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The Price Part 1 - Sel's Universe
Welcome to my mind
The Price Part 1
Title: The Price
Characters: Roslin/Zarek
Rating: MA for themes
Disclaimer: I don’t own them. I’d like to, but I don’t
Notes: Tom and Laura’s relationship starts badly
Spoilers: S1 – S3
Thanks to the wonderful dixgrl78 for beta and for making it read so much better with her suggestions
Ever since the arrival of the President, (or technically was she still President as a fugitive?), Zarek had noticed her watching him, an unreadable expression on her face. She seemed to be waiting for something. And he had a suspicion that it was his move she was waiting for, being aware of his attraction to her, despite his best efforts to hide it. He didn’t know if she realised she broadcast her response to him, but he’d noticed an almost imperceptible flinch when he entered her space. So the temptation to keep invading her space was overwhelming and he had found himself doing it time and time again whenever he had the chance, just for the flash of irritation that followed.
Most of the time was spent moving, hiding and she was surrounded by followers, but patience paid out and eventually he found her on her own.
“Mr Zarek.” Laura greeted him as he walked in on her uninvited. He had to give her credit, despite the circumstances, she was always polite.
“Dr Roslin.” He returned the gesture, matching her inflection, leaning casually in the door frame.
Having acknowledged him, she just watched him patiently, waiting for his next move, and a mini stalemate ensued. He had the distinct impression that she was well aware of his intention and was just waiting for him to give in and ask.
“Galactica would be pleased to know your and the good Captain’s whereabouts.”
“I think that would be a logical deduction, given the circumstances.”  She was still calmly regarding him.
“It would be a great shame if someone were to let them know where you were at this particular moment.”
“It would.” Laura’s face was unreadable. “Do I assume that someone is likely to tip them off?”
“It’s a possibility.”
“I see.” Laura raised at eyebrow in a ‘get on with it’ gesture.
“I’m sure you do.”
“So, Mr Zarek,” for such a small number of words, Laura could pack a lot of sarcasm into them. “What is the price of this person’s silence?”
Zarek smiled an unpleasant, self satisfied smirk in Laura’s opinion. “Nothing much really; just an uninterrupted hour of your time.”
Laura’s face held both understanding and disappointment.  “There would be limitations.”
“I’m sure we can negotiate.” He had the niggling sensation that he had missed something vitally important and his action was monumentally stupid; but pride and desire kept him on the course.
Pleasurable interlude aside, in which Zarek had to admit that Laura had held to the letter of their agreement, which disconcertingly had taken a fair amount of negotiation. However, something changed in their relationship after the interlude, which was pretty strange as, mutual enmity aside, Zarek hadn’t realised they had a relationship. But there was something changed about her interactions with him. There no longer was the slightest of reactions or the irritation when he invaded her space. And strangely he found he missed that.
Now all he had was an almost nothingness, an absence of any reaction to him. And now that he had the almost mechanical response, he found he missed the old interactions. 
He'd tried to meet with her after her return to the fleet, but there had been nothing. No overtures. No response to his enquiries about her health. Just a barely veiled contempt in her eyes.
He'd pursued his agenda for power despite the niggling thought that New Caprica might be the biggest mistake he'd made. Half of him expected her to come to him, to offer an Alliance . But she hadn't. She stuck to her guns, refusing to give in to the popular demand for settling.
The small part of him that he kept hidden from all, the still hopeful, believing part of him, was screaming that she was the only honest person in the frakking Quorum. But he over ruled that voice, telling himself she was a power hungry dangerous fanatic.
When he saw her after she lost the election, he expected her to be angry. Instead she was just sad and worried, her gaze pausing him, watching something only she could see.
And a niggling fear took root that maybe the Prophet role wasn't an act and she did see things.
Still, she ignored his presence, refusing to seek him out for his help. Not on the settling on New Caprica. Not for restarting the school system.
And he wanted her to call on him for help.
This state of affairs continued until a few months after she’d set up the school tent. He’d popped his head round the corner and saw something he’d not encountered before, an animated, laughing Laura, presumably in her natural environment with the children.
And that was the moment Tom realised he wanted her; not just for an hour, or a night, but permanently in his life.
Now his problem was how to achieve the goal.
