Characters/Pairing: Laura Roslin/Tom Zarek (implied)
Original Story: Vigil by laura_mayfair
Summary: Sometimes we can only look on for fear of giving too much away, and sometimes, we’ve given more away than we ever expected to in a few sparse moments.
Author’s Notes A GIANT thank you to the wonderful newnumbertwo for agreeing to beta at the almost penultimate hour and to lanalucy for running this entire thing and being the BEST cheerleader ever. I was nervous about tackling this wonderful story, but I was hooked by the potential context that could surround the scene rendered so vibrantly in the original by laura_mayfair, so here’s my attempt at filling in some of that canvas – of unspoken moments where we all wish for something closer and more promising with the person we least expect to feel that way toward.
Clang. The sound of the cell door slamming shut again is pervasive…final. If only.
It wouldn’t have been such a problem for Tom to play along and survive as he has always done - if it were a year ago. He wouldn’t have had to work at pretending he doesn’t care that they just opened his cell door for the first time in… hours, days, weeks?… to toss a limp body in. That in and of itself is relatively normal for the times they live in, but the all too recognizable mane of red hair makes him want to react rashly and impulsively. He had actually needed to fight tooth and nail with his initial instincts to run and check on the unresponsive figure. That wouldn’t have helped either of them. Instead, he stays in the corner of his small cell first – studying her prone form, slumped against the floor.
For all intents and purposes, the Cylons – he always acts as if they are constantly watching, because one never knows – can assume it is caution and not panic that has his eyes locked onto her silhouette. That he is looking for any imminent threats of danger rather than studying her for the tell-tale signs of life that would allow his pulse to calm and slow.
This would be so much easier if Laura Roslin were still an impersonal avatar of the establishment – a lazy bureaucrat or lying politician - just another cog in an oppressive government’s engine, devoid of, he’s presumed from prior experiences, any ideals or motives except those of greed and power.
She was supposed to have been an easy target – 43rd in line and out of her element, burdened with unfamiliar power she should have worn clumsily.
First Colonial Day after Cylon attacks
Tom can only smirk as he watches Laura Roslin gamely maneuvering between representatives, the media, civilian staff and military personnel. No one (or at least, only a select few) will look at her and see someone who has fought a hard, compromising political battle today and come out on top – for the most part - or that she has survived an assassination attempt at the same time thanks to the military’s “wonder twins.”
When Laura pauses mid-stride to turn and catch his look directly, he can only bow his head back in recognition and appreciation. Perhaps he had underestimated her, but he would make sure not to do so again.
He catches Madame President’s smile and her own small bow of acknowledgement before she’s gone again – swept up by the crowd, in the cesspool of the political riffraff.
The One and Five are quiet as they view the, thus far, silent and motionless feed. The two humans on the screen were – for now – keeping their distance. One unable to do much else in her unconscious state, and the other, seemingly, too startled or wary to approach.
The Five huffs, “It’s a waste of time. He ordered her assassination during Colonial Day, according to Three’s intelligence reports.”
The One, Cavil, rolls his eyes in response. “And how old is that information?”
Tom is pretty sure he’s waited long enough – at least, long enough to ensure the Cylons don’t think he cares all that much about the woman still on the ground. Never mind that he’s pretty sure he didn’t take another breath until he caught sight of the slow rise and fall of her body. All the lessons in control he’d learned while in prison (self-control, control of the situation, control of the other players) has proven useful in the post-apocalyptic world.
But here, in Cylon prison, the only control he has is not to give his hand away. After all, knowledge is power, and he would prefer that the Cylons not know they’ve just tossed a vulnerability – a liability - into his cage. (Though why they tossed her into his cell in the first place is something he chooses not to linger over too much.)
He moves slowly. Not too much of a pretense considering how his joints ache with the omnipresent cold, sinking deep into his body through concrete walls and floors.
