"The Cylon War is long over, yet we must not forget the reasons why so many sacrificed so much in the cause of freedom. The cost of wearing the uniform can be high, but...
"What's wrong 'Red'? Having some trouble with your uniform?" Lt. Sharon Valerii asked curiously, while Willow was checking the fit of her dress uniform, for the tenth time.
"Well, if you have to ask 'Boomer'," Willow said and gave Buffy a warning look not to join their comrade in her mocking. "This is only the third time I'm actually got to wear dress uniform and to be honest It's still a little itchy."
"Doesn't look like 'itchy' to me", 'Slayer' observed, ignoring the murderess looks on her best friends face. "More like someone's trying to look extra presentable. Wouldn't you agree 'Boomer'?" Buffy turned around to Sharon, who wasn't paying much attention.
"Excuse me ladies, but I think I have another word with the Chief, about the broken gimble of my Raptors", she said and started to make her way through the crowd of the decommissioning reception.
Willow and Buffy exchanged a knowing look. It wasn't exactly a secret among Galactica's pilot's that there was something more going on between Chief Tyrol and 'Boomer'.
Willow, in the mean time, was once more brushing down upon her dress uniform skirt.
Unlike Buffy, Kara 'Starbuck' Thace, 'Boomer' and the other female pilots, when it came to wearing dress uniform, she preferred skirt over trouser.
She liked wearing dresses and skirts, but of course aboard a Battlestar she was wearing her flight suit or working uniform all the time.
So apart from shore leaf, when she would wear nothing else but dresses and blouses or shirts with skirts. Official occasions like these where the only opportunity to wear a skirt on board the Galactica. Besides, her legs where shapely and good looking. And she knew that she looked rather sexie in a uniform.
"Mind if I abandon you too, Will?" 'Slayer' asked. "I just spotted 'Terra' and he still owns me some money from our last game of cards."
'Red' didn't mind and so her best friend went to have a word with Lt. Rooper, a fellow Viper pilot and Willow checked the fit of her uniform once again.
'You know she's right,' the little voice in Willow's mind observed. 'You do try to look extra good. And we both do know for whom.'
'But we don't know why,' Willow thought and her mind went back to that very moment in the corridor, when she had seen her for the first time.
Only a very short moment though, because she had to salute her commanding officer who, even though he was about to retire soon - together with the Galactica, one might say - still expected everyone aboard to comply with military protocol.
Unfortunately, when she had turned back, Secretary Roslin, her aide and the beautiful blonde had been dragged away by this PR pest. Even though Willow had seen her for less then a minute, she remembered each and every feature of this woman.
The elegant costume, the long blond hair, but most of all Willow remembered her face and those deep blue eyes. What was in these eyes that drew her towards this beautiful woman? Willow couldn't tell, but the first thing she did, was to look up her name in the visitors manifest:
Maclay, T. Dr. - Staff member to the Secretary of education, Laura Roslin.
Willow eyes kept scanning the crowd, while she pondered what the T mid be standing for. Tamara? No, doesn't look like one. Tiffany? Please, she isn't a fourteen year old teenager. Teresa? Nope. Trudy? More of a granny name.
Out of the blue Willow spotted her, far across the room.
Room of course was one hell of an understatement, for this space was formally known as the starboard landing bay. Once open to space, until it had been closed of with these huge panorama windows to form the space that now housed the exhibition that included an entire squadron of Mark II Vipers and some other planes. As well as this space, that now served as a huge ballroom.
Lt. Rosenberg slowly made her way through the crowd towards Dr. Maclay. 'Tammy? - I won't even bother to comment that one.'
She was standing right in front of the enormous windows, looking out. From her liquid reflection Willow could see the dreamy as well as respectful look in her deep blue eyes.
"It's like all you need to do is to reach out and you could touch the stars. Wouldn't you agree?" Doctor Maclay observed, before Willow had the chance to address her. And without turning around she continued, "this is certainly the best place on the entire ship."
"Well it certainly is, but it's still only second best, when it comes to being close to the stars," Willow answered, smiling knowingly.
"So?" the blond woman wondered.
