Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Notes: Originally written as a birthday fic for sainfoin_fields, in honour of her love for Billy and Cancerprezlin :)
done with mirrors
The day Billy is accepted to the political program at Caprica City University, his parents decide to throw a party. It's not all that impressive, as parties go; just them and him, sitting around the table drinking champagne that's probably just a little out of their price range, laughing and coming up with ever-more-implausible campaign slogans for when he runs for President of the Colonies. Edie drops in for an hour, slips him a small package, ruffles his hair and smiles distractedly. She's moving house, packing up her life into cardboard boxes and taking it all to Picon to be with Jack.
Billy's never really drunk much. His arms feel light after a single glass, and his voice sounds a bit louder.
When his parents are in bed he sits in the half-dark and opens the present from Edie; it's a pen, sleek and green and very old-fashioned. The tiny card with it just says: make your mark.
He reads the card five times and then smiles, warmth spreading down his chest.
Everybody has to start somewhere.
"A cocktail party?"
"Will you do me the honour, Mr. Keikaya?" Roslin makes an elegant, funny kind of bow.
"I -" Billy forces his fingers apart. He's always fiddled with his knuckles too much, a nervous habit. She picked up soon after meeting him, of course, and told him that a good politician never shows their moods with mannerisms. "Are you sure?"
"It's part of the position." She smiles, and he's at ease. "Listening to the right people, and listening to the people you don't really care about but have to be seen listening to."
"I can't believe you're almost as new to this business as me," he says, daring to tease. They clicked on day one, and if Billy believed in the gods he would be giving thanks that his first proper job is serving under a politician so likeable. He had braced himself for a rough time, a harsh public figure.
"Oh, gods, I'm sounding callous." She pushes her glasses up on her nose and something flickers across her smile, but then that passes and it's as warm as ever.
There is that about Laura Roslin. She always seems to be surprising herself.
Billy watches her and wonders how much she is hiding.
It's a good party.
Roslin wears deep, deep red and bows her head so that the light sings off her hair and stands a few inches to Adar's left as he talks to the head of the Trade Commission.
Her mouth doesn't move.
(Billy's seen magicians who can do that trick.)
He smiles to himself and tries to avoid being asked to dance.
His birthday is six days after the end of the world, when his life is spinning and hollow and so small that it won't fill even the smallest of cardboard boxes.
He wants to tell someone, and he feels horribly guilty for wanting to tell someone. The human race's priorities were just forced apart and reassembled. Nobody cares when he was born. Everyone's minds are ticking over with grief and determination and death, death, death.
He spends the day doing paperwork until his head pounds, and he doesn't ask for a painkiller because there are probably going to be far worse headaches in the future and for all he knows there could be only ten boxes of painkillers left in the entire universe.
He reads, and reads, and reports, and reads.
Black marks swirl on the printouts. Sawdust and acid rain throw a party behind his eyes.
The day Gaius Baltar is elected Vice President, Billy hears music again for the first time. He's never really liked jazz, but on that evening it sounds like the most wonderful thing in the world.
Dualla is small and neat and perfect, and very capable of taking the lead when they dance without making it obvious that she is doing so. He grins as she spins under his arm. Eventually he begs off to get a drink, and when he returns Gaeta is dancing with Dee and they're both hamming it up so ridiculously that he almost snorts ice. Lee Adama joins him, sipping at water and looking so smart in his dress uniform that Billy feels abruptly self-conscious, but they can exchange no more than a few words before Starbuck marches up and grabs the CAG's elbows, tugging him back out onto the dancefloor with a threatening look and a muttered comment about ridiculous captains who are a disgrace to the uniform and won't even remember when they've promised a girl a dance.
He almost doesn't notice her until she's at his elbow. It's another trick. One day he'll find the invisible wires. But for now he sets down his glass and is privately glad at the lightness in her eyes and the strain that this evening has lifted from her mouth.
"Will you do me the honour, Mr. Keikaya?"
The night after she leaves, with Lee Adama and Elosha and Zarek - he does not like and will never like the fact that this enigmatic man with the sharp eyes and the odd dangerous half-smile is helping her in his place - he lies in his rack and thinks, with grim determination, about his family. About the pen that was in his tiny desk back on Caprica. About the card that -
He remembers something, and suddenly he's stumbling frantic across the room to find his battered leather folder. He slips his fingers under the lining and feels until the worn cardboard edge lies across the tip of his index finger. It's in too far to pull it out, but that's all right. It's there.
Make your mark, Billy Keikaya.
He considers saying a prayer for Edie, for his parents. For Roslin. He considers asking grace and protection from some vague wafting entities that, if they exist, let his race be hunted nearly to extinction.
Adama says: she thinks you're going to be President some day.
He doesn't believe it in the Raptor and he doesn't believe it when they're trudging through the forests of Kobol and he doesn't believe it until the moment he steps awkwardly across the uneven ground - Madame President - and she smiles at him, slow and wondering and proud.