.

Blazer stuck his hand out to guide Laura aboard.

"I'm so very honored to make your acquaintance, Ms. Roslin. Welcome aboard, and may I say ma'am, you look even more lovely standing upright and breathing," Blazer said with a wink and his most charming smile as Laura walked onto the ship.

"Oh well, thank you, Lt. Bishop, I think," Laura replied graciously as Blaze continued to grin and hold her hand.

Saul quickly interrupted the meeting.

"That's enough of that," He said grumpily breaking up the interaction and helping Laura to take her seat himself.

Bill followed.

"Lieutenant," He said offering the young man his hand.

Bill took a moment to assess the vessel he was boarding. They had called it a Hawk. It reminded him of a Raptor but more streamlined and less boxy. He could say the same for the pilot's flight suits. They reminded him more of the suits Tauron stock car drivers used to wear. He wondered how they could possibly be pressurized in case of ejection.

"Sir, I am humbled and honored to meet you. We are so grateful to have you aboard," Blazer said firmly and enthusiastically shaking Bill's hand.

"Hurry up, Blazer!" Saul called from inside the shuttle.

"Good to meet you, son," Bill said with a laugh as he left to take his seat.

Grabbing his helmet Blazer boarded his ship.

"Alight Koshka, let's roll," He called to Katya who was already seated and awaiting their deck taxi.

Alexi followed and the hatch was closed.

LOCATION: BETA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

MILITARY LABORATORY FACILITY

YEAR: 2315

Through the entire ride Blazer had filled just the purpose Katya hoped he would. He broke up the tension and more importantly he annoyed the hell out of her uncle. Before they docked Blaze had taken it upon himself to play tour guide to his new passengers.

"I hope everyone is comfortable back there," Blazer said loudly, not bothering to use the com system.

Katya flew the Hawk without much need for his help and he reveled in the opportunity it gave him to play host.

"I'm not sure what the Tighs have told you about our station system here but the shuttle rides in between each station take around thirty minutes at a moderate relaxed speed. The stations are strategically spaced around the globe at specific points. While Gamma and Delta line up with the planet's Northern and Southern Poles, Alpha and Beta are stationed on opposite sides of the planet's equator. There are some smaller stations we call pods located in between," Blazer happily explained.

"No one cares, Blazer, now turn around and shut it," Saul had yelled at one point getting a rare chuckle out of Alexi.

"I'd like to second that," The sergeant followed.

"Let the boy talk," Ellen had defended

"I agree," Bill had chimed in. "I'd like to know at least a little about where you are taking us," He'd told Saul.

Blazer just continued unphased.

"Our first stop is Beta Station; my very own home station," He'd announced proudly, "It's mostly known for its hydroponic agriculture. Over 98% of the food consumed in Orbit is produced on Beta. It's kind of our food basket. They grow mostly fruits and vegetables from heirloom seeds originally harvested from the surface hundreds of years ago but they also produce proteins like algae, tofu and several kinds of fungi. If you look out the port you may see other vessels enroute. They include Hawks like the one we're aboard and other larger transport vessels. You should see a Patrol Falcon or two, the form of transpo the Captain and I usually pilot and you may also see some Cylon Raiders from the basestar. We patrol pilots call them Guardians."

It'd gone on like that until they were well passed Beta Station's deck. Katya couldn't help but laugh to herself the entire way but the good mood hadn't lasted long. They now stood in Beta's military laboratory. It was almost identical to the one on Alpha except its stasis chambers still held two bodies.

As Katya, Blaze and Alexi hug back observing, the Tighs took Bill and Laura closer to the tanks that held what would soon be Karl and Athena Agathon. Blazer became unusually quiet once they were in the lab. He hadn't spent as much time there as Katya had in the lab on Alpha, especially since he'd moved away from Beta Station at a young age. Still, he tried to visit now and then, and when he did he couldn't help but be silent and pensive. As he watched Roslin and Adama staring at his parents he asked himself if he still held the same positive feelings about their download now that he had seen all that it entailed. The truth was he did. He wanted them to wake up, now even more than before. Not just because he wanted the prophecy to be fulfilled for his people but because he longed for a chance to meet them.

Laura clung to Bill's side as she watched the bodies floating in the crystal clear fluid. She was stunned. She couldn't wrap her head around the fact that just days ago her body had been in the very same state. She was shaking and it wasn't just due to the almost frigid air in the laboratory. It was mortifying to know that her body was on display too, for how many years she wasn't sure. Even worse was the knowledge that soon two other souls were going to be taken against their will and forced into the bodies in front of her. Wherever Helo and Athena were now, Laura knew they were at peace there. They were with the soul of their child and whatever other family they may have had. Soon they would be taken from that.

Bill held on to Laura. He felt her trembling in his arms but his focus was on the forms in front of him. There were two of his pilots floating lifeless in the tanks. As he looked at them he had to remind himself to breathe. He was so thankful that Saul and Ellen hadn't brought Lee into it. An image of his son floating in the fluid came to mind and Bill quickly cringed and shook his head trying to banish the thought.

After giving Bill and Laura some time Ellen finally spoke.

"They were engineered by a man named Dr. Kyle Bishop. He died in one of the station attacks but he and his staff were able to make sure nothing happened to the bodies," She explained, "He was a hero here in Orbit," Ellen added looking over to Blazer who solemnly smiled thankfully at her words.

"Bishop," Bill repeated as his brow creased in recognition of the name.

"Yeah, Bill. He was the L.T's father," Saul said figuring Bill had made the connection. He knew the Admiral had always done his best to remember names, even those of his lowest subordinates.

Bill turned to look at the young lieutenant. He stood tall beside Katya and her husband. It was then that Bill realized all three of them had once been the children of the scientists who created the bodies. He supposed with Saul and Ellen's involvement in the project that they must have taken the orphaned kids under their wing. Still, there was something that wasn't sitting right.

"Dr. Le Blanc has been asking us to come up with a date for their download, sooner rather than later," Ellen announced. "The Committee is pressuring her now that your download was a success but we didn't want to do it until you were settled and until you'd learned a little more about the project," She informed them.

Laura's eyes were still on the tanks and her anger was on the rise.

Bill shook his head.

"Ellen, this is all a lot to take in," Bill told her with his focus still on the chambers.

"I know it is, Bill. Believe me I know. That's why we're trying to give you some time," Ellen tried to assure him.

"I just have to ask," Bill began, "Once you have us all… awake, what do you think we are going to be able to do?"

Ellen looked at her husband and then back at Bill.

"Well, we don't know exactly. Our prophecies... they never told us what it was you would do, just that you'd return to do it," Ellen stated.

They all heard Laura let out a bitter laugh beside them.

Ellen continued anyway.

"We just sort of hypothesized that either something would present itself and you would all know in the moment, or that once you were all downloaded and in the same location that the knowledge would come then. I know it sounds insane but from experience I can tell you that it's not so outlandish. That was the way it worked for the final five. You both saw it. We didn't have the knowledge of resurrection until all of us were together," She proposed.

Laura turned swiftly away from the chambers and zeroed in on Ellen.

"So you're just going to go ahead and bring these two souls back into a war, into a life they don't know and into an existence they've already surpassed without any kind of notion of what you even need them to do?" Laura made no attempt to hide her resentfulness. It was deep and only getting deeper.

Ellen knew that the outbust had been brewing in Laura since she first downloaded. She understood how overwhelming it had to be for them but after everything she had put into their ressurection she couldn't help being piqued at the woman's accusations. She wouldn't hesitate to defend her work and the lifetime she'd spent dedicated to it. Ellen quickly considered her response. She could try to calmly explain her position but there was a certain added intrigue in drawing Laura Roslin into a confrontation. A confrontation that Katya would witness; one she knew the young woman would immediately take offense to.

"You know, Laura," Ellen started with an irritated smirk "for a woman who asked her own people to follow her based on faith alone, I have to say I'm surprised at your cynicism," She challenged. "You had your dreams, your little chamalla induced visions, and you read Pythia. You prayed to the gods, conversed with your priests and asked us all to follow. Where's your faith in the guiding hand now?" Ellen asked bluntly.

"Ellen," Saul warned behind her.

"I'm just curious," Ellen continued, "What's the difference? Is it because you aren't in charge of the situation this time? Because if that's what it takes I relinquish all control," She stated, dramatically throwing her arms up in feigned surrender.

"Cut the crap, Ellen!" Laura bit back. She knew the woman had just intentionally pushed every button she could recall to push. Once upon a time Laura would have never given Ellen Tigh the satisfaction of a response but in this case she couldn't seem to stop herself. "You can't just expect us to wake up and automatically know how to solve these people's problems. What if we can't? What if you've done all of this for nothing? What if after we're all downloaded one of us decides that we just don't feel like helping? What if one of us refuses to participate?" Laura angrily proposed the hypotheticals that were running through her head, just daring Ellen to respond. Instead she'd provoked Katya.

"Then you'd be willingly contributing the eventual mass extinction of my people!" The young woman shouted from behind them.

They all turned to look at her but Katya only stared at Laura, now unafraid to look the woman dead in eyes.

"And I don't want to know the cold heartless so called soul that would choose to do that," She adden with venom.

Katya could see she had taken Laura by surprise and it only fueled her anger.

"Katya!" Saul barked at her. He'd had a feeling the girl would come to Ellen's defense and he had a feeling Ellen had figured as much too. It had been that way for years whenever there was an argument in the Tigh household. Ellen had all but trained Katya to be her ever-present backup. Saul didn't like where the conversation was headed and it was heading there quickly.

"What, Uncle Saul?! She is perfectly aware that we believe them to be our only hope! She knows now, that there is an entire race of people counting on them, and she knows that when this is all over they still get to go back to whatever cushy dream land they just came from!" Katya shouted still staring daggers right at Laura. "She knows all of that and yet she stands here in front of all of us; in front of three soldiers who will likely die in the fight, in front of two people who've given their existence over to the solution, and she makes threats about refusing to participate, as if this were a game?" She seethed.

Laura hadn't expected the Captain's response and she surly hadn't expected it to be so intense. The young woman's eyes had fury behind them. She had obviously hit more than a nerve.

"Katya, I was merely trying to point out the possible outcomes of this business of downloading four other people. You can't just assume that everyone will have the reaction you're looking for," Laura defended.

"Let's just all take a second to calm down," Bill suggested. "This is obviously a highly emotional subject for everyone," He went on looking to Saul for help but Katya ignored him and went back at Laura before Saul could intervene.

"What we assumed was that the once noble and courageous leaders would want to help their descendants keep the home they'd found for us."

Katya knew she should probably stop but she just couldn't. Her self control left much to be desiered and once her temper was kindled there was usually little anyone else could do about it other than letting it burn out. She had always feared the possibility that the returned leaders wouldn't agree to help but her Uncle Saul had assured her time after time that they would. He'd told her they were so supremely honorable and ethical that they would surly rise the occasion. The implications of Laura's sudden outburst had been enough to incite one of Katya's biggest worries and enough to smite out whatever was left of her childhood fantasies of the woman in front of her. She supposed the latter was what had thrown her into such a fury.

"I guess now that you feel you have no stake in this go-around things have changed," She went on to accuse. "And I guess it figures! You know where you're going when this life is over so why should you care what happens to the rest of us? You're just such a far cry from the benevolent leader I grew up hearing about." Katya added with a cattish cock of her head.

"Katya, that's enough!" Saul ordered with a fist to a nearby stainless steel counter. "Go wait outside!"

Katya was out of the lab hatch before the reverberation of the metal ceased.

"Permission to join her, Sir," Alexi gruffly requested almost immediately.

"Just go!" Saul shouted, "And don't you go too far, you're on duty," He scolded at Alexi's back.

Before Blazer could even finish opening his mouth Saul stopped him.

"Don't you dare even ask my permission, Lieutenant! You stay right there!" Saul ordered now enraged.

Blaze nodded and straightened his posture.

Ellen looked at Laura and Bill and then back at Saul before shaking her head.

"Well, it's a good thing I don't need your permission," She said to her husband as she walked off to follow the two officers.

A few lab workers had come to gawk at whatever was causing the uproar, mostly concerned over the safety of their equipment. When Saul noticed he ordered them back to work and they quickly dispersed. An awkward silence filled the room for a moment. Laura ran a frustrated hand through her hair. With a glance over at the remaining lieutenant who intentionally averted eye contact with her she decided to speak.

"Look, Saul, I didn't mean to get everyone so…"

"No, Laura, that wasn't your fault," Saul interrupted. "I apologize for all of them," He said shaking his head. "To you too, Bill. It just..." Saul squinted and rubbed at his forehead for a moment before he went on. "I don't mean to make excuses for them, for any of them, especially Katya. She shouldn't have spoken to you like that, Laura and I promise she's going to hear a hell of a lot more from me later."

"Saul this is obviously a sensitive subject. Maybe I should have seen that before," Laura interjected.

Saul put out a palm to stop her.

"No, no. Kat didn't have any right to get on you the way she did. It's just...tensions are high. They're all so hopeful but they're also scared this won't work, and well, you insinuating that it might not, it made Katya flip her lid. And Ellen, well she's worked on this longer than you can comprehend. I've never made excuses for my wife before and I won't start now. She owes you both an apology for sure but I also know she feels the weight of thousands of people depending on her," Saul tried to explain, his head now down looking at his boots.

"Saul," Bill tried to speak but Saul looked up and started again.

"I didn't want to do this to you, Bill, to either of you. I'm sorry that this is the way it had to be but…I'm not sorry for doing it 'cause... I believe same as they do. You're their only hope." Saul finished.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

When the group left Beta's lab Saul had decided that one visit was enough for the day. They would make the trip to Delta another time. The ride back to Alpha was immensely uncomfortable. Even Blazer's usual bright disposition had been snuffed out by the day's less than amicable interactions. The air inside the Shuttle-Hawk was thick with tension and mostly silent except for the occasional use of the com system by the two pilots. When they boarded Alpha Station Saul dismissed Lt. Bishop and sternly ordered Katya to meet him in his quarters. She'd tossed her helmet to the deck floor and stormed off with an angry huff. Bill and Laura hadn't seen her since. Ellen took her leave soon after Katya which left Saul to escort Bill and Laura to their new quarters with only Alexi in tow as their watchful yet reluctant guard.

As Alexi watched the door and awaited another marine to relieve him Saul showed Bill and Laura around their new home. He'd done his best to give them a tour. He showed them how to adjust the temperature in the head and how to use every light and switch in the cabin. He gave them a crash course on using their image screen and cabin tablets to project data and access to the network. Saul made sure their cooler was stocked and showed them how to use their cuffs to order more substantial meals. He let them know they could call him at any time if need be and assured them there would be a guard outside their hatch around the clock. He promised that he would check on them in the morning. After making sure they seemed somewhat comfortable he'd excused himself.

Now that he was gone they were finally alone together. At first the quiet solitude of being by themselves in the cabin was strange and almost eerily familiar. They had no choice now but to truly absorb the last few days and all that was happening to them. Once Laura allowed herself to sit and relax on the cabin's sofa she couldn't help but let her tears fall. Bill was a comfort to her but even he couldn't stop the physical release of his frustrations. When it seemed their tears had dried Bill was the first to speak. He held Laura in his arms on the sofa and spoke softly into her ear.

"You know Laura, I can't remember if I was able to hold you like this where we were before. Something tells me that existence was beyond this sort of thing... but I won't say it isn't wonderful to be able to do it now," He confessed kissing her temple.

She smiled sadly and only hummed in response.

"I really don't know where we were before," He continued, lbut I know I'd go to Hades if that's what it took to be by your side. We're together here and no matter what this place brings us at least that's true," He told her as he gently stroked her hair.

"This is really happening isn't it, Bill?"

"Yeah, Laura, it is and I think the sooner we stop fighting it the better." He admitted.

"It just doesn't seem fair. We've been down this road already. To be asked to do it again…"

Laura nuzzled against Bill's chest and let out a sigh.

"It's not but then was it really fair the first time?" He posed.

Laura didn't answer as she listened to Bill's heart beating alive in his chest.

In her silence he kept talking.

"You know, I was talking to Saul this morning and he said something to me; something that's been helping me put this in perspective today. He said that we've been resting in peace for 200,000 years but that he and Ellen, well, they haven't gotten to rest yet," He told her as she somewhat stiffened in his arms.

"It seems like they chose this path, Bill. They could have stayed on the surface with everyone else," She said sitting up beside him.

"Laura, I don't think they chose this path anymore than we chose our paths before. They feel this duty has been given to them by some higher force and I know you remember what that felt like…to be called to help," Bill said as he saw her eyes soften in consideration. "They didn't want another people to be chased away from their home and so they helped where they could. From the sounds of it these people would be long gone already if it weren't for their intervention. They haven't just been helping to bring us back. Their basestar, their Raiders, they help these people; descendants of our own people, to survive out here, and they've been doing it for longer than either one of us can imagine," Bill told her.

Laura shook her head in resignation.

"I just don't know what we could possibly do to help, Bill," She told him honestly.

"I don't either, Laura, but I know that Saul is still my friend. Even after thousands of years and my own death, he's my friend and if this is what he needs to finally be able to rest peacefully one day then I'm going to try to help him."

Laura hung her head in her hands and rubbed her tired eyes with her palms before looking back to Bill.

"I suppose you're right. What choice do we have other than…" She trailed off when she saw the uneasy look on Bill's face.

"Laura, is that really something you're considering?" He asked looking concerned. She didn't need to say it for him to know just what she was referring to.

When Saul had first mentioned it everything was so fresh and raw that she'd hardly had the wherewithal to truly think about it. Over the last day or so she couldn't say that it hadn't crossed her mind; a quick way out of this mess and a return to a peaceful existence. She wasn't sure she had truly considered it as more than just a concept but she could tell even mentioning it had upset Bill.

"No. No I guess that I wouldn't. I fought so hard to hang on to the last body I had. I don't think I could ever purposely destroy another," She said trying to make light of it. She was glad when he looked somewhat relieved. "Bill, I didn't really mean what I said in the lab today. I wouldn't refuse to help. Not if I knew that I could." Laura admitted.

"I know you didn't mean that. That's not who you are," He said taking her hands in his. "Ellen is just....well you heard Saul, she's just dedicated so much to this. You can't blame her for getting defensive. You can blame her for taking cheap shots but hey, what do you expect? Brilliant Cylon engineer or not, it's still Ellen Tigh," Bill said with a laugh.

Laura smiled and rolled her eyes.

"She certainly is and it seems she's passed some of her less than gracious attributes on to that daughter of theirs or whatever she is."

"Oh you mean the one who almost swallowed you frakking whole in the lab today?" Bill teased.

"That's the one."

"I don't know Laura. Saul says she's usually a good kid. Says she's had sort of a rough life so far. I think you just ruffled her feathers today. To be honest none of those kids looked very happy with you after that little outburst of yours. You even upset that big jolly pilot," He laughed getting a sardonic smirk from Laura in return. "I think the girl's just scared." He added.

"I think she's a frakking brat," Laura said lying back down on the sofa with her head in Bill's lap.

He resumed running his fingers through the locks of her hair.

"She might very well be. She's a cute kid though. It's funny to see Saul get after her. Maybe I just like seeing him as a father. You know back on Galactica after he lost that baby with with the Six, I think he really started to think about what he'd missed out on."

Bill regretted the words that came out of his mouth almost immediately. He certainly hadn't meant to imply anything or insult Laura's own choices. In truth he had no idea what her feelings on the matter had been. They'd had such little precious time with each other in their last lifetime that it just had never come up. If he'd known during their time in their last plane of existence he couldn't recall. When she didn't seem to have much reaction to it he went on.

"Anyway, it's just kind of funny to hear him complain about her. Reminds me of how he used to bitch about Starbuck, only this one's got the added advantage of having him wrapped around her finger! You know he keeps photos of her as a little girl on that stupid cuff of his," He said reaching down and touching Laura's wrist. "He loves her. He's proud of her. Showed me a cute picture of her when she couldn't have been more than eight.

"I guess that's sort of sweet," She answered with a yawn. "She's still a brat, though."

Bill nodded with a smile. "That's alright Laura, I don't think her opinion of you is much higher," He said patting her on the thigh. "Come on, let's get some sleep," He said encouraging her to stand. "Besides it's been a long time since I've been able to take you back to my rack," He teased standing and embracing her. She held him tightly for a few moments before they moved to find more suitable sleeping attire. As Saul had promised the cabin held everything they needed. They were easily able to locate clothing and the head was stocked with more toiletries and cosmetics than they needed. When looking through the top drawer of the full wardrobe Laura noticed the books placed neatly above it. They seemed oddly out of place. She couldn't recall having seen even a single sheet of paper since being aboard and the book's construction looked somewhat rudimentary. The cover and its interior pages were all made from the same smooth white paper with the same basic black text. Even its binding was little more than some waxy adhesive. She thought for a moment that they reminded her of some of the old manuscripts she'd collected at auctions back on the Colonies. She read the titles which were plainly printed on the front covers; The Maltese Falcon and Dawn on Delta. When Bill called her to bed she left them there, too tired to look into them much further.

As they lay in their new rack with only a dim light still glowing above them Bill propped his head up and stared down over Laura. He smiled but didn't say anything.

"What?" She said laughing at his somewhat dreamy expression.

"Nothing, it's just…you look younger," He told her. "Just a little, but you do."

She rolled her eyes and smiled sheepishly.

"Well, so do you," She pointed out and he chuckled.

He'd seen it in the mirror that morning. He did look younger than he remembered though it wasn't by much. What was more noticeable to him as he showered earlier in the day were the missing signs on his body of a life lived. His face was less weathered, his scars were all gone. The large surgical incision from when he'd been shot by Sharon was completely absent. As if Laura could read his mind she reached over to run her hand down his unmarked chest.

"I sort of miss it," She told him.

"I sure don't" He said and she just hummed in return.

Bill reached to the head of the rack to turn the light switch off and then scooped Laura close to him.

"You've always been beautiful, no matter what body you're in," He told her sweetly.

"Go to sleep, Bill," She said in return but snuggled up closer to him showing her appreciation of his sentiment.

"Laura?" Bill asked through a yawn.

"Hmm?"

"That goofy pilot, Blaze, Blazer, Bishop, whatever, does he remind you of anyone?" He asked.

It had been bugging him all day.

"Mmm no," she said sleepily.

Bill shrugged off the notion and kissed the back of her ear.

"Together," He reminded her before he let himself succumb to sleep.

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

"She sure as frak is going to apologize, Ellen," Saul hollered from their sofa where he sat lacing up his boots.

Ellen was still in their bedroom getting dressed for the day.

"Well, I'll talk to Laura today," She called from the other room.

Maybe once I apologize then Katya will be more inclined to follow my lead."

"You better," He groused under his breath.

To say their trip to Beta hadn't gone well would be an understatement. Saul knew if things were going to go according to plan their relationship with all of the resurrected leaders needed to be more than just amicable. Saul and Ellen needed these people to trust them.

"I heard that Saul," Ellen informed him as she entered the room shrugging on a cardigan. "And I already told you I would apologize to both Bill and Laura. I'll do it today when we invite them to dinner. It'll be like a peace offering," She suggested taking a seat beside him. "That reminds me; I need Alexi to come over here and move some stuff around, set up the table," She considered as she looked around their cabin. It was going to be a tight squeeze but they had done it plenty of times before. They always managed to make it work. "Besides it'll be like a little party tonight. There will be booze. Everyone will be in a better mood. You watch."

"Alright. That's fine but you need to watch what you say in front of Katya. You know damn well that when you go after someone she takes up for you without a second thought. I know 'cause I'm usually on the frakkin' receiving end of it."

Saul picked up one of their cabin tablets from where it sat on the cushion beside him and swiped a few times until Alpha's flight schedule projected above it. He wasn't about to ask Katya or Blazer to pilot today's trip out to Delta Station so he needed to find an available shuttle and team.

"Oh, Saul if you think Kat was just going after Laura because I did then you're crazy. She was offended and she was hurt. All the kids were. Even Blaze and you know how hard it is to dampen that boy's spirit. Maybe I didn't help matters but it's not like Laura had zero blame in it. Now, I understand that the woman was obviously overwhelmed and that's why after a night's rest I have cooled down and I'm fully ready to offer my apology but Katya…I don't know, Saul. After the reaming out you gave her last night she's not just mad at Laura. She's mad at you, she's mad at herself, she's mad at the situation and you know what she's like when she gets like that. The kid is stubborn and I'll tell you another thing, Saul; that's not something she got from Isakoff or you or me. Ironically enough she gets that from Bill and Laura. Those two are the most stubborn people I've ever met," Ellen said as she repeatedly poked her husband's arm for effect.

After Saul had shown Bill and Laura to their cabin and left them for the night he'd come back to his own quarters to find Katya waiting as he'd instructed. He took the day's frustrations out on her and she'd done a hell of a job going right back at him. Ellen had given up playing referee after a few rounds and eventually Katya stormed out before he could dismiss her. Saul had so badly wanted her to make a good impression on Bill. He wanted it not just for her sake but so that when it came time for him to tell Bill who she was the man could take solace in knowing his friend had raised his daughter well. Saul understood her emotions but he wouldn't condone her actions.

"Yeah well Katya better change her attitude soon. She's on my last nerve. This is going about as badly as it could. Just how the hell am I supposed to tell them who she is now? That woman has no idea she just went head to head with her own kid," Saul said as he swiped away the schedule and tossed the tablet on to the small table in front of them.

Ellen's mood quickly soured at the mention of Saul's impending revelation. She stood and walked over to their kitchenette to pour herself a glass of ice water. It was an excuse to get out of his line of vision. She wouldn't be able to hide the look on her face from him.

"Have you thought much about that Saul?" She asked dropping some ice into her drink and then turning to look over at him.

He was still on the sofa with his back to her but she could see his shoulders slump as he thought about his answer. She often wondered if he was dreading having to reveal Katya's parentage just as much as she was. Katya had been only theirs for so long. Though she was grown and out of the house now they still thought of her as their child and she so obviously still needed them. Ellen wondered if Saul would eventually start to feel the same pangs of jealousy that already plagued her. She asked him about it on occasion but his answer was always the same. He would always say that his feelings weren't the point. He claimed telling Bill the truth and Katya knowing her true parents was all that mattered.

"Are you kidding" He scoffed. "I've been thinking about it for over fifteen years. Ever since I found out who the kid was," He said trying to avoid her question.

"No Saul, you know what I mean. I mean, when. When are you going to tell them?"

Ellen took some tiny sips from her drink. She knew there was somewhat of a deadline in place. Once the Agathons were downloaded Blaze had no plans to hide his identity. After Bill and Laura found out who he was they were bound to get suspicious. Besides, most people on board knew exactly who and what Katya was. The four descendants weren't exactly a station-wide secret. Years ago when news of their existence had first leaked out it had been one of the biggest scandals in Orbit history. Once Bill and Laura started conversing with more and more people on board they would find out in no time.

"I don't know, Ellen. Soon. I almost slipped about Alexi yesterday morning," He admitted.

Ellen half snorted into her drink. She knew they would start having more and more close calls like that the longer they waited. The first happened in Med Ward the night Katya collapsed. Margot had been standing right there having chased her mother into the clinic. Thankfully no one seemed to notice her striking resemblance to D'Anna that night.

Ellen figured most of that had to do with the fact that Bill and Laura didn't know the Three had been cloned at that point. The rest was due to the confusion of all the commotion and sheer luck. After that they'd asked Margot to keep her distance until further notice. Ellen felt badly about it especially since she hated to keep Katya and Margot apart. They were so close and always seemed to even out each other's temperments much in the same way that Blazer and Alexi did. Margot had been more than understanding about the situation and agreed to stay off of Alpha Station until the cat was out of the bag so to speak.

"Don't you think Katya should have a say?" Ellen posed walking back to the sofa. At this point she knew she was just trying to be contrary.

"Yeah, right," Saul mocked, "Her say would be never, and you know that's not possible."

A knock at the entrance made them both jump a little. Maybe keeping the secret was starting to wear on their nerves just a tad more than they thought. When Ellen opened the hatch she was surprised to find Bill Adama standing there escorted by a marine.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 139B: ASSIGNMENT; ISAKOFF/PETROV

YEAR: 2315

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Katya said through a yawn as she passed by a semi conscious Blazer face-down on her sofa.

It wasn't an uncommon sight in the household but after the lashing her uncle had given her the night before Katya's morning mood was less than welcoming.

"Officer's quarters too loud. Couldn't sleep," Blazer mumbled.

"How's that my problem?" Katya said shuffling to grab a bottle of water from the cooler.

"Mm'lexi let me in. Blame him," Blazer said snuggling into a throw pillow.

"Thanks a lot, Alexi! Think you could have warned me? What if I wasn't dressed?!" Katya called loud enough for her husband to hear her in the shower.

A far off 'sorry' came from the direction of the head.

"Oo, that'd be a fun way to start the day," Blazer teased as he stretched out over the makeshift bed.

"Shut up, Blazer. It's morning. Whoever was snoring or banging in the barracks is probably long done. You can leave now," Katya said flicking her bottle cap in his direction.

It hit is back right between his broad shoulder blades and bounced off somewhere across the room.

"That's real nice, Cap'n. Guess you get that cheery disposition from your mom," Blazer needled.

Knowing that his comment would incite more than just a bottle cap to the back he tucked his head under the pillow. When she didn't respond he wondered if she had left the room and missed his jab. Before he could slip his head from its cushioned shelter he felt the ice cold stream of water splash on to his waste and trail down his backside. Blazer jumped up off of the couch, now startled wide awake by Katya's liquid ammunition.

"Holy shit that's cold!"

"She's not my mom," Katya said with cocky confidence as she tossed the now empty bottle to the lieutenant and walked off back into her bedroom.

Blazer stood in his saturated patrol tank and boxers and crushed the bottle he'd caught in his fist.

"Yeah, well it's hard to ignore the family resemblance. You're both so damn sweet," He called after her as he looked for something to dry himself with.

Katya returned with a towel and tossed it to him.

"Dry off and get out, Blaze," She instructed as she made her way to the kitchenette to grab a piece of fruit.

"Sorry, can't. I'm waiting for Alexi. We're heading over to the Tighs. I'm gunna help him move some furniture for your aunt's dinner tonight," Blazer informed as he did his best to towel off.

"Well there goes my appetite," She said as she discarded her hardly nibbled pear to the counter top. "Did you have to remind me?"

"Remind you of what?" Alexi asked as he made his way into the room freshly showered and sporting his tank and gym pants.

"The Tigh's dinner tonight," Blazer answered enjoying the look on Katya's face when he repeated it.

Alexi kissed Katya on the cheek and picked up her abandoned pear.

"Oh yeah," Alexi said taking a big bite, "That reminds me, Blaze. When I messaged Ellen to tell her you were coming to help lift she said to invite you to dinner," He informed as he chewed. He squinted when he noticed the state of Blazer's boxers. "Man, did you piss yourself?"

That got at least a smirk out of Katya.

"Your lovely wife's idea of a friendly wake up call," Blazer said tossing down the towel.

"Nice one, Koshka," Alexi winked at his wife.

She grinned proudly.

"You sure the colonel wants me at dinner?" Blazer asked.

Alexi finished his fruit in a few short bites and tossed core down the disposal. When he hit the switch he could tell by the sound it made that it was almost full. When cabin disposals were full residents had the responsibility of sending an alert message out for pick up. The contents were collected station wide and sent to Beta's agriculture department to be used as compost for fungi; one of their only non-hydroponic forms of produce. Alexi sent the alert out with a few swipes to his cuff before double checking Ellen's message.

"Yeah. Ellen says it was his idea," Alexi confirmed. "I guess he figured Katya and I wouldn't be much for polite conversation. Thinks you'll lighten the mood," Alexi rolled his eyes.

"He wants Blazer there to break up the tension? I must have really pissed that lady off," Katya beamed as she lifted herself up to sit on the counter.

In truth she was anything but proud of herself. Internally she was devastated at the way things had gone with Laura. She wasn't sorry for anything she'd said. She was just sorry that she had to say it at all. Every time she thought of the woman's words in the lab her anger swelled. Katya found it hard to believe that Laura couldn't understand the gravity of the situation which could only mean that she didn't care. She knew how much Saul and Ellen had put into the project. Katya wondered if Roslin's apparent aversion toward Ellen had fueled her response. The thought made her even more upset. She knew her aunt had more than a few faults but she loved her dearly and she would always defend her dedication and devotion to the project. Out of all the ways Katya had pictured Laura Roslin over the years she had never pictured her as someone who would dismiss an entire people over her own distaste for the situation. Wasn't this the woman who supposedly spent her dying days dedicated to serving her own people? Katya knew that she had probably idealized the woman in her head for a long time. Part of it had been wishful thinking and some of it her uncle's encouraging stories and descriptions. Either way Alexi had been right; she had set herself up for disappointment in a major way.

"Yeah well the commander is going to be there, so we all need to at least be somewhat civil," Alexi warned as he tossed Blazer an orange. "Come in uniform too," He added.

"Think I could get Xao to write me a sick note?" Katya half joked.

"Keep skipping meals and you'll end up with a real sick note. Yehst'," Alexi warned as he held out the fruit bowl for her.

She pushed it away.

He'd been extra worried about her since the fainting spell in Med Ward. He knew it had mostly been due to the shock of the moment but Tawny said her poor blood sugar had added to it. Katya never had a good appetite; a product of experiments conducted on all four of them as children. They had been used by their scientist parents to test an all supplemental diet for an extended period of time. The purpose of the research was in response to a Committee concern over what would happen to the people if Beta Station's grow-ops was somehow destroyed or badly damaged. It wasn't the only test done on the four children but it was one that caused some annoying and lasting ramifications. When the testing had ended the boys had no trouble returning to a solid diet but for some reason Margot and Katya had struggled and never truly adjusted to the change. The more Alexi offered his wife snacks and vitamins the more she refused. She was as stubborn as they came but when it came to Katya, Alexi had patience.

"Well I'm accepting Ellen's invitation. I'm not gunna miss round two," Blazer said popping a section of orange in his mouth. "Hey you guys, I have Beta Lab clearance. Want to watch the recording of yesterday?" He asked pointing to their image screen. "Let's pull it up on the network. Cap, I bet we could zoom in and see that little vein that pops out on your forehead when you get really angry."

Had he been serious they could have actually watched the entire scene unfold once again. Footage from the station's military labs was recorded constantly as was the case in many military locations aboard each station. Recorded data could be accessed by anyone with the right clearance going as far back as the year 2265. The entire project up until the recent Roslin-Adama download had been recorded on all stations in detail. Katya would sometimes pull up footage from before her father's death. Watching it she could relive the days she had spent with him as he worked diligently in the lab so excited for the future.

"How is this my life?" Katya satirically inquired palming her forehead.

"How is this any of our lives?" Her husband returned retrieving a bottle of water from the cooler and popping it open.

"When are you back on the board, Cap?" Blazer asked wiping some fruit juice from his stubbled chin.

"Not till Monday," She answered grimly.

"At least you're getting some R&R out of this," Blazer offered.

"You call this R&R?" Alexi scoffed on Katya's behalf.

"I'd rather be flying anyway," She added.

Blazer munched on another slice of fruit as he spoke.

"Never know, Cap. Tonight might not be so bad. Maybe Roslin's mood has changed after a good night's sleep out of Med Ward. I mean, I didn't like what she was spouting off about yesterday either but maybe if we're super friendly and convincing tonight she'll change her tune," Blazer suggested. "Besides I want to talk to Adama some more. I bet he and the Colonel could tell some crazy stories. Plus I like his voice. It's like gritty and smooth all at the same time. Kinda cool."

"How the fuck are you always so optimistic?" Katya complained, tossing her head back with exasperation.

"I have to be, Koshka. Around you guys especially. You two are a couple of melancholy fucks," Blazer stated as he walked over to toss away his orange peel. "And you feed into each other's bad arritudes. Sometimes I'm surprised you even convince yourselves to get out of bed in the morning." He said as he hit the disposal switch.

"Today I almost didn't," Katya wryly admitted with a smirk and a roll of her eyes as she slid off of the countertop and walked away.

Blazer took her spot.

"Well, Sergeant, are you gunna lend my happy ass some clothes? Or am I gunna have to move furniture around at the Tigh's looking like I wet the bed?"

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

"Bill," Ellen happily greeted.

"Bill, is something wrong?" Saul quickly followed jumping up out of his seat.

"No, not really," Bill answered as Ellen gestured for him to enter.

She closed the hatch behind him leaving his security detail on the other side.

"Why didn't you message me, Bill? I would have come over if you needed something. Our trip over to Delta isn't for another couple of hours," Saul reminded, smotioning for Bill to take a seat on the sofa.

Ellen went into the kitchen fill a pitcher with some water and gather some glasses as the men took their seats.

"Yeah, I know, Saul. I can't figure this damn thing out," Bill complained looking at his cuff.

"I'll give you a better lesson today," Saul assured him. "I don't mean to keep you cooped up in your cabin, Bill. Its just that I'm not sure how I feel about you walking the halls alone just yet. People 'round here are mighty anxious to get a look at you. I mean military has their orders not to bug you. It shouldn't be so bad in this corridor but still, you never know," Saul explained.

"Saul, I'm not a godsdamn invalid. I wasn't alone either. There were two marines outside the hatch this morning. I left one with Laura and the other escorted me here. It was a three minute walk for frak sake." Bill contended as he leaned back into his seat on the sofa.

"Alright, alright, just keep your wits about you. You're the most valuable thing on this station right now," Saul informed him as Ellen leaned over to place a tray on the coffee table.

Bill was slightly annoyed by Saul's referral of him as a thing but he decided to let it pass. He had come for a reason.

"Thirsty, Bill?" Ellen asked with a smile. Bill politely thanked her with a simple nod but he avoided eye contact. She decided that she should just get her apology over with as soon as possible. "Bill, I want to let you know how sorry I am for some of the things I said on Beta yesterday. They were inappropriate and I really don't want our relationship to start back off on such an awful note," She offered ringing her hands in front of herself.

"Well thank you for that, Ellen. I know Laura's having some trouble adjusting to all of this but I appreciate you saying so."

"I mean it, Bill and I want to apologize to Laura too. In fact we want to invite you both to dinner here tonight with Commander Kaplan. Consider it an olive branch? We'd be so happy if you'd agree to join us," Ellen said following with her sweetest smile.

"There'll be booze," Saul interjected with a light fist to Bill's arm.

"In that case I'd love to," He accepted. "But I don't know about Laura," He amended, his smile fading. "In fact, Ellen, she's the reason why I'm here," Bill started as his brow fell.

"Bill, I promise I'm going to personally apologize to her too," Ellen insisted. "I'll do it before we head to Delta today. And Katya...well…uh we're working on it," She said with a nervous laugh.

Saul just grunted.

"No, Ellen, that's not it," Bill began again, "Laura actually sent me over here to get you, Ellen. She um…well she wasn't feeling well when she woke up and she was wondering if you'd mind heading over to our cabin," He explained.

Ellen looked at Saul who just shrugged.

"Oh, dear, well should I call Dr. Xao? I mean is she alright?" Ellen asked suddenly very worried over the state of one of their most precious assets.

No matter how much the woman got under Ellen's skin she was still, in essence, priceless to the project and the people of Earth Orbit. If Le Blanc got word that one of them was ill she would have Ellen's head.

"No, no nothing like that," Bill shook his head. "At least I don't think. Would you mind just heading down there though? Besides it might give you two a chance to talk," He suggested.

"Uh, of course. I'll go right now," Ellen hesitantly agreed. She had been set to apologize but she thought she'd have a few hours to mull over what she would say. She supposed she could improvise. "Saul, if I'm not back in the next hour just message me when you know our flight time," She instructed as she moved toward the hatch.

Looking back at Bill she noticed that he hadn't followed.

"Are you not coming, Bill?" She asked suspiciously.

"Uh, no. I think I'll stay here with Saul if that's alright," He said looking toward his friend.

"Fine by me," Saul affirmed.

Fabulous, Ellen thought; another one on one with Laura Roslin. She couldn't wait. Still, she was curious over what Laura could have summoned her for. This would be interesting, no doubt.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

Laura had woken up feeling awful. The feeling only intensified once she was awake enough to register the nature of her ailment. The old familiar ache had started to gnaw within her during the early hours of the morning. At first she had tried to deny what she was feeling. She'd tossed and turned in the rack beside Bill trying to ignore it. She hoped she would fall back to sleep and wake up to find the pain had vanished. It hadn't worked. Eventually her fitfulness had woken Bill. With the addition of his incessant worried inquiries and the nagging discomfort of a problem which she could no longer ignore Laura had eventually fled to the privacy of the head. After an unreasonable amount of time behind the door, mostly spent in a state of denial and panic, Laura composed herself and emerged to find Bill sitting on the side of the rack anxiously waiting. With only a short and slightly awkward explanation she'd asked him to go retrieve Ellen. He'd washed up quickly and left the cabin in a somewhat jittery state which would have made her laugh had she not felt so utterly awful. After a hot shower and a change of clothes she was feeling moderately better. She found a bottle of mild pain killers in the head cabinet and took two while she awaited Ellen's arrival. To Bill's credit she hadn't waited very long. Laura heard Ellen's voice behind the hatch before she even knocked.

"Laura, it's Ellen. Are you alright in there?" She called through the door.

She really hated that she had to call on Ellen Tigh. They had never liked one another and now after their exchange of words on Beta station the two were on less than amicable terms. Ellen was just about the last person Laura cared to see so early in the morning but what choice did she have? She needed some answers and she needed help. Ellen was the only one she knew to ask.

Laura made her way to the hatch as quickly as she could and opened it just as Ellen was about to pound on it again.

"Oh, um, Laura," Ellen stuttered somewhat caught by surprised "Are you okay? Bill sent me."

Laura just nodded silently and motioned for Ellen to enter. She politely smiled at the marine outside before shutting the hatch and joining Ellen where she stood in front of the sofa.

Ellen looked Laura up and down. She seemed fine. No obvious signs of distress. What the heck was this about?

"Laura, what's wrong?" Ellen asked the other woman who stood with her arms crossed looking like she was ready to send someone to the principal's office. "Wait. If this is about what happened yesterday I want you to know that I fully apologize. You were upset and I know we have literally put the world on your shoulders over the last few days. I shouldn't have attacked you the way I did. And Katya, well, she's just scared and she's just so used to sticking up for me. I just…"

"Look, Ellen, I appreciate that but we were both upset. Why don't we just agree to forget it?" Laura offered cutting off Ellen's apologetic rambling. "Besides, that isn't why I asked you to come here."

Ellen folded her hands in front of herself and smiled.

"Forgetting about it sounds just fine to me," She agreed. "So, if you didn't call me here for another verbal throw down then what's the problem? You seem alright to me," She observed as she crossed her own arms mimicking Laura's prim stance.

Laura raised her eyebrows and let out a soft weary chuckle.

"Ellen, tell me something. How old is this body that you've…put me in supposed to be exactly?" Laura posed.

Ellen squinted at the question and licked at her lips.

"I don't know. It was really just an estimation. How old were you when you died?" Ellen shrugged.

Laura only glared in her direction.

Ellen sighed.

"I can't give you a better answer than that, Laura. I'm sorry. In reality that body was created about three decades ago. I told you before; in stasis we were able to slow down, speed up or stop the aging process artificially whenever we needed to. When it came close your download time Saul and I just tried to get you both as close as possible to how we saw you last without overshooting our mark. We couldn't go backwards if we accidentally overdid it. To be honest Laura, when you and I first met you were already sick. I had no way of knowing how much the cancer had already worn at you. I didn't know you before then," Ellen explained. "So, maybe I was a little generous in picking a physical stopping point when it came to your body but it can't be by much. Anyway, who cares? You look good. Great actually. What's the difference?" Ellen finished tossing her hands up and letting herself flop on to the sofa.

Laura slowly stepped closer to where Ellen now sat and looked down at her with an arched brow.

"The difference, Ellen, is that this body you've given me seems to still have a frakking menstrual cycle," Laura finally challenged.

Ellen stared up at Laura with wide eyes for a few long silent moments before bursting into laughter.

Laura rolled her eyes as she watched Ellen overcome by a fit of giggles.

"I'm glad you find this so funny," Laura said with a glare at the laughing woman.

"Oh my gods! You're frakking kidding, right?" Ellen balked with a snicker, "Please tell me you're joking, Laura," She added wiping some tears away from the corners of her eyes.

"I most certainly am not joking, Ellen and I don't think it's funny."

"Oh gods, Laura, it kind of is," Ellen posed slightly out of breath and trying to get Laura to see some humor in the situation. It wasn't working. "Okay, okay. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so insensitive. It's been a few hundred thousand years for me," Ellen said with another chuckle.

"Yeah, me too," Laura came back at her as she sat across from Ellen on the surface of the coffee table.

"Are you sure, Laura? I mean how old were you when all that quit on you the last time?" Ellen said failing terribly at hiding her smile with a hand over her mouth.

"Well I guess I'm not sure but if I'm wrong, then I'm in a lot more trouble than I thought," Laura observed. "And I don't know; forty-seven, forty-eight? It was over a year before the fall of the Colonies. I can't remember exactly."

"Okay then, let's just take it easy," Ellen said sitting up in her seat. "So then we can't be that far off. You may have a few less crows feet but I didn't go crazy. You're no spring chicken. Maybe it was brought on by stress? Maybe it will only last a few months," Ellen optimistically suggested.

Laura leaned over with her elbows on her knees and her head in her palms. She let out a low groan.

"Oh, it's not that bad, Laura. Maybe the lab can figure something out. I'm sorry. I really am. I tried my best but it was my mistake and I'll make sure you're taken care of," Ellen assured her. "Either way, we should probably get you over to Dr. Tawny right away to be safe."

"Back to the infirmary?" Laura winced.

"Well you can still walk, can't you? I'm not going to ask her to do a cabin call for this," Ellen teased.

Laura shrugged. She wasn't looking forward to heading back there and she was more than just a little embarrassed.

"C'mon," Ellen encouraged as she moved off of the sofa. "I'll just tell Bill and Saul to head to Delta Station without us. I know you didn't want to go anyway," She said swiping at her station cuff. "So, did you uh, tell Bill?" She asked with a snort.

"Yeah, Ellen, I did," Laura sighed. "I had to. He knew something was up and I knew he wouldn't let it go without an explanation," She told her.

Ellen bit her lip trying like hell not to smile. Looking up from her cuff she shook her head at Laura and smirked.

"Let's go. Tawny will figure it out and you'll get some rest. It will be fine. Then later tonight you and Bill are going to come over for dinner and drinks," Ellen said matter-of-factly as Laura stood and the two made their way to the hatch.

"Dinner? Ellen, I don't know if I feel up to that tonight," Laura protested.

"Oh yes you are. I've seen you hold a press conference two steps away from being on your death bed. You can make it through a dinner party with cramps," Ellen joked.

"Ellen, I'm so close to changing my mind about forgetting our little tiff yesterday," Laura warned.

"Lighten up, Laura," Ellen said as she opened the hatch. "You know this reminds me of when I had to bring Katya in for her first 'grown up' visit with the doctor. Maybe later you and I can braid each other's hair and talk about the birds and the bees," She added with a wink.

"Ellen, do you really think it's wise to frak with someone who has suddenly become hormonal for the first time in two millennia?"

If Ellen was at all intimidated it was masked by her complete amusement over the situation.

"Follow us, handsome," Ellen instructed the marine guard as he closed the hatch behind them and they started to walk on.

LOCATION: DELTA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

MILITARY LABORATORY FACILITY

YEAR: 2315

Saul had a hell of a time arranging a flight out to Delta. At first they had tried to stick them with a couple of rooks but Saul wasn't about to trust Bill Adama's safety to some bonehead nuggets. With some rearranging and a few unpopular direct orders he was able to get them a proper escort team by mid-afternoon. Without Laura and Ellen along for the trip the day had been much less tense than the last. Though Bill had been somewhat distracted and worried about Laura, Saul had done his best to assure him that no matter what their personal relationship might be, Laura's health and safety would always be Ellen's number one priority. Saul's reassurance and Ellen's frequent updating messages had been enough to keep Bill placated during most of the trip.

The two old friends were able to reconnect a bit. Saul taught Bill about Orbit Patrol's military protocol and about the engines used to propel the Falcons and Hawks used in combat. Bill was surprised a few times to find that he was actually enjoying himself. Little by little he was starting to allow himself to laugh at Saul's jokes. It helped as he tried to accept his new surroundings. The day had gone exceptionally well until after they had arrived in Delta's military lab. As Saul expected he would be, Bill was still uneasy around the stasis chambers. He couldn't blame him. He knew seeing the lifeless bodies not only spoke of what was to come but also reminded Bill of what it had taken to get him there. Knowing that a clone of your body had been floating naked in a tank for over thirty years under the observation of strangers had to be difficult. Saul figured that the occupants of the Delta chambers would trigger different emotions for Bill than seeing Helo and Athena had. Though Anders had been one of Bill's pilots, he had also been one of the Final Five. The last time Bill saw him he had sent the boy into the sun to die. His reaction to D'Anna was hard to read. Their relationship with the Cylon Three had been a complicated one and the knowledge that she was there as Kara's replacement hung thick in the air around her tank. Bill stared solemnly at the site before him. He asked questions now and then which Saul did his best to answer.

"So they will be the last to download," Bill observed. "Any particular reasoning for the order of things?"

Saul shook his head and rubbed at his chin.

"Not really. Everything involving the project has always been carried out in the order of creation. You and Laura are always first, then Helo and Athena. Had Baltar and Caprica survived they would come before Anders and D'Anna," Saul explained.

Bill furrowed his brow at the mention of the missing bodies.

"What happened to them?" He decided to ask turning from the chambers. He knew the bodies had been destroyed but the details as to what happened had been kept vague by both Saul and Ellen so far.

"Like, I told you, there was an attack on Gamma," Saul started. "The bots, the androids that occupy the surfice, the ones we are fighting against did it. Their version of mechanical humanoids; ones you could compare to Cylon centurions, boarded the station one day. They don't have skin jobs thank the gods. They don't have any synthetic organics as far as we know. They mostly exist on the surface as a network of software controlling almost every mechanism on the planet that ever had as much as a calculator programmed on to it," Saul went on as Bill listened intently. "The whole Orbit system used to get attacked a lot more before we brought the basestar in range. It still happens on occasion but most of the combat is carried out right about where the planet's atmosphere ends. We try like hell not to let them get any closer than that. Anyway a few years ago some of those bots were able to infiltrate Gamma Station. Took out almost fifty people on their way to the lab. They are ugly sons-a-bitches too. I know centurions in any stage of their development have never been too pleasing to look at but these things, well they creep the hell out of me. They're smaller than centurions. Thin and lanky, big rounded heads with no visible eyes to speak of but they shoot three different kinds of deadly ammunition with incredible precision and accuracy."

Saul's description was enough to make Bill's skin crawl. He hoped like hell he'd never have to see one for himself.

"They stormed Gamma's lab, killed the staff off in under two minutes and then blasted the hell out of both tanks. It was a frakkin' blitzkrieg. These labs are under continual surveillance. I've seen the footage. Even if both bodies hadn't been shot to hell there would have been no saving them. The tanks were depressurized when the first bullets hit the glass. Without secondary life support they would have been unsalvageable before anyone got to them," Saul stopped for a moment and looked back at the chambers.

"Similar attacks had happened twice before that. Ellen told you about one yesterday. Dr. Bishop and his team; they gave their lives to save the Agathons."

"And the other time?" Bill asked.

Saul inhaled deeply before answering and looked back at Bill.

"They were after you and Laura. Marines got to lab before the bots were able to get to your chambers but they had already killed more than half of the lab staff including your creator, Dr. Isakoff, Katya's father." Saul looked down at his boots as he continued. "He used to take her to work with him all the time. She was there with him that day. When word of the coming ambush got to the lab he hid her in a supply closet before the hatch was breached. The kid heard the whole thing. Saw some of it too. We never figured out just how much she witnessed. She was just seven years old," Saul said trying to shake the image out of his head.

He hated to think of Katya going through the awful ordeal. For years after she was plagued by nightmares and horrifying memories. Saul could recall countless nights when he and Ellen had stayed up trying to soothe the girl back to sleep.

"Anyway, after that Ellen and I moved aboard Alpha permanently. We felt better about the safety of your bodies being close by. We took in Katya right away and we've been aboard ever since."

Bill felt his teeth clenching together like a vice. The description of Saul's story painted a gruesome picture. Not only had he and Laura's bodies been moments away from being obliterated, but people had lain down their lives to stop it from happening. Even more sickening, it had all been witnessed by a terrified little girl. Suddenly Bill thought Katya's outburst toward Laura made a hell of a lot more sense. Her father had sacrificed his life so that they could be here one day to carry out the mission set for them. He could see now why Laura's words had incited such rage in the young woman.

"That girl's been through a lot," Bill stated.

Saul nodded slowly.

"Yeah, she has."

"Saul, you and Ellen seem like you've done your best with that kid. I can't speak for Laura!but I won't hold yesterday against her," Bill offered.

"I appreciate you saying that, Bill." Saul said with a small smile.

"Hey, father to father, I understand. After Lee, Zak and Kara, believe me I've seen and heard it all," Bill laughed with a hand to Saul's shoulder. "Sometimes kids say things that you'd never dreamed they'd ever say. I found that in the end how proud I was of each of them had less to do with what they'd ever said and more to do with what they'd done."

As the men stood there the wheel of the lab's hatch creaked and opened. When they turned to see who had entered Saul went white a sheet. It was Margot.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MED WARD

YEAR: 2315

"You can sit back up, Ms. Roslin," Tawny instructed.

As the doctor walked over to the counter to wash up Laura did her best to situate herself in a more comfortable and modest position. When she and Ellen had made it to Med Ward the younger Dr. Xao had been waiting for them. Laura assumed Ellen had sent a message to Tawny during their walk over though she hadn't noticed. She had been too distracted over her current predicament to pay much attention to her surroundings. Now that it had been days since the download the clinic was once again filled with military patients. With discretion in mind Tawny had led Laura to one of only two private rooms in the entire infirmary. Laura was relieved to be behind a door and not a flimsy curtain for once. Ellen had stayed outside promising she would be there to take Laura back to her quarters once they were through.

"Well, you're right," Tawny said walking back over to the examining table. She carried a tablet with her. Taking a seat on the stool beside the exam table she turned the device on. "Just Mother Nature rearing her bitchy head again," She joked with a smile.

Laura wondered how much more mortifying the day could possibly get.

"Are you sure?" She cringed.

"Yes, Ma'am. I see no signs of cysts or internal damage. I actually gave you a pelvic before you downloaded. That was just a few days ago. Had there been any abnormalities I would have seen them then," Tawny informed her.

That's how much more mortifying the day could get, Laura thought. Now she had that lovely picture in her mind. She wondered just what else her body had been through before she'd inhabited it. How many people had handled it, seen it unoccupied by a living soul? How many people had watched it as it floated in the same kind of chambers she watched the Agathons floating in?

"It's good news, Ms. Roslin. Believe me out of all the things it could have been this is the least serious. You're perfectly healthy. You're just uncomfortable," Tawny offered. "Would you scan your cuff over the screen please?" Tawny requested holding out the lucite glowing tablet.

Laura did as she was asked and soon an image of a document with her name on it hovered above the device.

"How long do you think I'm going to have to…deal with this?" Laura asked as Tawny seemed to add some notes to the projected file.

"Well, I can't really say. As Mrs. Tigh told you, we only have an estimation of the approximate relative age of your body. Technically it was created thirty-eight years ago but thanks to the aging process of the stasis chambers, that number is really no help to us. It means nothing," Tawny admitted. "We have to take environment into consideration as well. This body hasn't had the effects that any average person's would have over the course of a lifetime; stress, illness, diet. Genetically it's identical to your old one, but…"

"But, it's not my body," Laura finished.

"Well, it is now," Tawny shrugged. "You said yourself that gauging your own physical appearance the Tighs could have only been a few years off target at the most. I doubt it'll be too long until cessation of menses begins. Here's the thing, Ms. Roslin; I can put a stop to it if that's your decision but I don't recommend it in your case. We know that your body is genetically predisposed to developing breast cancer," She said before pausing.

Laura looked at the doctor waiting for her to continue.

"Yes. I'm aware. It killed me," Laura remarked not seeing the point.

"The issue is that hormone therapies used to alter the natural cycle are in some cases found to increase the risk of developing those types of cancer. Even without your former medical history available the lab was able to see that your DNA held an over 85% chance of an occurrence. You posses a gene mutation called BRCA1. It's genetic. With that in mind I want to air on the side of being extra cautious. We have a cure for it now, which I'm happy to tell you, but cancer is still hell for the body to go through so avoidance is always paramount," Tawny explained.

Laura was caught off guard when tears started to well up in her eyes. She dabbed at them with her thumb before they had a chance to fall and then cleared her throat.

"You can cure it?" She asked wanting to make sure she had heard the doctor correctly.

Watching her mother suffer with cancer and then going through it herself Laura never thought that she would live to hear those words. Baltar had found a so called cure. It had given her time but in the end it had come back.

"Yes, Ma'am," The doctor confirmed. LIn people without any other complicating factors the success rate is well over 90%, but like I said, better not to risk putting the body through it at all," Tawny repeated.

"This cure, doctor is it…is it cylon?"

Tawny put the tablet in her lap and took a moment before she answered.

"Ms. Roslin, there is something I feel like you should understand. Genetically you may be purely Colonial but humans here in Orbit, all of us whose families came from the surface; we are all partially Cylon. We're all partially Colonial-human as well and part native Earth-human too. We're an amalgamation of your descendants, the cylons your people brought with them and the humans that were already here. For much of our existence that fact was forgotten. Now that we are aware of it once again I feel like it's something that's always important to remind ourselves of. If you're asking if the cure came from the Tighs or their basestar then the answer is no. I know that your last body was treated once with a dose of Cylon-Colonial hybrid blood from what I understand. Our current treatment is nothing like that, if it makes you feel any better," Tawny finished and picked up the tablet again.

Laura understood the doctor's explanation but she had a feeling the true gravity of its meaning was going to take longer to sink in.

"Now I guess this is as good of a time as any to get some information since you're already here," The doctor continued. "Though most of your former medical history; things like broken bones or getting the measles aren't relevant to this body we would still like to have some history on record. Things that may still affect this body like family history or former allergies that might be helpful to have on file. Your DNA analysis from the lab gave us decent projections but it would help to know if you remember anything in particular that might be good for us to know."

Laura shrugged as she tried to think of information that could be helpful. She really just wanted to get up, get dressed and get the hell out of the ward.

"My mother died of breast cancer too. My maternal grandmother was diabetic. I used to be allergic to pollen but after I left the Colonies my allergies never bothered me again," Laura recalled. She stopped and shook her head at a loss. She had no desire to continue so she gave up trying to remember. She was so tired. "I'm sorry if that's not very helpful. It's been a long day so far. I might be able to think of more later on."

Tawny nodded in understanding.

"That's perfectly alright, Ms. Roslin. I want you to know that the body you're in now has always been in excellent condition and still is," The young doctor informed her. "And I plan on helping you keep it that way," She said as she swiped through Laura's records that had been kept by the lab. "Oh here's something you should probably know about it." Tawny stood to show Laura the screen's projection and pointed to a section labeled; procedures."They removed your tonsils and adenoids in the lab over twenty years ago," Tawny informed pointing to a box that read Adenoidectomy/ Tonsillectomy. "If I remember hearing correctly from my dad, it was a precautionary procedure done on all of the bodies. You were taken out of stasis and put on life support relatively often for things like chamber maintenance. The frequent intubation would often irritate the throat tissue. The glands were removed to prevent recurring infection."

Laura listened to Tawny speak as she scanned the form in front of her. Okay, so she had no tonsils. Tonsils weren't important were they? Just as Tawny went to swipe the document to its next page something on the file caught Laura's attention.

"Doctor, can you swipe back?" She asked sitting up straighter on the table.

"Something wrong?" Tawny asked.

"Well, yes. I think that file has an error on it."

Without thinking Tawny swiped back to the previous page.

"Right there," Laura pointed to the section labeled 'procedures'. "The box that says Live Births. It's checked off and set to one."

As Tawny's eyes zeroed in on the words she thought she felt her heart stop cold in her chest. How could she have been so careless? She might as well just drop dead there in the examining room because there were about six people who were going to be gunning for her anyway if she didn't think fast.

"Oh," Tawny laughed, "I see it. You know what? I must have accidentally clicked it up from zero when I was swiping," She lied. Her brain felt like scrambled mush and she couldn't tell if Laura was suspicious of her story or not. She just kept smiling and hoping that Katya would have the decency to knock her out cold before she started breaking bones. "It's been an exciting few days but I think I would remember if you'd come in for that," Tawny tried to cover with a joke. She temporarily set the number to zero in front of Laura and then quickly shut the tablet down. "Speaking of that, I'll be right back and we'll get you fitted for a prevention implant," She said trying her best to gage the woman's facial expression.

"Prevention implant?"

"Yes. I assume you want one," Tawny answered.

"I...uh...Is that really nessesary?"

"It's more of a precaution," Tawny shrugged. "Due to your current state we have to assume that you're ovulating. That doesnt mean that anything could result of it at this stage but better safe than sorry."

Laura cringed and pinched at the bridge of her nose. Her cheeks went warm. She just wanted to disappear.

Tawny couldnt tell what the women was thinking. She could only hope that she'd already forgotten about the stupid file mishap.

"It's a quick procedure. It shouldnt cause much more discomfort than you're already feeling. Might as well get it over with now. I'll get things ready if that's okay?"

Satisfied once Laura nodded, Tawny left the room to find Ellen. After frantically scanning the area she found her sitting across the ward in a chair engrossed in whatever she was looking at on her station cuff.

"What the hell's the matter with you, Doc?" Ellen said looking up from her wrist." You look sicker than half the people you're treating in here."

"Please, don't kill me, Ellen," Tawny winced.

LOCATION: DELTA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

MILITARY LABORATORY FACILITY

YEAR: 2315

As the two men stood face to face with a stunned Margot, Saul's mind ran through all of his possible options but none of them seemed right. Before he could settle on a reaction Margot spoke.

"Sorry, Colonel. I didn't know you'd be in here," She explained nervously.

They had told her stay off of Alpha but they hadn't warned her that they would be boarding Delta. Since she'd helped Katya to fix up Roslin and Adama's cabin Margot had been thinking more and more about her own upcoming experience. Her mother had been of little help when she'd asked her for advice on the situation. For the last few days she had been visiting the lab when she had down time and she knew her mother wouldn't be in. She thought that coming to see her birth parents more often would help her asses her own feelings and what her future might look like with them in it. She hadn't meant to cause any trouble.

"That's alright, Specialist." Saul said and cleared his throat. "Not your fault," He added.

She just nodded in response.

Before he could decide whether to introduce her or dismiss her she gave him a salute, turned around and left the lab. The whole encounter lasted about thirty seconds. Maybe Bill hadn't even noticed what she looked like, Saul considered. Maybe there was no problem. His hopes were dashed once he dared to look at the man beside him. Bill's eyes were bugged out of his skull and Saul could tell he was grinding his teeth. He could even see the veins in his neck starting to pulse.

"Bill," Saul started but he was cut off.

"Who or… what was that?" Bill said through gritted teeth.

Saul inhaled deeply and considered his answer. He wouldn't lie but he wouldn't give Bill any extra information yet if he didn't have to.

"Bill, that was Margot. She's a soldier, a communications engineer here on Delta."

"And why does she look so frakking much like the woman in this tank?" Bill hissed as he angrily pointed toward D'Anna's chamber.

Saul felt like he had been backed into a corner. What else could he do? This wasn't how he wanted it to happen but there didn't seem to be any way out of it.

"Bill..."

"Saul, if there are other copies of these bodies I want to know about them now. Don't frak with me! If this is some cylon offshoot project where you're trying to bring back anything resembling a resurrection ship I want nothing to do with it! You told me why I was brought back here and I believed you," Bill sneered.

"No, Bill, it's not. It's nothing like that. That isn't it."

"So are there copies of all the bodies then? Is there another version of me? One of Helo? Another Anders? I don't like this, Saul!" Bill warned getting more and more heated as he moved in closer toward the other man.

"Bill, you have to believe me when I tell you that's not the case. You're it, that body, that's it. When it dies you die and the same will be true for D'Anna once she's awake," Saul promised. "I swear on everything, that's the truth. After this I don't plan having anything to do with the resurrection of another soul for the rest of my godsdamn days!"Saul barked back in Bill's face.

Bill took a few steps back and shook his head. He was obviously confused.

"Bill, listen. Some things went on here before Ellen and I came to live within the station system. Things we had no part in and no knowledge of, things we put a stop to. The girl you saw was a product of illegal usage of cylon Three DNA that we provided but that girl is not D'Anna. She has her own identity, her own soul and if I'd just shot her point blank in the head with my side arm she'd drop down dead right here in the lab, same as you or I would. She wouldn't resurrect and she wouldn't go back to another waiting body. I promise you that's true, Bill."

Saul knew he was walking a fine line, but he couldn't let things unfold this way.

"You believe me don't you, Old Man?" Saul asked hoping like hell that his explanation would be enough for now.

Bill looked back at the tanks, down to the floor and back again. He rubbed his face with the palm of his hand and inhaled deeply. He had been dropped into one insane situation, he thought, but he believed his friend.

"Yeah, Saul, I do," He nodded.

"That's good, Bill. I'm glad. Look this project hasn't gone perfectly. It's had some major problems but it isn't some big trick. I wouldn't ever do that to you."

"I know that," Bill affirmed.

Saul's station cuff buzzed at his side cutting into what was left of the tense moment. He looked at it and read the message.

"Laura's out of the ward," Saul said putting his arm around Bill and leading him toward the lab's hatch. "Let's get you back to her."

The two men left Delta without much more being said about the incident in the lab. Once they were back aboard Alpha Bill promised Saul that they would be at dinner if Laura was up for it. Saul promised himself that if they made it through dinner he would tell Bill the truth before the night was over.

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

"Dammit Blaze, how are you losing to him? He's never even been in a cockpit!" Katya teased.

"It's not fair, Cap. This game is nothing like the real thing," Blaze complained in defense.

"Is this real enough for ya?" Alexi snarked as he showered Blazer's animated Falcon with ammo on the Tigh's image screen.

"Ouch!" Katya shouted as she watched the display on the wall in front of her.

"I'm out!" Blazer yelled as he turned the projection off of with his controller and tossed it to the side.

Alexi just chuckled softly to himself and reset the game.

"Wow, Blazer, I'd tell people how horrible you are at this, but you're on my squadron so I'm too embarrassed," Katya mocked as she took a drag from the long stick of a vaporizer before passing it to the other pilot.

"That game is bull," Blazer insisted between puffs. "Totally unrealistic."

"Don't be such a sore loser, Blaze. Just say it; I got my flyboy ass beat three times in a row by a boot stomping marine," Alexi gloated grabbing the device from Blaze and placing it between his grinning teeth.

"Hey, hey, hey!" Came Ellen's warning voice. "What have I told you all about using these things!?" She said as she appeared behind the sofa. She took the vaporizer right out of Alexi's mouth and placed it between her own lips.

"Uh, I think your usual words are 'they're mine, don't touch 'em'?" Katya mocked.

"That's right," Ellen said with a smirk as she exhaled. "Now c'mon, turn that game off and get ready. You don't even have you're tunics on," She complained as she put the device away in an end table drawer.

Their guests would be arriving soon and Ellen hadn't had as much time to get ready as she thought she would.

"What's with you?" Katya frowned as she watched her aunt busily milling around the cabin straightening things that were already in order. "You're acting so weird and high strung."

Ellen shook her head and laughed to herself.

"Katya, you don't know the day I've had," She snarked.

"Why weren't you here when Lex and Blaze came to move the furniture?" The younger woman probed.

Ellen finally stopped fussing with the table setting she was rearranging and looked at Katya.

"I told you something came up. I said I was sorry. Just put your tunic on, Katya," She warned. "Boys, there are still some chairs in the closet. Would you get them for me? Oh and someone please move that ottoman into Katya's old room. We need all the frakking foot space we can get."

Blazer stood up from his seat on the sofa.

"Abso-frakking-lutly , Ellen. I'd love to get the frakking chairs," Blazer teased as Alexi followed him.

"Watch it, Blaze," Ellen said in a warning but unserious tone.

"Can I really not say it at all tonight?" He joked as he opened the closet door and passed a chair to Alexi.

"No!" Katya shouted from where she was still planted on the sofa.

"C'mon. Everyone else is gunna be saying it," Blaze egged on. "I want to be part of the crowd," He continued to jest as he brought a chair that he'd retrieved to the table.

"Fine. Say it," Katya dared him. "I want to see Kaplan's reaction."

"You say it frakkin' once tonight, Lieutenant and I'll punch your frakkin' lights out," Came Saul's threatening growl as he emerged from the bedroom.

He'd been in there since he'd returned home for the day. Ellen was sure that something bad happened on Delta. She hadnt been able to get it out of him, not that she'd volunteered any information about her own brush with disaster in Med Ward.

After Tawny's admission of her major screw up with Laura's chart Ellen's first reaction had been to lash out at the frightened young doctor. She'd been livid.

How could Tawny have been so stupid? There were at least three other procedures listed within the records that Laura could have seen to inspire just as much suspicion. Tawny apologized profusely and assured Ellen that she had covered the mistake well enough. Ellen hadn't believed her until she'd finally seen Laura for herself. Ellen had been braced for a full on confrontation but Laura made no mention of the strange occurrence. She was tired and a little out of it from pain medicaiom. Figuring Tawny had been right about her damage control after all Ellen let herself relax and took Laura back to her cabin to rest for the remainder of the afternoon. She hadn't heard anything from her since.

"Yes, Sir, Colonel Sir," Blazer curtly answered with a salute."

"I mean it, Blazer. I invited you here to be a representative of this station and to make sure these people feel welcome. I don't need you mocking them or causing me anymore grief than I've already got, you hear me?"

"Yes, Sir. That was not my intention, Sir. I'll do my best tonight to make them feel at home," Blaze honestly assured him.

"That's more like it," Saul answered before directing his attentions toward the sofa. "Katya put your damn tunic on."

The two hadn't spoken since the night before at dinner. When Saul had returned home from Delta Station he'd ignored everyone and retreated to his room. Katya wasn't surprised that his first words to her were barked orders. She didn't answer him. She got up without verbal protest and headed for her old room where she'd hung up the rest of her uniform earlier. A knock at the hatch made everyone freeze in position.

