Earth Is a Cabin: A Laura Roslin/William Adama manifesto
Author: misscam (Camilla Sandman)
Pairing: William Adama/Laura Roslin
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica (reimagined)
Word count: 4,900
Spoilers: Entire four season run
Notes: I've tried not to spoil plot points not relevant to Adama and Roslin, but given they're such major characters, they're involved in a lot of the storylines.
The original Battlestar Galactica was a 1978 series that lasted only one season, but gained somewhat of a cult following. The reimagined series of Battlestar Galactica (often referred to as BSG) was launched in 2003 and while sharing the same premise, is vastly different in tone, has four seasons and critically acclaimed. Both do share Richard Hatch, however.
BSG starts off with the end of worlds; literally, as humanity's twelve colonies are nuked. The culprits are the Cylons, artifical life created by humanity that rebelled and initially left to find their own place after the armistice of the first Cylon war. They now have the ability to take on a humanoid appearance and pass for human, and managed to take out the defences of the Colonies by inflitration.
The human survivors are those not on the planets as the attacks happen, on various scattered space crafts, as well as one military vessel - Battlestar Galactica, an old ship due to become a museum and therefore not fitted with the new technology that the Cylons were able to sabotage and use against the rest of the military fleet.
Galactica and the civilians ships that follow for protection are the survivors of humanity - nearly 50,000 remaining of billions. They're looking for a home - the legendary 13th colony, Earth. But the Cylons are still out there, and humanity's biggest obstacle to surviving might still be the flaws of humanity itself.
The Admiral: William "Bill" Adama
I'm putting the fleet back together, I'm putting our family back together. This ends now.
At the series start, William Adama is the Commander of the Galactica, a ship about to be turned into a museum. Originally a Viper pilot, he served late in the first Cylon war and rose through the ranks in the peacetime fleet. He's divorced, his ex-wife about to remarry. Of the two sons he fathered, both followed in his footsteps as Viper pilots. One, Zak Adama, was killed in a tragic piloting accident while his relationship with the other, Lee Adama, is somewhat strained.
He is held in high regard by the crew of Galatica, commanding a great deal of respect and loyalty and is affectionately known as 'the Old Man'. The loyalty he gives to those he considers family and friends is very strong, and it's on more than one occasion shown to perhaps be too strong. Serving as his XO is Saul Tigh, a long-time friend.
Initially planning to stay and fight for the Twelve Colonies, he's convinced to take on military leadership for the Fleet in an attempt to find somewhere for humanity to survive. While not believing Earth to exist himself, he uses the promise of finding it as a sort of carrot for the survivors, giving them hope.
The President: Laura Roslin
The interesting thing about being president is that you don’t have to explain yourself to anybody.
Laura Roslin is Secretary of Education at the time of the attacks of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, becoming President simply through the grim fact that all before her in line are killed. A former teacher and unmarried, she has just learned she has breast cancer, the same illness that killed her mother. The rest of her family is also gone prior to the fall of the Colonies.
While unprepared to become President, she soon proves herself capable. She is not afraid of making hard decisions or controversial ones, and is determined to have humanity survive. On a whiteboard, she keeps exact count of the survivors, a number that keeps shrinking.
After several visions, she starts believing she might be the 'Dying Leader' of a 3,600 year old prophecy that foretells the exodus of humankind and the discovery of Earth. It also says the leader shall not live to enter the promised land, dying of wasting illness; Laura's cancer prognosis is not good.
A Few Other Important Characters
Lee "Apollo" Adama: Bill's son and for a time Laura's advisor. Viper pilot originally.
Kara "Starbuck" Thrace: Viper pilot. Was engaged to Zak Adama. Almost a daughter to Bill Adama.
Gaius Baltar: Scientist, was sleeping with a Cylon before the attacks that used his access codes to sabotage the Colonial defences. Vice President for a period.
Saul Tigh: Bill's life-long friend and XO. Married to Ellen Tigh.