This was supposed to be the first of the apartment complexes. The thought, the memory, slips unbidden into his mind. Unwelcome, because he can feel sadness and want burn in the depths of his gut, and he can’t afford to let any of it seep out.
Founders’ Day, New Caprica’s groundbreaking ceremony
He observes the revelries from a careful distance. While mingling with the citizens will have its gains in political currency, it's quickly becoming clear any illusion of separation he could manage between himself and the frivolities and failings of Baltar’s administration would be beneficial to his ambitions in the long-run – once there was enough of a gap in people’s memories from Laura Roslin and William Adama’s work in those first months after the apocalypse. He’s thankful for their work, of course, but there’s only so much a government fueled by crisis can do for the people.
Either way, there would be other days to mingle, to work his way into the citizens’ lives and have them remember him well – place him as their problem solver. He’s thankful that Felix Gaeta plays a surprisingly efficient middle-man. Enough of a skilled, free thinker to be useful, though too enamored still with the… president to truly be trustworthy, but he’s easily motivated with good intentions. (Tom’s tempted at times by his younger idealistic self to warn Gaeta about the eventual dark places his idealism could land him, but refrains for fear of exposing too much too readily to the intelligent young man.)
He observes said aide chatting animatedly with the good admiral and New Caprica’s central district schoolteacher and makes note to pry some information from said young man lat-… His train of thought slips however when he notices exactly how the schoolteacher is dressed.
Of course, he’s noticed the former president’s attractiveness before (those legs featured quite frequently in prison ship discussions), but fluorescent lights (and terminal illness) hardly did her justice. The clinging red wrap brings out the brightness in her cheeks and the red of her hair, shining under one of New Caprica’s rare sunny days. The real trouble, however, doesn’t quite hit him until he sees her laugh into her glass and reveal the New Caprican weed from behind her back. Only his subconscious registers the admiral’s indulgent smile (with mild indignation), but he’s a bit caught on the tail end of the giggles the herbal-scented wind carries his way.
He turns away abruptly to leave. There isn’t a place for this sort of trouble in his life or aspirations right now, and certainly not with that particular woman.
”Well, it looks like someone has finally decided to wake up and move.”
“No. The other one, and I told you that you were supposed to leave her conscious. It would have been more helpful if we could have seen her facial expression as well.”
The Five shrugs. “I was provoked.”
Cavil scoffs in disbelief. He knows Doral’s imprint still sits in the Fives, and they hold a bit of a grudge against the good ex-president (and Baltar) for their wounded pride . They had not appreciated being exposed so early in their mission and being tossed aside so easily.
Tom attempts to make his gestures as clinical as possible. When he reaches her, he first pretends to brush her hair away from her face to identify his new cell mate, and then he reaches for her wrist to feign a check for her pulse.
Never mind that he already knew her the moment he saw her silhouette forcibly dumped through the door, or that he had already determined her continued vitality through the small movements of her body’s continued respiration. He forces his heart to continue its rhythm at a still and steady beat even as the softness of her hair and skin registers painfully in him in contrast to the caked dirt and fresh bruising that’s exposed by his study. He looks her over, face impassive, and then begins the slow process of moving her to a corner farther away from the door and into the shadows.
He wants the Cylons to think that he just prefers for her to reside in the opposite corner from him, but in reality, he wants her to be the least noticeable person in the cell to the Cylons – as much as he could help it without giving himself away. He also wants her to remain easily in his peripheral vision.
She was supposed to have been just another piece in his game to establish a new order. Just one more.
Third month of settlement…
Tom Zarek’s network has done its job in sending out feelers to the civilian population for an unofficial “survey” of opinions and the distribution of resources, and it is beyond a doubt that just behind the weed and “fresh air” the planet offers, the most popular “idea” or “success” New Caprica has to its name is the newly constructed school system, a system that Roslin had organized the teachers and educators in the fleet around and fought for (successfully).
