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rocketfic | halfway house

Title: Halfway House by Rocketchick
Rating: 15+ Pairing: Laura Roslin/Elizabeth Weir
Notes: Sequel to Meeting Halfway.

Laura strode across the front of the classroom, delighting in the enthusiasm of her students as she brought her lecture to life. "So who can tell me the legend of Diana?" she asked. A dozen hands shot up, waving anxiously.

"Go for it, Garron," she crowed, as she pointed to the Athosian boy in the front row.

He began the story, helped by his classmates when he stumbled on a few details. Laura was nearly laughing, reveling in the energy of the young minds as they tackled her questions about the difference between myth and history.

She was so caught up in the buzz of her students, she didn't even appear to notice when the door at the back of the classroom opened, and a slender figure slipped into the building.

Twenty minutes later, Laura raised her hands to regain the children's attention, and dismissed them for the day. They rushed to the front to drop off their homework assignments, and spilled back out into the town, taking joyous chaos along with them.

The whole building seemed to deflate in their absence. Laura exchanged an amused glance with the other two teachers, and stretched subtly while she wandered toward the figure half-hidden in the afternoon shadows at the back of the classroom.

"You're auditing my classes now, Doctor Weir?" she said, obviously amused.

"Well, yes. I want to learn about your history," Elizabeth said with a shrug, as she stepped forward. "It's important that we understand each other."

Laura quirked an eyebrow at her, waiting while she smiled pleasantly.

The younger woman sighed, knowing she'd been caught. "I wanted to see you teach," she admitted. "Your face always lights up when you talk about it."

"So what did you think?" Laura asked, pretending she wasn't terribly interested in the answer.

"I think I know why you love it," Elizabeth answered. "And why those kids love you."

Laura leaned one hip against the edge of a nearby desk, folding her arms as she regarded Weir.

"Besides," Elizabeth continued. "Teyla wanted to come and check on the new construction. I just tagged along for the ride."

"And I heard her shuttle leave earlier," Laura pointed out. "That means you were hoping to hitch back to Atlantis with me." She looked entirely smug, given the turn of events.

The younger woman stifled a grin. "I could point out that it would be... advantageous for our peoples' continued relationship if you would allow me to share your shuttle home, Madame Ambassador."

"Oh, is that so?" Laura replied with a profoundly wicked twinkle in her eye. "In that case, you should probably make me dinner in return, don't you think? For the sake of our people."

Weir agreed and pushed herself to her feet, smiling a goodbye to the other teachers who were still straightening up the classroom.

"Same time next week," Laura announced breezily as she took Elizabeth's arm and pulled her out the door.

The two teachers shared a chuckle and continued their work.

They went for a walk on the west pier that evening. It was a new habit they'd adopted, and indulged in whenever the general state of the galaxy left them a few minutes to spend a sunset together.

The air was turning colder; Laura presumed the Atlantean winter was coming, and she wondered if they might get snow.

They paused at the end of the pier, leaning against the rail as they watched the sun start to dip in the sky. After a few moments, Laura decided the sunset wasn't the view most worth having; she reached over to brush a lock of hair from Elizabeth's brow, and smiled gently as she watched the fading light paint the younger woman's features in shades of crimson.

Elizabeth reached up and captured Laura's hand, enjoying the ease of her company while she twined their fingers together. "I have to admit," Elizabeth began shyly, as she studied their joined hands. "This is new to me."

"Which part?" Laura asked. "Being with a woman? Being with an older woman? Being with the brilliant and daring leader of an entire civilization?"

Elizabeth snorted. "Most of that, actually. I feel like you're an enigma to me."

"Well, maybe that's intentional."

"Why? You don't need to hide from me."

"Maybe I'm just using you to gain political influence," Laura replied. "I've done it before."

Elizabeth's stare burned through her, but the older woman returned it evenly. "You have, haven't you?" Elizabeth asked, seeing the truth in pale eyes. "Is that what this is?"