"Oh, uh, it's probably just the food service. Alexi, would you get it?" Ellen asked trying to shake herself free of the tension.

"Ellen, can I see you in the bedroom?" Saul's request came out as more of an instruction but she followed him anyway.

Once the door was closed Ellen took a seat on their rack.

"What's up Saul? Tell me. I know something happened today. You've hardly spoken since you got back. You're as sharp as a razor," She accused.

"Yeah, and I've got good reason." He said pacing in front of her.

"What's wrong?"

Saul stopped in his tracks and faced his wife.

"Bill saw Margot in the lab," He finally admitted.

Ellen felt her stomach turn over. Today was not their day.

"So, what happened?" She winced, unsure if she wanted to hear the answer.

"Well he flipped but good. I'll tell you that much," He growled.

"Shhh, Saul, the kids will hear you," Ellen warned as she stood up and grabbed his arm. "So what did you tell him? Does he know?"

"No, no. And, Ellen, I didn't lie to him but I came damn close and I don't like it," He said pointing a finger in his wife's direction.

Ellen was able to relax a bit. How Saul had gotten around that she didn't know but she was glad.

"We should have warned her that you were coming. That was careless," She admitted.

"Bill thought she was a copy. He thought we were hiding more bodies from them," Saul told her taking the place she had abandoned on their rack. "We should have thought of that. The girl looks so damn much like D'Anna."

"Saul..." Ellen started as she looked toward the floor, "Today in Med Ward...Tawny Xao let Laura see her lab charts."

Ellen glanced up to see Saul's face in a state of shock. His mouth made the 'o' it always did when he was caught off guard and the amount of expression captured in his one eye made up for the other he was missing.

"What do you mean; she let her see her charts? What did she see exactly?" Saul asked in disbelief. He had always known Tawny to be exceptionally loyal. It was hard to believe that she would have intentionally done something like that without warning.

"It was an accident I guess," Ellen shrugged. "She was trying to show her something else and she wasn't thinking...and well anyway, Laura noticed something on her chart that indicated that she'd delivered a baby."

"What?!" Saul shouted as he jumped up from the rack.

"Shhh!" Ellen warned again. "Tawny was able to cover. She said that she was able to convince Laura that it was an error. She told her that she just accidentally swiped at something she shouldn't have and mistakenly changed the record. I don't know. I wasn't in there but apparently Laura bought it. At least I think she did. Tawny swore that she didn't even ask a second question. Laura didn't even mention it to me on the way back to her cabin. I think Tawny had her hopped up on painkillers." Saul scowled.

"What the frak is wrong with her anyway?"

"Oh, you don't want to know," Ellen said waving him off.

"I don't like this Ellen. It's already gone too far. Too much has gone wrong too quickly."

Ellen nodded and looked toward the floor again.

"I know, Saul," She said quietly.

He walked closer to her and took her hands in his.

"Ellen, I know how you feel about this but it ends tonight. After dinner I'm taking Bill out and I'm coming clean."

Ellen nodded but wouldn't look up at him. Saul knew that if she did he'd see there were tears in her eyes. He put his arms around her and kissed the top of her head.

"It's gotta be this way. It's the right thing," He spoke into her hair.

"I know," She sighed as she let him go and wiped at her eyes with the back of her hands. With a few sniffles she composed herself and Saul followed her out of the room.

They found Katya sitting on the sofa finally in full uniform. She had left her hair down but Ellen liked it that way. As she looked over at the young woman she'd raised she knew that she couldn't possibly be any prouder. Ellen walked up behind the sofa and ran her hand through the girl's long dark hair. When Katya turned to smile up at her Ellen leaned down and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

"What was that for?"

"Nothing," Ellen said with a sad smile. "Just 'cause I love you," She added.

"Oh. I love you too," Katya smiled back.

"Ellen?" Alexi interrupted. "The food's here. I put it on the warmers in the kitchen."

"Thank you, Alexi, honey. You've been so helpful today," She told him.

"Yes, ma'am. Oh and Blazer ate something off the dessert tray and tried to get us to lie for him," He added.

"Alexi, what the hell, man!? Blaze griped from the kitchenette. "Are you nine years old? Did you just rat on me?"

"Get away from the food rocket jockey!" Saul warned.

"Blaze, sweetie it's okay," Ellen assured him with a giggle. "

"Oh I almost forgot Ellen, this came with the delivery," Alexi added, holding out a bottle of wine. "They said it was compliments of Tawny Xao."

Ellen laughed as she took the bottle from him.

"Ha! That's the least of what that girl owes me," Ellen scoffed.

Confused Alexi looked toward his wife for some kind of explanation but she just shrugged behind her aunt.

"So does that mean we can drink now?" Katya asked.

"You bet it does, kitten," Ellen answered over her shoulder.

"No one's even here yet," Saul weakly protested.

"Oh, so what?" Ellen scoffed. "When has that ever stopped us? One drink with just us," She said looking over at her husband. "We'll toast to family."

Not long after that the Tigh's guests had arrived. The commander came first which they were thankful for. It gave everyone a chance to get on the same page about what information had been divulged to Bill and Laura so far. Kaplan wasn't about to give Katya or the Tighs any direct orders on how to deal with the more personal aspects of the situation but he made his feelings clear; the subjects of this project, at least on his station were to be treated with respect. That meant not lying to them or leaving them in the dark for any longer than necessary. Though both Saul and Ellen knew the truth would be out by the end of the night neither let the others know of the plan. Saul hoped the dinner would be an opportunity to make peace and work on second impressions. He didnt want to cast a shaddow over the evening so he kept his intentions of telling Bill the truth later on to himself.

By the time Bill and Laura arrived everyone was at least a few rounds in and Saul was starting to worry about the liquid courage Katya was pounding back. He'd taught the girl to hold her liquor but he couldn't ever be sure what might come out of her mouth when she was doing so. Short of just preemptively dismissing her he had no choice but to get half way loaded himself and hope for the best.

They sat around the dinner table which was set up on an angle in the cabin's living space. Saul was at the head of the table with Ellen to his right and Laura to his left. As a precautionary move Katya and Alexi were seated all the way on the other end. Saul figured it would be best to put the Commander and Blaze in the middle. Kaplan took the lead, beginning most of the conversation with the LT's help. Saul figured he had done well inviting Blazer to join them. The kid could be goofy but he had a certain charm and he never shut up. With him around there was no time for awkward silence.

"Bill, Laura can I refresh your drinks?" Ellen asked standing up to refill her own glass.

After a quick trip to the cooler she brought back the bottle that Tawny had sent over and popped the cork.

"Laura, Dr. Tawny sent this over for us tonight. Guess she wanted us to have a better evening than we did a day," Ellen laughed.

Laura's eyes widened at Ellen's reference.

"Are you feeling alight, Ms. Roslin," Kaplan asked in a concerned tone.

Laura shot Ellen a look which she ignored as she poured.

"I'm fine, Commander. Just a check up," She assured him hoping he would drop it.

She couldnt beleive she was even sitting there. She was miserable. The implant procedure had only cause her pain to worsen. The pills she'd been given had her in a fog and only provided her mild relief.

"Well you look just lovely, Ms. Roslin" Blazer said noticing her hesitance and doing his best smooth out the situation. Blazer could sense the slightest unease in others and he was excellent at making sure anyone he interacted with feel accepted and comfortable.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Laura said with a sight but grateful smile.

"Viy'eb'nutsa," Katya said motioning toward Blazer. The strabe verbagebgot a snort out of her husband but left everyone in the dark.

Laura didn't know what the hell the girl had just said, but she could tell by her mocking tone that it wasn't complimentary. She ignored it when it seemed as though everyone else had. When Ellen reached to fill her wine glass Laura stopped her.

"Ellen, I don't know how much I should be drinking."

"Oh c'mon, Laura, you need it. Besides, it will give whatever Tawny gave you a little kick," She smirked. With that in mind Laura put her glass right out for Ellen to reach.

"Fill it up, maybe she's more pleasant when she's drunk," Katya mumbled into her glass. She'd said it to herself but loud enough so that she knew Laura would hear. She didn't bother to look for the woman's reaction and she purposefully ignored the warning glare that her uncle was giving her across the table. Only Kaplan and Adama separated her from her target. If either of them had heard her they'd chosen to ignore it.

Laura just rolled her eyes and took a big sip of wine. She wasn't about to start anything at the dinner table. Certianly not with someone barely out of their teens.

"You know that's the wine Dr. Xao named Tawny after," Katya said to no one in particular trying her best to quickly take the focus of her rude remark.

Ellen turned the bottle around to read it. She had to move it back and forth a bit before she could focus since she'd finished almost half of it before her guests had even arrived.

"Oh yeah. 'Old Beta Tawny Port'," She read out loud. "That's cute," She added topping her glass off.

"Huh," Bill started, "I wouldn't have pegged that little guy for a…"

"Wino?" Blazer finished. Getting laughs from Katya and Alexi.

"Well I wasn't going to say that," Bill answered, "But to name his daughter after a bottle of wine..."

"Wait til' you see him drunk on that E-Rep rice wine crap he loves," Blazer laughed looking at his two friends, "Remember his birthday party last year?" He asked the table getting even more laughs.

The old doctor was strict and professional in the clinic but he did have a slight reputation for hitting the bottle pretty hard on special occasions. He was always good for a scene or two. There was nothing too obscene about his antics. The impression it made on the rest of the crew was largely due to the obvious contrast from the man's stoic demeanor in Med Ward. When he let loose Tawny was always embarrassed but her friends and colleagues were always entertained.

"How could we forget?" Kaplan admitted and cleared his throat. "But, I assure you Ms. Roslin, Admiral Adama, Ning Xao is very professional; a dedicated serviceman and superb doctor. He'd never drink on the job," The commander assured, rushing to defend his major.

"I'm sure he wouldn't," Laura smiled. "On the other hand, our doctor on Galactica used to puff on cigarettes right in our faces," She remembered with a brief giggle.

"He sure did," Saul confirmed. "Grumpy old bastard. Burned a frakkin' hole in my uniform once trying to take my damn blood pressure!" He said getting the entire table to laugh with the image.

"Oh, I remember," Ellen said with a sigh. "I miss the old coot. Xao is nothing like that, though. The commander is right."

"Think he'll be at Slap-Shot's pinning party tonight?" Alexi asked.

"Hell, I hope so!" Blazer answered. "You coming later Commander?"

"Of course, I'll be there. Now you've got me hoping Xao does bust out the rice wine," The man chuckled.

"And he's not a wino, Blazer," Katya added,"As Margot would say; he's a connoisseur." She said doing her best to mimic the Le Blanc's traditional tongue.

"Whatever he is, he's hilarious," Blaze said with a snort.

At the mention of Margot Saul's eyes darted to Bill. Did this man ever forget a name? Saul saw him stiffen in his seat. He knew Bill could tell that he was looking at him but the other man just avoided his gaze. Laura seemed to notice his unease as well.

"What's wrong?" She whispered discreetly beside him.

"Nothing," He lied. "Actually Ellen, do you have anything stronger than that?" He asked motioning to the wine bottle.

Before she could answer Saul interjected. They would all need something stronger if the night was headed in the direction he planned.

"Sure do, Bill. Katya took care of that for us. Isn't that right, Kat?

Katya sipped at her drink and nodded. Besides a random hug her uncle had given her after their little family toast the two still hadn't interacted much since their fight the night before.

"Yes,Sir," She curtly answered without explanation.

When Saul grimaced Alexi jumped in.

"Katya has family on Gamma Station. They distill this there from starch like potatoes," Alexi explained as he passed Saul the bottle of clear liquid. "Katya's cousin, well, her father's nephew…" He found himself stumbling, "Miloš, he brings us some every few weeks when he comes to Alpha Station.!

"Good man," Saul said as he poured Bill a glass. "Well actually he's not. That kid is a punk but as long as he brings this with him I don't mind his visits," He said with a chuckle.

Bill lifted the glass to take a whiff as Kaplan took the bottle from the Colonel. He began to pour some for himself as he spoke.

"Historically, it originated on the surface of Earth in the area of the Eastern Federation, where Katya and Alexi's families came from years ago," The commander told Bill. "If you're getting it from an Isakoff, you know you're getting the good stuff," The man said winking at Katya beside him.

"I'll drink to that," She said clinking the man's glass and taking a gulp.

"Drink up, Bill," Saul encouraged. "It's no ambrosia but it gets the job done," He joked.

"What do you call this stuff?" Bill said looking at the glass.

"Vodka," Blazer mocked, mimicking the way Katya and Alexi pronounced it.

"Well, then cheers to vodka," Adama said taking a swig. He winced just a bit as it stung his throat. "That's some powerful stuff you're family makes, Captain," He said raising his glass toward Katya.

She smiled primly and nodded.

"Laura, you want to try?" He asked offering her his glass. "It has a bite to it," He warned as she took it from him.

"I'm sure she'll just bite it back," Katya smirked as she poked at her meal with her fork.

Laura just rolled her eyes again and took a bigger gulp of the liquid than she'd first intended. If she was going to get through dinner she needed all the help she could get. Bill's eyes widened at the amount of vodka she shot back. Was she really letting the girl get to her?

"Katya," Ellen seemed to warn, "I want you eat what's on your plate. Don't just move it around," She said surprising the girl who figured she was going to be admonished for her comment.

"I am eating," She lied.

"You better be," Alexi chimed in.

"Oh she will," Kaplan assured Ellen and looked down at Katya. "She's keeping her strength up for when she gets back in the cockpit next week. Aren't you, Captain?" He said winking at her.

"Yes, Sir," Katya appeased as she pierced some vegetables with her fork and popped them in her mouth.

"Notoriously bad appetite," Saul explained. Bill nodded.

"Well, we don't want you fainting on us again, Captain," He told the girl as she forced herself to chew.

"I'll try not to Sir," She said, slightly embarrassed.

Every time Katya thought of her mortifying face-plant in front of Bill and Laura she could feel her cheeks turn red. She hoped the color the vodka had probably already given her complexion would hide it.

"Speaking of that, Captain," The commander continued. "You know Tawny is going to have to okay you to get back in the air," He informed her.

"But I'm fine," She assured him.

"I'm sure you are but since there is a record of it I need her to tell me it's okay before I let you get back in a bird. Got it?"

"Yes, Sir." She said again as her shoulders fell.

"If you don't mind me asking, what's you call-sign, Captain?" Bill asked.

Katya didn't know why the question caught her off guard. Maybe it was the fact that she'd dreamed about talking shop with Bill Adama all of her life and now that it was happening she was half drunk. When she didn't answer right away Blazer jumped in.

"It's Koshka," The lieutenant answered with a smile.

"What's it mean?" Laura asked, emboldened by her sip of liquor.

"It's E-fed for cat, ma'am," Alexi answered.

"Hmm, fitting," Laura snarked with an arched brow before taking a sip from her drink.

Katya had to laugh at the remark. She was impressed that woman had started to fire back.

"Meow," Katya said back mimicking a claw in the air.

Saul lightly hit the table trying to get Katya's attention but she avoided him. Ellen just laughed into her glass.

Bill cleared his throat.

"Any significance to it?" He asked trying to break up the interaction.

He wasnt happy with the girl's rudeness toward Laura but afer the conversation he and Saul had earlier in the day he better understood her anger. He hoped that persistant amicable interactions would eventually quell her ire. She was Saul and Ellen's daughter and that meant Bill wanted to give her a chance. He wanted to know the girl his old friends obviously loved so much.

"Koshka was a pet name from her father," Saul explained. "And then Ellen..."

"She's always been my kitten," Ellen interrupted with an air kiss down the table to Katya who blushed and rolled her eyes.

"Just sort of stuck," Saul finished.

"Plus, the captain here is one of the most graceful pilot's I've ever known," The Commander added. "She flies swift, smooth and agile like... well…like a cat," He decided with a smile.

"I'd like to watch you fly one day, Captain," Bill said to her directly. "You too L.T." He added toward Blaze.

Katya nodded wishing that she wasn't the topic of conversation.

"Well, once I'm cleared maybe Uncle Saul will take you to the observation deck," She suggested.

By the time Ellen had put coffee and dessert out Laura was more than ready to leave. She was exhausted and sick of fending off Katya's frequent quips in her direction. Done with her cup of coffee she put her hand on Bill's thigh and gave it a light squeeze hoping he'd get the hint that she wanted to go. He looked over at her and could see the weariness in her eyes.

"This was a lovely dinner, Ellen," Kaplan spoke as he put his napkin over his dessert plate. "I thank you for the invitation."

"Any time, Commander," Ellen said sweetly.

"And it was wonderful to spend more time getting to know you, Admiral Adama, Ms. Roslin," He said earnestly.

"Laura," She insisted with small smile.

"Yeah everything was great, Ellen, Colonel," Alexi said looking at his cuff, "But we really should be heading to the rec-room for Slip-Shot's party," He announced before backing his seat out.

"You kids go ahead," Ellen told them, "And have a good time."

Blazer and Katya both moved to follow Alexi's lead.

"Thank you for everything, Elle." Blazer said as he stood beside Ellen's seat and rested a hand on her shoulder. "As always you are a most gracious and beautiful hostess," He lathered on.

"Thank you Blaze," She said giggling at his flighty words.

"Alright, out with you," Saul said pushing Blazers hand off of Ellen's shoulder.

Blazer laughed as always. Despite Ellen's maternal role in his life he often playfully flirted with her just to get under Saul's skin. She was happy to play along with the harmless joke. She knew that Saul loved both Blazer and Alexi but sometimes it seemed like the only way he could show it was to scold the boys at every chance he got.

"You coming out tonight, Colonel?" Blazr asked.

"I don't know yet. Maybe. Now go on," Saul instructed.

Katya walked over behind Ellen's chair and leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek the same way Ellen had to her earlier. She had been moved to return the gesture ever since and there was a certain satisfaction in doing so in front of Laura Roslin. The other woman might not know why but Katya still wanted her to understand on some level that Ellen Tigh was all the mother she needed.

"You sure you don't want me to stay and help you clean all this up, Aunt Elle?" Katya asked.

"No, kitten. I've got this. You go have fun." She assured her.

Katya nodded and turned to her uncle. The two stared each other down for a few long moments until Katya broke. She smirked and shook her head as she leaned down to give him a kiss on the top of his bald head before she walked away. He wanted to be angry at her, and he was, but she always knew how to get to him to melt into a puddle. Suddenly Saul realized that the next time he saw her it would be to tell her that Bill knew.

"You have fun," He called after her. "Don't over do it. Be safe," He added as an old habit.

"I'm right behind you," Kaplan said as he stood from his seat. "I'm supposed to make the toast tonight," He explained.

With a few more goodbyes and thank yous Saul and Ellen were left alone with Bill and Laura.

"We should probably get going too," Bill said moving his seat back.

"Actually, Bill," Saul stopped him.

Ellen felt her heart drop.!She knew what he was about to ask him and she was dreading it.

"Would you mind taking a walk with me? Just for a bit? I'm sure your security detail will get Laura home just fine."

Bill stopped for a moment and considered it. He had a feeling that Saul wanted to talk about what happened in the lab earlier. After hearing the Margot's name again from Katya Bill was more than curious about what Saul had to say. From the way they spoke of her it seemed as though the family was close to the girl who looked like D'Anna's double. It was strange to say the least. Bill looked to Laura. He knew that she was overtired and would probably pass out soon after they got home. It wasnt as if they would stay up conversing. Still, he knew that she wasn't feeling welland he thought that maybe it would be better if he went home with her.

"It's okay, Bill," She said knowing he'd only refuse to go on her account. "Just go. I'll be fine. I'm going right to bed," She assured him.

"Are you sure?"

She did her best to smile and nod.

"I'll walk her back to the cabin, Bill," Ellen offered.

"You don't have to do that," Laura protested.

"Nonsense," Ellen said with a grin and a squint. Besides, it'll allow me to put off clearing the dishes," She joked as she rose from her seat.

The four left the cabin and parted ways.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

The two women were mostly silent as they walked a few paces in front of their security detail. Laura wished that she had denied Ellen's offer to accompany her but in the end she figured giving in would just be easier. After the day she had, after that dinner, all Laura wanted to do was take two of whatever Tawny had prescribed her and then curl up in her rack. She wished that she hadn't let Bill convince her to go to the Tigh's at all. Though she knew she couldn't live her new life as a recluse the idea was tempting. The only thing she was currently looking forward to was waking up and having Bill next to her. She would miss him as she fell to sleep but she wouldn't begrudge him a good time with an old friend. At least Bill had that; some other connection to where they were besides just being called on to help. Laura had nothing. She felt so empty and out of place. Bill was right; they were there together but it just wasnt enough to erradicate her unhappiness. they She knew that they had been together before in whatever existnace they had been taken from. Though she didnt rememebr it she wished they could go back. The more time passed the more she felt herself wanting to withdraw from her new life. Besides Bill she had no connection there nothing to motivate her to try and make her life more than a summons to duty.

"I just wanted to see if you were really feeling any better," Ellen said as they walked." I know we really couldn't speak freely at dinner. I wanted to make sure you were okay and that you have everything you need."

Laura kept her eyes in front of her as they walked the halls.

"Oh I don't know, I think some of us were speaking rather freely in there," Laura said with a wry smirk.

Ellen didn't answer but she was too tipsy not to let a soft chuckle escape her lips. Katya had been in rare form.

"But, yes, I'm feeling better Ellen, She lied. "I'm just very tired. Thanks for asking. And thank you for helping me today. I didn't know who else to go to," She admitted.

"Well, woman to woman, I'm happy to be your only choice," Ellen mused.

After a few twisting halls, walls and doors that all seemed to bled together the two had arrived at the hatch.

"Thanks for the company, Ellen," Laura said as she ran her station cuff in front of the hatch lock. Her thanks sounded more like a dismissal but she was long passed the point of caring. As the locks clicked and she moved to open the door Ellen stopped her.

"Laura?"

Ellen wasn't sure what she was going to say, she just knew that she wanted to say it. The next time she saw Laura she might very well know the truth. She felt as if she should leave her with something to think on. Laura paused and leaned against her door allowing Ellen to go on.

"I just want to apologize for Katya. She's not usually like that," Ellen told her.

With a sigh Laura looked up.

"You know, Ellen, people keep telling me that about her. You, Saul, even Bill seemed moved to defend her last night. Her peers seem to think the world of her, even the commander," Laura observed with a shrug.

"She really is a good kid, it's just…"

"Well, see that's just the thing, Ellen," Laura interuptes, "She's not a kid. She's a grown woman and she's responsible for her own words and actions the same as I am and the same as you are. Maybe she'd do better without people making excuses for her."

Laura knew her comment had come off as less than understanding but she had just taken a proverbial pelting from the young woman through an entire meal and she was feeling less than generous with her compassion.

If Ellen hadn't known where she was going with her words before she sure did now. Maybe it wouldn't make things easier for Katya but she knew it would eventually make them harder on Laura and thats what she wanted.

"Laura, I know this is probably hard for you to understand not being a parent, but just because kids may be grown and out of the house doesn't mean that you're done raising them. The girl still needs a mother," Ellen said carefully choosing her words.

"Yes, and she seems to have that in you," Laura affirmed.

"She absolutely does," Ellen agreed with a satisfied grin.

Laura considered her tone before continuing. She could honestly care less about whether Saul and Ellen's daughter really was a spoiled impetuous brat, or not. She didn't have any business with the girl but she knew she would have to deal with Saul and Ellen often if she was truly going stick this life out.

"You know Ellen, I don't mean to insult your child. She and I...well, we just don't seem to get along very well. I surely don't seem to inspire the best in her," Laura posed. "Saul means a great deal to Bill, so it won't bother me in the least if he would like some sort of relationship with his friend's daughter. I just think that maybe it would be best if she and I stayed out of each other's way."

Ellen inhaled deeply and smiled.

"I don't think I'll have any trouble convincing Katya to agree."

Laura nodded and went back to opening the hatch.

"Thanks again, Ellen," She said without looking back at her.

Ellen turned and started to walk away.

"Oh, you're very welcome, Laura," She replied without turning around. "For everything."

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

PATROL OFFICE: 10B; TEMP. ASSIGNMENT: FIGHTER SQUADRON 1; LUNA FORCE

YEAR: 2315

"This office is empty, Bill. We can talk in here," Saul said as he ran his cuff over the security pad and opened the hatch.

The room was large but nearly empty. In the center of the room stood a lone lucite desk and two chairs illuminated by a pinpoint light from above. When the men stepped inside Saul opted against more lighting. Instead he turned on the imaging capabilities of two of the walls. Bill watched as the wall behind the desk came to life with the soft glow of its display. Soon the one to his left did the same.

"That right there is a live feed, "Saul explained. "Views from the station that are captured by its exterior recording system. This is the view of Earth from Alpha," He said gesturing behind the desk.

Bill looked at the floor to ceiling display and he could remember seeing it with his own eyes like it was yesterday. He had seen the very same view when his Raptor left Galactica for the last time and brought him down to Earth's surface. The slight curvature of the globe's bright horizon stood in stark contrast to the black void of space behind it. On their rides to the other stations seated the back of the shuttle he hadn't been able to appreciate it. It was beautiful. It looked as if it hadn't changed in all the many thousands of years that had passed yet Bill knew that it had.

"And this one," Saul pointed to the left of the desk," is our view of the only natural satellite out here," He said gesturing to the feed which showed the Earth's glowing moon partially cast in a dull shadow.

"What's this room used for?" Bill asked as he took in his surroundings.

"Well, not much," Saul admitted moving one of the desk's chairs a bit closer to the other. "It's reserved for any officers living in this section of the corridor who might need a place to work close to home. It's for times when heading to their area of jurisdiction isn't quite necessary. It's got the screens and a com system. Right now it's currently assigned to Luna Force Squadron. That's our number one squad; the one Katya and Blaze fly, but those kids never use this place. It’s mostly a waste of space," He said taking a seat and gesturing for Bill to do the same.

As Bill sat he rubbed at his forehead and winced a bit. It had already been a long day.

"Well, speaking of Katya, Saul…" Bill started. "I was wondering if you might be able to talk to your kid about easing up on Laura."

Saul moved his jaw back and forth as he listened to Bill continue to speak.

"I know that the two of them didn't get off to a good start and I get how Katya took offence to a lot of what Laura said the other day but…Laura's not having an easy time adjusting to this. Maybe you could get Katya to back off a little?" Bill asked trying to tread lightly.

He liked the girl enough and he didn't want to insult Saul by saying otherwise but dinner had been taxing to get through. Bill was torn between wanting to get to know his friend's daughter and wanting to defend Laura from her taunting. He knew Laura didn't need anymore excuses to distance herself from the people on the station.

Saul nodded and looked Bill in the eye. The man's face was illuminated by the screen's dull glow but there was just enough darkness in the room to make things easier. For some reason Saul found himself able to speak more honestly without the light's own revelations.

"I know, Bill, and that's part of why I asked you to come out tonight," He admitted.

Bill looked confused for a moment.

"It is? I thought we were going to talk more about what happened in the lab today on Delta," Bill said. "I heard Katya mention that woman's name tonight at dinner. Margot, was it?" He added with a sense of accusation hinted in his tone.

"Yeah, Bill. That's right." Saul said with a nod.

"So what is she? Did you lie to me? Is that what you brought me here to tell me?" Bill interrogated.

"No, Bill," Saul said shaking his head slowly. "I haven't lied to you yet. But I haven't told you everything that you need to know yet either," He admitted feeling a lump growing in his throat.

He saw Bill's eyes change. He saw the suspicion growing behind them. He never could stand having Bill Adama look at him that way.

"Then I think you should start talking, Saul," Bill said as his face hardened.

Saul leaned forward in his seat with his hands on his knees and hung his head. He had rehearsed this in his mind a hundred times but for the life of him he couldn't remember how he'd planned to start.

"Bill, the young woman you saw today on Delta was not a copy of the Three. She's not a copy of anyone. I told you that in the lab and that much is true," He told him as he nervously cracked at his knuckles one at a time, attempting to relieve even the slightest bit of physical tension he was feeling.

"So then what is she, Saul? Because I know what I saw and she looked too much like D'Anna to be much else," Bill accused.

Saul exhaled and started again.

"I explained to you that after Ellen and I gave the DNA over to the Earth Orbit scientist, that things were done that we weren't made aware of. We were living on the basestar at the time. We knew that they were genetically engineering your bodies, heck, we told them to but after that was done there was a long time where we were being kept in the dark. Things were done that we had no part in and no knowledge of, things Ellen and I never would have agreed to. When we found out about them it was already too late."

"What things?" Bill said more impatiently.

"That woman you saw today on Delta; she's not D'Anna's copy, Bill. She's her daughter," Saul admitted.

He felt like his heart was about to pound out of his chest and out through his tunic, and he hadn't even gotten to the rest of it. He didn't even know if he'd have to. He was just waiting for Bill to catch on.

"What do you mean, she's her daughter?" Bill spat.

"Margot is the child that was produced using the two bodies you saw today. Genetically, her mother is D'Anna and her father...well, it's Sam Anders."

As Saul finished he chanced a look at Bill's eyes and he didn't like what he saw. There was anger and distrust but most of all there was confusion.

"So these…people…these scientists they just used those bodies? Those bodies that are supposedly so sacred to them? For what? To do experiments on them? Play with their DNA just for fun?!" Bill gritted.

His fists were clenched and sweaty. It had been one thing when the people in Orbit had been speaking about them as future saviors, as their only hope out of a dark and bleak war. Now Bill knew that not all of them had been as revered and respected as he had been lead to believe. Anders and D'Anna had at least in some part been used to serve other means and he couldn't fathom a noble excuse for that.

"They weren't exactly experimented on," Saul tried to clarify. "When we found out Ellen spent days checking all of the recordings and logs. When we demanded an explanation they told us that the Earth Orbit Committee was starting to panic over how much of the project was dependant on Ellen, a Cylon, figuring out the downloading process. Station attacks were happening more and more and in-system combat was rampant. The people were scared. The project scientists had no way of speeding up the process and they didn't know where to start as far as trying to come up with their own form of resurrection. At some point a theory was put forward by a few of the doctors that perhaps the combined DNA of a set of bodies would produce a living soul who might just be able to fulfill the prophecy sooner. They thought that instead of waiting for Anders and D'Anna to wake up, why not see if a living breathing being with their combined genetic materials could elicit the same results? If a live child was produced who could fill their shoes then there would be no need for downloading. They wouldn't have to wait on Ellen any longer," Saul did his best to explain.

He could remember the first time it had been explained to him by Dr. Petrov. He had punched the man so hard he'd landed about four feet away from where they'd been standing. For a moment Saul worried that Bill might repeat his reaction.

"That's appalling," Bill nearly growled.

"I know it is, Bill," Saul quickly agreed.

"How that frak did they even manage that? Both those bodies are about as lively as a pair of door knobs. What did they just take whatever materials they needed like they were picking a sleeping man's pockets? Did they recruit some poor woman to carry this plan B baby?"

Saul rubbed his hand over his face.

"I was so disgusted I refused to watch the recordings or read anything about the process but I know enough from Ellen. She was beyond enraged at these people. I didn't want to hear it but I couldn't stop her from spouting off all the sick details," Saul winced as he remembered back to that time. "They didn't want to use some sort of surrogate. They were afraid that if they added a third person into the mix it might interfere with what they were trying to accomplish; a perfect melding of the two subject's genetics. There was also the unknown factor of how the child's consciousness would develop. I don't know. It was all bullshit anyway. What I do know is like you said; they took what they needed from D'Anna's body and from Anders too. They created a viable embryo and well…I'll skip all the gritty details but D'Anna...I mean… her body at least, gave birth to that girl," He finished with a gulp.

Bill shook his head in disbelief. How could they have done that to two people who weren't even present to know it?

"This is sick," Was all Bill could get out for the moment.

Saul nodded again.

"When Ellen found out she called them medical rapists. She was irate. She threatened to leak it to the general population; she threatened to take over the project and even the station system all together, put it all under Cylon run governing. The doctors in charge claimed they had been pressured by the EO Committee. Either way, it was already done. We stopped staying on the basestar after that. We made sure nothing was done to the bodies anymore without our approval. It did leak out to the public eventually. Not by our doing though. It's taken a long time for people to get over it. Some still haven't," Saul explained.

"So that girl, Margot, she's the product of that failed experiment. So where did that leave her? They just created a child whose parents essentially didn't exist yet?" Bill scrambled to understand.

"Yeah, Bill, they did, sad as it sounds. Michelle Le Blanc; that spastic overeager doctor who kept poking you in Med Ward; she's in charge of Delta's lab. She created D'Anna's body and Anders too. When the time came she created Margot. After the girl was born she raised her as her own."

Saul wiped some sweat from where he could feel it accumulating under the strap of his eye patch. He could see the wheels and gears were turning inside of Bill's head.

Bill was stunned and sickened through all of Saul's explanation but for some reason when he mentioned Dr. Le Blanc Bill felt the hair on his arms stand up on end. At first he wasn't sure why but soon things started to snap into place like strong magnets that had been held apart and finally released. He remembered back to the day they had visited Beta's lab. Lt. Bishop. Blaze. Ellen said he was Dr. Bishop's son, the man who had created the Agathon's bodies. Bill suddenly felt like his heart had dropped into the pit of his stomach. He'd been racking his brain trying to figure out who Blazer reminded him of. Even through dinner earlier he hadn't been able to get it off of his mind. Every time the kid spoke he felt like it was just about to come to him. All of a sudden it was so obvious that he almost felt stupid. He was holding desperately on to the hope that he was wrong but somehow in the back of his mind he knew he wasn't. He tried to halt his train of thought in its tracks. He knew where it was headed but he couldn't go there yet. He looked Saul dead in the eye before he spoke.

"Tell me Margot's the only one, Saul," He seethed through gritted teeth.

Saul knew this was it. If Bill hadn't already connected the dots he was only moments away from doing so.

"Tell me!" Bill barked again.

Saul shook his head. His throat was so tight he knew that his voice wasn't going to cooperate.

"I can't," He finally rasped.

When Bill shot out of his seat it was to look for something to throw. When he found nothing available in the barren room he opted to throw his chair. Its transparent plastic form clattered into the shadows of a far off corner and neither of them spoke until the room was silent again. Saul sat with his head down looking into his lap. He wasn't even remotely surprised when Bill grabbed him; lifting him up by the collar of his tunic and kicking his chair out from under him.

"Tell me it isn't true. Tell me!" Bill demanded as he walked Saul backwards by his collar. He walked him further and further across the room until he had him pinned against the image wall, planted against the broad expanse of black space where the moon hung above their heads. "Tell me!" Bill shouted, this time with frantic need in his voice.

"I can't!" Saul hollered back into the other man's face. "You know! You already know! You know you do! You know it!"

After a long pause Bill suddenly let Saul go and started rubbing at his eyes. Though he was free Saul didn't move from where he stood up against the screen.

"Maybe now that you think about it you knew it all along," He said to Bill who still had his head in his hands. "We kept Margot from you because we knew she would tip you off. She looks so much like her natural mother. We just weren't ready to tell you just yet. You weren't ready to hear it! You haven't been alive a week yet, Bill. I couldn't wake you up and put this on you all at once."

Bill rubbed at his eyes until he saw stars. He couldn't believe it but Saul was right; it was all suddenly so obvious. When he finally took his hands from his eyes they were wet. When he looked at Saul he winced.

"Blazer," Bill started.

"Bill, I don't have to tell you. You know who goes with who. How could you not?"

Saul was right. How could he have missed Helo in that boy? And the sergeant? All he could see when he thought of Alexi's face were the nose and eyes of a Six and the brooding mouth of Gaius Baltar. And then he couldn't think anymore. His breath hitched in his throat as he shook his head in disbelief.

"She's not," Bill said aloud through tears, unsure if it was a denial to Saul or himself.

"She is, Bill," Saul confirmed taking one step and then another away from the wall. He knew he didn't have to say her name. Bill knew as well as he did. "She looks a lot like your sister now that you think about it, doesn't she?" He pressed tentatively, unsure of the reaction it would bring.

Saul remembered seeing pictures of Tamara Adama in Bill's quarters for years. He never asked much about her. He knew she had been killed in some horrible terrorist attack. He could still recall her face and as Katya grew older she reminded Saul of Bill's old photos more and more.

"She can't be," Bill denied again.

He knew he was wrong yet nothing but protests would come out of his mouth.

"She is, Bill. Sure as frak is," Saul firmly insisted taking a few brave steps closer to where Bill stood. "You know it's true and I knew it too the moment I first saw her. She's yours alright. She's got your eyes and when she was about thirteen she sprouted Laura's godsdamn legs! Had me batting off the boys with a stick for years," Saul said with a dark hint of humor. "I took care of her, Bill. At least I tried to. Me and Ellen we did our best and we did it for you and Laura," Saul tried to explain.

He slowly moved to pick up on of the chairs that Bill had knocked over and gestured for the other man to sit. Bill didn't protest. He sunk down onto the cold hard seat.

"I'm sorry, Bill. I'm sorry that they did this and that I wasn't here to stop it. It wasn't right…but by the time I found out that part was over and there was already a living breathing little girl who didn't ask for any of this either. We took her in, loved her and raised her like she was our own. She's been one of the best things to ever happen to me and Ellen. It's hard now for us to wish she'd never been born, wrong as it was. I knew this day would come. I just wanted to do right by you," Saul offered as he looked down at Bill.

For what felt like a long time neither of them spoke.

"What the frak do I do now?" Bill asked looking up at Saul with desperate eyes.

"I told you first so that you could tell Laura. I knew it wouldn't do any good having her learn it from anyone but you."

Suddenly Bill felt his rage flair again at the thought of what had been done to her.

"She's in our cabin now teetering on the brink. She can't come to grips with why or how we're here. She's depressed and she's lost and you want me to tell her that she has a child? That she gave birth to a baby she was never even meant to know? How the frak am I going to tell her that, Saul?!" Bill asked the other man in anguish.

"I don't know, Bill. I honestly don't. I wish I did," His friend told him. "I do know this; Katya grew up wanting nothing more than to know both of you. She helped Dr. Isakoff care for your bodies in the lab from the time she was a little girl. When he died and we took her in she learned that we'd known you both. From then on it was all she ever wanted to talk about. She wanted to know everything about you. She kept on coming to the lab as she got older. She'd come when they took you out of stasis every now and then. She'd brush Laura's hair, she'd trim your nails; just waiting for the day you'd wake up. Then one day she grew up and she realized what she was. It started to dawn on her that her birth was something that never should have happened. She started to figure out how you might react to her identity once you were alive," Saul went on gaining momentum as he spoke, "So you and Laura, you two don't have to feel any kind of way about Katya. She's a big girl and she's had a long time to understand her situation. No one expects either one of you to have some magic relationship with her all of a sudden. There's just one thing I need you to hear and that you need to make sure Laura hears. None of this is Katya's fault. She didn't ask for it and she's struggled her entire life because of it. I understand how hard this is going to be on you and Laura but Ellen and I…well...we won't have anyone making Katya feel guilty for existing."

Saul had to get that off of his chest before he lost his nerve. When it came down to it that was what he was most worried about now that it was all out. He had to make sure Bill and Laura understood that he wouldn't watch Katya suffer the blame.

As Bill listened to Saul speak he felt everything starting to slowly sink in. He had a daughter. He and Laura had a daughter. Katya was theirs. Laura had no idea and now he'd have to find a way to tell her.

Once Bill had calmed enough he and Saul were able to have a real conversation. Bill was still so confused about so many things. Saul told him there was a lot that would be better left for Ellen to explain, especially once Laura knew. It was hard for Saul to leave Bill in front of his quarters. He wasn't sure what was going to happen and he wished he could help more. There was still so much to be said. Though Saul certainly didn't envy his friend he knew he had his own troubles ahead. He would have to let Katya know that her secret was out.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 139B: ASSIGNMENT; ISAKOFF/PETROV

YEAR: 2315

When Alexi opened the hatch Katya stumbled in and nearly fell over. Though he was able to catch her Alexi wasn't in much better shape than his wife.

"Easy there, Koshka," He told her as she giggled over her near tumble to the floor, "You don't need one bruised eye to match the other."

"Mmm maybe I could get a patch like Uncle Saul?" She laughed at her own joke and covered her injured eye with the palm of her hand as Alexi helped her toward the bedroom.

They hadn't stayed at Slip-Shot's pinning party very long. It was still in full swing down in the rec-room. Even the commander was still down there. Dr. Xao hadn't shown up but there were plenty of others making fools of themselves to make up for his absence. When they arrived Katya was already half plastered from dinner and Blazer and Alexi each had a decent buzz on. After about a half a dozen toasts to Slip-Shot they were all beyond drunk.

Alexi sat Katya on their rack. She was still laughing over nothing.

"Alexi, Blazer stayed down there," She said sounding concerned. "He's gunna throw up," She said confidently as her husband removed her tunic and tossed it on the floor.

"Oh, I'm sure he is," Alexi confirmed. He slipped his own tunic off and it joined hers by his feet.

"Don't you let him in here tonight," She warned suddenly serious but slurring.

"I won't," He assured her and lifted her patrol tank off of her body.

"I mean it," She told him.

"Me too," He said as he laid her back on the mattress. He removed her boots and started to slip off her slacks leaving her in only her underwear. Alexi was happy to see they were lacy and red; not even close to regulation.

"Captain, those are far from the proper undergarments to be worn beneath an Orbit Patrol uniform," He playfully mocked.

"Mmmm I keep telling people I'm on leave," She joked as she threw her arms in the air and let them flop back down by her sides.

Alexi clumsily worked on removing his own boots and almost fell on top of Katya in the process.

"You know I could have undressed myself."

"Then why didn't you?" He challenged, smirking and slipping off his pants.

"Well, because I have you," She laughed. "I'm just letting you know that I could…if I wanted to," She followed with a giggle as she stared up at the ceiling.

"I'm sure that's true," He humored her. He sat beside her on the bed. He removed his own patrol tank and playfully tossed it in her direction.

In response she bolted up and nearly pounced into his lap. With a shove to his broad chest she pinned him down on the mattress and straddled his waist.

"Woa, Koshka," He laughed as she grinned down at him. "I guess the name is fitting after all," He joked in reference to Laura's earlier retort.

"Should I start meowing again?" She mused leaning down to kiss his chest.

Alexi chuckled harder than was normal for him, even in a drunken state.

"What?" She asked continuing to kiss at his neck and shoulders.

"I can't believe you meowed at that woman at the dinner table," He snorted.

"Yeah, well I should have clawed her eyes out instead," She said as her kisses became more aggressive.

"Oh, plokhoy, koshecka," He teased.

"Yeah, well she just seems to bring it out of me," She said suddenly stopping her kisses. She put her head down resting on top of him with her hands on his shoulders and her cheek to his chest.

Alexi knew he had just shot himself in the foot bringing it up again but he was wasted. He wasn't thinking right. There was such a fine line between 'playfully sexy drunk Katya' and 'pensive depressive drunk Katya'. Resigned to the change in her mood Alexi told himself not to push it.

"You know Blazer has the hots for her," He said trying to get her to laugh again.

"Oh, he has the hots for every woman he sees," She scoffed.

"Nah, I think he sees you in her. It's not obvious but it's there. The cheek bones, the legs," Alexi teased. "I see it and so does Blaze. Besides, he's always been drawn to woman he can’t have," He told her has he gently stroked her back with the fingers of one hand and nestled his other into her dark silky sea of hair.

Katya didn't respond. She didn't have anything to say to his comment. She just gripped his shoulders tighter and nuzzled her face into his chest as if she could get any closer to him.

For a long time she was quiet and Alexi thought she might have fallen asleep. It had been a long and strange night. Before dinner the Tighs had been acting oddly and the actual meal had been a mixed event. Alexi felt for his wife. He knew it couldn't be easy to sit through it all beside parents who didn't even know she existed. For a moment he considered talking to her about the way things had been going with Laura Roslin. Though he was amused by Katya’s little antics he knew that she wasn't doing herself or the Colonel any good. On the other hand, his opinion hadn't changed. He didn't believe Katya needed a relationship with Roslin or Adama and he wouldn't force her into it. The Tighs were her parents and Alexi didn't think she needed another set. Katya remained quiet for a while more. Just as Alexi finally decided to pick her up and put her to bed she spoke.

"Lex?"

"Da, lyubov moya?" He replied, wrapping both arms around her.

"You know sometimes…I'm glad we won't have children of our own," She told him softly.

"Ya nye pani'má'yu," He said with a scowl. Though he told her he didn't understand he had actually been waiting for this. It had been a topic that had gone unspoken about since they got married. They each understood what came with their choice to be together. It never seemed necessary to say much else about it but he had been wondering if everything going on with her parents would force it to the surface. "Why, Katya?" He asked.

Though advancements in cloning had been successfully practiced for almost two and a half centuries there were still issues with the process. Though genetically perfect clones had no reproductive issues it seemed that their subsequent offspring most often suffered the consequences of the artificial genetic engineering. Children of clones weren't totally incapable of reproducing but their success rate without medical intervention was well below that of their otherwise average counterparts. There were varying degrees of infertility. If only one parent was a clone then the child had a much better success rate of future procreation. The chances increased even more if the descendant then found a mate who wasn't sired from any cloned parents at all. Alexi and Katya had everything against them. They each had not one but both parents who were clones and then on top of that the two decided to be together. They both fully understood their circumstances and it never made them question their commitment to one another. Ellen had always been upfront with Katya about it. She'd known most of her life that was the way things were. For the most part it didn't bother her when she was younger. As she grew up there were certain times when it made her feel different or odd. She could remember being sixteen and realizing Margot was the only other girl she knew whose parents hadn't made her get a prevention implant. Soon after that she had been too concerned with her patrol career to think much about anything else. Then issue had only really crept up on her within the last year when she and Alexi decided to get a marriage license. Neither was sure that they would have chosen to start a family anyway. They both had dangerous demanding positions and a hundred other excuses not to. Stil, it was strange knowing it had never really been an option for them.

Katya enjoyed spending time with the children on board. She and Alexi were registered tutors within the Orbit Education System. They spent a good deal of their off time teaching school aged children mathematics, science and history or whatever they might need assistance in. Had she not been a pilot Katya often thought teaching was how she'd like to spend her time. Though she loved the children she taught, she found the idea of being solely accountable for one a more than terrifying thought.

"Because," She said as she closed her eyes against Alexi's warm skin, "we won't ever have to be responsible for turning a perfectly normal and innocent child into a fucked up head case of an adult," She told her husband sleepily.

He sighed at her dismal answer.

"Katya, c'mon," He protested.

He knew she was referring to herself, or maybe both of them. Either way he didn't like it.

"I mean it," She told him. "I've been raised by three different people and I essentially have five parents. If we could ask them all who wanted to take credit for me how many out of the five would want to step up?"

"Katya, that's not even fair," He challenged. "Saul and Ellen love you. You've been lucky to have them."

"I know that. I'm just saying; even they would probably pass the blame."

"The blame for what, Katya? Stop acting like you're a thing that someone should feel ashamed of."

She let out a low and bitter laugh.

"Aren't we both?"

Alexi sighed and tried to figure out how he was going to bring her out of the dark place she was heading. Blazer was right. They both did this to themselves sometimes. They were lucky to have each other though. One of them was usually able to guide the other out of their wistful fog.

"No, we aren't. Maybe I used to think like that. Maybe I've influenced you to think that way too, but no. The people that made us, our fathers, the Committee; they are the ones who should have been ashamed of themselves. Not us," He insisted.

"But those mistakes screwed us up Alexi, mentally, physically..."

"Maybe in some ways that's true. Doesn't mean we would screw up our own kid if we had the chance," He posed.

"It's just as well,” She mumbled against him.

Alexi sat up taking Katya with him and lifted her into his lap. She rested her head on his shoulder as he moved the blankets out of the way. Standing up he took her in his arms with ease and placed her down on the bed as gently as he could. Neither was sober enough for the conversation they were having.

"It's time to sleep, Yekaterina," He told her has he leaned down for a kiss and pulled the blanket over her already dozing form.

As Alexi climbed in with her he heard Katya's station cuff buzzing under the covers.

"Katya, you have a message," He said trying to rouse her as he settled in to get comfortable.

"Too drunk to read. Read it to me," She yawned.

Alexi reached under the covers. Taking her hand in his he brought it up so that he could see her wrist.

"There's two," He told her as he squinted at the device. "Your Uncle says to be in his quarters by 0900," Alexi started.

"Is he kidding?"

"Says he'll have something waiting to cure your hangover," He added.

"Oh, well at least that's incentive. What's the other?"

"Umm…it's from Margot. Just says 'I'm sorry'. What's she sorry for?"

"I have no idea. That's weird." Katya shrugged and pulled the covers up to her chin with her free hand.

"Yeah," He agreed kissing the top of her hand before letting go. "Goodnight, myshka."

"Spoki," She whispered back.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

As Bill walked into his cabin he felt like he was treading water. He'd hardly had any time to process anything and he knew it was going to be hard to face Laura. He stopped and leaned against the entrance of the bedroom and watched her in their rack. She had left the overhead light on for him and it shone down on her softly as she slept. She was beautiful and he loved her so much. The last thing he wanted to do was to ever upset her. She'd gone through enough in her last lifetime. He couldn't even begin to fathom her reaction to what this one had in store for her.

"I'm awake," She called out catching him off guard.

He couldn't help but smile at the sleepy sound of her voice. He kicked his shoes off and walked over to the rack.

Bill leaned over to kiss her cheek before starting to take his shirt off. She was curled up on her side facing the wall. Her eyes were still closed and her copper locks were splayed over the pillow.

"Did I wake you?" He asked as he started to take off his belt.

"Mmm no."

"Are you still in pain?"

Bill dropped his slacks and sat down on the bed to remove his socks.

"Yeah, I am," She admitted. "This is so frakking ridiculous," She muttered into the blanket.

He thought about apologizing for making her to go dinner. He knew she'd been uncomfortable and the tension between her and Katya surely hadn't helped. The only reason he’d encouraged her to go was because he was worried that she was trying to close herself off from the world. Bill worried the strange evening had made things even worse for her.

Once he was down to his undershirt and boxers Bill eased into bed and turned to nuzzle beside her. He spooned himself behind her and reached his arm around to lay his hand on her tummy. He felt awful about what she was going through. He knew that she was both utterly embarrassed and supremely annoyed. The issue didn't bother him in the least. He had been married before and he knew the drill, knew it'd be over in few days. It was just that he hated knowing that she was uncomfortable and that there was nothing he could do to help her. He rubbed little circles over her lower abdomen not knowing if it would help. For a moment he thought about the weird irony of the day.

"Did you take those pills the doctor gave you?" He asked softly behind her ear.

"Yeah. I took some before I got in bed. I slept for a while but they wore off. I just took another two. They'll kick in soon," She told him.

Laura was miserable. She was too old for this. She shouldn't be dealing with this now. She shouldn't be alive to deal with it. She should be resting peacefully on the other side. She had done her time. Everything just felt so wrong. Besides feeling bloated and achy she was just plain fed up. Though the pain was familiar it was more intense than she’d ever remembered. Maybe it had just been too long ago to truly recall but something felt off. For a moment she remembered her missing tonsils. It had seemed insignificant when she first found out. Then she started to realize that she would never have known they were gone had the doctor not volunteered the information. Even if they were just a pair of useless glands, it was still one more thing that had been taken from her without her permission, without her knowledge. It was one more thing that made her body feel strange and new and less like it belonged to her.

"Can I do anything for you?" Bill asked sweetly.

"No. I' m just glad you're here. I'll sleep better now," She said with a yawn.

"That's good.”

He scooped her a little closer and inhaled the scent of her hair.

Bill couldn't explain the overwhelming reaction he suddenly seemed to be having toward Laura. He hadn't expected it. Even though he knew what he had to tell her would hurt and confuse her, he couldn't help the way it was making him feel. Something was different than when he had left her after dinner. He never thought he could feel closer to Laura than he already did but somehow knowing they had a child together was making him feel connected to her in a way he never imagined. Something about the knowledge that she had carried his baby was making his heart swell inside of his chest with some primal mix of love and pride, even though it was tinged with sadness. He was overcome with an immutable urge that made him want to flip her over and engulf her mouth with his own in some bizarre gesture of gratitude. Was that sick? He didn't know. What he knew was that he felt guilty about it. Guilty because she had no idea it had even happened and guilty because he feared what she would think if she knew how it was making him feel. Should this really make such a difference in how he looked at her? It felt wrong. Maybe it was just his crude baser male instincts kicking in. It had to be. He thought that maybe if he tried hard enough he could turn them off but he didn't know if he truly wanted to.

His thoughts turned to the girl he now knew to be their daughter. He couldn't believe that he had another child. She was a woman really. They had missed whatever childhood she had. From the sounds of things it hadn't been the most pleasant. He thought of Saul and Ellen raising her. They seemed to love her a great deal but Bill could tell the girl was troubled. Laura couldn't stand her. The unfairness of the situation was overwhelming. Katya had grown up knowing he was her father but that she'd have to do without him. He'd never even had the chance to be aware of her. As he thought about her he wondered how he had missed her eyes. Maybe he hadn't missed them but now that he was aware of who she was they were just so obviously Adama. Saul was right; he saw Tamara in her too but that wasn't all. The more Bill thought about Katya; her facial expressions, her sharp tongue, bone structure and posture, the more he saw that Laura had been hidden in the girl all along. He wondered how he could so quickly feel for a child who he barely knew. He supposed it was a lot like the love he'd felt for Lee and Zak the moment they were first born. There was an overwhelming pull to care for them. There was an automatic need to protect them at all costs. There was a sudden burst of unconditional love. Bill thought about Katya's strange birth. As far as he knew there had been no one there to feel that way about her the day she was born and that broke his heart.

"Bill?" Laura asked half turning around in his arms. She had heard the change in his breathing and a few times heard the hitch in his throat. When she felt the moisture on her neck she knew it was his tears."Bill, you're crying. What's wrong?"

Bill shook his head and swallowed hard trying to think of how to answer her honestly.

"I…I was just thinking about my kids," He whispered in truth.

Laura's heart sunk for Bill. She had been so engulfed in the grief she'd been feeling since they downloaded that she hadn't thought about that. He seemed to be adjusting so much easier than she was but he must have felt it too. She knew in some way they had been with the people who they loved before they were resurrected. Even if she couldn't remember in what way or in what form, she knew they had been there. She missed her family and so did Bill. He’d been taken from his children.

"I'm sorry, Bill," She offered not sure of what to say to make it better.

She couldn't make it better for herself. What chance did she have in helping him?

He didn't say anything in return, just kissed at her temple. She turned back on her side and Bill continued to unconsciously thumb at her belly. He let a few quiet minutes pass before he spoke softly into her ear.

"Laura?"

"Hmm?"

"Before…" He started tentatively, "Back on Caprica; did you ever…" Bill stopped for a moment reconsidering what he was about to ask but something was pushing him to continue. He needed something, some kind of hint as to what he would soon be diving into. He needed to know anything that might help him put it into context for her. He took a deep breath and continued "Did you ever…think about having children?"

He felt her body go rigid in his arms almost immediately. It was enough to make him regret the question right away. For a moment when she didn't speak he wondered if she was going to ignore him but then she whispered so softly he almost didn't hear it.

"Why the frak would you ask me that?"

Bill couldn't tell if the question had angered her or upset her. As he struggled to come up with a response she suddenly rolled out of his arms and toward the wall. Bill didn't know what to do or say. She obviously didn't want him to say much of anything. He knew Laura and her pulling away was her shutting him out. At a loss Bill got up and made his way to the head to brush his teeth.

Laura curled up tighter on the bed. Part of her felt badly for turning away from him. He'd so obviously just been having an emotional moment. The other part of her was so annoyed at his question that it made it hard to care. She figured her current condition had been the catalyst for it and it made her even angrier at the situation. The last thing she wanted was for it to be some sort of open invitation to a discussion she had no interests in having. She had dealt with it enough for the day. She had been poked and prodded in Med Ward and Tawny even convinced her to have that stupid prevention implant put in like she was a godsdamn teenager. She didn't need one last probing from Bill as he hunted for some ancient hidden regret. Whatever way she had felt, whatever considerations she'd ever given the matter, it was all long gone and so far from relevant. What difference would it make for him to know? Why would he make her bring it up now? It didn't matter anymore and she didn't want to think about it.

Bill brushed his teeth in the head and then splashed some cool water on his face. He had no idea of how to interpret Laura's reaction to his question. Was it really so wrong of him to ask or had it just been bad timing? Perhaps he was overthinking it because of the looming reality. Either way it didn't bode well for the future. With a deep breath he returned to the bedroom. Once he was back under the covers he attempted to make amends.

"Laura, I'm sorry," Was all he said.

She was silent for a moment or two. He feared she was ignoring him.

"Let's just go to sleep, Bill."

Her voice sounded strained, like she was crying or at least had been while he was in the other room. Bill decided that he would just do more damage by asking so he let it go.

"I love you," He offered.

She didn't answer him. She just rolled back into the position they had been in before. Figuring that it was as much of a gesture of forgiveness as he was going to get, Bill snuggled back into place behind her. He buried his face in the crook of her neck and she didn't protest but when his hand reached for the place it had been resting on her belly she abruptly stopped him. He settled instead for her hip and then tried to get some sleep.

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

It had been over six months since she'd moved out but Ellen hadn't changed a thing in the room. As Katya looked around she wondered if her aunt ever would. There were pairs of ballet slippers hanging on posts on the wall, draped over the vanity mirror and propped up in corners of the shelving unit. They ranged from the first little pink split-soles she'd ever worn on stage to her last pair of frayed satin pointes that she knew still hid blood stains on the toe pads within them. Her clothes were no longer folded in the drawers and the hanger on head door that once held her spare uniform was bare. It still smelled the same though. It smelled like home; a mix of station laundry and Ellen's perfume. The rack's mattress still felt familiar against her back and she still found strange comfort in pressing her palm against the cold cabin wall as she lay there. Katya wondered how many nights she'd spent in the room dreaming up silly fantasies that would never come true and trying to forget nightmares of memories that would never go away.

Once when she was eight years old she had been stricken with a scalding fever. Her rising temperature was causing her to hallucinate. In the corners of her eyes she saw phantom bots darting around the room. She even heard their metal feet scraping against the floor and she could remember screaming her lungs out in Ellen's arms. Too scared to take her to Med Ward in her agitated state Saul messaged Dr. Xao to do an urgent cabin call. Once at her bedside the doctor took out his syringe pistol to give her an injection but Katya saw it as the hand of one of the chromed monsters. She became frantic, thrashing about the rack in a panic. It took both her aunt and uncle to hold her still against the mattress as Dr. Xao tried to work.

 

 

"What do you like to think of that makes you happy?" Xao asked once her body had calmed a bit.

With her eyes still frantically darting around the room she answered him.

"Flying. Flying in a Falcon…fast like the patrol pilots. I like to imagine I can fly," She told the man through hot tears.

"Then do that for me now, Yekaterina," He told her. She closed her eyes and tried as he leaned in to administer the sedative that would put her out until she was well again.

 

 

 

Now she closed her eyes and tried to do the same. It wasn't working. When she arrived at the Tigh's earlier Saul had something waiting for her hangover as promised. She'd made a face when she saw it. It had always been a staple in the Tigh household but only Saul really knew what it contained. It was best to knock it back in a few short gulps.

"Just drink it," Saul told her as she stared at the muddy colored mixture. "You know it works."

And it did. He and Ellen had both benefited from the mystery concoction early in the morning before Katya even made it to the cabin. They both needed it after the night they'd had. The couple hadn't spoken much when Saul returned home. He told Ellen it was done, that Bill knew. Her only reply was that she'd have no part in telling Katya. He hadn't argued with her. They’d gone to bed without saying much more.

When Katya arrived she noticed that her aunt was uncharacteristically quiet and that her uncle seemed to have something on his mind. Katya sat with Saul at the dinner table. It still hadn't been put away from the night before. Alexi was supposed to come move it when his shift was through later in the day.

"So is this so I'm awake enough for you to yell at me about last night's dinner?" Katya asked after her second swig of murky liquid.

Ellen remained silent on the sofa as she fiddled with her cabin tablet. Katya could that tell she was purposely avoiding whatever conversation her husband had planned. Saul paused for a while before he answered. He seemed to be studying her face, looking into her eyes as if he would suddenly find something new there after all these years.

"What?" She asked slamming back the rest of her drink and pushing the empty glass away.

"Yeah, Katya. That’s partially why I asked you to come," Saul had started.

Katya looked to Ellen who was still doing a poor job at pretending she wasn't paying them any attention. Facing her uncle again she stayed quiet and shrugged waiting for him to go on.

"Katya, I know that woman ticked you off the other day on Beta but I'm asking you to cut her some slack…for me."

"It wasn't just what happened on Beta. She bothers me," Katya insisted.

"Even so, you need to take a step back and think about what you're doing. I'm not asking you to like her. I'm asking you to show Laura Roslin and Bill Adama that Ellen and I raised you with some sense of respect," Saul stopped himself when the volume of his voice started to climb. He knew as soon as he started to yell at her he'd lose her focus and then she'd only be interested in shouting back at him. He reassessed and started over. "So, now you've met them and you see that they're just two flawed people, just like the rest of us. You still need to remind yourself of what they've done and what they're here to do now," Saul explained.

"She doesn't seem too eager to do anything now; surely nothing that would be of any help to us. You heard her the other day," Katya tried to dispute.

"Kat, the woman is having trouble dealing with what's happened to her. You can appreciate that. You told me yourself before they downloaded that you wouldn't be surprised to see them both struggle with their resurrection," He challenged.

"Struggle with their surroundings, struggle with coming to terms with being alive again, sure…but I never imagined she'd refuse to help. I never imagined she'd even consider it. Not after what we told them," Katya went back, her voice slightly raised.

"She didn't refuse, Katya, not yet."

"Well she certainly implied that she would," Katya scowled.

"I'll admit she didn't seem too thrilled about the process but I know that woman. You give her a chance and she'll come around. She'd never leave an entire people to surrender to their deaths, not once she truly understood. Even if she thought the situation was hopeless. I know it," Saul insisted emphatically leaning over the table.

Katya still looked skeptical.

"Kit, listen to me. She and I were left to die once on a shitty little mud-caked planet that was taken over by a misguided and violent enemy. The Admiral was gone and there was no military to protect us. We were both put in containment. That's where I lost my frakkin' eye, Katya. Gods only know what what was done to her in there…but we both got out and when we did she helped me spring into frakking action," He said with fervor. "She helped me convince a bunch of tired scared kids, just like you, that they could fight against something so much bigger than themselves. She helped me show them that they shouldn't just lie down and wait to be killed. She helped me convince them that they should fight until the bitter end even if that end had nothing in store for them but grim death. She helped me fire up a damn revolution when there wasn't a glimmer of hope to be seen. That is the woman I knew," He said slowly relaxing into his chair.

As Katya thought about his words she looked to Ellen yet again. She was so used to their usual three way confrontations. When one of them sat out it was usually a tactical move. The woman's jaw was clenched. Katya could see the muscles around her mandible were taut and tense. She could tell that she was fighting not to speak, not to look up at where they sat.

Katya knew little about their time on New Caprica. Saul and Ellen had shared so much with her about their journey to Earth. They always answered all of her questions and gave her as many details as they could. They loved to do it because she'd always gotten so much joy out of the stories when she was young. Still, there were some things they chose not to share with her. The girl had no idea that Saul had once taken Ellen's life and they never planned to tell her. Katya knew that Ellen had died on New Caprica. She knew of how she’d eventually resurrected and returned to the fleet. She even knew about Saul's relationship with Alexi's mother; the Six they called Caprica. She'd just always been led to believe Ellen had died during the exodus off of the planet and the couple saw no benefit of telling her otherwise.

Katya wondered if Saul's story had made Ellen think of her death. It would explain her current posture at least. Katya recalled Ellen's description of resurrecting with a personality that was somewhat altered from the one she had before. When she looked back at her uncle she cocked her head to the side in thought.

"Maybe Laura Roslin's not the same woman you once knew," She posed squinting her eyes at him. "I hear death can really change a person," She remarked.

He inhaled deeply and let the breath out before he spoke. He knew Katya was referencing Ellen's experience and even brushing the topic with her had always made him uneasy.

"Maybe…but we don't know that yet. What I do know is that she's been having a hard time. She hasn't been well and she needs our support not our grief."

"What?” Katya said furrowing her brow. “What do you mean? Is she sick?

Ellen let out a snort from her spot on the sofa. When Katya glanced in her direction she sat with a smirk still feigning interest in the device she held.

Katya bit at her lower lip. Laura Roslin had certainly looked fine to her last night. She didn't like the woman but the last thing she wanted was for Adama or Roslin to be ill in any way. They still needed them so desperately.

"She's healthy as far as I know," Saul answered ignoring whatever Ellen found to be so humorous. "Bill says she’s just been feeling a little off. It's all the more reason I'm asking you to do this for me, Katya. You know how I feel about Bill…And Laura, well she means everything to him. He's the one who can convince her that this is where they need to be. He's the one who can persuade her into helping. You think he's going to be more inclined to do that after hearing you verbally assault his woman every chance you get?"

Katya winced at his words and looked away.

"Whatever else you are, kit, you're a representative of your people and the force that fights to protect them. Show Roslin and Adama that your people are worth saving," He proposed earnestly. He’d tried his best but when Katya looked back at him she was stone faced and silent. "Just lay off her, is all, Katya," He finished.

She pressed her lips together before nodding.

"Fine," She answered. "I'll do my best to keep quiet around her…unless she provokes me, that is," She added.

"That's all I'm asking," Saul conceded.

Katya huffed and let her shoulders slump.

"Is that all? Can I go now?" She asked.

Now that Saul's miracle cure was kicking in she figured she might as well go work out the rest of the toxins she'd put into her body with a trip to the gym. Plus, she needed to find a new target for her aggression besides Roslin. A punching bag would do. Upon ber request to be excused she saw her uncle's eye darken and he shook his head.

"No, Katya. I still have something I need to tell you,” He said grimly.

She didn't like the tone in his voice. It was all at once grave and sullen, as if he didn't really want to say whatever he was about to tell her.

"What, now?" She asked glancing at Ellen once more.

Her stomach sank when she saw the woman thumbing tears from her still downcast eyes. Katya suddenly feared she knew what her uncle was about to say.

With a hard swallow Saul looked her in the eyes and spoke.

"Bill Adama knows who you are, Katya. After dinner last night I took him to the Luna Force office alone and I told him," He finished.

She didn't respond. She couldn't.

"I had to, Katya. When we were on Delta yesterday Bill saw Margot in the lab."

Katya could see that Ellen was finally watching her but she didn't return her attention.

"He was starting to ask questions. I' couldn't keep it from him anymore," Saul tried to explain but Katya had already heard what he had to say and she was done.

It was then that she quietly rose from the table and headed toward the solace of her old bedroom. She'd been there ever since. Saul hadn't followed her.

It had been almost a half hour since she'd fled from his news and no one had bothered her yet. Some nights she missed her old room. She'd avoided bunking in the officer's quarters by staying at home even after enlisting. If she hadn't gotten married she would still be spending her nights there. She remembered sleepovers with Tawny and Margot and Ellen braiding her hair before bed. She remembered how her uncle would come in and kiss her goodnight and how it always made her feel so much safer.

When Blaze and Alexi's fathers were gone they became orphans. When her father died she’d gotten a new family, her own room and a home. A knock at the entrance finally snapped her out of the past. Ellen was in the doorway.

"Can I come in?" She asked tentatively.

Katya shrugged.

"This isn't my room anymore. It's your cabin. Come in if you want," She answered dully.

Ellen huffed as she made her way over to the bed.

"Katya, this will always be your room. You know that," She told her but Katya said nothing in return. She just stared over her shoulder at some point on the wall. "Uncle Saul wasn't done talking with you, kitten.” She said looking down over her.

Katya finally gave the other woman some brief eye contact.

"I was done listening," She stated flatly.

Ellen nodded in understanding.

"Scoot over, kitten," Ellen said patting Katya on her thigh and moving to lie down beside her. There was hardly room for two on the rack but they had cuddled up like this so often they knew how to make it fit. Katya turned over on her stomach and faced the wall. Ellen lay on her side behind her as she started to gently rub her hand soothingly over Katya's back. "Do you remember how I used to do this when you couldn't sleep?" She asked continuing to make little figure eights between Katya's shoulder blades. The girl only nodded in response. "Some nights you'd have those bad dreams and I thought I'd never get you to calm down…" Ellen wistfully recalled. "…but this always eventually did the trick."

She continued to run her fingers over and over, moving Katya’s long locks to the side to get to her nape and softly crisscrossing down to her waist and up again until she felt a definite hitch in the girl's breathing. Ellen put her arm around Katya and hugged her closer.

"Baby, it's alright to cry," She told her. "This isn't easy. I know you were dreading it but your uncle is right; it had to happen sooner or later. We just have to deal with it now. It's alright to let it out," Ellen told her.

Even as a small child Katya's father had always encouraged her to stave off her tears as long as she could possibly help it. He wanted her to be strong, to have control over her feelings. He told her that to reveal your emotions to another was to allow them to predict your actions. Unfortunately Katya's sadness tended to turn into anger if she held it in too long. It had taken Ellen a long time to get the girl out of the habit of bottling things up. Sometimes she still did.

"That's not it," Katya cried through a stifled sob.

"Then what's wrong?" Ellen asked holding her tighter as she heard the strain in her words.

Katya tried to find her voice again. She hated to hear herself waver.

"I just feel guilty…" She started but faltered.

"For what? For everything that's happened with Laura? Honey, don't. Look, Saul's right. Maybe you should cool it, or at least keep your distance from the woman but you don't have to feel bad about anything you said to her. She doesn't understand the position you're in. I don't blame you a bit and deep down neither does Saul," Ellen tried to assure her but Katya shook her head.

"Not about that…not really. About you and Uncle Saul. Over the years I just…" Her words kept catching in her throat.

"Sweetie, you have nothing to feel guilty about when it comes to us. Why would you say that?"

Ellen leaned up on her elbow a bit to look down at her but Katya wouldn't look back. She kept her tear blurred eyes on the wall against the rack.

"Because it's true. I've been an awful daughter," She finally choked out. "You two took me in and loved me, cared for me, did everything and anything for me and still, I never stopped thinking of them. I never stopped wanting that man, that stranger, to be my father. I never stopped wanting that frigid woman to be my mother. I used to cry at night because I didn't have her, because I was scared I'd never get to know her. I cried for a mother who never wanted me when I already had one who wanted nothing more than to be there for me. I loved you and Uncle Saul so much but I could never just be satisfied with you two as my parents," Katya spouted unable to stop the flood of emotion.