Decision taken Zarek set about making his presence felt in Laura’s life. Rather annoyingly she had one of the only working institutions on New Caprica. In the short time they’d been planetside she had a school tent, a curriculum, and a training programme for new teachers.
And that success made him feel disappointed in his situation. Baltar, thinking the work was done in getting onto New Caprica and having himself a cosy home, showed little interest in getting the same for the rest of humanity. It was almost as if his goal had been reaching the presidency and he hadn’t realised that further work was required.
With the initial euphoria at being planetside over, the people were beginning to complain. And he was pretty sure Laura took great delight in referring them all to him.
She, despite her reservations about the planet, was one of the few people doing well here. He’d noticed her foraging for food and knew from experience that she brewed a mean herbal tea.
And none of this was getting him any closer to achieving his goal. He’d checked up on her classes, offered to give talks to her students, even tried to get to know some of her friends. That had been his most resounding failure, since the Galactica crew had long memories and wasn’t going to forgive him for Cally’s treatment.
The few times he’d got her on her own hadn’t been much more successful as she’d given him a ‘stop stalking me’ look. If forced into conversation she kept it totally professional, the school, housing, supplies. She was always ultra polite, always neutral. He’d gone out of his way to invade her personal space and all she’d done was give him a blank look and stand her ground.
It was becoming more and more frustrating. He’d put more effort into getting to know her than in almost anything else he’d done, but was still getting nowhere.
Maybe it was time to use an old tried and tested method.
“You want what?” Laura’s voice was filled with confusion.
“I want us to have a relationship.”
“Us?” Laura gave him an ‘in your dreams’ look. “As in you and me?”
“No.” Laura’s tone was adamant.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to reconsider?”
“Absolutely.”  Laura folded her arms and watched him with a look that said ‘spring the trap then’.
“Well that would be a pity for the children.”
Laura’s mouth quirked in a slightly sardonic smile. “Now just why would that be?”
“The President and I were meeting to discuss supplies and housing priorities. It would be a shame if the priority order was ‘rearranged’.”
“So to clear up any misunderstanding, for the second time you’re blackmailing me into having sex with you. Except this time you want a longer term.”
“That’s a rather cold way of putting it.”
“Well it’s a rather nasty proposal. And more to the point, what makes you believe I’m that altruistic?”  
At that question Zarek just laughed that irritating, smug laugh that made Laura want to release her inner tension by punching him. She thought she deserved credit for refraining from that particular action.
“Oh please.” He pointed out with certainty. “Look up altruistic in the dictionary and it says ‘Laura Roslin’.”
Laura folded her arms and gave him her patented ‘frak you’ glare which annoyingly bounced off his smug smile. “So,” she said contemplatively, “what if I don’t believe you’d do that? What if I think that under the manipulative bastard there’s a decent man who wouldn’t punish innocents just to further his agenda.”
“Good point.” He returned her gaze calmly. “But I was a terrorist. I killed people to further my agenda. Do you really think I’d hesitate when it’s something I want so badly?”
Laura hid her feelings behind her usual serene look. It did come in extremely handy on occasion. She was 60% sure he wouldn’t go through with the threat; but she knew Baltar wouldn’t stop him if he did. It wouldn’t occur to the pathetic excuse for a human not to further someone’s personal vendetta. Gods she hated being painted into a corner. It would be so much easier if she didn’t have that small inner voice that pointed out she didn’t hate Zarek, she actually found him attractive. The thought of having sex with him wasn’t distasteful, it was being forced into it that had her royally hacked off. “You make a good point.” She acknowledged his statement.
Zarek said nothing, just watched and tried to gauge her reaction. Waiting. That was why he wanted her so badly. Unlike most women he knew, she didn’t get all emotional. In fact, the serene expression she wore was the biggest turn on for him. He wanted to shatter it, to have her completely undone. For him. Just for him.
Nothing was said for a few minutes as Laura held her mental debate.
“It would seem we have already carried out the negotiations. We just need to fine tune the details.”
Zarek smiled at the capitulation, sure that he would succeed in his goal of winning her affections, ignoring the tiny voice in his head that was saying ‘wrong move, the worst you could possibly make’.