Billy Keikeya: Government aide for Roslin. Quite young.
Tom Zarek: A convicted terrorrist/freedom fighter (depending on your view) he eventually becomes Laura's VP for a while.
Sharon "Boomer" Valerii: A Cylon sleeper agent in the Colonial Fleet, unaware of her true nature. A Number Eight model of Cylon.
Sharon "Athena" Valerii: A Number Eight model as well, pretending to be Boomer at first. Falls in love with Helo and puts her loyalty with humans.
Karl "Helo" Agathon: At first unaware of Sharon's true nature, he stays with her after she reveals she is a Cylon and pregnant by him.
Hera Agathon: The child of Helo and Athena, the only human-Cylon hybrid.
Roslin and Adama: Their History
Adama (reading to Roslin): From the moment I open my eyes, she's in my blood, bittersweet, tinged with regret. I'll never be free of her, nor do I want to be. For she is what I am, all that is, should always be.
To say Roslin and Adama got along from the start would be a blatant, silly lie. At their first meeting before the attacks, he is clearly resenting what is about to happen to his ship and she is epitomizes it. Had matters ended there, they probably would have walked away thinking not too highly of the other.
But the end of the world change a lot of things. While initially not even acknowledging her taking on the mantle as President (proclaiming to his son his disbelief that Lee would take orders from school teachers), she eventually convinces him not to launch a suicidal attack on the Cylons and instead protect the civilian ships she has gathered while they try to find a new home. They make a deal - he will deal with military matters and she civilian, making them the joint leaders of the Fleet. After he tells the Fleet Earth will be their new home, she calls him on the lie, as she knows the Colonial leadership considered it only a legend. He tells her people need something to live for, and to let it be Earth.
After eventually escaping a Cylon pursuit, Adama makes a gesture to Roslin by having her visit to Galactica be formal - as Lee explains it to her, making her feel like the President. They also connect over their mutual love of books, and Adama gives her one from his library, stating "It's a gift. Never lend books." This mutual interest is revisited quite a lot through the seasons.
After starting to take a herbal compound known as Chamalla extract to combat her cancer rather than traditional diloxin treatments, Roslin starts having visions, and eventually she confides in the priest Elosha. Elosha reveals these visions match a prophecy in an ancient text written by Pythia 3,600 years ago concerning the exodus of humankind, which foretells that a dying Leader will lead the remnants of humanity to the promised land of Earth.
Adama: Politics. As exciting as war. Definitely as dangerous.
Roslin: Though in war, you only get killed once. In politics it can happen over and over.
Adama: You're still standing.
Roslin: So are you.
Adama: And I can dance!
After Roslin takes on Gaius Baltar as Vice President to avoid Tom Zarek getting the position, she and Adama share a dance - their relationship seem to have become much more amicable.
The discovery of a habitable planet with scattered ruins causes Laura to have a vision of a city - the planet is Kobol, which humanity left and then went on to form the Twelve Colonies. She also has further visions that convinces her the scriptures are real and Kobol can point them the way to Earth, but that they need an artifact known as the Arrow of Apollo retrived from the Twelve Colonies in order to do so. She tells Adama of this and wants to use a captured Cylon Raider in order to retrive the arrow in a stealth mission. Adama doesn't agree and considers it is a military decision.
Roslin then goes to Kara Thrace and convinces her to go. When Adama finds out, he stages a military coup, feeling she has broken their agreement. While Roslin first resists, she lets herself be put in Galactica's brig when she starts fearing a bloodbath. Adama, meanwhile, has sent Boomer on a dangerous mission to a Cylon basestar. While she suceeds in blowing it up, she comes across several Number Eights there and freak out. Upon return to Galactica, she pulls out her sidearm and shoots Adama twice.
