DISCLAIMER: Battlestar Galactica is the property of Glen A. Larson, Sci-Fi Channel, R & D TV, Sky and NBC Universal.
SERIES/SEQUEL: This is the second story in the 'Hide and Seek' series, following Water.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Act of Contrition
By sydneysmoms


And, for what it's worth, I would seriously consider prayer.

'Not the most reassuring words you could hear from your doctor,' Laura mused as she walked down the hall, away from Galactica's infirmary. Laura knew Doctor Cottle disapproved of her desire for a non-traditional treatment, but she would not put herself through what her mother suffered at the end of her life. Doloxan had destroyed her mother as surely as the cancer would have, but over an excruciatingly longer period of time.

As she turned a corner, she felt her body crash into something and, as she began to fall, she found herself cradled in a strong set of arms.

She looked up into eyes that had, occasionally, haunted her dreams. The scent that suddenly surrounded her was maddenly familiar as well. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the unintentional assault on her senses until she was, once again, standing firmly on her own feet. She looked into the eyes of Kara Thrace until the pilot's attention was drawn quickly away, focusing behind her and to the right. She watched Kara step back and put her arms away from her body.

"Whoa. Easy there, big guy. Just a little accident."

Laura turned to see the lone member of her protection detail leveling his weapon at Kara.

"Stand down, Agent Fleming. I'm sure Lt. Thrace's intentions are honorable."

Kara's focus shifted back to Laura when the agent's weapon had returned to its holster. She hadn't seen the older woman since the memorial service after the initial Cylon attack, but the brunette had rarely left her thoughts. Although, in the last few days, she had, most often, been thinking about Zak. The funeral for the thirteen pilots lost in the accident on the flight deck had brought back memories she had tried to push away a long time ago. She was still filled with guilt over Zak's death and her role, however unintentional, in it. During the funeral for her fallen comrades she had started having flashbacks of her time with Zak and they had continued unabated until last night, when the memories of her lost fiance had begun to swirl and co-mingle with memories of Laura and the evening they had spent together. Eventually, the memories of Zak had faded away and Kara had been left with thoughts of only one person.

Alone in her rack, Kara's mind had reeled with memories of Laura's touch, her taste and the feeling of Laura's skin against her own. In the artificial darkness that signified evening aboard a starship, Kara had almost been able to convince herself that seeing Laura again was some kind of providence --some sign from the Gods that their reunion was part of a greater plan. She didn't usually believe in such things, but, surely, the fact that the two of them had survived along with only 48,000 others -- 48,000 out of billions -- had to mean something more than blind luck and coincidence.

However, hearing the detached, professional tone Laura had used with her security guard clearly signaled to the young pilot that Laura shared none of those thoughts and Kara's eyes betrayed her disappointment. Laura's use of her rank, while completely appropriate given the circumstances, had let Kara know that a line had been drawn between the two women.

"I'm sorry for barreling into you, Madam President. I should have been paying more attention."

"Not at all, Lt. It was my fault. I was a little lost in thought and wasn't watching where I was going."

Kara nodded, knowing that she should continue on her way, leaving the disappointing realizations of the past few minutes for later examination, but she found herself unwilling to leave, not knowing when she would see the older woman again. "What brings you to this part of the ship, Madam President?"

"I was seeing the doctor."

Kara's eyes widened in concern. "Are you alright?"

Laura offered a small smile at the young woman's thoughtfulness, wishing she could confide in Kara as she had eighteen months ago. However, she knew this was neither the time nor the place. Additionally, she was not at all sure Kara was open to reclaiming the closeness they had once shared, even if their respective positions in this new society would allow for such a luxury. She was now the President of the Twelve Colonies and, in her mind, her responsibility toward her people left little room for personal longings, no matter how tempting they might be.

"I'm fine. Allergies."

Kara's brow furrowed and her eyes narrowed slightly as they raked over the other woman's form, indicating she was not quite satisfied with Laura's answer. The President quickly changed the subject before Kara could give voice to the questions that were plainly displayed in her eyes.

"Where are you off to in such a hurry, Lt.? I see you're in your flight suit. Are you going on patrol?"

Kara shook her head slightly at the change in topic, but replied, "Oh...um...no. New pilot training. We have more Vipers than pilots now, since..."

"The accident, yes. I was very sorry to hear about that." Laura paused, remembering being nearly frantic when she had heard about the accident. Billy had been understanding when she had insisted on getting a list of names of the dead. He had probably thought she had asked as part of her 'presidential concern' for everyone in her care, but she had had a much less noble motive. In her private quarters she had scanned the list and had released a gratefuI breath when Kara's name had not appeared. "I had thought about attending the service, but...."

"You're very busy. We all know that."

"No, it wasn't that. I just...I had thought you would all prefer to keep it in the family, so to speak. You -- the pilots, I mean, have a fraternity, a brotherhood, and I hadn't wanted to intrude."

"You wouldn't have been. Intruding, I mean, but thank you." Kara paused before continuing, "Anyway, I'm briefing the nuggets and taking them out on some training runs. That's why I'm geared up."

Laura paused, once again taking in Kara's attire. She had been impressed by the way the young woman wore her dress greys, but Kara Thrace in her flight suit was even more imposing. In her mind's eye she had a sudden flash of memory, picturing the lithe body that lay under that flight suit as it writhed beneath her touch, but, with some effort, she forced the image away. "You wear it well. You look quite....impressive," Laura said self-consciously as she felt her cheeks flush.

"Thank you, Madam President," Kara replied with an all too familiar gleam in her eye and smile on her lips.

With an awkward glance at Agent Fleming, Laura looked at Kara with a slightly chastising smile. "Well, I won't keep you any longer, Lt. A schoolmarm should never be late for class."

"And here I thought schoolmarms could do whatever they wanted." While Kara's tone was teasing, there was a serious glint in her eyes. She was searching for any sign that Laura could possibly want to rekindle the fire they started so long ago on Caprica.

"Not anymore," Laura whispered sadly, hoping Kara would understand her regret.

Kara's unspoken question had been answered, so with a sad smile and a nod of understanding, she said, "Good day, Madam President."

"Good day, Lt."

When Kara had moved away, Laura called out, "Kara?"

Kara stopped and turned. "Yes?"

"Be careful."

Kara smiled and shook her head. "Don't say that. Fighter pilots aren't supposed to be careful. It's not in the job description."

"What should I say, then?"

"Good hunting."

"Alright then. Good hunting, Kara."

"Thank you, Laura." Kara took one last look at her President, trying to memorize the feeling of holding Laura's weight a few moments ago, stabilizing the woman as she had begun to fall. She wanted to remember the sensation of holding her again, however fleetingly, because she knew it would probably be the last time she would have the opportunity. She graced Laura with one last sad smile before turning and heading toward the flight deck.

Laura watched as Kara's figure made its way down the companionway, knowing that, at that moment, she was sacrificing a gift. Surely, their survival and reunion was a gift from the Gods. Unfortunately, she was in no position to accept such an offering. Her mind returned to the doctor's parting words in the infirmary and decided it was all for the best. Kara Thrace deserved more than a few desperate months with a dying woman. Sighing, she continued her journey to her shuttlecraft.

The End

Sequel You Can't Go Home Again

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