Laura sighed. It had been three weeks since the arrangement as she had taken to calling it. They had been interesting to say the least. She had the feeling that Zarek had an agenda she was unaware of. He kept pushing the boundaries of the agreement. It was unsettling, almost as if he were trying to make it a relationship, rather than having it be about casual sex. And that was a little disconcerting. But having said that, she was enjoying having regular sex again. She’d missed that as President/Prophet. Everyone seemed to expect her to be virginal, which was rather an inconvenience. Especially as nobody expected, or seemed to want her to have a personal life.
And now she had a life, albeit more than a little on the warped side. Why were her dealings with men so frakked up? Just what was it about her that attracted the weird, the warped and the downright unsuitable? She thought she was a fairly decent sort of person; she loved animals and children, and before the end of the Colonies had never deliberately hurt anyone. So why the lousy track record with men?
She’d thought Adar was the biggest mistake, or rather the stupidest one, but she was coming to realise that he was just the learning curve for this, whatever it was, with Zarek. But as with Adar, the sex was pretty good. Now if she could just figure out what Zarek wanted, she could counter it.
And now she was running late.
Exiting her tent she headed at a reasonable speed toward Zarek’s ‘residence’. Funnily enough he’d scored himself one of the first more permanent places. But at least he had a bed.
“So what’s this with you and the terrorist/VP?” Kara fell into step with her. “Doesn’t seem your type.”
“And you’d know my type how?”
“Good point.” Kara nodded at a passer by. “But you’re not happy. Or at least you don’t seem happy.”
“Don’t I?”
“Well, you’re going to meet Zarek. You do every third evening. You two have a meal, then retire to his place. But you never stay the night.”
“I didn’t realise anyone paid that kind of attention to my movements.” Although not showing her emotions Laura was hacked off that she was being watched. It had been bad enough when she was President, but she was a schoolteacher. No one was supposed to pay attention to schoolteachers. They were supposed to be able to have lives without being paid attention to.
“The people that care about you do.” Kara looked into the redhead’s eyes, radiating sincerity. “You’re obviously going to meet him; but you’re not dressed up, you’ve not even brushed your hair. Not exactly the classic signs of a woman looking forward to a date. We… we’re worried”
Laura relaxed slightly at the concern. “Thank you Kara. But please don’t worry about me. Everything’s under control.”
As Laura tried to leave Kara caught hold of her arm. “With all due respect something is not right. And if you’re in trouble, then remember that you have friends.”
Laura smiled reassuringly at the younger woman. “Please don’t worry. Everything is fine.” Laura projected all the reassurance she could. “I’m running a little late. Oh and the kids would love it if you came in and gave another talk about the Galactica. Why don’t you join me for a drink tomorrow evening and we can discuss it.”
Kara looked admiringly at Laura. She’d thought she was good at avoidance, but she was beginning to learn she had nothing on the former President. And now she was stuck doing another talk. But she wasn’t at all reassured.
Tom ran his fingers through his hair in frustration as Laura slipped out to return to her tent. This was going to be more difficult than he thought. Women were usually not a problem for him to deal with. You bought them presents, complimented them, were understanding and loving. And they fell for you. He’d never had this problem before. Usually it was the other way around, groupies and wannabes vying to get into his bed. So why the frak was he so tied up in knots about one middle-aged, snippy redhead? Just what was it about her that made him want her?
He’d never wanted a permanent relationship before. He was the classic love them and leave them guy. Always the first to use an excuse not to wake up beside them. So why did he hate the fact that Laura always left him in the middle of the night? The last time he’d tried to stop her, he was met by a haughty glare and “It’s not in the arrangement.” Which had his temper flaring, almost to the point of no return, fuelled by her knowing, challenging glare.
So he’d let her leave. And he’d let her leave this night. After two months she’d still not relented. But one night, she would stay. He was sure. He couldn’t allow himself to doubt his plan was a good one. She just needed a little more time.
Laura was amused. For once, Bill Adama had decided to visit the pitiful settlement. Kara was a bouncing bundle of energy at having her soul dad back for a visit. It was reassuring that some things didn’t change. Lunch had been a more enjoyable experience than usual with Bill, Kara and Anders, and Cally and Tyrol as willing victims for her latest culinary experiment. Thank the Gods for Grams’ cooking and scavenging for food lessons. Grams might have been a cranky old bat, but she knew her nature. And thanks to her lessons, Laura was faring a lot better than some others planetside.
After the children left, she and Bill had spent a happy afternoon just chatting and doing the closest they could to sunbathing on New Caprica. She’d even dragged out the red dress thing she traded for a while ago.