The Fleet is now fairly divided - Roslin gets out word about her visions and her belief in the scriptures, and eventually convinces one third of the Fleet (and even her rival Tom Zarek as well as Lee Adama) to jump with her to Kobol to find their map to Earth. They meet up with Kara Thrace, who has sucessfully retrieved the Arrow of Apollo and also bring with her Helo and Sharon "Athena" Valerii. Initially wanting Athena killed, being a Cylon, Roslin decides to bring her due to Athena's knowledge of Kobol.
Adama, having been in a coma, eventually recovers and at first is inclined to just let Roslin go. But after being reminded that the Fleet is a family, now divided, he also goes to Kobol. He reunites with Roslin, and the two mend fences. He states his gratitude to her for convincing him to leave the Twelve Colonies, considering every day alive since a gift from her. They find the 'map', actually a display of all the star constollations that can be seen from Earth. Returning to the Fleet, Adama leads a rousing ovation for the reinstated President Roslin in Galactica's hanger deck.
Having overcome the most serious split between them, their respect for each other grows stronger and they become much more cooperative as leaders, often asking and offering advice to each other. They also start being on a first-name-basis privately. Unfortunately, Laura learns her cancer has spread and she has little time left. She returns the book Bill gave her with this in mind, to his displeasure.
Adama: What can I get you?
Roslin: A new body. Perhaps, one of those young Cylon models from the Resurrection Ship.
Adama: I can't see you as a blonde.
Roslin: You'd be surprised.
At this point, the Fleet learns they're not the only survivors when they come across Battlestar Pegasus under the leadership of Admiral Cain. She assumes military command, but things soon turn near-disasterous. The two battlestars nearly get into a firefight over Cain wanting to execute some of Galactica's crew. Roslin tells both off for this, but states privately to Adama that Admiral Cain is dangerous and needs to be killed for the Fleet's survival. He at first thinks her mad for this, but after learning Pegasus used to have a civilian Fleet following it (just like Galactica) that Admiral Cain has more or less cannibalized it for crew and parts, more interested in getting at the Cylons than survival, he changes his mind.
The two battlestars combine forces to take out a Cylon 'Resurrection Ship' - when a Cylon is killed, their consciousness simply downloads into a new body courtsey of these ships - and in the process, Admiral Cain is killed by a Cylon she had kept imprisoned and tortured. Roslin takes the opportunity to promote Adama from Commander to Admiral. Touched, he tells her to never give up hope and kisses her sweetly.
Cancer now killing her, Roslin prepares to die and starts remembering her last days on the Twelve Colonies - but is saved by stem cells from Sharon Valerii's unborn child, administrered by Gaius Baltar. She returns to her Presidential duties, now remembering she saw Baltar with a blonde now known to be a Cylon model Number Six just before the attacks on the Colonies. Her suspicions of him causes her to ask for his resignation, instead he decides to run against her in the upcoming election.
The discovery of another habitable planet - this time one the Cylons don't know of - impacts the elections - Roslin wants to keep looking for Earth, while Baltar wants to settle there. The first election results find Roslin to be the winner, but Adama discovers it's actually rigged - committed with the tacit approval of Roslin. Confronting her, he admits to not liking Baltar either, but remains adamant they cannot steal the election.
Baltar is sworn in, and settlement on the planet begins - it is named New Caprica. Laura returns to teaching, and she and Bill are seen to enjoy a happy day together during the ground-breaking ceremony. Drinking and getting high together (yes, really), they talk about living for today and she reveals her desire to build a cabin by a clear stream she's seen. They spend the night together, though it's not made clear exactly in what manner.
Baltar's administration is soon proven to be the disaster Roslin feared, and one year on they're also found by the Cylons. Pegasus and Galactica jump away, but Adama vow they will return. The Cylons seem to have had some change of heart, as they wish to help 'guide' humanity this time rather than just kill it. An occupation begins, and so does a human resistance. Roslin is detained by the Cylons more than once, and eventually sent to be executed. She meets Tom Zarek again - now Baltar's VP, but also about to be executed -, and the two manage to escape. Working with the resistance, they work on evacuation plans and are eventually succesfully when Galactica returns. Adama has been in contact with the resistance, and with the help of Athena (who he has grown closer to during the year), the remaining 40,000 people get off New Caprica. Pegasus is lost during the action, however, and Hera and Baltar go with the Cylons.
