“But just then, for that fraction of time, it seems as though all things are possible. You can look across the limitations of your own life, and see that they are really nothing. In that moment when time stops, it is as though you know you could undertake any venture, complete it and come back to yourself, to find the world unchanged, and everything just as you left it a moment before. And it's as though knowing that everything is possible, suddenly nothing is necessary…” Bill continues to read from the book he has open on his lap until he realizes that Laura is no longer listening. He closes 'Outlander' and lightly puts it down on Laura’s legs, which are lying across his lap. Turning his head, he catches Laura’s eyes with his own. “What are you thinking about?”
“Nothing, I was just looking at one of the pictures on the shelves. You can continue.” She glances once more at the picture and then back at Bill. The light is draining from the cabin as the sun dips low in the sky so she turns one of the lamps on.
Bill follows her gaze and realizes that she is looking at the picture of her and Billy. He had died too young and Bill had never forgiven himself for his death. He was one of the few people he could have saved if he had tried harder. “Do you miss him?” he says, nodding at the picture.
Laura’s smile falters but then takes its place firmly upon her lips. “Yes, I’ve missed him everyday since. He has never been gone from my thoughts since that day. I knew he was going over there. He had work to finish but I knew he wanted some time with Dee to try and get her to reconsider, so I told him that he should go. I put him in that situation and I just hoped he knew I was sorry. He was so young and he was such a good person. I never had kids, and-” Laura breaks off and stifles a gasp. “When I was dying, I could see how much it pained him to take care of me at the end. I could see it in his eyes every time he stepped into the room and I could hear it in his voice every time I called for him. But he never stopped. The first time he had to help me walk back into my room because I couldn’t do it on my own, he left me in my room and went back out into the office. I could hear him crying through the curtain. He was trying to be as quiet as possible, but the curtains weren’t very thick, as you know. I wanted to get up and do something to help him, but I didn’t have the strength so I just had to sit there and listen to him cry. It’s one of the worst things to experience, wanting to comfort someone you love but physically not being able to. I listened to him cry for hours and I couldn’t do a thing about it because my body was betraying me. The next day I tried to say something about it but I could tell that he was avoiding any conversation with me, so I just let it go. He did his job and I did mine. He was like a son to me, and I never told him. I never told him how much it meant to me that he kept helping me even though it hurt. If I could go back and change one thing, that’s what I would change. I would work up the strength to get up and comfort him and tell him that it’s going to be okay, and then I’d tell him not to go to Cloud 9.”
“Laura, he knew you cared for him. When you were in sickbay, he stayed with you the entire time, rarely ever leaving your side. Cottle and I had to keep telling him to get something to eat and he hardly ever followed our orders. He was your loyal assistant to the very end because he knew you needed someone, just like he needed someone. After Baltar injected the blood into your system, I’ll always remember what he did. I saw him walk into Cottle’s office and sit down in the big leather chair facing his desk. And then I watched him pray. I don’t know if he told you this, but he was an Atheist just like I am. A few minutes later he came out and he went right back to holding your hand. When he needed someone, you were there, so he was going to be there for you.”
“Oh, my Billy… He never said anything to me afterwards about that. Thank you for telling me.”
Bill nods his head in acknowledgement and is about to say something else when he is interrupted by a knock at the door. Laura tilts her head in confusion and Bill says, “Now who could that be?”
Laura stands up because her legs are on top of Bill and she quickly wipes the tears from her eyes. Making her way over to the door, she opens it and looks down.
“Laura?” says a small, shy voice.
“Hera, what are you doing here? It’s almost dark! Where are your parents?” Laura ushers her into the cabin and turns more of the lamps on. She then looks over at Bill with a worried expression on her face. Turning to look at Hera, she notices she has tears in her eyes. “Why don’t we sit down on the couch and talk while Bill makes us some dinner? How does that sound?”
Hera quickly nods her head and then climbs onto the couch next to Laura just as Bill gets up to get some meat from the shed that he can cook. Laura lifts Hera up onto her lap and allows her to bury herself into her chest. She wraps her arms around Hera and gently squeezes. After a few moments, Laura softly says, “What happened?”
Hera sniffles around her tears and then she says, “I was playing with other kids and I ran into the forest and I got lost. I kept running but I didn’t know where I was going. And then I got out of the trees and I saw the cabin. I didn’t know where else to go. I was scared. Am I in trouble?”
“No, no, honey. You’re not in trouble. I just needed to know what happened. We can’t get you back to your mommy and daddy tonight because it’s dark out and we’ll get lost in the dark, but we’ll go tomorrow morning and take you back to your mommy and daddy. I’m sure they’re really worried.”
“But if I can’t go back tonight, then what am I going to do?” Hera looks up at Laura with big eyes full of tears.
“You’ll stay here. You’ll be okay here, I promise. We’ll keep you safe, Hera.” Laura presses a kiss against Hera’s forehead and she feels her cuddling back against her. Gently rubbing circles on her back, she starts humming a calming song her mom used to sing to her. She can’t remember the words at the moment so she just hums the tune.
Once Bill comes back in with meat, Laura sends Hera off to wash and then tells Bill what happened. As they cook together, Bill dealing with the meat and Laura cooking the vegetables and potatoes, Hera comes back out from the bathroom and helps finish dinner. Carefully, after a moment of consideration for the amount of strength she has, Laura lifts Hera into her arms and allows her to help finish the vegetables. After they have all finished eating, Laura tells Hera a bedtime story and then tucks her in to the guest bed.
As Bill and Laura settle down in their bed for the night, they hear little feet pad into their bedroom. Laura opens her eyes and sees Hera looking at her from the side of the bed, her bottom lip quivering. “Hera, what’s wrong?”
“I’m scared. I don’t like being away from mommy and daddy at night.”
Laura sighs and realizes there’s only one thing that could possibly help. “Do you want to stay in here tonight? Bill could go sleep in the other bed and you could sleep in here with me?” She understands why Hera is scared; she would be too. Sleeping in a room all alone after being lost in a forest would be very scary for a child.
Hera quickly nods her head with a look of relief on her face. Once Bill leaves the bed, Laura scoots over to the space previously occupied by him and Hera gets in on her side of the bed. Laura wraps her arm around her and she feels Hera snuggle into her side. Looking down, she sees that Hera’s thumb is in her mouth. Little kids are so precious. She wonders if her grandchild is going to be doing this at some point. Bill might just have to get used to being kicked out of the bed. Pressing a light kiss to Hera’s forehead, she allows herself to fall asleep.
Here is the next chapter. The beginning excerpt from Outlander is not mine. It is owned by Diana Gabaldon. Hope you all enjoy it!
Hope you enjoyed it!