Ellen felt her own breath lost somewhere between her lungs and her lips as she listened to Katya continue.

"I don't know why it was so deeply ingrained in my head that they would fill some part of me that was missing. I know now that was stupid. You took care of me when I was sick, you loved me even when I was hard to love and still, I always wanted something more. You knew that, you saw it. I was such a selfish brat that I never even thought to attempt to hide it and you still loved me anyway! You've loved me as a daughter and I've treated you like you weren't enough of a mother. I'm so ashamed of that now. And what's even more sickening is that even though I know now that it was wrong to feel that way, I still can't shake it. I hate the sight of that woman now and still some stupid fucked up part of me still wants so badly to call her my mom. I hate that. I hate it. You're the only mother I've ever had and you don't deserve that and I'm so sorry, Ellen!"

When Katya was through she sobbed into the pillow. Her body shook in Ellen's arms but the other woman could hardly tell the girl's quivering and jerking cries from her own. She hadn't expected that out of Katya. It was hard to hear but Ellen felt the raw love and gratitude that spilled in between the harsh admissions and weeping remorse. She'd known Katya felt that way for years. Though Ellen sometimes wished it wasn't so, she never resented Katya for her feelings. She couldn't. It was part of who the girl was long before they'd even known that she existed. Even though the knowledge wasn't new Ellen couldn't help but be moved by Katya's recognition of it. She was so moved by her concern for their feelings and her reverence for all that they had done for her.

Before Ellen could collect herself enough to speak she heard a sound at the entrance of the room. Quickly glancing back she saw Saul standing in the doorway. She didn't know how long he had been standing there and Katya hadn't seemed to notice him through her sobs. Ellen didn't alert her to his presence but she didn't motion for him to leave either. When he didn't speak she turned back to Katya and pulled her close.

"Baby, I don't want you to feel guilty for any of that," Ellen spoke softly into her ear.

Somehow it made Katya sob harder.

"You need to take a deep breath, sweetie," Ellen worriedly told Katya as she felt the girl’s body heave and shake against her chest. Ellen hugged her even tighter as if it would stifle her tremors. "Me and Uncle Saul, we know how much you love us, kitten. We've always known. I saw it in your eyes when you were a little girl and Uncle Saul would come home after a long shift. I felt it in your arms every time you held onto me for hug. Neither of us has ever doubted your love.”

Katya still couldn't stop her tears enough to speak so Ellen kept going.

"I think that hole you feel, that space you've always thought Bill and Laura would fill…I think it's partially our fault. Your father and Saul and me, we raised you to feel like you were always waiting on something. We encouraged that part of you that was so curious to know them. We did it with all of our stories and by making sure that you were so connected to the project and the lab. Maybe we fed into it too much. I never wanted you to grow up not feeling like a whole person without them. You shouldn't have been made to feel that way; to think that you had to rely on someone else to feel complete. So as long as we're saying our ‘sorries’, that's mine," Ellen confessed as she leaned over and wiped some tears from Katya's cheek with her fingers.

When Katya finally turned to face Ellen neither could stand the pain in the other's eyes. Ellen kissed at the girl's forehead and gave her a little smile.

"What do I do now?" Katya asked between some involuntary sniffles.

Ellen shrugged.

"Nothing. You just go on living your life. You go home to Alexi. You get up and get in the cockpit. You bust Blazer's balls on the flight deck," Ellen teased getting a tiny smirk out of Katya. "You just keep going. You don't owe anyone anything. If Bill or Laura want to come to you then you…take it from there. But Katya, as wrong as this sounds, I don't think you're going to know how you really feel about either of them until they know how they feel about you. And that's just another reason why Saul had to tell Bill," She explained.

Katya closed her eyes and at bit at her lip.

"Does she know too?"

"We don't know yet," Saul finally spoke from the doorway looking down at his boots.

Both women sat up on their elbows at the sound of his voice. Katya wondered how long he had been there. Ellen figured that he'd heard most of it.

"If she doesn't she will soon,” He added chancing a look at both of them. “I can't see Bill keeping it from her for long,"

Ellen stuck her hand out inviting him to come in. He walked slowly over to the rack somewhat worried that Katya would decide to dismiss him but she didn't. He took the hand Ellen had extended.

Ellen gripped tightly onto her husband’s hand in an unspoken expression. They had somehow made a little family with the girl beside them. Out of everything the two had done together that made Ellen the happiest. Through their entire arduous existence there were times she had been unfaithful, disloyal and even dismissive of him but somehow in this union she hadn't faltered and she was proud of it. Though Saul never said it she knew he was as well.

Katya let out a long and shaky breath before speaking to her uncle.

"What did he...how did he…" She attempted.

She knew what she wanted to ask him but she found herself unusually tongue tied.

"About how you'd expect," Saul answered as he sat down by their feet; the only place he could find even a sliver of free space on the bed. "He was shocked, he was angry, he was confused," He admitted.

Katya looked at her station cuff suddenly recalling the night before.

"Margot sent me a message last night" She said as it finally dawned on her. "It said she was sorry...I didn't understand why."

"It wasn't her fault, sweetie,” Ellen said as she played with a lock of Katya’s hair. “We both forgot to tell her that Bill would be there yesterday. I'm sure she feels awful. You call her when you're ready.”

 

"I didn't think she’d be there,” Saul shrugged. “Once Bill knew who she was he all but figured the rest out for himself. That's why I had to tell him last night, kit. I'm sorry if you feel like I should have told you before I did it," He offered as he placed a gentle hand on Katya's ankle.

"No,” She said with a shake of her head. “No more apologies. I think we're all done saying sorry," She told them both with finality.

Ellen smiled softly in agreement and kissed the side of her head before Saul continued.

"Kat, if I know Bill he's going to want to talk to you sooner rather than later. I just want you to be prepared for that," Saul told her. "Ellen's right, you don't owe him anything but I want you to give him your respect for as long as he offers you his."

After a long pause Katya nodded.

"Yes, Sir," She agreed. She couldn't fix anything she'd done in the past but the least she could do was try not to embarrass the people who had brought her up,"Uncle Saul?"

"Hm?"

"Do you think I can get back on the board early? I'm sort of done with being on leave," She proposed apprehensively.

Saul looked to his wife and she shrugged, leaving it up to him.

"I guess that would be okay. I think I could get Kaplan to agree if you talk to your CAG. Just so long as Tawny's says it’s fine," He considered, thinking of her fainting spell. "I just don't want you going back to active duty to hide from all this, Katya. It'll only be waiting for you at the end of the day." He cautioned.

Katya looked at Ellen and then back to her Saul.

"I know. That's not it," She answered, her voice finally stable, "I just want to fly."

LOCATION: INNER ORBIT; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

ALPHA PATROL SECTION

LUNA FORCE SQUADRON: ACTIVE PATROL; NO COMBAT

YEAR: 2315

Katya sat in her falcon as she completed her thirty fifth revolution of her patrol ellipses. Though she wasn't getting any atmosphere boarder time she was grateful to be back in the cockpit. It helped her to clear her head. Sometimes she felt as if she could breathe easier within her tiny pressurized helmet than she could inside the entire HEPA-filtered over oxygenated station. It hadn’t take long at all to convince Kaplan to let her return early. Once Tawny gave the okay so did the CAG. He’d hated that she was going to be out the rest of the week to begin with. He was thrilled to have her back on the board. As she flew she finally felt some sense of stability despite there being literally nothing beneath her. It had been two days since Katya learned that Bill Adama knew who she was and the man had made no attempt to contact her. She was both enormously grateful and totally offended. She still had no idea if Laura Roslin knew her identiy or not. Alexi encouraged Katya to forget about the resurrected couple. He told her that they were there for a purpose and that she wasn't it. She figured he was right. She'd ceased her involvement in the project once they were resurrected. Alpha's stasis chambers were empty. She had no reason to return there. Unless there was some direct need for her assistance she decided that she was done with that part of her life.

Katya smiled to herself when she thought she saw Blaze ellipse her in the opposite direction. She opened a line to his bird on the com system to confirm.

"That you shaking your tail at me, Blazer?" She said with a laugh.

"Affirmative, Koshka. I'm just happy to see you back out here. Figured I'd give you a little welcome home dance," He answered.

"What rev are you on, LT?"

"Uh, twenty-one. I didn't see you on the flight deck this morning. You must have taxied out way before me."

"I was anxious to get going. I missed my baby," Katya told him as she pet her control board.

"Yeah, she was lookin' mighty lonely sitting on the deck without you. Started collecting dust," He teased.

"Well I've got her now and I don't plan on taking any extended vacations for a long, long time."

"That's a big 10-4, Cap."

"So I hear a date was set for the download on Beta," Katya enquired. “My parents told me last night.”

Saul and Ellen had given her and Alexi the news as the sat down for dinner. Katya was surprised to hear that it would be happening sooner than she’d thought. She knew the EOC was eager but things had been relatively calm in Orbit lately and they had originally planned for a larger gap between resurrections.

"Seems that way,” He confirmed. “Elle was nice enough to give me a heads up yesterday before Dr. Le Blanc called called."

"Ah, and how is the lovely lady doing?" Katya asked facetiously.

She didn't really have any true hatred toward Margot's mother. The scientist was known for being quite demanding and overzealous. Often that was enough to rub people the wrong way. To say Margot was nothing like her was an understatement. The doctor had always been protective of all four of them throughout their lives. Katya had spent many nights on Delta under Michelle Le Blanc's watchful eye. She often went there to spend time with Margot and the woman always made her feel welcome as her cold nature could manage. Still, there were times Katya felt herself resenting the doctor for some of the tests that had been done to them as kids. They weren't exactly hurt by any of them, at least not technically, but it still felt odd knowing what their own parents had subjected them to. Katya knew that Le Blanc had spearheaded the idea once interest in the four as potential replacements for their birth parents had been eliminated. Their creation had been deemed a failure but Le Blanc found ways to make them useful. They were the perfect subjects; children of scientists who had full access to them whenever they pleased. The fact that they were genetically different from the rest of the populace was also an interesting bonus. None of them had Earth-human lineage in their DNA. Margot was full Cylon just like Saul and Ellen. Alexi and Blaze were both Colonial-Cylon hybrids and at the time Katya had been the only living pure Colonial human in Orbit. They were like isolated samples of the genetics that had combined long ago to make up the general population’s DNA. Their adoptive scientist parents took full advantage. Katya supposed that some of the resentment over the tests should have gone toward her own father. After all, Isakoff willingly had her participate in every experiment. But he was dead and Le Blanc was alive to take the blame.

"Oh, she’s just dandy, cool as a cucumber as always," Blazer mockingly returned.

"So, are you still excited?"

"I dunno, Koshka. I think I'm going to head over to Beta's lab tomorrow and figure that out," He admitted.

"Well, you better hurry up, L.T. You have ten days."

"What about you? Heard pops Adama knows the deal. You seen him yet?"

"No way. My uncle told him and he pretty much disappeared. I haven't seen or heard from either of them since we all had dinner. Ellen said they're keeping to themselves. I couldn't really give a fuck less," She announced.

"Yeah, Alexi kind of mentioned that. Just thought maybe something changed."

"That's a negative. I wish you better luck, Lieutenant."

"I hear that," He told her. "And, Koshka?"

"Yeah, L.T?"

"If they don't want to know you it's their loss. They don't know what they're missing."

Katya's line was silent for a time.

"Thanks, Blazer."

"10-4, Cap,"

A break in the feed filled both of their cockpits with static.

"Blazer, Koshka, this is your CAG speaking. Will you two freaks quit jabbering and just fly?"

"Now that's a 10-4, Major. Koshka; over and out," She said on the com before breaking the connection.

"Freak number two here over and out," Blazer added as he laughed to himself in his cockpit.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR A

CIVILIAN SECTOR

OBSERVATION DECK 2

YEAR: 2315

The gallery was empty except for them. Saul asked Kaplan to arrange it that way. They didn't like that Bill and Laura were venturing into the civilian sector of the station so soon but with a specially selected team of marine escorts and the stipulation that the place be closed down for their private use the officers had agreed.

Bill had let more than a day go by after Saul's admission before contacting his friend again. During the first day he and Laura stayed in their cabin. He was nursing his first hangover in over 200,000 years and she still hadn't been feeling well. Neither felt much like facing the world but by the next day Bill decided he wouldn't encourage their seclusion anymore. Laura's affliction had completely passed and his hangover was long gone. There was no reason for them to be held up in their cabin like it was some kind of fall-out bunker. Bill knew Laura would be content to stay hidden behind the protective walls of their quarters indefinitely and that was all the more reason he felt they needed to get out. The air in the cabin had started to feel oppressive. He knew it was partially because of the secret he now held. He hadn't been able to tell her yet. After their strange exchange the night he found out there had been a sort of awkward tension between them. He just didn't know where to start.

When Bill finally called Saul it was to ask for help. He wanted to get Laura out of the cabin. He wanted to take her mind off of things and do something; anything unrelated to the reason they were there. Ellen came up with the idea of a trip to one of the civilian corridors. The civvie areas of the station didn't offered more in the way of entertainment than the military side .There was a theater, a museum and a few eateries where people could enjoy a meal in more pleasant surroundings than the cafeteria for a few extra station credits. Ellen thought it would pair well with a trip to the civilian observation deck. The view from that end of the station was something to behold. On her suggestion Saul proposed the trip to Bill and he'd agreed to it quickly. He was up for anything that might brighten Laura's outlook.

Their meal had been quiet. The marines stood guard close by but the eatery was otherwise nearly empty. They had gone during the day when most of the citizens were busy with their own jobs and station jurisdictions. Though they were relatively alone conversation over lunch had been an effort. It wasn't easy for Bill to decide what he should bring up and what would be better left unsaid. He hesitated to bring up anything about the project at the table. He was trying to give her a break from it. Anything mentioned about their past seemed to make her sad and topics that once used to effortlessly flow between them now seemed irrelevant and worlds away. Bill hoped the seclusion of the observation gallery might get Laura to open up a bit after their meal. Once they’d arrived he'd even asked the guards to wait outside the hatch so they would truly be on their own. As they sat there watching the expanse of space and the curvature of the planet's horizon below them Bill's hope of a more relaxed exchange was fading. Laura was quiet beside him as they watched the Orbit traffic passing by. When planning the trip Saul told Bill that Katya would be flying patrol while they were in the gallery. Bill wasn't sure what his reaction had seemed like to Saul. The very utterance of Katya’s name had caught Bill off guard and he’d hardly responded. He had a feeling Saul had taken offence but he hadn't meant to ignore his mention of the girl.

His guilt about keeping the news from Laura was growing. It was starting to gnaw at him. Though he kept it from Laura he liked knowing the girl was out there somewhere as they watched. His internal debate over whether or not to contact Katya himself was still dithering. Though he truly wanted to he wondered if speaking to her on his own before Laura knew would be somehow wrong.

They sat in the center of the first row of seats. The room was dark but the light from the planet below them cast a blue glow in the room. Bill reached his hand out to cover Laura's knee and gain her attention.

"You're not enjoying this, are you?" He finally asked.

She didn't look back at him at first, keeping her focus on the floor to ceiling window in front of them. She shrugged before giving him her eyes.

"The view is beautiful, it's just," She looked back at the planet below them and her voice trailed off.

"It's strange to see it, isn't it?" Bill finished for her.

She nodded in agreement. When they were on the Shuttle-Hawk to Beta she'd purposely avoided looking out the port. Now there was nowhere else to look.

"We fought so hard to get there, Laura," He said in a low tone.

"I remember," She whispered.

"So we wouldn't have to run anymore. So no one would have to run anymore," He continued.

She slowly turned her head toward him suspicious of where he was going with his words.

"I remember that, Bill," She told him more firmly.

She found something offensive about the way he said it, as if he was implying that she'd forgotten everything they'd gone through or their reasons.

Bill considered his minimal options. If they couldn't talk about anything from their past then he wasn't going to just let her ignore the future. It was all they had. He needed to get her to face it.

"They're running again. Only this time they can't run very far. They're stuck here," He observed.

"I'm well aware of that,” Laura said with a scowl. “What are you getting at?”

Bill scratched his forehead with his thumb and sighed.

"Nothing, I guess. It's just, Saul told me this morning that a date had been set for Helo and Athena's download. Ten days. I guess I was just thinking of what that might mean.”

Laura leaned back in her chair and looked silently down at her lap.

"What are your thoughts on it?" Bill tried to prompt.

"My thoughts," She repeated in a low curt tone.

"Yes, Laura, your thoughts and your opinions. You used to share them with me whether I wanted to hear them or not. I want to know what you think," He pressed letting in a hint of frustration.

"It's happening no matter what my thoughts on it may be," She said rolling her eyes but making sure they didn't stop in his direction.

"So should we both just sit here and pretend it isn't happening?" He glowered feeling his irritation on the rise.

Laura just wanted Bill to stop but she knew there was no hope in that happening and for some reason his determination was making her resent him.

"You're not going to let that happen," She goaded with a cynical smirk, her eyes still downcast.

Bill knew now that she wasn't going to make this easy on him. He'd do anything to help her but he wouldn't let her mock his concern.

"Would you really rather I did?" He said with more fire as he leaned closer toward her. "Should I just let you slide slowly into whatever pit of denial you're digging yourself?"

"I am not in denial," She spit back leaning away from him.

"Then what the hell is it, Laura? This depression, this despondent nature you've adopted," He accused, "It's not you!"

"Being in denial about it isn't the same as just plain hating it," She nearly hissed back.

Bill leaned away from her and shook his head.

"So that's it? You decided within a week that you hate it here and so you're not even going to attempt to deal with it? I know this hasn't been easy on you. I know this version of your body hasn't exactly been cooperating in making it a pleasant experience so far but you've dealt with worse and didn't give up."

"I don't hate it here, Bill. I hate that I have to be here. I hate that I was taken from where I was. I may hardly remember it anymore but I know that I was beyond happy there and I know that I am absolutely miserable here," She admitted with contempt in every word, "You were happy there too, Bill," She added.

Bill's patience had suddenly worn. She'd always been good at getting him to his breaking point.

"Well I'm not frakking there anymore, Laura! I'm here and I would think that would mean a little more to you than it seems to," He said pushing himself angrily out of his chair.

As he paced in front of Laura she couldn't look at him but when he stopped in his tracks she could feel his eyes almost burning through her.

"You know, Laura, I told you that as long as I was with you I'd find happiness no matter where I was. It hurts to know it doesn't go both ways," He nearly growled.

At his harsh implication Laura shot out of her own chair to meet him.

"That's not fair, Bill, and it's not true!" She shouted.

Bill saw her eyes fill with tears and rage as she stepped toward him.

"I don't know why the hell this is so hard for me! I don't know why the hell it seems so easy for you but you don't get to tell me that I'm not grateful to have you by my side!" She seethed moving closer to him until there was hardly any space between them."Don't you dare say that to me again," She breathily warned.

Neither was sure how long they stood there boring into one another but Laura was the first to look away breaking the fierce connection between their eyes.

She looked toward the floor and her shoulders dropped. As Bill watched her he saw that she looked somehow defeated. Whether it was due to circumstance or his own accusations he didn't know but he knew that fighting wasn't the way to fix things. He took a half a step toward her closing the thin gap that was left. He placed his hands on her elbows encouraging her to hold on to him. She did so tightly and soon he felt like his returned embrace was the only thing keeping her upright. As she cried softly into his shoulder he whispered his one word apology over and over. He only attempted to say anything else once her tremors seemed to have quieted.

"We have to find you a way to get past this," He whispered into her hair before breaking their close contact.

She didn't answer but allowed him to help her sit back in her seat.

He took the chair beside her and lifted up the armrest that separated them to more easily grasp her hand.

"I'm sorry, Bill," She told him as she wiped at some tears with her free hand. "I don't know why I can't snap out of this," She told him attempting a smile that faded before it ever really materialized.

"It's alright, Laura. All I care about is that you at least want to."

She shrugged.

"I don't want to live life like this. Even a life that wasn't my choice. But when you told me about Karl and Sharon my first thought was that I was glad it was happening soon. I was glad because it’s one step closer to this being all over," She said in pain coated honesty.

It hurt him to hear her speak like that but at least she was speaking now.

"That's just it Laura; you can't think that way. You can't rely on some big finish or some final end to all of this because we don't know what that end is going to look like. We don't know how long this is going to take. We don't even know what we're supposed to do yet. It may not be one simple thing. We spent years doing our part last time. Who knows what this is going to bring us?"

Laura winced at his words.

"Laura, even if this did wind up being as simple as saying some magic word, even if our part in this was over in a day, we're still here. We're here, we're alive, we exist…and…I don't know about you but I'm not planning on offing myself as soon as I think these people are done with me. If that's even close to what you're thinking I'm asking you to stop," He paused looking sternly into her eyes, "You can't leave me here again, Laura. You already had your turn to go first," He said taking a shot at some morbid hint of humor before his eyes welled, "Don't do that to me again…not on purpose."

The pleading look in his eyes made Laura's heart shatter. She'd been so blinded by her own hopelessness. She could see now how much it had hurt him. She didn't know how she was suddenly supposed to will herself out of the darkness she'd been in but she knew she didn't want to drag Bill down into it with her. He loved her and she decided that he shouldn't be punished for that.

"I won't. Not on purpose. I promise, Bill." She told him leaning in and running her hand down the side of his face.

She thought she heard him say 'thank you' but it was lost in a choked out sob right before she covered his lips with her own. She leaned in hard and ran her tongue over his bottom lip encouraging him to respond.

Bill was surprised at her eagerness at first but soon he found himself returning the kiss with the same wrenching passion. Laura hadn't let him kiss her with such passion since they downloaded. There had been a strange distance between them no matter how hard he'd tried to close it. He knew it had been due to a mixture of her grief and perhaps some self consciousness over their new bodies but whatever had caused it Bill felt it starting to melt away with the warmth of her lips.
When Laura finally broke the kiss Bill’s eyes were smiling. His hopefulness pained her even more.

"I think that's a step in the right direction," He teased but she couldn't bring herself to laugh at his small joke.

She shook her head.

"I haven't been here for you, Bill. I've been so consumed by my own frakked up feelings that I haven't even thought about yours. You reached out to me the other night and I couldn't even bring myself to…"

Bill stopped her by cupping her chin.

"It's okay. As long as you don't shut me out we can fix it," He assured her.

He stood and held out his hand to help her to do the same.
When she did she enveloped him with her arms again and cradled her head in his neck. Bill held her against him lost in thought as he stared over her shoulder out the observation window. He squeezed her tightly as he watched two patrol falcons gracefully ellipse each other.

"Laura, please trust me,” He asked softly. “I have a feeling you're going to find that this life has a lot more to offer you than you think.”

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

"How was your first day back, kitten?"

Ellen called from the kitchenette where she was warming up dinner. Katya and Alexi rarely ate dinner in their own quarters. If their schedules allowed one or both of them would usually find their way to the Tigh's around supper time. Ellen didn't mind. It had been that way before the two got married and she was happy to still have the frequent family meals. If left to their own devices the young couple would rarely order in-cabin meals. Most often they would head to the mess hall with friends and Katya would pick at her plate while Alexi stuffed his face enough for the both of them. Tigh family dinners gave Ellen the chance to make sure they both ate well.

"I was happy to be back,” Katya answered her. “It was boring, but that's a good thing. I did seventy-five revolutions… felt really good to fly again," She said happily from where she sat on the L shaped sofa with Saul and Alexi.

They were half watching some new military recruiting video. They supposedly each had little cameos in the production that now streamed every hour on the hour over the Orbit network. The legal adult age according to Orbit law was twenty-one. Up until ten years earlier everyone of age was obligated to one year of mandatory station patrol service. The EOC had voted the practice out due to pressure from some civilian rights groups but enlistment had been dwindling over the last few years. These new recruiting videos were just a precursor to the military's plan to lean into the EOC until the service act was reinstated.

"I'm glad to hear it," Ellen returned, pouring herself a drink.

She was happy to hear a lightness in Katya's voice that had been missing for a long time.

"Oh, I talked to Margot today," Katya informed the room. "She felt really bad about the other day but I tried to tell her what happened wasn't anyone's fault."

"That's good, honey,” Ellen replied. “At least she doesn't have to worry about staying away from Alpha anymore.”

"I know. I'm at least glad about that,” Katya agreed. “We're going to hang out this weekend. She said she was coming to Alpha anyway. She's got a date on board," She said with a smirk.

"Oh yeah?” Alexi said still mostly engrossed in the video feed. “With who?”

"Dr. Kahdim…from the lab," She answered.

"Sydra?" Ellen asked.

"Yes, ma'am," Katya confirmed with a grin.

"Huh, well, I hope that works out,” Ellen considered out loud as she walked over to where they were all sitting. “They'd be kind of cute together."

"Margot could fit that girl in her pocket," Alexi chided earning a playful shove in the arm from Katya.

The two women did have quite a height difference. Sydra was so petite while Margo had legs for days and a lean athletic build.

"Well, Kat, you be sure and bring Margot to see me when she's here," Saul chimed in," I want to make sure that girl knows there's no hard feelings on my end. She looked scared as hell when she walked into the lab that day and saw us. Think she thought I was gunna get her demoted back to basic," He mused.

Katya was surprised to find herself finally able to laugh at the situation.

"Ha, there's Blaze," Alexi said pointing to the screen as the recording panned to the pilot for a split second. "Damn, he looks even dumber on video. I can't wait to tell him," He joked.

"You see that boy out there today, Katya?" Saul asked ignoring Alexi's amusement.

Now that the date for the Agathon's download was set in stone Saul had been wondering how Blaze was responding to the news. With his father dead, and then Alexi's father gone soon after, Saul took his role as Blazer’s only remaining father figure seriously. Despite how goofy he found the kid to be he cared for him a great deal. Saul knew that Dr. Le Blanc had called and updated Blaze on the future of his birth parents but the woman wasn't one to worry about the emotional well being of others. She hardly even worried about Margot's. Saul had never been too concerned about emotional matters himself but ever since he'd taken responsibility for Katya things had changed a bit. He and Ellen felt responsible for all four of the kids and they loved each one of them.

"He was out there,” Katya answered her uncle. “I didn't see him on deck. We talked on the com for a while."

"And?"

"And…Dr. Le Blanc called him and told him the date. He seems fine," She shrugged, "I don't know, he's Blazer. He always seems fine. He said he's going to Beta's lab this week to figure some stuff out. What that means to him, I'm not sure."

"He'll be okay," Ellen said perching herself on a nearby ottoman, "He'll find the bright side to it like he always does, I'm sure," She added before taking a sip of her drink.

Alexi paused the video feed and moved to put his arm around his wife.

"Still it's going to be strange for him," The sergeant posed, "On top of everything else those bodies don’t look much older than he is. It's gunna be kind of creepy for him to have parents that appear to be close to his own age,” He said to the room.

"That's true but there isn't much we can do about that," Saul answered somewhat defensively.

"It's not your fault," Katya assured him, "We know we weren't your genius idea. I wonder if Le Blanc and the others ever even thought of that while they were mixing us up in their little test tubes," Katya mused getting a scowl out of her uncle.

"Kat, stop that," He complained.

Though all four of the kids often dealt with their creation and subsequent upbringing with humor, Saul didn't appreciate it. He didn't see anything funny about the process and even though he knew they were only trying to make light of the strange way they were each brought into the world he couldn't stomach it himself.

Katya rolled her eyes, not surprised by his usual offended reaction.

"Either way I'm sure he'll have a hell of a better experience than I have. At least I hope he does, or Margot's gunna run away before it’s her turn," She laughed.

"Yeah well, I guess we'll see how it works when they know right off the bat,” Alexi considered. “Now we know that when they find out later they disappear," He scoffed.

Saul almost jumped to reprimand Alexi for his obvious reference but he stopped himself. He couldn't help but understand where the boy was coming from. Saul was slightly disappointed at Bill's sudden distance. He wasn't sure what he was expecting. He just always imagined that Bill would be in a bigger hurry to speak to his own daughter once he knew who she was. When he'd finally called this morning Saul just assumed it would be to ask him to arrange some kind of meeting with Katya. When he'd requested help with planning an outing with Laura instead, Saul was surprised. When he'd mentioned to Bill that Katya would be in flight during their trip to the observation deck Bill had only answered by curtly, telling him Laura didn't know yet. Saul's response was simply that Katya did. The subject had been quickly dropped after that. Saul had to stop himself from taking offence on behalf of the girl he'd raised, especially after hearing everything she'd said the day before as she sobbed into his wife's arms. He hadn't let Katya know but later that day he'd confessed to Ellen that he'd heard the whole thing. Hearing her guilt-ridden anguish and seeing her rare tears had torn at his steely heart and jumped his paternal predilections into overdrive. Though Katya acted as if she was perfectly happy not to deal with Bill or Laura after the revelation, Saul knew her better. He knew part of her had to be hurt.

"All you kids can do is be there for Blaze the same way he's always been for you," Ellen stated as she crossed her legs.

"I'm so relieved I don't have to deal with this," Alexi mumbled.

"Don't you say that," Saul suddenly barked at the younger man, "You might think you got out of something, Sergeant, but you better hope it's of no consequence to anyone else."

Saul knew Alexi hadn't meant it that way. Perhaps they were all just a little on edge due to the circumstance. Things were really starting to happen and they might know soon whether or not all of their work had been done in vain due to the destruction of Baltar and Caprica.

"Sorry, Colonel, I was just saying," Alexi apologized earnestly.

Katya looked at Saul as if to ask what had really brought on the outburst, but he only shook his head at her.

"Yeah…I know Alexi," Saul half admitted

Though Ellen was just as worried about the missing bodies from Gamma sometimes when Saul spoke about them she would feel old pangs of jealousy surface. She knew it was stupid but she couldn't help reading into his words. Sometimes she wondered if he was disappointed about the loss of Caprica's body on a more direct level. Alexi wasn't the only one counting himself at least personally lucky for the misfortune.

"Dinner's ready, if you all are," Ellen finally said changing the subject.

As she stood up there was a knock at the hatch.

"Oh for frak sake. Who the hell is this?" She said huffing and making her way to the door.

"I wasn't expecting anyone," Saul called over his shoulder.

“It’s probably Blaze looking for a hot meal,” She mused with a sigh.

 

When Ellen opened the hatch she had to fight her desire to slam it shut again.

"Bill," She said forcing a smile, "Another surprise visit," She vaguely heckled uncaring of whether her grin looked authentic or not.

When Katya heard the man's name she grabbed on to Alexi's wrist and sank lower into the sofa. Alexi just watched the entrance with his mouth agape and Saul stood making his way closer to the door.

"Sorry, Ellen," Bill started, "I just can't seem to get used to using this thing," He said looking at the wrist that held his station cuff, "I keep forgetting that messaging first is sort of protocol here," He explained with an apologetic smile.

"Don't worry about that, Bill," Saul said appearing by Ellen's side. "C'mon in."

If Katya sank down on the sofa any further she was going to slip on to the cabin floor. Alexi hadn't even noticed her odd position beside him with his focus on the Tighs and their visitor.

"Is this a bad time?" Bill asked noticing Ellen's slight reluctance to let him inside.

"Well, we were just about to eat," She started.

"I apologize," Bill told the couple." I really should have called first."

"No, it's no problem, Bill," Saul interjected trying to overshadow Ellen's brass response.

Saul wasn't the only one whose parental instincts had been revved up to full force since Katya's response to the revelation. Ellen had been in 'mama bear' mode ever since.

"You hungry?" Saul asked his friend.

"Oh, fuck my life," Katya whispered from her strange position half way off of the sofa.

Her expletive finally got Alexi's attention.

"Chtó ti seichás délayesh'?" He asked in an only semi-hushed tone.

"Zatknis', Alexi," She harshly whispered urging him to quiet down.

"No, no thanks Saul, I ate before. Laura's resting back in the cabin," Bill explained trying to discreetly look past Saul and Ellen to the hushed voices on the sofa.

"Did you enjoy your trip to the gallery?" Ellen asked as she purposely stepped in his line of vision.

"Yeah, it was fine. I think it did us both some good. Thanks for your help with that," Bill said honestly.

"You wana sit down, Bill?" Saul offered ignoring the look Ellen shot him.

"No. That's alright. I actually came here hoping you could point me in the direction of Captain Isakoff...but maybe I should come back later," Bill said uneasily.

Saul was happy to hear Bill finally ask for Katya. He didn't think twice about looking right over at the sofa where he'd left her.

"She's actually right here," Saul announced looking toward the couch, confused that he only saw Alexi's head above the seat backs.

"Vstavaite," Alexi said under his breath and pulling at Katya to sit up in her seat.

Katya slowly scooted into an upright sitting position and chanced a look at her uncle only to find him staring daggers at her.

"I dropped something," She smirked, not trying very hard to convince him of her cover story.

She heard Ellen stifle a short giggle but didn't dare take her eyes off of Saul.

"Katya, Admiral Adama is here to see you," He told her trying to convey his seriousness in his tone of voice.

Katya and Alexi both rose to their feet.

"Sir," Alexi swiftly greeted him with a nod.

"Sergeant," Bill responded in kind.

When Bill looked at Katya she felt completely exposed. She had finally started to think that she wouldn't have to deal with him and now here he was. Her flesh and blood was finally there to acknowledge her and she still wasn't sure if she'd be happier if he would just turn around and leave. The internal mixture of panic, dread and an odd sense of relief was all coming together and making her sweat.

"Admiral," Katya nodded doing her best not to convey a hint of emotion.

Bill couldn't help staring at the girl. The image of her his mind had been recalling for the past few days hadn't done her justice. For a moment he couldn't find his breath to speak. He was looking at his child and he didn't even know what he intended to say to her. As the time ticked away he was getting no closer to telling Laura. He still didn't know if coming to Katya with Laura still in the dark was wrong or not. He just knew he had to see her and that he couldn't wait any longer to talk to his child.

Bill cleared his throat before he spoke.

"Captain, I was wondering if you would mind taking a walk with me?" He attempted.

He was afraid he sounded foolish but he hadn't rehearsed it beforehand. When Laura fell asleep he had made a kneejerk decision. He left a message with one of the guards in case she woke up and had the other marine escort him. He knew that he probably should have formed a better plan. "Or, maybe find someplace to talk," He suggested now slightly intimidated by the girl's unchanging stoney expression, "I promise I won't take up too much of your time," He finished.

Katya licked her lips before she spoke but her mouth was dry and it did her little good.

"I was just about to sit down to dinner with my family, Admiral," She responded flatly.

"Nonsense," Saul interrupted, the exchange gaining everyone's focus. "We'll save you a plate, Kat. Won’t we, Ellen?" He prompted his wife.

Saul knew he was going to catch hell from Ellen as soon as they were alone.

Alexi was already trying to plan an exit strategy so that he wouldn't be caught in the Tigh’s crossfire without Katya there to help deflect.

Ellen bit her lip and gave Saul a look that promised of things to come before she gave Katya her attention.

"Well, that's up to you, sweetheart," She told her.

"I can come back another time," Bill suggested, "Or maybe we could meet tomorrow?"

Katya sensed her uncle about to butt in yet again so she answered for herself before he could do it for her.

"No," She said abruptly. "No, I'll go. We can go now," She told Bill, looking into his eyes that so eerily matched her own.

Bill smiled, grateful that she had agreed but the young woman's face remained unreadable until she turned to her husband.

"Doh vstrey'cheh, Alexi" She told him as he leaned to kiss her.

"I'll see you back at the cabin," He assured her, "Udachi," He added.

"Thanks," She answered as she turned and walked toward Ellen. "Sorry, about dinner, Elle," She told her.

Katya hated to leave her aunt for Bill's attention, especially after their recent heartfelt divulgences. Still, she knew she had promised her uncle that she wouldn't hide from this and that she would do her best to show that they both had raised her well. She weighed her options and decided that she'd make dinner up to Ellen somehow. For now she had to face what was in front of her.

"It's okay, kitten," Ellen assured. She wasn't mad at Katya for agreeing to go. She just didn't want her to feel pressured into it by Saul and she was worried about just what Bill Adama was going to say to her. She wished she could go with her, "I'll send food home with Alexi. You better eat it. He'll tell me the truth if you don't," She added as Katya kissed her on the cheek and nodded with a smile.

"Why don't you two head down to the 10B office?" Saul suggested, "It's assigned to Luna Force. You have clearance, Katya," He told her.

"That waste of space?" She asked with a scowl.

"My thoughts exactly," Bill added with a small smirk.

It was the same sparse office space that Saul had taken him to after the dinner party.

"It's private and quiet," Saul defended with a shrug.

Katya nodded.

"See you later, Uncle Saul," She said raising an eyebrow at him. She was sure she would be hearing from him again before the night was over. "Admiral, please follow me."

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

PATROL OFFICE: 10B; TEMP. ASSIGNMENT: FIGHTER SQUADRON 1; LUNA FORCE

YEAR: 2315

Almost immediately after they had returned from the observation deck Bill took Laura to bed. In the beginning he had questioned whether or not he should succumb to her sudden eager and vehement advances. He knew what a vulnerable state she was in but he couldn't deny the need for reconnection he knew they both deeply craved. They needed each other in every way possible. At first it had started off fluidic, rhythmic, and familiar but it quickly turned into a desperate frantic pursuit toward release. Not just a pursuit of physical release but a feverous quest to purge all the sorrow and pain they'd ever experienced together; a way to extinguish any aching anger or resentment that had been left unresolved. Bill knew it might not be the right way to go about it but they wouldn't deny each other a chance to give and receive what the other needed.

Spent from both the trials of the arduous day and their subsequent almost rabid union Laura was quick to drift off to sleep. Bill hoped that it was a sign of evolving contentment and not just total emotional exhaustion. There was still so much she didn't know. There was still so much he didn't know. As Laura slept he couldn't help but observe her unclad form on the rack. It felt perverse to be studying her dozing body for signs of something she herself had no knowledge of but his morbid curiosity was dominating. Bill found freckles in the same places he remembered them before and he was happy to find smooth inviting curves where he'd last seen only the gauntness of her illness. He found no scars, no obvious surgical marks or impressions. There was nothing to show that this body in its former unconscious state had been through what he'd been told. He must have run his eyes up and down the expanse of her flesh about twenty times as he sat there. The faded remnants of what Bill thought could have been some small stretch marks were the only hints that Laura had once carried his baby. When he couldn't justify studying her any longer he had covered her in two layers of blankets, as if the second layer somehow made up for his shameful voyeurism. It was then he decided to leave the cabin to find their child.

Now he sat facing that child; a grown woman of twenty-two who he was pretty sure was doing her best to stare him into the floor.

"I'm not very good at this I guess," Bill started.

They sat in the sterile office on opposite sides of the lucite desk. Bill noticed that instead of moving both seats together as Saul had done, Katya had sat at the desk's head, inviting him to take its receiving chair. It was her right. The office was assigned to her squadron and she was a captain aboard the station. He was just her guest in this space. He could tell that every move she'd made since they’d left the Tigh’s cabin had been calculated to guard herself. The large desk, though translucent, served as an obvious and intentional barrier between them. Unlike Saul, Katya had turned on the room’s recessed lighting leaving no shadows to hide in. The wall behind her had its screen capabilities activated and its glow backlit the young woman, tracing her silhouette in a muted radiance that gave her even more of an authoritative presence. Bill was impressed by the girl's foresight. Had he been a different man he might have even been intimidated by her instead of saddened by the circumstances that were fueling her measured defenses.

"That's alright, Sir. If you were practiced at confronting illegitimate children I'd be even more disturbed," She told him with a hint of a bemused smile as she folded her hands in front of herself on the desk.

Bill let out a short chuckle at her smug little quip. It was a trace of the smart-mouthed young soldier he'd been in the company of only days before. He could deal with that version of Katya much better than the cool detachedness of the woman who seemed to sit before him. He hoped it wasn't the last sign of it.

"Saul told me that you've known the whole time," He started.

"I've known my whole life," She corrected tersely.

Bill frowned as he heard the deliberate frost in her voice abruptly return. He inhaled deeply. If he could make it through the field of landmines that was Laura’s current state of mind then he could get through this too.

He nodded in concession.

"Right," He said with a squint, "Saul told me. We uh, ran in to a friend of yours."

"Margot," Katya said confidently. "Spitting image, isn't she?"

Bill nodded again, surprised by her sudden candor.

"I have to wonder how long this would have been kept from me had I not had that chance meeting," He posed.

"As long I could have helped it," Katya answered honestly.

Bill couldn't help but wince at her answer. Saul told him that as a child Katya had been more than eager to know them. It was obvious that was no longer the case.

"That wouldn't have been very long though,” She began to justify. “Please don't think that Uncle Saul would have continued to keep it from you. He would have had to tell you before the download on Beta Station because of Lt. Bishop. Blazer has no intention of hiding his identity from his birth parents.Uncle Saul would have told you whether I wanted him to or not. Besides, everyone else on station knows exactly who I am," She added with a smirk. "You would have found out somehow. It wasn't Uncle Saul's intention to lie to you. It never has been. He only withheld it this long for your own benefit…and maybe partially mine," She admitted. "Please don’t hold it against him,” She asked earnestly.

Bill glanced at his lap and then back before responding.

"You don't have to apologize on behalf of Saul Tigh, Captain. He and I have been through more than I can tell you. We answer to each other. To alleviate your own concerns though, I don't hold it against him," He answered. "It's not an easy thing to tell."

Bill's stomach rolled at the thought. How could he be upset at Saul for keeping the secret for a few days when he'd now done the same to Laura for almost as long?

"I don't mean to speak on behalf of his merit,” Katya clarified. “I understand you've been witness to it far longer than I have. I only intend to speak on the behalf of my family. Anything they've done has been with the intent to help," She explained.

Though Bill had witness the interactions of the Tigh's familial unit over the past few days it was only now as Katya spoke of the man who raised her that Bill started to see the depth of their connection. Saul hadn't just babysat his daughter in his absence. He’d become the father she didn't have.

"I see that, Captain," Bill tried to assure her. "You seem to care for Saul very much."

"Of course, I do," Katya said intently. She was annoyed at the mention of something she felt should be so obvious. "I love him. Ellen too. They're my parents. The only ones I've ever really known, that is. My father died when I was seven. I cared for him very much but it gets harder to remember him every day. I remember everything Saul and Ellen have ever done for me. Alexi and Blazer; they know what it's like to feel orphaned by the war but I never had to feel that because of the Tighs."

Bill let his breath out slowly. He was starting to think he had more to thank Saul and Ellen for than he understood.

"They are certainly very proud of you as well, Captain," Bill told her.

She nodded a small gesture of appreciation.

For a moment Bill wasn't sure where to take the conversation. He knew she wasn't going to offer to steer it for him. This meeting had been his request and she wasn't going to let him forget it. Every word, every move she made was a strategic effort in hiding her emotions. If he hadn't already known that she was Laura's at this point he would have started to wonder.

"You mentioned the Lieutenant; Blaze, right?" He asked not as much for confirmation as to keep her talking.

"Yes, Sir."

"I'll admit that when I found out who he was I felt almost foolish. Now I feel like I knew in some way the moment I met him. I just didn't know what I knew,” He tried to joke.

Katya gave half a smile.

"He reminds me so much of his…his father," Bill hesitated at first.

He wasn't sure what titles these people usually used but he decided that he was going to call the man what he was. Helo was the boy’s father.

Katya shrugged.

"I'm afraid I don't have any reference for that but I've heard Uncle Saul say the same," She confirmed in a somewhat lighter tone.

"Helo was one of the most well meaning and loyal men I ever knew," Bill recalled as he looked to the feed on the screen behind her. It was so bizarre to think that he would soon be meeting up with the man again, "Dedicated pilot too," He added.

"Well that's Blazer," Katya confirmed with a sense of pride.

"Helo just wasn't quite as…"

"Goofy?"

Bill gave half a chuckle in response.

"I'm sure the knowledge of their character helps but I'm surprised you didn't see it in Alexi first,” Katya posed. “I always saw such a strong resemblance to his mother, even more so when he was younger. It's hard to compare though, now that her body is gone," She said losing the lightness in her voice toward the end.

"It came to mind soon after I realized," Bill admitted. "I have to say besides his hair color I don't see much of his father in him. Certainly not his personality."

"Well I can tell you Alexi would be happy to hear you say that. We know the stories. We know how Baltar and Caprica Six helped in the destruction of your colonies. Uncle Saul has never really kept how he felt about the scientist to himself. He says he was a spineless liar and a traitor and Alexi has always been ashamed of it.”

"Things were more complicated than that," Bill considered, "But I won't deny Saul's evaluation of the man. From the short time I've spent with your husband it seems to me that he couldn't be more different than Gaius Baltar if he tried.”

After all of Saul’s negative stories Katya was glad to hear the Admiral’s evaluation of Alexi.

"He might be more like him than you think," She posed. "The man was supposed to be a genius. I know Alexi doesn't look like it with his muscles and guns and that brooding face but he's actually a brilliant mathematician. He could have made quite a career of it within the system but he didn't have the interest. He was driven to serve his people in a more hands on way," She explained.

"Then he's inherited one of his father's only valuable qualities," Bill acknowledged.

Katya nodded offering a whisper of a smile in return. The entire time she'd been sitting across from the man she'd been using all of her inner strength just to keep her collected appearance. The tedious smalltalk was starting to wear on her nerves. She wasn't sure how much longer she would be able to keep up her false composure.

"And then there's you," Bill surprised both himself and Katya with the sudden turn of conversation.

Katya stilled in her seat and steeled her jaw. She wouldn't respond to him just yet. She wanted to see how much he would offer up before she spoke in return. She narrowed her eyes and tilted her head waiting for him to go on.

Though Bill knew that Katya probably intended to irk him with her silence he was actually gaining some confidence as he watched the girl. He knew the look she was giving him. He knew it so well. If she was going to start using selections from Laura's greatest hits then this wasn't going to be as hard as he initially thought. He knew he had to fire something at her. Something that would rattle her walls. He met her cobalt to cobalt before he spoke, making sure he had her gaze captive to his own.

"You're my daughter," He said intently.

Behind her porcelain bluff Katya felt as if she was ready to shatter. What she had just heard had been long since lost to her childhood imagination. The man, the words; it all fit and yet there was no joy or relief gained. She still felt anger, she still felt sadness and now she felt as if she were on display.

"I'm a stranger," She said coolly as if to challenge him.

"I don't want you to be," He instantly returned. He wouldn't give her the time to deflect. "I hope you don't want to be either," He offered.

Katya was entirely frustrated with herself. Bill was saying all the right things. He wasn't even being pushy about it and yet it didn't feel the way she’d thought it would.

" Why? " She countered.

"Why, what?" He shot back giving her a bit of a scowl.

If she was giving it he decided she could take it.

"So what? You know I'm your daughter now, at least genetically and that's the only reason you want to get to know me?" She pressed.

"That's all the reason I need, Katya," He said putting his palms on the table and leaning in, "If you're saying you don't understand that then I can't explain it to you but I think you do understand. I think you understand it perfectly," He finished sharply before settling back in his seat.

Saul had told him that Katya grew up wanting nothing more than to know her birth parents. Even if it wasn't true now she'd known the feeling once. He was grateful to have that bit of valuable information as he countered her evasive argument.

Katya couldn't help it when her brow rose in surprise. Saul was right; Bill Adama was a force and she was starting to feel like just a talented amateur. It was starting to hurt to keep her face so stoic anyway. She took her eyes from his, briefly glancing down at her hands. He had her and she felt more impressed than defeated. She shrugged at him in concession.

"Fine, maybe I do," She granted.

"For your information, Katya, despite a bit of an attitude problem that I think you have, I happen to like you. I think you're a very bright young woman and you seem to be a model soldier. Besides that, I love Saul Tigh like a brother and when he introduced me to the girl he'd raised I wanted to know her right away. Even before I knew she was my own daughter. Is that enough reason for you, Captain?"

She considered his words for a moment.

"Yes, Sir," She nodded in response, "I suppose I wouldn't mind that," She told him after a beat, trying to make her tone sound as noncommittal as possible.

She was losing the battle to keep up her neutral front. She had to swallow hard to stave off the emotion that was rising in her throat. If she let it get to her eyes she'd be in trouble.

Bill let out a huff as he sat back in his seat.

"That's good," He said, but before he could reflect on his minor victory she threw something else at him.

"I just hope it doesn't cause you too much trouble," Katya coyly tested.

This man seemed to be willing to work with her but there was still a piece missing. She needed to know what Laura's reaction had been. She trusted it hadn't gone over well. The woman obviously wasn't beside him participating in his gesture which said enough. Even so, Katya wanted to know at least something about what happened when she found out.

"What do you mean?" Bill said as his brows came together.

Katya shrugged.

"Well, I mean your other half is missing," She smirked, "Ms. Roslin obviously doesn't share your feelings. You came to me alone. I mean, I'm not surprised by any means. It's just if she was at all against you coming then I'm not sure I feel comfortable with that. To be honest, I don't know if I want the burden of knowing I'd caused problems between you two. She and I may not get along but even I see that you're all she has here. I can't damage that for her."

Bill looked at his lap through the clear surface of the desk. Perhaps he should have started with this. Katya obviously thought that Laura was absent by choice. Even worse, now he had to admit his own omission. He looked back at the young woman and let out a sigh.

"I haven't told her yet," He admitted.

Katya felt her eyes double in size. The woman didn't know. She still had no idea.

"Excuse me, Sir?" She asked wondering if she'd misheard.

Bill felt the rock in his stomach harden.

"As I said before, it's not any easy thing to tell," He weakly defended.

Katya wasn't sure how to feel. She had been waiting to hear something entirely different but as far as Laura Roslin knew she was still just Saul and Ellen's spoiled brat.

"I understand,” Katya offered. “It's just...well, if you're planning on trying to keep it from her, as much as I'd like to say otherwise, I don't think it's going to work. Not unless you plan on keeping her locked up in your cabin and banning visitors and taking her network access away. I told you that it's common knowledge. She may find out from someone else instead," She cautioned.

Bill shook his head. The way Laura had been acting he probably could keep her secluded and clueless rather easily if he wanted to but he didn't.

"I'm not hiding it from her. I just haven't figured out how to tell her yet."

"I'm sorry. I don't have a suggestion for you, Admiral," She told him.

Katya could see he was truly troubled by what he was going to have to do. Sometimes Ellen called him the totem pole but he sure didn't look like that now. He looked worried and a little scared too.

"I'm sure it's made worse by the fact that it's me, Admiral. I know she can't stand me and to be honest I really don't like her," Katya paused, "But, I am sorry that I've caused her so much trouble. I promised my uncle that I'd keep my distance from her from now on. It was just...that day on Beta…" She stopped and started over, "I don't think she really understands all that…"

"Laura hasn't been herself," Bill curtly interrupted.

Katya didn't know what to say. Was he just making an excuse for her? She didn't know the woman but Laura Roslin sure as hell wasn't acting like the person she'd heard she would be. Maybe there was something more to what Saul had alluded to. She thought Bill might expand but there was no other explanation.

"I'm not keeping this from her because of the catty little feud you two have going on. That has nothing to do with it," Bill insisted. "That won't matter in the long run, Katya."

She wasn't buying that but she'd let it go for now. She was starting to truly feel sorry for the man in front of her and for the woman who was waiting for him at home.

Truthfully she had always felt that way, even before their personalities had been there to get in the way. Her people needed them and she wasn't sorry they were brought back but she knew the rest of what had been done to them wasn't right.

Bill’s gaze was on the image screen behind her.

"Admiral?"

When he finally gave her his eyes she looked away from his.

"You told me before not to apologize for my Uncle Saul because he's here to speak for himself…" She stopped to allow herself to will back the sudden threat of tears and she didn't start again until she was sure they wouldn't surge forward. "But my father is long gone. There's no one else to apologize for what was done to you or Ms. Roslin, and somebody needs to because it wasn't right. Believe me; I know every detail of how I got here and I know it should have never happened. I know you probably think I can't understand what it's like to learn that such a violation happened before you were even around to know it but I do. I've lived it every day of my life. Whatever was done to you both, well, I was the end result," She shrugged and smiled sadly, "I know all too well what it feels like to be part of this screwed up science project. I'm sorry that you have to put that burden on Laura now."

When she finished she finally looked up at him. She knew her cheeks were probably red from trying so hard to hold back the urge to break down. His face looked somewhat hardened and she worried he'd been offended by her attempt at relating their plights. She almost jumped when she heard him clear his throat.

"Katya, you don't get to apologize for a crime you were also the victim of. Do you understand that?" He asked. He could tell by the look on her face that she didn't. "If you don't understand that yet then I think you'd do yourself a service to try and figure it out," He told her.

Bill figured that would be a topic for another time. The girl obviously had so many issues wrapped up in her creation that she couldn't tell where the project ended and she began. It hurt him to see that.

"Then I'm not sure what else I can do to help you, Admiral," She told him.

He nodded.

"You did a lot by agreeing to talk with me," He offered.

Katya needed a break. She looked back at the screen behind her. Something about the way the light was reflecting in her peripheries caught her attention. As she watched she thought the traffic pattern in Orbit looked odd. She checked her station cuff to look at the time before glancing back to the wall’s screen for another look.

"Katya?" Bill called regaining her attentions.

"Yes, Sir?"

"Saul told me that you were very involved with the lab here on Alpha," He started.

"That's true. I grew up there going to work with my father. Even once he was dead Saul and Ellen took me all the time. When I was old enough I went on my own. It was kind of a home away from home, I guess you could say. I mean I was born there," She mused with a shrug.

Bill grimaced.

"Well that's kind of what I'm getting at. Part of the reason I'm having trouble telling Laura what was done to her is because I'm not even sure what to tell her," He started.

Katya raised an eyebrow as he spoke.

"What I mean to say is, you told me that you know every detail about how you got here. I know next to nothing. What am I supposed to tell Laura?"

Katya licked her lips and sighed. She quickly checked the screen behind her before starting to answer.

"Did you ask Saul about this?" She said turning back to face him.

Something about getting a question for an answer made Bill feel uneasy.

"Somewhat. He told me Ellen would have better answers," He admitted.

"That's true," Katya mused rolling her eyes.

Everyone was passing the buck on this one.

"I asked him if some sort of surrogate was used. He said that wasn't the case.”

Katya shook her head.

"If you're asking me if some other woman was involved then the answer is no," She told him glancing over her shoulder once more.

Bill wondered if he was just losing her interest or if there was something more pressing at hand.

"Is everything okay, Captain?" He asked.

"Sorry," She said turning back around in her seat. "Go on," She told him.

Bill furrowed his brow.

"So then Laura did give birth to you?"

"Yes...well…you know...her body did, at least," She clarified.

It suddenly felt so strange to associate their personalities with their once vacant forms. She had to remind herself that they weren't there back when everything was done to them.

Bill looked at Katya inquisitively hoping she would expand. He didn't understand how it was possible.

Katya couldn't help but smile at the bewildered look on Bill's face.

"I'm sorry to seem so vague and illusive with you, Admiral. It's just, well…" She paused to consider how to phrase her words. She didn't know this man well enough not to second guess how direct to be. "Look, I am by no means a prude. My father was a doctor. I grew up pretty comfortable with the human body. Everything was scientific with him; everything had a use and purpose. Then I moved in with the Tighs who I'm sure I don't have to tell you, were slightly unconventional parents. Ellen never taught me to be shy about talking about things of a sexual nature. She's been a wonderful mother but her idea of enforcing my curfew as a teenager was to wait up until I got home and then say 'Smile if you got some tonight' as soon as I walked in the hatch," Katya started to laugh as she watched Bill's reaction, "Anyway, Sir, my point is; I hope you don't take offense when I tell you that your part in my birth was quite minimal," As she saw him scowl she palmed her forehead. She immediately decided to re-phrase, "It was immensely important. I obviously wouldn't be here without you. It was just minimal in comparison. I've seen every recorded feed and read every log taken. Your bodies used to come out of stasis all the time for chamber maintenance and physical evaluations. You were even out last month for a pressure change issue. They’ve always had you back within the span of a day or so," She explained. "But when they took your bodies out in preparation for my…creation…let's call it...well, you were back in your chamber within a just few hours but Laura's body was out for months," Katya went on, "And believe me they didn't do anything nearly as fun to her body as they did to yours. I just feel like now that she's actually in it maybe she should know what happened to her body before any more people do," She proposed.

Bill supposed she had a point. Now that Laura occupied that body it was her business. Maybe she should be the one to tell him eventually.

Katya bit her lip as she watched Bill's face. There was the totem pole. She'd have to tell Ellen she finally saw it.

"Look, I don't expect her to want to talk to me, about anything, let alone this. Ellen can tell her whatever she wants to know. There are others in the lab familiar with the process as well. There's no one left from the time when it actually occurred but Dr. Sydra Kahdim, for instance, is well versed in your body's complete history. I’ve noticed that Ms. Roslin seems to have about the same amount of patience for Aunt Ellen as she has for me so if she doesn't want to talk to Ellen about it, Sydra is sweet and very intelligent. She would be able to help her learn anything she felt she wanted to know. Plus, when you two are ready you're going to have the same access to Alpha's lab files and recordings that I do. You could watch the whole damn thing on video if you wanted from conception to birth, not that I recommend it," She tried a joke but Bill looked more disturbed than before and he suddenly wasn't so chatty.

Maybe she had just given him too much information by not giving him any. Either way she needed to leave him with something more reassuring.

"Sir, I think it's important that you remember that you both essentially just got here. What I mean by that is, you weren't around to experience anything those bodies have been through within the few decades they've existed. You're only in them now because Ellen was able to put you there. If she hadn't been able to they would have just eventually been discarded. No one else would have been put in them to bear this burden. So maybe it's best not to think of anything in the past as having happened to you personally. Ellen says our bodies are just vessels; that without our consciousness in them they're nothing more than a conduit. She says it's the same no matter if you're cylon or colonial or earthling. She says even the centurions have a basic consciousness. She says even the bots might develop souls one day…if they haven't already but either way our exterior is just that; a shell. So if it helps with processing any of this maybe you should keep that in mind and make sure Ms. Roslin does as well. If you just help her to think of it that way then...nothing was done to you directly and then…then I don't belong to you. I belong to those lifeless bodies which essentially don't exist anymore," She posed sitting back in her seat.

Bill hadn't said anything in awhile. Katya was starting worry. Never mind that Saul was going to kill her if Bill Adama came out of this office half out of his mind, she wanted to get going. She didn't regret the conversation. She was actually starting to be rather glad that she'd agreed to come but for now she didn't have much else to say to the man. She needed time to process all of it.

She was eager to leave. She wanted to call down to Flight Control and find out what the hell was wrong with the traffic. It was bugging her.

"I watched you fly today," Bill finally said catching her off guard.

"Excuse me?"

"Today, I took Laura to the observation gallery on the civilian side of the station. Saul told me you'd be flying your patrol shift while I was there," He explained.

Katya nodded but she still had no idea where he was going with this.

"Obviously I couldn't tell which ship you were in...but I knew you were out there while I watched," He went on, "Laura didn't know but I did."

She wasn't sure what to say to that. She was glad Saul hadn't told her that Bill would be watching her. Though she had only been making routine ellipses all day it would have made her nervous knowing that Bill Adama was observing her fly.

"Katya…Saul and Ellen and the people here…they went through a lot of trouble to make sure they brought the right people back," He started slowly, "They recreated our bodies. They made sure they were identical and then they worked tirelessly to make sure our souls rejoined them. I'm not saying that what Ellen taught you about our bodies being vessels is wrong. I just know that she and Saul wouldn't have risked everything by boarding a super heated battlestar to make sure that they had the means to recreate them if she didn't believe the soul and the body were somehow intrinsically connected. Ellen knew she needed one to get the other. As sure as she knew that, I know that you're my daughter; soul, body, whatever. And... I know that you're the daughter of the woman I love. And I won't tell her otherwise just to soothe her because it isn't true," He told Katya as he followed with a hard swallow, "And even if you could convince me somehow that it was true, I know that you're the only child Saul Tigh has ever had and that he loves you very much. He's my brother. You're my family either way, Katya. So please don't try and convince me again that we don't belong to each other," He finished sternly.

Katya was stunned at his words. She could feel that she’d gone slack-jawed but she couldn't get herself to close her mouth. She didn't know how to answer him. He seemed so resolute that she couldn't argue and even so she didn't really want to. When she could finally move her mouth to speak she still wasn't sure what was going to come out of it. When she uttered the first surprise syllable it was drowned out by a harsh and near deafening buzz.

"Shit!" Katya shouted as she sprung out of her chair knocking it over.

The buzzing on the station com system repeated over and over and the station emergency lights pulsated red in time with them. She quickly turned to watch the screen behind her. She'd known that something had to be off, she just hadn't expected this. A look to the screen’s feed showed that the system was clear of most traffic but Katya thought she saw raiders starting to gather in formation. That was always their first sign of trouble. The guardians always knew it was coming before they did.

"Dammit!"

ACTION STATIONS ACTION STATIONS

ALPHA SET CONDITION ONE

FLIGHT SQUADRONS 1-3 REPORT

Bill was already out of his seat when she turned around to face him.

"Admiral, I have to go and you need to get back to Laura now," She told him shouting over the constant alarm.

The hatch opened and Bill's marine guard stepped in.

"Captain," The guard called.

"Corporal, call for a second escort to join you enroot and escort Admiral Adama directly back to his cabin. And send a message to Sergeant Petrov; I want extra marine security in front of their hatch. When you get him there don't let him or Ms. Roslin leave until you hear otherwise understood?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Katya nodded curtly and turned to Bill.

"I'm sorry, Admiral. I have to leave you now. Please stay with the corporal until you're securely in your cabin. Colonel Tigh is going to have to report but wait for Ellen's call," She explained as she made her way to the hatch.

REPETE

ACTION STATIONS ACTION STATIONS

ALPHA SET CONDITION ONE

FLIGHT SQUADRONS 1-3 REPORT

REPETE

LUNA FORCE, ANGEL FORCE AND HOT WING SQUADRONS REPORT TO FLIGHT DECK

The familiar buzzing sound was bringing back an eerie sense of recall to Bill. He felt the urge to spring into action but there was nothing for him to do. As he watched the captain recede toward the door he realized she was most probably about to report for combat. He'd watched his children do it before. He'd done it himself. It wasn't as if the feeling was unknown to him but he had just met this girl and he knew, as he always had when he sent his children out to battle, that she might not return. He felt a pull to stop her before she left, to send her off with something profound, to embrace her just once but he couldn't. He tried to think of what he would have said to Lee or Kara or to any of the other young souls he'd commanded as he sent them into enemy fire.

"Captain," He called before she cleared the hatch.

'Yes, Sir," She answered quickly turning to face him.

"Good hunting."

Katya nodded before turning to exit and leaving Bill alone with only the buzzing alarm and the marine in the room.

What would he tell Laura if she didn't come back?

"Sir, we should go," The corporal told him.

Bill nodded and left for his cabin guided  by his escort.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

YEAR: 2315

When Saul enlisted years ago under Commander Kaplan's authority the position he'd taken on station was largely administrative. Though he kept his rank from the Colonial Fleet due to his knowledge and experience, his days of the high pressures of being an Executive Officer were long behind him. He was glad to serve aboard Alpha Station as their Aviation Resource Superintendent. He was able to perform many of the duties that he had as XO but in a more specialized capacity and without all the damn stress. He oversaw the aviation training program. He kept tabs on its standardization, flight requirements and he updated and monitored compliance of Orbit Patrol policy. Generally speaking he kept tabs on all aeronautical procedures and yelled at a bunch of kids all day long. It kept him content. Had he not acquired the position Saul wasn't sure what he would have done with himself. Ellen was technically the resurrection project’s leader. Though she gave much of the responsibility to Michelle Le Blan in order allow the Earth Orbit Committee a sense of control Ellen was still at the top of the chain. She was the one who constantly station hopped between all of the station labs and traveled to the basestar and back working feverously to complete their goals. Saul wasn't of much help to her and though he loved spending time with Katya the permanent title of ‘stay at home dad’ had never sat well with him. Thanks to Cmdr. Kaplan he had found a solution. Saul’s service made him feel needed. It allowed him to contribute and it kept his mind sharp.

Saul reported to duty when he heard the emergency com system sound. The alarm had almost been welcome. He and Ellen had been in the middle of a heated argument. They’re shouting had scared Alexi away soon after Katya left with Bill. He’d excused himself and left them to their bickering. Though Saul and Ellen both dreaded what the alarm meant it had given them an excuse to shelve their argument. It had offered Saul an immediate out.

The Colonel’s reprieve hadn't lasted long. When he reported to his jurisdiction his subordinate Chief Enlisted Manager had relieved him on a direct order from the Commander.

Kaplan's instructions were for Saul to leave his duties in the capable hands of his CEM and take charge of ensuring the safety of Bill Adama and Laura Roslin. Even though Saul had messaged Alexi and ordered him to do the same he didn't have to be told twice. Before leaving his cabin he'd told Ellen that he would be calling for the marine guards to find Bill and Laura and ordering them to bring them to her.

When the station was set to a high alert a centurion was always stationed in front of the Tigh's hatch. Centurions were a constant presence aboard each station; mostly posted near the flight pods and other entry points. They served as extra guardianship to the people on the stations the same as the Raiders did in and around Orbit. The stipulation that one be allowed to stand guard at the hatch of the Tigh’s home during high alert times was just one of the conditions agreed to when Saul and Ellen moved aboard. They found out quickly that having command of a basestar, their own platoon of highly developed robots and a fleet of unmanned fighter crafts got them pretty much anything they requested. Saul almost called for a centurion to join Laura's marine escorts as they brought her to Ellen but he thought better of it. He didn't know if Bill was with her. He'd gone off with Katya and as far Saul he knew Bill and Laura were on two different sides of the corridor. He wasn't sure how Laura would react to a centurion, especially without Bill there so he left it up to Alexi's platoon.

When Ellen messaged Saul that Laura arrived safely but indeed without Bill, Saul headed toward the Luna Force office where he knew Katya had probably taken him. There was no way that she was still with him. Her squadron had been called and she undoubtedly had reported right away. Saul just hoped that she'd stayed around long enough to give their marine guard proper instructions.

As the colonel rushed through the halls getting side swiped by officers running in every direction he hoped Ellen would come up with a decent excuse as to where Bill was. Now that Laura had arrived she'd seen he that wasn't at their cabin.

Despite Saul’s many attempts at messaging Bill on his cuff he’d gotten no reply. The same went for the marine he’d left with. Something had to be wrong with their wireless system. The marine should have gotten right back to him. Just when he decided to double back to check an alternate route Bill and his escort appeared at the apex of the hall.

"Bill!" Saul called from a just a few yards away.

" Saul, tell me you know Laura's safe ," He shouted back.

When the two met Saul turned on his heels to walk with them.

"She's safe. She's with Ellen. Pick up the pace boys!" The colonel shouted to the two marines.

" Saul what the hell is going on !?" Bill shouted over the alarm that still buzzed in their ears. "We haven't been boarded have we?"

" No, no ! We haven't had that happen in years. If we had the com would have reported it. Still, just in case that does happens I want you and Laura where I can see you," Saul told him. "It's probably just an atmosphere breach but I haven't heard any reports yet. Cuffs are acting up. Transmissions are spotty. I can’t get a damn message through and I’m having troubling receiving data. When we get back to the cabin I'll pull up the feed and get us a sit-rep," He assured. "Katya tell you to head to my cabin?" Saul asked as they hurried along.

"No. The corporal and I were headed to mine. She wanted me to get to Laura. She told me to get to her and then wait for your instruction."

Saul nodded. That wasn't the plan they'd settled on for such an occurrence but Saul knew that Katya probably did the right thing. Bill wouldn't have headed anywhere except in Laura's direction.

"Look, Bill, I know we won't be able to talk about it when we get to my quarters since Laura's already there, so did you and Katya get to talking at all?" He asked doing his best to speak through the constant ambient interference.

"Yeah, Saul we did,” Bill answered through harsh breaths as they took up a near jogging pace. “It wasn't easy. That kid knows how to be a real pain in the ass.”

"Don't I know it," Saul musekd back between buzzes.

"She came around a bit though."

"Good to hear."

"She thinks the world of you and Ellen," Bill told him.

"I know that too," Saul said proudly.

"I'm grateful she's had you," Bill added. Saul only nodded as they turned down another hallway. "I was glad to talk to her. It felt…right. And now this," Bill said shaking his head.

"Can't think about it Bill. You know that as well as I do. Besides, she'll be okay. Koshka hardly ever even takes a hit in combat. You should see her dart and dodge in that bird. They don't call her ‘the cat’ for nothing."

As they came up to the hatch Bill stopped dead in his tracks. Flanked by Sergeant Petrov and another marine guard was a cylon centurion scanning him with his red flitting eye.

"It's alright Bill," Saul assured him. "Ellen and I always have one on guard during high alert. C'mon," He said taking the lead.

Saul saluted the other guards.

"Sit-rep, Sergeant," Saul barked at Alexi.

"Both Mrs. Tigh and Ms. Roslin are safely inside, Sir," Alexi told him with his signature halting tone.

"Cut the crap, Alexi.,” Saul said dismissing the boy’s formality. “What the frak did Ellen tell Laura when she got here?"

Alexi's face went unchanged as he looked over to Bill. The man looked worried. He couldn't wait for Katya to tell him what had happened between them. He just hoped she would return in one piece to do so.

"Ms. Roslin was visibly upset upon our arrival, Sir,” Alexi answered. “She wasn't too comfortable with Vladi here," He added, motioning toward the centurion with a bob of his head.

Bill scowled. Were they really naming those things now? He wondered how the frak they could even tell them apart.

“What line did Ellen feed her?” Saul asked.

"All I know is that Ellen told Ms. Roslin that Admiral Adama was with you, Colonel. I took my post out here once she was settled. Good luck, Sir," He ended flatly.

Saul grimaced at the boy’s distinctly dull diction.

"For crying out loud," He grumbled as he scanned his cuff at the hatch panel. "Alexi, you let us know if you hear from Katya first. C'mon Bill," Saul prompted, motioning for him to pass the centurion.

"As you were, Corporal,” Saul said nodding to the second marine guard. “You too, Vladi,” He acknowledged centurion as he went to open the hatch.

"You're frakking naming those things now? " Bill groused under his breath.

"Just that one,” Saul told him matter-of-factly. “That’s Vladi. Katya named him.”

As soon as they entered the cabin Laura jumped up from the sofa and found her way into Bill's arms.

Ellen kept her seat. She leaned her elbows into her lap and hung her heavy head down to rest in her palms.