Roslin returns to Presidency by first being appointed VP by now acting-President Tom Zarek, having him then resign, making her President and appointing him as VP. Adama is shown not to accept Zarek as President at all, preferring Roslin. When it's revealed she hid the Agathon child Hera and let the parents believe the baby had died, Adama reacts angrily, but it doesn't seem to have any lasting neative impact on their friendship. The Agathons do manage to get back Hera, and Baltar is captured by the Fleet during a stand-off on an algae planet that holds further clues to the location of Earth. Roslin and Adama privately debate what to do about Baltar, eventually deciding to give him a trial - and they make that decision while Roslin is resting in Adama's bunk, of all places.
Adama continues observing his wedding anniversary despite the divorce and assumed death of his ex-wife. During the day, he also wonders at the nature of his relationship with Roslin. She gives him a book, and they discuss their day on New Caprica. He fondly recalls her red dress and wonders if she would have built her cabin, which she finally confirms she 'absoloutely would have'. While reminding her they both have 'certain responsibilities', he also admits to love seeing her laugh. When Colonial One, the ship serving as Roslin's Presidential HQ, is damaged, he remarks that she is 'always welcome in one of his beds' and the two share a smile at the unintended double-meaning.
The death of Kara Thrace affects Adama badly, and his son as well. Lee gets involved in Baltar's defence, while Adama is picked as one of the judges (through a draw). The relationship between the two deteriorate, and Lee eventually resigns from the military. During the trial, Lee is the one to cross-examine Roslin on her belief of Baltar's guilt and involvement with Cylons, and forces her to reveals she is taking Chamalla again. Her cancer has returned. The following day, Laura calls Bill up in the morning, revealing she doesn't want to get out of bed and telling him to yell at her to do so. He does, and she sweetly thanks him.
Baltar is found not guilty, and at the reveal Adama was the deciding vote, she is fairly angry at him. When Kara unexplicabaly returns from the dead, claiming to know where Earth is and believing herself to have been gone only hours (in reality, several months), Laura believes her to be a Cylon and insists they keep on current course. Adama is torn, and ends up arguing with Roslin; she claims he just wants to believe Kara so he won't face any more loss and calls him on his atheism, and he claims she's just afraid to die alone and have as meaningless death as anyone else.
Eventually, Adama gives Kara her own ship to look for Earth, not wanting to lose her but still believing in Roslin.
Having decided to do traditional treatments this time around, Laura is facing her first in sick bay when Bill simply sits down next to her and starts reading to her from a book. He continues this habit of reading to her during treatments, including a favourite of both of them, "Searider Falcon". He even reveals to like it so much he's never read the ending, not wanting it to be over. He also lets her have use of his quarters. Her hair starts falling out, and she starts wearing either a head scarf or a wig, a constant reminder of her malaise.
Roslin: Bill. Look at me. I’m right here. Right here. We’re going to find it.
Adama: I used to think it was such a pipe dream. I used to use it as a carrot for the Fleet.
Roslin: What made you change?
Adama: You. You made me believe.
Kara does return - having not found Earth, but a basestar of rebel Cylons. The Cylons have started a civil war, and the rebel Cylons want to find Earth and what is known as the 'Final Five', the humanoid Cylons that taught them resurrection and is now in the Fleet. In exchange for the Final Five, the Cylons are willing to help in the destruction of 'the Hub', which controlls the resurrection ability of Cylons. Without it, Cylons will become mortal.