Maybe it was the fact that there was now a physical distance between them, but Bill was a lot more relaxed in her company than usual, and more touchy feely than his usual mien. And she was enjoying herself just a little bit too much. It was nice to be able to relax with someone who had no ulterior motive; who just wanted to talk and reminisce.
Unfortunately one of New Caprica’s freak storms had prevented the Admiral from returning to the Galactica that evening. And Laura had laughed till she was almost sick at the look of disgust on his face as he tried to fold himself into her bed. It was just too funny for words. She made a mental note to sketch the look as a present for Kara.
Tom was unusually quiet during their meal. Laura sighed. That didn’t bode well for later. Why were men always so moody? They claimed women were temperamental, but in her experience it was men who had mood swings. Adar certainly had them. It had made life interesting at times.
Now it begged the question, to ask, or not to ask. Enquiring minds needed to know, but as she had a sneaking suspicion his attitude stemmed from the Admiral’s visit, it was probably best to wait until they were in private. In her experience this could get nasty. Adar had been the same, despite the fact he was married, he became very jealous if she dated anyone else. They’d had one or two rather strenuous arguments that had bordered on the physical, though he’d never really taken that one last step.
Great, Zarek was still giving her the brooding silent treatment. What was it with men and sulking? Didn’t they remember she’d been a school teacher? And dealing with bratty children was in the job description?
Arriving at his place Laura made herself comfortable in one of the recliners and waited. Maybe for once she’d be pleasantly surprised, though given her past experiences, she doubted it.
“So did you and the Admiral have a nice visit?”
Unless she was very sadly mistaken that phrase sounded jealous. Perhaps his agenda was personal, or maybe it was just some part of a greater plan of his she couldn’t see.
“Yes thank you. It was nice to see him again. Maybe next time Lee could join him.” Oh and another flare of anger/jealousy in his eyes. Laura wondered why she did that, push a man on the verge of anger.
“He stayed the night.”
The sensible side of Laura was yelling at herself to tell him the truth. It was raining, the Admiral hadn’t touched her. Bless him, she wasn’t sure Bill had actually noticed she was a woman. But she heard herself say “Yes he did. What business is it of yours?”
She had to admit that she hadn’t seen it coming. The slap sent her crashing to the floor. Looking up at Zarek, he actually looked more shocked and horrified than she was.
“That’s not part of the deal.” Her voice was low, threatening.
Laura got shakily to her feet, backing away when Zarek went to help her. “Don’t touch me.”
“Laura. I’m sorry.” And he truly looked it. But Laura knew better than to let him touch her.
She left him standing in the middle of his room, still looking horrified.
Laura paced her tent needing the physical activity to calm her anger. She couldn’t believe he’d hit her. That she’d miscalculated that badly. And that made her even more furious. She’d spent years harnessing her temper and one simple slap had nearly sent it spiralling out of control. And she didn’t lose control, not since her father and sisters had been killed.
*Control yourself* she snapped at herself, needing her usual calm, unsure just how she was going to survive New Caprica without that.
Unfortunately for Laura, the battle for focus took most of the rest of the night, and she was getting too old to pull all nighters without a visible sign in the morning. And thanks to the end of the Colonies, she didn’t have the makeup to disguise her appearance.
At least the children wouldn’t question her if she pulled the ‘don’t frak with the teacher’ routine, which was more than could be said for Maya. Maybe she’d be lucky. Maybe Maya would be too distracted to notice.
That was her plan. A bad one, admittedly. But at the moment it was the only one she had.
“So are you still going to tell me everything’s ok?” Kara asked putting an awful lot of sarcasm into her tone.
Laura sighed, her hard won control threatening to be lost again. What was it with people and the desire to interfere in her life? For fraks sake, she’d been on her own for most of her adult life. So why the third degree now?
“Kara.” Laura paused searching for inspiration and coming up empty. “There’s enough to worry about in surviving on this rock without borrowing trouble. There’s nothing you need to worry about.”
“And you’re going to tell me Zarek didn’t hit you?”
“You’re going to tell me you’ve never been tempted to?”
Kara’s mouth opened and shut. She couldn’t argue that point. “But I didn’t.”
Laura just smiled that enigmatic smile.
“Something else is going on.” Kara was convinced there was more to Laura and Zarek than just the obvious.
