|The Admiral's Moustache
||[Nov. 27th, 2006|11:13 pm]
Something to tide us over till Friday:|
The Admiral’s Moustache
(A somehwat light-hearted look at the missing year, ending prior to events covered in Unfinished Business)
The usual disclaimer’s apply.
By Jenny Curtis
As he watched the Cylon fleet materialize in orbit above New Caprica, all he could think f was her. Laura. How could he have let her down there in the muck, while he wandered the halls of his ghost ship? How had he ever let her go? Once again, Admiral Adama, was facing a choice, leave someone behind whom he loved or die. But there was no choice. Lee was right. They had to jump now.
“We’ll go then,” he said weakly as he signaled the order for the fleet to jump away and heard the familiar whine of the FTL drive come to life.
“But we’ll be back,” and as he said it he felt as if she were standing before him, and he were making her a promise.
360 Days Ago
In the three weeks since Baltar had taken office Adama had not seen Laura Roslin. He hadn’t realized how much it was that their personal relationship was built around their jobs. Now he couldn’t function. Her opinion and input had become second nature and now it wasn’t there. That was what he would tell her, but it wasn’t the whole story. The truth was that he had come to rely on their talks as the best part of his day. Without her, there was often nothing to look forward to but the increasingly tall glass of Ambrosia he drank before turning in.
Their last meeting had been about the election. Things between them had been strained. He had taken her role--the moral compass. He’d helped her find her “North,” again, but at what cost? Would she resent him forever, for it?
He held his copy of the “Confidential” report in his hands. Baltar hadn’t even looked at his, and he knew that the President didn’t need to read it. Adama suspected that Baltar knew all too well why Cloud Nine, had expoloded without warning. Adama didn’t understand that rodent-like little man, who twitched under his gaze. He needed Roslin for that. She could read people, cut right through them and see their motives. He wished she were here right now to lean on, to help him find his “North” again.
This thought was interuppted by his intercom. “Laura Roslin,” his aide said, was waiting to see him.
“Send her in,” he said, he thought, perhaps a bit to eagerly and he bounded up from his seat to greet her.
She said his name warmly, and the familiar crackle of her voice brought it all back to him: the missed opportunities and the late night conferences that ended with him returning alone to his empty rack.
He was so used to seeing her in her modest black suit that he was taken aback by her appearance. She wore a slinky scarlet blouse and skirt that brought out the red in her hair. She looked simple and lovely and he rushed over and put a protective arm over her shoulder.
“I’ve missed you.”
She cocked her head and studied him for a moment before she smiled up at him. She was still nestled against him. She hadn’t pulled away. He knew that their last meeting was forgiven if not forgotten. He wondered if he should kiss her.
“I’ve missed you too. But I’ve been too busy…No, that’s not right. I’ve been too embarassed to come see you.”
“I’m sorry about the election. You don’t know how many times I’ve cursed myself for what I did.”
“You have nothing to apologize for. I’m the one who should apologize. I was out of line. You stopped me. You saved me from myself,” she said and finally pulled away from him. She sat in her old chair. He breathed in her smell.
“Perhaps, I was right about the effect that rigging the election would have on you, but now that I have to deal with Baltar as President, I wish, I had rigged the damn thing myself.”
“Bill, you don’t mean that.”
“Yes, I do,” he said and handed her the report. “You were right about him, Laura. He is in league with the Cylon. And what’s more, I think he’s out of his frakkin’ mind.”
She unfolded her glasses from her trouser pocket and began to read the report, “this is the Cloud Nine Investigtion.”
“The results were profoundly disturbing. The explosion came from a part of the ship that was a known subversive headquarters. The device came from Baltar’s own lab.”
“He knows who took it, and I believe that he gave it to her, or rather it.”
“The number six Cylon? But how?”
“The Cylon that Baltar interrogated on the Pegasus, was a number six. How else do think he got the information about the Resurrection ship.”
“We were so glad to hear it, we didn’t question his methods.”
“I’ve gone back over the logs. Baltar was the last visitor, just prior to the six’s escape. I think he let her go.”
“And then gave her the nuke. And it looks like, a place to live. But why?”
“I don’t know. There was something between them. He wouldn’t be the first man in the fleet to fall in love with a machine.”
It doesn’t quite add up. There’s a piece missing.”
“The proof. All I have is circumstantial.”
She continued to read the report, when she paused, he said, “My last meeting with Baltar was the most bizarre yet. I gave him this report and confronted him with it.”
“What did he do?”
“Nothing. He hardly said a word. He didn’t look at it. But he was crying.”
“Bill that’s it. That’s the missing piece.”
“Baltar’s tears. You were right. He was in love with the Cylon. When he heard the report he knew she was was dead. And since the resurrection ship is gone,--
“destroyed by her information.”
“She won’t be coming back to him,” Roslin concluded. So they were back to finishing one another’s sentences. In this familiar rhythm, for the first time in weeks, Adama’s head felt clear.