Why hasn't she turned around jet? Willow wondered in her mind and said out aloud, "Yes. Had you ever experienced space from within the cockpit a Viper you would agree with me."
"Does that mean you're offering me a flight with your Viper, Captain...?"
Finally she turned around facing Willow, who struggled to remember her own name right now.
"Rosenberg Dr. Maclay and it's Lieutenant, Lieutenant Willow Rosenberg. I'm still somewhat away from making Captain. Not that I'm not sure of making Captain sometime... You have to forgive me Dr. Maclay, sometimes I tend to babble, actually that might eventually end my military career rather sooner then later I'm afraid... And still I'm not shutting up, sorry Dr. Maclay."
Then the fragile blond started to smile and that finally broad an end to Willow's babbling, because in that moment her brain completely emptied and her legs turn into pudding.
"Please Lt. Rosenberg call me Tara. Sorry, did I say something funny?" Tara wondered, for there was a big smile upon Willow's face.
"No, no not funny, well at least not knowingly so," the redhead hurried to assure her, "but please let me explain. Now your name is spelled T-A-R-A right? " Tara nodded.
"Now see this really big guy over there, right next to the blond pilot? " Tara nodded again.
"Now that's Lt. Garry Rooper and his call sign is Terra, spelled T-E-R-R-A."
"That certainly explains something," Tara giggled. " And how did he get this unique call sign?"
"I have absolutely no idea," Willow laughed.
"And what would your call sign be? "
"Mine is without the need for any explanation, I assure you," Willow said, pointing at her short red hair, "it's 'Red'."
Tara agreed and then she turned around towards the window, for another look at the stars. "That was quite a speech your commander gave," she said and turned back again making Willow feel weak again. "I must say he's quiet a person, service is going to miss him when he retires."
Willow tried to remember the speech in question. What she eventually did.
"Yea, it's a shame the old men is going to retire," she agreed. "But as you might have noticed, he doesn't like integrated computer networks and thus would never serve on a Battlestar or Base with these kind of systems and the Galactica is the last ship in service, until we reach Caprica that is, that still operates on the standards of fifty years ago.
"Hell, even the basic Mark VII Viper I'm flying has more of that build in as he likes. And if it had been in his power he would have rejected theses fighters aboard the Galactica as well."
"So what's your opinion, in these matters and the whole discussion on going back into researching artificial intelligence?" Tara wondered.
And so the historian and the soldier entered into a spirited discussion over the history of the Cylon war, the pros and cons of advanced computer systems and networks in modern life. And many, many other subjects that came to there mind.
During the course of their conversation Willow and Tara completely lost track of time, until they realized that the reception was over by now and all but a view - hundred - people had left.
"I'm afraid it's time to call it the night," Willow said to Tara after a quick glance at her watch. "Even though my Viper is broke, I still have to report for duty tomorrow morning. Maybe we will meet again, tomorrow?"
Tara nodded, "I'll still be aboard till 17:00h tomorrow, inspecting the rooms that will be modified to host the schooling facilities. So who knows."
So they parted, both hopping that they would meet at least once more, before Tara would return to Caprica.
But a Battlestar is a very big place and so it happened, that Tara left the Galactica together with Laura Roslin and Billy Keikeya, without Willow having had the chance to meet her once again.
Willow lay on her bunk and stared at the sealing.
She thought about the last two days and she thought about Tara. She remembered each and every detail, from the first time she saw her in the hallway, to the exciting conversation with her at the reception.
And Willow remembered how Tara had looked, the scent of her perfume, the goosebumps she had when Tara's blond hair had grazed her, because she had whispered into her ear.
But most of all, Tara's smile and her eye's came back into Willow's mind again and again.
What was it with this woman that made think of her in every waking moment, when her mind wasn't occupied with her work? And even then she was always present in the back of her head.
Willow finally closed her eyes, ready to get some sleep and no doubt to have some more dreams of Tara, when the ships alarm made her open up her eyes again. And she heard Lt. Gaeta's voice echoed throughout the entire ship, announcing the impossible:
"Action stations, action stations! Set condition one throughout ship. This is not a drill. I repeat. Action stations, action stations! Set condition one throughout ship. This is not a drill. I repeat..."