Laura shut her eyes. “It doesn’t matter Kara. It’s under control.”
“Like frak it is.” Kara caught Laura’s arm as she went to leave, spinning her back toward her in a very Starbuck move.
Tyrol watched the interaction, torn between his instincts that said run away and hide, and the ones Cally had been teaching him to pay attention to. The ones that said someone needed help, go see what you can do.
As he got close up he saw what had Kara worried, that was one hell of a bruise. And more to the point, that was an 'I've been slapped' bruise as opposed to an ‘I’ve had an accident’ bruise. Tyrol took a deep breath before entering the confrontation. Kara's heart was in the right place, but that wasn’t the way to deal with Roslin. He wasn’t totally sure what was the right way, but he was sure that somewhere there had to be someone who knew. They just had to find them. He hoped.
"Hey Kara. I have a message from Cally."
As he expected Laura took advantage of the distraction to slip away.
Holding up a hand at the murderous look on Kara's face he justified himself with a "For the Gods' sake Kara, you'll only alienate her if you confront her. And then none of us will be able to help her."
Kara ran her hand through her hair wanting to punch him for being right.
Laura looked up from her marking as someone ‘knocked’ on her tent door. It had been a very long day and she was getting heartily sick of the looks she was getting, the comments made just out of her hearing and people asking if they could help. Just why was everyone so interested in her life? It was becoming more and more frustrating. Not to mention unsettling.
If this were another attempted intervention she was going to take their head off and not in a nice way.
“Can I come in?”
Great, just what she needed, Zarek. And before she was ready to deal with him.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  “No.”
“We need to talk, Laura.”
“No.” She wasn’t ready.
He reached out toward her, tracing the line of her face, noticing that she was so still, he wasn’t sure she was breathing.
She slowly stood up and backed away, shaking her head.
He dropped his hand, meeting her gaze with sincere eyes. “When you’re ready to talk, come and find me.”
Laura just kept looking at him, suspiciously keeping a safe distance.
“I won’t hold you to our agreement.”
Laura was even more suspicious. “What about the children?”
Tom took a deep breath, she really did have a low opinion of him; and for once he couldn’t deny that she was right. He had to put this relationship on hold until he figured out his feelings for her, because he knew deep down that until he did that he was in danger of repeating the last night’s action.

Current Location: On the freezing laptop of doom
Current Mood: frustrated frustrated
Current Music: Guns and Roses Sweet Child of Mine

6 Landfalls or Make Landfall
From: liverpool_ruth Date: November 19th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very nicely written..... and I especially love the bits where Kara and Tyrol are concerned about Laura!!

well done honey bunch
selenay_x From: selenay_x Date: November 21st, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you muchly - I'm glad you're liking. Am plotting your fic at the moment.
caprica9 From: caprica9 Date: November 19th, 2007 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well written. Best line: “That’s not part of the deal.”

I haven't read the second part yet ... but I'm glad to know there is a sequel ... for more than the obvious reason that I like to read R/Z fics.

I'm so feeling for Zarek. I hope she'll forgive him, but at the same time I want the story to stay so realistic. It's somehow very easy to believe that Zarek is in love with Roslin, but more difficult the other way around. Frak Moore and his manipulation to make us believe that there is only one man for Laura! Especially since this man seems not able (or is unwilling) to handle the job. I've made a new (technical brilliant) A/R manipulation, but right now I don't feel like posting it anymore. Okay, I need some more R/Z ... I'm going to read part two.

selenay_x From: selenay_x Date: November 21st, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Am happy you like the whole R/Z idea, I've always thought they had a lot in common and there was a lot of potential there.

Am looking forward to your new manip when you post it - though I prefer your R/Z icons etc. Not to mention the Roslin Adar ones. Shiny!
mary_me11 From: mary_me11 Date: November 19th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
What are you doing?!? I never wanted Laura so badly to be with Zarek together before.

I feel so sorry for him. It must be very terrible to be in love with somebody and to get nothing in return.
This story is wonderful, so sad, touching, heartbreaking ……and very very well written.
selenay_x From: selenay_x Date: November 21st, 2007 07:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Looks innocent and sooo happy that you are liking R/Z. Am doing mega happy dance. They have so much potential IMO.
6 Landfalls or Make Landfall