He's unsurprised, but he is impressed by the efficiency with which she's gone about it. She lost graciously enough (for someone, he still suspects, who tried to illegally steal the election). The loss of Cloud Nine had also been an unexpected shock to the fleet, an inauspicious start to the new administration, and in those initial moments when the explosion had knocked everyone off their feet, he had seen it. He had seen the weight and burden of the loss of those souls on the face of Laura Roslin, former president – even though it wasn’t her problem anymore. Even if it was good political leverage against the Baltar regime that disaster struck within the hour of his inauguration to the presidency, there was no vindication in her facial expression whatsoever.
It had made him reconsider his opinions of her – a bit. He initially brushed it off as her still not quite transitioning or accepting her loss of power just yet, but he thought he could use that time and the insight to his advantage in the interim. He should have known that she would have had a back-up plan in the aftermath of losing the election. A teacher always looks toward the future, necessarily, and Laura Roslin had more reasons to look toward the future than most teachers in the fleet.
So it is that he begins ingratiating himself with the education system: the children and their parents, the central school district’s teacher and her assistants. His visits are generally unannounced, but he makes sure his face is a familiar, if not always welcome, one at the school. He greets, “Ms. Roslin”, with one hand at the entrance flap and the other carrying a bag of collected supplies. It will place him in a positive light, he knows, with the children and their parents, but it also ensures that Roslin will not outmaneuver him into leaving her school tent alone and out of his politics. (He can already imagine the potential slogan PR assistants would have been making: “Our kids are our future, and they are worth every resource we can provide.” Even the thought of reusing an old regime’s tactic makes him a bit sick, however – remembering exactly whose Secretary of Education, Laura Roslin had been.)
What he doesn’t bargain for, but gets anyway, are those evenings when meetings run late, but his feet automatically carry him to the still lit school tent, as a flame would draw a moth, despite his exhaustion and the lack of an audience to play to. He doesn’t quite understand his own instincts on the matter, but the flashes of Laura Roslin as a teacher has been intriguing, piquing his curiosity and need for observation in a manner he hasn’t predicted. In many ways, she’s still very much President Roslin - just corralling a different group of constituents and representatives than she had that Colonial Day not too long - and yet a lifetime - ago.
He knows it disturbs her routine when he appears out of nowhere. She stiffens in his presence, guarding against any ploys or tricks he has planned. If only that were true. Instead, he finds himself asking honest questions (or as honest as a relative lack of deeper intentions and motivations implies), nitpicking the mind of the ex-president-cum-teacher – about her philosophy in approaching education, about curriculum, about her previous experiences.
Overtime, these questions lead to debates that string along – begun one week and ending another. She’s intelligent, but he knows that already. What draws him deeper is the surprising passion that she exhibits when discussing education – the system, the ideas, the children and people in general.
He finds that he enjoys pushing her buttons for the reactions it produces. She keeps her cool demeanor, of course, but her verbal arguments lose some of their classic aloofness, detachment, and politik and her hands commonly come into play waving in gestures he’s not sure she’s completely conscious of. It amuses him, and that’s motivation enough, he guesses, after a day of boring meetings and tiring political maneuverings.
“Some of those bright students that you are so proud of, those that come from the outer colonies with the failing and struggling infrastructure, with the restrictive tradition of their history and colonial oppression, would never have had an opportunity to enjoy the classroom – to enjoy the ‘enrichment’ you so eagerly espouse – even before the attacks. Maybe a few of the brighter minds would win enough attention to win a place in an off-colony scholarship program, but many of the ordinary minds would have languished in the poor excuse for schools that were the best their towns could afford.”
He thinks this would bring about some form of defense of their former system, the system she had been overseeing and running for the better part of almost two terms, but she surprises him again. “I know.” She smirks when she sees his shock at her agreement though it quickly disappears into a wry smirk. “Even on the inner colonies, you could almost expect to chart achievement and performance results in district comparisons by the lines drawn for median income of the local population. It was a disparity that we worked and tried to fix, but which we didn’t succeed often enough with.”
