Apollo looked up. Boxey sounded very serious. He had a notepad in front of him, blank. Oh, no, not again. "Did you forget some of your homework?"
"No, Dad," he shook his head. "But I've been thinking. Mlissy's dad is getting married. She says he says kids may not need two parents, but grownups need spouses, especially if they've got a kid to deal with: they need reinforcements, he says."
Apollo had to laugh. When he could, he said, "I've got enough reinforcements to deal with you, Boxey. Your aunt, your grandfather, even Starbuck."
"I know, but... you were happy when you first started dating Sheba."
Apollo prevented himself from snarling and said only, "I'm not marrying Sheba."
"I know. But what didn't you like about her?"
"She's a two-faced coldblooded liar." Apollo stopped before he got too vehement.
"Okay," Boxey said and wrote something on his pad. "But there are a lot of other women on the Galactica. I think you should date again."
Amazingly, Apollo's first thought was, Frack, there goes my best excuse. That startled him so much he said, "You have a candidate in mind?"
"Does that mean a person?"
"Yes. I think you should date Lieutenant Dietra."
Apollo blinked. He'd never thought about her, but... She was certainly pretty enough. And smart. And if Boxey liked her... "Well..."
"Well, I don't promise anything, Boxey, we might not get along. But, sure, I'll ask her. Why not?"
"How'd it go?" Boxey was bouncing on the couch with eagerness when Apollo came out in the morning.
"Not so well," Apollo admitted. "We're both obsessed with our jobs; we had nothing else to talk about. She says she needs someone a bit... diversified. I suppose I do, too."
Boxey sighed. "Okay. Well..." He picked up his notepad from the kava table and wrote in it. Then he looked up, his brown eyes sparkling. "How about Lieutenant Brie? She's cute."
Apollo looked at his son. You couldn't really say he was a changeling; when Serina had gotten an apis in her hat she hadn't let it go either, not till she'd squeezed the last millilaxon of honey out of it. He foresaw a long, dreary round of dates spreading out ahead of him. Then he blinked and asked himself, Why long and dreary? Dating is fun, remember? To forestall his own answer, he said, "Okay, I'll ask Brie out. But not for tonight. Going out every night is not only expensive, it leaves you with baby sitters."
Boxey grinned at him. "If you were married you could go out by staying in."
"You didn't like Brie?"
Apollo repressed a shudder. "There's nothing wrong with Brie except that she's entirely too... perky. Bouncy. Cute with a K. Giggly."
Boxey sighed, but not in defeat. "Okay." He wrote something on his pad and looked up to suggest, "How about Siress Tinia? She's not giggly."
"She's old enough to be my" Considering the way she eyed Adama, and the way he had eyed her back once or twice, Apollo didn't say the first word that came to his mind. "mother."
"Hmmm..." Boxey wrote on his pad. "Then how about Dr. Lara?"
"What was wrong this time, Dad?"
"It would be nice if they're human, Boxey. I mean," he clarified hastily, "as far as I could tell, Lara hasn't got any sense of humor. About anything. She's a fanatic."
Again the notepad, and the suggestion. "Flight Officer Robin? She's not giggly but I've heard her laugh."
"It would help a lot," said Apollo, "if she wasn't dating somebody else. Pretty seriously."
"Oops." Boxey started to write, and then looked up. "But you could change her mind, couldn't you?"
Loath to spoil his son's image of him, Apollo said, "Yes, maybe. But that might make her boyfriend unhappy. I'm not in love with her, we only had lunch."
"Okay..." Boxey nibbled on the end of his stylus. "How about Miss Lyllat?"
"She doesn't have a boyfriend."
"Desperate," Apollo said as the door shut behind him.
Shoni, on the couch with Boxey, looked at him in puzzlement and he nearly blushed. He hoped it was only nearly. "Boxey, don't. Shoni, I'll pay you for the whole evening but you can go home now."
The teenager bounced to her feet. "Thanks, sir."
When the door shut behind her, Boxey said, speculatively, "Shoni has lots of boyfriends, so she's not serious about any of them, but she's"
"Young enough to be my daughter. Well, almost. Way too young."
"Okay." Boxey went into his room, presumably to write in his pad. And after a moment he stuck his head out with another suggestion.
"Boxey, I can't keep going out like this. You're wearing me out. Plus I'm getting a reputation."
Boxey sighed. "Dad, maybe you're too picky. Have you ever thought of that?"
"I am not too picky. A man has to have some standards."
"But, Dad," he looked at his pad.
Apollo reached across breakfast and took that away from him. "I want to see this." He glanced at it:
not a two-faced cold-blooded liarHe looked up, appalled. "This is a terrible list." Plus, he couldn't remember actually saying that about the sperm donor to Boxey, had he? He must have... "This has to stop."
not obssessed with work
not girly and giggly
not too old
not reppressed and humorless
not in love with someone else
not desperate for a boyfriend
not too young
not someone who'd put Grandfather's teeth on edge
not looking for a sperm doner
not a soshal climber
not a pacifist
not too religious
not a teetoetaler
not serious about everything
not using Dad to get back at someone
Boxey took the list back. "It's what you said..." His voice trailed off as he thought.