Laura's eyes finally dropped as she sighed. "No. That's not what this is."

"Good," came the reply. She'd expected no other answer.

"Maybe you just scare the hell out of me," Laura admitted quietly.

"Maybe that's mutual," Elizabeth whispered.

The sun finally slipped below the horizon, plunging Atlantis into intense, starlit night. The city itself adjusted to provide what Elizabeth called "mood lighting," as muted ambient panels detected their presence and illuminated their immediate vicinity, but little else. The center of the city rose majestically behind them, but in one small puddle of light they were almost on an island of their very own.

Their walks always ended at this point, as if the sudden absence of distraction made mutual awareness a little too tempting. Tonight, Elizabeth decided she wanted to be tempted.

"Does Caprica have a moon?" she asked, quietly.

"Two of them, actually," Laura replied. "Does Earth?"

"Just the one," Elizabeth said. "I miss it, sometimes." She shifted a bit closer to Laura, gathering her courage. "It'd be nice to see you in the moonlight."

Laura couldn't remember anyone ever saying something so... corny... to her before. It was inexpressibly sweet, and she couldn't help but laugh. The delighted sound hung in the air of their private oasis in the night.

It wasn't the reaction Elizabeth expected, and she flushed in embarrassment. Convinced she'd damaged the moment beyond repair, she began to pull away, only to be held still by the other woman's fingers brushing lightly against her cheek.

Laura was still chuckling when she leaned in to claim a kiss, and sighed happily when they parted. "I'm not making fun of you," she promised softly. "It's just been a long time since someone actually flirted with me."

"And I'm really bad at it," Elizabeth muttered, as her eyes slid shut in a wince.

"You really are," Laura confirmed with another laugh. "But you have no idea how charming it is." She let her fingers glide through the soft curls of Elizabeth's dark hair.

"Well, maybe someday you can go with me to Earth and I can show you what the moonlight is like," the younger woman said. When Laura didn't answer, Elizabeth leaned a little closer. "Or are you going to keep turning me down?"

Laura looked away, but Elizabeth canted her head, following the retreating gaze. "What is it?" Elizabeth whispered.

"I guess I like to think my traveling days are behind me," Laura replied. "And I'd rather not push my luck."

"Because of the prophecy," Elizabeth said.

"Because of the prophecy," Laura confirmed.

"'The leader suffered a wasting disease and would not live to enter the new land,'" the younger woman quoted patiently. "I've read it. It can be interpreted in many different ways..."

Laura didn't reply, but her eyebrows rose in their own eloquent question. How exactly could that be interpreted differently?

"... and ancient words aren't always meant to be taken literally," Elizabeth finished.

"Maybe not," the other woman allowed.

"And you're not sick anymore," Elizabeth pressed. "Carson says you're the healthiest person he's examined from the fleet. Laura, they're just old words."

"Old words that brought us here. That brought me to you," Laura said simply. She lifted their joined hands to press her lips to the other woman's knuckles, then released her hold and walked away.

The city's systems anticipated her path, guiding her in a luminous pool away from the light they'd shared.

"So, what does it feel like to be a machine?"

"I don't know," Billy answered exhaustedly. "What does it feel like to be a violent sociopath with big hair?"

Ronon chuckled.

It wasn't a pleasant sound.

He pushed himself away from the Wraith cage and paced a couple laps around it, fulfilling his daily routine of prisoner intimidation and general grumpiness. Billy rolled his eyes and ignored the dark, menacing form. After three weeks he'd almost become comfortable in Atlantis, or at least reasonably certain Weir's people weren't going to kill him.

When Ronon was off glowering elsewhere, Billy spent the remainder of his time with Carson Beckett and the scores of other scientists on the Atlantis crew, submitting amiably to their continued studies.

No one from the fleet ever came to see him, even to taunt him with their loathing. It was probably odd to miss them, but he did. They were still his people in a way.

In the meantime, he'd started borrowing books from the expedition's library, teaching himself the literature and history of the Thirteenth Colony.