He watches, fascinated and mostly recovered from his initial shock at her frankness, as she looks at the barely visible stars above, a look of contemplation on her face. Maybe there are still political maneuverings at play here as well.
“It’s difficult to set up quick fixes to deeply embedded flaws in the institution and system itself, as you are fully aware.” Her gaze is sharp as she glances back at him. “Some of these flaws stretch back to pre-unification of the colonies. The charter system was an imperfect but potential solution at the time they began cropping up - making opportunity almost completely a matter of luck, thrown in the hands of the fates. Though it was better to have some chance than none, the pressure in some of those schools for performance had adverse effects on children who also had to face and carry the expectations of their families. Vocational and trade schools provided opportunities for students to learn in accordance to their future goals and occupations with offset costs through future returns in the exchange for labor, but… plans change, and it’s hard to get locked into a job that you have no calling to or become disillusioned with.”
The small moue of her mouth gives the hint that maybe she has revealed more to him than she actually wants to, but for once, he lets it slide. “Why, Ms. Roslin, it almost sounds like you think you were failing at your previous job.”
“Oh, no,” she smirks at him again, “far from it. I’m offering you the reasons why the small steps are important – in a large society or…,” she gestures vaguely to the tents around them, “a small one.”
Their pace has inexorably slowed on the path built from packed mud and timber planks.
“The age range, the lack of continuity and stability in the previous months – never mind the unaddressed trauma – those are not small things that are fixed simply with a foundational system or - greatly appreciated supplies. They need other intersecting programs to bolster their education: stability in their home lives with steady and fair working conditions for their families, hope that one day where they live will not always be made of mud and cloth, an agricultural program that may provide them with more nutritious meals, adequate medical personnel training to support Cottle and the last few physicians and counselors left in the world...” Her eyes are practically glittering as her smile turns cat-like.
Tom’s eyebrows rise as he catches on quickly, but he grins, because he realizes that she realizes what he has wanted from the start, but she’s giving it to him because it would benefit her kids. Well, that answers any question about political maneuverings at play… “How about we visit the tavern to continue our…‘discussion’.”
He grins when her smile widens, and she laughs.
The Five gives a snort of disgust. “She’s waking up, and he looks just as dazed and in his own head as before. I thought only President Baltar was prone to daydreaming, but maybe it’s endemic to the humans.” His sneer was audible in the small room of monitors.
Cavil just remains silent…and thoughtful. “Don’t you think, Five, that he’s remained a bit too careful about not giving us anything? We’ve had verbal accounts that he and she were meeting somewhat regularly at her school before our arrival from D’Anna and some of our collaborators… Maybe we should begin taking some action rather than just watching.”
Approximately three days after her arrival in cell…
She remains quiet most days, because it’s both the easiest and best thing to do. ‘Give them nothing.’ It’s one of the first quiet thoughts she receives from Tom in a silent look, the first eye contact they make after she wakes from her beating to find herself in his cell, and Laura is quite sure that she can trust Tom’s wordless advice in this environment. In this universe where they once again have a common enemy, and there’s too much on the line now to really play the political game with each other. No need to play the game with each other at all.
They alternate pacing the cell between the two of them, taking turns to stretch out their legs with this poor semblance of exercise in the small cell. The only words they exchange are quiet and insubstantial, always living and operating under the assumption the cylons are watching and listening. Spying. Witnessing whatever small dance ritual it is that they’ve begun in this place and time.
I can’t believe I miss the conversations I used to have – with Tom Zarek of all people.
Fifth month of settlement…
It is an unpleasant surprise at first, when the ”Vice President” unexpectedly drops by the school house – sometimes with only the obvious wheels in his mind turning and other times with bags of, she grudgingly admits, helpful materials and supplies. (She is occasionally surprised to not find copies of his former manifesto slipped in as “recommended curriculum.”)