The sound of the alarm was softer in the cabin. Ellen had been able to lower the volume of the cabin com system before they anyone arrived but it still rang faintly. They could all feel the ominous vibration it created aboard the station as it reverberated through its walls.

"Bill, where the hell have you been?" Laura asked as she held on to him, "I woke up and you weren't there," She said into his neck.

When the alarm had startled her from a deep sleep she'd been terrified. Bill was gone and there was obviously something very wrong. There was a loud banging at the hatch and she could hear the marine guards bellowing for her to please open up. When she got out of the rack her inner thighs were sore and stiff. She felt a telltale ache deep inside that immediately reminded her of what happened between her and Bill when they'd first returned home. She could barely walk at first and she wondered just how rough she and Bill and really been with each other. It was then that she’d finally realized that the body she was in had never been used quite that way before.

Laura hardly had time to throw clothes on before an over-anxious Alexi decided to let himself in to retrieve her. He’d given her a curt apology before ushering her out of the cabin. When she'd made it to the Tigh's Bill was nowhere to be found and Ellen was a mess. Her answer as to where Bill and Saul were had been vague but then again everything Laura was asking Ellen was getting a vague answer, not to mention slurred. She eventually gave up speaking to the intoxicated woman all together. They sat and waited in silence listening to the dulled sound of the menacing alarm.

"I'm sorry,” Bill offered with a squeeze to her tense shoulders. “I left a message with the guard. I didn't think this would happen. I shouldn't have left you like that.”

Saul sat beside his wife and spoke in a low tone.

"What the frak did you wind up telling her? The man's flying blind," He whispered rubbing his upper lip to muffle the sound of his voice.

Ellen leaned up with a huff and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"I said he was with you and that you both just stepped out. Is that alright with you, Saul?" She snarked, leaning limply onto the arm of the sofa.

Saul ignored her irritation and quickly got up to make his way to Bill and Laura.

"Sorry, Laura, that was partially my fault," Saul swiftly told her. "I asked Bill to come over and we just stepped out for a sec. I thought I'd show him the control room but then the station com went off and we never made it there," He lied.

Bill felt a wave of heat rush to his face. Now he was actually lying to her and getting other people to help. He couldn't do this for much longer.

"Are we in danger?" Laura asked Saul as she hung on to Bill's arm.

"We're always in danger, Laura," Ellen called from the couch reaching for her drink on the end table. She took a big swig before she continued. "It's just like it was before. We live in fear," She added with definite inebriation in her speech.

She got up and left for the head, not bothering to excuse herself.

Saul ignored her performance hoping the others would as well.

"We haven't had an atmosphere breach in months," He answered once Ellen cleared the room. He wouldn't apologize for her. If she wanted to act that way it was fine with him. He had more important things to think about. "Things have been quiet. That was why we went ahead with your download. There's been a lull in combat activity and it seemed like a good time. Who knows what sparked this. It could be a coincidence. It's doubtful that they found out about your resurrection," Saul explained.

"Yeah right," Bill scoffed. "So much for your so called secure system," He said waving his station cuff around for effect.

"Look, we don't know that.” Saul defended. “Until I hear officially that something like that's happened I'm not going to assume. You two are here with us as a precaution. If the bots were anywhere near the station we'd already know about it," He told them. "Now sit down and try to relax. I'm gunna dial direct into the feed and try to get a sit-rep," He said as he made his way to a small desk in the corner to retrieve his tablet.

Bill guided Laura to the sofa with a reassuring hand at the small of her back.

"Bill, I don't like this," She whispered, "There's a frakking toaster outside the door," She told him with wide eyes.

"Yeah I know and apparently he has a name," He added.

Laura just squinted in confusion in she sat.

 

She couldn't get her heart to stop pounding. It had been that way since she'd abruptly woken. She had a brief recall of being in Galactica's CIC. She thought of Saul and Bill watching for enemy contacts on DRADIS, barking orders and making decisions meant to serve and protect the fate of the civilian fleet, all while a similar alarm sounded. Things were so different now. Their old enemies were now seen as some sort of guardian race and she and Bill were the ones being protected. Bill stayed standing, obviously too anxious to sit with her. He was so used to being productive during times like this. She could see that he felt so out of his element.

Ellen was silent as she returned to the room but once she made her way to the kitchenette she started to make some noise.

"Can I fix anyone a drink?" She offered without sounding much like she actually cared to do so.

As began to make a fresh one of her own she banged her glass down hard against the counter. She dropped in ice cubes with unnecessary effort making sure each one clanked sharply against glass. After returning the ice tray she slammed the cooler door as a finale.

"Are you alright, Ellen?" Bill asked more as an accusation than as a gesture of concern.

She let out a bitter laugh then turned to face him while taking a sip of her drink.

As he saw the look on her face Bill decided that he might need a drink after all. He started to make his way toward the kitchen to fix his own. He didn't need shards of glass added to his.

"No, Bill I'm not," Ellen finally answered with a caustic smile. "I'm not usually alright when I know that my child is most likely in the midst of enemy fire," She informed him, her words laced with contempt. "You'll excuse me if I'm not exactly pleasant as I wait to find out if she's coming back." She paused and cocked her head to the side as she looked at him, "I know you understand exactly how it feels," She added, slyly testing his boundaries.

She was still angry at him for taking Katya away from their family dinner. It had been enough to set her jealousy ablaze. Now that she was aware that Bill knew and Laura didn't she'd be damned if she wasn't going to have some fun with it.

" Ellen, " Saul warned from the desk.

His face was immersed in the projection over his tablet and he had one earpiece in, obviously listening to some kind of patrol transmit. He was too involved with it to stop his wife from making an ass out of herself. She'd been drinking even before the family meal they were supposed to have, though at first it had just been to relax. Once Katya left with Bill ashe had been in no mood to eat. Their dinner still sat unmoved on the warmers. She’d only dished out a few portions and sent them home with a hungry Alexi who was eager to get away from the tension in the air. She was irritated by Bill's visit and she couldn't help but be resentful that it had ruined a pleasant night with her family. She had been looking forward to it, especially after the recent emotional tidal wave she and Katya had been through together only days before. The girl was finally in a better mood and Ellen was so happy to hear it in her voice. It felt good knowing that they would all be together for a night, just the four of them. They hadn't done it since before Bill and Laura resurrected.

Once Alexi was gone she was alone with Saul. She picked a fight with him in her displaced disappointment. She'd admonished him for pushing Katya into going with Bill. She tried to hide her jealousy under the guise of looking out for the girl’s best interests. She accused Saul of not allowing Katya make her own choices. She told him that he was pressuring her and that she had probably just gone with Bill to comply with his wishes. It was when she accused him of caring more about Bill's feelings than Katya's that Saul started to fume in return. He knew exactly where all of Ellen’s anger was coming from and he didn't hesitate to call her on it. He told her that she was letting her envy and her insecurities take over. It only made her shout louder at him in stubborn denial and pour herself a stiffer drink.

Ellen had momentarily sobered when the alarm went off and Saul left but once Laura was delivered to the cabin she settled back into her resentful intoxication. She hadn't said much to Laura while they were alone. She just apathetically answered her questions as they sat there. She made no attempt to hide her mood. She didn't care. Her family was supposed to be eating dinner together and now Katya was flying directly into mortal danger. She hadn't even hugged her goodbye when she left. Ellen had never gotten used to the girl's career. Sometimes she even blamed Saul for her choosing it, for telling her all his stories about vipers and raptors and Starbuck and Apollo. She blamed him for encouraging the girl’s obsession with flight.

Most days Ellen could handle it even if there was known combat in Orbit but right now her nerves were shot. She was drunk, miserable, tired and scared. Most of all she missed her baby.

"Yes, Ellen, "Bill said knowing she was doing her best to goad him, "I do know how that feels… exactly ," He added knowing it would step on her toes.

She gave him a caustic chuckle and walked back to sit on the sofa and sip at her drink. She inwardly smiled when she saw the utterly confused look on Laura's face at Bill's response.

As Ellen sat and watched Laura the alcohol in her body just served to surge the irrational resentment toward her. She hated the woman for a dozen insane reasons. She resented her for getting to carry a baby that Ellen considered to be her own, even though she had no memory of it. She hated that Laura would never appreciate what a sweet child Katya had been, even though it wasn't her fault for missing it. And now she hated that Laura got to sit there oblivious while she had to bear the anguish of being a mother to a soldier, even though she could easily share the burden with her. Ellen knew it was crazy and she knew it would fade as the booze wore off but right now she couldn't help it.

LOCATION: INNER ORBIT; approximately 80 miles above the surface of planet Earth

TERRESTRIAL ATMOSPHERE BORDER

SQUADRON: LUNA FORCE

RED ALERT; ACTIVE COMBAT

YEAR: 2315

They were coming up to atmosphere line before they knew it. The first squad of cylon Raiders was already in active combat with a fleet of Airbots and the second was hanging back waiting, serving as a buffer until they were joined by Orbit Patrol. Suddenly Katya was regretting her earlier wish for a more exciting day at work.

“Koshka, Slip-Shot, Mac Man, Blazer follow me.

We're gunna form a stinger behind the nearest Raider in range.

Blazer take the tail. Follow the Guardians, people.”

The Patrol CAG's voice seemed to echo even the small confines of Blazer's cockpit.

"10-4, Major. Koshka, Mac Man, Slip-Shot, let’s hold hands,” Blazer told his team over the com. “Falling back. File in when ready.”

"Got it Blazer. Leading them in now," Katya answered.

"10-4 Captain, I'm your wingman. Slip-Shot take Mac Man," Blaze directed the pilots in his formation.

"You always take the cat, Blazer," Slip-Shot complained over the com.

"Yeah, and I usually wind up with claw marks," Blaze returned.

A mock hiss came through the com from Mac Man's line.

"To be fair, Blazer,” Katya piped in, “you’re usually asking for it.”

"That's a 10-4, Cap," He replied before the CAG's voice came in again.

“Coming up on a Guardian now. Only break formation when once the Raider fires. Don't Strip. Repeat; Do not strip. If something get's past you let the next squad get it. Stay within the fence and stay in range. Don't let em' chase you off.”

"Got it, Major," Katya answered for the flight team.

"Why can't these things come bother us during the day?" Slip-Shot casually observed through his line. "I was about to get some rack time. Took a shower and everything."

"You take showers, Slip?" Blazer chaffed. "Could'a fooled me."

"Man, I hope she does claw your face off," The pilot responded in jest.

"Just give me a reason," Katya threw in.

"Call it a personal favor, Koshka?" Slip-Shot proposed.

Once behind the cylon raider the team followed in formation. Now they just had to hope that the first squadron of raider's hadn't let much get passed them.

"Hey is our lead Guardian a cousin of yours, Blazer?" Mac Man ribbed.

"Ha. Funny; cylon jokes. I get it," Blaze dead panned.

"Forget it, Slip,” Katya bit. “I found my new scratching post. Shut the fuck up, Mac Man," She warned.

"Meow, Captain," He answered. “Testy today.”

“Keep your eyes open,” The CAG reminded. “Stay back at least three paces from the guardian. Once it shoots fire at will. Remember weapons tight till' you see that Raider fire.” His voiced paused for a moment leaving dead air to fill their cockpits. “Shit, Koshka, you see what I see?” His voice returned in alarm.

"Oh, tally that, Major," She confirmed. “Looks like we got three Airbots coming in a tight V. Get ready.”

Only fifteen seconds later, the lead raider was firing.

“WEAPONS FREE! THEY'RE SPLITTING! GO AHEAD AND BREAK! BREAK! BREAK!” The Major shouted as he followed the raider in pursuit of the center Airbot.

Each team split off following the two airbots that braced the cylon.

"You got me Blaze?" Katya called.

"You know it," He assured.

"Flank me, I'm going for it."

"Let's do this."

They were in active pursuit for eighteen minutes before the raider shot down their first Airbot. Soon after, Mac-Man took out a second.

"I can't get this flinty son of a titanium bitch," Katya called over the com, still unable to knock out her intended target.

"Tell me about it," Blazer confirmed.

The third and last Airbot was proving to be surprisingly shifty.

"I'm coming in,” Slip-Shot replied, turning around and heading toward the pair. “Let's see if I can help you two out."

"Motherfucker!" Katya swore, "Blazer, Blazer, no joy, no joy! I lost contact!"

"Koshka break left! Break left, now, now!" Blaze roared over the com but it was too late.

Katya felt the rumble at her tail right before she started to spin.

"I'm hit! I'm hit!" She shouted as her mayday alarm blared in her ears.

"Slip-Shot, break left! Break left!" Blazer shouted so hard he felt himself go hoarse but the incoming pilot had no time. Blaze watched Katya's Falcon side spiral right into Slip-Shot's cockpit shield. "Mayday, Mayday! Two birds down! Koshka! Koshka, come in! Dammit!"

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

They had been waiting there for over two hours in an uncomfortable semi-silence. Bill hardly sat down. Instead he paced around the room asking Saul for updates now and then. Saul sat with an ear piece in the entire time. Ellen wouldn't let him bring the transmit up on their audio system. She didn't want to hear the details of what was going on out there. She sat quietly weeping and nursing her drink until she finally abandoned it to an end table and drifted into an uneasy sleep.

Laura had passed out soon after on the other end of the sofa. She'd been suspicious over Bill's strange disappearance ever since she'd gotten to the Tigh's. After her time with Bill in the observation gallery and the intense cathartic nature of their lovemaking she'd fallen to sleep with something she thought was lost to her; a glimmer of hope. Bill had given that to her. Then she'd woken up terrified and alone. Now, in the company of the only people she truly knew in the world, she felt the distinct sense that something was being kept from her. She felt it not just from Saul and Ellen but from Bill too and the glimmer she'd gone to sleep with was dimming, fading, sinking into the same dark absolution Bill had managed to help her pull it from. If they thought they were being sly about their deception they were all delusional. She'd been in the company of politicians enough to be keenly aware of when she was being lied to or given half truths. Laura wasn't sure if she truly cared to know their secret. She couldn't fathom anything this life could offer that would even remotely interest her, let alone be cause for such duplicity. She only wanted to know why Bill would have any hand in deceiving her. He'd just begged her not to shut him out, begged her not to hide her feelings from him, and yet now she was almost positive that he was concealing much more than that from her. Later, she decided, she would ask him why he'd treated her like this when she needed his support so fiercely. Was she that fragile? Did she honestly seem so unstable? Had her state of mind become so capricious that he couldn't trust her not to come to pieces? She feared that perhaps that was the case; that it was all Bill saw when he looked at her now. Maybe he was right to feel that way.

She would confront him, if only as a last ditch effort to save her rapidly dulling little glimmer of hope, pitiful as it was. But she wouldn't ask him now. Not in Saul and Ellen's company. She would wait until they were alone. It was getting later and later into the night and Laura had no way of knowing how long she and Bill would be forced to stay there. When she allowed herself to slip into a light sleep it was just to escape the precarious air in the room. Sleep was becoming little more than a form of escape for Laura as they days went by. She was disappointed by her untrustworthy state of mind. She felt awkward and uncomfortable in her new body. When she slept she could turn both her mind and body off without breaking her promise to Bill.

Bill watched Saul intently. The man was white as a sheet and had been for a good hour as he listened to the feed in his ear and checked spotty messages on his cuff until they’d suddenly stopped. The station alarm had ceased which was a good sign but there had been no announcement of a condition change just yet. Bill was positive that had Saul heard something on the transmit at one point that he was too afraid to share. He tried to enquire once. Saul had looked over at Ellen who was nodding off, her face wet with tears and half empty drink in hand. As he watched his wife he muttered quietly, almost as if he was speaking to himself.

"Nothing we can do now. Just gotta wait it out."

In truth Saul had heard about Katya's hit and subsequent collision minutes after it happened. It took all his resolve not show his horror. Once he heard that the deck sent out a bus to taxi the two birds in there had been no other updates. When Saul had met Bill in the hallway he told His friend not to think about the fact that Katya might not come back but he wasn't listening to his own advice. He never did. Every time Katya went out during active combat Saul felt the torment of a father's worry. He kept it inside. He played the part of the dutiful soldier, went about his business and waited. Internally though, he tortured himself with thoughts of the raven haired little girl who used to run around their cabin making rocket noises, of the elegant ballerina who mesmerized him with her delicate and nimble grace, and of the woman he was so proud she'd grown up to be. Saul was sure that they would be getting a call from Med Ward any moment. He just hoped it would be from Katya herself saying that she was fine. A few times Saul almost got out of his seat to find Alexi outside the hatch, but he stopped himself. There was no use in upsetting anyone else quite yet.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MED WARD

YEAR: 2315

Katya's head was killing her. Besides the stinging gash by her temple her entire skull had been throbbing. She was grateful that it had dulled from a blinding pain to just a splitting headache.

Katya was out of triage and cleared of any internal bleeding or spinal damage. She now sat on a ward bed awaiting a cranial scan and a wound seal. Dr. Xao, Tawny and their staff had their hands full. The attack was by no means a bloodbath, but enough pilots had been injured to turn Med Ward into a circus. Katya had been handed a sterile cloth and told to keep pressure on her own wound. Blazer had come and gone already. He'd made sure that she and Slip-Shot were alright and let them know that the air was clear before he headed back to the deck for his debriefing. She'd asked him to message Alexi for her on his way.

Katya’s station cuff was shattered on impact. She looked at the pearly blue device around her wrist, now splintered as if a web covered its entire surface. It was nowhere near capable of even being turned on. She would have to get it removed and replaced before she was discharged from the ward. Getting Network Control to send one over was going to take forever. Katya was starting to get frustrated and impatient. Was every medic really so busy? Too busy to run a closure gun over a little one inch gash? As Katya watched Tawny work on Slip-Shot across the room it made her temple throb even harder. He didn't look so good. Katya knew logically it wasn't her fault but she still felt awful nonetheless. She could hear her fellow pilot moaning in pain all the way across the clinic and it made her stomach turn. She was sweating even though they'd stripped her of her flight suit in triage. The skin tight spandex she wore under the suit during flight didn't breathe well and she could feel that her patrol tank was dampened all the way through. Someone had slipped her service band back over her bicep during triage.  The ragged thing was soaked in sweat and splattered with blood that she hoped was only hers. How long was she going to have to sit there like this? She had no way of knowing if Alexi had gotten Blazer's message and everyone she tried to stop in the Ward was too busy to send another for her. She knew that Ellen must be worried sick and she wanted to make sure that Bill had gotten back to his cabin safely. As Katya slipped off of the bed she held the damp cloth of her compress tightly against the side of her head. Every time she moved it seemed to start bleeding again. She gingerly made her way closer to the open curtain where Tawny was working on Slip-Shot’s injuries.

“You’re gunna be okay, Slip” Katya called over to him. “You’re lookin’ good. Not bad at all!”

She hoped that she was only half lying. She could hear him struggling to reply but for some reason Tawny had bound his jaw shut. She immediately felt even worse for making him attempt to speak.

"Katya, go sit down," Tawny groused as she leaned in to give the pilot a shot with her injection pistol. It made the man groan through his clenched teeth. " Now . I mean it," She told her.

"It's a little cut, Tawny. Worry about him , not me."

"Dammit, Katya! You could have a concussion. Sit the fuck down and keep the pressure on that cut," The doctor ordered again. "You were unconscious less than an hour ago!"

"I blacked out for like a second," Katya corrected. "It's hot in here, Tawn. I can't stop sweating. I'm gunna step out for a minute."

"It's not hot in here, Kat . That's probably all the adrenaline you're feeling. At least I hope it is. Whatever it is, it's another reason why you're not going anywhere so leave me alone and go sit down," Tawny ordered as she worked.

"I'll be right back," Katya told her as she held the compress to her temple and slowly backed away from the curtain.

"No! No Katya! You are not leaving! Sit !" Tawny shouted still busily milling around the man's bed.

"Five minutes. I have to pee," She lied. “I’m gunna use the head.”

Tawny huffed in frustration.

She had patience for Katya and she had since they were kids but when it came to her job she didn't like being tested.

Katya being five years younger used to follow Tawny around Alpha Station just trying to keep up with whatever she was doing next. They were usually happy to have each other, both being only children, but Katya was always testing Tawny's limits. Though they were both grown now their dynamic hadn't changed much.

"Would you do this if my dad was telling you to stay?" The young doctor challenged.

"No. But I don't see him right now so I'm gunna leave before he comes back," Katya admitted and walked away.

"Ya know, Kat, when you do this it really pisses me off!" Tawny called after her.

The captain’s reputation for ditching out of the ward was starting to wear on her friend's nerves.

"I know. I'm sorry," Katya nonchalantly shouted back before making her way through the hatch.

She would only be gone a short while. Tawny would get over it. She would just be sitting there waiting around anyway if she stayed. Besides, at least Ellen would give her a damn aspirin.

When she finally arrived at the Tigh's hatch her head was pounding twice as hard but seeing Alexi's face made her entirely forget about it for a moment.

"Myshka," He said embracing her and picking her up off the floor.

"Zvezda moya," She greeted him with a happy hum.

She wrapped her arms around him tightly and kissed his lips completely forgetting about the bloody rag in her hand and how sweaty her clothes were. She felt her wound pulse and she covered it as soon as he placed her back down. If she went inside with blood gushing down her face Ellen was going to have a heart attack.

"Sorry, baby. I'm kinda, sweaty…and bloody," She shrugged.

"Katya, what happened?" He asked worriedly looking at the side of her head.

"Blaze didn't message you?"

"He may have. Someone passed by a while ago and said cuffs were acting up. They're doing a security check on the system just in case," He told her.

"Well mine sure is good for nothing."

She lifted up her wrist showing him the shattered remnants of her cuff. There was a purple bruise forming around it from whatever it had slammed against. She was sure that it would hurt later but at least she knew that nothing was broken.

"Shit, Katya! What happened?"

"My bird was hit. I lost all control and spiraled right into Slip-Shot. He's really banged up," She told him with a guilty sigh.

"Katya, what about you? You're bleeding . What the hell are you doing out of the ward?"

"It's nuts in there right now. I'm fine. I'll go back in a sec. I'd just be sitting there waiting," She said hurriedly, "Do you know if Bill Adama got back to his cabin?"

"They're both inside," Alexi gestured. "As long as you're here you better tell Ellen you're okay, but then I'm taking you back. Understand ? We should be cleared soon, they don't need me here anymore."

"Fine," She dismissively agreed before turning her attentions to the centurion beside her husband.

"Vladi, is that you?" She said with a coy smile.

The centurion swiped his eye back and forth in response.

"I'm very happy to see you too," She told the machine as she placed her free hand on the plate of its chest.

When Katya had first come to live with the Tighs the station was in an almost constant state of high alert. The recent Alpha lab massacre and attempt to destroy the Roslin and Adama bodies had everyone on edge. Katya had been witness to it all and at seven years old anxiety and stress had become normal for her. Saul and Ellen had a standing order for a centurion to be stationed outside of their new cabin at all times. It had taken Katya a while to get used to the new machines. Ellen and Saul did their best to try and teach her the difference between the centurions and the bots, but when she saw the metallic humanoids she would usually wind up in hysterics. The attack and her father's murder were still fresh in her young and frightened mind.

Things changed weeks later when one day Ellen was carrying a sleepy Katya home on her hip. As she made her way to the hatch she expected the girl to start whimpering or at least to bury her face in her neck as she so often did when they passed the cylon guards, but on this day the girl remained silent. As Ellen struggled to hold her up with one arm and swipe her cuff on the hatch panel with the other she noticed Katya was reaching over her shoulder for something. She turned slightly to find Katya holding on to the long extended finger of their centurion guard. The machine seemed to be offering it to the little girl as a greeting. Ellen didn't know whether she should be more shocked at Katya's behavior or that of the centurion. They made their way inside and Ellen mostly forgot about it, just happy the kid wasn't throwing a fit. It was days later when Saul mentioned witnessing a similar exchange that Ellen became suspicious. Even though Katya was still timid and afraid of the rest of the cylon guards there seemed to be one in particular that she didn't mind, one she would sometimes even interact with. Saul and Ellen's own visual scans confirmed that it was always the same one. One day after such an interaction Ellen decided to ask Katya about it.

 

"Honey, why aren't you afraid of that centurion?" She asked the girl.

"Because, that's Vladi. He's nice," Katya simply told her.

" He ? He has a name, sweetie?"

"I gave him one."

 

They might have expected it out of the other three children, but certainly not Katya. It would be awhile before Ellen figured out how Katya was able to do something that she simply should not have been able to as a pure Colonial-human.

Despite their confusion Saul and Ellen made sure that particular machine stayed aboard Alpha and they called on it for guard duty often until Katya got over her fear of the others. Even after that the two seemed to recognize each other whenever they crossed paths. Over the years Katya and Vladi had developed a strangely sweet connection.

"Let's go , Katya," Alexi called as he opened the hatch.

"See you later, Vladi," She said with a smile as she followed her husband inside.

As soon as the hatch opened Saul was out of his seat. He was shocked when he saw Katya walk passed Alexi as he held the door for her.

"Hi," She casually greeted her uncle.

She was surprised when he grabbed her and hugged her tightly to his chest.

"Guess you heard," She mumbled in his ear.

"Yeah, I did," He whispered.

The sound of the hatch closing woke Ellen and Laura.

Ellen stood up to see Saul with his arm around Katya's shoulders.

"Look whose home," He happily told his wife.

Ellen slapped her palm over her mouth to stifle a sob and rushed over to where the two were standing.

Laura got up and joined Bill's side where he was observing close by.

"Hey Auntie," Katya greeted but Ellen could only wrap her arms around the girl and let out her tears. "Ellen? Aunt Ellen, what's wrong? I'm fine, " She told her, surprised at the woman's overreaction.

Katya didn't know what to do. Ellen hadn't acted like this since her first year out of basic. As the woman clung on to her she could smell the booze intermingling with her familiar perfume; a combination she'd gotten used to over the years. That at least partly explained her dramatic welcoming.  

"Aunt Ellen, it's okay. Please don't cry," She told her. But Ellen wouldn't let go. All she could do was hug her back.

Katya looked to her uncle for assistance but instead of attempting to calm his wife he came over and put his arms around the both of them.

"It's alright, Ellen. She's here. She's right here," He told her as he kissed them each on the top of their heads.

As Bill watched the three of them he couldn't help but get a little choked up. He was so glad that Katya was safe. He was sure something awful happened the way Saul looked half the night. Watching Saul and Ellen's open display of love and relief made him wish he could do the same. When watching the three of them he couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like if he and Laura had gotten to the raise the girl together. It wasn't as if he begrudged the small family unit. On the contrary he was very grateful his daughter had parents who obviously deeply loved her in his absence. But there was something about the sight that made him slightly envious. Not of the turmoil they had suffered all night but of the bond behind it. Bill glanced over at Laura to find her staring at him and not the reunion before them. She seemed to be watching him curiously as if searching for something in his face.

Maybe he was being paranoid but there was something about the look she was giving him that made him feel like she was somehow suspicious. He made his way closer to her, took her hand and looked directly into her eyes before leaning in to kiss her cheek. Though she didn't know it they had something to be so grateful for tonight.

"Are you alright?" She asked him softly.

"I'm better now," He admitted looking over at Katya.

Laura didn't know why but but she felt her stomach drop.

Ellen finally released Katya from the tight embrace she’d had her in but when she backed up to take a look at her she found another source of hysterics.

"Good gods, baby. What happened?" Ellen asked running her thumb under the place where Katya still held the bloodied compress.

"Nothing, it's a cut. I just need to get it closed up," She told her.

Ellen pulled the reddened rag away from her head to take a look at what she was referring to as nothing.

"Katya, why the hell are you not in Med Ward?!" She asked as she looked at the gash in her hair line. "Alexi, get a clean towel from the head. This isn't doing a damn thing," Ellen said taking the drenched cloth away from her and handing it off to the sergeant.

Alexi quickly left to discard it and find another.

When Katya saw that the once white compress was completely saturated red with blood she felt her stomach tremble a bit.

"That's making it look worse than it is," Katya defended. "The ward is nuts. I would have been sitting there forever before someone was able to get to me. I'm just taking a break. There are other people way worse off," She explained. "I already got out of triage. No internal damage, no spinal issues. I'm good."

Alexi rushed in with a replacement compress.  

"What about a cranial scan?" Ellen asked taking the clean damp cloth from Alexi and placing it on Katya's temple.

"They didn't get to that yet," She admitted.

"And you're up and walking?" Saul barked.

"Katya, your brain could be bleeding internally," Ellen warned.

"It's not, though. It's bleeding externally ," She tried to joke but no one laughed. "Tough crowd…May I have an aspirin?" She asked.

" No !” Ellen answered emphatically “ No way . It will thin your blood and that thing will never clot. You wait and take what they give you in the ward."

"We're going back there now," Alexi intervened. "She just came by to let you know that she's okay. Her cuff broke on impact and no one else could message us with the system on the fritz." He explained. "It's going through some security checks."

"Impact?" Bill asked.

Was that what Saul had been keeping from them?

"Glad to see you got back okay, Admiral," Katya smiled and waved in his direction.

It earned him yet another confused look from Laura.

Bill nodded and smiled back at the girl, ignoring Laura's perturbed glance.

"We're just glad to have you back," Bill told her. He had to say something if he couldn't walk over and hug her like he wanted to. "What happened, Captain, if you don't mind me asking?"

"My bird took a hit. Sent me into a side spiral and I lost control. I collided right into the cockpit of another falcon. It was Slip-Shot, Uncle Saul. He looks pretty rough," She said as an aside, "The other pilot's in a hell of lot worse shape than I am. I guess I was lucky though. If I had spun in the other direction I would have went right into the gravity of the atmosphere and post-holed down to the surface; Bye, bye Koshka…But I ididn't," She added trying to lighten it at the tail end when she saw that Ellen was already springing new tears.

Saul felt his heart in his throat. Even if Katya had managed to eject and parachute down to the surface he knew that she'd have been gone. Not only was there no guarantee that she wouldn't land in the middle of an ocean, they just didn't send recons for single pilots anymore. It was too dangerous. It wasn't worth the soldiers they'd sacrifice in the process. They'd been so close to losing her this time but he knew he couldn't go on treating it that way. He knew that for her sake he had to tell her that it was all in the call of duty. He would but not now. Not yet. Right now he'd let Ellen feel the relief of their little girl’s homecoming and he'd let himself feel it too. Saul noticed the look on Bill's face. He could see the man was holding back and he felt sorry for him. Though it wasn't the conventional protocol of an officer toward his subordinate it had felt damn good to hug his kid when she walked in the door. He wished Bill could do the same.

"Well, thank the Gods you're alright," Laura offered simply.

She had to say something. She was standing there in a fog and she felt like her silence was becoming obvious.

Katya was a little surprised to hear Laura's words. The last time they'd spoken to each other it was an exchange of insults. She had promised to behave herself in front of the woman as long as she was being civil in return and she supposed that her recognition of her well being was about as civil as it got. It was even weirder to be in her presence now that everyone in the room knew something that she didn't. Katya almost pitied her in a way. She nodded at Laura in thanks and felt her stomach flip flop again. She wondered if the uneasy feeling she seemed to get every time the woman spoke would ever cease.

"Baby, your hair is getting into that cut. Let me fix it before you go," Ellen told her.

"That shouldn't have happened inside your helmet, Katya,” Saul added. “You better get it refitted.”

"Yeah, I'll get right on that," She said rolling her eyes as she leaned her head back far enough for Ellen to reach and fix her hair.

She'd tied it back before she put her helmet on but through combat and her collision it had become loose. Stray hairs were coming out and sticking to the blood around the wound. She took the compress off as Ellen gathered her thick hair, gently pulling any strands matted by the blood away from the cut and tying the elastic to keep it secure. Katya was thankful but leaning back in the awkward position was starting to make her feel lightheaded. It wasn't helping her stomach either and she was still so damned hot and sweaty. Maybe Laura hadn't been the cause of her queasiness.

"Ellen stop ," She told her rather suddenly.

"I'm almost done, kitten, hold on."

" No, Ellen stop . I think I'm gunna be sick," She warned as she took off in the direction of the kitchen, uncaring that her hair was still gripped in Ellen's fists.

"Oh frak, Katya are you serious?" Ellen called after her.

Alexi darted after his wife. He stood behind her with one hand on her back and the other keeping the compress on her temple as she mostly dry heaved into the sink. She had nothing in her stomach to throw up since she'd missed dinner. All she managed to bring up as she gagged was a bit of stomach acid that burned at her throat on the way uo.!

" Dammit, Katya, you must have a concussion, " Ellen shouted.

"No I don't," She slurred into the sink.

When she turned around she stumbled forward as if she were drunker than her Ellen. Alexi had to catch her from falling forward on her face.

"That's it! Pick her up Alexi," Saul growled, "Get her back to the ward."

The marine gathered her in his arms like she was a ragdoll.

"Da'vai, Koshka," He said softly as he brought her out of the kitchen. "You don't listen, Yekaterina."

Her head felt like a balloon as it bobbed with his stride. She felt so dizzy all of a sudden.

Ellen took the compress that was clutched in Alexi's fist.

"I'm going with you," She announced.

"Go on ahead," Saul told them. "Bill, Laura, looks like we're about to be cleared," He said taking a look at his tablet. "I'll take you back to your quarters with the corporal outside but I want you to consider letting us put a centurion guard outside your hatch. Just for a while."

" Absolutely not ," Laura answered sharply.

She just didn't like the idea. Even if they were the good guys now she had lived through two wars fought against them. Having one skulking right outside her door as she slept was something straight out of her childhood nightmares.

"Laura they're perfectly civil," Saul defended, "There's no danger in it. There will still be marines out there as well," He explained.

"Is that really necessary, Saul?" Bill asked.

"It's precautionary, Bill. I just don't want to take any chances." He answered.

Though their voices were fading in and out Katya heard what they were talking about.

"They can take Vladi," She proposed in a somewhat airy voice as she struggled to keep her heavy eyes open.

" What ?" Laura scowled.

"The one outside," Bill motioned toward the hatch and shook his head.

"He's nice," Katya mumbled, her voice getting softer.

" He ?" Laura said stepping closer to the girl.

"Yeah, Laura,” Saul started, “Vladi and Katya are kinda…friendly," He explained with some unease before clearing his throat.

"How's that even possible?" Bill challenged with a furrow of his brow.

Saul ignored him. He could tell him how but now wasn't the time.

"Just think of him as our…loyal watch dog," Saul shrugged.

"A dog ?" Laura asked folding her arms over her chest

Katya's eyes fluttered open to somehow meet with Laura's.

"I used to be scared too but he's nice," She told her again, her voice sounding even fainter than before, "I promise."

Laura tilted her head to the side as she looked back at her. They better get that kid to the infirmary fast, she thought. She was starting to jabber nonsense. Laura couldn't help but feel sorry for the young woman hurt in the line of duty. During her time as president she had been to enough services for lost soldiers and she was glad that wouldn't be the case this time. She still thought Katya was a spoiled brat. She obviously didn't listen to a word anyone told her unless it was a direct order and she could be incredibly rude. She was also absurdly stubborn to the point of making herself sick but now she just looked so pale and fragile as she hung limply in the large man's arms. Without her usual over-defensiveness and bad attitude she looked younger and kind of innocent. Laura suddenly felt an almost physical swell of concern. The feeling caught her off guard but she was somehow driven to comfort or succor her in some small way.

"If you say so, Captain," Laura said stepping closer and offering the girl a small but genuine smile. "Why am I not surprised you have a pet that shoots bullets?" She teased the injured pilot actually getting a weak smile out of her.

"That was good," Katya said letting her grin grow and her eyes close.

"You liked that one?" Laura smirked down at her.

"Mmhmm, it was solid. You're quick. Mmmaybe that's where I get it from," Katya said drifting off.

Bill and Saul's eyes snapped to each other like lightening. They were both stiff where they stood.

"What did you say, Captain?" Laura asked her with a squint.

Ellen panicked.

"Laura, leave her alone! She's frakking half unconscious!" She abruptly shouted, "C'mon Alexi we're going. Hurry up," She told him.

Laura looked at Ellen like she was deranged.

Having heard what his wife just said Alexi hustled toward the door on Ellen's orders. He tried not to look at anyone as he left. All he could think about was how mad Katya was going to be at herself when she woke up. He hoped what she said had just sounded like a string of nonsense from an obviously concussed mind, but he wasn't sticking around to see if it was interpreted that way. He cleared the hatch quickly.

"Meet us there if you want, Saul," Ellen called harshly over her shoulder as she left.

She didn't bother to say goodbye to Laura or Bill.

"Well, let's get going," Saul pressed, attempting to leave the comment hanging in the air, "I'll introduce you to your new dog."

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MED WARD

YEAR: 2315

Ellen sat by Katya's bedside in the ward as she slept. She had a grade three concussion and she'd be staying overnight at the very least but she would be fine. Once she was settled and her cut had been cleaned and closed Ellen sent Alexi home. She knew he had an early shift and she was more than willing to stay. Actually she was anxious for him to leave so that she could just sit alone with Katya. As she sat rhythmically stroking the girl's hair she tried to imagine their surroundings as anything but what they were.

Ellen didn’t project much anymore. The last time that she had regularly employed the ability she and Saul were living on the basestar. Though they were boxed during the majority of their life on the ship there were still decades at a time that they spent conscious and living aboard the vessel. Had they not projected a somewhat more stimulating environment for themselves they would have gone crazy. Together they were able to see the space as a home they made for each other. It helped the endless years pass even once they had made contact with the people in Earth Orbit. It was only when they adopted Katya and moved aboard Alpha Station that Ellen stopped using the ability as much. She knew Saul had stopped all together. She had little need for it once Katya had come into their lives. Though the circumstances weren't ideal, they had a new little home with their new little girl. Surprisingly Ellen found she didn't really want to be anywhere else. Katya had become their child and Alpha was their home. Ellen was happy. It was only on the rare occasion when she was especially upset or in distress that she would actually project as a means to cope.

Within the first year that the Tighs had Katya her connection to Vladi was just the first in a line of clues that alerted them to the fact that there was something unusual about the girl. During that time in Orbit attacks were frequent. There was an ever present threat in the system and it made it difficult for Katya to recover from what she'd witnessed in the lab. During one particular high alert Ellen held the little girl in her arms on the sofa trying to soothe her as the station alarm blared. Saul had left for the lab to ensure Bill and Laura's bodies were sufficiently protected in case of another breach. It was the middle of the night and Ellen was exhausted, worried and still trying to get used to caring for a seven year old. In an attempt to calm herself down she gave in and projected a warm sandy beach at sunset. She allowed herself to relax into the scene as she held on to Katya’s frightened little body. Ellen’s trick worked to settle her own nerves but eventually the girl stopped fussing as well and then calmly  sat up in her lap.

 

 

"Is that the ocean?" She asked.

Ellen was floored. When she didn't answer right away Katya put her head back down and rested.

"Sweetie, you can see that?" Ellen whispered in awe.

Katya just sleepily nodded against her chest. Ellen was in shock. She didn't know if she had heard her right or if perhaps it was just some strange coincidence from the girl’s own imagination.

"Katya, honey? Tell me…what color is the blanket?"Ellen tentatively tested not explaining herself any further.

She was referring to the beach blanket that they were sitting on in her projection.

"Red," Katya had answered with a yawn as if it were nothing out of the ordinary.

 

 

 

 

After that experience Ellen immersed herself in the lab records of all four children. She wanted to know everything about their conceptions, births and their lives before she and Saul found out about their existence. It was then she learned about all the tests and studies that had been performed on them. She and Saul were appalled at how their so called adoptive parents seemed to have used them as glorified lab rats. With Petrov, Bishop and Le Blanc still caring for the three other children, Ellen and Saul knew something had to be done. They alerted Dr. Xao who had been purposely kept in the dark about the tests and the three of them personally made sure an end was put to any further experimentation on the children. Though nothing the scientists had done could be called outright abusive by law there was just something that wasn't right about it. They had created the children as a desperate and misguided shortcut and when they didn't fulfill the need they hoped they would they found another use for them. Perhaps they loved them as they claimed but that love was wrapped up in the value they saw in them.

The Thighs knew that Katya loved and missed her father so they never spoke badly of Dr. Isakoff in front of her, but internally they resented the hell out of him. Saul and Ellen had Katya examined from head to toe twice over after learning of everything that had been done to her before she was in their care. Xao confirmed that she was perfectly healthy except for her awful appetite which now had an explanation to go with it. Still, they couldn't figure out why she could possibly be exhibiting the ability to see their projections or scan centurions. There was nothing done to the girl on record that could explain it. It was driving Ellen crazy. She was even considering taking her aboard the basestar to run an analysis there. Though Saul was curious as well he eventually started to give up. He told Ellen that they should just consider the possibility that she was a special little girl and forget it. He knew one day Bill Adama would be back and he didn't want to have to tell the man that his kid had been exhibiting any kind of cylon traits. He told Ellen not to encourage the girl’s habits and to just leave it be, but in the end he was the one who figured it out.

Saul took Katya to the lab one afternoon between shifts. Since he and Ellen had come into her life the girl's curiosity in her birth parents had only grown. He didn't mind a bit and he was happy to bring her to visit their bodies now and then. Katya now had access to answers that her father could never give her and she was eating Saul's stories up like audible candy. During one particular visit  Saul was telling her about Kobol and how Lee and Kara had joined Laura to find the Temple of Athena.

 

 

"So, mommy went down to a beautiful but dangerous planet called Kobol. It was very scary and she was very very sick, but she went anyway 'cause she was very brave," He told her tapering his story so it was fit for seven year old ears.

"She was sick?" Katya had asked with a pout.

"Yes, she was; very sick. But soon after she got back to the fleet she got better," He told her simply, and that was when it came to him.

 

 

Ellen felt a little silly for not thinking of it before but it truly had never crossed her mind. The blood sample that she and Saul provided the Orbit scientist to clone Laura Roslin had been dated after her recovery, after Gaius Baltar cured her cancer with the cylon hybrid blood transfusion. Her cloned body had been made with DNA from blood that contained cylon attributes, and now, so did Katya. It all suddenly made so much sense. Ellen wondered if some of Laura's own hallucinations and dreams toward the end of her life hadn't actually been involuntary projections. It was possible that the capabilities had been dormant in her and only activated during the cloning process. It was also possible Laura herself had no cylon capabilities but that something had been triggered at conception or somewhere during fetal development to naturally activate her baby's unique DNA. Ellen didn't know for sure but what she did know was that Katya had simply inherited her cylon talents from her mother.

Saul and Ellen hid the girl's abilities from the project scientists until she was older. Though the testing had supposedly stopped they didn't want to fear for her well being anymore than they already had to. They knew from the lab records that the other three children with known cylon lineage had been used to produce a projection simulation software for a device manufactured in Orbit. The software and the device that it ran on helped stimulate the projection capabilities of the humans in Earth Orbit who all had cylon ancestry but no longer the brain function to activate the long lost attributes. The device reminded Saul of a cheap version of the old holobands the Colonies had before the First Cylon War. Whatever they were, Saul and Ellen were sure they weren't worth whatever had been done to Margot, Alexi and Blaze to make them and they wouldn't put Katya at risk of being involved in any future improvements or software updates.

Though they kept her abilities a secret and though Saul still didn't want to encourage the behavior, Ellen thought it was wrong to keep Katya from at least exploring her natural abilities a little. They agreed to let her communicate with Vladi. There seemed to be little harm in it as long as it didn't get around much. It was interesting for them to observe a centurion who seemed capable of basic emotion. Though the ones on the basestar had evolved over the years they never revealed any such characteristics. They supposed Vladi's time on Alpha among so many humans had helped him to incorporate the beginnings of compassion into his software. He was a true evolutionary link and Katya had discovered him.

Saul wanted no part in it but Ellen sometimes projected for Katya during more trying times, letting the girl experience things she hadn't ever seen growing up in Orbit. She showed her forests and jungles and rivers; things she'd only seen in pictures on the network. When Katya started getting more serious about her ballet Ellen showed her a magnificent old concert hall that she had once been to on Virgon. Soon Katya was able to project it on her own when she danced in the small studio on the civilian side of the station where she trained or in the station auditorium where she sometimes performed. Ellen made her promise not to tell her Uncle Saul and to only use it when she danced. During recitals and performances that she and Saul attended with pride Ellen would share Katya's projection of the old Virgon concert hall. It was special knowing that for just an hour or so only the two of them could see the world that way. It was something that they shared in the deepest parts of their mind. And now and then when Katya was very sick or very scared Ellen would take her back to the special beach projection that had started it all.

As far as Ellen knew Katya never did it anymore. She knew the abilities had started to make her feel strange as she got older. Even Margot claimed to have shelved the cylon habit in favor of a more ordinary existence. Ellen still treasured the times when she and Katya shared the little secret. Now watching her in a ward bed after being nearly shot out of the sky, Ellen wished she really could change their surroundings. She wished she could make the rest of the world disappear. She wished she could make Bill and Laura disappear.

Ellen's head felt heavy. The booze was wearing off, she had been crying half the night and she couldn't stop thinking about what Katya had said to Laura. No matter how much she knew Katya loved her she was starting to realize that she just didn't want to have to share her. Throughout the girl's childhood Ellen never thought she would react quite like this. She encouraged Katya’s interest and excitement in Bill and Laura almost as much as Saul had. She'd worked so hard to bring them there. She couldn't help but be enthusiastic for their return as well but now it was too real. When Laura tried to lighten the girl's spirits earlier Ellen saw the connection the two were capable of and her jealousy had gone through the roof. She'd always wanted to do what was best for Katya but right now her envy was getting the best of her, just like Saul had said. She just couldn't lose Katya; not to a bullet, not to a collision and definitely not to Laura Roslin. It would be like losing Daniel all over again. Hundreds of thousands of years later she could still recall that pain and she wouldn't go through it again.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

The walk back to Bill and Laura's cabin was strange. Saul talked the whole way in a nervous attempt to somehow overshadow what had transpired right before they left. He grumbled on about security and procedure and anything relevant that came to mind. Bill was obviously preoccupied but he indulged Saul as they walked, responding to what he was saying now and then. Laura kept a few feet away from them walking with her arms crossed. At first Saul thought she looked a little dazed but at one point he saw Bill trying to sidle beside her and she sped up purposely distancing herself. The corporal and the centurion trudged behind them. Saul wasn't sure what Bill was going to face once he left them for the night. After the initial shock of Katya's little slip up he’d started to think it was going to blow over. He figured it would be easily explained away with Katya's head injury. It helped that she had been babbling on about Vladi, which Saul knew made her seem crazy anyway. He thought they were in the clear but Laura's posture and silence as they walked told him something was off. He figured Ellen's nasty last words could have done it. Even if it had nothing to do with what Katya said, he knew Bill wouldn't be having any fun tonight.

When they arrived at the hatch there were already two new marines stationed there. They informed the Colonel that Alexi had sent them. With a look to his cuff Saul saw that the system was indeed back in working order. There was message from the sergeant telling him that Katya was alright and requesting that he dismiss the corporal who'd come over with them. He did so and with the two new guards in place and Vladi settled into his new position Saul decided to take his leave.

"You're in good hands now, I assure you," He promised, "I'm off to Med Ward but you two get some sleep," He said with a nod.

Laura quickly turned from him and ran her cuff over the panel.

"Goodnight, Colonel," She said dismissively as the marine opened the hatch and she made her way in.

Bill motioned for the guard to shut it behind her. He wanted to talk to Saul alone before he followed.

"What do ya think?" Saul asked as the hatch shut.

Bill crossed his arms and shook his head.

"I really don't know," He shrugged.

"She's probably just pissed off cause of Ellen. You think she heard Katya? Even if she did, I think it's easy enough to explain away," Saul posed putting his hands in his pockets.

"I know, I know but to be honest that might not even be it. She's just sort of been acting like this recently so I'm really not sure," Bill admitted, "But either way…I think it's time," He said looking at the floor. “Things like this. They’ll only keep coming up.”

Saul sighed.

"That's your call, Bill. I wish you the best. I just…I want to warn you about Ellen. You've already seen it for yourself tonight. This is all bringing up a lot of her insecurities. Katya's been her world for so long and she's scared of what this might mean. That's not your concern though. You leave her to me and I'll do my best. I just wanted to explain tonight and caution you about what might come up," Saul winced at his own words.

"I think I can understand that,” Bill nodded. “I don't want her making things harder than they already are but I see how much Ellen loves Katya...and how much you love them both."

Saul cleared his throat of emotion.

"Anyway, station cuffs are working again, so if you need anything just send a message. You think you got it figured out now?" Saul ribbed motioning to Bill's wrist.

Bill gave a tired chuckle.

"Yeah, I hope so," He answered. "You'll let me know how the Captain's doing, won't you?"

"She'll be fine but yes, Sir. I'll be sure and do that."

"Thanks, Saul, for everything."

"Alright then, Husker," Saul nodded.

As he turned to go Bill had a thought.

"Saul?" Bill called out to stop him. "As long as these things are working again…" He considered as he looked at his own cuff, "…is there any way for you to send me that picture? You remember the one you showed me a while ago? Little Katya in the ballet slippers?" Bill asked hesitantly.

Saul smirked and gave a knowing glance. He swiped at his wrist a few times until it projected over the screen.

"That the one?" He asked holding it out.

"Yeah, that'll do,” Bill affirmed with a sad smile.

"Always been my favorite," Saul said grinning down at the old photo. He swiped a few more times at his cuff. "All yours," He said looking up at his friend, "You know how to pull it up?"

"Yeah, I got it."

"Well then…Good Hunting," Saul told Bill with a hand to his shoulder before turning and heading down the hall.

Bill braced himself and made his way into the cabin.

When he found Laura she was sitting on the end of their rack. He was immediately reminded of their decalescent afternoon. The sheets and blankets were still tousled about and their clothes from before were still scattered around the bedroom floor. She didn't look up as he walked in and he wasn't sure if she was unaware or just ignoring him. As he watched her he wondered if she could possibly know already. He doubted it. She looked so tired. It had been such a long day, such a long night. He almost considered letting her rest and leaving it until morning. Then he realized that was what he'd said to himself every night since Saul told him. This had to be over so it could finally start. He slowly made his way toward the bed and sat beside her letting out a long and weary breath. She still hadn't turned to face him so he ran his knuckles gently down her spine to ask for her attention. She didn't give it to him at first. He could see that her fists were gripping the end of the mattress.

"Laura," He started softly, "This is exactly what I said I didn't want us to do, so we're not going to do it," He said placing his hand on her knee.

She nodded but she still wouldn't look at him.

"Then I think you're the one who needs to start talking," She said trying to speak as evenly as possible.

She wasn't sure what was suddenly consuming her with such anxiety. Something about how the night had ended at the Tigh’s left her with a feeling she couldn't begin to explain. She'd felt uncomfortable there all night. It wasn't just the threat of the enemy or Ellen's drunken display. She was in a room full of people who all seemed to know something she didn't. She might not be herself at the moment but she wasn't stupid. Being treated as if she were had worn at her patience and her will during the hours she spent there. She had such a strange feeling about what was being kept from her. She wasn't sure she really wanted to know the truth.

Bill nodded.

"You're right about that," He confessed. "I just need to know what's on your mind first."

" Why ?" She said finally whipping her neck in his direction. "If you have something to tell me shouldn't you just know what it is? Why the frak test me first?" She snapped.

Bill swallowed hard. She was right but he needed her help on this.

"Because, Laura, I don't know where to start," He said honestly.

Laura was suddenly terrified and she didn't know why. She felt her hands and knees starting to shake and she was starting to get chills down her back. She didn't have an answer for him. She was confused. Her mind seemed to hover between being on overload and going completely blank. There was something she knew it was trying to figure out but when she attempted to consciously put the pieces together it was like everything was suddenly blocked. It had been like that to some degree for days. It was part of the reason she just couldn't seem to function normally. And now all that she could comprehend was a deep fear, utter confusion and a sense of dread. She'd been so resentful and depressed since she got there but this was the first time since the night of her download that she'd actually been scared. The attack hadn't scared her. She'd already been through the end of the world. She'd already watched countless people die. She'd already died herself. She wasn't afraid of dying again but she was afraid of whatever was coming now.

"I just don't know, Bill," She whispered as she looked at him.

The look in her eyes was desperate and he knew it was going to get worse before it got better.

"Are you sure about that, Laura?" He asked.

She wasn't sure of anything. Since she'd found herself aboard Alpha there were so many things that had struck her as strange and suspicious but she'd just pushed most of them to the back of her mind. She couldn't begin to take them apart before she could come to terms with actually being there.

"Where did you go today? When you left?" She asked looking down at her lap.

It was a start. Maybe they would have to work up to it, Bill thought.

"I went to Saul's like I said," He told her.

"But you didn't stay there," She finished.

"No, I didn't."

He knew she was already aware of that much.

"And you and Saul weren't really headed to the control room when the alarms went off?" She continued.

"No, we weren't," He told her and she nodded.

It was like she was avoiding it. She was frustrated with being in the dark but she was afraid of what the light was going to show her. She wasn't just inching toward it at a snail's pace, she was trying to find a way around it.

"Does that have something to do with what you have to tell me?" She asked.

Bill nodded and took her hand. He brought it to his lap and held it there. Her fingers were cold and he could feel her trembling with apprehension. He brought it to his lips for a moment before bringing it back down and clutching it between his palms.

"It does but l don't want to start there," He told her.

Her eyes were glassy and evasive as she looked at him

"Bill, you're scaring me," She said as she exhaled shakily.

"I don't want to scare you Laura. I just want to share something with you," He said squeezing her hand.

He bit his tongue hard until he could taste that it had started to bleed. It was like he was punishing it for not speaking for him. He wasn't sure where to start but he had to start somewhere. He swallowed away the tang of copper and tried again.

"A few nights ago we had dinner at Saul and Ellen's," He started.

"Yeah, I remember," She said rolling her eyes.

She'd been exhausted, in pain, and pelted with insults all night long. She sat and tried to eat food that she didn't want next to people she didn't care to be with. She remembered that much.

"I didn't come home with you. Ellen took you back here and I went to talk to Saul," He said taking a deep breath and shaking his head. He hated how precarious he was being but this was one of the hardest things he'd ever attempted to say. "I know we all drank that night and you took a few painkillers after so...I wouldn't blame you for not remembering this but...you were awake when I came home."

She narrowed her eyes at him and nodded slowly.

"I remember," She told him.

He nodded and looked at where he held her hand in his lap. He was about to tell her. He really was but then something came to mind. Something that had been bothering him deeply and he willed himself to change direction.

"I asked you a question that night when we were in bed. It…upset you. Do you remember what it was?"

Laura felt her breath catch in her throat.

"Yes," She answered but her voice barely carried a sound.

"I want to know why. I need to know what made you react that way," He told her almost pleadingly.

Laura suddenly felt anger starting to swell over her fear. He was supposed to be the one answering the questions and now he was probing her for information? Where did he get off? It wasn't fair.

"I'm not talking about that, Bill," She told him with razors in her eyes.

"Why the frak not?" He asked letting his frustration seep in even though he didn't want it to.

He knew this wasn't going to be the easy route to take but he had to know. She'd hurt him that night and it had made trying to tell her so exponentially more difficult for him. He would have accepted any answer. Anything at all except for what she'd said to him. He would share anything with her that she asked of him and through everything they'd been through she still couldn't do the same. She'd made him feel like a jerk for even asking. It had been eating at him ever since.

"Because it doesn't matter ," She cut.

He could see she was fuming but he had to press on.

"It does , matter, Laura," He said firmly.

"It doesn't ," She spit back trying to tug her hand out of his embrace.

He held onto it tighter.

"It matters , Laura. It's important," He repeated.

"Stop saying that, Bill!" She shouted in frustration, finally freeing her hand, " What the hell does it matter? Why can't you just leave it alone ?" She said as the heavy tears that brimmed her lashes finally spilled over and onto her cheeks.

" Because, Laura I want to know what it is about that question that upsets you so much . Why the hell can't you share it with me? I need to know what it is that's making you feel this way. What's it about? Is it because you think I won't respect whatever your answer is? That I won't understand ? Are you afraid I won't approve of choices made thousands of years and thousands of worlds ago? Did something else happen? Or is it just a bunch of ancient bitterness and regret that you can't bear to bring to the surface?"

" Godsdammit, Bill !" She cried out.

That night she had been frustrated. Her discomfort and her growing resentment fueled the cold deflective nature of her response. Ellen had acted like she'd done her some accidental favor by incorrectly estimating her new body's age but so far it had given her nothing but trouble. It was just another reason to hate the situation she was in. She would have answered him had she been in a better state of mind, had she not felt so painfully put on display by the strange and awkward circumstance. She would have admitted to him that nothing had ever terrified her more than the thought of her own child; the thought of loving another human being that much. She would have confessed that she'd avoided the possibility, pushed it away and convinced herself that she didn't want it until it wasn't an option anymore, all because she couldn't bear to know a love so deep. She'd have told him that he was the one who had changed that for her. That he'd filled her heart so completely that it then shattered to pieces with regret and loss as she realized that not only had she actually been capable of such raw devotion but that the ache that came with it was worth it after all. She would have told him how it felt to know that the realization had come a lifetime too late. She would have told him but that night her condition had made her feel defensive and exposed. She was angry when she thought that it had prompted his curiosity. Now she could see that it had never been the inspiration for his questioning at all. Something else had driven him to ask and it made her want to answer him even less.

Bill knew he was bordering on taunting her. He didn't want it to be this way but now his own emotions were driving him and he knew if he didn't press her hard he'd get nowhere.

"I need to know, Laura. Please? Tell me, why is even the hypothetical notion of a child so off limits?" He gritted.

Laura closed her eyes tightly squeezing anguished tears from the corners.

" Why the frak are you doing this to me?" She sobbed and it cut Bill like a dagger to the heart but he couldn't stop himself.

"Because, Laura it may not have mattered before but it matters now," He said looking into her eyes as they opened.

He saw them darken as she stared back at him. Her jaw went tense and her trembling breaths suddenly halted.

"Whatever it is you have to tell me…I don't want to hear it," She said, her words suddenly smoldering.

Her eyes were like an angry force daring him to step forward but promising hell if he did. He couldn't let it stop him. He knew it was just a bluff, just another wall she was putting up and he needed to find the strength to knock it down for the both of them.

"What if it were mine, Laura?" He dared to pose.

He saw her eyes flair before she responded.

"Shut up."

"What if it were yours and mine? Did you ever think of that? What that might be like?" He went on.

"Shut your frakking mouth , Bill."

"Did you ever even just once imagine it? Conjure up a picture in your head? Maybe a little girl? With your wit and my eyes? Ever? Did you, Laura?"

"Stop it."

"I did. I'll admit it. I did. I used to think about it when I sat with you in Sick Bay. You'd fall asleep after the godsdamn Doloxan. I'd watch you and think of all the lives I wished I could live with you instead of the one we were given and the thought came to mind. And to be honest with you, the idea made me happy because it was you and me. It was a silly little fantasy of a product of our love. Something that might have been if we met at a different time, a different place, if we had our whole lives together instead of just the bittersweet end . I thought about it, Laura. I won't lie to you…I just never thought it would ever be real…"

" Please stop, " She begged this time with an aching strain to her voice.

 

She hid her face in her hands as if they were one last pitiful barrier to put up.

She was pleading with Bill to quit but she was also imploring her own mind to shut down. Things were clicking into place without her intent; things she'd seen and heard, strange feelings she'd had, dozens of repressed little notions and it was all too much.

"But it is …" He finally told her, "I know it seems insane and I know you don't understand how it's possible but it is . I promise you that. I wouldn't be telling you this if I wasn't positive it were true," Bill said biting back his own tears, "We have a child together, Laura. We have a child together, you and me and she's alive and living here on this station," He finished.

She kept her face covered and just shook her head.

Bill swiped at his cuff and worked on retrieving the picture that Saul sent him in the hallway. He had it on the screen but he didn't project it just yet.

Bill gently pulled Laura's hands away from her face. Even through her sobbing tears and rejections he knew that the fact that she was still sitting there meant so much. He knew her and if she hadn't wanted to face this on some level she would have run from it. She would have gotten up and tried to leave before it got to this point. She could take it. Maybe on some level she wanted to take it.

"It isn't true, Bill. It can't be," She said as her eyes pleaded with him to tell her so.

"It is, Laura. We have a daughter. She's grown now but she's still ours. Part of you…and part of me," He said as he swiped once more at his cuff and the image emerged above it.

As he held it out for her to see he watched her face. Her eyes looked like they held electricity, her lips were parted in disbelief, and the salty stream down her cheeks flowed steady.

"Laura, it's Katya…" He told her, "She's ours."

Laura looked at the photo in stunned silence. The first thing she saw was the little girl's eyes. In some way they'd been haunting her ever since she first noticed them on the young woman. To see them now on the innocent face within the photo was like a punch to the gut. In the soft light of the image they were so blatantly blue and so undeniably Adama. Laura suddenly couldn't breathe. She panicked and with a sudden impulse she slapped her hand over Bill's wrist and slammed it down onto the mattress between them snuffing out the projection. She kept her hand tightly around his cuff pressing it into the rack as she tried to catch her breath.

Bill winced at her reaction. She was holding his arm in place as if it were a snake that would strike at her if she let it go.

"Laura," He started as he watched her almost panting beside him.

" It's a lie, " She suddenly said with her eyes wide as she looked at him. " Someone's frakking with us, Bill ," She insisted.

Bill shook his head.

"You want to look at that picture again and tell me that?" He challenged. She gripped his wrist even harder. He didn't know if it was a frightened impulse or a warning. "You can't deny this, Laura. You can try. You can do your best to make this harder on yourself and pretend it isn't real but you'll be in a constant battle with the part of you that already knows that it’s true. I know you believe it. I see it in your face. At first I didn't want to believe that it was true either but once Saul told me I saw it all over her; her eyes, her cheek bones, even the way she carries herself, and it was too hard to deny. You see it don't you? I felt the same kick to the head at how obvious it seemed after the fact. She's ours."

Bill tried to speak calmly and evenly but he was having trouble holding his own emotions back as he watched Laura's struggle.

"It's impossible," She almost squeaked between two hitched breaths.

Bill took a deep breath and let it out.

"No…it's not and before I tell you how it's possible I need you to know something," He said intently. "I need you to know that it was not Saul and Ellen's doing. They had nothing to do with it. They were in the dark about it too until they moved onto this station," Bill tried to explain.

Laura narrowed her eyes in angry disbelief.

"It's true, Laura. They had no idea and when they found out they were furious. They made sure that the people behind it were dealt with and then they adopted our child. They did that thinking of us. They did it so she would have a family, so they could keep her safe until we got here."

Laura let out a stifled sob at the mention of their child. Every time she heard him say it she felt her heart splinter into a million painful pieces all over again.

"I tried to tell you so many times. I just couldn't. I'm so sorry I kept it from you for as long as I did. I found out about it by accident. Saul and Ellen were having their own trouble telling us. I wanted to tell you that night I found out after their dinner party but...your reaction when I started scared me. You were already having so much trouble dealing with things. I was afraid of what this might do to you,” He admitted in tears.

Laura's crying was silent but hard and her body was wracked with the force of it. She couldn't have responded to his explanation if she tried.

"But, Laura, we weren't the only ones it happened to…" He paused.

 

He knew the evidence of the other children would synch it for her. It was a lot of information but he had to get it all out and he felt like the knowledge of the other kids would help her to see Katya for what she was. It was too hard to deny her identity once the others were in the equation

Laura held her breath in her best effort to stop the damn sobs from coming. They were starting to hurt her chest but she couldn't seem to repress them.

"The former project scientists; they did this with the bodies on each station about twenty-two years ago. It resulted in three other children besides Katya."

Her face went white as he spoke.

"That pilot, Lt. Bishop…" Bill stopped as he saw the sparks ignite behind Laura's eyes. She shook her head finally letting go of his wrist and she bent forward toward her lap as if she were in physical pain. He could tell she was filling things in just as he had, two and three steps ahead of Saul's explanation. He went on anyway, "He belongs to the Agathons," Bill confirmed as he started to get choked up again. "I kicked myself for not seeing it right away. I just knew something about that kid was so familiar," He recalled shaking his head. "And…the sergeant, Katya's husband Alexi…"

Bill was caught off guard when Laura shot straight up from her hunched position and her eyes flew open.

"…He was conceived from the bodies that used to be on Gamma. He's the son of Gaius Baltar and the Six," He told her, though he was sure she knew as soon as he had mentioned the young man's name.

Laura's palms were at her forehead as she stared into space. She truly felt herself going insane.

"There's one more; another young woman on Delta Station named Margot. She's the spitting image of the Three, D'Anna…and Sam Anders is her father," He finished with a hard swallow.

He saw Laura was in a state of torment as she tried to process everything he'd just told her. Her legs were shaking. He put a palm over her knee to try and still the tremor and bring her back to him. It worked to get her attention, though his hand just trembled along with her legs.

"Those bodies…these bodies, they were frakking brain dead," Laura choked out.

Bill slowly attempted to place his arm around her waist to still the rest of her body.

"I know but they were perfectly healthy otherwise and in those damn tanks, and with their life support systems these bodies were alive. They had the natural functions and capabilities necessary. Laura, I don't have many details about how they accomplished this. We can get them if you want but for now I only know the basics. I know that they took us out of those chambers and put us on life support. They took all they needed from me and they put me right back." He inhaled deeply as if he was trying to get his breath all the way to his toes. "As far as I know...your body was impregnated and then kept out of stasis. I guess until she was delivered but I don't know how ," Bill said with a relenting shrug. "I'm sorry I don't have better answers for you."

 

Laura leaned back and looked at him with a sort of horrific astonishment in her eyes. He was worried that she’d gone catatonic for a moment. He was both relieved and afraid when she finally spoke.

 

"In Med Ward," She started in a strained whisper. "Ellen took me that morning before the dinner. I had an exam. They put that frakking prevention implant in me," She said breathily recalling her mortifying time there, "And that doctor; the woman, she let me see my charts for a moment…" Laura said shaking her head in disbelief. "I saw it. I saw it plain as frakking day. The records indicated one live birth. I even questioned it. She frakking told me it was a mistake and I just took it. I took it and I shoved it away in the back of my mind…" She said looking past him. When she finally looked back at Bill's eyes hers held fresh unshed tears. "Oh my Gods, Bill. Are you telling me that I actually had a baby?" She said in what Bill could only describe as near awe.

He nodded slowly and took both of her hands in his.

"Katya," She whispered.

Bill nodded again before taking her in his arms and letting her shed all the tears she needed.

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

Laura dreamed fitfully. She dreamed of things that she had no memory of. She dreamed of a tiny swell in her middle and a full ache in her breasts that held no deathly meaning. She dreamed of a new and constant presence that felt as if it would forever quell any sense of loneliness she’d ever felt.

Then she dreamed of it being suddenly wrenched away. She dreamed of being submerged in cold numbing liquid, unable to move and having no need to breathe. She dreamed of hearing the soft muffled cries of an infant dulled by thick panes of glass and the waters that engulfed her. Laura dreamed of being torn between wanting to fight to reach the source of the far off whimpers and wanting to escape the sound by sinking deeper within the cool protective numbness of her surroundings.

She woke with no sense of time, her heart thumping in her ears. Her face felt tight and sticky, her throat sore and her ribs painfully stiff. Only then did she remember that she'd cried herself to sleep. She was in Bill's arms and he held her tightly to himself; so tightly that she knew he couldn't be sleeping behind her, not very deeply anyway. They were under the covers of their rack and she was down to her underwear. She couldn't recall laying down or slipping under the sheets.

She decided that he must have undressed her and put her to bed once she'd exhausted herself, after she couldn't shed another tear, after her mind and body had no other choice but to shut down. The memories of the night came back to her in a rush that caused a pain in the pit of her stomach and a cold sweat to break out on her face, neck and chest. Her jaw throbbed. Her teeth were clenched like a vice.

Laura knew that if she went back to sleep she'd only dream again but she hated the idea of lying awake in a state of repine. If she could have come up with another form of escape she would have but Bill was right there and old habits died hard. It would be the second time in less than twenty-four hours that she'd used him in such a way. Though their frenzied afternoon tryst had eventually taken on a deeper meaning it had started out as her desperate attempt at distraction. She might get away with it once more but Laura knew that if she tried it again Bill would start to catch on. In the past she'd never resorted to such behavior with Bill no matter how difficult things had gotten for them and she hated that she was being driven to now.

Richard had been another story. She so frequently sought him out for a carnal form of withdrawal. It had started when her mother was sick and then just became an occasional impulse when she wished to forget. On the worst of days she'd come to him, not to talk or to be comforted but to lose herself in blunt physicality. Toward the end of their relationship it accounted for almost half of their meetings. If Richard had noticed, he’d never let her know. He just obliged her, or took advantage of it; she never knew which and she never cared to. Bill would do neither; not once he caught on but for now she was almost certain she could get him to avail her. The guilt she felt was being eclipsed by her need to forget and she didn't try to fight the old haunting inclination.

At first she moved slightly in his arms alerting him to her wakeful state. She was almost sure he was up. His breathing wasn't very steady and he still held her with a force. Slowly she inched her foot back and ran her toes from his shin to his ankle giving him a silent greeting. She had little desire to speak to him or even look at him for that matter. Not right now. Now she just wanted to be touched by him. When Bill only returned her gesture with a subtle squeeze of his arms Laura pressed her backside into him with obvious intent until she heard his breathing change and she felt his unmistakable response. When she thought she heard the start of a protest whispered behind her ear she froze, but when his words were lost and his hand moved to her hip she regained a contrite confidence in her ministrations. Before she could lose her nerve she placed her palm over the hand that warmly rested low on her hip and guided it to where she needed him to be. His hesitation was brief against the thin satin that covered her skin but soon she was sure she'd be getting what she sought out. The silky yet cumbersome fabric was pushed to the side and out of the way along with everything Laura was trying to forget.

When she found that she was still sore from earlier she was almost glad. The added pain would serve as even further distraction and she felt somewhat gratified in taking it as punishment for using Bill in this way. The more it hurt the better as far as she was concerned.