The coincidences were remarkable, really. Their myths, their history, their technology - all so similar. They shared so much, and it made his mind reel from the implications.

As a boy (if he had actually been a boy - Cylon metaphysics were a little unclear on that front) he remembered reading the Sacred Scrolls and dismissing them as so much poetry and superstition. Now? He was slowly becoming convinced that they contained the answers to absolutely everything. And if that was truly the case, their arrival at Atlantis portended amazing things.

They dined together the next day as if the argument the night before hadn't occurred at all. Elizabeth could feel her companion's tension, but schooled her patience to wait. Experience taught her that Laura Roslin wasn't one to disclose easily, and Elizabeth eagerly waited for each tiny insight, one facet at a time.

After dinner they sat down to read, across from each other in the older woman's quarters.

Laura sighed for the fourth time in as many minutes, the sound causing Elizabeth to lift her eyes from her book. "Something wrong?" she asked.

"I was afraid this would happen," the older woman said. She held out a pad containing the latest security reports from the continent. "There's a crime spree in the village."

"Three stolen water storage units and some unprocessed textiles hardly constitutes a 'spree,'" Elizabeth countered, setting aside her book when the other woman stood to pace. "We'll get it sorted out."

"You shouldn't have to," Laura argued. "We shouldn't need to be monitored like children."

"There's no evidence the perpetrator was even Colonial. It could very well have been an Athosian."

"And did the Athosians steal from each other before we showed up?"

"Well, no," Elizabeth admitted.

Laura swore. "Of course not. Everything was fine until we came here."

Elizabeth frowned, not at all certain what that was supposed to mean, and definitely not liking Laura's choice of pronouns. "We'll increase security in that quadrant until things quiet down," she said carefully. "It'll be contained within the week."

"It shouldn't have happened in the first place," the ambassador muttered, still pacing in her agitation. "It's only going to get worse."

"I doubt that," Elizabeth said. "We're bound to have some growing pains, but things will settle."

"Don't you get it?" Laura snapped. "First some supplies disappear. You give them the benefit of the doubt, you look the other way. But eventually you end up with a black market that can't be contained."

"Black markets pop up when supplies are scarce and people are desperate."


"But supplies aren't scarce. And our people are all safe and comfortable. We have food and medicine to spare."

"They're not your people," Laura growled.

Elizabeth folded her hands in her lap and waited, consciously letting the sting of that comment fade away.

"We have to be better," Laura continued. "Or else we'll destroy what you've built here."

"'We' haven't actually built anything, you'll notice." Elizabeth gestured to the room around them, more broadly indicating the ancient city beyond. "We've simply adopted this place. Just like the Athosians have adopted the land as their own. And like we've adopted you as our own." She smiled. "At least, I have."

Laura stopped pacing and sighed. "Naive," she spat, as if the word was a curse. "You'll regret it."

Weir was no longer sure if they were talking about the settlement, or about each other. She rose and crossed to the older woman, peering to meet her downward gaze. "I won't regret it," she murmured, as she reached out to trail fingertips across Laura's cheek, and ignored the resulting flinch.

"We're ugly," Roslin declared "We've done awful, dirty things to survive, and we don't belong in your city. We're going to foul this place, and you should get rid of us while you can."

"You faced enormous tragedy, yet you managed to band together and protect each other in the worst possible circumstances. You never lost hope, and you never turned on each other despite the enemy that might well have been hiding in your midst."

"We'll ruin you."

Elizabeth pressed her cheek to Laura's. "We'll save each other," she countered in a bare whisper. She pulled away enough to see Laura's face, smiling at the deep, turbulent soul evident in her eyes. It was a risk, she considered as she leaned in again for a burning, consuming kiss. Then again, she'd always been a sucker for noble, struggling causes - be they the redemption of the Colonial people or the heart of one troubled, beautiful woman.

Rodney called it "Atlantis-whacking."