Then, when she adjusts to his daytime visits, he begins visiting in the evening even though there is no audience, no constituents to appear and appeal to. She can only think of a few reasons for what he wants to gain with these visits, and…honestly, she’s not in the mood to be bought…or to bed the government again.
However, now she’s found something she can work with. Bartering for his voice (and hand) in the Baltar administration with some ideas and the tools she still has possession of (teaching, she likes to believe, is a skill set one never quite loses). She’s not bothering too hard to keep it subtle. She’s aware that he’s perfectly aware of what they are doing, but it doesn’t really concern her all that much.
It’s somewhat refreshing to be interacting with someone as obviously politically motivated as Zarek. Their respective agendas, now that she no longer matters all that much in the larger political scheme of things, are much more straightforward than they used to be, and they can each only give up what they are willing for their respective goals. She needs continued support for her kids and ideas to help the fledgling union Chief has been hinting toward as frustration with the work conditions on New Caprica grows. Zarek seems to need, for whatever reason, her to conduct to him her ideas of civilian needs planetside to keep people happy and content – with him at least.
There isn’t nearly as much need to tip-toe around as there used to be when he was a representative and she was president. Still, she watches her tongue when she can. When he is paying attention with the full force of that dark gaze of his, it is a little too easy to slip up. She has caught herself nearing that abyss a few times. A few other times, she slips close deliberately just to allow him the thought that she may have slipped over. There are still politics – even in a school system - after all. It’s been a matter of course in her life in the post-apocalyptic world, and despite the occasional sadness brought on while contemplating a time when it was easy enough for her to honestly say that she doesn’t care much for politics, the practice is an engaging way to keep her mind active in the adult world.
Tonight, he has followed her to the edge of the settlement near the forest, and an atmosphere of somewhat dangerous expectations travels its way down her spine. “Mr. Vice President.”
“Madame Teacher,” he smirks at his title for her as if there were a joke to be made in there somewhere.
She smirks right back and settles deliberately onto a fallen tree trunk at the edge of the old landing field from the initial settlement phase. “Does it get you excited to give me a new title?”
“A little bit,” and he indicates the amount with his right index finger and thumb.
This is the other surprise she has discovered in her new interactions with Tom Zarek: his sense of humor – linked somewhat to his general lack of reverence, she guesses. That and the ease with which they’ve fallen into teasing each other in their new roles.
They settle into the silence of their routine and the night as she gazes around – at the thinly clouded and nebulous sky, at the receding treeline and grasses. She knows he is waiting for her response so they can start their normal repartee, but she can’t help but feel that she’s better off making him wait for it tonight. She knows of his legendary patience (it’s easy enough to infer from the success he’s had in prison and in gaining position and power in government and politics), but she has patience as well, and it’s nice to have some quiet with an almost-companion for the night again.
”Haven’t we waited long enough already?” The Five growls at Cavil and the Six model who's joined them in the surveillance room.
“Brother, this behavior is unseemly – and uncharacteristic of you. You usually have more patience than this.” Cavil’s voice was filled with eye-rolling sarcasm and equal frustration.
“But what’s the use of all this waiting? They will obviously not give us anything without us forcing them to, so why don’t we use some force?”
“Or…” The Five abruptly stops his pacing to face the Six who has spoken. “We can try a different approach – a different method of drawing a response from the both of them.”
“What do you suggest?”
Today she feels her stomach attempting to rumble, but she clamps down on its almost audible complaint (they’ve only been allowed one meal to share between the two of them since she’s been there). Hunger is a feeling that they are all used to by now, even before the Cylons’ landfall, New Caprica’s shortcomings and general lack of natural resources had become starkly and painfully apparent in the midst of its citizens’ expectations. Appetites had dipped with illness and increasing discontent and only worsened with the Cylons’ arrival.
She curls a bit more tightly around her abdomen, clutching the material of her now discolored sweater. It is a wonder they let her keep even this much of her clothing. Her last visit had consisted of the standard set of prison grays, which are as cold as they look. Which does beg the question, why leave her clothes on this time? She’s not sure she wants to know.
