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SPOILERS: Season 3 - Episode 17 - "Maelstrom"
By Lesley Mitchell
Tory took the call.
The rapid, hushed conversation in the corner of the cabin that constituted the Presidential Office drew Laura's attention. It was, after all, just another interminable meeting with a couple of the remaining lawyers in the fleet, trying to hash out some of the options for dealing with Baltar. Damn the man.
Laura tried to turn her attention back to the long winded old fool who had retired from the bench of the Picon Supreme Court a year or more before the Cylon attacks, but something made her look back at Tory.
The woman was ashen.
She held up a hand and the judge sputtered slowly to a halt, like an engine running out of fuel.
"Thank you, gentlemen." A sincerely fake smile plastered over the cracks forming in her psyche.
"I think that that's all we can manage for today..."
The men looked surprised, and it took a hard presidential stare to keep them silent.
"I'm sure Tory will be in touch," she breezed on, keeping her tone light, while her heart turned to lead, "to schedule further meetings."
She stood, and they followed suit. Well trained little puppies, she thought as they followed the stenographer out, courteous to the last.
The door had barely closed when she turned to Tory.
"I'm so sorry."
She'd been aware of the changes in the fleet status, even while she'd continued her meeting. After all, if they had to jump, the delegates weren't going anywhere until after that happened.
"It's..." Tory cleared her throat. "It's Captain Thrace."
"Captain Thra... Starbuck." Laura looked lost. "But, I only saw her this morning. She gave Bill..."
"Captain Adama... Apollo." Tory paused and cleared her throat, again. "He said that she was lost on a routine patrol."
"Er... yes, lost." She felt herself nodding for emphasis and felt slightly silly at the gesture. A numbness had crept over her, unexpectedly, as Lee had recounted the news.
"Does he expect..."
"She, er... Her Viper hit the... er... It exploded. She didn't..."
Laura's knees buckled. She dropped into the leather chair. She could feel the warmth of her previous occupation of it through her thin blouse, and the heat felt oddly incongruous.
"She's dead," she whispered to save Tory from voicing it, and she barely noticed when the woman took her hand.
Tears flowed hot and fast down her cheeks, while her mind still struggled to process that someone who Laura thought of as being so vibrantly alive, someone so filled with passions - flying, frakking, love, hate - was dead.
Eventually, she realised that Tory was speaking again.
"..cancel your meetings for the rest..."
"I said 'No.'"
"Laura?" Tory queried.
"I can't bring the government to a halt just because a single pilot died."
"Are you su..."
"Tory." Sharp, angry now.
"Yes, Madame President." Tory stood, schooling herself back to a semblance of her usual business-like manner. "Can I get you some lunch before your next meeting. We finished a little early with the lawyers, so there's some time before the deputation from..."
"No, that won't be necessary. Thank you, Tory." Laura's voice softened again. "I'd just like to be alone."
"As you wish." She checked her schedule. "The delegation from Gemenon will be here in 35 minutes."
"Be back in thirty."
"Yes, Laura." She stood and made to move, when she realised that she still held Laura's hand. She let go, allowing it to fall gently back into the President's lap.
She crossed the room without a backwards glance, unable to face the searing pain reflected in Laura's eyes, only pausing when she reached the door, at the sound of her name.
She turned, silent and respectful.
She nodded an acknowledgement, her usually quick mind unable to formulate an adequate response, then turned once more, and slipped quietly out of the room, leaving Laura to her private grief.
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