She hurriedly urged him on making no allowance for languid movements or soothing caresses. Her pleading pants and breathy half words of encouragement all but begged him for whatever mix of pleasure and pain he could give. She was surprised yet grateful to find Bill carrying out every desperate request that past her lips even though she was almost positive that he could tell that he was hurting her. It was out of character for him but she was just thankful that he wasn't holding back. When she was finally on the edge she took his hand again and crushed it to her breast; a furious last attempt to suppress the sensations from the lingering false memory of her dream. When he abruptly paused at her almost violent advance she panicked fearing that he would stop all together, but when he regained his rhythm and slipped his hand under the lace of her bra on his own accord she was finally able to let go. It wasn't satisfying or pleasant but for a moment her mind went blank as her center contracted with her sought after distraction. Bill stilled behind her with a harsh grunt only moments later. With the tremors of aftershock and the sounds of their labored breathing Laura hoped the fresh tears that had been incensed by her feverous release would be masked. It was over and she had nowhere else to hide. She pressed her face into the pillow to stifle any evidence of her distress and she prayed that Bill would quickly fall into a satiated sleep. When he leaned his weight onto her back and pressed his face into the base of her neck she held her breath.

" Don't ask me to do that again," He warned huskily before rolling off of her and to the other side of the bed.

She cried herself to sleep for the second time that night, this time without the comfort of his arms around her.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MED WARD

YEAR: 2315

Katya dreamed she was falling. She wasn't falling to the surface or even out of her ship. There was just the dreadful sensation of a free-fall with no sense of direction and no end in sight. Above her she felt the presence of half a dozen hands reaching to save her from the plummet. She knew that if she just embraced one it would be enough to rescue her from certain demise but she refused to reach for any of them. Their extending offer was making her angry and resentful instead of grateful. She started willing the hands away and yearning for impact. Suddenly she felt that anything would be better than the feeling of an eternal descent. When she finally felt the bottom approaching she woke with a start. Her vision was blurred and she couldn't tell where she was. She struggled to lift her head but it felt like it was filled with cement. The dim light of the room she was in seared through her eyes and hit like an ice pick to the frontal lobe of her brain. It was the sterile medicinal smell that finally alerted her to the fact that she was in the infirmary.

Katya frantically felt for her surroundings. There was a cold rail to one side and surprisingly, what felt like a warm body to the other.

"Calm down, kitten. You're okay," Ellen said softly from where she lay next to her on the ward bed. She calmed Katya's roaming hands with her own and leaned in with a reassuring kiss to the top of her head, "You're okay. I’m here. Just calm down."

"Ellen?" Katya rasped.

Her throat was dry and the sound of her own voice caused her head to throb in pain. She winced at the awful ache. When she went to palm her pounding temple a hand came out of the darkness catching her wrist stopping her from doing so.

"Watch it," Ellen warned keeping her voice low. "That was just closed up. Don't touch," She told her placing Katya's hand down gently at her side.

"Ellen, my head hurts," She cried, still in somewhat of a daze.

"I know baby. You were in an accident but you're fine now. That pain's gunna go away soon," Ellen assured her as she trailed her fingers soothingly down

Katya's arm, stopping at her bruised wrist which was now bare and awaiting a replacement cuff.

Seeing Katya’s wrist without the device made Ellen remember a time when she was too young to wear one, when both her hands were free and unencumbered. She remembered having to take her in to get fitted for her first one on her twelfth birthday; an Orbit system law. Something about it had saddened Ellen even though Katya was happy to get the device. In Orbit it sort of signaled the end of childhood.

"Do you remember reporting for duty, honey?” Ellen tested. “The station alarm going off? Any of that?"

She wasn't sure how much Katya would remember of the night and she wasn't sure how much she wanted to divulge just yet.

Katya nodded with another painful wince.

"I remember," She whispered, unconsciously reaching her hand toward her newly mended cut once again.

Ellen caught it a second time and brought it back down without bothering to scold her.

"Where's Slip?" Katya worriedly asked as she stuggled to open her eyes.

Only the pale overnight lights were on in the ward but they were enough to sting harshly in her over-sensitized state.

"Who?"

"Slip. Slip-Shot. I hit him," She said straining to look around, but the curtain was closed and she could hardly make out any detail anyway.

"Oh, the pilot." Ellen finally realized, "He had to have surgery, kitten, but he's been out for a while now and he's okay too. Tawny told me before she went home. He's resting. Same as you should be."

Katya went to nod but her neck was too stiff.

"Alexi?"

"He was here. He stayed with you for a while until he was sure you were alright and then I sent him home. Uncle Saul came too. He left a little bit ago. It's been a long night. Everyone needs their rest."

"Why didn't you go home with him?"

"Because I didn't want you to wake up alone. I know you hate being here, baby. I would never let you stay the night here all alone.”

Katya sighed.

“I’m not a baby, Aunt Ellen. You could have gone home.”

“Nonsense,” Ellen said moving some errant hairs away from Katya's face. I'm just so happy you're okay.”

"Aunt Ellen, you need sleep too. You don't have to stay here all night," She said blinking hard and hoping her vision would clear.

"Katya, it's hardly night anymore. The morning shift is going to be coming in soon. It's already done. I am right where I want to be."

When Saul came to check on them he'd barely tried to persuade Ellen to come home. He knew there wasn't a chance she'd leave Katya's side after the night

they'd had. She would hardly even look at him as they both sat by the ward bed watching the girl sleep. They didn't speak much except when he asked about Katya's condition but when he left it was with a warning.

"Ellen, I hope you know that I love you both more than anything. You two are the only reason I still drag my ass out of bed in the morning…But I won't do anything to help either of you make this harder than it has to be. No matter how much either of us loves that girl, we're here for a reason. We have a goal. After everything you've accomplished, Ellen, don't lose sight of that now."

"Goodnight, Saul," She'd said dismissing him and letting him know not to expect her home anytime soon.

"Goodnight, Ellen. You should expect that Laura Roslin will know about her daughter by morning," He told her tersely before leaning in to kiss the top of Katya's sleeping head, "Feel better, kit," He whispered so softly that it brought stinging tears to Ellen's overtired eyes.

She avoided looking at him as he made his way behind the curtain and out of the ward. It was then Ellen had kicked off her shoes and crawled into bed beside their daughter. She'd been laying there ever since.

"Ughh, why can't I see straight?" Katya asked with painful grumble.

"You have a concussion, Katya. You had a pretty deep laceration on your temple. Do you remember it at all?" Ellen asked soothingly rubbing her shoulder.

"Yeah, I do. I remember…I just..."

"It's okay, sweetie. You don't have to force yourself. Just go back to sleep. I promise your head will feel a lot better next time you wake up," She assured her, "But just know that your neck will probably feel a little worse. They're pretty sure you'll have some mild whiplash. Be ready for that," Ellen warned.

"When can I go home?"

"Soon, we'll see. You need a new cuff first. Yours broke," Ellen reminded her as she gently ran a finger over her bare wrist.

With the shape that Katya was in now Ellen couldn't believe that the girl had actually been up and walking less than an hour after the collision. Tawny had partly attributed it to an adrenaline rush. She told Ellen that some concussion symptoms could take hours to materialize and that whiplash and strained muscles might not be felt for a day or two. The doctor actually suspected that Katya would feel worse by morning but Ellen wasn't about to tell her that.

"I hate it here," Katya complained.

She truly couldn't stand the ward. Though she trusted the doctors and staff that worked there she detested the medicinal smell and the awful sounds of people in pain. Worse was the eerie silence, only disturbed by mechanical beeps and ticks. She was always so afraid she would die there. She didn't want the last thing she smelled to be latex and rubbing alcohol. She didn't want the last thing she heard to be the moaning suffering of others.

"I know, I know, baby, but Tawny said she might keep you another night. Just rest. We will figure it out soon," Ellen assured her as she attempted to cuddled back into place.

"I think…I think Tawny's mad at me…" Katya said trying like hell to remember. She knew there were things she couldn't recall about what happened but it hurt

her head too much to think. It was a reasonable assumption though. It wasn't often that Katya left the clinic without giving her friend at least some measure of grief.

"Yeah, kitten, she is,” Ellen confirmed. “You've gotta learn to listen to her when you're in the ward. Once you're admitted you have to think of yourselves as a patient and a doctor, not a captain and a second lieutenant and not as friends. She deserves your respect when you come in here," She added in low but serious tone.

Tawny had been livid when Alexi burst through the clinic hatch with Katya in his arms. If her father hadn't been in surgery she would have made him treat her instead. She cooled down quickly. It wasn't in her nature to hold a grudge and once her anger subsided she was more concerned for her friend than anything else. She'd learned long ago what it meant to love Katya Isakoff and sometimes it took patience and forgiveness.

"What did I do this time?" Katya asked hoping to get her apology straight before Tawny returned to duty.

"Nothing. It's not important, kitten, just go to sleep. You'll talk to her later."

Ellen knew that once she reminded Katya that she'd left that ward it would lead to a conversation about her visit to the cabin and she just wouldn't bring that up yet.

"My head still hurts."

"When the next shift comes on I'll have them give you something stronger for the pain, now sleep."

"Fine," Katya said as she finally let her heavy eyes close and allowed herself to succumb to the exhaustion that pulled at her, "Love you," She whispered as she

drifted.

"I love you too, baby."

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

Saul hadn't seen Bill since the night of the atmosphere breach. Almost three days had passed and the only communication between the men had been two brief messages on their station cuffs. One was from Saul updating Bill on Katya's condition. The other was from Bill telling Saul that Laura knew. After learning that Bill had finally shared his secret Saul decided to give the couple some space. He didn't attempt to contact them directly and he relied on status reports from the marine guards posted outside of their cabin to make sure that they were alright.

Once Katya finally discharged from the ward Saul felt like it was time to check up on Bill and Laura. He wasn't comfortable letting a third full day pass without seeing them for himself.

Saul only shared the news of Laura's recent discovery with his wife. With Katya's injuries slightly worse than first expected they didn't want to upset her with the news. She'd been discharged under the stipulation that someone be there to care for her around the clock for the next few days. Since Alexi's platoon responsibilities kept him from doing so, Ellen was all too happy to play Dr. Mom. Katya would be recuperating in the Tigh’s cabin until she was well enough to return to her own quarters and she'd be out of the cockpit for week at the very least.

Things had been tense between Saul and Ellen since Katya’s accident. As much as Saul wanted to protect his little family, he saw in both women a propensity for self destruction and he was dreading the backlash that he knew would soon be coming. He’d promised Bill that he'd keep his own house in order and he planned on doing so, but for now he needed to get away.

With a bottle in one hand Saul saluted Vladi and the marine guard with his other before banging on the hatch of Bill's cabin.

Soon Bill opened the door freshly dressed and hair still damp from an afternoon shower.

"Saul," He greeted with a dim smile.

"Is this a bad time?" The colonel asked, "I sent a message, but uh, as usual you didn't answer.”

"No, no it's fine. I guess I missed it," Bill said looking at to his cuff. He just couldn't seem to get a hang of the damn thing, "C'mon in."

Saul took a few steps inside before he stopped to scan the cabin for Laura. When he didn't see her he figured that she must be in the head. Seeing Bill's damp hair he wondered if hadn't interrupted something after all.

"You sure I'm not intruding?" Saul asked.

"It's fine," Bill assured him as he closed the hatch behind the guards.

"Hey, how's Vladi working out?" Saul said gesturing to the entrance. He'd been wondering for days how they were adjusting to the new centurion guard.

Bill shrugged.

"We've been a little preoccupied," Bill said with a roll of his eyes, "For a while we weren't even sure if it was the same one out there. Then yesterday the thing brought Laura a frakking candy bar. Scared the hell out of her," Bill laughed remembering the shock on her face at the odd and astonishing gesture.

"Yeah, that's Vladi alright," Saul chuckled, "He likes to bring things for Katya and Ellen now and then. Sometimes it's an apple or some kind of fruit. Once when she was little he brought Katya a stuffed bear. She still has it. Sometimes he brings things that don't make a lick of sense. Spoons, old bolts, shoe laces; but the girls always praise him just the same. He must sense Laura has some connection to Katya," He said with a bemused smile.

For a moment Sual wondered if perhaps Vladi could just sense Laura's own cylon facets. He supposed that it was possible but no doubt a topic for a later time.

"I don't understand that whole thing, Saul. I mean it’s fine that it's out there. I'm over it. I think Laura is too, but I didn't think those things had much in the way of personality. I get that you and Ellen can…do whatever it is you do to tell them apart, but how the hell did you teach Katya to do the same?"

Saul sighed knowing that conversation was going to happen sooner rather than later.

"I'll explain it to ya, Bill, but first thing’s first.  I come as just another lowly Cylon bearing gifts," Saul said in jest waving the bottle of clear liquid in his hand.

"If that's for medicinal purposes you're a few days too late," Bill said with an acerbic grunt.

The last few days had been draining. The first night was the worst. He didn't sleep. He stayed awake in an apprehensive vigil awaiting the uncertain twists and turns of Laura's emotional gauntlet. He'd done his best to be there for her as she struggled with the soul shaking news. When the trembling started he did what he could to calm her, when she cried he attempted to dry the seemingly endless stream of tears and when she was desperate and pleading for some crude form of escape he'd even reluctantly appeased her. By the next day he was exhausted, not just from lack of sleep or his assistance in their over aggressive distraction but from trying to keep a step ahead of Laura's varied reactions. It was near impossible and by the second night he'd brusquely implored her to get a grip.

"It's a gift from Katya," Saul said in a low voice, unsure if Laura was in earshot. He hadn't seen her since before she found out and he still wasn't sure how she was taking the news, "Her cousin Miloš heard about the collision and he came to visit in the infirmary. He's the one that I told you about. He always brings the stuff from Gamma. Kit said that since we were all pretty well stocked up that I should bring this one to you. We never did get around to stocking the bar in here," Saul added handing the gift over. Bill took it and smiled down at the transparent bottle. "The commander was a little jealous when he came to see her. She usually sends the overflow Kaplan's way but she wanted it to go to you. Guess you've really made a friend," Saul said with an eager smile.

"I hope that's true," Bill answered still looking down at the offering.

He was touched by the sentiment. There wasn't much written on the simple label but the characters that made up the words were so foreign to him that he couldn't begin to decipher what they said. "How is she?"

The look on Saul's face quickly transformed into one of concern.

"She came home this morning. Got the doctors to release her early by bugging the ever loving hell out of them. The concussion is causing her some recall problems. She says she remembers being hit, the collision and waking up in triage but everything after that is...fuzzy. She didn't remember much of what happened after she got to the cabin. Alexi filled her in though. She's not too happy with herself," Saul shrugged, "She's got some nasty whiplash. Didn't really set in until the next day. She woke up in a lot of pain. The worst thing is that she won't be flying any time soon. If she's not working she's not happy. They put her on some powerful painkillers, though," Saul said with a short chuckle, "They're making her a little loopy so I don't think she's fully absorbed the news quite yet. When she does, I hope I have one of those bottles on hand," Saul said gesturing to the vodka Bill held.

"I think we could both use a bit right now," Bill mused, making his way to the kitchenette.

"You sure Laura won't mind if I stick around?"

"She's not here," Bill answered as he gathered two glasses.

"What do you mean she's not here? Where is she?" Saul asked in surprise.

He was still uneasy with the thought of them traveling around the station, even with armed guards and he couldn't imagine where Laura would even go.

"She's actually headed to your place. She went to find Ellen," Bill explained evenly as he poured.

Saul's eye went wide and his jaw went slack.

"Bill, Katya is at our cabin. She's staying in her old room so Ellen can take care of her while Alexi's on duty," He hastily informed him.

Why hadn't Bill said that in first place? Why hadn't they let them know Laura was on her way? How the hell were they still not getting the concept of messaging before popping in? Saul felt panic starting to rise from within. He thought he'd have more time to talk to Ellen and to prepare Katya. Another grim thought came to him as he remembered that they had a second house guest. Margot had come to visit. She was there when he’d left. Laura would be facing all three women.

"She isn't going there to start trouble, Saul,” Bill explained, walking over with the drinks. “It's Ellen she wants to talk to, not Katya"

Saul shook his head. Did Bill honestly think it made a difference?

"Bill, we should get down there," Saul said pausing only to grab the drink out of Bill's hand and toss a large gulp back in a hurry. He winced as the liquid burned its way down, "You don't understand what Laura's walking into. Margot's there sitting with Katya right now and Ellen's been in rare form since the accident. I just don't like the idea. If Laura had sent a message first maybe I could have convinced Ellen to talk to her once Katya felt better but with her just showing up there…"

"Calm the frak down, Saul," Bill interrupted taking swig of his own drink.

Saul stared at him in confusion. The man didn't look exactly unphased but he didn't seem like he was in any hurry to intervene on what Saul was sure was going to be an explosion.

"Look, Laura didn't send Ellen a message because she didn't want to give her the chance to come up with an excuse not to see her. I'm not stopping her, Saul. I can't and won't keep Laura shielded from the harsh realities anymore.”

The look in Laura's eyes after he told her reminded him of when he’d found her burning the Book of Pythia, after they found Earth to be a desolate wasteland. That look scared him deeply. It wasn't that he'd lost his patience with her, he just needed to snap her out of the awful state she was in. When he finally found himself begging Laura to get her head straight he’d immediately felt awful about it but his honesty had triggered something in her and soon he was glad he'd done it. After a few hours of unsettling silence her aberrant behavior had become more contemplative. She'd eventually started asking him questions and talking to him without the influx of constant breakdowns. He was relieved to see a sense of curiosity and determination in her. He was even relieved to see her anger surface when he admitted to going to Katya without her. It was how he'd expect the old Laura to react. Even though she was mad he took comfort in her returned vigor. Soon he'd told her everything he could but she wasn't satisfied. Remembering his talk with Katya Bill decided the answers she wanted were ones that Laura needed to acquire herself so he sent her to the only place he knew she could find them.

"She needs to face what's happening here,” Bill continued. “And she needs to regain some sense of herself. She won't be able to do that if I keep letting her hide. She needs to be able to handle Ellen. She needs to be able to handle Katya and since I don't think there's a great chance of getting either one of those women to take it down a notch then Laura's just gunna have to buck up. She's capable. You know that. She just needs to find that part of herself again if she's going to survive here."

Bill spoke with feigned confidence but Saul could tell he was trying to convince himself that Laura would be alright.

"What about Margot?” Saul pressed. “Does she know about the others, Bill? She's about to come to face to face with D'Anna and Sam's frakkin’ kid and you know she's a dead giveaway," He tried to argue.

"She knows," Bill said simply taking another drink.

Saul nodded and looked inside his half empty glass. He could feel the booze starting to warm his insides. He hoped that soon it would start to settle his nerves.

"Why send Laura there on her own, Bill?"

"Laura needs some answers, Saul. You told me that Ellen would be the best one to give them to her so that's where I sent her. She needs to talk to someone besides me. Being held up in here with her mind working overtime is driving her crazy. Believe me she won't be in a hurry to face Katya, but she couldn't wait around anymore wondering what was done to her. I told her everything I knew but she needs more. I can't give that to her. Ellen's all she's got," Bill said grimly.

"Katya doesn't even know that you told Laura. Ellen didn't want to upset her," Saul offered as a final challenge though his agitation was waning.

"All three of them are going to have to deal with each other sooner rather than later. If you want to insert yourself as referee then go on ahead, Saul. I'm

gunna sit here and drink the booze my daughter sent me," Bill said taking a seat on the sofa with something between a groan and a heavy sigh.

After a pause Saul reluctantly joined him. Bill was right. What could he really do to change the way they'd interact anyway? They sat in silence for a moment both thumbing their glasses.

"So how'd she take it when you first told her?" Saul asked.

He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer but he felt like for Katya's sake he should be aware.

Bill inhaled deeply recalling the night when he’d confessed what he knew.

"I really thought it was going to put her over the edge,” Bill admitted. “Honestly, Saul. I was scared to death it was actually going to make her lose her damn mind.”

"But it didn't," Saul filled in.

"For a while it seemed as if it might have...but the other night she turned a corner. She really did. I had to nearly physically snap her out of it but something happened. She started talking to me. She started asking questions and answering mine. She's still shocked, she's still scared and upset but…she's curious. She wants to know what was done to her…to us. She isn't curling up into a ball and trying to will it all away. She wants to know. That's why I sent her to Ellen."

Saul nodded as he tapped his fingers against the rim of the glass.

"She have any kids before?" He asked realizing that besides her political career and some scandalous rumors that he never dared ask Bill to confirm, he never knew very much about Laura's life before the destruction of the Colonies. He’d figured she didn't have much of a family. She never spoke about any that he’d heard but he was never sure. So many people had left loved ones behind and been forced to go on without them almost as if they'd never existed.

"No," Bill answered followed by a small sip.

Once Laura started to come around she'd been able to open up to him a bit about the choices she'd made in her last life. He was grateful for it but her explanations broke his heart all over again. He wondered if her newly found fortitude wasn't in some way fueled by the notion of a second chance but he didn't dare propose it. She was only just accepting that it was true and she hadn't said much to indicate that she wanted a relationship with Katya at all. When Bill even brushed the subject of seeing her again Laura looked almost frightened at the thought. He knew she that needed time. She wanted to understand how the child got there and if that's what she needed to do before she accepted who she was then he understood. He was just so relieved to see her out of the fog she'd been in that he hesitated to jeopardize it in any way.

"She was a school teacher," Saul shrugged, "She must like kids."

"She loves children but Katya isn't a child anymore," Bill corrected.

"Tell me that when you've spent the morning trying to get her to take a handful of meds," Saul mused getting a soft laugh from Bill.

Katya was impossible when she was sick. Even when she was a young girl they had to fight her tooth and nail to rest and do what was best for her health. It was one of the reasons Saul had left the cabin to come see Bill. He was happy and relieved to have her home but Ellen was much better at dealing with her when she was ill and he needed a break.

"In all honesty, Bill, Ellen and I did our very best with Kat but we could still use some help. I keep waiting for the day when she doesn't need us anymore, the day when my works gunna be done. Half the time I dread it. It's nice to be needed by my little girl but the other half of the time I'm barking at her to get her shit straight and wondering if that day is ever going to come…but I guess it doesn't work like that," Saul squinted.

"No, no it doesn't," Bill said with a knowing sigh laced with years and years of experience.

"Ya see?" Saul said with a smirk hoping he'd proved his point.

"I get it, Saul. I'm willing to play whatever part Katya will let me but I don't know about Laura. I know she's curious to know what happened to her, what was done to her…but as far as Katya goes...I still can't tell if Laura has any intentions of having a relationship with her. She was pretty pissed when she heard I went and spoke to her on my own but I'm not sure if that was because I was lying or because she wanted to be there with me. I just wish the two of them had gotten off to a better start," Bill said rubbing his forehead.

“So say wel all,” Saul said with a chuckle and a grunt. "Bill, just to give you some persepctive, Katya is the most temperamental person I know. She could be mad as hell at you one day and the next she's like an angel. She's always been like that. Part of it's just that she's a damn pistol and the rest, well, she's learned how to throw a hell of a tantrum from watching Ellen,” He admitted. “You tell Laura not to take Kat’s anger or her sharp tongue to heart. She doesn't mean half of what she says when she's upset. They just need some time. If Laura's willing, Katya will come around," Saul assured him. Bill nodded but he looked unconvinced so Saul continued, "When the kids were about thirteen years old the Orbit Education System had a station wide junior orchestra concert. During one of their rehearsals Alexi burped in Katya's ear and she smacked him over the head with her violin so hard he still has a scar. Now she's married to the kid," Saul shrugged.

"You're making that up," Bill said with a scowl.

"I am not. Ask Ellen. Better yet, ask the Sergeant. Katya was kicked out of the concert on suspension and I still had to pay for a replacement instrument. That kid's head broke that violin," Saul insisted breaking into laughter and inciting Bill to do the same.

"She sure sounds like a handful," Bill said raising his eyebrows.

"She was… is , but she's very loving and she's very loyal. As much as I complain about her, just one of her smiles reminds me that it's all worth it. She's got me good." Saul happily confessed.

"I can see that," Bill smirked, "You and Ellen both," He added.

"Well I'm not ashamed to admit it, though sometimes I think we should have been tougher on her. After everything she'd been through before we got her Ellen just wanted to spoil her with love and affection. I tried to be the disciplinarian, tried to play XO of the household but she was just so sweet and innocent, I just couldn't help wanting to do the same most of the time. When she was little she wanted so badly to know you and Laura. She knew you were her parents and she so desperately wanted her mother. I think sometimes Ellen and I went overboard trying to compensate. We meant well though."

Hearing Saul describe her as a little girl pining for a mother she never knew sent a sharp pang to Bill heart.

"I know you did, Saul," Bill acknowledged with a nod.

"Behind that tough exterior she's still the same little girl who clung to Ellen for dear life on nights she was scared of the dark, the same girl who would rush to give me a hug when I walked through the hatch after a shift. She's still the same little girl who just wanted her mother. She's just…grown. Even though I know Ellen is dreading it...I hope maybe one day Laura can see that part of her,” Saul offered.

"I hope so too,” Bill wistfully agreed. “I'm not sure she wants to but...I hope so.”

"You know Ellen and I could never have children...and when I lost my son…when I lost Liam I thought my second chance had died with him. Maybe Katya was meant to be second chance for all of us," Saul posed.

"Maybe so," Bill considered for a moment, "Saul, when the frak did you become so prolific?" He joked.

"Try living a couple hundred thousand years. It gives you lots of time to think," Saul said clanking his glass against Bill’s before they each drank to the sentiment.

Bill hoped Saul was right. He'd already accepted that Katya was his child. He'd already been completely taken with the knowledge that she was Laura's. The circumstance was strange and parts of how she had come to be were downright awful but even so Bill was internally captivated by the idea. Even though it happened in the most bizarre way possible, knowing he and Laura had made a child together filled him with a sentimental satisfaction that he didn't dare share with her yet.

"Just under a week until the download on Beta," Saul said changing the subject.

If they were going to wait out the result of Laura's visit they might as well think of something else to pass the time.

"Yeah," Bill answered taking another sip and staring off at the wall.

"I spoke to Margot this morning about the security concern. She's been working on transmitting a new firewall from the basestar. Said it's pretty much a go. She seemed confident," Saul explained.

"But?" Bill said holding his glass inches from his lips.

"But…she also told me they found evidence that some inter-station communications may have been intercepted after all," Saul admitted gravely.

Bill stared at him but said nothing. He didn't have to. His face said it all and Saul could hardly look him in the eye. He knew Bill thought the stations had been foolish in keeping a fully functioning network in system and now he was getting to say I told you so.

"Don't look at me like that," Saul told him.

Bill just grunted with a caustic roll of his eyes before finishing his drink.

"It's not public knowledge. In fact I'm not sure even Kaplan was informed yet. Margot said the EOC was pleased with her team’s fix and since there hasn't been any follow up since the attack they don't seem worried," Saul explained.

"But you are," Bill quickly observed.

He could suddenly see it written all over Saul's face.

Saul let out a long breathe.

"Ellen tried to get an extension to push back the Agathon's download. With Katya's injury and the recent breach she thought it would be safer to wait a bit

longer but…I told her she'd better just follow along with the schedule as is."

Saul finished his last unsatisfying sip and rested the empty glass on his knee.

"So you think your so called lull in combat is coming to an end?" Bill filled in.

"I think…the sooner we can finally get the six of you together the better off we'll all be," Saul answered.

Bill leaned back into the sofa with deep sigh. For a time they were quiet again each letting the booze and the news sink in but finally Bill broke the silence.

"Saul, what do you think the commander would say if I wanted to enlist?"

The colonel looked at him like he suddenly sprouted an extra head.

"Are you frakkin' crazy, Old Man?" Saul answered with a scowl.

Bill shook his head and gave him a half smile.

"Go fill us up," Bill said handing his empty glass to his friend.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

Margot was visiting Alpha for the weekend. Though she planned to stay in Katya and Alexi's cabin she was finding herself spending most of her time at the Tigh's as Katya recuperated there under Ellen’s watchful eye. Katya was in and out od sleep under the influence of the powerful painkillers Tawny put her on but Margot was happy to sit by her side and lift her spirits during her more lucid moments.

Ellen was glad to have the two girls in the cabin, even under the circumstances. It was just like old times. They lounged on the sofa watching videos on the network and laughing. Margot used her communications expertise to help Katya configure and reorganize her new station cuff, taking her mind off of her sore neck by loading it full of new applications that hadn't yet been released to the general public.

Ellen was happy to bring them drinks and snacks just as she had when they were kids having a sleep over. She and Katya ribbed Margot about her upcoming date and they all talked about general station gossip until Katya drifted off once more into a drug induced sleep snuggled up under blanket.

"She's out," Margot told Ellen who walked over to the sofa and shook her head.

"She should have her neck brace on," Ellen said with a roll of her eyes.

"Yeah, last time I told her that she threw it at me. I have no idea where it landed," Margot giggled.

Ellen sat down on the coffee table with a huff.

"Well, she's going to pay for it when she wakes up." She shrugged, "So what are you and Sydra planning on doing later?" Ellen pried with an impish smile.

"I don't know," Margot blushed, "I figured we could head to the civvie side for some drinks, get the hell out of here for a while," She shrugged.

"She stays in the officer's quarters doesn't she? Hmm, not much privacy there," Ellen prodded.

"This is the first time I'm taking her out," Margot blushed with wide eyes.

Ellen had been sticking her nose into the girl's love lives since they were old enough to date. She had no qualms about asking for personal details and giving unwarranted advice. She mostly just embarrassed them or had them laughing red in the face with her own taboo tales.

"So what's your point?" Ellen said with an arched eyebrow.

Margot just shook her head and cleared her throat.

"Hey when are you and mom heading over to Beta?" She asked in a desperate attempt to change the topic of conversation.

Ellen's face dropped at the mention of the Agathon download and she ran a frustrated hand through her hair.

"Probably not until the end of the week, unless your mother has other ideas. You know I thought the EOC would allow for an extension when Katya got hurt but no go," Ellen shrugged.

"Yeah, they are really on mom's ass," Margot partially defended. She was aware of her mother's reputation but she also knew the pressure both she and Ellen were under. "I thought we'd get an extension out of the security concern. Mom tried. She was worried about it just as much as anyone. She doesn't want to jeopardize anything you've both worked so hard for. The committee said they were satisfied with the reconfigured firewall from the basestar. I mean, I stand by the work my crew did but I just can't help but feel like the committee is rushing things," Margot shrugged.

"I believe it," Ellen started but she was interrupted by a knock at the hatch. "Who the frak is that?" She grimaced looking to Margot for a clue.

"We didn't invite anyone," The girl shrugged, "Stay put, Ellen. I'll get it," Margot said popping out of her seat and heading for the door.

As she got up she knocked Katya's blanket half off of her and Ellen stood to gather it.

When Margot opened the door she was overcome by a familiar flood of anxiety as she found herself staring into the stunned face of Laura Roslin. She had to stop meeting these people this way. When the woman stood in a wide eyed silence for more than few uncomfortable moments Margot tried a nervous smile.

When it got no reaction she turned for help.

"Um, Elle?" Margot called looking back to where Ellen stood holding the blanket limply in her hands.

Margot stepped out of the way making sure that she could see who her house guest was.

As Ellen looked over and saw Laura staring mouth agape in Margot's direction she felt her heart sink. She had been dreading her appearance for days and now there she was. Her dread was quickly replaced by annoyance.

"Laura?" She called once as she bunched the blanket up within her folded arms, " Laura !" She tried again finally snapping the woman out of her stupor.

Laura shook her head too shocked by Margot's appearance to be embarrassed by her floored reaction.

"Sorry, Ellen," She said quickly as she tried to take her eyes off the young woman before her.

"Are you coming in?" Ellen asked with obvious frustration seeping into her words.

Laura nodded and stepped through the hatch as Margot closed it behind her with a wave to the marine outside. She managed a small thank you as the girl

walked passed her.

"Laura, are you okay?" Ellen asked knowing exactly what her issue was but goading her nonetheless.

When the other woman nodded unconvincingly Ellen decided it was time for introductions.

"Laura Roslin, this is Specialist Margot Le Blanc. She's visiting us this weekend from Delta," Ellen vaguely explained. She knew that Laura was newly aware of Katya, but Saul never mentioned if she'd been clued in to the heredity of the other children. If she hadn't, Ellen figured she was now.

"Le Blanc," Laura repeated as she turned to Margot again.

Margot tried another smile and offered her hand to Laura who took it tentatively.

"Yes, Ma'am," She confirmed. "You must have met my mom. Please don't hold it against me," She tried to joke and immediately regretted it. The woman had met Michelle Le Blanc but she'd also known her real mother. Margot wasn't sure just how Laura would take the musing comment. Thankfully she couldn't tell if Laura had even heard her, "I'm very honored to meet you Ms. Roslin," Margot attempted.

She and her three counterparts had been coached on how to greet these people their entire lives. She felt somewhat gratified in finally getting to do it.

Laura gave her the best smile she could muster which felt like a lot more than it was.

"Good to meet you Specialist,” Laura muttered.

She was surprised she was even able to get that much out. When Bill told her that Margot was D'Anna's spitting image he wasn't kidding. She looked a good deal younger than D'Anna had ever appeared, her hair was a lighter blonde and her eyes a soft grey but the facial features were dead on. Laura didn't quite know exactly what she expected when she'd decided to come find Ellen but being greeted by a face she hadn't seen in thousands of years hadn't occurred to her.

Margot made her way back to the sofa once Laura let go of her hand.

"What can I do for you, Laura?" Ellen asked shaking out the blanket and draping it over Katya who still slept undisturbed.

When Laura noticed the girl curled up on the sofa her throat closed up tight and she completely lost her breathe. If seeing Margot had been a shock, finally seeing Katya was the surprise punch to the gut that followed. She hadn't been ready for it. She’d figured that she would still be in the ward. She should have braced herself for the possibility but she hadn't. Now she was fighting the urge to fall apart in front of Ellen and the young stranger who didn't look like a stranger atall. Fighting a hitch in her throat Laura managed to find her voice.

"Is she alright?" She asked in a shaky whisper as she knowingly looked down at her daughter for the first time.

She saw the bandage over her temple and she shuddered as she remembered all the blood from the night of the accident. Katya's blood, her blood.

"She's fine . She's sleeping," Ellen said quickly and without sympathy for the other woman's obvious emotion, "What do you need, Laura?"

Ellen's apparent irritation was enough incite some of Laura's own anger.

"I need to talk to you," She said finally finding her strength and giving the other woman a stern glare.

Ellen huffed. She had known this this was coming but she just wasn't ready for it.

"I can't right now. If you think I'm getting into this here you're out of your mind," Ellen smirked.

Laura took the flippant jab at her psyche a little more personality than it was meant and it made her anger flair more than she should have let it.

"I didn't ask you to do it here , Ellen," She bit back.

"Well, my kid isn't well, so I'm not leaving her," Ellen responded with a stubborn shrug.

Laura palmed her forehead overwhelmed with frustration. She could hear the intent in every one of Ellen's words. She felt their sting like salt in a wound but spiteful as Ellen was, she still needed her help.

"Ellen, I need to talk to you. I need some answers and I don't know where the frak else to go. Now if you won't give them to me then at least point me in the

direction of someone who can. Please?" Laura appealed, hating that her request had such a despairing tone. She didn't want to beg the woman but she would if she had to. "I think you owe me that much," Laura said taking her eyes away from Ellen's and glancing toward where Katya slept.

Ellen inhaled deeply and held it as she followed Laura's eyes. For a moment both women watched over Katya in a tense silence.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, Ellen," Margot said tentatively, "But I'm happy to sit with Kat if you two want to step out for a while. I don't have to be anywhere for a couple of hours," She suggested trying to sound as innocent as possible. She knew the offer would probably have her in the dog house with Ellen Tigh but she didn't care. She couldn't help feeling for the woman she’d just met. The last time she'd seen Laura Roslin she was choking in a vat of cylon goo. Now she looked like she was ready to crack into pieces. Something about the scene didn't sit well with Margot. She knew that her own birth mother would come face to face with Michelle Le Blanc soon and though she knew her adoptive mother would never share the degree of possessiveness for her as Ellen seemed to for Katya, she didn't like the tension she felt in the foreboding situation.

"Are you sure, Margot? I don't want to make you late for your date," Ellen pressed.

"I'll get ready here. That way Alexi won't have to take a break to let me into their cabin. It's fine," Margot assured with a grin.

Ellen rubbed at her eyes trying to decide what to do. She knew if Laura went back to Bill and told him that she'd refused to speak to her there would be another throw down once Saul got wind of it. She had to walk a fine line. If she completely alienated Laura she'd risk inciting Katya's sympathies for her. If she just gave in and spoke to her there was a chance she could get her to leave without Katya ever knowing she'd shown up. She looked back to Laura in consideration. She hated that the desperate look in the other woman's eyes actually made her feel awful. Ellen knew why she was there. She wanted to know what the hell was done to her. She wanted to know how the frak she had a twenty-two year old daughter after only being conscious for a solid week.

Ellen did believe that Laura had every right to know what happened to her body before she got there. She figured that giving her access to her files and records without proper explanation would probably send her off the deep end. She wanted her away from Katya, not useless to the entire project. Laura was still her responsibility after all. Saul was right. She couldn't lose sight of that.

"Alright," She finally agreed. "If you're positive that you'll be okay with her, Margot."

"It's fine. I'll watch her sleep and when she wakes up we'll just hang out. If starts giving me grief I'll just shove one of those big white pills down her throat. I watched you do it all day. I think I can manage," Margot chided playfully earning a scowl from Ellen.

"I'll try to be back soon. If she wakes up make sure she drinks some water and take another dose. If she wants to go back to sleep have her move into the bedroom and put that brace on. Lying there on the couch can't be good for her neck. If you need to leave before I get back call the colonel," Ellen worriedly

instructed.

"Yes, Ma'am," Margot said with a smile and a nod.

She wondered what Katya's reaction was going to be when she told her about the awkward exchange between her two mothers. Thankfully, unlike most people, the captain didn't scare Margot a bit.

Laura watched Ellen bend down and tuck the blanket under Katya's chin before placing a kiss on her sleeping cheek. Irrationally the scene sent a painful jolt to her heart. She was suddenly relieved they would be leaving the cabin.

Ellen looked up with a simper of a smile somewhat satisfied with the look on Laura's face.

"C'mon. Let's go," She said turning to walk toward the hatch.

Ellen glanced over her shoulder to see that Laura hadn't followed.

She was still dumbstruck and staring down at Katya.

"Laura, before I change my mind," Ellen called out in rude honestly.

Laura finally nodded and moved to follow her.

"Where are we going?" She asked.

Ellen shrugged.

"How 'bout the scene of the crime?"

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MILITARY LABORATORY

YEAR: 2315

The two women walked the long halls in silence, neither bothering to even look at the other.

Once they reached their destination Ellen quickly ran her cuff over the hatch panel and entered the lab with a determined stride. Looking around the sparsely populated room she found her target. She motioned for Laura to stay by the hatch and zeroed in on the young doctor who was busily engrossed in her work.

"Sydra," Ellen called getting her attention.

"Mrs. Tigh," The scientist greeted happily, "I haven't seen you in here since…" Sydra trailed off when she noticed Laura Roslin nervously standing by the entrance. She hadn't seen the woman since her download and first days in the infirmary. It was wild for Sydra to see Laura in the lab where she'd existed in an inanimate state as the focus of her work for years.

"Yeah, well about that," Ellen said motioning in Laura's direction. "I need you to clear the lab for a while," She instructed.

Sydra narrowed her dark eyes unsure of what Ellen meant.

"Mrs. Tigh, I can't. I have doctors and techs in the middle of…"

"Yes, you can Sydra," Ellen interrupted, "I'm telling you that you can . The most important thing that has ever or will ever come out of this lab is standing right over there. You can take a break," She insisted, "Besides, I know you have plans tonight. Your date's getting ready over at my cabin as we speak. Go home early and do the same."

Sydra was annoyed at what she deemed an inappropriate reference to her personal life but having an extra hour or so to get ready wasn't the worst idea.

"You know the lab rules, Mrs. Tigh; there is supposed to be at least one senior staff member on duty at all times," Sydra argued.

"For the rest of the evening I'm that staff member," Ellen answered.

Technically she was right; she was the lab’s most senior staff member but she had little knowledge of anything outside of the project that might need attending to.

"Let me keep a tech here," Sydra posed.

"No," Ellen stubbornly countered.

Hearing the exchange was making Laura nervous. She was already reeling at the view she had of the empty chamber that she knew her body had once occupied. The fact that Ellen seemed so insistent that they be alone worried her.

"Mrs. Tigh, you're being unreasonable," Sydra said becoming somewhat flustered.

"And you're being insubordinate, Dr. Kahdim. Now if it helps, keep the video feed streaming on your cuff, on your tablet I don't care. Just get out and take your staff with you. An hour, hour and a half is all I'm asking. Then you can send whoever you want back in here and go enjoy your night out."

Sydra shook her head in frustration finally giving in. She turned with a huff and went to dismiss her minimal staff. Satisfied, Ellen made her way back to Laura.

"Guess you don't want an audience," Laura said as she watched the techs and doctors slowly disperse.

"No, I could give a frak less,” Ellen corrected. “I did that for you.”

Laura felt her face and neck go flush at Ellen's words.

Once the lab was clear Ellen went around and shut off some of the more blaring laboratory lights. She was already getting a headache and the bright white of the room wasn't helping. For a moment she watched Laura stare at the empty tanks and she wondered how she would even begin. She supposed she might as well let Laura lead the conversation and ask away.

"Home sweet, home?" Ellen teased getting Laura's attention.

Laura glared at her through the corner of her eye not amused by the reference.

"Take a seat, Laura," Ellen said gesturing to two lab stools that sat at a center island.

They both sat on the same side of the counter and for a while they fell into an uneasy silence again. Ellen was bothered by Laura's dejected demeanor. She had expected her to start demanding answers right away. This wasn't the Laura Roslin she was used to. The fact that she now had to offer up information at her own acquiescence was more than irritating.

"I'm supposed to be taking care of her right now, Laura,” Ellen said with narrow eyes. “Doctor's orders. It's her first day out of the ward and I'm not going to spend it silently staring at you. So why don't you tell me what you want to know so that I can answer you and then get back to her?" Ellen said in a spiteful tone but when she saw Laura's eyes suddenly water she felt an abrupt and unexpected rush of regret.

Laura’s head hung down and Ellen could see large heavy droplets already quietly falling into her lap. She bit at her lip and shook her head. She needed to calm herself down and consider the situation Laura was in. The poor woman was totally confused and there was no way that she would  fault her for that. Ellen remembered the rage she felt herself when she'd first found out about the creation of the four children and she could only imagine what might be running through Laura's mind. Before she could stop herself she reached a consoling hand out to cover the other woman's knee.

"Look, Laura. I'm sorry," She admitted, "I'm just…sorry," She repeated keeping her meaning vague.

Laura looked up at her slowly. Her eyes, though still tear filled had taken on an obvious sheen of indignation.

"Ellen, I get it," She said sharply. "I do. I really frakking do, so why don't you quit punishing me for something I can't help just long enough so that I can frakking understand it?"

Ellen leaned back slowly, took a deep breath and nodded.

"So…" Ellen started with a shrug, "When did he tell you?"

Laura wiped at her eyes with both hands.

"After we left your cabin,” She answered in a low voice. “The night of the attack.”

Ellen nodded again considering her response.

"I know it's a shock. I remember the day I found out. Saul has spent the last fifteen years trying to figure out how he was going to tell you both. I guess he figured as far as you were concerned it was better coming from Bill."

Laura had no response and her forlorn nature was making Ellen feel somewhat uneasy.

"Can I ask what else he told you?" Ellen cautiously inquired.

Laura took a shaky breath.

"He told me about the others," She admitted, "I just…I didn't expect to see that girl today."

"It's startling I know. I watched her grow up and it was as if every time I saw her she looked more and more like D'Anna. It's a little spooky but sometimes kids just look like their…parents. She's a very sweet girl. Good natured, very friendly, always wants to lend a helping hand. In that way she's so much more like Sam," Ellen said wistfully remembering the last time she'd seen him, manically babbling on an overheated Galactica. "Did Bill tell you why ?" She pried.

"Yeah," Laura said shortly with a nod, "Not at first but he filled in whatever blanks he could later. Do you actually believe that those people thought that such a farfetched plan would work?" She asked obviously doubting the validity of the story she was given.

"To be fair, Laura, the whole thing is so farfetched and these people were so desperate at the time, yes I believe it. It's well documented that it was their intention to replace the need for your resurrection. When I found out I went over every recorded feed and every log possible. They accepted that they had made a mistake only a few years later but that was their original intent," Ellen explained. "I won't defend what they did. They obviously knew from the start that Saul and I would never stand for it. It took us seven years to even get wind of it. It was immoral and it was wrong but once we found out what they did to you there were already four little kids thriving around the system," She finished.

"I just can't wrap my head around the fact that I actually…that she's…" Laura couldn't finish her thoughts without getting choked up.

With a sigh Ellen got up and retrieved a lab tablet where it sat docking on a nearby counter. She sat back down beside Laura and turned the translucent device on. After a punching in a few directives she motioned for Laura to run her cuff over the screen. With a trembling wrist Laura did as she was asked. Nothing projected from the device, instead Ellen turned it back to face herself. She swiped and tapped for a while seemingly searching for something. When she finally found what she was looking for she sat the tablet down on the counter top and set it to project above the screen.

"What's this?" Laura asked looking at the image and back at Ellen.

"It's an Earth Orbit system birth certificate," She explained, "It's Katya's," She added moving the device with its trailing image closer to where Laura sat.

The document was illuminated in Alpha's pale blue, matching the color of their cuffs and the station's military service bands. As Laura read it she felt like she was in a daze.

 

 

EARTH ORBIT CERTIFICATION OF LIVE BIRTH

ALPHA STATION

YEKATERINA NATALIA ISAKOFF

#A8893YNI

SEX: FEMALE

BORN ON THE 8TH OF AUGUST, 2293

AT 1510

760 GRAMS/ 1.68 LBS 14.02 INCHES/ 35.6 CM

ALPHA STATION MILITARY LABORATORY FACILITY

MOTHER: LAURA ROSLIN - FATHER: WILLIAM ADAMA

RESIDING DOCTOR: MIKHAIL SEVASTIAN ISAKOFF

*SEE NOTIFICATION OF LEGAL ADOPTION AT BIRTH

BY DR. MIKHAIL SEVASTIAN ISAKOFF

*ADDENDUM OF GESTATIONAL MATURITY

WITNESSED ON THE 1ST OF NOVEMBER, 2293

AT 0807

2622 GRAMS/ 5.78 LBS 18.70 INCHES/47.5 CM

ALPHA STATION MILITARY LABORATORY FACILITY

MOTHER: LAURA ROSLIN     FATHER: WILLIAM ADAMA

LEGAL GUARDIAN: MIKHAIL SEVASTIAN ISAKOFF

RESIDING DOCTORS: MIKHAIL ISAKOFF & NING XAO

 

 

 

Laura's eyes were wide as she read the certificate three times over. There were so many peculiarities but all she could focus on was seeing the word mother next to her own name. When her eyes moved to read it a fourth time she forced herself to stop. She closed her lips that had unconsciously gone lax in her astonishment over the simple document and she swallowed hard.

"I thought seeing it in plain text might help it sink in a bit," Ellen offered gaining Laura's focus once more.

Laura shook her head and ran her hand through her hair.

"I feel like the more I learn the more I realize I don't understand," She said looking back at the illuminated record.

Ellen moved her jaw back and forth considering how to go on. She wanted to leave. A look at her cuff not only showed that it was time to wake Katya for another dose of medication, but it showed a message from Saul; ‘Keep your head, think of our kitten’. He obviously knew where she was or at least who she was with. Ellen was thinking of Katya. How dare he imply otherwise. Katya was all that she could think about. Right now she was struggling over how the hell she was going to explain the beginning of the girl's life to her birth mother without having the woman fall in love with her just as she had through the same process years ago. She remembered meeting Katya for the first time; a beautiful little girl with sapphire eyes full of fear and wonder. Ellen had immediately felt for her but it wasn't until she'd looked through the girl's records and saw everything from her first gestational images to videos of her as a toddler that she truly fell head over heels for the child. She couldn't wait to pick her up from Michelle Le Blanc's temporary custody and take her home once their adoption was final. Ellen still so often went through Katya's baby pictures and videos, looking at the six years of her life that she’d missed. She longed to hold the tiny infant she saw fussing in the lab with only a clinical foster father and his band of technicians there for comfort. She wished she could have been there to witness the bright little girl learn to walk and speak two languages before she was even two years old. She wished she had been there to see her learn to read, to watch her put on her first pair of ballet slippers, and lose her first tooth and most of all she wished that she and Saul had been there to save her from the atrocity she'd eventually witnessed. Ellen had experienced that part of Katya's life only through saved logs, old images and archived videos but it had all been more than enough to open her heart to make room for the girl. Soon she’d taken up most of the space there. Ellen was afraid that once she shared Katya's story the same would be true for Laura. Her only hope was that the woman seemed more appalled than endeared by the news so far. Perhaps she wouldn't be as taken with idea no matter what she learned or saw.

Upon noticing that Laura was looking Ellen attempted to quickly blink back her tears and straighten her posture.

"Katya was the first," She offered, "She's the oldest out of the four. Once your pregnancy was confirmed and considered stable…" Ellen hesitated as she saw Laura go deathly pale at her words, "…they moved on to Sharon Agathon, then Caprica. D'Anna was last. That's the way things are usually done. It's the order of your creation. It's why your resurrection was first and why Karl and Sharon are going next."

As she saw Laura's pallor she rethought the situation.

"Laura, are you sure that you want to hear all of this right now? Maybe you should wait. I'll approve your access to your records now. Maybe that way you can just go through them when you're ready," Ellen suggested hoping she'd found an out.

Laura shook her head.

" No . I want to know and I want you to tell me. I know that there isn't another soul left on this station whoknows what went on as well as you. I'm not weeding through that mess of medical records without you, Ellen." Laura announced with a quaking insistence.

"Then I suggest that you get a grip, Laura," Ellen raked, "If you're already going white as a ghost then how the hell are you going to handle the rest of it? I'll tell you what you want to know but I'm not offering to scrape you off the floor once I'm done."

Laura bit at the inside of her cheek as Ellen spoke. She knew that she was right, no matter how crass her words were and it was the second time in as many days that she'd gotten the same suggestion. It was true. If she was going to get through any of this she needed to find some sense of strength. She needed to pull herself together. Inhaling as slowly and as steadily as she could she did her best to steel her nerves.

"You're right," She admitted looking directly into Ellen's eyes. She sat up straighter on the stool and placed both hands in her lap,"I want to know how," She finally said with more confidence.

Ellen suppressed the urge to roll her eyes and groan. She had a fleeting thought that this was some kind of cosmic karma for every unwanted sex talk she'd ever given Katya and Margot.

"Guess you never taught sex-ed?" Ellen teased with an arch of her brow and a cheeky smirk.

It was only an attempt to break the grim tension but Laura's response was less than appreciative.

" Fine ," Ellen said swiveling her stool to face the table and placing her palms against the cold counter top, "I'm sure you've gathered as much but since neither one of you was in any position to willingly participate in their plan the deviant motherfrakkers just went ahead and did it anyway. I worked so closely with those people. They did so much good and then they just betrayed me," Ellen said shaking her head. She still had never forgiven the group for what they'd kept from her. She'd accepted Xao's apology long ago knowing he had little to do with the actual project offshoot until it was too late to stop but Le Blanc was different. As closely as she and Michelle had worked over the last fifteen years their relationship still held an undercurrent of malice over the deception. “The EOC gave them the go-ahead and they took you and Bill out of stasis and put you both on life support. You can surmise what they did to Bill to get his contribution. Wham-bam, he was back in the tank in no time. But you…well your body was out for the majority of the year," Ellen almost stopped when she saw Laura grip the end of the counter but she figured she had to allow her some measure of reaction as long as she didn't lose what was left of her mind right in front of her, "Le Blanc didn't want to rely on artificial insemination. She knew that if it didn't work the first time they'd just have to fish Bill out of the tank again. She had Dr. Isakoff do what’s called an ova harvest. They pumped your body full of hormones to hyper-stimulate your ovaries. Then they pumped you full of even more to mature the resulting ova. Then Isakoff performed an egg retrieval. You can look it up later if you want. The extraction is no picnic but without your consciousness your body didn't have the capabilities to feel pain…Do you, uh, want me to stop?"

Ellen thought that Laura looked like she was about to be sick to her stomach but she shook her head in defiance.

"No. Keep going," She said in a trembling whisper as if her voice had escaped and left the rest of her there to bear the brunt of the storm.

It was the weakest no Ellen had ever heard but she went on anyway.

"Isakoff had his team externally fertilized your harvested eggs with Bill's sperm creating several viable embryos. Then, Ms. Popular, they did another procedure on you. They did what they call an elective single embryo transfer. They basically took what they thought to be the strongest and most viable embryo and they implanted it. Lucky for those creepy bastards, it took the first time. If it hadn't or you'd miscarried later on they would have done it again with a second and a third until it either worked or they exhausted their embryo supply,” She continued with a sigh. “ But that wasn't the case. They had you knocked up on the first try. They didn't even need the rest. Oh, and before you lose your shit, the rest of those embryos have been destroyed. They discarded them two years later, so you don't have a brood somewhere on ice, if that's where your mind was going."

It hadn't been but it was now. Laura had never gone from being so sickened to being so relieved so quickly. She couldn't even speak let alone form a coherent question so she just let Ellen go on.

"Like I said, once you were about six weeks along the same process was started on Helo and Sharon and it just went down the line. I'll refrain from sharing the details about the others with you if you don't mind. There are still two other woman who get to hear their own lovely tale," Ellen said caustically, now reminded that she still had to go through this twice more. Technically she'd only be responsible for Sharon now that Bishop was dead. She could leave D'Anna to Michelle but she wouldn't do that to one of her own. D'Anna was a Three, one of Ellen's creations just as Sharon was and she wouldn't let Le Blanc coldly tell either of them about their children. She wouldn't even have done it to Caprica had she still been in the mix. Ellen imagined it would be easier with the others. They were Cylon women. They instinctively understood the value of experimentation for the greater good and they understood that sometimes awful mistakes were made. They understood that sometimes the wrong road was taken. More importantly she expected they'd be fascinated, even honored to bear a miracle that humans so often took for granted and in that Ellen would wholly empathize with them. She wasn't dreading explaining anything to them as much as she was dreading the rest of her conversation with Laura. She just didn't have the same stake at hand when it came to the rest.

 

Laura turned to the counter and leaned her elbows on the table letting her head hang heavily on her palms. She needed a second. She needed a moment to regroup and let what Ellen was telling her sink in. She was breaking out into a cold sweat that she couldn't suppress. Though she heard Ellen's words and descriptions they all seemed to echo in her head registering in delay.

"I'm sorry, Ellen. I just need a minute," Laura mumbled into her hands.

"That's alright. I'm actually impressed you're even still in the seat," Ellen admitted.

With a deep sigh she got up to search for the staff cooler. Once she located it she retrieved two bottles of water. When she returned and placed one on the counter Laura nearly jumped out of her skin startling Ellen in return.

"Frak, Laura, it's just a bottle of water! I'm not scooping in to troll for more of your eggs," Ellen chided.

Laura exhaled with a slight glare in Ellen's direction.

"I'm sorry. My nerves are just…"

"That's alright. I get it," Ellen said palming her own bottle as she stood by Laura's side. "Look, Laura, I just have to say something before I go on. I’m...I’m really sorry,” She started. “I’m sorry that all of this happened to you. I'm sorry that the body I planned for you to have was violated in such an awful way. I never intended for that to happen. The man that did all of this to you, well, he was dead by the time I found out. I never got to tell him what I thought about him. I never got to punish him for it...and I would have. Gods know Saul would have snapped his neck for even daring to think of it. I didn't get to give him what he deserved. I took that out on the other three doctors and the men and women who sanctioned it.  I wish I could have done more but…It’s just…even though all of this was so wrong and even though Saul and I were disgusted and enraged by it…well…then we got pretty familiar with the end result of it all and...like Saul says; it's hard for us to wish now that it never happened. No matter how she got here, we could never wish that Katya hadn't been born," Ellen confessed. “She’s such a special person and we love her so much.”

She wasn't sure why she'd just told Laura all of that. Her vision for their new bodies had never included them finding out that they had been used and defiled before ever getting the chance to inhabit them. Ellen felt partly responsible for that part. She had trusted the wrong people. Perhaps this was the form her apology was taking but she wasn't for a second going to let Laura think that her condolence for the circumstance in any way affected her love for Katya. If Laura wanted to close her eyes and wish that the kid had never existed then that was her business. Ellen was going to make damn sure that she understood that Katya was wanted and loved no matter how she felt.

Ellen watched Laura dejectedly leaning on the table. She saw her wince and she watched a few tears escape the corners of her eyes. She wasn't about to console her. The last admission of sympathy was all that she was going to offer for the moment. Just when Ellen decided to give her a few more minutes to regroup Laura's voice caught her off guard.

"How'd she get here?" She asked with her head still supported by her hands at her temples.

Ellen's eyes narrowed and she took her seat on the other stool again.

"Not sure what you mean," She said crossing her legs.

"Cut the crap, Ellen," Laura said finally lifting her head to look at her.

Ellen leaned back and smirked as she recalled the visit they’d made to the ward together. She took a sip from her water bottle before she spoke.

"I know that Tawny let you see your chart that day in the clinic, Laura," Ellen said cocking her head to the side, "She came right out of that exam room and admitted it to me after her stupid screw up. Some brilliant doctor; I almost shoved my fist down her throat," She scoffed with a roll of her eyes.

"Well frak you for not telling me then," Laura bit turning to face her.

" No. Frak yourself, Laura ," Ellen countered with a sardonic laugh as she suddenly leaned forward. "Do you think that I can't see how godsdamn unhinged you've been since you got here? Good lords, you've been beside yourself! Look, I'm very sorry for the trouble you've been having adjusting but if you're under the assumption that you've been doing a good job hiding it then let me assure you that you've lost your touch . Maybe the others don't see it but I do. Guess this version of Laura Roslin can't cloak her feelings as well as the old one. What happened, Laura? The Old Man turn you soft?" Ellen taunted. "If you thought for one moment that I was going to tell you that day in the ward with that manic look in your eyes and a hormone surge to boot then you're crazier than I figured."

Laura silently seethed for a moment as she shot daggers back at Ellen. She could claw her eyes out right now for being so dead on, for calling her on every painful truth, for being such an antagonizing bitch but to do that would be to prove the woman's point. Laura still needed Ellen as much as she loathed the thought. Ellen had all the answers that she was desperately searching for and most importantly she was the closest person in this world to Katya. If they were ever going to get anywhere, if they were ever going to get through this, Laura couldn't give in to every spiteful remark that Ellen Tigh threw at her. She had to keep her talking.

"Well maybe I'm not as fragile as I was then," Laura posed using all of her strength to show some sense of confidence in her statement, "I want to know. I don't know what that doctor told you about what happened in the ward but what I saw on my chart was fleeting and vague so just answer me. I've known for almost three days now and I've gone over this body in the mirror for more hours than I care to admit. I can't find a sign."

Ellen bit at her lip and tapped her fingertips on the counter. She just wanted to get home to snuggle up on the sofa with Katya and forget that any of this was a reality but she couldn't. This was her responsibility. Whatever resulted from it she'd just have to deal with it later. She reached over to where the tablet sat between them and pulled it closer so she could see the projected document. She read it for herself for about the hundredth time in fifteen years and let out exasperated huff.

"Kind of a mouthful isn't it?" She wistfully gestured to where Katya's full name was shown, "Not what I would have picked but I guess it grew on me," She snarked and shrugged with a small smile. "She's always been so proud of being born under the Leo constellation. She takes the cat thing to heart if you haven't noticed," Ellen softly giggled thinking back to fifteen birthdays they'd celebrated together, "She was born right here in this very lab with minimal staff in attendance. The offshoot of the project was still being kept a secret by the government. It was on a need to know basis and I wasn't on the guest list."

Laura looked back over each line of the birth certificate for a fourth time. It was still just as bizarre as the first. Katya's name, her station number, her birth date and time; it was all there but it just didn't seem real.

"Why was she so tiny?" Laura finally asked in a strained whisper as she thumbed away the new tears that started down her cheek. It was the first specific question she’d managed to ask. She'd noticed before but she’d been overwhelmed at first for most of it to register.

"She was," Ellen echoed running her finger over where Katya's birth length and weight were listed. "She was tiny but she was perfect ," She continued as her own eyes welled and threatened to spill over. "The doctors decided that they didn't want any of you to have to undergo any major surgery. Though these children were seen as your possible replacements, nothing was certain. Your safety was still their number one priority. That meant that they couldn't let them go to term,"Ellen explained. "If they had it would have made the delivery processes much more complicated in the state your bodies were in. Nearly impossible without surgical intervention. The decision of when to deliver them was left up to each doctor. Isakoff's notes actually indicate that he meant to take her sooner but there were some complications; some bleeding during your seventeenth week, I think it was. He didn't want to risk any trauma to you or the baby at that point so he waited," Ellen said with a halting breath as the heavy tears in her eyes finally shed. She took the tablet in hand and quickly swiped away the birth certificate. She searched for the data she wanted as Laura sat watching with her mouth agape. When Ellen finally found what she was looking for her breath caught in her throat, "Gods, even her gestational images were precious," She said out loud, though she hadn't intended to. She didn't care; she wasn't going to stifle her emotions for Laura. She didn't think she could have if she tried. As she looked at the image of Katya still all scrunched up in the womb she hesitated to place it down to where Laura could see it. It was like she was suddenly having to expose something that she'd always kept for herself. When she finally willed herself to project the picture she placed it between them on the table. When Laura immediately let out an audible gasp Ellen felt a chill run through her body.

Laura was so overcome that her cries felt stuck. They felt like they were lodged within her throat, trapped deep in her chest threatening to burst in some sorrow filled spontaneous combustion. The baby in the picture could have been anyone's. It had the same large bulbous head, the same button nose, and the same tightly cocooned little body that was standard for any in-utero fetal imaging. She remembered her sister's ultrasounds looking just like this, one's that friends showed her, even both of Richard's children. She’d seen many pictures like it and could never tell one from the other. The baby in the picture could have belonged to anyone but it didn't. It was hers. It was her baby back when she was still warmly protected inside of her.

"You didn't get very big," Ellen said carefully watching Laura's reaction to the photo.!"I mean it was obvious. Anyone could tell, but still...that's one reason why there's no lingering evidence. At twenty-six weeks Dr. Isakoff decided that you were both healthy and stable enough. He and his team induced labor with an intravenous cocktail of synthetic hormones and pharmaceuticals. With specially engineered electrodes; two at the base of your skull and a half a dozen others strategically placed around your body, they had decent control over your muscle function. They were able to manipulate them with corresponding software, though, I imagine your body did most of the work itself. It's a natural process, no matter how unnatural the setting. The female body is just designed to do it. You'd be surprised how much of it is actually involuntary," Ellen said as she watched Laura's wet eyes double in size. "Your body labored for a full day before she was born. I know she was less than two pounds but it still didn't look like a cakewalk to me…but I wouldn't know anything about that…then again, neither would you," Ellen bitterly reminded them both with sniffle and a shrug. "When she finally arrived she couldn't cry. Her little lungs still weren't strong enough. She couldn't even open her eyes yet but she kicked her tiny feet pretty good. I guess that's all she could do to let everyone know she was here," Ellen said smiling through her tears remembering the breathtaking recording.

When she reached out for the tablet again Laura suddenly grabbed her wrist and stopped her. Their eyes locked, both sets heartsick and painfully tear filled.

"No, Ellen. Please. I can't watch that," Laura said fearfully with her hand still tightly gripping Ellen's arm, "I can't."

Ellen nodded her head slowly.

"It's alright, Laura," She said in a more gentle tone. “I wasn't going to play it. I get it. It's not easy to watch," She offered as she saw some sense of relief form on Laura's face and felt her fist unclench from where it had clamped onto her wrist. "But so you understand, Laura, it is available to you…if you ever do want to watch it. You should know that other than me and any lab staff that needed it for reference, no one else has really seen it except for Katya, and that was her right. For a while in time her records were your records so she has access to it too. Her father…Isakoff, he'd always been very open and truthful about the process with her but I know she eventually got curious and wanted to see for herself. Most of the staff that was in attendance was killed in the attack and so Katya is probably one of a handful of people alive to have ever seen it," Ellen explained studying Laura's reaction for a clue that it was safe to go on. She cringed at how broken the poor woman looked. “I know that you probably feel very exposed right now...but it's really only me and Kat...and a few medical professionals. I know that probably doesn't make you feel any better but…” Ellen shrugged and gave up at a loss of what to say.

When Laura finally gave half a nod in her direction and leaned back on her seat Ellen attempted to speak again.

“Are you alright?”

Laura nodded through her stunned tears.

“I’m sorry, Laura,” Ellen reiterated, not knowing what else she could possibly say to ease the shock.

Laura gave another nod as dull and unconvincing as the one before it.

“Should I continue?” Ellen tested as she reached for the lab tablet.

“Yes,” Laura finally rasped in response.  

Ellen swallowed hard and cleared her tight throat.

"I know that it seems dangerous to have purposely delivered a baby so prematurely but it's actually common here and quite safe,” She began again. “Back on the Colonies preterm babies were avoided at all costs but here sometimes they even planned for. Once Katya was born she was put in what they call a gestational chamber or an artificial womb. It basically looks like a little version of the stasis chambers you and Bill were in. It allows for healthy fetal development outside of the mother’s body. It's certainly not optimum but people choose to do it here all the time for health concerns or even just to get back to work early. Women in the military or with other physically demanding positions for instance, sometimes find it to be a fitting alternative to a forty week long process. Some women with health issues that impede them from carrying a pregnancy to term greatly benefit from the option. There is an entire laboratory on the civilian side of this station that looks like some kind of aquatic nursery. It’s called the Estuary. It's a little bizarre at first but parents can go visit their babies and watch them grow without the burden of respirators and tubes and wires encumbering their little bodies. As long as the placenta and umbilical cord are kept intact they thrive pretty well in the synthetic amniotic environment."

Laura's eyes were shut tight as she rubbed at her temples to keep them from throbbing. The overload of extraordinary information was physically wearing at her. She felt bile rise in her throat and she squelched it down.

"I don't understand, Ellen,” She finally snapped catching the other woman off guard. “If they could do that then why did they bother implanting the embryo? Why use a body that couldn't function without life-support and remote electrodes when they have frakking baby making machines?"

Laura' stomach turned again as she thought of some designer baby factory. She got shivers when she remembered Starbuck’s story about the farms she found back on Cylon occupied Caprica. What Ellen was describing was straight out the old nightmares that Kara’s stories had inspired. Laura knew that imagining her own baby in such a chilling setting would be enough to inspire new ones.

"They aren't baby making machines, Laura,” Ellen insisted. “She couldn't have survived without you first. A fetus can only be safely moved to one of those chambers after twelve weeks maternal gestation. The earlier they go the bigger the risk. They can't just grow a baby like it's a frakkin' tulip. They've tried and failed for years. Work's with clones, doesn't work with zygotes and even I don't understand why," Ellen defended letting just a bit of frustration come into her voice again. "Look, they didn't use a surrogate because of their bullshit theory about combining your souls or whatever crap they thought they were accomplishing. They couldn't just grow these kids in tanks like frakking clones, no offence, so whatever way you want to look at it the fact is Katya came from you," Ellen said with finality.

Laura opened her eyes and looked everywhere but at Ellen. She finally nodded in acceptance. Ellen was right. There was no changing any of this. She remembered the dream she'd woken from in the middle of the night. Everything had seemed so real. If she let herself she could still remember the sensation of a new life fluttering inside of her. She knew that the memory was a false one and that just made her desperate to forget.

"Her chamber was set up right over there," Ellen gestured. "Not far away from Bill's. She was taken out on the first of November. Three months after her delivery."

When Ellen started again Laura couldn't help but notice the introspective look in her eyes that took over every time she spoke about Katya. There was no denying how Ellen felt about her. Laura had seen it the first time the Tighs introduced the girl. Hearing the other woman talk about her daughter's birth with such raw emotion truly showed Laura the depth of the connection. It felt strange. She should have been grateful that her daughter had a mother to care for her but there was a bitterness to knowing that Ellen Tigh had experienced a love Laura knew she probably never would. Saul seemed to have a close and loving relationship with Katya and now even Bill had spoken with her and developed a kind of friendly rapport. Laura could already see in his eyes that he'd developed paternal feelings for her. It had always been so easy for him. On Galactica there were more than just a few young men and women who Bill treated as if they were his children. She'd never been able to do that in all the time she spent in the fleet. Billy had come close to feeling like a son but when he died she'd worked hard to suppress the maternal feelings she'd developed for him. It was too hard to go on without doing so. Even Kara and Lee had been a challenge for her. She hadn't felt like Bill's children were her own until it was too late, until she was dying and she summoned some of her last bits of strength to wave goodbye to them. Now she had her own daughter, her own flesh and blood and everyone else seemed to have a decent relationship with the girl except for her. It had her feeling like an outsider yet again but the thing that saddened her the most was that she still wasn't sure that she wanted in.