Roslin visits the basestar, taking Baltar with her - trying to understand continuing visions she has of Hera, Baltar, a Six and Athena - and during her visit, it jumps away. While others believe her lost, Bill refuses to let it go. Eventually, he decides to stay behind in a Raptor at an agreed-on rendez-vous point to wait for Laura's return while the rest of the Fleet continues on. When asked why by Lee, he simply states "because I can't live without her".
Meanwhile, Roslin and those on board the battlestar discover they are on the way to the Hub. They sucessfully take it out. Baltar gets wounded in the action, and while feverish, does reveal his involvement in the attack on the Twelve Colonies and his lack of guilt. Laura at first intends to let him die, but changes her mind - she keeps having visions of her own death with Bill's presence at her side always and realises she is losing herself, caring more about humanity's survival than caring about people.
The basestar jumps back to the rendez-vous point, where Bill is waiting. Reuniting, he tells her he missed her and she admits she loves him, to which he quips "about time".
Returning to the Fleet, a lot of things happen really fast. A hostage situation occurs, which Lee resolves. The identities of the 'Final Five' are revealed, and the fact that his life-long friend Saul Tigh is one causes Adama to have a fairly major breakdown. Kara discovers her Viper holds a signal from Earth, and Cylons and humans jump there together, forming a tentative alliance. Happiness abound when they see the planet is there. Bill and Laura have a tearful hug, everyone rejoices, and...
Earth is a nuked pile of ruins, and the 13th colony turns out to have been a colony of Cylons that suffered civil war. Humans and Cylons alike are fairly gut-punched. Several characters consider suicide - some actually go through with it. Bill starts drinking. Laura decides to stop cancer treatments, despite Bill's pleas otherwise. She states her desire to live out the rest of her life living for today, and they're later shown in bed together, clearly post-coital. She also seems to have more or less moved into his quarters from this point.
However, deep distrust of the Cylons remain within the Fleet and some feel an alliance with them is all wrong. Felix Gaeta, on Adama's command staff, and Tom Zarek start conspiring together and launch a mutiny. Adama and Tigh are initially captured, but manage to escape. Lee and Kara get Laura away from the fighting, and meet up with Adama and Tigh. Bill and Laura greet each other with some rather hardcore make-out, which makes his son and pseudo-daughter feel just a tad awkward. Laura escapes to the basestar to address the Fleet and try to fight Zarek taking the Presidency, while Bill refuses to leave his ship.
Adama is recaptured and Gaeta gives him a sham trial and orders him executed. However, those still loyal to Adama manages to free him and they do retake the ship. Roslin manages to convince the Cylons to help her, and when told Adama has been executed, promises she will take down Gaeta and Zarek both with any weapon she can use (down to her teeth). She is very relieved when discovering Adama is alive, and they have an emotional reunion.
Galactica, an old ship even at the start of the series, is now clearly starting to decay. Adama is forced to accept Cylon technology being used in repairs. Laura's health is shown to deteriorate as well, and she names Lee Adama as her new VP (Zarek and Gaeta having been executed for leading the mutiny). After Boomer returns to the Fleet and manages to kidnap Hera, damaging Galactica in the process, Roslin collapses. She has visions again, while Adama is clearly deep in denial about both Galactica and Laura dying.
Roslin: Must be tough saying goodbye to both of your women at once. You must feel like we're abandoning you.
Adama: No one's going anywhere. And neither one of my women are dying. They just need a little more care and attention.
By her bedside, Adama is once again reading - though this time, she's smuggled in a little something to be smoked in the book. As they share it, she reveals to him that she's still thinking about the cabin she wanted to build on New Caprica and what home is.
Roslin: I don't think I've ever felt truly at home until these last few months, here, with you.
Acknowledging his love for her and Galactica both, she encourages him to abandon ship - which he eventually decides to. However, he decides to take her out in style and launches a volunteer (more-or-less) suicide mission to get Hera back. Roslin, despite being near death, also volunteers.
Roslin: You didn't think you would take off without me, did you Admiral?
Adama: Never crossed my mind, Madam President.