In her peripheral vision, she catches Tom’s steady, if slow, movement around their cell. She knows it can’t be much easier on him, and occasionally, she catches a flash of… something - possibly an unbidden or unwanted memory of some kind that he struggles shortly with and squashes down. (She hopes it’s only something someone familiar with his habits would notice, but then worries what it says that she notices at all.) She can only imagine. He knows how to manipulate the system and play the game well now but no one knows how to do those things from birth. She catches her own impulse to reach out and clasp his hand in the midst of those moments sometimes, but restrains herself. Not only would it give away that she may care more than she wants to let on to the Cylons, but undoubtedly, Tom himself wouldn’t appreciate it.
And there it is again. When exactly did he become “Tom” to you, Laura?
And certainly, things in the last few months between them - in the final months before the Cylon occupation - had been… tense to say the least.
And yet, it didn’t prevent me from worrying any less when he suddenly disappeared from view did it? She pushes away the implications of that line of thought.
Two months before second Cylon invasion…
Lately, their meetings have become less useful exchanges and more similar to their verbal spars and exchanges of old – except without the cordiality of political facades, collegiality, or distance to blunt their language. Tempers were running short as conditions worsened in the settlement. Logically, they both know the other is doing their best to manage, but that doesn’t help to ease their mutual frustrations, doesn’t prevent them from taking those same frustrations out on the person they believe understands the situation similarly but isn’t helping.
“You’re still as stubborn as ever Madame P-… Teacher.” His use of the title contains none of the friendly teasing of the last few months. Instead, it is cold and meant to put her down.
As if she would let him prod her from her cool so easily. Her temper has long run cold rather than hot. “And you’re a fool, Mr. Vice President, or are you just another of Baltar’s political servants now?” She knows she has struck a nerve with that one as the muscle in his jaw twitches, though he resists clenching his jaw (of course not, that would be a tell).
“I’m not the one inciting irresponsible actions from the populace and endan-“
Her eyes flash at what he is implying, “I’m not doing anything. I’m simply your excuse for the failures of the administration. They don’t need any incitement from me. You know that conditions are just that bad now, and they won’t get better anytime soon, which I know both you and our ‘good president’ were well aware of when you decided to settle on this godsforsaken planet in the first place – for the sake of your own ego and political gain.”
She knows she has struck home, but then again, he probably expected that particular argument to come up in one of their disagreements eventually. “The people were the ones who chose this, and they deserved the opportunity to make the choice.”
She smirks at his response, “Then why are you coming to me now with your complaints? Bring it to the good people you so willingly claim to represent when it’s convenient.”
She pushes him aside then and returns to the city and her tent, trembling with her anger and frustration. At Tom, at Baltar, at New Caprica, and at herself – for the aggravating feeling of helplessness she feels as she watches children disappear from her school and people flood Cottle’s small tent.
”The both of you have already placed them with each other, shown them to each other, allowed them to get used to the other’s presence…”
The Six glances at the monitors again, at the small figure of Roslin on the floor and Zarek at his opposite corner now, finally still.
“Now take that away, remove that constant, and see how they react to the other’s absence.”
Laura has to breathe slowly to avoid aggravating what’s she’s pretty sure are bruised ribs from her original “welcome” to the detention center. She works carefully on maintaining her calm, bland facial features – as much for her cellmate’s sake as hers. Somewhere along the way, she realized she has become his so-called “chink in the armor” and there is no reason to tear that chink wider. She refuses to ponder why she even cares or knows this.
After all, we do have a common enemy again, and the enemy of my enemy is my…friend.
And even friends are hard enough to come by in their world... hard enough to keep.