“So this was all a suicide?”
“Exactly. It makes sense. If it were a political gesture, why didn’t the subversives claim responsibility? And why blow up the ship without making a single demand? And why now that we have, that Baltar, has given them what they want. Peace.”
“We have to stop him. Every day he dismantles more of our defenses. We will soon be sitting ducks for the Cylon.”
“But we need proof. We need to get someone close to him.”
“Well, he doesn’t trust me.”
Laura smiled, “I think I’m safely ruled out as well.”
“I’ll think of someone. In the meantime you have to stall going down to the surface. I need your help on this.”
“Why? I’ve been ordered to go. At first I was dreading it, but Maya came to me with an offer to start a school. The idea of teaching again, it’s given me something new to live for.”
He wanted to be her reason to live. “Maya?” was all he said.
“Yes, you remember, she adopted Helo and Sharon’s—“
“Oh yes, of course. It would be good for someone to help look after the baby. If Baltar got his hands on it—“
“—It would be a disaster.”
“So that’s what you came here for today, to say good-bye?” He did his best to hide the hurt in his voice. Why hadn’t he kissed her when she walked in. Now it would have to wait till another day.
“You realize I’m no good without you. I’ve come to rely on our chats more than I care to admit.”
“Well, you’re free to come see me on the surface any time. And there’s the wireless. We’ll keep in touch,” as she spoke she rose from her chair to leave. He stood and followed her. Out of desperation he put his body between her and the door.
“I can see I’m not going to get away that easily,” she said and reached up and hugged him. As she pulled away she kissed him gently, on his upper lip. Before he knew what he was doing his arms were firmly around her waist. He planted a deep kiss on her mouth. She didn’t pull away, but kissed him back.
For that moment he was happier than he could ever remember. They pulled apart. She looked a bit embarassed. He could feel his cheeks burning.
“You can bet we’ll stay in touch,” he said and with as much swagger as he could muster he opened the door for her. She just starred back at him agog, in disbelief. Then she smiled and walked away.
His head was swimming as he staggered back into his quarters. How did he do it? How did beautiful women, just fall into his lap, like that? He was never much to look at. He wasn’t much of a personality either. He studied his face in the mirror. Smiling, he touched his lip where she’d kissed him. A schoolboyish thought crossed his mind. He’d never wash that lip again. Maybe he’d grow a mustache.
A week later
Adama stood on the bridge clutching his shrinking duty roster. Those who weren’t ordered planetside were going of their own volition. The dradis flickered with interference as the transport ship carried civilians and supplies to the surface of the planet. Laura was gone. He watched the electronic footprint of her ship as it slowly made it’s way without incident.
Colonel Tigh came and stood next to him watching the dradis.
“I don’t like this place Bill. Can’t see a frakkin’ thing out there.”
“Hopefully, that means the Cylons can’t see us.”
The colonel snorted and Adama turned to face him. He saw a curious look play across his friend’s face.
“You’ve got somethin’ on your lip.”
“I’m growing a mustache.” Adama said curtly and then softening, “it could be good for morale. We could make it a contest, like they used to do in the terrestrial navy.”
“Those were beards, not that…that.. soup strainer. And it takes more than one person to make a contest.”
“I was hoping you’d join in Saul.”
“Forget it. You’ve already got a head start. No, you’re in this on your own.”
That, Adama thought, was the painful truth. He was on his own. As he turned to head out of CIC he almost ran into Starbuck, who was still in flight suit and mad as hell.
“Sir, permission to speak freely.”
“You’re not going to use salty language are you, Lieutenant?”
“You bet your ass I am. Will you please tell Baltar he’s a frakkin’ idiot. Half my crew are grounded. We can’t run Vipers without flight checks and we can’t have flight checks without parts. The Chief tells me Baltar’s ordered everything that wasn’t nailed down to be used planetside.”
“Why am I the last to know these things?”
“I didn’t think it concerned you.”
“I’m CAG. Everything concerning my birds concerns me.”
“That isn’t really what’s bothering you. Anders is scheduled to be sent down in the next transport.”
Starbuck pulled off her flight glove with her teeth in a petulant way. She looked like an angry little girl. Adama wanted to pat her on the head and tell her it would be OK. Instead he waited for an answer.
“Frak this!” she mumbled as she turned and strode away.
With any other officer, Adama would have had her thrown in the brig for insubbordination. But Starbuck wasn’t any other officer. She was the best pilot in the fleet. She was like a daughter to him. He hated to deny her anything he had the power to give. He went to the nearest comm station and called Samuel Anders.
Anders was surprised but polite when he took the call.
“I’ll get to the point quickly, Mr. Anders. I have an unhappy CAG and a headache. Do you know why she’s unhappy?”
“Something about parts, sir?”
“No, it’s not Viper parts. It’s you. She wants you to stay.”
“But I’ve been ordered to go.”