During the mission, Laura helps with wounded, and also manages to help in the rescue of Hera. The mission is sucessful - with losses - and while trying to get out of heavy fire, Kara jumps Galactica to a location using coordinates she got through the notes of a song and some drawings Hera did. There's a planet there, with a single moon. It's actually our planet, and they name it Earth, more or less for what the Earth they found first should have been. The Fleet decides to settle, the humanoid Cylons too. While watching the wildlife there with Bill, Laura starts having breathing problems and is clearly near the end. He decides to take her on a Raptor ride so she can look more closely at the life on the planet.
Just as he starts talking about finding a spot for a cabin to build - with a garden - she quietly passes away. When he notices, he puts his ring on her hand and kisses it, noting the place they're flying over is where he'll build the cabin. Last shot is of him talking to her grave, telling her about it.
Adama: I laid out the cabin today. It's gonna have an easterly view. You should see the light we get here when the sun comes from behind those mountains. It's almost heavenly. Reminds me of you.
Why Ship It?
Well, for one, the show does. They even have their own musical cue, the "Roslin and Adama" theme. You can hear it here, it's a lovely piece of music. There's also the actors, Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell. Both Oscar-nominated, they do a fantastic job and acknowledges themselves to have great chemistry between them. They seem to quite ship their characters too. And it's rare to see a relationship of mature people played out like this on television.
I've shipped a few pairings in my fandom life so far, but I can safely say this is one of the most emotionally affecting for me. This is a couple forced to work together by the end of the world, and the show builds their relationship up bit by bit. Going from dislike to a growing respect, they fall into a friendship that it's hard to say when exactly grew into mutual love. Civilian leadership in bed with the military is not an ideal situation, and both are very aware of their leadership roles and probably resisted the attraction. When they finally do get romantic, they maintain a respect and acceptance of the other, and their scenes are heartwarming and heartbreaking both because of the amount of love they have for each other and their limited time together. Their end is bittersweet and lovely and makes me cry a lot.
As others put it:
I adore the fact that Bill and Laura have found each other at this stage in their lives, and that their passion is as great and deep and rich as that of younger people. Greater, even because they have already faced so much in their own separate lives. - cincoflex
Adama’s romance with Laura Roslin was probably the most rewarding part of the whole BSG experience (…) I consider those scenes some of the great moments in my career. - Edward James Olmos.
They know each other, they read each other more or less effortlessly, they fight and hurt each other, and get high and giggle and dance together, and talk seriously and blame each other and take each other's advice. It seems like everything one of them does winds up leading back to the other somehow, long before they ever ended up in bed. - tigerkat24
One of the reasons that I enjoyed Adama/ Roslin so very much was the utter compatibility between Eddie and myself. There was never really a question of how do we do this. Sometimes you get lucky in your work. Ed and I had an instant and deep respect for each other that naturally grew into a fondness. I think that is what mature relationships are made of.
They are completely authentic and earned through an experience of other as partner and soul mate. The audience (both the younger and more mature) LOVED this relationship because it created hope and because it was based on total acceptance of the other person regardless of differences. - Mary McDonnell, in this interview.
It’s simultaneously heartbreaking and beautiful. It’s bitter in its realism, and sweet in its simplicity. It’s perfect because it’s not. - cj_quickwit
I ship them because their entire relationship has been this natural, organic development. There's never been a time where I've felt like it was forced or landing in cliched territory or like there were contrivances built into it. There haven't been these crazy dramalama love triangles - just two people, slowly coming to respect and trust and love and then fall in love with each other. - babylon_whore
Communities and Sites
adama_roslin - shipping comm.
Survival Instincts - fanfic archive for the pairing, with yours truly included.
ar_daily_dose - daily posting of shipper moments.
SciFi forums - Adama/Roslin have their own shipping thread.
battlestar_blog - a general BSG comm.
Galactica Siterep - a blog for anything BSG.