It’s why, she thinks, it must be so easy to make herself stone and unresponsive when the Doral and Shelly Godfrey models come in to take her again, glad that her presence would no longer be there to expose the gaps in Tom Zarek’s protective shell to be exploited by the cylons – even if she is reasonably sure they’ve already gotten all they need from “President Baltar” and by dint of their bigger guns (and theoretical immortality).
She’s glad Tom doesn’t look up, doesn’t try to catch her eyes as she moves along without fear or resistance. She doesn’t want to, can’t afford to see how much he cares for fear of giving everything away.
One month before second Cylon invasion…
Tom hates to show these sort of weaknesses to the outside world, tries his best to deny this wholly irrational action is motivated by anything besides political ambition – a simple gesture of generosity and largesse to the former president and work colleague.
However, all these rationalizations don’t make much of a difference when he is faced with Doctor Cottle’s lined face and knowing eyes even as he continues to smoke right in Tom’s face. “Vice President Zarek? It’s rare for us to get a visit from the presidential offices these days.”
Tom just barely restrains himself from rolling his eyes. Yes, Baltar’s cowardice has made us all look like cowards with his order proscribing all government personnel from traveling too near the infected populace. “Yes, well, there is a reason for me to come by. I’m here on an errand for the president, in fact.”
It is a lie, of course, and Baltar would be outraged to discover that his small antibiotics stock was nothing compared to the black market raided stock overseen by his vice president. “We’ve found a few spare vials of medication for you to work with. I know your supplies have been stretched thin and thought this may help.” He opens the ice box that contains the vials of antibiotics he is carrying in his arms.
Cottle, he sees, isn’t buying it at all, but the doctor is well-known to be discreet, especially when it comes to at least one of his patients, so, Tom argues, it is the only reason he is willing to come by at all. The doctor opens the tent flap wider and, with a wave of the hand, gestures for Tom to enter the antiseptic-scented tent filled with a cloying heat from the multiple fires burning in various heaters in the small space, spread by the thin ventilation flaps cut through the top of the tent. It is filled with the sounds of coughing and raspy breathing. Almost against his will, Tom finds his eyes wandering, searching the tent for one specific patient that the rumor mill has brought to his attention. He hasn’t really seen her in the weeks since their last… ‘meeting’, and the rush of worry flooding him at the news had caught him unaware.
“You can leave the medicine on the lab table to the right here. I’ll have my assistants make sure that the contents are safely stored.”
“Yes, of course.” He can’t see her, but he can’t ask either – even though his stomach roils nervously with the desire to give in and just ask.
Dr. Cottle nonchalantly begins moving patient files to another table while Tom does as he is told, and Cottle shares, offhandedly, “Some patients have been recovering better than others, even the stubborn ones who won’t rest when they're told to.” He says this with a look and raised eyebrow at someone behind Tom’s shoulder. Tom can’t help the breath that escapes his tight chest when he catches sight of her, red hair clipped back as she reads quietly to one of the child patients in the tent, her back to them and wholly engrossed in the activity. “It’s the ones not so easily recovering that these medicines will do the most good for, so please send my regards and thanks on to our good president, will ya?”
Tom smiles tightly back at the doctor. “Of course.”
Of course he hadn’t needed to worry. Of course she would be fine.
He ducks his head as he exits from the tent and determinedly strides back to his own residence near Colonial One.
He doesn’t notice the red hair that slips free from the clip as the woman’s head bobs up from the book and turns to exchange a look with the doctor. She hasn’t quite recovered her voice, but her eyes conveys her thanks loud enough for the doctor who has come to know her a bit too well.
Doctor Cottle just rolls his eyes at her and pretends to ignore her. Why I still have to deal with these people when they aren’t even physically sick, I’ll never know.
Both Cavil and the Five snort derisively at her question. “See for yourself.”
Six looks and she sees two similarly silent and unreadable figures on their screens. Their positions on the floor and against the wall almost mirror the other. “I see.”
It looks like neither Zarek nor Roslin are likely to let detention drain the fight out of them, no matter what strategies they utilize – if this has been a strategy at all.