"That's it," Apollo said firmly.
"One more, Dad? Just one more?"
"No... Well, who?" he temporized.
"I have to think, if it's only going to be one more," the boy said. "Will you?"
"Well..." He knew he ought to stand his ground, but when Boxey made those angel eyes he couldn't resist even when he knew, and knew Boxey knew, it was deliberate. Just like Starbuck, he thought; maybe Boxey would grow out of it. "Okay. But just one more."
Apollo reached across the table and took his son's hand. "Boxey, are you unhappy with just us? Do you want me to get married?"
Boxey shook his head and said seriously, "I want you to be happy, Dad. I don't need a mom or anything like that, but sometimes you seem really lonely."
Apollo stood and picked up the boy, hugging him. "I love you, Boxey. I don't need a wife. Okay?"
"Okay, dad." Then, after a moment, "But one more, right? 'Cause another grownup around might be nice for you."
Apollo touseled his son's hair. "Okay. One more."
Boxey rang the door chime until his aunt answered.
"You dreadful brat," she said, sleepy-eyed. "You woke me up. What do you want?"
He trotted inside and said, "An ade, please? And a huge big favor?"
"Oh, boy," she said, fetching him a glass of juice. "What is it, or should I just run you out now screaming 'No' at the top of my lungs?"
He grinned at her. "You know how Dad's been dating?"
"The Galactica knows," she said. "It's been very unlike him. What's the favor?"
"Well, he said he was going to quit, but I talked him into one more"
"Boxey," she interrupted him, "not only am I working on getting someone else, but there's something very important someone should explain to you about brothers and sisters."
"Not you." Boxey pulled out his notepad. "I've been making a list"
"And checking it twice?"
He grinned. "It's everything he complained about. I added one last thing yesterday after me and Dad talked. Here."
She looked at it. He could tell when she got to the last item. He hadn't been real sure about it, but Dad had sounded...
not a wifeAthena looked at him, her blue eyes wide. "My gods, Boxey, this sounds like"
"Starbuck," he said it with her. "I think Dad wants to date Starbuck."
"I think you're right."
"And I think Starbuck likes Dad enough to date him."
"Oh, to be as young as you and have it all seem so simple," she said.
"Why isn't it? Jalyssa has two dads. And Grandfather likes Starbuck, he always invites him to dinner and parties. And he's not girly and giggly, or obsessed with work, or even in love with someone else, 'cause him and Cassie broke up when she started dating Dr. Paye."
Athena looked back down at the list and up at him. "You know something? You're right. Not that your dad will think so."
"Not if he gets the chance to think... they won't take a reserbation on the Rising Star from a kid, I tried. Will you make it? And ask Starbuck to go?"
"Starbuck and I don't date anymore. But," she paused, "I could call in a favor. He owes me several at the least. And Starbuck never turns down a good meal. But how will you get your dad there?"
"I'll tell him it's a surprise, so he won't have time to sit around and think up reasons he won't like her. He'll be annoyed, but he'll go, 'cause he promised me." Boxey sat back and grinned.
Apollo tugged at his jacketwhy hadn't he just stayed in uniformand approached the maitre d'. "Apollo, party of two?" he said, wishing he hadn't turned it into a question.
The maitre d' started to speak as he looked at his reservations listing, closed his mouth and raised an eyebrow, and then looked back at Apollo and said, smoothly, "Yes, sir. A private room. This way, sir. Your guest is already waiting."
Apollo looked at his chrono. He wasn't late. The maitre d' had opened the door and Apollo went inside. His date was looking at the holographic aquarium... His date? Apollo's greeting died on his lips. This had to be the wrong room...
Starbuck had turned around and was staring at him the way he was probably staring at Starbuck. The blond got his voice back first. "Apollo? Athena set me up with you?"
"Starbuck," Apollo started but he never got the chance to finish. And was eternally grateful.
"Gods, Pol... why didn't you ever tell me?" Somehow Starbuck had gotten within touching distance before Apollo had realized he was moving. "I thought... I never thought... Gods."
And then his best friend kissed him and turned into somebody else entirely.
"Oh, Starbuck," Apollo said, burying his hands in that thick, soft hair. "Oh, Starbuck." He pulled him closer and returned the kiss, suddenly boiling the whole damned list down to one item. One very positive item.
Boxey hugged Starbuck when they came out for breakfast. "Yay!" he yelled. "Yay!"
"My sentiments exactly, kiddo," Starbuck said, tousling his hair.
"Dad? Is this one the last one? Is this one the right one?"
"Yep," Apollo said, looking over the table at his son and then back to Starbuck. "This one is the perfect one."
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