He and Radek had invented the pastime early during the expedition, when Earth wasn't able to ship them new supplies every month, and the curiosity of wandering the endless city corridors had worn off. They would take turns searching the Atlantis database for increasingly outlandish planetary parameters, trying to score a single, solitary hit.

"Hydrogen sulfide atmosphere" scored two hundred hits. Add "terrestrial life forms," and the list dropped to sixty-two. Exclude all planets without intelligent life, and that left three. Finally, searching for "avian life larger than a breadbox" yielded a lone final result - though only after the hourlong argument regarding the appropriate volumetric measurements of a given breadbox.

Oddly, "inhabited by semi-brilliant blonde scientists" scored seventeen hits, though Radek was pretty sure that was a statistical aberration, given that the planets in question all had no detectable atmosphere.

While killing time waiting for some calculation or systems configuration to complete, Radek would still occasionally amuse himself by searching for unlikely, but potentially useful planetary features.

Which was how, while making adjustments to the city's power flow distribution, he discovered an entry for an Earth-like planet with atmospheric properties that scattered most frequencies capable of scanning from orbit. Interesting.

He flagged the record for further research, then returned to his calculations.

Weir woke in the night and turned, finding the other half of the bed cool and empty. Immediately her eyes went to the windows, where Laura stood in a sheer robe, watching the Atlantean night. "You keep trying to scare me away," she said quietly, letting her voice carry in the darkness.

Laura turned to face the younger woman, letting the intensity in her eyes give way to sadness. "No," she said, hoarsely. "I just keep trying to convince myself I deserve this." She rubbed her arms, chafing the skin under the silky fabric of the robe.

"Would it be easier if you lived on the continent with your people?" It was a question she'd been meaning to ask for weeks, as she'd watched Laura's melancholy grow.

"No," Laura said, after a moment's consideration. "Then I'd miss you and feel unworthy of this place." She moved back to the bed and sat at the edge, smiling faintly when the younger woman immediately shifted closer.

"I'm glad," Elizabeth murmured. "I'd miss you, too." She propped her chin atop Laura's shoulder and wrapped an arm around her waist, gratified when the other woman didn't pull away.

Instead, Laura inhaled deeply, settling into her lover's embrace. She closed her eyes and focused on feeling Elizabeth's tender warmth, then concentrated on deep, meditative breaths that brought her the scent of Atlantis and the people within. She could feel her natural defenses slipping away, shredded like fabric in a relentless wind. She was tired of snatching at the bits that were left, tired of feeling like she was dying all the time.

"Do you think people know about us?" she whispered.

"They might," Elizabeth replied. "I'm sure we're quite the scandal, somewhere."

"They probably think I'm a cradle-robber," Laura said with a chuckle.

"They probably think I'm trying to exercise undue political influence," Elizabeth murmured in reply. She thought for a moment, and frowned. "Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the IOA thought that was a good idea."

The older woman smiled faintly, and relaxed a bit more. Soothed by the warm body curled around her, she let her gaze wander in the darkness until her eyes landed on the painting of Kobol that hung across from the bed. The childish strokes of paint looked deeply out of place against the sharp lines of the city, but it still comforted her with its familiarity, even as it reminded her of all her people had lost.

"What would we do, if we went to Earth?" she asked, despite herself.

"Anything you want," Elizabeth answered immediately. "There's this great coffee shop in Colorado Springs, right across from a giant bookstore. We could start there."

Laura shifted to peer over her shoulder. "Coffee? You want me to travel hundreds of thousands of light years for a cup of coffee?"

"It's really good coffee," she protested. "But after that, the world is yours. And I'd love to explore it with you."

She hesitated, resisting the urge to look back at that painting and the past it represented. Maybe it was finally time to let go. Her peoples' history and legends looked just as out of place in the Pegasus Galaxy as the image of Kobol itself; maybe it was time to learn who they were here and now.

"I think I could go for a cup of coffee," she said haltingly.

Elizabeth immediately pressed a kiss to her cheek. "Whenever you're ready," she said with a grin.

To be continued...

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