"We never celebrated November first as her birthday, even though it's listed on her certificate as an addendum,” Ellen carried on with pride in her eyes. “Sometimes we teased her that she had two birthdays but she didn't like that. She knew exactly when she was truly born. She was such a beautiful baby," She said springing fresh tears as she remembered the first pictures she'd seen of the tiny infant. She looked down to search for some on the tablet unsure if Laura would even choose to look at them but at that moment she didn't care. She wanted to see them for herself. “Even at full gestation she was just a little peanut. She didn't even make it to six pounds before she was out of the chamber but she was strong and healthy and her lungs worked just fine. She made up for all the crying that she couldn't do the first time around," Ellen said smiling down at a photo of Katya in the lab laying in a lucite bassinet. The file caption indicated that the image was captured at only six hours out of the gestation chamber. She had a few wisps of dark hair and a still pink complexion all wrapped up in a pale blue blanket. Ellen cleared her throat doing her best to rid her voice of its trembling. Katya's baby photos made her smile but they brought up so much emotion that they never failed to make her cry as well. Now with Laura's added presence she could hardly hold back her weeping. Whether Laura understood it or not she already had a bond with Katya that Ellen was so deeply envious of. "They kept you out the entire time she was in the chamber," She started again. "They wanted your body to fully recover before they put it back into stasis and as much as I know you don't want to hear this part, they wanted to make sure they had accumulated a decent supply of milk for her first few months," Ellen admitted as she watched Laura wince. "Isakoff said he didn't want to use synthetic formula if he didn't have to," She shrugged. "His notes were full of statistics about infant brain development and maternal nutrition," Ellen shook her head as she thought of how careful the doctor had been with Katya's nutrition when he thought she was the answer to humanity’s problems. Once his opinion of her usefulness had changed he had no qualms about using the girl's diet as a test case. Ellen often mused that if the man were alive she would kill him. "Anyway by the time she was out they had what they needed and they started prepping your body to go back into your chamber just a few hours after Katya was taken out hers. The thing was," Ellen said with a shaky sigh, "The techs couldn't get her to take a bottle. She screamed her new little lungs out for hours that first day. They couldn't feed her and they couldn't soothe her. It was heartbreaking to watch. They checked her over and over to make sure she wasn't in some kind of discomfort but they couldn't find a thing wrong. She was just inconsolable," Ellen went on in a strained voice. She could recall the wrenching sounds of the distressed newborn surrounded by people who were caring for her simply because it was their job. "One of the lab techs, Nyah Kahdim; Sydra's grandmother, she came up with an idea when the staff was at their wits end. She put your scheduled submergence on hold and she had the techs sit your body up in the bed a bit. Nyah fashioned a sling around your shoulders and she nestled Katya right in. She calmed down in seconds snuggled up against you like that, Laura. Everyone in the lab tried to hold her that day and no one could get her to stop...but with your body it was almost instant. It was like she finally recognized someone. Maybe it was the sound of your heartbeat, maybe it was something else, I don't know but she was suddenly totally content. They were so relieved that she'd stopped fussing and they were so desperate to get her to eat that they even let her nurse for a while. As much as she refused that bottle she took right to you." Ellen could hear Laura's crying getting louder as her story went on and the whimpering sounds only made her cry harder herself. She hadn't planned on telling Laura this part of the story. It was just pouring out. "They let her sleep most of that first night swaddled up against you and she was as quiet and happy as a little mouse but the next morning Isakoff wanted you back in the chamber. So that's what they did. When they took her away from you she cried and cried. It was just devastating. She eventually calmed down and latched on to her bottle feedings but her first few days were really tough My heart broke when I first saw that footage. If I had any idea that she'd existed at that point I wouldn't have let her be alone.”

Ellen's words barely squeaked out of her throat as she finally passed the tablet to Laura.

Laura reached for it with a trembling hand. When she looked down at the screen she had to cover her mouth with her palm muffle the painful sob that she couldn't help but choke out.

"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish that Saul and I had come aboard earlier...but at the time we just felt like giving them what they needed and keeping our distance was best. If we had known why they’d done...if we had known that she existed…” Ellen cried. “We missed six precious years of her life that we wish we could get back and now those pictures and videos are all we have to fill in that void. I'm grateful to have them but believe me when I tell you that I understand how much they hurt to look at," She finished through gritted teeth as she tried to hold in her own sobs.

As Ellen looked down at the screen that Laura shakily held she was inexplicably moved to do something she'd only let herself to do once before. After the first time she’d never allowed herself to do it again no matter how much she thought she wanted to because the fact that it wasn't real was akin to near torture. Ellen focused on the screen and the tiny infant within the bassinet and tried to remember the lab as it looked over twenty years ago. Soon the tablet wasn't there. The lab lights were on full force and they shone down on the little cooing bundle wrapped in the soft blue blanket as real as anything. Ellen could see Laura beside her staring down at the small clinic crib but her face was unchanged and unknowing. She wasn't sure what drove her to do it. Maybe it was a surge of sympathy, maybe it was morbid curiosity but she reached out and touched Laura's shoulder. For a moment they both watched over the precious sight until Laura gasped in fright startling Ellen and breaking the projection.

"What the frak was that!?" Laura said, eyes wide.

Ellen panicked. She'd seen it. It worked.

"What was what?" Ellen said nervously wiping the moisture from her cheeks.

Laura shook her head and furrowed her brow in disbelief.

"It was like…I was there. I mean I was here but…" Laura hoarsely rambled.

Ellen wasn't thinking. She shouldn't have done it. It was something she'd hardly let herself experience and now she'd shared it with the last person she ever wanted to. She really didn't think Laura would be able to see it. Regret was rolling in like a thunderstorm on Scorpia. Ellen had to cover.

"What? Laura, you're not making any sense," She lied, "Are you alright?" She asked casually thumbing another tear from the corner of her eye.

Laura nodded but she wasn't alright at all. For a moment everything had felt so real, as real as it had in her dream, maybe more so. It was like the picture on the tablet had become real and transformed her surroundings. It was as if she could have reached out and felt the cold plastic of the bassinet, the soft billowy blanket and even the smooth warm cheek of the little newborn. Laura closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She'd been so uncertain of her own psyche lately that she shuttered to think of what might have driven her to such an ultra real fantasy. She squashed the thought and tried to put it out of her mind. It wasn't real, same as her dream. It didn't happen. She returned her focus to the picture on the tablet and for once her heart didn't break, it melted.

Ellen saw the look in Laura's eyes as the woman stared down at the image of her baby in utter awe. Ellen knew that look and she hated what it meant.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

When a message came from Margot asking Saul to come home and sit with Katya both he and Bill moved to the Tigh cabin. By that time they'd knocked back over half the handle of vodka that Saul brought over and they were feeling brave enough to await Laura and Ellen's return together. It helped that once they got to Saul's they just switched to his supply and picked up where they left off. Margot briefly filled both men in on the earlier interaction and soon after she left Alexi showed up. He was off duty, hoping to see his wife and be fed by Ellen but he ended up mostly waiting around with the two inebriated older men. Katya had come out of her bedroom at one point surprised to find the three men there looking after her. They had been worried about how they would explain Ellen's absence to her but as it turned out she hadn't asked many questions. Within the haze that the medication induced she took their simple assurance that Ellen would be right back.

Katya spent a modest amount of time with them, somewhat enjoying their company even through the awful soreness of her head, neck and jaw. Fatigue eventually overwhelmed her once again and she returned to her room to rest with Saul's promise that he would wake her for dinner when Ellen returned.

Alexi was starving and bored. In their less than sober state Saul had taken to showing Bill an endless stream of pictures and videos of Katya as little kid on the image screen. Alexi warned them a number of times of what would happen if she came out of the room and caught thembbut they didn't seem fazed. He eventually asserted his uninvolvement for the record and let the men do as they pleased as he fiddled around with a game on his station cuff and tried to ignore his hunger.

They watched clips of Saul flying Katya around the cabin in his arms when she was around seven or eight and about half a dozen birthdays later they watched a selection from when she starred in her performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring when she was sixteen. Though Alexi was less than enthralled with the videos and images that he'd seen time and time again he noticed how proud the Colonel looked to show them off and how enchanted the Admiral seemed as he watched. For a moment his perpetual cynicism was curbed and he considered his wife lucky to have so many people care for her.

Eventually Saul decided to send another message to Ellen alerting her to their whereabouts. She quickly responded letting him know she was on her way home with Laura.

 

The walk back to the cabin was quiet. The only noise from either woman was the clacking of their shoes against the station floor with the occasional lingering sniffle peppered in. Their meeting had taken a gut wrenching and dangerous turn and Ellen just couldn't take being alone with Laura Roslin a moment more. After getting Saul's message she used it as an excuse to quickly end their conversation. Before putting the lab tablet back on its dock she officially cleared both Laura and Bill giving them full access to their case history. She gave Laura a brief and curt instruction on how to access it and then she hastily ushered her out of the lab.

Ellen was done. She'd told Laura everything she needed to know. She'd told and shown her more than she'd even intended to and now she was starting to rue the entire conversation. In the moment, overcome with her own emotion Ellen had done what seemed right but now as they returned home she was starting to wish that she could take some of it back. She could only hope that Laura's recently flakey emotional state would cover what happened toward the end of their talk.

Once they arrived at the hatch she said a silent prayer that Katya would be asleep and that Bill and Laura would leave quickly.

At the sound of the hatch opening Saul quickly turned off the walls image capabilities. He felt like a teenager hiding a dirty movie from his mother but he could only assume what Ellen's demeanor would be following an afternoon alone with Laura. He knew if she saw that he'd been sharing old family memories with Bill that it would only make things worse. He tossed the tablet controller to Alexi who shut it down and shoved it under a couch cushion. Bill furrowed his brow at both men letting them each know how foolish he thought their anxiety was. Alexi and Saul shared a knowing glance. Bill just didn't get it yet. When the hatch opened and Ellen came in all three men stood. She stared at the sight of them for a moment before she felt Laura come up behind her. Whatever they'd just shared together in the lab, within her home the other women's presence now just felt like an intrusion.

"Hey, honey," Saul attempted, "Laura," He greeted with a smile before noticing both sets of eyes; one blue and one green, both rimmed bright red. His stomach dropped.

Though they both looked to be in one piece Saul could see that they'd each been in tears.

"You ladies alright?" Bill asked having noticed for himself.

"We're fine," Ellen answered quickly for the both of them but the look on Laura's face and her silence told Bill otherwise. "Alexi, sweetie, I'm sorry,” Ellen said as she made her way further into the cabin. “You must be starving. Go ahead and order whatever you want for dinner," She told the marine who nodded in thanks and reached for the tablet he'd only just nervously hidden from plain few, "Where's Katya?" She finally asked looking expectantly at her husband.

She hoped going about business as usual would encourage Bill and Laura to leave.

"She's sleeping," Saul answered.

" Still ? Well did she take her pills?" Elleb asked as if trying to intentionally find fault with the way Saul had attended to her.

"She did…but not on time. She didn't want em'. It was the same song and dance from this morning. Says they're giving her nightmares," Saul shrugged, "She sat out here grimacing in pain for over an hour but she wasn't giving in," Saul explained.

"She wouldn't give in, but she was bitching about it enough," Alexi added as he went through the cabin service menu on the tablet. “She was giving us all a headache.”

"So how'd you get her to take them?" Ellen scowled walking over to where she kept Katya's prescriptions. She lifted one of the bottles and shook it for emphasis when she didn't get a prompt enough answer, " Hello ? One of you want to tell me?"

Saul shoved his hands in his pockets.

"Alexi made her a protein shake and Bill crushed them up and mixed them in," Saul admitted with half a smirk.

Ellen wasn't amused.

"You drugged her?" She accused.

"We didn't drug her, Ellen,” Saul defended. “She needed to take them. She was suffering in pain and being foolishly stubborn. We took care of it and now she's resting comfortably.”

"I used to do it with Zak when he was little," Bill attempted.

When Saul's patience with Katya was wearing thin Bill remembered a method he sometimes used when his youngest son was sick and being difficult about taking his medication. Carolanne would have Bill crush the boy’s pills and put them into ice cream or a smoothie. Zak would take it none the wiser. Bill had felt a little strange about using his trick on an adult but when he proposed it to Saul and Alexi they jumped at the idea. It was like he'd taught them a new magic trick. Now that he thought better of it he decided that had probably been a little over eager to help.

"Well she's not your responsibility, Bill and she's not a little kid," Ellen shot.

"She was acting like it, Ellen," Alexi told her from his seat on the sofa. "She was whining . We had a solution and she wouldn't take it. You know how she gets. Honestly the Admiral came up with the idea but I would have done it myself if I thought of it first," He added.

Ellen's eyes told him to hush and he swiftly continued ordering their supper.

“Well this is just great,” Ellen huffed. “She’s going to sleep straight through dinner and have nothing in her system but drugs.”

"She is not, Ellen,” Saul insisted, moving from behind the couch toward his wife.”I was just about to go wake her up.”

"I'm sorry, Ellen," Bill started.!"I thought I was helping. We only gave her half the dose if that makes you feel any better," He offered.

"See?” Saul attempted. “She'll be up in a bit, Ellen. It's fine. I'll get her in just a minute," He tried to placate her but everything he said seemed to be making it worse.

He could tell that Ellen was internally working herself into a fit, probably due to whatever happened between her and Laura. He knew there was probably little he could do to stop it.

"We should probably get going," Bill interrupted as he made his way over to where Laura stood quietly bracing herself against a chair.

She didn't look well and he was eager to get her away from the growing tension he was afraid he'd started.

"You alright?" He asked placing his hand at the small of her back.

She nodded unconvincingly.

"Don't mean to run you both off," Saul said leaving his wife and and joining their guests where they stood, "Sorry, Laura. Katya's not the easiest patient to deal with," He attempted to explain. Ellen scoffed behind him but he went on. "It's just making things around here a little hectic but maybe we can all get together tomorrow. I know the commander would love to see you both again before the Beta download and I think Bill has a few things he wants to talk to him about," Saul said with a glance in Bill's direction.

"We'll be in touch," Bill nodded evading the reference to the conversation they'd had earlier. It wasn't something he'd spoken to Laura about yet and now wasn't the time. "Goodnight, Sergeant, Ellen," Bill called earning a polite response from Alexi and a smile and wave from Ellen that was dripping with sarcasm. "Saul, you tell the Captain we hope she feels better soon," Bill told him. "And thank her again for the gift. Oh and the language lesson too," He chuckled. "Tell her I said, do svi…uh, do svi…"

"Do svidaniya, Admiral," Alexi assisted with a meager smile. "Katya’s usually a much better tutor," He joked.

"Well I'm usually a much better student," Bill laughed referencing his buzz, "You can tell her that, Sergeant and Saul, you'll give her our best?”

Earlier while Katya was still refusing to take her pills Bill had attempted to distract her from the pain as she sat with them. He asked her to translate the label on one of the bottles from her family's distillery. It turned into brief tutorial in E-Fed. Saul deemed it useless claiming the language was dead and that after fifteen years he still never knew what Katya was shouting at him but Bill humored her. She and Alexi had a good laugh as Bill struggled through the new and difficult diction.

"I'll do that," Saul assured with a smile.

When Bill went to take Laura's hand to leave she abruptly pulled it away.

"Wait a minute," She said surprising everyone in the room. She had been silent the entire time she stood there and her voice even sounded strange to her own ears as she heard it come out of her mouth."I want to talk to her," She blurted out as if she'd been holding it in the entire time.

Bill and Saul looked at her for a moment, caught off guard by the unexpected request.

" What ?" Ellen spit making her way closer to where Laura stood.

"I want to talk to her," Laura repeated with quasi confidence stepping to meet Ellen in the middle of the room. "Just for a second. I just want to wish her well myself," She attempted to persuade the other woman.

They'd just exposed so much of themselves to each other. Laura only hoped a trace of that empathy had left the lab with Ellen.

"Are you kidding? She's asleep," Ellen answered in a tone that swiftly dashed Laura's expectations of any lingering amicability.

"Saul just said that he was about to wake her up," Laura argued.

Alexi's hunger was forgotten about as he watched the increasingly hostile interaction between the two women. A look to the men by the hatch showed a set of bewildered faces unsure of how to intervene. The sappy sense of familial appreciation that had snuck up on him earlier as he watched the two men bond over Katya was being quickly snuffed out as he watched the two women begin to fight over her. This was more along the lines of what he'd expected. He should have just gone to the mess hall for dinner.

"It's her first night home, Laura,” Ellen snidely reminded her. LShe's got severe whiplash and a bad concussion. She can't remember half the night of her accident. Do you honestly think she's in any shape to speak to you?"

"Ellen she was obviously up and well enough to give three grown men each a headache this afternoon. Bill obviously spoke to her," She said turning her head to look back at him. In just the few parting words that she heard him say to Saul she’d learned that not only had Katya given him a gift but he'd spent part of the afternoon with her. He'd already gotten to say so much to the girl. She just wanted to see what it was like. "Why can't I?" She challenged looking back at Ellen.

"Maybe now isn't the best time, Laura," Bill interrupted when he finally figured that Saul wasn't going to make the attempt.

He was regretting his advice about not playing referee. Saul seemed to be taking it to heart. Despite Bill's disregard for his own new rule neither woman even acknowledged his words.

 

Ellen needed to get them out. She just wanted to be rid of Laura for the day. They had been through enough. She'd given her more than she deserved, more than she even understood. Ellen just wanted her to take it and go. Everything they'd spoken about in the lab had made her yearn to cuddle up with Katya and make the rest of the world disappear but Laura was in the damn way and she didn't seem to be moving. This had been Ellen’s biggest fear. She'd done this to herself. She’d given Laura an inch and now she wanted to take a mile. Ellen didn't know what Laura reaching out to Katya would bring but she didn't want to chance it, which meant she had to go for the jugular.

"Because, Laura, if you haven't noticed, you upset her, " She said leaning against the back of the couch. "You're just about the last person she's going to want to see after waking up groggy from a frakking spiked milkshake," Ellen added raising her voice and looking over at Bill with an accusing glance.

"Ellen, calm down ," Saul finally piped in but it did more harm than good.

" Shut up, Saul," She shouted without taking her eyes off of Laura's.

"Why don't you let Katya decide if she wants to see me for herself?” Laura posed with an exasperated shrug. “At least give her the frakking option to turn me away on her own."

"Because I know my kid, Laura. I don't have to ask her. I know exactly how she feels about you and I won't have you upsetting her recovery."

The personal jabs worked and Ellen saw anger and hurt flair in Laura's eyes but she was annoyed when she fought back instead of deciding to retreat out the door.

" Oh get off it, Ellen!” Laura shouted back. "I'm asking for two seconds of interaction and honestly I don't understand why the hell I should have to ask your permission in the first place. You coddle that girl as if she's still a frakking child. It's no wonder she's got so many maturity issues. You won't let her grow up,"Laura accused.

"What the frak would you know about it, Laura?!"

"I just know what I see, Ellen. I don't get it. You seem to think she's old enough to serve in the military, you thought she was old enough to get married and yet you still make excuses for her behavior every chance you get. You spoil her emotionally; you don't treat her like the grown woman she is. For frak sake, I've seen you at dinner! You practically force feed her like she's still a toddler!" Laura said throwing her hands up in exasperation.

She knew that she shouldn't be saying a damn thing that was coming out of her mouth but it was as if she'd been harboring it the entire time and she was just now figuring out why it all bothered her so much.

" How dare you insult my parenting? You have no idea what it's like ," Ellen started but she fumbled as she saw Katya step slowly out of the entrance of her old bedroom.

The shouting had woken her. At first she lay in bed listening but she couldn't quite hear through the dense station walls. Katya slowly got up, still sluggish from her nap and moved toward the door. When she was sure it was Ellen and Laura shouting she stepped out to see what was going on. She'd only heard the tail end of what Ellen just said for sure but whatever was going she didn't like it.

In a flash Ellen assessed the situation. No one else could see Katya where she stood and unless she made her presence known they wouldn't. She kept her eyes on Laura careful not to alert her to who was standing in the shadows behind her. She thought fast.

"I love her more than anything . I've done my godsdamn best with her and I'm proud of who she is. If you've already decided that you don't like the way she's turned out after knowing her for a week, one of the most stressful of her life, I should add, then frak you. If that's how you feel then she's lucky you weren't around to raise her. You don't have the damn patience or the frakking compassion it takes to be her mother. You don't have the right to judge her, Laura. You don't even know her."

Ellen chose each word carefully and used them as if they were a stick poking a sleeping tiger.

"I'm not judging her, Ellen. I'm judging you."

As soon as Ellen heard the sneering tone of Laura's voice she felt a sense of triumph start to sink in. She crossed her arms over her chest and let Laura sling away.

"You think I blame her for the brass behavior, the smart mouth and the bad attitude? Ellen, I feel sorry for her. She didn't have a frakking chance being raised by one of the most vulgar and manipulative women I've ever met ," Laura seethed.

In the corner of her eye Ellen saw Katya rush from out of the doorway and make a silent bee line toward them.

"Get  out."

Katya's words were low and laced with venom and the sudden sound of her voice caused Laura to whip around in surprise. She stood stunned, unable to respond in the slightest.

"I mean it," Katya repeated in a louder and more demanding tone, "Get the hell out or I will throw you out," She threatened fighting against the pain her tense posture was causing.

" Katya ," Saul called in a warning.

"Du'may prezhde chem govorit," Alexi cautioned but Katya hardly heard either of them with the rage pounding in her ears.

"I'm not kidding. Leave my family's home and do it fast. A stiff neck isn't going to stop me from helping you out the hatch. I don't know who the hell you think you are and I don't know who the hell I thought you would bebbut you don't have any right to speak to her that way. I could give a shit what you think about me anymore, but if I ever hear you even start to speak to Ellen like that again I swear I won't let you finish. Savior or not, watch me. I promise," Katya went on with each word gaining more fury than the last, " That's my mother," She shouted emphatically while painfully pointing in Ellen's direction, "And I'll defend her with my last breath. Now get out, and stay the hell away from me," She finished.

Laura's eyes were wide and immediately filled to the brim. She was totally stunned and completely mortified as she stared back at Katya's enraged glower.

Ellen's palm was at hear forehead. What had started out giving her a feeling of satisfaction had quickly taken an ugly turn and now she unexpectedly felt the weight of her choice falling atop of everyone's shoulders. She didn't know what to do. She’d thought that it would feel good to watch Katya go at Laura again, that it would be another catty scuffle like back on Beta Station but Katya's reaction had been harsh and it made Ellen's stomach roll. She didn't expect that it would make her feel this way. Less than forty minutes ago she'd been brought to tears over the memory of watching Katya as a newborn snuggling up against Laura's unknowing body in some mystical maternal connection of nature. Now she'd just helped to violently sever whatever traces of it that might have been left. She felt the surprisingly awful sting of regret but there was nothing she could do to take it back.

"Kitten, you don't mean that," She said in a pitiful attempt.

" Yes, I do, " Katya said with a stern insistence.

Her hands rushed to both sides of her neck as she felt the almost unbearable ache return with a force but she kept her stance not willing to back down from where she stood just inches away from Laura’s face.

"Look, everyone just lost their heads for a second," Bill said trying desperately to figure out a way to fix the disaster that just happened in front of him. “Maybe we should all just take a few big steps back.”

"No, Bill," Laura finally said holding her palm out as if to stave off a rabid animal. "She's right. It's alright…I'll go," She said in a mix of surrender and shock all the while holding her tears back. She couldn't believe what had just happened. Just moments ago she'd been begging to speak to Katya if only just to tell her to get well and let her know that in some way she knew who she was. She just wanted to leave the door open a crack and now she'd welded it shut on herself in a matter of seconds. She hadn't just failed at her first attempt as a mother, she'd obliterated any chance of a second shot and she just couldn't look at her daughter anymore. "I'm going," She said finally blinking and letting her tears fall after she turned.

Laura breezed by Bill and out of the hatch. She took off down the hall, forcing the marine guard to chase after her.

The silence left in the cabin was deafening. Saul wanted so badly to say something to Bill but he was at a loss. Bill's eyes found Katya's as she stood with a hand still clutched on either side of her neck. His eyes spoke only of disappointment but hers just warned him to follow suit and leave so he did. Turning without a word he left the cabin.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

When Bill walked through the hatch of the cabin he was afraid of what state he might find Laura in. He was surprised to find her sitting upright on the couch attempting to use one of the cabin tablets. As he made his way closer to her he could see there were still tears quietly falling down her cheeks but he was thrown off guard by her otherwise stable appearance. He'd rushed the entire way there, afraid he was going to find her in some heap of despair but as he watched her he saw a familiarity in her sullen composure. This was how he'd expect her to react. Not the Laura who days ago was struggling just to keep some semblance of her wits about her, his Laura; the Laura who took everything in stride, the problem solver  who was stubborn in the face of every adversity, even death. The strange thing was, though she appeared stronger his heart hurt for this Laura so much more. He quietly took a seat beside her. He let a few silent moments pass as he watched her.

"Laura," He started unsure of what he would say next.

He didn't have to come with anything. She spoke over him, still busily tapping at the device she held.

"Gods, I really frakked that up for myself," She said in a strained but stronger voice than he'd expected.

Bill didn't know if she was talking to herself or if she wanted his response but he gave it to her anyway.

"I think…there's a lot of blame to be shared in what just happened over there," He said carefully as he watched her flick some tears away that were replaced by more in just seconds.

"What does that matter?" She shrugged, "Doesn't change anything."

Her hands shook as she scrolled through the hundreds of files displayed on the screen. Bill hesitated to ask what she was doing.

"Maybe not," He answered. "Doesn't mean it can't be fixed," He offered but Laura bitingly laughed at his pathetic consolation.

"As sorry as I am, Bill, I don't think there is anything for me to fix," She said with a sigh. "She's right."

Bill narrowed his eyes in confusion.

"Who's right?"

Laura leaned back and let the tablet fall to her lap.

"They both are," She said swiping away more tears as if they were a general nuisance instead of a physical expression of her emotion. "Ellen's mostly full of it but she's right about one thing. I don't have what it takes to be that girl's mother. I'm not sure I ever would have if I had the chance from the beginning,” She considered. “But I know that I can't expect to start now. I'm not sure that I even wanted to. I just wanted…well…I guess I'm not sure what I was hoping to accomplish back there but I frakked it up and Katya's right, Bill. I need to stay away from her," Laura ended in a near whisper.

Bill scowled and shook his head in defiance.

"You can't let anything Ellen said get to you, Laura. She's obviously overwrought with envy. She's not even hiding it! I've heard some stupid things come out of that woman's mouth in all the time I've known her but none of it has ever sounded as wrong to me as that did. She doesn't get to assess your possible capabilities as a mother. You were right when you called her manipulative. She is! She always has been! She just said those things to get you to believe them. Don't tell me it's working?"

The evening had gone so wrong. Bill so enjoyed the time he spent with Katya that afternoon. He loved seeing all of the photos and videos that Saul showed him. He was hopeful that soon he'd be able to share them with Laura and that eventually they might both spend some time with their daughter together.

Everything crumbled so quickly.

"I know why she said them, Bill. I can see Ellen's motives just fine. It doesn't make her wrong. I wanted Katya to make a decision for herself and she did. She made it for the both of us. And even though it was fueled by something I wish hadn't happened I think she made the right choice."

"I don't believe that, Laura,” Bill grimaced. “She was upset and defensive. I don't think she even meant what she said. Listen to me; Saul told me that she grew up totally enamored with you, with the very idea of you. He said that as a little girl she wanted to learn everything there was to know about you, about both of us; every story Saul had and every detail he could give her. He said she wanted nothing more than to know her parents, her real parents. He told me the that she grew up just wanting her mother , Laura and that's you ," Bill insisted inciting Laura's tears to flow heavier than before. "There may be a lot in the way now. We've both seen kids living in hopeless wartime, especially the ones who go out and fight on the front lines. There's a bitterness and a reckless nature that comes over them after a while. I see that in Katya. But I also see that she's still not far away from being that little girl who drove Saul crazy with questions just trying to get a picture in her head of what you might be like. She couldn't have truly meant what she said, Laura. There's no way," He told her desperately trying to convince her that it was true, that there was hope.

"If she didn't mean it then she should have, Bill. I've obviously disappointed her expectations. I think she made that pretty clear," Laura said with a hard swallow. "I won't stop you from trying to have a relationship with her. She obviously wants one with you but…I'm just making her miserable. I can see that she has enough problems without me inserting myself in her life. I won't do that when I'm not sure we could offer each other anything else but more grief."

Bill moved closer to her and put his arm around her shoulders.

"Laura, you're basing that on a few unfortunate interactions. That's not enough to give up."

Laura picked the tablet up and finally accessed the folder she was looking for.

"I'm not giving up, Bill. I didn't really try. I'm just letting her be. She has a mother. She loves her. There isn't a place for me and I'm not sure I could fill it if there was. Today in the lab Ellen gave me all the answers I wanted but Katya just gave me the only one I really needed," She said finally bringing up the file that she’s been searching looking for. It was the last picture that Ellen had showed her. The one from Katya's first day out of the gestation chamber where she was swaddled in a light blue blanket. It was the picture that had incited her powerful hallucination in the lab. For a moment Laura was afraid it might happen again but she looked down anyway. This time the melting tenderness was mixed with an agonizing sense of loss.

Bill squeezed Laura's shoulders as he saw the image on the screen. He hadn't expected it. He never imagined that was what she'd been searching for on the tablet. Even with all the videos and images Saul had shown him, he'd never seen a photo of Katya that young but he was sure it was her.

Laura's throat seized up for about the tenth time that day but she fought through the pain and swallowed the lump down hard.

"Gods, Bill you don't know what they did to me to make her," She cried through a strangled breath.

She didn't blame Katya for it. Ellen had been right about that as well. They were both victims. Maybe it was part of the anger that Katya so obviously carried within her. Maybe they could both forget more easily once they weren't there to remind each other.

Bill's heart nearly stopped when he heard what she'd said. He didn't know the details yet but her voice made him shudder at the thought. Bill remembered the night Saul first told him. He remembered him saying that Ellen had accused the doctors of being clinical rapists. The words were only now starting to sink in.

"I'm so sorry, Laura. For both of you," He took her hand and held it tight.

He didn't know what else to say.

"Bill, I don't want you to think that has anything to do with why I'm deciding to listen to her. That's not it. I promise," She insisted looking down and shedding a few tear drops onto the screen, "This little baby may have belonged to me once but she was taken away a long time ago. Now she's a grown woman…and she doesn't belong to me anymore. I've never been able to give her anything . Even her life wasn't my choice to give but I can give her what she wants now."

Bill couldn't hold back his own tears as he looked at the infant on the screen. His heart broke for all three of them, for his little family that never was.

"Laura,” He cried in a strained whisper as they watched the screen together, "Please don't tell me you can look at this picture and still let her go," He stopped to fight the crack in his voice that he knew was coming. "That's our baby," He said pressing his lips to her temple.

Laura shook her head.

"She was."

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

"You two are going to fix this!"

" Saul ," Ellen started to answer but Katya cut her off.

"Fix what? What's there to fix?"

Katya squinted her eyes and cautiously took her hands from her neck to cross them in front of her chest. She watched Saul’s face turn a bright red in her defiance.

"You just sent that women running out of this cabin in tears!" He angrily accused.

" So? She deserved it! Are you kidding me? You heard what she said to Aunt Ellen, what she called her! I don't understand why the hell you didn't do it first! She's your wife! "

" Katya ," Alexi cautioned, but his warning went ignored.

"And Laura Roslin is your mother!" Saul shouted.

He knew that Katya would be infuriated by his statement and that it would hurt Ellen in the process. It wasn't that he wanted to upset them they just both needed to hear it.

"No!” Katya yelled stomping her foot and clenching her fists like an insolent child, "No she's not! Stop saying that! I don't care who she is! How could you defend the way she was speaking to Ellen? "

"I'm not defending her!” Saul insisted. “When she said all that I wanted to pop her in the mouth just as much as you did!"

" So what the hell are you yelling at me for!? " Katya said flailing her arms in a way that her doctor would find abhorrent to her recovery.

Ellen's worried hands reached out to calm her but in her rage Katya hardly felt the other woman's palms holding her steady her at the elbows.

" Because, this isn't right!" Saul answered, "You came in here at the tail end of a fight you had no part of. Laura and Ellen can handle each other! You had no right to kick that woman out of here! This is still my cabin, little girl, and you don't get to say who stays and who goes!"

"A fight I had no part of? Seems like Roslin was badmouthing me just as much as Ellen! Besides, I thought this was supposed to by my home!" Katya yelled out, shrugging Ellen's hands away in frustration and glaring at her. "What? Now that my so called real parents are here I'm not part of this family anymore?"

"Katya, of course this is your home.” Ellen answered” Don't be silly. We'll always be your family.

She attempted to reach out for Katya's arm once again but the girl tugged it away.

"Then why should I let anyone speak to you that way, especially in our own home? Why should any of us?!" Katya's temper was going molten. She couldn't stop it. Her family had been insulted and she never took that lightly, " That bitch! I can't fucking stand her!" She nearly screeched in outrage.

" Watch your mouth young lady! " Saul barked.

Katya's hands rushed to either side of her head. It was throbbing in pain. She couldn't understand the way the Tighs were reacting. They were both acting completely different than they ever would have in a situation like this. They'd all come to each other's defense at one time or another. Katya defended Ellen's reputation more than enough around Alpha. She'd defended Saul and Ellen both when ignorant people claimed the Cylon couple were just a pair of over developed bots. She’d taken up for them when people said they had too much power and control within the system. Likewise Saul and Ellen had chased off more than a handful of bullying children through the years for teasing Katya about being Colonial or calling her creation a mistake. They made sure any other child who dared to make her feel somehow less than human wouldn't dare do it twice. They'd all taken up for each other more times than they could recall.They were a family. They protected and defended each other. Katya didn't understand why things were changing now.

"What's going on here?" She implored. Her eyes watered but by habit she fought to keep them back. She was almost too angry to cry. "I thought we were supposed to watch out for each other. So…so...Laura Roslin can come into your home and just say whatever she wants to your wife, but suddenly your own kid can't swear or even have an damn opinion? Well fuck that Uncle Saul!"

Saul clenched his fists.

"We are supposed to watch out for each other, Katya but I wouldn't let you speak to Ellen that way and so I won't let you speak to Laura like that either!"

"It's not even remotely the same!" Katya shouted with a roll of her eyes.

She looked to Alexi for backup but as usual he was doing his best to stay out of their family dysfunction.

Ellen's emotions had been wavering since Katya's outburst at Laura. Things happened the way she thought she wanted yet it just left her feeling awful. She loved that Katya had come to her defense. Hearing her claim her as her mother had been just what she wanted but the rest was way too much. She was torn. She knew that Saul was right. She agreed that Katya had had gone overboard when she went after Laura but what she was saying in her defense made sense. Ellen was irritated that Saul hadn’t defended her in the least. They'd always taught Katya that defending one another was the right thing to do. It was no wonder she was confused. Katya had just witnessed Saul standing by as someone insulted them in ten different ways. Ellen couldn't say that she was surprised at her husband. Katya had never been around to witness the power Bill Adama held over the their relationship.

"It's Bill," Ellen said in accusation. "Bill Adama is back and now everyone is second fiddle. If that means defending the Old Man's woman over his own, so be it," She shrugged.

 

"That's not true, Ellen," Saul gruffly contended.

"Oh the frak it's not, Saul. It always has been. I'm used to it. It's fine, it is, but let's not play innocent here," Ellen accused.

"Who's the one that's playing innocent, Ellen? Why don't you tell Katya the reason that woman was so upset in the first place?" He taunted.

Though Ellen was sure Saul had no true idea just how much she'd contrived the situation leading up to the unfortunate outburst she still felt her face go flush.

Katya interrupted their banter with fist to the back of the sofa

"I don't care!"

Her physical outburst caused Alexi to move closer to the verbal crossfire that he'd been trying to avoid. He wouldn't let his wife hurt herself because of some rage filled tantrum. He backed off when she started shouting again.

" Whatever it is it doesn't excuse anything Laura said, Uncle Saul! Ugh! I hate this! I hate them ! Ever since they got here my life sucks ! You two are always fighting! You never fought this much before they came into the picture! Now you're always mad at me and Aunt Ellen's always mad at you! They're ruining our family! I can't believe I ever wanted them here!"

Saul shook his head in a mix of frustration and disappointment.

"Katya, stop it. You know you don't mean that," Ellen told her earnestly.

There she went wavering again. It was enough to make her sea sick and Katya looked completely bewildered by her behavior.

"The hell I don't! You keep saying that. I'm defending you , Aunt Ellen! Why won't you back me up?" Katya said straining her neck as she shouted.

She grabbed tightly to each side of her collarbone and slunk over a kitchen chair slumping into it with a sob.

"Katya, calm down ,” Alexi shouted moving closer to where she now sat resting her head on the kitchen table. “You're gunna hurt yourself!"

With her head on her arm the tears she'd been holding in started to run free.

"He's right,” Ellen said rushing to fill a glass. “Stay there. I'm gunna get you some water.”

"I don't want fucking water!" Katya shouted stopping Ellen in her tracks, "I want you two to act normal ! I feel like I'm going crazy," She cried folding her arms on the table top and burying her head inside like she was trying to hide inside of a self made hole.

The medication and the stress were catching up to her and the anger fueled burst of adrenaline was fading, leaving her aching and overwhelmed.

"That's enough. I'm taking her back to our cabin," Alexi announced as he watched Katya wincing in a mix of pain and distress. “Margot’s aboard. She can sit with her tomorrow morning while I'm on duty. Get your things, Yekaterina," He instructed.

He was fed up with the entire scene. He knew having Roslin and Adama there would come to this. He knew they would bring nothing for his wife other than disappointment and turmoil and he didn't care for the way the Tighs were handling it.

" No! " Ellen abruptly protested,"She's not going anywhere ! She was released into my care dammit!" She said with a finger nearly shoved up in the towering marines face.

Alexi had to hold back the remark that was about to shoot out of his mouth. He wouldn't give any credence to anything Roslin said but in the moment he felt it difficult not to agree with her assessment of how they all treated Katya, especially Ellen. The woman had such a powerful attachment to her and it went both ways. It was something Alexi thought might fade after Katya moved out of the Tigh's cabin but over the last six months there wasn't much difference and the Roslin and Adama situation had only strengthened it. He supposed they were all guilty of indulging Katya to some degree, but Ellen took the cake. The more she treated Katya like a child the more Katya acted like one.

"Staying here is making her worse, Ellen,” Alexi argued. "She's supposed to be resting and taking it easy. Look at her! She's red in the face, out of breath and in tears. How the hell am I supposed to feel comfortable leaving her here? If Xao or Tawny saw her right now they'd have her back in the ward!"

"I'm not going back there!" Katya immediately moaned into her arms.

For a moment she was seized with panic over the thought that they might actually readmit her. She'd just gotten out of there and she'd fight them if they tried to make her return. It had become the setting for more than one of her recent drug induced nightmares and she would do whatever she could to stay clear of it.

"Maybe it's best she goes back," Saul interjected from where he paced angrily by the hatch. “You’re right, Lex. She’s in pain and out of control. Maybe they’ll give her something to relax.”

Katya was about to scream at Saul for his implied threat but Ellen beat him to it.

"No, no! She's gunna calm down," She proclaimed holding her palm out as if to stave both men off. She forced herself to speak in a lower and more composed tone, "We're all gunna calm down. You're not taking her anywhere, Alexi.”

"Would you both stop talking about me like I'm not here?! " Katya sobbed.

"Well then you tell us, Katya,” Alexi told her, trying to be the voice of reason, "We all just want what’s best for you. I think you should come home with me but it’s your call. Where do you want to stay tonight?"

"I…I don't know, dammit! Stop it! Stop making me choose. I'm not choosing! " She yelled out, pressing her warm cheek to the cool table top and covering her head with her hands.

The awful feeling of being forced to make a decision was suddenly flooding her again and she'd refuse to do it no matter what. Her heart was thumping on overtime and her breath was becoming noticeably more labored to the point of alarming everyone else. Tantrum or not, they all rushed to her aide.

As Ellen rushed to retrieve the forgotten glass of water Saul hurried to the beverage cart.

Alexi moved to Katya's side. He brushed her hair off of the back of her neck and tried to blow cool air onto her overheated skin. He stopped when Ellen and Saul each sat a glass on the table; hers filled with ice water and the Colonel's a half shot of whisky.

"Saul, what the hell?" Ellen scowled.

"What? She needs to calm down," He defended.

"She can't drink with the meds she's on! Is that your solution to everything?"

"It's usually yours!" He accused.

" Shut up! " Katya screamed at the top of her lungs.

They were all grateful her volume was still muffled by the cover of her arms.

" This has gone on far enough! " Saul growled, "Listen to me!" He shouted with a fist to the table top, "Katya, you look at me," He ordered waiting until she brought her head up and opened her eyes, "I'm sorry. Okay? Ellen’s right. We're all gunna calm down now," He promised in a more composed tone, "We're gunna get through this; me, you and Ellen. Lex too. All of us as a family. I promise, kit. I swear things won't be like this forever…But right now I just want you to find a way to make things right. That's all. That’s it.”

 

Katya stared down at the water Ellen had brought. She stuck her index finger out to the cold glass and ran it over its smooth clammy surface. For a moment it reminded her of when she used to drag her fingertips over the chilled sides of stasis chambers. She was starting to miss those days. They were filled with feelings of longing and of doubt but they were quiet and familiar and all she really knew.

"I just don't get it, Uncle Saul," She said peering up at him with reddened eyes. "I wouldn't let anyone speak to you like that either. Never. Not even behind your back. I never have," She told him shakily, propping her exhausted head up on her elbows.

"Katya, sticking up for each other is one thing. Laura may have deserved a few words slung back at her but you just ordered her out of your life just days after she learned who you even were. You can't do that. We can't do that. We all have to find a way to live with these people. Like it or not, they're part of our family now. You both need to understand that. You hear me Ellen? Both of you.”

Ellen closed her eyes tightly as if his words physically hurt. Despite her complex emotions on the matter she couldn't waver any longer. She was confusing, Katya and she couldn't stand that she’d had any part in upsetting her so deeply.

"He's right, kitten," She answered as she opened her eyes and looked down at Katya.

"What?" Katya asked, stunned to hear Ellen’s agreement.

"He's right," She repeated.

"Sergeant, come with me," The Colonel ordered abruptly.

"What? Why?" Katya scowled.

"Sir, I'm not sure I should leave, Katya," Alexi considered.

"Yes, you should. I'm taking you to get a bit to eat and a lot to drink," He brusquely informed the young man. "You two, you stay here and figure out how you're going to fix your mess," Saul instructed. As long as he had Ellen on board for the moment he needed to take swift advantage of it. He knew that Katya would never listen to anyone but her." C'mon Alexi," He called.

"Katya, I…"

"Just go eat, Alexi," She said sitting up and shaking her head.

"I'll come back later to check on you," He offered.

He hated to leave her but the Colonel's commanding instruction and the lure of escaping the tension and finally getting a meal was winning out.

"If you're drunk don't bother," She warned.

"Then he won't bother," Saul answered for him.

Alexi shook his head at her denying Saul's proxied threat.

"I mean it you two," Saul reiterated, looking toward his wife and daughter, "When I said I wasn't going to help make things any harder than they already were I meant every word. All three of you ladies just made things a whole lot harder for yourselves. Now, you two can't control what that woman does but you can help each other figure out how the hell you're gunna go on with the rest of your lives without being miserable just because she exists," He said turning from that hatch, "Like it or not Laura's here. We brought her here. And were lucky as frak she is here, 'cause without her, we're all frakkin' dead," He harshly reminded. "Sergeant, let's go," He said as he hastily opened the hatch and left.

"Yea teh'byah lublu, Yekaterina," Alexi called softly as he followed the colonel out of the hatch and closed it behind them.

There was a long silence as Katya let her head slump back onto the table.

Ellen stared down at her unsure of what to do or say.

"Kit, let me order you something to eat," She attempted.

"I don't want anything."

"You need to eat something," Ellen told her as she started to tap on her cuff.

"Would you stop treating me like a freaking baby? I'm not hungry!"

Ellen dropped her wrist at Katya's shrill words. They stung and she hated that they echoed Laura's earlier accusations. Katya was in a bad place. Ellen had helped her get there and now she needed to help her find a way out of it. If that meant fixing what she'd just done then that was what she would do. She picked up the half shot of whisky that still sat on the table and knocked it back with a short gulp. She rested the small glass back on the table in front of Katya and took a deep breath that stung her throat with a mix of liquor and dread.

"Sweetie, I think Uncle Saul is right. You and me have to talk."

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

Once Laura was asleep Bill stayed awake and poured through everything he could find in the files she'd accessed on their cabin tablet. The one little image he'd seen of their daughter from when she was only hours old driven his inquisitiveness to a maddening height. He spent half the night scouring through all of their medical records. He wanted to know everything that Laura knew. Whatever burden she now held on her shoulders he wanted to carry it too. It was only fair. He needed to do it. He had to know. Not just to satisfy his curiosity but so that he would know how to help her.

Bill was torn as he read through case files and watched recorded footage. He hated what was done to Laura. Everything inside him wished there was still someone alive who'd laid a hand on her in the process, just so he could kill them himself. But there was still the other part of him that was captivated by the fact that Laura bore his child. At first he felt it perverse that the feeling hadn't disappeared with the evidence of what had been done to her body.  Though he was conflicted Bill decided eventually that finding some beauty in the otherwise abhorrent event was important. To see his daughter's creation and birth as a total abomination wasn't fair to her or to Laura. Behind the overly clinical means and the dark deviant overcast there was still a little miracle that occurred, at least as far as he was concerned. When Bill saw the first photos and videos of Laura's body lying totally unaware of the tiny life that thrived inside her rounded tummy he lost his breath completely. For a moment he even panicked, afraid he might not be able to catch it. The sight was wholly devastating and yet fascinatingly beautiful. Laura's body was so young, so angelic. It had a presence and a glow all its own, even without her spirit inhabiting it. He wished like hell that they could have felt the joy of knowing their love created something that was fully and totally theirs. He found himself going over old daydreams from the times he'd sat by Laura's beside in Sick Bay on Galactica and tailoring them to include the daughter they'd just discovered. He imagined a life where they could have conceived their baby through passion and adoration instead of with needles and test tubes. He imagined a life where Laura would know the feeling of carrying and protecting their baby inside her instead of being an empty vessel used like a glorified incubator. He imagined a life where he could have held her hand in comfort and support as she struggled bravely to bear their child instead of it being coldly taken from her by strangers as her body lay there vacant and alone. He imagined their baby was born into their loving arms instead of in a cold aseptic laboratory to an opportunist disguised as a foster father. Most of all he imagined a life where they raised their daughter together. He dreamed they lived on Caprica, on Tauron, on his old fantasy of Earth, tucked inside their ever elusive little cabin; anywhere his family would be safe, anywhere not under the constant threat of a looming enemy. He imagined Laura holding a happy and healthy newborn and then he thought of her playing with a toddler in pigtails on the sandy banks of a crystal clear lake as he beamed proudly nearby. He dreamed of getting to watch their daughter laugh and cry and grow and learn all with Laura by his side. That life never was and it never would be but the little fantasy got him through the night as he learned every shaking reality. It was when he saw the last footage of Laura with the baby before she went back into stasis that Bill finally lost it. Watching their poor orphan child nursing at Laura's idle form was one of the most devastating sights he'd ever seen and at the same time one of the most beautiful. Laura had been wrong when she said that she'd never been able to give their daughter anything. Though she didn't know it at the time her body had comforted and nurtured their baby on the first night of her life when no one else could. It was their first and last physical contact; their first and last interaction as mother and daughter and neither remembered it. It was all so tragically sad and unfair. When Bill finally calmed himself he climbed into bed with Laura. He clutched her from behind in an embrace charged with an onslaught of emotions. He wanted to forever protect and comfort the body he held in his arms; a body that had been unknowingly debased and used. But he also wanted to revel in his complete adoration for it. He wanted to honor it, all that it had endured, the soul it held now and the life it once brought forth. It humbled him. She humbled him. When Bill settled into place he covered Laura's middle with his warm and vigilant palm and imagined what it would have been like to know their child was there. When he felt her stir he became anxious remembering how she'd cast his hand aside the last time he'd touched her in such a way. He was sure that she was awake and he was relieved and grateful when she didn't attempt to shun his gentle caress. Instead he was pleasantly surprised when she vaguely acknowledged it.

"Do you think we knew about her?" She asked in a soft and sleepy voice.

 

"What do you mean?" Bil whispered behind her ear, glad she wasn't turning his gesture away or fighting to ignore it's meaning.

"Wherever we were before this…I don't remember it much anymore…just the feelings and those are fading every day," She told him.

"I know what you mean," He agreed.

"But I wonder...I wonder if we were aware of her. If we somehow knew she was here," She spoke into her pillow.

"I can't remember that either, Laura."

It was still so strange to be left with only vague emotions from their last state of being. They couldn't remember details. All they had were feelings and subtle notions of peace, understanding and love. Laura was so devastated when they were taken from it. They had been content there. Could they have possibly been so happy there if they'd had any notion of their daughter's existence? Bill doubted that they could have had any idea that the child existed but he decided not to voice his assessment. He hated to discourage her.

"The old myths described the afterlife as an all knowing existence,” Laura went on.” “It was supposed to be a place where souls didn't just reunite but looked after the ones they left behind.”


Her voice had gained a little more clarity and balance and Bill found it encouraging.

"But we didn't leave her behind, Laura. She came into this world long after we were on the other side.”

"I know that,” She sighed. “It's just…if her soul had any connection to either one of ours...then maybe somehow we knew she was born. Maybe somehow we understood that a part of each of us had come together again in this existence in some strange way."

Bill squeezed her tightly. It was a nice thought but he remembered where they'd been even less than Laura did and he had no answer for her.

"I don't know, Laura. I don't think we'll know that til' we're back there one day…Why do you ask?" He said kissing her neck and thumbing below her navel.

She shrugged in his arms.

"Sometimes I get feelings like…I remember. I've been dreaming of things I should have no recollection of."

Her confession was heartbreaking but he was glad that she was opening up to him, even if it was just a little and even if it was under the cloak of night while she was half asleep.

"I went through those files, saw the videos, Laura. They're all pretty powerful. I'm not surprised you're dreaming about them."

"But I'm not dreaming about them. I've never seen them. I didn't want to look. Ellen just told me everything herself," Laura explained." The dreams I'm talking about didn't just start tonight. They started days ago, when you first told me, and the feelings…I think they may have even started before that," She confessed.

Bill was somehow alarmed when he heard that Laura hadn't seen the records and footage he'd just poured through. When she told him how to access it all he’d just assumed that she'd seen it too. Now he knew he'd seen far more than she had herself.

"Could be that your mind is trying to fill in what it missed while your body was here without it," He suggested. He was uncertain of how to answer her. He wasn't sure what she was getting at and even worse he was afraid none of it would matter if he couldn't somehow convince Laura and Katya to give each other another chance. "Laura, would knowing that we were aware of her before change anything for you?"

She was quiet for a while and Bill listened to her breathing, relieved that it stayed even and controlled.

"No…I'm just…” She hesitated. “I was just thinking."

Bill thought for a moment wishing he had something comforting to say to her. He hated to be dismissive of her feelings but being too sentimental would just be rubbing salt into a still raw wound.

"Laura…after you have a child…after you know that feeling…it's kind of hard to remember what it was like before they got there. They sort of invade your every thought, your way of thinking, your perspective. It's just something that happens. It's just the way it is," Bill explained.

Laura nodded. She supposed she shouldn't trust herself right now and the idea of the false memories being somehow real was almost torture anyway.

Bill knew what it was like to be a parent far better than she did. She'd have to trust in him instead of driving herself mad. She supposed his simple explanation was enough for her to rest for now.

"Maybe that's the reason then," She conceded.

"Maybe."

Neither spoke after that. Laura allowed herself to fall back to sleep unafraid of her dreams. The uncertain memories and feelings were all she'd have of their child now. She didn't mind them as much anymore.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

Ellen sat opposite Katya at the kitchen table. She'd taken out a bowl of red grapes from the cooler hoping Katya would pick at them enough to raise her blood sugar. She was relieved to see her absentmindedly pop a few in her mouth as she sat there pouting. For a while they stewed in tainted silence. Katya didn't attempt to speak and she intentionally averted all eye contact. When Ellen told her they needed to talk she'd clammed up.

"I'm sorry that I've been fighting with Uncle Saul so much," Ellen finally started once she thought Katya's breathing had evened out. She'd grown tired of their useless standoff and she didn't want to waste any time. "We shouldn't be doing that. We promised you before the resurrection that we'd all help each other get through this and we aren't doing a good job."

Katya grimaced at Ellen's apology.

" He's starting it. Nothing I do is right all of a sudden and he's always yelling at you. It's his fault."

"No," Ellen shook her head, "No baby, that's not true. Maybe it seems like it is but it's not. Saul's been doing a hell of a lot better with all of this than I have. Maybe you haven't seen it but I've started the better half of our arguments lately," She admitted.

"You just said it yourself; Bill Adama is more important to him. Makes a lot of sense now," Katya shrugged and then cringed at the pain it caused her. She kept forgetting not to move that way.

"Katya, I won't try to deny the influence that Bill has over your uncle. I meant what I said. But that doesn't mean Bill is more important to Uncle Saul than you…or me. He loves us both so much . It’s just…he wants to be proud of us too," Ellen tried to reason.

She'd been so angry at Saul the past few days and it was hardly his fault. She'd seen how precariously he'd been walking the line between being there for his family and being there for Bill and Laura. She understood what he was trying to accomplish but he was the easiest target for her anger and resentment. He always had been and he'd always taken it. When they first came to Alpha, Saul had been the one to insist that they adopt and care for Katya. It hadn't taken much convincing on his part but even so, he had given her their little girl and he'd given her the family they always wanted. Ellen knew that she should be grateful for it; for all the years they had together but she couldn't shake the feeling that it was all somehow coming to an end. She was afraid that what her husband and finally given her was now fading away. Her instincts, ever faulted, told her to blame him for it instead of showing him that she was thankful for the precious time that they’d already had. Ellen knew that it was just another negative impulse that she'd have to start resisting for the sake of her family. "Even though sometimes I hated it, Bill Adama always brought out the best in Saul. Whenever Bill was in his life he was more responsible, more honorable and he gave his all to do his best. I was always jealous of that instead of grateful. I guess I wished I could have been the one to inspire that side of him but so often I inspired just the opposite. Being around Bill just makes Uncle Saul want to be the best man he can be and now he wants his family to do the same."

"Well our best isn't good enough for him anymore," Katya bitterly challenged.

Ellen looked down at the table with a sigh.

"Katya, neither one of us is doing our best. I think you know that," Ellen told her. "If I can admit that, then so can you."

Katya put her head down on the table again and kneaded at the back of her neck with her knuckle. Her sunken posture was causing her a good deal of pain.

Ellen shook her head.

"C'mon, kit. Go lay down on my bed. I'll rub your back," She said getting up from the table.

Katya reluctantly rose out of her seat and slowly made her way across the cabin toward Saul and Ellen’s bedroom.

"I'll be there in just sec," Ellen called after her.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MILITARY STATION EXCHANGE UNIT

SENSHI OFFICER'S CLUB

YEAR: 2315

"Hiroshi, when you get a sec, bring another for my son-in-law," Saul said gesturing to Alexi's empty glass.

His request gained him a quick nod from the busy bartender.

"Nah, Colonel, I really shouldn't," Alexi protested with his mouth stuffed with a bite of his second Beta Burger.

"Nonsense. Drink up, Sergeant. Don't you worry about what's waiting for you back there. You just enjoy a night out," Saul insisted taking a sip of his own recently refreshed drink. "Gods know we could both use it."

Besides the station's cabin delivery service Senshi was the only place that served alcohol on the entire military side of the station. It was also the only place to get a decent meal outside of the mess hall without traveling to the civilian corridors. The bar was decently crowded with off duty military patrons. Their voices melded with the piped in music creating a hum that made it hard to tell where one sound ended and the other began. A few image screens flashed with video games being played badly by drunken soldiers; their friends nearby cheering and jeering. A handful of inebriated young couples held each other swaying to the barely there music on the tiny area that passed for a dance floor. In a far off corner at a high top table sat Margot and Sydra enjoying the tail end of their date. They were both smiling and nursing their drinks while they passed a vaporizer back and forth. Both Saul and Alexi noticed them when they first came in but neither made mention of it. Instead they each took turns watching the couple with quick glances and discreet side views, watchful of Margot out of sheer habit. Only a few times did she catch Alexi's protective observance and eventually she sent over a cuff message with a warning to both men to quit their unwanted patrol.

When the bartender sat Alexi's second drink down he hesitated.

"Just drink it, kid," Saul said chortling at the younger man's apprehension. He knew that Alexi was thinking about Katya's warning. He found it funny that the large and menacing marine could be so intimidated by a woman who Saul still thought of as his little girl. He was on his third drink and he wanted company. He was happy when Alexi picked up the glass. "That-a-boy," He encouraged, "Wait, wait! What do ya say we toast on this one?"

Alexi squinted at Saul's drunken suggestion. He knew the man had been drinking most of the day with the Admiral. He’s sobered up enough to fight with his wife and daughter and now he was starting up all over again. Alexi was starting to wonder if he'd be dragging the Colonel all the way home. He flashed back to the last time he had the pleasure of doing so on the eve of his own wedding.

"Toast to what, Sir?"

"Uh, to…Ellen and Katya…and they day they finally drive us both frakkin' crazy," Saul said raising his glass with a grin.

He clinked his drink against Alexi's before taking a large swig.

Alexi could only roll his eyes and follow suit.

"I'm still not sure we should have left them alone back there," The marine said pushing away his now empty plate.

"I am. Just trust me."

"Ya know, Colonel, I just don't get it," Alexi started. "I know that Katya was being a brat, that's nothing new but what's the big deal? Why force that Roslin woman into her life if all it's doing is bringing out the worst in her?"

Saul moved his jaw back and forth feeling it pop and then took another sip.

"For the same reason I would have made damn sure you let Caprica into yours. She's her mother," He said setting his glass down.

Alexi winced at the arbitrary explanation.

"But what's that mean? It's just a word in this case. You're calling these men our fathers and these women our mothers and you're just assigning them a title. They never knew us and they sure as hell never wanted us. They're bodies were used to make us but that doesn't make them our mothers, Colonel. Trying to get us to think of them that way is causing more harm than good on both ends. The four of us have spent our entire military careers trying to make up for the disappointment we wound up to be to the project and now we're being reminded of how unnecessary and foolish our creations really were by facing these women. It's not fair.," Alexi said letting some of his internal frustrations out as the booze started to kick in.

The colonel shook his head.

"You know I like you better when you stick to being a stoic mute," Saul groused and took another swig. “It’s not a just a word and it's not just a title, Alexi," Tigh's eye narrowed as he swiveled on his barstool to face the young man." I damn sure know it wouldn't be to your mother. You never knew the woman so don't assume what she would or wouldn't want. You have no idea. You'd be lucky to know that woman, no matter what you think you know about her," He said turning back in his seat to face his drink.

"The woman that destroyed an entire civilization?" Alexi scoffed.

He saw the Colonel’s posture change and immediately regretted his words. Had the booze not loosened his lips he would have never said it. He knew after years of missteps how oddly Saul acted whenever Caprica was mentioned.

"No," Saul started in a suddenly low but dark voice, "The woman who learned from her mistakes and tried desperately to right them; misguided as she was. The one who felt so deeply privileged to feel every emotion that she experienced, even the ones that hurt because she understood that they were the only things that truly made her a person. The woman who was brave and selfless and who saved me in my darkest time. That's the woman you'd be godsdamned lucky to know, damn it. And you can bet your frakking hybrid ass that we're all worse off now that she won't be brought back," Saul said with a near growl. His shoulders slumped and when he continued so did his tone, "You know I never loved a woman more than I love Ellen...but I loved your mother. I know Katya has told you so you can just lose that clueless look of yours, Sergeant. I respected Caprica and I appreciated her for who she was and what she taught me. As much as her life was filled with violence and resentment she eventually found that all she really wanted was to love and be loved…purely and unconditionally," Saul said glancing back toward his drink. "She almost had it too. Almost. I watched her eyes as she lost her only chance, so don't you tell me what she'd want, 'cause I know," He finished in a low and solemn voice.

Hearing the Colonel talk that way about his birth mother gave Alexi the chills. It was so much easier to think of her as an empty body or at the most; a programmed Cylon soldier whose only purpose in life was destruction. To think of her as a living person who at one time felt love, joy, pain and loss just unnerved him.

"I'm sorry Colonel. You're right. She isn't here and so I shouldn't judge her," Alexi relented. "I just don't think we should be forcing anyone. It isn't fair. Besides, Katya and I, we just don't need another set of parents. We had our fathers…and we have Ellen…and you, Colonel."

Saul almost seemed amused at the statement but when he focused on Alexi again his expression changed. For a moment Alexi felt like the one eyed man was looking right through him.

"You know sometimes I look at you, Alexi, and all I see is her. I try to block out the fact that half your frakkin' DNA came from that lousy little son of a bitch and I wonder if our son would have looked anything like you," Saul shook his head and turned away. "If Bill Adama and Laura Roslin want to know their daughter they should get the chance to," He said finishing his drink.

Alexi did his best to shrug off the uneasy exchange.

"You know Katya, Colonel. She always comes around...eventually. And Ellen, she's just…she's so attached to her…They both just need time," Alexi shrugged.

"We may not have time, Sergeant," Saul said glancing quickly over at Margot who now had her arm around a smiling Sydra. "We all need to experience as much of each other as we can before it's too late. You never know how long you'll have with someone."

Something about Saul's words made Alexi feel strange. He noticed the Colonel's attentions were back on Margot and he remembered the news Tigh said she'd shared with him that morning. They spoke about the possible security issues earlier with the Admiral and only now did Alexi recall the way it seemed to have the two older men so unsettled. The thought mixed with the stiff drink and a half in his gut. He suddenly had a bad feeling.

"Colonel, you think something is wrong don't you?" Alexi asked after a beat.

Saul sighed. Bill had asked him a similar question just hours ago. Either his concern was becoming obvious or others felt it too.

"I think things are going to start changing soon, Alexi, and I think we'd all do ourselves a lot of good to be right with one another before that happens."

Alexi finished the rest of his drink as he watched Margot and Sydra leave Senchi, arms linked and smiling. With a heavy hand he brought his empty glass down on the bar surface.

"Hiroshi," Saul called to the bartender again, "One more round for me and my son."

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

When she entered the room Katya found the bed was made. After turning on a dim lamp she eased herself on top of the quilt with her head at the foot of the rack and her feet tucked under Ellen's pillow. The space held an odd sense of comfort for her, even more than her own room did. As a kid sometimes she'd sleep there with Ellen when Saul worked a rare overnight shift. Other times early in the morning on their days off she'd come in the room, jump up on the rack and attempt to wake them to start the day only to end up falling back to sleep snuggled up between them as they all slept in. She and Ellen would sometimes wake up giggling at Saul's obnoxious snoring and once in awhile when he woke first he would bring them breakfast in bed. Even when she was young Katya was wise enough never to bother them when their door was shut but when it was left open a crack she always knew it meant that they were there if she needed them.

After a few minutes Ellen entered the room. She brought a glass of water in one hand and her cabin tablet in the other and she set them both down on the shelf above the rack. She picked up her pillow and gently tucked it under Katya's head.

"Now my feet are cold," The girl whined and curled her toes.

"Oh well, we can't have that," Ellen mocked, moving Saul's pillow over to cover Katya's now bare feet. "Why are you laying backwards anyway?"

"I don't know. This is where I landed. Maybe it's cause that's how I feel," Katya mumbled into the pillow.

It smelled like Ellen's shampoo and she inhaled the familiar scent deep into her lungs.

"Well at least you have an answer," Ellen smirked kicking off her shoes and climbing over Katya to sit on the other side of the bed. "Where's it hurt?"

"Everywhere."

Ellen sighed and knelt on the mattress beside her. She began to gently rub at Katya’s tense neck and shoulders.

"Your tendons feel like taut wires, Kat. In a little bit I want you to take a muscle relaxer, okay?"

"I hate those things. They make me feel dumb."

Ellen huffed at the obligatory contrariness. It just wouldn't be her Katya if there wasn't a debate or protest to be made.

"Feel like a protein shake?" She mused out loud recalling Bill's slick trick.

"Huh? No. Why?" Katya asked, still oblivious to the deception.

"Never mind, baby," Ellen chuckled softly.

She continued to cautiously rub at Katya's strained muscles as she rested on the bed in silence.

Ellen wasn't sure where to start. There was still such a large part of her that didn't want to have this talk. She could still remember telling John Cavil that she didn't believe that people could ever really change, no matter what they'd been through. She still believed it to a point. She was living proof that old habits could stick around for millennia without a lesson being learned. For the majority of her life she'd never given her selfishness a second thought, let alone struggled to resist it but Katya had given her the will to start when she came into her life. She would do what was best for her now even if it hurt them both.

"Sweetie, I want to thank you for sticking up for me tonight," Ellen started as she continued to rub Katya's stiff neck. "It's not that I didn't appreciate the thought behind it. At first I was even glad you did it but…" She faltered for a moment before forcing herself to continue"Baby, you shouldn't have said all of that to Laura. You shouldn't have ordered her out of the cabin like that, out of your life. It wasn't fair."

Ellen immediately felt Katya's muscles seize up under her hands and she firmly pressed her thumbs into her scapula as if she were preemptively warning her to calm down. She felt Katya let out a trapped breath in surrender and her body relaxed.

"Why not? What's with you? Why didn't you slap her in the face yourself?" Katya groused into the pillow.

Her voice was strained with the ache of Ellen's ministrations and the irritation of her last comment.

"Katya, Uncle Saul was right. You didn't hear what was going on before you walked in."

" So what? I still don't get what difference it makes."

Katya winced as Ellen expertly worked a tender knot out of her shoulder. She had always been fascinated at how much physical power the petite woman could harness when she wanted to. Her typical toying remarks over being good with her hands were never enough to cover up her obvious cylon strength. It was the same strength she felt in Alexi to a degree; powerful, deliberate and controlled.

"Because, Katya, she and I were going back and forth. I was doing my best to infuriate that women and it worked."

"Why?"

"Because I wanted her to leave ," Ellen said in simple honesty.

She hit a particularly sore spot and Katya jerked under her touch. She eased up on the pressure, worried that her own nerves were causing her to be too rough.

"Because she was being a crazy bitch, I'm sure," Katya added.

"No, Katya, she wasn't. I wanted her to leave because she…she asked to see you," Ellen admitted as her hands stilled on Katya's shoulders.

After a quiet pause Katya gingerly leaned up on her forearms with a grunt before turning over to sit on her backside.

"Careful," Ellen warned softly as she helped her to sit up straight.

"She wanted to see me?"

"Yes," Ellen said letting out a long breath and rubbing at her forehead, "You must know by now that she's aware of who you are."

"Yeah, I gathered that much."

"Bill told her the night of the station attack. It was after we took you to the ward and they went back to their cabin. Today she came to me asking for some answers. That's where I was this afternoon. That's why I wasn't here before when you woke up. I was in the lab with Laura," She explained.

"You took her to the lab?" Katya asked in a near whisper.

Ellen nodded.

"Why?"

"I don't know. I didn't know where else to go. Seemed fitting. She wanted to know where you came from so…I took her there."

Katya looked down at her lap wondering what Laura's reaction had been when Bill told her. She'd always imagined it but that was before she'd met the woman She honestly had no better idea now than she had back then. She wondered if Laura was angry, if she was sickened, if she’d yelled or cried. She wondered if she’d screamed or if she’d tried to deny that it was true. Whatever happened Katya knew that it couldn't have been good.

"So what did you tell her?"

Ellen's eyes filled with tears and she gulped down the knot that had suddenly taken up residence in her throat.

"Everything."

"Everything?" Kaya echoed.

"Yeah, everything," Ellen affirmed with reluctant smile. "I told her why and how you were conceived. She knows about the others too. I explained the whole process to her. I told her about her pregnancy and how you were delivered. I even showed her one of your gestational images from before you were even born. I told her everything that she deserved to know, Katya. I told her everything that was done to her body, everything it went through to bring you here," She said wiping some tears away.

Katya's stomach turned and her cheeks went red. Something about Laura knowing all of gritty details filled her with a strange mix of guilt and embarrassment. The woman's body had been completely violated without her knowledge and Katya understood that she in fact was that violation. Unless it was under the guise of a joke discussing her conception always caused her to feel ashamed. She was ashamed of being a product of something so immoral. She was humiliated that after everything that was done she and the others had turned out to be a collective failure. She was ashamed of her father. She was ashamed because even though she knew about everything that he'd done to Bill and Laura and even to her, she still loved Mikhail Isakoff. There were times throughout her life when she would try to convince herself that she didn't. She knew Saul and Ellen hated him, though they did their best to hide it from her. They had good reason to hate him. It made her feel like she should too but after all these years she never stopped loving him or missing him. In some ways it made her feel like an accomplice.

"You did this in front of everyone in the lab?"

"No.” Ellen shook her head. “I made Sydra clear the entire facility. We were alone."

Katya nodded and licked her lips.

"So, how appalled was she?"

Ellen sighed deeply and scooted closer to where Katya sat at the foot of the bed.

"That's not an easy question to answer, kit."

"Well she must have had some kind of reaction to all of it. I would be appalled."

"Of course she had a reaction. She was…disturbed by it, as you can imagine. She was visibly shaken by the description of your conception and honestly, Kat, when I told her about your birth...I really thought she was going to pass out," Ellen confessed. "She sure didn't like the idea of gestation chambers either. I think that freaked her out the most. So, yes, she was appalled. She was appalled by what was done to her and Bill, by what was taken from them but, Katya," Ellen said taking the younger woman's hand and giving it a gentle squeeze, "…you need to believe me when I tell you that she wasn't appalled by you ," Ellen finished in a breathy whisper.

Katya let out a shaky sigh. The way Ellen spoke sent a chill through her body but she forced the feeling away.

"What's the difference? I am what was done to her, to them, to their bodies, whatever," She said rolling her eyes.

Ellen shook her head.

"Katya, there is a difference. You aren't what was done to them. You are what resulted of it. I'm not sure I can explain it to you but I can tell you that there absolutely is a difference and that I know that Laura saw that today."

"How do you know that?" Katya countered in disbelief.

Ellen squeezed the girl’s hand more forcefully.

"Because I saw it in her face, Katya. I saw it . Godsdamnit, I could nearly feel it. I showed her a picture of you. I showed her a photo of you taken the first day out of your chamber, all wrapped up in a blanket and sweet as could be. I watched her face when she saw you. It was so far from appalled. She was blown away," Ellen said recalling the look in Laura's eyes. She'd been touched by it so deeply that she'd been drawn to share something priceless with her only to wind up resenting it later. "I don't know what made me do it…I guess I just wanted to see for myself one more time...and for some reason I just felt like she should get to just once…"

Katya’s brown lowered at Ellen’s rambling.

"Aunt Ellen, what are you talking about?"

For a second the words wouldn't come out of Ellen's mouth.

"I...I started projecting in the lab. I just wanted to see the precious little face in the picture close up as if I were really there…just for a second. Then…I don't know what drove me to do it. I didn't think it would really work…I attempted to share the projection with Laura and…she saw it."

" What? You mean she can project? " Katya asked eyes wide.

"I don't know. I don't know, Katya but she can share mine, same as you can. If she tried, she might be able to do it on her own. You did eventually. I'm just not sure."

"I thought you said she probably wouldn't have the same capabilities."

"That's right; I said probably , not definitely. What do I know? I never dealt with hybrid transfusions. Who knows what Baltar's cure did to her? He didn't exactly have time to study the long term effects while he was trying to save her life. If I hadn't suspected it on some level I guess I wouldn't have tried it today. Look, the traits were strong enough to be passed down to you, so I can't say I'm exactly surprised."

"Well I'm sure she was!"