“There’s a simple way around that. If you two were married—“
“Do you think she’d say yes?”
“I don’t think that’ll be a problem. Tell her to pick a place and time and I’ll officiate.”
“Yes, sir. Is that all, sir?”
“Do you have a ring?” Adama asked, subconsciously fingering his wedding ring.
“I think so. Pyramid championship ring. Not very romantic, but it’s round and shiny with a hole in the middle.”
“Good enough. I’ll see you both later.”
Adama hung up and smiled. He could keep Starbuck close at least and keep her happy. That would be something. It was only a matter of time before all the Vipers were grounded and the pilots left too, but till then he could make the most of things.
100 Days Later
As the Admiral walked the deck of the Galactica, he heard his footfalls echo eerily down the corridor. He was down to 15% crew. Tactical and battle stations were the first to go. The vipers went shortly after that. He’d officiated more than a few weddings. Lee and Dualla. The Chief and Callie. It seemed the arc was empty and the animals were leaving two by two. Only he was left in his bucket alone.
The bucket. That was what they called Galactica. But it was fast becoming a bucket of bolts. An old ship without full maintenance grew older every minute. He passed through the security corridor and noticed a broken seal on a valve. It was leaking steam with a small hiss. There was only one prisoner left. Helo had stayed behind to be near Sharon. He sometimes slept in the cell next to hers though the Admiral knew that days went by were Sharon refused to talk or even look at him.
Helo was a good soldier, Adama thought. Not that bright, but loyal and adaptive. He’d taken to his new job at CIC quickly. He’d been given a promotion.
Adama went into the cellblock. The Cylon he called Sharon sat in her cell quietly staring at the wall. Adama thought about giving her the run of the ship, but he knew given the opportunity she’d smother him in his sleep, thinking he’d had her baby killed. He couldn’t blame her.
Sensing his eyes on her, Sharon stood and faced him. She glared at him. He thought for a moment that she’d become violent. But she sat down, slumping on her bunk. Adama reached for the handset. Sharon wearily trudged over and took the other phone.
“What do you want?”
“I want to know about the Cylon, the one they call number six.
“What about her?”
“Have you ever seen her with Gaius Baltar.”
“Which number six?”
“Any of them.”
“The only six I know was my CO on Caprica when I was on the mission to seduce Helo.”
“And she never said anything about Baltar.”
“Could another model Six have been sent to seduce Baltar, the way you were with Helo?”
“Your guess is a good as mine. I don’t make it to many Cylon meetings these days.”
“I’m thinking about letting Helo move in here with you.”
“Why not just let me out.”
“Because two things would happen if I let you out of that cell. One, you’d probably kill me. Two, you and Helo would be gone for good.”
“You think I’d just run off with that stupid human.”
“Yes. You love him.”
“You're an expert on love now. That’s a laugh. You’re even more alone than I am.”
Adama gave her a wry smile and said, “I’ll let Helo know about the move.”
Realizing she’d struck a nerve, she continued to taunt him. She yelled, “you’re all alone you bastard. You murderer. And you’re going to die alone with that frakkin’ rat on your lip!”
The Admiral was too far away to hear the slight against his mustache. He was alone. He was thinking of the promise he’d made to Laura; to stay in touch. How he’d frakked that up. The few conversations they’d had were painfully businesslike. She’d reported on her new life, Maya, the school, the child. He’d kept her abreast of the gossip from the ship. She told him that the Chief and Callie were expecting a baby. They talked about the weather. They were stuck like the fleet orbiting a rainy planet with no sunny days in sight.
It wasn’t too late he supposed. He returned to his quarters and used his wireless handset and made a ship to shore call. He looked at his watch. She might be just taking a lunch break. He told the transport ship operator to try looking for Laura Roslin at the school or nearby. There was a long pause of several minutes as he heard the atmospheric interference and background noise. But she was there sooner than he’d expected.
“Bill, is that you? Is everything allright?” She sounded out of breath. He flattered himself that she’d run.
“Everything’s fine. Just thought I’d check in.”
“I was just thinking of you. I saw Starbuck. Bill, you wouldn’t recognize her. She’s grown her hair out. And she said, you’ve grown a mustache. Is it true?”
“I can’t imagine it. You’re fixed in mind from that day.”
“I still see you in that red blouse.”
“Now it’s more like thick wooly sweaters. Not sexy, but at least warm.”
“The weather getting you down?” No! he couldn’t believe, he brought up the damn weather! This was going wrong again.
“It’s not just that. It’s difficult to teach with half the kid’s out sick every day.”
There was a pause and static took the line for a moment.
“—what was that?”
“Nothing. I didn’t say anything. Laura?”
“I did if for you. The mustache, I mean. To mark the time I’m away from you.”
“Well, I hope I get a chance to see it before it’s full of gray hairs.”
“Good. Gods, I miss you. I gotta go. Look, Maya is waiting and my break is over.”
“I miss you too. I’ll see you soon.”