"It scared the hell out of her. I think she's convinced she's losing her marbles."

"So you didn't explain it?"

"Frak no! It was just for a split second. I panicked. She probably thought she was seeing things. When she reacted to it I just tried to play it off like I didn't know what she was talking about."

"That's real nice, Ellen. And you're getting on my case about how I treated her today?"

" Hey , I shared something precious with her that she would have never seen otherwise! Laura will understand that one day. I know it. I'm sure of it because I watched her face as she looked down at you. She wasn't appalled, Katya. She was amazed…and she was frakking heartbroken…" Ellen said through fresh tears. "After that I couldn't stay in the lab anymore. We came back here and she asked to talk to you and…I wouldn't let her. After all of that I wouldn't let her," She admitted. Katya narrowed her eyes in confusion. "It was such a long day for both of us. I know what she must have gone through. I'm not trying to compare our emotions but it was hard for me to tell her all of that today, to share what I did. As soon as I shared that projection with her I wanted to take it back but it was too late. When we got here I just wanted her and Bill to leave. When Laura asked to see you I…I don't know Katya, I didn't react well. I told her that you were sleeping and injured and that she'd just upset you. Things got heated. We started trading insults. I pushed her too far. She'd been through so much today that I think she just snapped."

Ellen still couldn't bring herself to admit exactly what she'd done. She'd take the blame if only she didn't have to confess the details. She had used Katya today. She took advantage of her love and her loyalty; the very things she was so desperate to hold on to. She'd used their own relationship to ruin another and she was ashamed of it.

"Are you really making excuses for her, Aunt Ellen?"

" No. I'm telling you what happened, Katya, " Ellen insisted but Katya shook her head.

"Ellen, you did the right thing. Maybe that story about her getting all misty eyed at my baby picture would have gotten to me before I knew her but it just doesn't make a difference to me now. I'm glad that she knows the truth now. She deserves that much. I'm glad that you're the one that told her too. I'm grateful you did that but I'm done with that woman, Ellen. I remember what it was like to want to know her so badly. I had some stupid fantasy, some naive picture in my head but…that's over. I spent my whole life wishing for something I didn't understand. I don't want to see her. I'm glad you didn't give in."

" But I should have, Katya,” Ellen cried.

She had a look of intensity in her eyes that Katya just couldn't comprehend.

"Why?" She asked in complete frustration.

" Because I was trying to take you away from her !" Ellen blurted out the words and some new hot tears along with them.

" Away from her ? Ellen what the hell are you talking about? You're acting like you're trying to snatch that baby in the picture. That baby doesn't exist anymore! That projection wasn't even real. What Laura got all sentimental about today is long gone. You can't take anything away from her. It's already been taken and not by you!"

"Katya, there's still something that's being taken away from her if she's not allowed to at least acknowledge her own child. I tried to take that chance from her today out of jealousy. I did and by dismissing her and refusing to see her you're taking it from her too. You can't do that," Ellen persisted.

"What happened to being able to make my own decisions!?"

"But by doing this you're taking Laura's away. This decision affects other people, Katya, not just you ! If you do this then you're making another choice for Laura. She's already had too many made for her," Ellen said wishing that she saw a glimpse of understanding in the young woman's eyes.

" If you let someone change you or make you apologize, then you're selling yourself out ," Katya rattled off the saying as if it were an old proverb. "You told me that, Ellen! You ! Plenty of times! What the hell is the difference now?"

Ellen bitterly smirked and shook her head.

"You know you listen to me way too much, kit." Ellen's slight grin turned into a frown and she flicked a few tears off of her wet cheeks. "Sweetie, I'm not asking you to change one bit and I'm sure as frak not asking you to apologize to anyone. I'm in no way asking you to go up to that woman and tell her that you're sorry. Frankly I don't care if you like Laura Roslin or not. I just don't want you shunning her."

The look on Katya's face turned to one of deep concern and for a moment Ellen thought she'd gotten through to her.

"You've been popping my pills haven't you?" She asked in mock sense of worry.

Ellen was far from amused. Her frustration made her tears surge harder and her reaction turned Katya's faux look of concern into legitimate apprehension.

"Ellen, I'm sorry," She attempted reaching a hand out to cover the woman’s knee.

"Oh, Katya, I don't want to have to explain this to you, " Ellen sobbed, palming at her forehead.

With a big breath she regained some control and reached to take her cabin tablet down from the shelf. Katya's concerned eyes followed her every move. Ellen turned the device on and after a few seconds she took Katya's hand from her knee as if to hold it again and instead scanned her wrist over the screen without asking.

"Ellen what the heck are you doing?"

Ellen didn't answer she just accessed Katya's system data and opened her medical records. She searched silently until she found what she wanted to show her.

The image she brought up was from Katya's first night in the lab. It was a photo captured from overnight footage as they let her sleep and nurse tucked up against Laura's body. Ellen was quiet for a while as she looked at the image of mother and daughter. Large tears rolled down her cheeks as love, awe and jealousy all ran through her at once. She tried to remember what had moved her to tell Laura about that night. She tried to recall what made her share the powerful image that she knew would almost certainly rouse any sense of an ethereal bond that might exist but she couldn't. Back in the lab it had all just come out like an emotive flood and she wasn't sure if she could inspire the compassion in Katya. Though she hated to do it she had one last idea.

"Honey, you and me, we have something in common. We share something that I wish we didn't...Do you know what I'm talking about?" Ellen asked after a while had passed.

"An angry bald man who loves us?" Katya posed with an arched brow.

Ellen gave a small smile and shook her head.

"No sweetie, as women. We have something unfortunate in common as women." Ellen sighed. She hoped this wouldn't hurt Katya as much as it hurt her but she had to help the young woman find some sense of perspective. She might hate herself for it later and Katya might hate her for it now but it was all that she could think of to help her in the long run. "It's that we'll never know that this feels like," She said passing Katya the tablet.

As Katya looked down at the image she finally understood what Ellen meant. Her heart dropped not only at the meaning behind Ellen's cutting statement but at the image on the screen. She'd seen it more than a few times and it never failed to inspire the old feeling she'd grown to hate; the feeling of wanting the mother she never knew.

"I know that you say it doesn't bother you,kitten, and maybe on one level that's true, but I understand exactly what it’s like to be incapable of something that should be so natural. It feels completely unfair. It makes you feel like less than a woman. It takes away your confidence over your own body. Then it makes the decision feel like it isn't even yours because you're always reminded that it was never a frakking option for you in the first place. I know you at least understand that feeling."

Katya did understand it; she just didn't understand why Ellen was bringing it up. They'd spoken about it before over the years but it just wasn't something Katya liked to discuss. She didn't feel like it was relevant or productive to dwell on. The last time that she'd even mentioned it was to Alexi and she would have never let herself bring it up had she not been totally drunk. She blamed the alcohol when he tried to bring it up the next sobering morning. Thankfully he graciously let her sweep it under the rug. She had no desire to talk about it. It just didn't matter.

"I'm not going to discuss that right now," Katya said steeling her jaw.

"Then don't talk. Just listen to me," Ellen said putting a hand on Katya's leg.

She let out a long sigh and leaned against the wall at the foot of the rack.

"Katya, when Uncle Saul and I lived on Earth, our Earth , you know that we always wanted children but it never happened…and it's haunted me through every lifetime."

Even though Katya had heard Ellen say it before she felt a deep sting follow the raw divulgence. She hated to see Ellen cry and to see her cry about this was almost unbearable. The pain in her eyes was too old and too familiar. She had to look away for a moment.

"When we lived on the Colonies it was the same thing all over again. We tried, though not as long and not as thoroughly. I would get so frustrated I would go on week long benders. Eventually we gave up. I focused on things that would distract me; having fun and making trouble.  I wasn't myself…at least not totally. Cavil…John...he left me with the worst parts of my personality and just a few saving graces, but even then, once in awhile I felt it; the sad pangs of what if and that frakking sense of inferiority." Ellen shook her head and rolled her eyes. "You know, back on Caprica I even saw a shrink about it once. She told me it was the reason why I have such a pension for male attention. She said their desire for me as a woman helped to overshadow that part of the whole dance that I just couldn't do," She shrugged and let out a short laugh. "I went home after that, flirted with building doorman, killed a bottle of wine and tried not to think about it ever again…but I still had this weird space in my heart that men and booze and even Uncle Saul could never fill."

"Ellen, I…"

"Daniel filled that space in my heart once,” Ellen smiled sadly through her tears. “And when he was taken from me I thought it would never be filled again. When Uncle Saul was expecting a son with the Six...it felt like that space had been torn wide open. Someone else was going to give him something that I never could and it made that empty space feel so much bigger and so much emptier. Then one day you came along and you filled it. You filled it, kitten. You filled it to the brim."

"Aunt Ellen, please don't do this to yourself," Katya said urging her to spare them both.

"Shh, baby, just listen to me," Ellen said putting a delicate finger to the girl's lips. "I need you to hear me," She told her only taking her finger away when Katya gave a tenuous nod. "You know that I've always loved you like you were my own child but sometimes I'm still haunted by the fact that I never got to know what it was like to really have one of my own; to know Saul and I made a whole other person. I've always wished that you were mine. I mean, you are , but I mean really and truly my flesh and blood," Ellen squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. "I know that it sounds crazy with all that was done to her, but I've always been so jealous that Laura got to carry you and I didn't. It's sick. I know that but it's the truth. In the lab today she looked so awestruck as she stared down at your picture and the damn projection...And I was just so overcome with the same old envy because I could see a connection there that I'll just never know. And no matter what you say, sweetie, I wish like hell that you really had the option to choose to know it or not," She added in a strained voice as Katya turned away. "I'm telling you this, Katya, not to make you feel badly, or because I want company to commiserate with. I'm telling you because you can understand it," Ellen tried to explain. She saw Katya's ears redden and tears start to begrudgingly roll down her flushed cheeks. "Laura had the chance to know that feeling taken away from her. No one took anything from you and me. It's just the way our bodies work…or don't work, I guess I should say. Katya if you dismiss Laura from your life, if you don't at least let her acknowledge you then you're keeping that chance away from her the same as I tried to. You're taking away her chance to know what it's like. No one can change that for you or for me but you can change that for Laura. She deserves to know. Give her that gift. Give her that gift that you and I can't give ourselves. You're the only person who can do that for her now," Ellen finished.

Katya's jaw was slack and her face was hot. Ellen had just fiercely and painfully bared her soul to make her point but she'd dragged Katya's along with it and it wasn't fair.

"You've got a lot of nerve, Ellen," Katya gritted, finally giving Ellen her dejected and angry eyes.

Ellen could see the fury, hurt and resentment behind them but she hoped the tears that were now steadily falling meant that Katya had finally understood what she was trying to explain.

"Tell me something I don't know, sweetie," Ellen answered with a small shrug and a sniff.

"I can't give her this back, Ellen," Katya said shoving the tablet into the other woman’s lap. "She can't hold me, she can't rock me to sleep. That's gone. So I guess that just makes three of us that just have to live and wonder."

Katya's tone was biting but Ellen let it go. She knew that this would sting for both of them.

"Just offer her what you can, Katya. Offer Laura a chance to look you in the eye and see you for who you are to her. Let her know the feeling of acknowledging her own child, her own flesh and blood. Whatever it brings her at least you won't be the one withholding it."

"Even if I did, how do you know she'd even want to now after everything she’s learned, after everything that was said?" Katya posed as she wiped her eyes roughly with the back of her wrist.

"I don't know that she’ll want to. Not for sure. Maybe we frakking scared her off for good. I don't know but I do know that the right thing is to let her have the chance. When she asked to speak to you before and I refused, she asked that I at least give you the option to talk to her or to turn her away for yourself. Now I'm asking you to give her the same option she wanted you to have."

It was strange to know that Laura had put herself out there, ready to take the rejection if only for a chance to speak with her. Katya didn't know what to do. She wasn't sure she could even face her again let alone speak to her. She had over twenty years of fantasy daydreams of her mother piled up in her mind and now she couldn't even picture what a civil conversation with Laura would be like.

"I don't know if I can."

Ellen licked her lips and gave Katya a sad smile.

"Will you do it for me?"

Something about the way she said it caused Katya's tears to run hot and her exasperation to surge.

" I was doing this for you ! I turned my own mother away for you, Ellen ! I was defending you !" Katya shouted through unwanted emotion. "And for you...I'd do it again."

Ellen's heart hurt as she struggled against the desire to just embrace Katya's devotion and say to hell with everyone else.

"Katya, you can't withhold yourself as punishment in my defense! Don't you see that's what you're doing? I can't have you chastising Laura in my name, I just can't! Sweetie, you want me to quit treating you like a little girl; show me that you understand what this means as a woman."

Ellen's eyes were pleading; something Katya couldn't recall ever seeing before. She reached out and thumbed a tear off the other woman's cheek as if it would discourage the others from falling. She wished in that moment she could fix everything; for Ellen, for Laura, for herself but there was just so much that couldn't be changed, so much they would all still have to bear no matter what she did or didn't do.

"Ellen, you are my mother. You know that right?"

Ellen nodded and put an arm around Katya squeezing her in close.

"Yeah, baby. I know. I do and it feels so damn good to hear you say it," She said letting her tears fall onto Katya's shoulder. "Give Laura a chance to hear it too."

Katya held onto Ellen tightly. She didn't need another reason to love to the woman in her arms but she'd given her one anyway. Katya had a feeling that Ellen had gone through lifetimes without being understood by many people. She was proud that she could say she was one who did. After fifteen years she was still learning things about the woman who had come into her life as a stranger and become the closest thing that she ever had to a mother. What most people saw of Ellen Tigh was only a fraction of the woman she truly was. Perhaps the same was true for Laura Roslin.

"I…I won't turn her away again," Katya whispered.

It was all she could offer.

"Thank you, baby" Ellen said kissing the side of her head, "That's good to hear."

As they sat there tightly embracing the sudden blaring of the station alarm sounded jarring them away from each other.

"Dammit!" Katya shouted struggling to inch off the rack as the lights emergency lights started to pulsate.

"Frak! What the hell is going on!?" Ellen shouted.

"Shit! Should we go get Roslin and Adama?"

"No…no. Vladi is there with two marines. They'll be fine until Saul gets to them,” Ellen decided.

"All I have the alert!” Katya shouted over the noise as she checked her cuff.” No sit-rep. What the hell!?”

"I'm not picking up on anything from the basestar,” Ellen said biting her lip in thought. “But...I have a bad feeling.”

"What? Why?"

ACTION STATIONS. ACTION STATIONS.

ALPHA SET CONDITION ONE

ALL UNITS AND ALL SQUADRONS REPORT

REPEAT ALL UNITS AND ALL SQUADRONS REPORT

"Fuck!"

"Katya don't you even think about it," Ellen warned.

Katya stood there mouth agape as the reality sunk in. She couldn't report. Even if she could force herself to fly in her condition no one would let her. She was still a mess, over medicated and stiff. Her bird still sat up on blocks on the deck in worse shape than she was. She was utterly useless to her squadron, to her station.

" This is insane! I can't just sit here . I can't! Maybe they can use me in the control room.” As she went to send out an assignment request message that she knew was probably doomed to be rejected, Ellen reached out and grabbed her arm with a force.

"You're not going anywhere," She said in a loud but even voice. "Don't fight me on this, Katya. There's no point because I'll stop you," She informed her as she firmly but carefully drew the girl back on the bed by her wrist. "We're going to sit here together, you and me, until it's over…just like we used to. I'm gunna hold on to you and you're gunna hold on to me. I'm gunnna rub your back and we're gunna take deep breaths until it all passes."

Ellen was right and Katya hated it. Kaplan wouldn't let her do a damn thing knowing the shape she was in and Tawny would never approve it anyway. If the commander needed her then he'd send for her and she knew that wouldn't happen unless the situation was desperate.

ACTION STATIONS. ACTION STATIONS.

ALPHA SET CONDITION ONE

ALL UNITS AND ALL SQUADRONS REPORT

REPEAT ALL UNITS AND ALL SQUADRONS REPORT

Reluctantly back in Ellen's arms Katya let her tears run freely.

"Ellen, I can't stand not doing anything when I hear that sound," She sobbed into her neck.

Even lowering the com system volume in the cabin didn't do much good. Their anxiety always amplified the noise in their minds anyway and the constant vibrations through the walls and the floors made sure that almost every sense was alarmed.

"I know, baby. I know all you want to do is serve your people. You're my sweet little warrior and you always have been. I'm so very proud of you," Ellen spoke as soothingly as she could while hugging Katya tightly in her arms. "Just try and let it all go." Ellen did her best to block everything else out; the alarms, the sobbing, the fear and soon, little by little it all actually started to fade. The buzzing rhythm of the alarm was replaced by the rhythm of waves, their sobbing by the calls of gulls and their tears by the salty spray of the ocean. "C'mon kitten, let's go to the beach."

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

YEAR: 2315

Saul wearily walked the halls of the station's military quarters as he made his way back home. After leaving Bill and Laura's cabin he briefly considered going all the way to the control room to check in but a message from his CEM assured the colonel that his jurisdiction was stable and back to business as usual now that the alert was over.

When the alarms first rang out Saul was hardly surprised. He thought perhaps it was the booze dulling his senses or that maybe he was just finally becoming immune to the sound but in the back of his mind he knew it was because he had in some way been expecting it. Maybe not right then; he didn't have any sense of time attached to it. He'd just been waiting for its inevitability. The only surprising factor was that he usually had some warning from the basestar. Communications with the Raider's usually would alert Saul and Ellen before station alarms ever had time to sound. This time the contact came after. That worried him. He made note to bring it up to Ellen and Margot when things had calmed. As Saul walked he wondered how Alexi had fared. He’d watched the boy stumble off of his bar stool at the sound of the alarm and like a switch he'd snapped to attention when the Colonel barked loudly at him to sober up. He watched the marine charge out of Senchi amidst all the other hardly sober officers all rushing to report. Saul slightly regretting forcing so much booze into him all night. Before Saul could report to the control room himself a message came to him on Commander Kaplan's behalf; he was to locate Roslin and Adama and stand vigil until the condition changed. Saul knew itwould probably become his combat assignment for the foreseeable future and it angered him and appeased him all at once. He wanted to protect them. His place was always by Bill's side but that didn't change the fact that he had become a glorified babysitter.

He arrived at their hatch not long after leaving Senchi. Having sent them a message on his way they were awaiting his arrival. He could tell they had obviously been woken from bed. Laura was shaken and Bill was angry. Saul expected as much.

 

It was an odd few hours as he accompanied them. When they’d all parted ways earlier in the evening the circumstances had been tense. Saul could hardly look Laura in the eyes. He felt badly for the woman but he also hadn't forgotten the words she'd used against his wife and her harsh judgment over how they'd raised Katya. He didn't know what to say to Bill either. After showing them how to lower the alarm volume in their cabin he briefly considered offering to wait out the alert in the hallway with their security detail but his duty was explicit. He was to keep them both within his line of vision until further notice. He settled for suggesting they rest while he waited for an updated sit-rep on their sofa. At first they took him up on it, retiring to their bedroom together but not long after Bill rejoined Saul. The two men hardly spoke as they sat waiting. Saul gave Bill updates as they came in and Bill made minimal comments.

There had been another atmosphere breech; this time in both the Alpha and Beta quadrants of the Orbit system. From what Saul heard the Airbots were able to advance much further than they had during the last attack. They'd made it closer to the station than they had in over a year, in fact. It was as if the cylon Raiders had been caught off guard. The fleet of Airbots was far more numerous than the last and all flight squadrons were called on deck. Six air groups had eventually taken flight throughout the battle. When it was over and their birds were called home Saul learned that this time there were system casualties. They'd lost a handful of Raiders; Cylon guardians that wouldn't be coming back. The basestar could replace them by creating brand new ships but their memories no longer downloaded, they no longer resurrected. When they lost Raiders in combat they lost soldiers with experience and knowledge and those things just couldn't be programmed. Beta Station reported three airmen lost and Alpha; two. It was hard to count themselves lucky but they did. Saul was relieved when he learned that Blazer made it back safely and though he knew Katya was in pain and suffering from the results of the last attack he counted himself fortunate that she had been tucked safely in his cabin all night by Ellen's side. When the alarms ceased at 0300 and the station's status was downgraded Saul was able to take his leave. Laura never came back out of the bedroom and he was able to offer Bill some honest parting words.

"Things are heating up. I think it would be good if we could make things right…just so we can all focus on whatever might be coming our way…I'm trying my damnedest to fix things on my end, Bill, but you've gotta fix them on yours," Saul told his friend plainly. It was the first time either one of them had mentioned the earlier events and the expression on Bill's face looked anything but understanding. "C'mon, Old Man. I've got two that I have to contend with. You just have the one,” He’d tried to muse, gesturing in the direction of the bedroom Laura rested in. “You've gotta help me out here, Bill.”

With a firm and stoic grunt the Admiral had finally nodded in agreement. Satisfied with that response Saul left the cabin to trudge home, tired and with the beginnings of a hangover creeping up on him from his daylong buzz. All he wanted was to fall onto his rack and pass out into a dreamless sleep. The three minute walk home felt like an hour long trek through knee deep water. He was relieved to finally turn the last corner of his journey and see the centurion still standing guard outside of his home.

When Ellen heard the hatch click she sat up straight in the rack. Careful not to disturb Katya who finally slept soundly beside her she made her way off of the bed and out of the doorway.

The room was dark as Saul entered and he figured that Kat and Ellen must have gone to bed soon after the alarms stopped.

He and Ellen hadn't messaged much during the time he’d sat with Bill. Her near silence almost worried him but he knew that she and Katya were safe in their cabin and that they were in good hands with each other.

Saul could hardly see where he walked once the entrance closed and the light from the hall was lost. As he made his way toward the bedroom he nearly jumped out of his skin when Ellen sprang into his arms.

"Good gods, woman!" He yelled struggling to hold on to her without falling back onto his ass.

"Shhh, you're gunna wake Kat," She whispered before kissing him, nearly missing his mouth in the darkness.

Still alarmed Saul wasn't exactly reciprocating her sudden affections.

Ellen, you scared the frak out of me, " He whispered forcefully leaning away from her advancements but Ellen just pulled him closer.

"I'm sorry," She whispered palming the back of his head and aggressively pressing her lips to his.

She kissed him until he turned his head making it impossible.

"Ellen what the frak has gotten into you?"

He couldn't understand where her impromptu ardor was coming from. They'd been on less than steady terms lately and it was almost 0400. Though Saul hadn’t been confined to sleeping on the couch they hadn't exactly been snuggling up under the sheets either. Everything was just getting in the way. Bill, Laura, Katya, the EOC and the constant threat all hung over their heads. Ellen hadn't shown him this kind of attention in weeks and though he was naturally tempted to succumb to her he was thrown off guard.

He couldn't bring himself to reciprocate. Ellen finally leaned back with a discouraged huff.

Saul's vision had adjusted to the darkness and now he could see her face. She wore an unsure smile and her eyes were slightly swollen. He could tell she'd been crying all night.

"Nothing's gotten into me, Saul. I'm just happy to see you. I'm relieved that you're back," She explained running her hands down the front of his tunic.

"I was only at Bill and Laura's," He grimaced. "I didn't even report," He added in confusion.

"I know it. I just…I missed you is all. Can't I just be happy that you're home?" She asked tilting her head and letting one of her hands hook on to his belt.

The look she was giving him and the sadness behind her ever seductive smile tugged at his heart. He suspected what might have happened while he was gone. What he saw in her eyes wouldn't be there if it hadn't. Somehow it made him forgive her for everything else. He could never stay angry at her for long. No matter how maddening and infuriating she could be, he needed her. They'd found their way to each other in every lifetime and he couldn't imagine one without her. It would be more peaceful, it would be easier, but it wouldn't be worth it.

"Yeah…Yeah, Ellen. I'm glad to be home too," He relented with a half smile and finally leaned in to meet her for a shared kiss.

As Ellen dipped her hand lower past his belt Saul's weariness and tension was forgotten. He would sleep later; he would sleep when he was dead, as long as he could have the blonde in his arms right then.

"C'mon," He said breaking their contact and then pulling her by the wrist toward their bedroom.

"No, no, no ," Ellen protested tugging her arm back to stop him, "We can't go in there. Katya's sleeping on the bed," She said in a low but warning voice.

Saul grimaced in frustration. It had been months since they had to deal with having their kid in their cabin and he'd become happily used to that part of being an empty nester.

"I'll pick her up and put her to bed," He offered hastily.

"No, no leave her, Saul. I finally got her to take her meds an hour ago. She wouldn't sleep until she knew Blazer was okay. She had a long night, besides, you'll strain her neck," Ellen protested.

She and Katya had spent most of the attack immersed in a peaceful vision of sea and sand. It was Ellen's go-to projection used on only the rarest of occasions when times just got too tough. It was the very first she'd ever shared with her little girl and tonight it just felt right. Eventually she'd broken it, remembering the real world needed attending to, but it had done them both a lot of good to allow themselves the tiny break from reality. Katya only minimally protested when Ellen brought her medicine into the bedroom, agreeing to take the pills once she got word that Blaze was safe. Once she fell to sleep Ellen rested beside her awaiting Saul's return. Something about the tumultuous night had given her a strange sense of gratitude toward her husband and now she wanted nothing more than to show it in the only way she really knew how.

"Well I'm not doin' it on her bed, I'll tell you that," Saul groused in a louder voice.

" Shh !" Ellen warned again, taking his hand and guiding him to the sofa.

"Here?" Saul said reluctantly following, "She could come out and catch us."

Ellen giggled.

"It's not like it would be the first time," She teased. Saul winced and it made her laugh harder. "Oh she always gets over it. She's very resilient. C'mon Saul," Ellen chided making him grimace even more. She had to stifle her laughs with her palm. Pushing him onto the sofa she promptly sat on his lap making sure he had no exit. "C'mon, she's so drugged up Vladi could go in there and play the steel drums on his knee and she'd never know it."

Ellen smirked and leaned in to nibble on her husband's ear; something she knew he could hardly ever resist.

"You sure?" He asked weakly, knowing that at this point he didn't have much choice let alone the will to say no to her.

"Positive. I'll be real quiet," She assured, leaning back on his lap so that she could see his face.

For a while she stared at him without words.

"What's that look for?" He smiled as he ran his eager hands down her backside.

"Nothing…I just love you is all," She said with her eyes suddenly watering once again.

Saul frowned at the crack in her voice and the unshed tears her eyes held.

"You alright?" He asked looking up at her.

She nodded and licked her lips as she tried to blink away the unexpected emotion. She leaned in to hug him and rested her head on his shoulder.

"Did you and Katya talk tonight?" He asked softly, already knowing the answer.

Ellen nodded against his neck.

"That's good, Ellen," He said running a soothing hand up and down the side of her thigh. She didn't respond right away but he could feel more tears fall onto the skin of his neck. "It is, baby and I'm proud of you," He offered.

He held her for a moment before she moved in his arms.

"I'm proud of you too, Saul," She told him with sniff. "Over the years…since we came to Alpha I…" Ellen faltered unable to follow through with what she was trying to say. "You're just such a wonderful father," She told him finally.

He was still as he held her. Ellen's words had taken his voice away for a moment. She'd never said that to him before.

It wasn't that he'd been waiting to hear it. He just never knew what it would mean to have her tell him it was so. Saul gathered his strength and lifted Ellen up from his chest. He laid her back on the sofa so that her head was at one end and her feet at the other. He leaned down over her making sure he looked directly into her eyes; the eyes that still reminded him of what the sky looked like on a clear day even though he hadn't seen it for thousands of years.

"And you are such a wonderful and beautiful mother," He told her in a soft but solid voice making sure she heard every word before leaning in to give her a slow and tender kiss.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

"I thought you were going to ask the Commander, Saul," Bill said as he followed Tigh around the cabin.

"I forgot with all the commotion," Saul answered, busily searching the cabin with Bill on his tail." Ellen where the frak is my side holster?!" He shouted so that she could hear him from where she was getting ready in the head. "Besides, Bill I didn't think you were really serious." Saul grimaced as he checked the desk drawer for the second time. "I thought it was the booze talking."

"I'm absolutely serious, Saul," Bill returned.

He was going stir crazy. After the last attack he decided that he couldn't bear to spend another high alert held up in his cabin like some frightened civvie. He and Laura had little to do as they awaited the other downloads. They were treated like precious commodities under constant guard but they felt like prisoners. What was worse for Bill was knowing that even if he had the freedom to go and do as he pleased he wouldn't know where to start.

"Ellen!" Saul called again.

"I put it with Kat’s!" She finally hollered back.

"And where the frak is that?!"

"Gods! Hold on!" She shouted.

"Bill, the commander is never going to go for it. Don't you see what your safety means to these people?" Saul said shaking his head.

"I could be of some use. Maybe in some consulting capacity. Combat tactics can't have changed that much. I'm not asking for a title here or any control. I just want something to do with myself."

"So go to the gym. Play a videogame. Ask Lt. Bishop to spar with you. You should see Helo's son in the ring. He may seem goofy but he’s a beast to box. Enjoy the retirement you never had while you still can."

"I want to be useful. Saul, I mean it. I'm not sitting on my ass through another alarm like that."

"You will be frakking useful, Old Man. That's the whole point of this entire thing," The Colonel growled.

"We don't know when and we don't know how. What the hell do I do till then?"

"Look, Bill, I'll talk to the commander when I get back. See if he has any ideas, but I'm not sure I can help you on this. You just need to hang on. In a few days Helo and Athena will be back. Who knows what that will bring? You very well might find out what exactly your purpose is then. Til' that happens try and relax."

"That's another thing," Bill interjected as he watched Ellen stroll into the room. It was the first time he'd seen her since the unfortunate confrontation. Days had passed but he was no less infuriated with her. He knew that her jealousy and goading had been what sparked the entire event. Though he understood that Laura wasn't blameless he was sure that Ellen was the cause of her malice and probably Katya's too. As far as he was concerned Ellen had deliberately torn at the delicate beginnings of his family and he couldn't stand to look at the woman let alone greet her.!"Laura and I want to be there when they resurrect," Bill said bringing his attentions back to Saul.

"No way," Saul answered quickly. " We can't risk having the majority of you in the same place at the same time. That's why you've all been separated on different stations. Look what happened to the bodies on Gamma. If you'd all been there we'd have lost hope all together."

"It's right here, Saul," Ellen said bending over to open an end table drawer. She pulled out his holster and tossed it over to him, "Hello, Bill," She purposefully acknowledged.

He curtly nodded in her direction without giving her his eyes.

"Finally," Saul groused. "We're gunna be late," He said as he removed his tunic to put on the apparatus, "What are you packing, Ellen?"

"I'm not going armed, Saul," Ellen rolled her eyes. "I told you."

"I don't like it, Ellen. What if there's a breach while we're over there? What if we were boarded? Just take something," He called after her as she made her way to the cooler to grab a bottle of water.

"We are taking along half a dozen centurions. I don't need anything else," Ellen insisted.

"Where the frak are you two going armed to the gills?" Bill grimaced.

He watched Saul with something akin to envy as he shrugged his tunic back on and fastened it closed. The Orbit Patrol uniform was far sleeker than anything he was used to with its black on black and bright white piping. Its only hint of color was the Alpha blue service band worn around the bicep and whatever medals and ribbons decorated the breast of the jacket. Though it was an unfamiliar look Bill still thought he could see himself donning it. He'd be far more comfortable in it than he was sporting the collared shirts and slacks that had been pre-stocked in his cabin when they'd arrived. He had never been meant for civilian life and he still wasn't.

"The basestar," Saul answered, slipping his sidearm into his holster. "We're meeting Margot and her team from Delta, along with a team of engineers from each station. We want to try and figure out what's up with our communications system."

"I thought you said that firewall fixed the problem."

"It did but it also may have caused some jamming within our own… internal transmissions, let's call it," Saul specified. "During the last attacks the Raiders didn't pick up on the coming infiltration until our station radar saw it. Usually they have a head start. Typically Ellen and I have always gotten a signal before an oncoming threat has breached the atmosphere line. Margot gets it too," He explained.

Bill frowned. Saul was talking about some sort of Cylon interconnection. After all this time it still made him uneasy.

"This time Ellen and I got nothing. Margot didn't either. We were clued in when we heard the alarms just like everyone else."

"What about the two boys?" Bill posed.

Ellen turned from the kitchen and walked toward the living space when she heard Bill’s question. She was sure that he didn't want to hear her speak but it was her home and she'd do it anyway.

"As hybrids Blaze and Alexi haven't really experienced the same level of Cylon abilities as Margot. They generally don't receive any communication with other Cylons until they are in close range or they initiate it themselves. They can read each other and us if they want but it’s not something they tend to do. They can interact with the stream but they don't have the best control over it and their connection's about half the strength of Margot's," Ellen explained as Bill obviously averted eye contact.

"The boys only have a moderately higher ability than Katya does," Saul slipped.

Ellen froze where she stood.

"Katya?" Bill scowled, " What ?"

" Saul ," Ellen warned but he huffed and sighed throwing his arms up in frustration.

"Oh so what, Ellen? Might as well get it all out in the open! How much more damage could it do?"

Ellen shrugged and rolled her eyes as she flopped down on the ottoman giving up. She wasn't ashamed to reveal Katya's abilities. She was proud of them. They'd brought the two closer than she ever thought they could be. She was always grateful that Katya could relate to her and Saul that way. It had helped them become the family that they were but Ellen knew Bill wouldn't share her sentiments.

"What are you two talking about? She's not here is she?" He asked, realizing he'd never even checked to see if his daughter was in when he arrived.

Bill had been frustrated when he arrived. He had no desire to spend another say hovering over Laura and sitting on his ass. He’d left his quarters in a huff. He’d started badgering Saul with an onslaught of questions about enlistment as soon as he’d gotten there. He felt slightly embarrassed now for not having asked if she were home.  

"She started PT for her neck this morning," Ellen answered. "She won't be back for another hour."

"Doesn't matter," Saul interjected. "She doesn't need to be here for this, besides, Laura should know. Could affect her too," Saul posed.

Ellen's face surged with warmth.

"Yeah…maybe," She mused with a roll of her eyes.

Ellen was already relatively sure that Laura was indeed affected. When Saul told her about Vladi's interest in the woman it clinched things. She already knew that they'd shared that projection in the lab. There was no doubt in that. Vladi’s affections were just confirmation. Laura had at least some cylon abilities and Vladi knew it.

What the frak are you to yammering about ?" Bill nearly growled.

Saul looked at his wife as if to ask her for help.

Ellen shot up out of her seat in anger.

" Oh so you spill the beans and I have to explain it to him? The man won't even look at me, Saul," Ellen shouted in Bill's direction.

" I'm just not in the mood for any of your crap today, Ellen, " Bill shot back, finally looking at her with accusation in his eyes. " I think you've done enough damage for a while ."

"I think you're forgetting that I wasn't exactly fighting with myself the other day, Bill. You're precious Laura may be back here from beyond the grave but that doesn't make her an damn angel! You heard what she said! My kid had to hear all of it! Do you know how hard it was to explain it all to her!? Saul and I dealt with Katya. She understands what she did was wrong but if you think any member of my family is going to start kissing your asses in apology then you're out of your mind and Saul agrees!" Ellen added. Bill made note when Saul didn't stop her to protest. " It's gunna have to go both ways, Bill! Now do you want to hear what I have to say? Because if not then feel free to get back to Laura and that glass house of yours! "

Ellen was right as much as it enraged Bill. What had gone on involved all three woman and if anything was going to change all three of them would need to answer for the hurt they'd caused each other. He wasn't doing any good by insulting Saul's wife in front of him. Bill could tell from the moment he’d gotten there that morning that Saul wasn't altogether happy to see him. Laura had deeply insulted the the man's wife and child and Bill had to understand that.

Ellen's sharp words seemed to insinuate that the Tighs were at least in some way willing to rectify what went on but what they didn't understand was that Laura wasn't budging. No matter how Bill tried to spin it over the last few days Laura was holding steadily to her decision to avoid their daughter. During the day she wouldn't talk about it. She would cut him off whenever he tried to bring it up and yet every night, under the cloak of darkness she would wake dreamily speaking of ‘what ifs and do you thinks’. In the mornings Bill would wake up hopeful that the promise of her midnight musings would be carried into the next day but they were always gone, squelched down by her determination to hide them. It was like she wouldn't bring her hopefulness into the proverbial light of day. She confined all of her thoughts and longing to the wee hours. Laura was no longer the melancholy wreck that existed when they’d first resurrected, neither was she the pile of sorrow that emoted when she'd found out about their child. She was barely anything. She was impassive and detached from the situation. Her reasoning for the way she was handling it was very matter of fact and apathetic. At least until the lights went out at night.

Bill knew that it wasn't all Ellen's fault but as he looked back at her he couldn't remember a time when he wanted to punch her in the mouth more than he did right then. He needed someone to blame and she’d made herself his target. Rationally he knew that more anger and insults would solve nothing.

Reluctantly he relented and nodded for her to continue with whatever new blow she was about deal him.

"Look, we don't have time for a long story right now, Bill, but…Saul's right. Katya does have some Cylon attributes," Ellen confessed and crossed her arms.

"That can't be," Bill shot back, "She's human, she's Colonial. I saw the godsdamn footage of her conception and her birth, Ellen! I know she's mine and Laura's so how the hell is that possible?"

"It's true, Bill," Saul affirmed. "She was born with them as far as we can tell."

"They did something to her, those bastard doctors ," Bill accused trying to find a rational explanation and a somewhere to place some blame. "They engineered her that way?"

"No, Bill, that's not it," Ellen answered. "Believe me I checked a hundred times over trying to figure it out when I first noticed. Nothing was done to her that could have caused it. She wasn't genetically manipulated. It's just…her natural makeup," She said with a shrug.

"That can't be," Bill shook his head.

"It is, Bill. It is cause…it's Laura's too," Saul admitted.

He gave a look to Ellen that seemed to be a half apology. The least he could do was take on the burden of telling Bill the part he knew he would hate hearing the most.

" You two are trying to drive us both frakking crazy aren't you? " Bill spit, still in disbelief.

Ellen bravely stepped closer to where Bill stood infuriated and confused.

"Bill, you know as well as we do that Baltar used an experimental Cylon hybrid transfusion to save Laura's life and cure her cancer. You saw it. That transfusion altered the structure of her blood cells in order to cure her illness. When we realized that Katya was exhibiting cylon abilities we were baffled at first but eventuallySaul figured it out. The sample of Laura's blood that we took from Galactica to clone her body was drawn after her cure, after the transmutation of her own blood cells."

"But Laura didn't have any cylon abilities after that bogus cure. It didn't do anything like that to her. Hell, it didn't even save her life in the end," Bill argued.

"I wouldn't be too sure of that, Bill. Think about it," Saul suggested, "Our leader, our prophet, her visions, her dreams. How do we know what allowed her to see any of that? I'll grant you that she'd been having those premonitions and such from the time we both met her but you know as well as I do how much stronger and vivid they became toward the end. Maybe that chamalla wasn't the holy mystic miracle drug we thought it was. I know she and Athena shared the same dreams and visions as Caprica. You know it too. The three of them saw things together. They had the same experiences together. They could see each other, hear each other. Why do you suppose Laura could connect in such a way to two cylon women?" He posed.!"Do you know what a projection is, Bill? I mean, for a cylon?" Saul asked.

Bill nodded slowly. He did. Sharon Agathon had spoken about the ability during one of their long talks in his quarters. He knew what it was, how they could choose to see the world around them in any way they desired and how they could stop it and start it at will. Sharon told him that once she'd gotten to Galactica she'd stopped doing it. She said it made her feel like she was lying to herself. She said it made her feel less human. The thought that his daughter was capable of it made Bill's stomach turn. The thought that Laura might be capable of it was enough to make his head spin.

"It could be possible that Laura has no cylon attributes," Ellen lied. That theory was gone. She knew now what the woman was capable of but she wasn't about to tell Bill that. "It's possible that she never has. Part of her genetics could have just been recessively passed down during her baby's conception or somehow activated during fetal development by naturally occurring hormones. The thing is we may never know why but Katya does have some cylon abilities and we know that she inherited them from Laura."

"Kat can project," Saul explained. "She doesn't but she can. She can share ours too but neither of us do that anymore," He went on as Ellen blushed beside him. “Her dreams are more vivid than most too. They seem more lifelike. She struggled with that a lot as a kid…she saw things. It's hard to tell a little girl that her nightmares aren't real when you know just how true to life they must seem. Sometimes she gets feelings she can't explain. We don't know how much of that is jumbled or weak intercommunication from the stream and how much of it is her own mind at work but she's learned to handle it. She can read us, the boys too and we can do the same with her. She can communicate with the centurions,!identify them at close range. That's how she can pick out Vladi from a crowd full of identical bullet heads."

"Saul, don't call them that," Ellen nagged.

Bill could hardly hear either of them speak. He felt like his head was drifting up like a balloon. His own child was a sweeping red eye away from being one of the chrome domes he'd spent two wars gladly killing. If he hadn't learned his lesson before and saw how thin the line was between the two races, he sure would have now. The blood drained out of his face when Saul mentioned Laura's shared visions with the Six and the Eight. He broke out into a cold sweat when he spoke of Katya's feelings and dreams. He wondered if the vivid feelings and dreams that Laura had recently shared with him could have any relation to her possible abilities.

"You may want to hold off telling Laura," Ellen suggested.!"She doesn't need to be bothered with it if it's not bothering her."

After everything they'd gone through in the last few days Ellen was in no mood for Laura to realize what she'd done in the lab. She believed what she told Katya. She was sure that one day Laura would be thankful for that brief glimpse of her baby but for now Ellen didn't want to answer for it. She'd given in enough for now.

"If she hasn't noticed anything by now, Bill she probably doesn't have to worry about it. It's your call," Saul suggested, attempting to reassure his friend.

"You encouraged these behaviors in Katya?" Bill squinted.

"They aren't behaviors , Bill," Ellen challenged snidely." They are part of who she is. We didn't raise her to be ashamed of anything her mother gave her," She finished with a raised eyebrow, pleased when her choice of words and the desired effect they had on Bill's expression.

"Look, Bill…Katya's just a special girl," Saul added. "She always has been. You have to remember that everyone in this system has a bit of cylon in them…well, except for you. Looks like until Helo gets here you're the odd man out," He tried to joke. "We brought the two races here and they eventually joined with the people who already existed on this planet and became one. These people all have some sense of Colonial lineage in them the same as they have Cylon genes too. Katya's not too far away from that. She just has her abilities switched on. She's still your daughter. There's nothing about her that didn't come from either you or Laura," Saul tried to explain but Bill's face looked utterly disturbed. Even though he understood Bill's aversion to the news Saul couldn't help but be slightly hurt. He forced himself to push it aside. He always knew this would be Bill's reaction. It was why he had always dreaded the day he'd have to tell him. It was why he always wished over the years that Katya would somehow grow out of it or that it would just one day fade away.It hadn't and now Bill would just have to learn to understand that part of his daughter. "We can talk more about this later if you want, Bill. We can even go see the commander when I get back and talk about some kind of placement for you but Ellen and I really have to get going," He said moving to the desk and opening the top drawer. He retrieved what looked like a small harness and tossed it to his wife. "Strap that on, Ellen, or I'm not riding with you," He told her as he unlocked another drawer with his cuff and pulled out a small pistol.

With an exaggerated sigh Ellen propped her leg up on the coffee table lifting her dress enough to slip on the leg holster. She tightened the straps so it was concealed around her thigh. Saul walked over and handed her the small gun. She forcefully shoved it in the harness with another roll of her eyes.

"Happy, Saul?"

Even the sight of an attractive blonde strapping a weapon under her skirt wasn't enough to lift Bill out of the cylon fueled fog he was in.

"We'll talk when I get back," Saul assured. "I promise, Bill."

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

The awkwardly bound book was getting heavy in Laura's hands as she lay on her back trying to read the same paragraph over for a third time. The story had distracted her for a while but now her eyes were growing tired and burning from the fresh scent of the ink. She was just grateful to finally read something that wasn't illuminated by the harsh glow of an artificial screen. She let the heavy stack fall on the mattress beside her not bothering to mark the page she'd stopped on.

Clasping her hands together over her ribs she felt the blood start to circulate back into her fingers. She wondered if she was tired enough to fall asleep. When she slept during the day she didn't seem to dream as much. She'd only woken a few hours ago but Bill was out and she was running out of distractions. She showered, she dressed, they ate a quiet breakfast, they fought over Bill's ridiculous notion of enlisting and then they fought over his maddening insistence that they discuss their daughter. This time her persistent refusal sent him out the door. She was alone now and looking for anything to occupy her mind. Over the past few days she'd taken to obsessively listing things in her head just to keep herself busy. Bill was right, they needed something to do with themselves but she didn't like his idea and this was all she'd come up with for herself so far. She would try to list all of the old quorum members by name and colony, or the names of the children from her last second grade class, even characters from books she used to like to read. When that got old she switched to listing things she liked to do when she lived back on Caprica; ‘I liked to paint, I loved to go to the museum, I liked to visit the shore on holiday ’. At one point she tried to list what she remembered from her last vacation to Scorpia; ‘the beaches were gorgeous, it was so damn hot, I went through a whole bottle of sunscreen, I shopped at the boutiques, I spent a ridiculous amount of money, a man at the hotel asked me to dinner, I said yes because I was mad at Richard, we had amazing seafood, he was very sweet, I don't remember his name, I didn't like the wine’ . The lists only worked to a point. The rapid succession of people, places and things kept her focused for a while but inevitably she always hit a wall. She'd run out of things to name or count and the damned break in the line would allow everything she was avoiding to creep back in so that every list ended up the same; ‘ the worlds ended, I was sick, we fought and ran, I fell in love, it hurt so much, we found a home, I died, now I’m back, the world is ending again, I have a daughter, it hurts so much, she's Bill's, she's Saul and Ellen's, she's all grown up, she's a fighter pilot, she's married to Gaius Baltar's son, that's so frakking insane, she's so beautiful, she hates me, I don't like her, I don't know her, I never will’. That list would repeat over and over until she'd realize what she was doing to herself and force it to stop. She knew if she lay there on the bed any longer it would start again but she just couldn't will herself to sleep. The weight of the floppy book, now exaggerated in her mind, seemed too hard to pick up again.

As much as she wasn't in the mood for visitors a knock at the hatch sent a cool rush of relief through her. Laura made quick work of getting to the entrance. Though initially grateful for the distraction she found herself hesitating to open the door. If it were Bill he would have just come in and she couldn't stomach facing either one of the Tighs right now. She almost jumped when the knock repeated.

"Ms. Roslin? It's Tawny Xao. Should I come back another time?" A light voice called from behind the heavy door.

It was the young doctor from the ward. Laura wasn't exactly anxious to see her either but she was one of the few souls in the world she actually knew. Seeing what she wanted would at least be a break from the taunting her own mind was giving her. Reluctantly she found herself opening the door.

The other woman wore a nervous but hopeful smile as two marine guards flanked her and the centurion guard stood towering at her back.

"Ms. Roslin, I hope this isn't a bad time," Tawny tested with a look over her shoulder that told both marines to buzz off.

The two officers resumed their place on either side of the hatch but the centurion stayed put behind the doctor.

"Dr. Xao," Laura greeted halfheartedly.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Roslin. I was told you were in. I sent a message but I didn't hear back from you," Tawny explained.

Laura looked at her cuff and back at the young women.

"You know, we just aren't very good at using these things," She shrugged.

"That's alright," Tawny nodded, "Should I come back another time?"

Laura bit her lip trying to decide if she wanted the company or not. She didn't but she had to weigh it against the alternative.

"Ms. Roslin, I understand that you're probably upset with me,” Tawny said before she could give her answer. “That's why I'm here. I promise I won't stay long if you'll just give me a moment to explain," She attempted wringing her hands in front of her.

She'd opted against wearing her lab coat and she was missing the large pockets that could have hid her nervous fidgeting.

Laura nodded in agreement deciding that she could kick the doctor out at any time if she changed her mind.

"Come in," She offered.

"Thank you," Tawny said in a relieved tone.

Before she could make her way over the step of the hatch the zoom of centurion movement vibrated in her ear as a cylon arm outstretched over her shoulder in Laura's direction. To the surprise of both women, in the palm of the machine's hand sat a small bright sphere. The object was obviously being offered to Laura and Tawny saw the fear and mistrust on her face.

"Is that a tangerine?" Tawny asked with an amused furrow to her brow.

Laura nodded demurely as she slowly and shakily reached for the fruit.

"Thank you," She said, her voice barely there.

The centurion quickly retracted its arm and turned to fall back into place.

Tawny shook her head and grinned as she finally stepped through the doorway.

"That has to be Vladi," She laughed.

Laura closed the hatch and discarded the gift on a nearby desk that held a handful of other offerings from the well meaning but clueless guardian.

"It keeps doing that," Laura murmured.

"Oh that's definitely Vladi," Tawny nodded as if it were commonplace.

"So I've been told. Don't tell me you can decipher one from the other?"

"No, not in the slightest but I've never known another centurion that gives gifts. I've just never seen him give them to anyone other than the ladies of the Tigh household. He must like you," Tawny giggled.

"Well I wish he would stop. It gives me the creeps."

"Oh, Vladi is harmless. Except against a bot, which is exactly why you want him outside that door. He's just trying to show some sense of emotion. I guess that's the only way he's figured out how. Though he does bring some weird stuff sometimes. His concept of gift giving is pretty primitive. Once I saw him give Katya a spoon," Tawny mused.

"Yeah, I have a fork on the desk," Laura confirmed.

"Well maybe come lunchtime you'll be grateful," Tawny teased but Laura didn't have the energy to find it funny.

"Was there a reason you came, Dr. Xao?"

"Yes. Yes there is. And please, Dr. Xao is my father. No one calls me that. It’s Lieutenant if there's really a need for formality but for me Tawny is just fine."

Laura nodded.

"Can we sit? I really do promise I won't stay long," Tawny assured.

Laura gestured toward the living space and they each took a seat on the sofa.

"I know that I'm probably one of the last people you want to see right now," The young woman started." I got permission to visit your quarters after I heard that you’d learned the truth about…your uh…medical history," Tawny attempted but she knew it sounded lame. "I tried to wait a few days before contacting you but I've felt so awful ever since your visit to Med Ward. I know that as your doctor I shouldn't have lied to you."

Laura's teeth were grinding behind her stolid expression but she let Tawny continue.

"It's hard to explain and the worst part is that I'm afraid I don't have anything that you would see as a valid excuse for how I mislead you. I understand that you might not want to hear my side of things but couldn't let it go without at least offering my apologies. It's just that I grew up with your…" Tawny paused. She'd gotten wind of the less the than amicable terms between Roslin and both Tigh women and she wasn't sure how to address their relationship."I grew up with Katya. Neither of us had any siblings and with our fathers working so closely we became good friends. She's five years younger than I am so she followed me around a lot when we were kids. She could be kind of a pest but it was sort of nice to have something like a little sister. Someone who looked up to me, someone to borrow my things and then conveniently forget to give them back," Tawny shrugged.

"Yeah, I had two of those," Laura said with a knowing nod.

"As we got older age didn't matter as much. She was still a pest, she still took my stuff and didn't bring it back but we had a lot in common. We both played the violin. Kat would go to my gymnastic meets and I went to her ballet recitals. We were both fascinated with biology too. She'd sneak me into the lab and let me see what the staff was working on. I would always offer to bring her to the ward in return, but it didn't hold the same appeal to her. I can't even keep her there now with a hole in her head," Tawny said rolling her eyes. She felt more at ease when she saw the corners of Laura's mouth curl up into something resembling a smile. "We both grew up so ensconced within your preservation and upkeep and with upholding the integrity of the entire project. It was drilled into us by my father, by Dr. Isakoff, and Dr. Le Blanc and the Tighs, the EOC...Nothing has ever been more important to us. When you resurrected I was so honored to be the one to finally get to treat you alive and well and Katya didn't trust anyone but me to do it."

Laura swallowed hard. Knowing that Katya had cared so much about her wellbeing at that point made her heart sink even lower. She kept hearing about how much Katya wanted to know her and how long she'd been waiting. There had been so much potential there and Laura felt like she'd ruined for the both of them.

"When the Tighs told me that they were keeping Katya's identity from you and Admiral Adama I'll admit that I was for it to a degree. Dad was too. We all agreed that at least for a while it was best for your frame of mind. We didn't want to overload you with so much information at once. It wouldn't have been wise. It wouldn't have been healthy," Tawny told her. "But when you came to me later that week and I accidentally let you see the truth on your forms I probably should have found a way to tell you then. I panicked. I didn't want to be the one to damage one of the biggest players in a story that I grew up believing to be gospel. I didn't want to damage our only hope for a future back on Earth. If you'd reacted in some outrageous or unfortunate fashion the blame would have been mine. As your doctor I should have been brave enough to accept that but as someone who's been waiting her whole life for you to get here, I wasn't. Even more than that I knew that Katya was struggling. I knew that she didn't want to be found out just then and so I lied for her and for everyone else.” Tawny sighed and shrugged. “No matter what else you are, you're a grown women and as your doctor I shouldn't have kept anything about your own body from you. I regret it. You should have a physician who you can trust. You deserve that and I didn't give that to you. You came to me that day for help and I sent you off with a lie," She admitted. Tawny stopped to take a deep breath. She was relieved to finally have the burden off of her shoulders but she couldn't read Laura's expression. "I came here to offer you my apologies for that and to tell you that I understand if you're no longer comfortable with me handling your care. My father would be more than happy to fill that role. If it matters to you, I'm the only woman practicing on this side of the station. I can offer to find you a suitable civilian doctor. I could arrange for them to visit our ward. You wouldn't even have to travel," Tawny suggested but Laura suddenly held a palm out to stop her rambling.

"Dr. Xao…Tawny," She corrected. "As much as I appreciate your apology, I'm just going to stop you right there," She told her.

Tawny felt her cheeks go slightly red. She was half expecting to be tossed out of the cabin.

"I won't say that it didn't bother me to realize what went on that day. At the same time, I know that if I stopped interacting with everyone who has knowingly and willingly lied to me so far I'd pretty much be left on my own. To tell you the truth I can't even say that I haven't lied to myself," Laura admitted remembering the day Tawny held the truth out for her in black and white and she refused to take it. "Kind of pitiful isn't it?" Laura shrugged.

"Ms. Roslin…"

"Tawny," Laura cut her off, "finding another doctor won't be necessary. I'm fine with seeing you or your father as long as I have your promise of the truth from now on, however long that may be."

"You do. You absolutely do," Tawny assured her.

"Good. That's good to hear." Laura said with a small but honest smile.

"And as far as Dad goes, I need you to know that as far as the project offshoot was concerned; my father had nothing to do with it initially. Once he was informed of it all four children were already conceived. There wasn't much he could do about Katya except care for her once she was born. I hope you understand that you don't need to be afraid of him. He did help with your creation but not in what was done to you later. I promise you that," Tawny explained.

Laura closed her eyes for a moment feeling the sting of having gone too long without blinking. She still hadn't watched any of the footage that she knew Bill went through. She didn't think she needed to. Ellen had painted a clear enough picture and her own mind had taken the liberty of coming up with image after image that she wished it wouldn't.

"I understand," She said solemnly. As she looked back at Tawny she saw the young woman's expression change. "Something wrong, Doctor?"

Tawny squinted a bit and then shook her head.

"I'm sorry," She said somewhat flustered.” "It's just…I've observed you for most of my life and I never thought you resembled her until after the download…It's strange how much the breath of life made a difference. I just didn't see it before…I think it's the cheekbones," She said with a tilt of her head.

Laura couldn't respond. She looked down into her lap hoping the moment would pass.

When Tawny noticed that she'd made Laura uncomfortable and she hurried to change the subject.

"Anyway, so long as everything else is settled; may I ask how you've been feeling?"

Laura was able to look back at her after a beat.

"I'm…fine. That's all done and over with, at least for now," She rolled her eyes.

"Any pain or cramping from the implant?"

"No."

"That's good,” Tawny replied with a smile but Laura didn't seem as pleased. “Something else wrong?”

Laura bit her lip as she felt some heat rush to her cheeks. She hated to even talk about it but Tawny was her doctor now. She supposed that if she’d dealt with years of grouchy old Cottle giving her breast exams she could talk the sweet young woman beside her who was more than willing to help.

“I guess I still really don’t see the point of it.” Laura had given the doctor the okay to put in the implant the day Ellen had brought her to the lab but since then she’d had second thoughts. That day she had been tired, in pain and humiliation, not to mention groggy. She’d signed off on the procedure in a hurry, just to get out of their faster. Before she knew it she had another piece of their invasive technology inside of her. “I know that I agreed to it at the time but…”

“Is it bothering you?” Tawny interjected.

“Not physically.”

“It’s quite safe, Ms. Roslin,” The doctor confidently assured. “Most women here use them. I’ve had mine since I was sixteen.”

“It’s not that. I’ve been thinking about it and I frankly don’t see why I need it,” Laura crossed her arms and shrugged. “I mean Ellen was a little off the age mark but not by much. I can’t imagine that this body is still capable of conceiving. I’m just not sure why I need the use of a foreign object.”

Tawny nodded in a gesture of understanding.

“You’re probably right. Your overall health assessment placed you in the bracket of being approximately forty-five to fifty. Now my guess is probably on the lower end because of what you’ve been dealing with. With that in mind I recommended the implant as a precaution. An unwanted pregnancy at this stage isn't likely but it’s still important to take preventative measures. For now you’re still ovulating and we can’t just assume that your ova aren't viable. Once you enter perimenopause and your cycle becomes more irregular mistakes can occur. It’s rare but it happens and the simplest solution is the device we implanted during your visit. It’s one hundred percent effective. Pretty good deal if you ask me.”

Laura pinched the bridge of her nose wishing like hell that the conversation weren necessary.

“I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s just...so much has been done to this body without my knowledge, without my consent...It was created and then manipulated with technology that I don’t understand. This implant just feels like another part of it. I was really hoping that I could be free of all that now that I have some say over the matter.”

Tawny winced at Laura’s explanation.

“I can’t imagine, Ms. Roslin. I’m very sorry for all that you’re going through. I know that everything that was done to you before was done without considering your eventual reaction. It was meant to benefit others. What I hope you understand now is that everything regarding your care from now on will be solely to help you. That implant is meant to make your life easier. With that said this is your body and so everything from now on that goes on with it is your choice. The removal is a little more invasive than the implantation procedure but it’s not so bad. If that’s what you choose I will absolutely accept your decision and help you as your doctor. If you choose to keep it then we  can talk about removing the it after you’ve stopped having a regular monthly cycle consistently for one year.”

Laura’s ears were ringing.

“A year,” She echoed.

She could hardly get used to the fact that she might very well still be living there in a year. Considering that this would still be a factor so far into the future was enough to make her go numb.  

“Yes. That’s general protocol,” Tawny confirmed. “Ms. Roslin you’ve agreed to keep me on as your doctor and as your doctor I have to recommend that you keep it for the time being.”

Laura looked down and gave her a slight nod.

"You’re right,” She conceded. “I will."

Tawny smiled, feeling like she’d helped in some small way.

“How are you feeling otherwise?” She asked sitting up a bit straighter.

“I’m fine.”

"You do look a little tired," The doctor winced hoping she hadn't insulted the other woman. “Are you experiencing any trouble sleeping? I could give you something to help," She told her as she gently took Laura's wrist and read her vitals off of her station cuff.

"No. That's alright. Unless you have anything that can stop a person from dreaming," Laura mused with a sigh.

Tawny furrowed her brow and smirked.

"What?" Laura asked, confused by the odd look that the doctor was giving her.

"Nothing," Tawny answered, dropping Laura's wrist. "It's just…Katya said the same thing to me when I saw her heading to PT on my way here. That's kinda funny," She remarked with a shake of her head. "She's been asking my father that her whole life. She says it all the time. We don't have anything for that and she knows it so this morning I offered to punch her lights out and see if that helped."

"I don't suppose the Captain liked that," Laura said with an arched brow, amused at the friendly but feisty banter that the two young women exchanged.

"I don't suppose she did but I hold her flight status in my hands right now so she's sucking up and playing model patient for once," Tawny said lifting herself off of the sofa as Laura rose to join her. "She even returned a sweater she borrowed."

"Well at least that's something."

"Not really. It sort of smelled like perfume and brandy," Tawny said with sheepish grin. "The worst part about letting Katya borrow your clothes is that Ellen borrows hers."

Laura smiled and shook her head. The young doctor had a sweet sense of humor but she couldn't help that it just saddened her more. It seemed like everyone she met had some intricate and loving relationship with her daughter. No matter how flawed each one was, it was still more than she would ever have.

"Oh, Ms. Roslin, as long as you're on board with keeping me as your physician I'd like you to set up a standing breast exam. If you recall from your last visit;  I told you that your DNA analysis shows an over eighty five percent chance of a breast cancer occurrence. With your history in mind I want to make sure that if it happens I can stop it in its tracks before the cancer cells have the time to mutate and organize. That means coming in regularly."

Laura suddenly felt sick. The thought of doing anything even remotely associated with the word cancer was so utterly abhorrent to her that she could hardly answer.

Tawny frowned when saw the look on Laura’s face. She hadn't meant to scare her.

"Remember, Ms. Roslin, I told you that we can cure it in most cases but that treatment intensifies the later it's caught. It may never happen and I hope that it doesn't but if it does I want to catch it early."

Laura nodded. She'd been a fool once before. She'd allowed herself to live in denial about it and too many other things until they were all suddenly out of her control. She'd done it to herself too many times in too many ways.

"You're right,” She agreed. “That’s fine.”

"Good," Tawny said looking at her station cuff and tapping in a few directives. "Might as well get you on a schedule. Let's see," The doctor mumbled speaking mostly to herself, "An eighty five percent chance of occurrence, figuring in otherwise fine health at the approximate physical age of…forty-five to fifty, we think ," She teased hoping it would lighten the awkwardness that Laura obviously still felt over her new body's estimated age. “How about for now we'll just have you come in on the first Tuesday of every fourth month starting next month?"

Laura narrowed her eyes.

"Every four months? Isn't that excessive?"

"Not really, Ms. Roslin. You'd be surprised just how early we can detect it. I have Kat come every twelve weeks," Tawny told her. "BRCA1 is a serious gene mutation as I'm sure you understand."

She knew ethically she shouldn't have mentioned Katya’s standing appointment but there was something driving her to share the bit of information. Maybe she was trying to jar her new patient into understanding just how important the matter was. Besides, she knew that it wouldn't get out. From what she'd heard the two women weren't even speaking. If it came back to bite her in the ass Tawny figured she'd deal with Katya then.

The blood drained from Laura's face as what Tawny told her started to sink in. Katya had inherited the gene mutation. If the poor girl had to get checked out that often at her young age then her chances of developing the same cancer had to be astronomical in comparison. Laura's chances were already high at eighty five percent. If Katya's were more than that then for her it was probably a question of when she would develop the disease, not if. So that was what she'd given her daughter; her cheekbones and genes that could kill.

"Even Kat manages to show up for her breast exams and she's the worst patient I've got. It helps that when she misses an appointment Ellen drags her in by the ear," Tawny said trying to make light of the serious topic."So do I have to find someone to drag you too?" She said with a wink.

Laura tried a smile that faded almost as quickly as it materialized.

"No. I'll drag myself. First Tuesday…I've got it."

"Good," Tawny smiled as she stood up from her seat. "I want to thank you for giving me the chance to explain myself, Ms. Roslin. I just want you to know that I'm available to you at any time. I mean it. Day or night. Not just for head colds and bandages either. It must be strange being here all of a sudden and knowing so few people. So much is happening. I can't say I'll relate but I can offer to listen."

Laura was touched by her thoughtfulness. It was the first time that a stranger had truly reached out to her since she'd been there. She wasn't sure she would take Tawny up on it but her sweet words in some ways made her think of Billy. The last time she was alone and surrounded by chaos another young soul had been the first to reach out to her and he'd helped her so much.

"Thank you for that, Doctor. Truly," She said with an appreciative smile.

"Yes, Ma'am," Tawny nodded making her way to the hatch." Oh and about those dreams; you should try going to the gym in the late afternoon. Some extra physical activity later in the day might help you have a less restless night’s sleep," She suggested. "I can arrange for the officers gym to be cleared if you want some privacy. I'd just need some prior notice," She offered as she opened the hatch.

"Maybe I'll take you up on that," Laura answered.

"You should. It was very nice to speak with you today, Ms. Roslin."

"It was nice to speak with you, Tawny…And you can call me, Laura."

Tawny nodded.

"Laura. I'll see you soon," She said stepping over the hatch, "Zài jiàn, Vladi," Tawny called waving over to the centurion.

When Laura saw the machine cock its bullet head in return she quickly shut the hatch.

She'd try the book again.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR C

MILITARY RECREATION ROOM

PHYSICAL THERAPY UNIT

YEAR: 2315

"That fucking hurts, Blazer!"

"Just relax and let me move it as far as it will go."

"You're gunna snap my neck."

"I am not. Relax."

"Let's see you relax when I put my hands around your throat."

Katya sat on a low padded bench with Blazer at her back. The PT room was empty and their voices echoed when they raised them above a civil tone.

"Koshka, chill the hell out. I know it hurts. If you want Tawny to okay you to get back in the cockpit then you're going to have to get your range of motion back. Besides, I need you to be able to look all the way to the left or right to efficiently watch me get blown to bits by a bot."

"Don’t say that, Blazer,” Katya warned.

Usually she wouldn't mind the dark humor but with the last attacks being only days apart it wasn't the time for it. She was beginning to get back the old feeling of constant fear that she had as a child during a time when combat was the norm.

"It was weird out there this time, Koshka. Something's up. Look down for me," He told her as he pinched the sides of her neck where it met the base of her skull.

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"I dunno. It just was. They were messing with us. At one point it looked like they were retreating and then boom ; Tigerlily and Iceman were gone. I hope you're back out there with us next time. Luna Force needs you."

"I hope so too, but if I don't stop having dizzy spells Tawny's not gunna care if I can spin my head around in a full three-sixty."

"It's lingering from the concussion and probably from the meds too. Put your left arm out and lean your head to right," He instructed. "Once the pain starts to go away and you're not so drugged up the dizziness will stop. You'll get there. You look good, Cap. Temple's healing nice and you feel a little better today don't you?" He asked helping her stretch her tight muscles.

He grimaced when he heard something pop but Katya didn't seem to feel it.

"Yeah I do, in comparison to feeling like total garbage the last few days. I'm just so damn tired. Those meds are giving me some fucked up dreams. My back feels better I guess."

"That's a start. Now do the same with the right," He instructed helping to ease her into the new position, "What kinda dreams?"

"I dunno. Weird ones. I can't remember," She lied.

"Then how do you know they're fucked up and weird?" He accused.

"Shut up, Blaze," She scowled in a mixed reaction to the strain on her neck and Blaze calling her out.

Her nightmares had become a real problem since her accident. While she'd always had hyper real dreams they'd taken on foreboding and sometimes morbid themes lately. She was sick of waking up drenched in sweat and out of breath. The last two nights Ellen had woken to find her taking midnight showers just to cool down.

"Heard your folks are headed to the basestar today."

"Yeah, they are. It's been awhile since they went there."

"What's up with that?" Blaze asked as he put some pressure on her outstretched arm.

"I don't know," She winced. "I asked them and they said it was only maintenance. They said Margot has it under control. Alexi says he's got a weird feeling."

"Yeah well you can tell Alexi that I know exactly how he feels," Blaze said shaking his head.

"Saul and Ellen said it's nothing," Katya weakly defended. "They said we're all probably nervous about going to Beta and that because of the recent attacks we're all just on edge. They're probably right. Anyway, they're more concerned about all the BS with Roslin and Adama," She said with a huff.

"What's going on with all that anyway? Alexi said you tore that woman a new one. Did you really tell her to fuck off? Tilt your head back," He said gently tipping her head at the chin with the pads of his fingers.

"Ughh! Damn this sucks, Blaze!" She groaned. "Kind of…well…not in so many words…but I did tell her to get lost… This hurts!"

"Good. It's supposed to! So that couldn't have gone over well with Tigh," He said keeping her in position.

"Oh, he screamed at me pretty good."

"Damn. Little kitten's in the dog house, huh?"

Katya rolled her eyes at his lame joke.

"So, now what?" Blazer asked.

"Now, nothing. I don't know. Ellen made me promise that I wouldn't blow Roslin off if she ever came to me but…I doubt that's going to happen."

"Why don't you go to her?"

"Because I don't want to. She had some nasty things to say about me and Elle. I mean…I get it…we aren't the easiest people to get along with…"

"You don't say?" The lieutenant teased.

"I still don't want her talking to Ellen like that."

"Agreed. Ellen’s the closest I’ve ever come to having a mom too. I sure wouldn't stand to listen to anyone badmouth her. So was the Admiral included in the fuck off directive?" Blazer chided again.

"No, but he went with her anyway. I understand that. She needs him. He's all she's got. Kinda sucked to see him go though. I sort of like talking to him. I haven't seen either of them since. At first I was glad but...I dunno. Ellen kinda got me thinking about some stuff."

"Like what? Lean up and relax your neck."

When Katya sat up straight Blazer went to work rubbing at her sore shoulders. She thanked the universe for Cylon hands for the second time that week. Ellen's hands had worked magic on her aching back but even the lesser hybrid variety were amazingly strong and deliberate. Blazer was good at what he did. While Katya was busy as a teen training in the lab, Blazer was studying athletic medicine and anatomy. Unlike her biochemistry skills, his training still came in handy. Though his main duty was as a fighter pilot he worked with injured colleagues as a physical therapist when needed.

"I don't know,” Katya considered. “Ellen just has a way of making me see things differently sometimes. She said a lot of things. She asked me to be open to the possibility of connecting with them. She made me promise not to turn Roslin away if she ever decides she wants to see me again. She said that she didn't want me to punish Laura in her defense."

"Ellen's a good woman. She's crazy as shit, a little aggressive with the ass pinching, but she's a good woman. On this at least, I think you should listen to her. Does this hurt?" Blaze asked, working his thumb under her shoulder blade.

"Yeah…but…it's good," She told him in a strained voice followed by an involuntary grunt. "Is it weird that I hate her and feel bad for her at the same time?" Katya asked biting at her bottom lip.

"Roslin? No. I guess not. It's a weird situation. I don't think you hate her though, Koshka. Hate's a strong word. It should be reserved for bots and tofu loaf day in the mess hall," He said matter-of-factly.

"She didn't like me much before. She may hate me now."

"I don't think so," Blaze said shaking his head.

"Why not?"

"Because, I don't think you can really hate your own kid, no matter how much you want to. I don't think it works like that," He cocked his head to the side as he worked at a knot.

"Yeah, but I don't think she thinks of me as her kid."

"Maybe not. Maybe so. You don't know, cause' you told her to fuck off," He reminded pressing into the tight muscle.

" Ughhh, ease up, Blaze ," She warned, "And I didn't say fuck off exactly," Katya defended. Blazer lightly laughed behind her. They were both quiet for a while; the only soft sounds coming from Katya as the lieutenant massaged her neck. "Blaze?" She started but then hesitated, "Do you...ever think of having your own kids?"

His hands stilled for a moment before he took up his work again with a sigh.

"I dunno, Cap. Maybe if I live long enough without getting blown to shit by a flying chromed bastard. Then I have to find a nice girl who's genetics can make up for my own bunk clone-kid shortcomings," He said in a typically musing voice, but Katya could tell there was a bitterness and sense of embarrassing inferiority behind it.

She knew the feeling.

"You've got a better shot than we do," She mumbled softly.

Though she knew she had Ellen’s total empathy and understanding Katya couldn't help but be a little resentful of her tactics the night of their talk. Now the notion was suddenly always present, taking up root in her daily thoughts and weaving its way into her nightly dreams. She'd been repressing it for most of her life and now Ellen had harshly uncovered something that wasn't ready to see the light of day.

"You two knew that going in, Kat," Blaze said in a low voice as he gave a gentle pat to her shoulder.

"I know," She replied in a near whisper.

"Hey you're still coming to Beta, right? I mean, if you feel okay?" He asked quickly changing the subject.

"Yeah I'll be there. You were there for me, I'll be there for you," She rattled off.

"How sweet."

"I'm trying to be supportive, stupid jackass," She said trying to turn her head to face him, but he stopped her with feather light nudge to her jaw.

"I know, I know. I appreciate it. I'm just sort of anxious. I'm heading over tomorrow."

" Tomorrow ? It's three days away."

"I'm gunna visit my dad's family before everything goes down."

"We'll come over with the Colonel," She assured him.

"Good. Hey Cap…Margot said you guys prepped the Roslin-Adama cabin, like with clothes and shampoo and some pointless paper book and crap…What do I…"

"Don't worry Blaze," She said cutting him off, "The Beta lab staff took care of it, I'm sure," She added with a roll of her eyes.

"I just thought it would be nice," He shrugged. "I didn't know you did that."

"It didn't do me any good."

"Yeah, but I bet it did them some good whether you know it or not."

"Maybe."

Blazer moved in front of her and tapped at his cuff until a bright red line segment projected onto the gym floor.

"Walk this line. I wana watch your balance."

"Stop shaking it and I will," She said slowly getting up from the bench and moving to the front of the beam of light," It's gunna be kinda weird…Helo and Athena…they look like they're about Tawny's age," She considered as she walked one foot in front of the other.

"I know. It's messed up. I guess I always thought Ellen was going to figure things out long before I crept up on the age their bodies would be," He considered. "But I figure maybe he can look at me more as a kid brother…or something. Go again the other way," He instructed motioning with his index finger as he kept his cuffed hand steady.

"Ellen said Athena wouldn't have aged anyway. She didn't design the Eights to do that," Katya added as she walked back.

She knew that Blaze already understood that, but there was a need for reassurance in the air.

"I guess all I can do is try to make them comfortable…and try not to tell them to fuck off."

"I tofu loaf you, Blazer," Katya said stopping at the end of the line and giving him a sardonic smile.

"Oh, you do not. You love me, Koshka. I know it," Blazer said with a big grin. "We're done for the day," He announced turning off the line projection, "Buck is gunna take over PT with you and Slip-Shot while I'm gone. If things are calm enough we'll try some exercise on Beta, okay?"

"Yeah, okay."

"Don't blow it off just cause it's Buck."

"Ellen won't let me," Katya huffed.

"Good. Hey maybe if you go a full day without any dizzy spells you can try some of your ballet. As long as you don't overdo it the stretching would be good for your range of motion. It'll be really good for your balance too. Help get your center of gravity back. Plus, we miss your twinkle toes days," Blaze teased.

"Sure you do. I'll keep it in mind. I'm going home."

"Alright, Koshka, you did good."

"See you later, L.T."

"Later," Blazer called as she walked toward the locker room. "Katya," He said suddenly stopping her. She turned back to look at him and she could tell he was trying his best to replace his typically playful smile with an honest one." I know it hurts sometimes, but try not to stress what you can't change. There's some stuff you just can't fix," He said as his grin faded," But the stuff you can…I dunno…that might be worth the sweat," He shrugged.

Katya took a deep breath and nodded before she let it out and turned to leave once again.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 126B: ASSIGNMENT; ROSLIN/ADAMA

YEAR: 2315

" Laura wake up ", Bill tried as he hovered over her trembling form. She was obviously sleeping but totally stricken with another nightmare. " Wake up, Laura! Come on ," He said kneeling by the bedside and gently shaking her with one hand over her chest and his other on her shoulder.

He'd come home to find her tossing and turning asleep on their rack.

When he’d arrived her face was wet with tears. By the dampness on her pillow he could tell that it had been going on for a while.

He felt awful about getting so frustrated with her earlier. He shouldn't have left her there on her own for so long. When he left Saul's cabin with yet another burden on his back he just couldn't bring himself to return to home to her. He was just so frustrated with the thought of sitting around and doing nothing. He was going stir crazy and on top of it he had something new to share with her after what he’d learned from the Tighs. He wouldn't keep another secret from Laura. He decided that he wanted to know what he was going to say about Katya’s supposed abilities before he saw her again. After about an hour of wandering around the military side of the station Bill's marine guard had offered to get clearance to take him to Senchi. He was pleased with the corporal's suggestion and after the okay came back from the officer's platoon leader Bill soon found himself with a beer in his hand. He was able to collect his thoughts at the bar and even got some takeout to bring home for Laura's lunch, but when he'd come home and found her he regretted the entire afternoon.

"Laura, it's okay. Open your eyes. It's me," He pleaded leaning down to kiss her cheek.

He could taste the bitter salt of her tears on his lips.

With a loud gasp her eyes finally flew open.

"Laura, calm down. You're okay…" He tried to reassure her.

Laura’s hand rushed to her chest. Her heart felt as if it was about to beat its way out. She opened her mouth to say something but no words would come out.

"Shhh. It's alright,” He told her. “Just give yourself a second."

Laura licked her lips and sucked in a deep breath.

"I'm okay," She whispered as she exhaled.

Bill wasn't sure if she was telling him or telling herself.

"Laura, sit up."

He gave her his hand and she pulled herself up on the bed and slid over to make room for him.

"I don't suppose you're going to tell me what that one was about," He said as he sat on the side of the bed.

It was the middle of the day and he knew she wouldn't divulge a thing unless she was half asleep in the darkness with her back to him. That's how he heard all of her little confessions these days; all of her little questions and ideas that died with the morning.

Though Laura’s dreams had become a common occurrence she'd never looked frightened before. Some left her pensive, others sad but Bill hadn't seen one cause fear in her eyes. This time he was worried.

Laura didn't respond. She wasn't sure how. She'd been dreaming vividly lately but none were like the nightmare she’d just woken from. Some of her dreams were filled with strange and vaguely familiar images that had her waking up missing something that she'd never even had to begin with. Some were even nice while they lasted; playing out fantasies and ideas that she never knew she’d longed for. Sometimes the dreams even made her happy until she woke up and realized they were in fact just dreams. This time wasn't the same. She'd seen and felt things she couldn't possibly understand, dark things. This time she was terrified.

"Laura, it's not going to stop until you let yourself have some resolution," Bill started, "I talked to Saul and Ellen this morning. They gave every indication that they are all willing…"

"You don't know what you're talking about, Bill," She bit, cutting him off.

He didn't. Not this time.

Bill tensed beside her and then nodded in some kind relenting defeat that made her feel even worse.

Despite her harsh response he scooted closer to her and took her in his arms. He could feel that she was still shaking.

"We need to talk," He whispered. "And before you say no; it's not about that...not really," He said before kissing the top of her head and breathing in her scent. He almost didn't want to let his breath out. Even the way she smelled made his heart swell. Cylon blood, emotional mess; he didn't mind, as long as he could be close enough to inhale her essence like this for as long as this life lasted. "There are some things I want to tell you, but not yet. Let's just…let's relax for a second," He said still trying to sooth her.

She knew that she was so lucky to have him, to exist where he existed. She had him. He was devoted so completely to her she and yet she still felt so alone.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth

CORRIDOR B

MILITARY QUARTERS

CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH

YEAR: 2315

"Yekaterina, wake up," Alexi shouted worriedly at his wife. He'd found her out of breath and shaking on her rack in her old room still deeply asleep. "Nichevò spat, parà vstavà, Katya, get up, baby," He said holding her steady by her lean quivering arms. "Katya open your eyes. It's alright, myshka," He tried to comfort her to no avail, " Vstavaite !" He shouted, finally roughly rousing her from what had been beginning to seem like a near trance state.

Katya’s eyes opened in fright but within mere moments the fear that they held was replaced by sorrow. Tears quickly flilled them and began spilling out down the sides of her face.

" Katya… " Alexi started.

She grabbed for his large arms pulling him down to where she lay on the bed.

"Alexi," She rasped still out of breath. "I'm so sick of this," She cried closing her wet eyes tightly.

He watched her chest rise and fall glistening from the perspiration that had accumulated during her fretful sleep.

"Take deep breaths, Katya," He told her. As he smoothed her hair back he noticed a cup on the shelf above her rack. "Sit up" He instructed holding his forearms out to brace her. "Carefully," He added still wary of her recovery. Once she was in a sitting position Alexi reached for the cup and handed it to her. "Take small sips," He said running his hand up and down the expanse of her back.

She sipped at the tepid water and relaxed into her husband's soothing touch. Soon her breathing had calmed to a tolerable level and Alexi took the cup away, putting it on the floor by the bed.

"What was it this time?" He asked softly.

She shook her head and gulped.

" Oh, what's the difference? They're all awful and none of them will go away ," She said breathily.

Alexi frowned at her answer. He'd seen the same thing happen to her a few times over the last few days as she napped but Ellen told him the nights were always worse. He'd seen Katya wake from frightening dreams before but never at this frequency or intensity. Saul and Ellen had started to compare it to her first few months in their care and Alexi knew she'd be fraught with nightmares of her father's murder back then.

"Maybe if you talk about them they will go away," He suggested, keeping his rhythm as he rubbed at her back.

"Nikak nyet, Alexi," She said shaking her head. "I don't want to talk about them. It's bad enough I have to experience them while I'm asleep. Why force myself while I'm awake?"

He shook his head at her stubborn and faulted logic.

"As soon as you can do without the pills, Katya, they will go away," He assured her but she wasn't as confident of that anymore.

Initially she had blamed her medication for the sudden influx of nightmares. They'd started her first night in the ward after all, but now she wasn't so sure. Eager for a more restful night’s sleep before her first session of PT Katya had tongued her meds the night before, flushing the evidence in the head and leaving Ellen none the wiser. She thought she would see if trying to sleep through the pain was less bothersome than being woken by the unrelenting images in her head. That night the pain was only incorporated into her nightmare. She'd woken drenched in sweat in near agony. After a cold shower she'd given in and taken her pills after all. Her activity had woken Ellen who thought she'd found her going for a double dose.

"What are you doing here anyway? Are my parents home?"

"It's past 1700. I just got off shift. They aren't back yet. They asked me to come straight here when I got off duty. They said you weren't answering your messages. Everyone got held up on the basestar but they’ll be home soon. I figured you and I could order dinner and have it waiting for them," He told her running a finger down her cheek.

Katya covered her cuff with the palm of her hand. She knew that when she finally looked at it she would see about a dozen worried messages from Ellen.

"I didn't sleep well last night. After I got home from PT I showered and then I guess I just dozed off."

Alexi could see the exhaustion in her face. Though she wasn't developing dark circles quite yet she just looked drawn and her eyes were so glassy

"Myshka, I want you to consider coming back home. Maybe if you're by my side you won't dream as much. I'll be there when you fall to sleep at night," He offered sweetly.

"I want to, Alexi. I do miss sleeping next to you."

"You can still stay here during the day if Ellen wants to keep an eye on you. I know that I can't be around all the time. Just come sleep at home. I'll bring you here in the mornings before I report."

Alexi wasn't sure that his presence would truly help her nightmares but he couldn't stand knowing that she was waking in such an awful state every night without him there to do anything for her.

"I'll be home soon. I promise. Maybe tomorrow. I really do feel better. PT went well. The more I move the better I feel. It's sitting around that gets me stiff."

"Ellen says that you're still getting faint now and then," Alexi challenged.

Katya rolled her eyes. It irked her so much when the family spoke about her amongst themselves.

"Blaze says it's probably the medication. I'm going to see Tawny about it before we head to Beta."

"That's probably a good idea. You know that we aren't going if she says you're not up for it," He warned.

"I will be," She assured him. "I am already. Blaze said I can even try some ballet if I go a day without a dizzy spell. He says that it might be good for me. I was thinking of contacting Madame Lobanova. See if she will do a session with me. Maybe get your cousin Yuri to join too," She posed with a small smile.

" Lobanova? ” He cringed. “That ancient witch is still alive?"

"Lex, don’t talk about her like that.”

“She’s evil.”

“She’s not. She’s tough.”

“She talks to you and Yuri like you’re garbage.”

That’s her job. Your old drill sergent speaks to you like you’re trash and she’s one of your best friends. Yuri and I wouldnt be half the dancers we are today if Labanova didnt push us. Besides she’s like a hundred and twenty five. I want to get in as many sessions with her as I can before she’s not around anymore.”

Alexi rolled his eyes.

"Just don't push yourself Katya. You have me worried," He said shaking his head.

"Don't be," Katya said as she took his hand.

"How can I not?"

Katya smirked and shrugged.

"Well for now maybe I can distract you with thoughts of something else?" She posed with a raised eyebrow as she took his hand and placed it on her tigh.

"Yet another reason why I miss you in our bed, myshka. I'm anxiously awaiting your return," He said with a half musing sigh.

"We don't have to wait, malysh," She told him as she reached for his other hand.

"Katya, c'mon," He groaned, trying to deter her teasing.

"I'm serious," She said more forcefully. "I'm right here. So are you. It's been too long."

"Your neck, your back. You're in no condition," Alexi argued against her sudden allurement.

"So we won't do anything fancy. Shouldn't I be the one to decide what kind of condition I'm in and what I can handle?" She asked pulling him closer and reaching for the waist of his uniform.

"You should but you have a lousy, piss poor track record, Katya," He told her, gathering her hands and stopping their pursuit.

"I deserve that," She admitted but her compliance didn't last long. "But I deserve this too. C'mon, Alexi. I've been in so much pain. Help me find something to feel good about," She nearly begged him.

He was starting to waver. She could see in his eyes.

"Come home tonight,” He posed.

"I'm asking you now ," She said grasping his hands again.

"Saul and Ellen will be back soon. It's a bad idea."

"It's been over a week, Alexi. Neither one of is going to last very long. Besides, it's not like they haven't caught us before. They always get over it," She laughed.

The awkward conundrum went both ways in the Tigh household.

" Stop , Katya," Alexi winced remembering the first few times he'd been caught in her bed. The very first time he'd earned a punch straight to the gut from Saul and Ellen never looked at him the same way again. "Bringing that up isn't helping your cause."

"Does this?" She teased leaning up onto her knees and moving in to kiss him long and hard. Determined to make her point she took one of Alexi's hands and slowly slipped it into the front of her pants encouraging him to feel how much she wanted him."Don't deny me this Alexi, not now. I can't take it," She nearly purred into his neck as she licked and kissed the skin there.

Katya felt his strong nimble fingers between her thighs as they started to move delicately against her and she decided that cylon hands, hybrid or not, were the closest thing she had to a religion.

"Dammit, Yekaterina," He moaned pulling his hand from her. She gave a little whimper as the contact was lost but soon he was picking her up so that he could gently lay her back down across the bed. "If you get hurt, if you get dizzy, if you…" He trailed off unable to finish his thought as she wet her lips and smiled up at him.

Her grin grew, amused at his loss of words. She was pleased with herself as he abandoned his warning and tugged at the waistband of her pants. He pulled them over her hips and slid them down her long smooth legs. Katya's satisfaction with her luring ways reached its height when Alexi went for his own belt and she heard the sound of his zipper pull.

"That's it, malysh," She said as he finally leaned over her. "Just help me forget for a little while."

Chapter Text

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth
CORRIDOR B
MILITARY QUARTERS
CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH
YEAR: 2315
"Katya won't go to Laura on her own. We're sure of that, and to be honest we won't force her. Not after what's happened. We're sorry, Bill, but it's how we feel," Saul said leaning over in his seat. "We've each spoken with her and we know that Katya would listen to what Laura had to say if ever she decided to go to her."

"It's true, Bill,” Ellen added, hovering behind Saul’s armchair. “Katya won't turn her away. I can't promise much else but I know that she's willing to see her again.”

"That's just it,” Bill said with a groan. “I can't get Laura to do that either. She's convinced that this is what's best but it's not. It's killing her inside. She can't sleep. She wakes up every night from these intense dreams and now she's starting to have nightmares. I know that it's because of the stress over what happened between them."

Saul raised his brow and looked over his shoulder toward his wife. Her expression was as intrigued as his was.

Bill watched the exchange with narrow eyes. He was on edge around the couple. He felt like they were always just about to lay another mind blowing revelation on him and he didn't know if he could take another.

"Did you talk to Laura about what we discussed?" Saul prompted. "Ya know, about the…unique genetics she's passed down to Kat?"

Bill looked down at his lap and puffed out his breath.

"Yeah. I did," He nodded.

"And?" Ellen urged, annoyed with his vague answer. "What was her reaction? Did she give you any indication that she might recognize some cylon facets within herself?"

Bill shook his head.

"She hardly had a reaction, Ellen. It was like I told her what time it was. She heard me but she wouldn't respond to it. She wouldn't talk about it. She had a hell of a nightmare last night though. I think the news might have scared her and now she wants that centurion away from our cabin ASAP, Saul. When I left I told her I was coming over here to tell you to get rid of it. Do me a favor and don't make a liar out me."

When Bill told Laura the news she'd gone rigid in his arms. She'd calmly excused herself and escaped into the privacy of the head. She'd come out almost an hour later totally composed but with the simple request that Vladi be removed. Without another word she'd gone to bed. Her delayed reaction came in the middle of the night when her trembling cries roused Bill from his sleep.

"It's strange that you mention that, Bill," Saul told him." The nightmares, I mean. Katya can't sleep through the night worth a damn lately. She's doing a lot better physically but she's having awful dreams too. Ellen wakes up with her sometimes twice a night."

Ellen got an uneasy feeling knowing that both women were experiencing the same thing.

"We thought it was her medication,” She started to explain “But now she’s lessened her dosage and they seem to be getting worse.”

"Where is she anyway? More PT?" Bill asked picking up his water from the coffee table and leaning back on the sofa cushion before taking a sip.

"Sort of," Ellen answered with a sigh.” She went to meet her old ballet instructor. Blaze thought it would help her to regain her balance and range of motion. She's over on the civilian side of the station at the Alpha Theater."

"Is that really wise?" Bill asked looking skeptical, "Is she really up for that already?"

"She says she is," Saul answered, "I was against it. She nearly fainted after dinner last night. She tossed her cookies too. She got sick all over the daman place. I thought she would sleep in today after the night she had but this morning before either of us was up she had a new pair of toe shoes printed and her hair was all pinned up. She had her mind set on it. Neither one of us could stop her. Alexi wasn't here."

Ellen groaned loudly and ran a frustrated hand through her hair.

"I know for a fact that Blaze told her to wait until the dizzy spells had been gone for more than a day or so but she got it in her head that this would help and so that's where she is now. She says it hurts to stay still, whatever that means," She complained with an exasperated shrug.

Saul gave a low groan in response.

"If she passes out on that stage I might actually break her neck this time," He grumbled. "We have a download in just about forty-eight hours and she better be there. I don't need a sick kid in the ward while I'm over on Beta helping you suck people back from the great beyond," He said turning to look at his wife.

Ellen grimaced at his harsh use of words.

Bill shook his head.

"That girl doesn't listen to anyone does she?" He remarked.

Both Tighs shot Bill a defensive glare but it wasn't like they could claim otherwise.

"I’ll tell ya what,” Saul started. “Alexi lost his top when she got sick after dinner last night. I'm not sure what upset him so much. I couldn't understand half of what he was shouting at her. He's insisting that she goes to the ward for a follow up when she gets back from the theater. He told her that if she refuses he'll just pick her up and take her there. That's one way to deal with her."

Ellen frowned.

"She's supposed to go in tomorrow morning to get cleared for the Beta trip anyway but Alexi doesn't want her to wait. He's right. It's probably best."

The previous night Saul and Ellen had returned home from the basestar not long after Katya and Alexi's hurried union. Ellen found the young couple napping in Katya’s room. Though Saul was oblivious Ellen had her suspicions as to what had transpired not long before their homecoming. When she saw Alexi's temper flair over his wife's after-dinner illness Ellen considered her hunch mostly confirmed. Katya was pushing her limits left and right and Alexi was understandably angry at her for it. Like Saul, Ellen had only caught every other word of the couple's E-fed infused argument. She was only half paying attention to their bickering as she attended to Katya who was dizzy and sick to her stomach after the meal. She'd caught enough to be sure that Katya would most likely be returning to her own cabin sooner rather than later. Ellen would miss having her home and she would worry but she wouldn't stop her from going. It was time.

"About the download," Bill interrupted, "Laura's still insisting on going to Beta and I really want you both to reconsider. She wants to be there for Helo and Sharon and I agree with her. We know what it was like. Think about it. You may need us there," He posed.

Though Laura was remaining silent on certain topics she'd stayed steadily insistent on the trip to Beta Station. She said that she didn't want anyone else going through what she did without the support of someone who understood. The people of Earth Orbit wanted their help and Laura saw this as their first chance to start.

Saul scowled.

"After what you just told me do you really think Laura is in any state to be flying to another station and watching all of that go down?" He challenged.

"Is Katya?" Bill retorted.

Saul's face fell.

Protocol had never allowed more than two of the bodies to be on any one station at any given time. It was a safety precaution and stopping the practice now with the recent combat in Orbit would be frowned upon by the EOC to say the very least.

"The kids really want to be there for each other, Bill. It's different," Ellen told him. "Blaze was there for Katya and she really wants to be there for him too. All four kids are expected to attend each resurrection as representatives of their home stations, even Alexi though he unfortunately doesn't have his own birth parents resurrection to attend any longer. This is for your safety.”

"Ellen you're keeping us on lockdown like we're prisoners. Besides, how do you know that whatever our purpose is won't be realized unless we’re together? Did you ever think of that?" Bill asked in an irritated tone.

"Of course. There are plans to safely unite the six of you once everyone is conscious. Until then it's just too risky," Ellen explained. "Anyway, Saul's right. Maybe Laura shouldn't witness the download process. I know that she's had a lot of issues with her own resurrection. Katya is different. These kids have been waiting their whole lives for this. Saul and I won't Kat go if she's not well but if she's up to it then she's expected to be there. Saul and I are going to do our best to make sure Katya rests before the trip. Maybe you should encourage Laura to take it easy too," Ellen proposed as her husband suddenly got up out of his seat and walked toward the hatch. "Where the hell are you going, Saul?"

"I'm going to make sure that they both have some godsdamn peace of mind before the download," Saul said gruffly in a determined voice.

"How the frak are you going to do that?" Bill called after Saul as he opened the hatch.

"I am taking Ms. Roslin to the ballet."

LOCATION: BETA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth
CORRIDOR B
BETA MILITARY LABORATORY FACILITY
YEAR: 2315

 

The facility was typically frigid and Blaze wished that his name was enough to warm his hands as he stood looking through the cold glass of the Beta stasis chambers. He'd arrived aboard the station early in the morning but he'd taken his time getting to the lab as his nerves began to dominate over his usually positive outlook. Once in the lab Blaze felt oddly out of place. Unlike Katya, Blaze was only an occasional visitor of his parents. As a child he spent time with his father in the lab much like Katya had with Isakoff but after Dr. Bishop's death Blaze moved to Gamma Station to live with the Petrovs. After the move his attendance became far less frequent; visiting only when Dr. Petrov traveled to Beta and dragged him along. Once Petrov was murdered and Blaze moved to Alpha under the supervision of the Tighs visiting had become his own decision and one he found many excuses to avoid. Blaze had always been excited to meet his birth parents but watching their bodies floating lifeless on display held little appeal to him.

As the day drew near the lieutenant found his excitement turning to anxiety and suddenly he wished he'd really taken the time to prepare himself for what was about to happen. According to the Tighs and several passages from the history found recorded on the Quartz Tablets, Helo and Athena were champions of love and unity. They were a symbol of the joining of two races. They sired the dawn of a new race of human on Earth. Ellen had once told him that the fleet would never have made it to Earth without the couple's bravery, love and message of trust. He was honored to be the son of two such souls. He just didn't know if they would feel the same way about him.

"Happy to be home?" A mild voice came from behind the pilot startling him out of his thoughts.

Blaze turned to see Dr. Le Blanc coolly smiling at him.

"Doc. I didn't know you were here already," He said returning her smile.

"I came in on the last shuttle from Delta yesterday evening," She said, joining him and glancing toward the tanks.

"Margot with you?" He asked silently hoping that his friend might already be on station.

Le Blanc shook her head.

"She will be first thing in the morning," The doctor said crossing her arms. "She traveled to the basestar yesterday. She needed time to catch up on a few things back on Delta before she joined us."
Blaze nodded with some disappointment. He knew that they would all be there the next day but he found himself wanting the company of the only four people in the world he knew would understand. With his friends by his side there were jokes to be made and laughs to be had. He could make light of his sudden apprehension if he only had his target audience by his side.

"Everything alright over on the baseship?" He asked knowing he wouldn't get a truthful answer out of the woman.

A call from Alexi the previous night told him that even the Tighs had been tight lipped on the subject when they returned from the cylon ship. Blaze knew that if they weren't talking Le Blanc sure as hell wouldn't.

"Nothing that couldn't be handled," She answered but Blaze knew better than to trust her sincerity. "The tanks have already begun to depressurize," She gestured in an obvious attempt to steer the conversation.

She glanced in Blazer's direction when he only nodded silently in response

"You don't seem yourself, Lieutenant," She observed.

Blaze shrugged.

"I'm sorry to be so quiet, Doc. I'm just thinking, I guess."

"I suppose you feel you have a lot to consider," She said with a smirk.

He glanced back at her with his peripheries. Her tone was slightly condescending and he didn't appreciate it.

"You know, Lt. Bishop, it's important that you and your peers are there for the download. The same will be true when the time comes on Delta. It's important for you to be seen."

Blaze narrowed his eyes. He'd heard it all before. He knew what was expected of him and the other three descendants but something about the way she said it this time put him off.

"Be seen?" He asked.

"Yes. It's important that the EOC and other system officials see the four of you at the briefing and know that you will be supportively in attendance through the download just the way you were on Alpha. It's also good to have the media report on your fellowship," The doctor added with a small smile.

"I'm not sure I get it," He grimaced as he watched Le Blanc move closer to the monitors between the tanks and read whatever it was they were outputting.

"It shows that there are no lasting internal negativities from the project offshoot. The citizens should see that. It will help them feel the same way as we move into this next phase."

Over twenty-years later the project offshoot still left a bad taste in the mouths of the Earth Orbit population. The revelation of the four children had been a political nightmare at the time and incited distrust in an already fearful people. Many still had lingering resentments toward their leaders who'd approved the use of their potential savior's bodies in such a strange manner. When the government admitted that the attempt had also been a huge failure it caused an uproar. It had lead to a commission to remove the sacred Quartz Tablets from the protective guard of the government. The vote had passed and their conservation was put into the hands of the people. The tablets now sat on Gamma station under the guard of private civilian security. It was only a symbol but it made the people feel like their fate was at least partially under their own protection.

"No lasting internal negativities…" Blaze repeated. Katya and Alexi were going to love that one. "I'm not sure that's entirely true, Doctor," He said moving his eyes from tank to tank.

"Well it's important that it be seen that way," She answered, turning from the monitors. "The people should see that nothing resulted from that error other than four perfectly nice children who all grew up to be fine young soldiers."

"With all due respect, Ma'am, that's a pretty sugar coated version of the truth."

She nodded in agreement.

"You should know that your obligation only goes that far, Blaze. You live on Alpha. I'm sure you've gotten wind of the recent familial unpleasantness that followed the first download. There is no need for you to involve yourself any further after the Agathon’s resurrection. Maybe you should take a lesson from your friend's experience."

Blaze squinted his eyes. The Captain's ordeal had worried him. It might have even cast a few doubts his way but he wasn't Katya Isakoff. His experience didn't have to be the same as hers.

"I won't lie to these people, Ma'am."

"I'm not suggesting that you do. I'm just proposing that it might be best not to…distract them. At the end of the day the Agathons might be better off without the unfortunate distraction that Roslin and Adama have dealt with."

"Unfortunate distraction? You're talking about Katya, Dr. L," Blaze scowled. "She's not a distraction, she's a person. She's your daughter's best friend. Why would you…"

"I know it sounds harsh, Blaze," Le Blanc interrupted him with a hand to his forearm. "But Katya was a distraction to Mikhail Isakoff, she's been a distraction to the Tighs and now she's a distraction to Roslin and Adama. We don't need these people occupied with anything other than finding their purpose," The doctor insisted.

"You know I doubt Colonel and Mrs. Tigh see Katya as a distraction. She's their daughter the same as Margot is yours…unless that's how you see her too? You do remember that you and your colleagues created us unfortunate distractions."

It took a lot to get Blazer angry but Le Blanc was testing his patience and his manners.

"Of course. So in lies my advice to you. Sometimes it's best to let things just fade away. I'm perfectly aware of my own missteps. Thankfully nature and science always seem to eventually find a way to make up for the mistakes of mankind. Fortunately, the error of your lineage will likely begin and end with the four of you. Your inability to leave a genetic legacy should help the collective memories of the people to fade in time. For you four as well," Le Blanc added. "The burden of who you are doesn't have to be passed down for anyone else to bear."

"No more little distractions," Blaze said as he shook his head in frustration, "I get it."

Blazer bit the inside of his lip. This was the opposite of what he needed. He wanted Katya by his side to distract him with her snide little quips, he wanted Alexi there to rib him, he wanted Margot there to tell him everything was going to be alright. Instead he received the cold and bitter outlook of a doctor whose career had been permanently damaged by his very existence.

"Are you going to give Margot the same advice?" He asked.

"I already have," She said curtly and without missing a beat.

Blaze had never felt worse for poor Margot. She was there on Delta every day to remind this woman of her mistakes. They'd all envied her to a point. She was the only one whose foster parent hadn't been brutally taken from her, the only one who'd never been orphaned. Now Blaze could see she that probably bore her own unique burden.

"Lieutenant, my hope is that soon a solution to our biggest problems will be found. Then any discomfort felt by the people due to four little bumps in the road two decades ago will have been made obsolete and eventually forgotten but until then..." She trailed off when she noticed the appalled look on the young man's face and she cleared her throat. "Your people should see you here; supportive of the government you serve to protect but once these two souls have arrived...well they might do better if you just let them be. Think about it," She said turning to leave.

"I will, Doc. Thanks a lot."

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth
CORRIDOR A
CIVILIAN SECTOR
ALPHA THEATER AND CONCERT HALL
YEAR: 2315

 

"Saul, where the frak are you taking me? I swear we've taken three tramways and two elevators. I didn't know this was going to be a hike," Laura complained as they made their way well into the civilian side of the station.

When he'd come to her cabin asking that she join him Laura was so close to turning him away. As they ventured further and further without reaching a destination she was starting to wish she had. He'd been so convincing, even charming when he asked. It was unlike him. That should have been her first clue.

With Bill gone for the morning she'd forced herself to read a few chapters in her book. She'd made the bed though no one went in the room but them and she'd cleaned the kitchen even though it didn't need it. She was still employing any means of avoidance and distraction and since Bill's newest revelation the day before she'd become even more desperate to ignore her thoughts. She simply couldn't process what he'd told her. She wouldn't; not if she could help it.

"Saul, what are you doing here?" She'd said in a less than welcoming tone.

"Good morning to you too, Laura," Saul greeted caustically.

"Are you here to remove that thing?" She'd asked nodding over to where Vladi stood outside the hatch.

The centurion's head turned a few degrees in their direction and it almost made her slam the door shut in both of their faces.

"No, I'm not," Saul sighed. "But if you want I can replace Vladi. Though, I don't know what the difference is if you can't tell one from the other," He squinted.

She didn't care for his suspicious tone.

"This one seems to have a little too much...interest in me."

"He's just trying to treat you like family, Laura," Saul smirked." I'll switch him out if it means so much to ya but I'm still keeping a centurion posted outside this hatch."

Once Bill told her the news of what she’s supposedly passed down to Katya her fear of the machine grew. She'd tossed away every little trinket he'd given her and started manically over analyzing why it was always so friendly to her. It never so much as looked at Bill. Could it really somehow sense what Bill had told her? She didn't want it around any longer. She wasn't interested in finding out.

"And what if I just don't want a frakking toaster on my doorstep?" She'd said crossing her arms.

"Well then, this just isn't your morning is it?" Saul answered bravely taking a deliberate step forward.

"You know what I mean Saul," She'd defended.

"Laura, that isn't why I'm here. Now why don't you stop worrying about being some sort of second cylon once removed and just forget about it for a while?" He'd teased, making sure she knew they were on the same page. "I came because I was wondering if you'd take a walk with me this morning."

"A walk?"

"Yes. I thought we could talk a bit. There's something I wana show you," He said gaining a wary look from her. “Bill told me that you were hoping to attend the Beta download this weekend. It's coming up. I know we told you both no before but maybe you and I can discuss it a little further?" He attempted trying to get her out of the doorway.

Saul thought Laura seemed about as tired as Katya had that morning. He could see the effects of the nightmares Bill had told him about but her appearance still gave him a strange sense of comfort. He couldn't help but remember how he'd last seen her on the surface of the planet; far too thin and struggling even to stand. As he looked at her now he thought that she looked damned good; a little sleepy but she was healthy and beautiful. Her pond green eyes were clear and her skin was bright, the way he remembered her on New Caprica. They'd worked together back there. Maybe they could work together now.

"Bill's not with you," She'd observed.

"No ma'am. He was but I sent him off to find something to keep himself occupied. Besides, I've already spoken to the Old Man. I want to speak to you. C'mon make an old toaster happy, Roslin," Saul smiled with confidence.

After another minute of apprehension Laura had nodded unsure of what she was agreeing to and she'd left with the Colonel.

Now after a longer trek than she was expecting she was starting to get annoyed. Saul hadn't spoken much as they walked and they had walked an awful lot.

"Can I at least know where you're taking me? For all I know you're going to walk me right out of an airlock."

"Relax, Laura. We're here now and that's your move, not mine," Saul winked. "Right this way," He said, gesturing to a set of large double doors at the end of an open lobby-like area.

Laura looked at the unusual entrance and was surprised to see that its doors were far more ornate than any hatchways she'd seen on station before. Though the civilian side of the station did have more character to it the doors still looked out of place on the vessel. Glancing up she read the words that were projected on the wall over the doorway;
The Alpha Theater and Concert Hall, est. 2200.

"A theater?" She said squinting at Saul.

"Yes, ma'am," He affirmed. "Let's go."

Saul backed himself up against one of the large theater doors and started to lean in to open it when Laura abruptly pulled on his hand to stop him.

"Colonel, wait," She said pointing to a small image screen beside the door. "The screen says it's closed for a private lesson."

Saul rolled his eye and pushed back on the door again.

"Yeah, well I've paid for so many of those private lessons over the years I think I'm entitled to view as many as I want. C'mon, Laura," He said opening the door for her.

As the entrance opened Laura could hear the sounds of a symphony coming from the concert hall and she hesitated to enter. Saul gestured with his hand encouraging her to hurry through. When she finally did he quickly let the door close behind them snuffing out the lobby light. Once inside Laura could tell the music was playing through speakers and far too low and flat to have been coming from the orchestra pit. The seats were empty and the house lights were on but dimmed. On the stage stood two dancers; a man and a woman under the bright lights.

"Keep going," Saul instructed in a low voice as he walked behind Laura.

She turned back and looked at him as if she were about to stop but she kept her stride for a few more paces.

"Here's good," He said directing her to stop as they walked just past the halfway point between the back row and the pit.

He leaned against the wall of the aisle guiding Laura to do the same and promptly gave his attentions to the dancers on the stage.

Laura was still confused but she took his lead and watched the stage as she too settled against the wall.

They were a good distance away but their position gave them a clear enough view. Laura could see the lean muscular arms of the man as he lifted up his partner and placed her back down with ease. She could see the blush satin of the woman's shoes wrapped tightly around her delicate ankles. They looked almost impossible to even stand in but the dancer moved with superb grace as if she were floating on air. She wore a simple black leotard and sheer white tights that emphasized the impressive lines of her body. Her dark hair was pinned up into a large bun and Laura had to smile at the fact that it was almost half the size of her head. When the young woman stopped abruptly amidst her performance to rub at a crick in her neck Laura's smile faded. When the dancer resumed her posture and continued Laura finally realized who she was looking at.

"Why did you take me here?" She asked softly but with anger in her voice.

"Because I thought you might like to watch," Saul answered not taking his eyes off of the dancers. "I thought you might appreciate this sort of thing."

Laura's mouth went dry and she could feel her pulse starting to quicken.

"You know what I mean, Saul. That's Katya up there, isn't it?"

"Sure is," He said proudly as he smiled, still watching her dance.

Laura grew more and more anxious as she stood there. Saul seemed so at ease. He looked happy. He didn't seem to care at all that she was upset with him

"You lied to me," She accused.

"Cool your jets and keep your voice down, Laura. I did not. I told you I wanted to show you something," He said glancing at her and then back to the stage.

"You said you wanted to talk about the Beta download," She shot back harshly, careful to keep her volume low in spite of its heated inflection.

"And I still do," Saul added beaming as the arrangement ended.

He had to stop himself from applauding out of habit.

Laura watched Saul's totally distracted expression and then nervously looked back at the stage where the young man and woman seemed to be standing at ease and talking amongst themselves now that the music had ceased.

"I'm leaving," She told him, uncaring of whether she had his attentions or not.

"You shouldn't," He said finally looking back at her.

"Why the hell not?"

"We came all this way. Besides these are two of the most talented kids on the station. There isn't a lot of art like this left in the world. I thought you might like to experience some of it," He shrugged.
Laura chanced another look toward the young pair. Her pulse was now throbbing in her ears. She tried so hard to stop the thoughts from rushing through her mind but they flooded her anyway. It was so much easier when she didn't have to look at her. Katya looked like a porcelain doll as she stood up on stage; a far cry from the uniformed officer whose mouth spit deadlier bullets than the weapon she toted.

"What if she sees me?" She said weakly.

Saul reached for Laura's wrist and gently pulled her back against the aisle wall by his side.

"Don't worry about that, Laura. I promise you she won't," He said placing his hand on her shoulder to reassure her.” She can't see this far out with those lights on her. That's why Ellen always made sure we sat right up front so Katya could see us if she ever glanced down at the audience," He explained. "Trust me. I didn't take you here to start a scene."

Laura looked back at the stage. Katya seemed to be laughing at something the young man said as he showed her his station cuff. The scene sent a rush through her that she couldn't explain at first. Then she realized what it was. She'd never seen a genuine smile on the girl's face before.

"That's Yuri Petrov. He's Alexi's cousin," Saul said gesturing to the light haired young man. "He used to be one of Katya's partners back when this was one of the biggest parts of her life."

Laura swallowed and nodded.

"You see that old crone sitting in the front there?" He asked as he pointed toward an elderly woman who sat alone in the first seat of the front row.

As if on cue the woman shouted something at the two dancers. Laurfe cringed. She and Saul were too far away to hear clearly but she didn't think she'd be able to understand the woman's shrill words anyway. The old lady sat so low in her chair that had Saul not pointed her out Laura didn't think she would have even noticed her.

"That's Madame Oksana Lobanova. She was Katya's ballet instructor from the time she could walk until she was seventeen and she enlisted in the military. I hate that old bat with a passion. She's about a hundred and fifty years old and one of the meanest ladies you'll ever meet," Saul said with a chuckle. "But she's one of the only people to have ever tamed our little Koshka. She taught her discipline and dedication. She also sent her home crying and with her toes bleeding half the time but Katya wouldn't have had it any other way. She didn't give this up until she had to," Saul finished as the music started again and the two dancers took their places.

Laura's lips parted as she watched the stunning positions that Katya was twisting herself into. She did it with even breaths and a smile on her face as if it were the easiest thing in the world.

"I told Bill that she had your legs," Saul teased as he looked back at Katya's arabesque penché.

Laura's eyes widened at his statement and the impossible balance exhibited in front of them.

"I don't know, Saul. I've never done anything like that with mine," Laura said marveling at the near pin straight lines and fluid movements.

Saul chuckled at her comment.

"Yeah, well she's had years of training," He told her. "You should see her when she's well. Right now she's only giving it about fifty percent."
The climbing tempo of the music gave Laura the chills.

"Should she really be doing this right now, Saul? I mean…she looks better but…"

"No, she shouldn't," He said cutting her off. "It was suggested to her as a form of physical therapy to help with her injuries and balance. She was supposed to wait until she felt better but if you haven't noticed, she's a stubborn brat," Saul smirked.

"I've noticed," Laura said flatly.

"But…she's also an angel when she wants to be, when she's happy," Saul started in a more genuine voice than Laura thought she'd ever heard him use. "She was the sweetest thing I think I ever laid my sight on when she was a little girl. I remember coming to see her dance for the first time. She looked like a little firefly prancing around that big stage. I never cared for this sort of thing but after seeing her a few times I couldn't get enough of it. I came to every recital and every show she was in as long as my duty allowed. She's captivating when she's up there," He said glancing at Laura as she watched the duo. "She's also quiet when she's up there, so that helps with the appeal," He joked trying to get a smile out of her.

"I shouldn't be here," Laura whispered as her throat tightened.

"I wanted to take you," Saul said looking over at her but Laura's eyes were stuck on the stage now just as his had been before. "When Bill first knew about Katya he took you to the observation deck on this side of the station. I told him that Katya was on patrol that day. I don't know if he ever shared that with you. He knew that she was out there while you two sat and looked at the view. He got to watch her fly. I thought maybe you'd like to see her dance," He admitted.

Laura took a deep breath that shook the whole way down. Bill never told her. He probably didn't know what he should and shouldn't share with her anymore.

"I wanted to show you this side of her," Saul went on, "She isn't what she seems most of the time, Laura. That's part of her; the stubbornness, the attitude. You’re right about that to a degree…but she can also be sweet and gentle and she's loyal to a fault. When she loves someone she loves them for life no matter what," Saul said with a sigh as he recalled every trial and experiment that Isakoff had ever involved her in. He wished that he'd been there to stop it. He wished they'd had her from the time she was born so that he could have spared her all of it and given her the father that she deserved instead of one who used her like a tool. Still, Saul knew that she loved that man and that she always would. He understood it. It was the same way he'd loved Ellen even through times when she didn't deserve it.
"I guess I lost the chance to know that side of her," Laura said watching the weightless leaps and jumps and the way Katya nearly floated in Yuri's arms. "I probably messed it up for Bill too," She added as her eyes watered.

She rubbed away the threatening tears when they blurred her view of the site before her.

Saul could see the emotion on her face and for a moment he eased up on the sentiment.

"I think this piece is from their most famous performance together. It was a winter ballet performed at holiday time. I guess you could compare it to our Saturnalia or Winter Solstice back on the Colonies," He said attempting explain the holiday season. ”When they were young they danced the children's leads. She played a little girl whose toys come alive at night and he played her doll, a handsome prince. Once they were old enough they starred in it together again in the adult roles. Opening night was one of the proudest nights of my life, Ellen's too. She still insists on watching the video every winter even though it embarrasses the hell out of Katya. Lobanova used to tell us that had our kitten been born during different times she could have made a shining career of this. She said that she could have been a prima ballerina, that she had a gift but…well, we just don't live in that kind of world anymore. She's made a fine pilot instead," Saul affirmed with a smile but Laura's face was frozen with a mix of pain and awe.

She couldn't believe that the graceful woman on stage was the same little baby who was haunting her dreams. Watching her impressive strength and obvious talent it was hard to imagine that she was actually once the scrawny little bundle that she'd given birth to.

"Gods, she’s beautiful," Laura said shaking her head and flicking away some fallen tears.

"She is," Saul agreed. "And...I want to thank you for her, Laura. You and Bill really made us a little treasure. Ellen and I will always be grateful for that."

He saw her breath catch a bit but when she seemed to be keeping her composure well enough he went on.

"Laura, I want to explain some things to you about Katya," Saul said looking back at the stage. He grimaced trying to remember everything he'd wanted to say. "We let her enlist a year early because it was all she wanted to do with her life. She even gave up this passion to do it. She grew up hearing about her father and brothers and Kara and she never wanted to do anything else but follow in their footsteps. All four kids decided to serve their people. Alexi says it was the least they could do after their creation turned out to be a big disappointment. It's a shame that they think that way but I guess I understand it."

Laura looked over at Saul and narrowed her eyes. She didn't understand why he was telling her all of this.

"And we approved her marriage license last year when they applied because Alexi was almost of age anyway. We knew they would do it as soon as they were both old enough. They wanted housing together and that's the only way to do it in the service. I know she's young but they've loved each other for a long time. Alexi and Katya both have dangerous jobs, dangerous lives. She goes out every day and risks her life. We never know if she's coming back. I know that's sort of a morbid way of looking at it but we didn't want her to miss out on something she wanted so badly," He said with a quaking grimace. "The night of their wedding I just kept asking myself how the frak I was going to explain to Laura Roslin that I'd let her daughter marry Gaius Baltar's son but believe me when I tell you this, Laura; that boy is not his father, not even close."

Laura suddenly realized what Saul was trying to do. He was trying to account for everything she'd spouted off to Ellen the night of their confrontation.Her words had obviously had an effect on him too.
"Saul, you don't have to explain yourself to me. I was out of line. I shouldn't have said any of that. Ellen was right; you're her parents. I don't know what it's like and I don't have any right to judge the choices you made with her. Please don't feel like you have to explain every decision to me. It doesn't matter what I think," She said shaking her head.

"It does to me. Every time I made one I did it with you and Bill in mind, wondering what you two would do, wondering if you would approve. I just wanted you both to be proud once you met her. I know we didn't do things the way either of you probably would have. I know she took on my temper and Ellen's flair for dramatics…But she's also funny and kind and exceptionally bright. She's great with the kids aboard the station and she's helpful and giving. We spoiled her; we gave her as much love as we possibly could and I know we made mistakes but if you really knew her, Laura…"

"That's not what she wants, Saul," She interrupted, finally seeing exactly where he was going with all of this.

Saul shook his head.

"That's just it; she doesn't know what she wants. She's confused and it's making her angry. You don't understand how much she used to want that. You don't know how many times I had to recite the same old stories over and over again; the time Mommy went to Kobol, when Mommy commandeered a cylon basestar, the time Mommy and Uncle Saul almost stole an election and Daddy screwed it up," Saul attempted to joke but he only saw a glimmer of amusement shining back at him in Laura's wet eyes. "She loved every story I had and she was just waiting until the day she would meet you for herself. When she got older she started to understand that her existence might not go over that well once you arrived. That put a damper on things. She started to really grasp what had been done to you and it tinged every hope she had with the fear of rejection. Still, I don't think she ever stopped wanting to know you for herself," He explained.

Laura closed her eyes for a moment unable to keep her sights on the girl in question. She'd suspected as much. Katya lived painfully with the knowledge of how she'd come to be. It was too big of a burden for such a young life to bear. She understood the anger that seemed to follow her, she carried it herself now.

"I think I built you up in her head, Laura," Saul said interrupting her thoughts. When she looked at him he was staring right at her, his one eye sullen and apologetic. "So much so that you couldn't possibly live up to the image she had of you. You're an impressive woman. I'll give you that but I shouldn't have made you out to be some sort of infallible being. She was just so in love with the idea of you. It was nice to see the look in her eyes when we talked about you and Bill. I'll take the blame for that part," He confessed.

Laura was stunned at his words. She'd been so angry and so filled with resentment that she hardly considered what Katya's life with the Tighs was really like. She'd been blaming all of Katya's faults on them; everything she couldn't stand about the child she and Bill had conceived. It hurt too much too believe they'd produced a child whose personality she just couldn't handle. It was easier to blame it on Ellen, to think that she'd been a poor influence on the girl but Laura knew it was mostly an excuse. These people loved her daughter unconditionally and she was angry that she didn't know what it was like to feel the same way.

"Katya shared something with me once that her foster father used to tell her about religion. He told her that people lost their faith when they looked to gods and found them to be but men. I think she's finally starting to understand what he meant by that. I think we all are…" Saul trailed off looking back at the stage distracted by the crescendo. "I really wish she wouldn't spin like that just yet," He said clearing his throat as he watched Yuri turn Katya by her ribcage.

Laura sighed.

"I don't know what it is you think I'm supposed to do. She doesn't want me anywhere near her, Saul. Did you take me here to just observe from afar? Because I don't think I can take this much longer. I'm not going to stand here and torture myself," She said obviously holding back more threatening tears.

Saul shook his head.

"Go to her. Talk to her," He said simply, "Laura, she won't turn you away. I promise you that."

Saul's expression was honest. Laura could see that he believed what he was telling her but she didn't have much faith in his words.

"Even if that were true…I can't face her. I insulted her. I insulted Ellen...she seems to love her so deeply," Laura said letting another tear make its way down her cheek without chasing it off with her thumb.

"She does. They love each other," Saul affirmed, "So much so that I'm sure that if I were to fall off the face of the station tomorrow they'd both be just fine without me," He teased. "So apologize to Katya. It's a good way in and you better believe she'll want it from you before you say much else. But don't you worry about Ellen. Believe it or not she's rooting for the two of you in her own way. It's just been hard for both of them. Katya's the closest thing Ellen's ever had to a daughter and Ellen's the only mother Katya's ever known. Ellen's afraid of losing her and Katya's afraid of disappointing Ellen. My wife doesn't want your apology, Laura. She doesn't need it. What she needs is for her little girl to be happy and if that means connecting with you then she won't try to stop it…not anymore."

"I wouldn't know where to start."

They both winced as they saw Katya stop again and painfully roll her neck from side to side with Yuri's help. She was obviously pushing herself.

"She's a kid Laura. She looks all grown up and she tries to act the part but she's still got a long way to go. Be a mom, teach her something, show her it's okay to swallow your pride and give in once in awhile. Lords know it's a lesson she needs to learn," Saul suggested.

Laura didn't know if she could truly face Katya. There was so much wrapped up in the young woman's presence. When she looked at her she didn't just see what she'd missed in this lifetime but her last as well. She already felt like a failure. After seeing the picture of her baby and knowing the feeling of recognizing her own child she had started to hate herself for not knowing the moment she first met her. Shouldn't she have realized? Shouldn't she have felt it? Sometimes she thought that she had, but she couldn't be sure. Perhaps she was never supposed to be a mother. Maybe she just didn't have it in her. The more that she learned about the girl the harder it was to look at her. She felt the sting of failure seeping in as she watched Katya's lithe body elegantly perform. She looked so strong and beautiful but Laura knew now that she'd even failed her during her conception. She'd made her baby with clyon blood and an almost certain battle with an awful illness in her future. How could she face her knowing that?

"I don't know if I can do that Saul. I don't know if I want to."

"I think you do. I see it in your eyes when you look at her. I know that look because it's the same way Ellen looks at her; like that's your baby girl and no one else in the room matters near as much. Do it, Laura. Do it for her, do it for Bill, do it for yourself. Just frakking do it. If you don't you might regret it. You've seen what it's like to wait at home while she's out in combat. Soon she'll be recovered and back out there. Can you sit through another night like that without at least trying?"

She was too afraid to try. She was too afraid of what it might mean to actually know her daughter. What if they tried and it still turned out they couldn't stand each other? What if Katya did turn her away again? Could she even handle it once more?

They were both caught off guard when the sharp shouting of Madam Lobanova came screeching from the front row. She stayed seated but was brandishing what looked to be a cane in the air.

"See? I told you. She's evil," Saul said grimacing in the old woman's direction.

A glance toward Yuri and Katya showed they weren't fazed by the outburst as they followed whatever harsh instruction or critique the old lady had just shouted their way.
Saul moved in front of Laura making sure he had her attention.

"Laura, I want to make you an offer. I told you we would talk about the download. I understand why you want to go to Beta. Bill explained it to me and I think you're right. It would be good to have you there for Helo and Athena," He relented.

"So we can go?" She asked peaking passed his shoulder at the stage.

"Well there's a catch. If you manage to at least try and visit Katya tomorrow I'll make sure that you and Bill are on the last shuttle out to the Beta quadrant by the end of the day. I don't care if I have to take on Michelle Le Blanc or the entire EOC. If they need some convincing well then Ellen can just hold the raiders and the centurions and the whole stream ransom. I'll get you there and I'll make sure you're safe. You understand how dangerous it is out there right now. If you're brave enough to want to do that then you're brave enough to take on that ballerina up there," He said nodding back toward the stage.

Laura's eye's narrowed at the Colonel.

"That's not fair, Saul."

"I know it but that's my offer. It will do you both a lot of good. It will do us all a lot of good. No one wants to live like this anymore, Laura. It's hurting all of us. I told Katya and Ellen that we all need to find a way to be a family. That includes you. We need your help."

A family, Laura thought as she looked back at the stage.

"She's moving back to her cabin tonight," Saul told her. "If you go to her there tomorrow morning before she leaves for Beta you won't have to worry about Ellen and I being around to interfere. Just you and her."

The thought gave Laura chills. Had she ever even been alone with her? Maybe long ago back when they still shared blood and breath, before the problems of the world came along to force them apart, back when their hearts still beat together, before either of them was aware enough to know it. With a deep sigh she looked toward the stage again. Yuri held Katya with one hand on her ribs and the other clasped with hers high in the air but they suddenly didn't seem to be moving.

"Saul," Laura called in a louder voice than she should have.

He turned his head in time to see Katya's legs give out and watch her sink to the stage floor with Yuri's help.

"Damn it," He said under his breath. “ I knew it.”

Katya sat slunk over with her head in her hands and her knees bent. Yuri crouched next to her rubbing her back and obviously trying to comfort her. The old woman slowly got up and started making her way to the front of the stage with her cane as if she was climbing a mountainside with a staff.

"She looks sick," Laura worriedly said grabbing on to Saul's arm.

He nodded.

"She's okay," He tried to assure her, though he wasn't convinced himself. "She probably got a little dizzy."

Saul looked at his cuff and started tapping away at it.

"You should go to her," Laura insisted but the Colonel shook his head.

"I'm messaging Alexi. He planned on taking her to the doctor when she came home. He can just come get her from here," Saul said knowing his message would have Alexi there shortly and no doubt angry at his stubborn wife.

He needed to get Laura home before Katya noticed them.

"C'mon, Laura," He said starting back up the aisle.

"Saul, we can't just leave her like that," She said trying to keep her voice down as she walked after him.

"She'll be fine, Laura. Yuri is family. He won't let anything happen to her. Alexi will be here in no time. We need to go," He said reaching back and taking her by the hand.
Laura looked over her shoulder the whole way to the door.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth
CORRIDOR B
MILITARY QUARTERS
CABIN 119B: ASSIGNMENT; TIGH
YEAR: 2315

Katya felt numb. She hardly felt like she was in her own body as she sat at the dinner table staring into space. She couldn't handle dinner, not so soon after what she'd just learned. Alexi told her that they should have skipped it. She should have listened but it was her last night home so she forced herself to stay for Ellen.

"Katya, sweetie, you're not eating," Ellen said as she passed a bowl to Saul.

The typical dinner time nagging went in one ear and out the other. As if on auto pilot Katya stabbed some food onto her fork; a move that always bought her some time.

"Katya," Ellen called again, frowning at the distant look on the girl’s face.

"Kit!" Saul shouted across the table.

After escorting Laura to her cabin Saul returned home. When he shared what had transpired between he and Laura at the theater he left out Katya's dizzy spell for Ellen's sake. He knew that Alexi was taking care of it and he didn't want to worry her. Ellen knew that she was heading to the doctor anyway. Saul figured that here was no point in stressing her out even more especially with the trip she had coming up.

"Huh?" Katya said finally looking up from her plate.

"Ellen's talking to you," He barked.

"Sorry," She mumbled softly before looking back down and continuing to poke at her food.

Alexi watched his wife intently. He knew her head was elsewhere and that she couldn't hide it. He couldn't blame her after the bombshell that had just been dropped on them during their visit to Med Ward. He was having his own trouble getting through the meal but for Katya's sake he'd have to cover for the both of them.

"Yehst, myshka," He told her.

She nodded and took a bite.

"Sweetie, what did Tawny say?" Ellen asked as she folded a napkin in her lap.

When Alexi and Katya came in they'd both gone straight into her room after a couple of half hearted greetings. They hadn't come out again until Ellen called them for dinner. When she'd asked them what they were up to they both claimed to have been busy packing up Katya's things.

"She's fine," Alexi answered catching both Saul and Ellen by surprise. Katya answered for him all the time but it was a strange occurrence to hear him do the same for her. "She's cleared for the trip tomorrow afternoon," He added hoping to erase the looks on their faces.

Ellen looked back at Katya and addressed her once again.

"That's good, baby. Did she do another cranial scan?" She asked, still worried about the lingering effects of the concussion.

Her symptoms should have been lessening now and the fact that some were still plaguing her had Ellen on edge.

Katya glanced at her husband before answering.

"Yeah. Everything's fine," She said avoiding Ellen's eyes.

"What's with you?" Ellen asked shaking her head.

Katya glanced up in her direction.

"Nothing. Why?"

"You've been acting like a zombie since you got home," Ellen accused.

"She's tired," Alexi answered again. This time Ellen shot him a nasty look but he ignored it and continued. "She shouldn't have gone to the theater this morning," He went on. "That's all. She wiped herself out. She pushed herself too far," He explained while casually reaching for a second helping from the center of the table.

Saul nodded in agreement and took the explanation without doubt. He'd seen the way Katya had danced earlier. Though she handled it well at first she'd eventually overdone it. He wasn't surprised to see her acting a little aloof as they ate. Alexi was probably right. She had to be exhausted.

Saul wasn't going to share the on stage tumble with Ellen unless Katya brought it up first and both kids seemed to be avoiding it. He assumed they too were attempting to spare Ellen the stress. Everyone understood the responsibility she had in the upcoming download on Beta.

"Did Tawny say when you can return to active flight duty?" Saul asked before taking a sip of his drink.

Katya silently shook her head.

Saul frowned at her minimal response. He'd expected some follow up, some comment about how Tawny didn't know what she was talking about or how pissed she was that she'd still have to wait to fly but she almost looked uninterested. He looked to his wife and saw the concern on her face.

"Why didn't you see Xao?" He grumbled becoming a little more suspicious. "He's your doctor."

Katya wanted to sink into floor.

"Because Tawny treated her after the collision,” Alexi explained on her behalf Sp she had to follow up with her.”

"What else did she say?" Ellen pressed, glancing at Alexi as if to tell him to shut up before he even opened his mouth. Usually they could hardly get two words out of him at a time. Tonight he was suddenly Katya's spokesman.

"Nothing," Katya shrugged.

She kept having to remind herself to breathe. She felt like she was in a dense fog. She knew that she and Alexi should really go. She would miss being back home and getting to sleep in her old bed with Ellen’s doting care but they needed to leave. After what they had just found out they needed to be alone.

"Nothing?" Ellen asked in disbelief, "What about your neck?"

"She said to keep going to PT," Katya answered.

"Then that's not nothing," Ellen countered.

Katya dropped her fork causing it to clatter loudly onto her plate.

"Please, Ellen, it's fine. I'm tired. Alexi's right. I was stupid this morning. I’m an idiot. I was wrong to go dance. I’m sorry. I have a headache. Can we talk about something else please?" Katya said unleashing the many frustrations that she didn't even know had been building up as she sate there.

She really couldn't feel anything.

As Ellen glanced around the table she saw that Alexi's eyes were glued to his wife. Something was up with them but for now she would let it go.

"Fine," She said with some ice in her tone. "I'm leaving for Beta at 0600. I want you three there by the afternoon," She told the table.

Alexi nodded.

"I have a tutoring session in the morning and Katya has PT with Buck," He answered. "We can head out after that, Colonel, unless you and Kat want to take off early. I can take a later shuttle. "
"No, that’s fine. I'll schedule our flight tonight," Saul added, “I’ll send you the itinerary before bed and I'll meet you two on deck."

"Yes, Sir," Alexi replied.

"That alright with you, Kat?" Saul asked but she was zoned out yet again, "Kat?" He called more forcefully.

Ellen shook her head and reached over the table. When she placed her hand over Katya’s rested the girl jumped at her touch as if someone had just snuck up on her.

"Kit, what the frak is wrong with you?" Ellen said with growing concern.

"Nothing," Katya insisted with a roll of her eyes, "I'm sorry, Aunt Ellen. Really, I'm just so tired. Alexi, when you're done can we get going?"

"Of course," The Sergeant answered.

He started shoveling food in his mouth to clear his plate.

Ellen glanced at Saul but he looked as confused as she felt. She let out a relenting sigh.

"Will you call me in the morning when you wake up, kit?" She asked, "Put my mind at ease while I'm away?" She asked, playing the guilt card.

Katya nodded.

"Yeah, first thing," She assured, hoping her quick agreement would be enough.

Alexi stood up from the table and pushed his chair back in.

"I'll go get your things," He said excusing himself.

Saul pushed his plate away and rested both hands on the table top.

"You better rest up tonight, kit. You'll need it tomorrow," He vaguely warned pushing his chair out and standing up. "Trust me," He added before retiring to his bedroom.
Ellen bit her lip at his snide reference. She knew that he'd left the ball in Laura's court today. He told her about their little deal. She would be far away when and if Laura actually showed up at Katya's cabin and it killed her to know that she wouldn't even be on the same station while the two of them were together in the same room. On top of that she had to worry about contending with the EOC if Saul really did decide to honor his promise to bring Bill and Laura to Beta. Once Saul was out of earshot Ellen gave Katya a knowing look.

"Are you going to tell me the truth now that we're alone?" She asked.

Katya looked back at her silent and stone faced.

"Guess not," Ellen said before pressing her lips together in a hard line.

"Da'vai," Alexi's voice broke the tension.

He held a few of Katya's bags and had her uniform slung over his shoulder on a hanger.

Katya got up from her chair slowly and walked over to Ellen.

"Thank you for taking care of me," She said leaning over and kissing her on the cheek.

Ellen's anger melted with the sweet gesture but her concern stayed solid.

"Just promise me that you'll take care of yourself, kitten," She said reaching for the girl’s hand and giving it a squeeze.

Katya nodded.

"I promise."

Ellen stood and took her into her arms.

Katya returned the hug and took a deep breath inhaling her perfume.

"Love you," Katya said tightening her arms.

She was sure that she would wake tonight wishing that Ellen was there to hold her but Alexi would be there and she had to look to her husband for comfort now.

"Love you more," Ellen answered.

As Katya moved toward the door Ellen tried to study the girl. Sometimes she could get a feel of what she was thinking if she wasn't actively blocking it. A the moment she couldn't read a damn thing.

"Good luck, Aunt Ellen," Katya called as she went through the hatch.

"You too, kit," Ellen said after the door was closed.

If Laura showed up she'd need it and something told her it was needed all around.

LOCATION: ALPHA SPACE STATION; approximately 200 miles above the surface of planet Earth
CORRIDOR B
MILITARY QUARTERS
CABIN 139B: ASSIGNMENT; ISAKOFF/PETROV
YEAR: 2315

The night had been more peaceful than either Alexi or Katya had expected. They were able to find some comfort in the privacy of their own home and in each other's arms. They even managed to get some sleep. Katya only woke once and Alexi was relieved when he soothed her back to sleep in a matter of minutes. They hadn't spoken much of the day's events, mostly because they were still too stunned. It was something that would be dealt with later. They both knew that it would have to take a back seat for a few days. They had places to be, they had a friend in need. When they returned home they would figure things out for themselves.

Eager to occupy her thoughts Katya woke early and headed to physical therapy. Mindful of Ellen’s concern she called her as promised.

Ellen was relieved and happy to hear from her. They spoke as Katya walked to the gym and as Ellen passed the time in the shuttle on the way to Beta. Though she was worried, Ellen was careful not to probe too deeply. She was glad to hear that Katya sounded much better over the call than she had the night before during dinner. She took comfort in knowing that they would be together again by the afternoon. She had stayed up half the night worrying about Katya's strange behavior and about Laura's potential visit. Though she'd told Katya that she wanted her to be accepting toward the woman it didn't make it any easier on her end. Once Ellen’s shuttle was about to dock they said their goodbyes, promising each other a more pleasant dinner on Beta that night.

Done with her PT Katya returned home to shower and pack for the trip. When she arrived Alexi was still in the middle of his tutoring session. He sat with a little boy that they both regularly taught; the son of another military couple on station of Eastern Federalist decent. Alexi had Tchaikovsky softly playing through the cabin speakers. He always insisted that they play music while their students were there. He said that it stimulated the mind and helped them learn. As Katya walked up to where they were seated at the table the site of Alexi with the young boy made her smile. He was usually so serious but when he spoke to the children on station she got to see a completely different side of him.

"Hello boys," She greeted, throwing her gym bag off to the side.

Alexi just waved in her direction, obviously concerned with whatever he was grading on the boy's tablet. She laughed and shook her head at the intensity he used even in marking a seven-year-old's homework.

"Privheyt, Katya," The boy greeted, rushing out of his seat and running to hug her hips.

"Hello, Maksim," She smiled down and tousled his blonde hair with her hand. "Are you working hard this morning?" She asked.

"Dah," He said happily.

"Oh yeah? How 'bout you?" She teased, poking at Alexi's shoulder while he busily scanned the screen he was on.
He waved her off.

"Alexi is helping me with algebra," Maksim proudly told her.

"And how is it going?" She asked trying to feign as much excitement as the child obviously felt.

"Kah roh'shoh," He beamed.

"Oh really? That's nice to hear, but Maksim, what's with all the E-fed? You know better than that when you're at a lesson."

The boy shrugged.

"Alexi does it," He deflected looking over at his teacher.

"Does he?" Katya said with exaggerated wide eyes." Well Alexi knows better than that too."

Katya looked over at her husband, goading for an explanation.

"His parents speak it at home, Kat. What's the difference?" He grumbled.

"The difference is, Alexi; you are a certified instructor in the Earth Orbit Education System. You've promised to uphold their standards and that means using a universal language," She said matter-of-factly. "Doesn't it Maksim?" She said looking back at the grinning boy.

"Yes?" He shrugged.

"That's right," She winked. "Now sometimes Alexi forgets. When he does you remind him okay?"

"But Katya, you have E-fed right here," Maksim said reaching up to point at her bare ribs.

She'd forgotten that the midriff tank she’d worn to PT exposed her tattoos.

Alexi finally looked up at her, amused that she'd been caught by the precocious kid.

Katya squinted her eyes at her husband and then smiled back at Maksim. She bent down on her knees so he could get a better look.

"That's right, Maks. I do. Can you read that? It's in old Cyrillic," She told him.

The boy ran a chubby finger over the black characters that were inked onto the skin of Katya’s ribcage. When he seemed to be having trouble with the old text she helped him out.

"Dochka," She told him.

"Daughter?" He asked looking up at her.

She nodded and smiled.

"Very good."

"Why do you have that?" Maksim asked poking at the letters with his little finger and making her giggle.

"My uncle took me to get it a few years ago on the anniversary of my father's birthday. He passed away a long time ago. I have it to help me remember him. Sometime that's okay. We shouldn't forget about the old language. It's fine if your parents speak E-fed at home but when we're in class we should try to follow the Orbit rules. Don't you think?"
She ignored Alexi as he chuckled quietly at the table.

"Yes," Maksim agreed.

"Good," She smiled.

"Then…why do you have this one?" The little boy asked, moving his finger to poke at the ribs on Katya’s right side where she sported the silhouette of a cat against the full moon.
Alexi was blatantly grinning while he watched the display.

"Well the cat is for my call-sign when I fly and the moon behind it is for my squadron; Luna Force," She explained as the child continued to trace the shape of the cat against the moon. "I got this one when I made the first air group because I was proud of it."

"Your callsign, Katya…isn't it…Koshka?" Maksim asked.

"Yes. That's why I got the cat. Understand?"

"Yes…but…Katya, that's more E-fed," The boy said innocently.

Alexi finally let out a hearty laugh and Katya just palmed her forehead at a loss.

"You're not going to help me out at all are you, Lex?" Katya said standing back up and looking at her husband. He shook his head unable to speak as he held back his laughter. "I guess that's good to know for the future," She chided.

"You did very well, little man," Alexi said handing the boy his tablet and distracting him from the impromptu lesson on tattoo symbolism.

Katya wasn't sure if Alexi's compliment was about the boy's course work or getting one over on her but she had a feeling that he was proud of both.

"We're done for the morning," He said giving the boy a pat on the shoulder.

"Katya, my sister needs help with her science," Maksim reminded.

"Oh, that's right. Tell your parents to message me and I'll set something up with Dasha when I come back from Beta Station, okay?"

"Okay," He agreed.

"I'm taking a shower, Alexi," She told her husband as she walked toward their bedroom.

"Alright. I'm gunna walk him home. I'll finish packing when I get back," He called after her. "Your uncle's message said to be on deck at 1400 or he's leaving without us."

"I'm really worried," She mocked with a roll of her eyes as she looked back over her shoulder. "Bye, Maksim."

Katya turned to blow him a kiss and then continued into their room.

The little boy blushed at the gesture and looked up to the towering sergeant.

"Let's go, Maks," Alexi said shaking his head and taking Maksim's hand.

"Should we turn the music off, Alexi?"

"No way. Let's make it louder so Koshka can hear it all the way in the head," He said, making the boy laugh as he turned the volume up using his cuff. "C'mon. Let's go."
Alexi moved to open the hatch and was surprised to hear a startled ga