The Lieutenant's Daughter

part seven


The waiting room was crowded. Zeffie sat, in silence, with Athena next to her, one of her arms around the cadet. Omega had handed the bridge off to someone and stood beside his wife in equal stillness, one hand on Athena's shoulder. Adama sat, talking quietly to Djan, looking at the surgery door every centon or so. A dozen cadets were there, shocked young faces, pacing nervously. A handful of pilots—Jolly, Dietra, Giles, a few others—were clustered together, telling each other every story of how Starbuck had cheated death before. Every so often one of them went out into the corridor to pass on the lack of news.

Boomer had come up as soon as he could back from the planet, which was after another shuttle had gone down, with pilots to ferry up the other Vipers and someone from Security to take charge of Musa, and someone to bring up the bodies... He settled next to Apollo, putting his hand on Apollo's shoulder in comfort. Or protection maybe. Apollo wasn't sure which. He fought the urge to bury his face in Boomer's ribcage and weep.

How long has it been? he wondered. I guess the longer the better. He hasn't... I haven't lost him yet.

The door opened and Tigh came through. Omega raised an eyebrow and started to straighten, but Tigh shook his head and he settled back next to Athena. The colonel leaned down and spoke to Adama, whose face darkened with anger. He answered, shortly, probably savagely, thought Apollo, familiar with the expression, but he couldn't hear and didn't care what his father was saying. Tigh nodded, once, and left.

An eternity later, the door opened again and Sheba came in, rumpled from patrol, looking around. When she saw him, she crossed over and sat on the arm of the bench. "It'll be all right," she said to him softly. "Have faith, Apollo. He'll pull through."

He looked at her, feeling gratitude through the fear. She put her arms around him and pulled him close, resting her cheek against his hair. He clung to her, knowing it was safe because he was allowed to. "He has to, Sheba," he said. "He has to..."

"He'll make it," she said to him, so softly no one else could hear. "He won't leave you alone."

On his other side Boomer left his hand on his shoulder. Apollo closed his eyes and prayed some more.

When Dr. Salik finally came out into the waiting room, every person there rose to their feet. He found Zephyr and walked to her. She swallowed hard, but he smiled tiredly. The whole room relaxed. "You can go in and see him," he said. "He's unconscious, he probably won't know you're there and he won't wake up if he does—he's too deeply sedated for that. But you can see him. He's going to recover."

Zeff hugged him and bolted through the door. Salik looked around the room. "No other visitors," he said. "Not for several days, at any rate. Maybe a secton. But, I repeat, he'll make virtually a full recovery."

"Virtually?" said Apollo, and immediately felt ungrateful.

"He's going to have scars," said Salik. "He might lose a little dexterity in his left hand, I can't tell how badly damaged the tendons are. He's bound to have vision problems in his right eye. There may well be memory loss—not a bad thing in this case if you ask me. And one of his knees may give him trouble in the weather. Assuming we get to Earth and they have bad weather, of course. Otherwise, he'll be fine. Mended his ribs, mended his arm. Lost blood of course, and generally was beaten up rather badly, but nothing that can't be fixed." He ran his hand over his bald head. "He'll recover. So, everyone please go home and let me have my Life Center back. Except you—" he added softly, gesturing at Apollo.

The waiting room cleared out, pilots and cadets leaving with loud relief. Adama touched Apollo's arm and said, quietly, "Come and talk to me when you can, son."

Apollo nodded.

Athena hugged him and said, "I don't care what the regs say, I'm taking Zeffie home and staying with her. She shouldn't be in the barracks tonight."

Omega nodded and said, "I'll get the boys then. Call me when you get there, Athena."

She nodded and looked at Salik, who jerked his head toward the door. "Yes," he said. "Give her a few more moments and then get her home. Put her to bed, keep her warm. Tell her she can come back in the morning, if they don't arrest her."

"Arrest her?" said Apollo. "What for?"

"Premeditated human termination," said Salik, gesturing at the Security officer hovering near the door.

"You're kidding," said Boomer.

"I doubt it," said Sheba. "Athena, get one of the techs to show you the back way out of here. I'll hang around like I'm waiting for you."

"Thanks, Sheba."

Sheba smiled. "Go on and get her."

Boomer said, "I'm taking you home, Apollo. So find out what the doctor wants. I don't want to have carry you when you pass out."

Salik smiled. "Not as farfetched as you might think. Come with me, Apollo."

He pushed open the door to his office and sat on the edge of his desk. "Short and not very sweet," he said. "Captain Starbuck's probably not going to be fit for combat duty, not as a Viper pilot. I glossed it over out there, but he's almost certainly going to have vision problems bad enough to ground him. The bastard nearly kicked his eye out, and there were bone fragments in his cornea and ciliary muscle, which will affect his ability to focus that eye. It won't stop him getting around and functioning quite well on a daily basis, but combat piloting? Probably not."

"Starbuck's very, very good," Apollo protested automatically.

"And maybe he will be again, or at least good enough. I'm only telling you that he's not going to be as good as he was. There's a possibility of other neural damage, as well. Headaches, maybe. I'm warning you, that's all. You may want to think about finding him a job that doesn't involve needing to be able to judge with split-micron and pin-point accuracy where somebody who's trying to kill him is. Also," he looked down at the floor, then back up at Apollo, "he'll probably need counselling. That was as savage an attack as I've ever seen anyone live through. And there was a sexual component to it."

"I thought so," Apollo admitted.

"He'll recover, physically. But even if there is no visual or neural damage, I couldn't sign off on him as fit for duty until a counselor agrees."

"I understand," Apollo said. "Thank you for letting me know."

Salik shrugged. "You're his commanding officer, aren't you? And his friend. He's going to need the latter, Apollo. He's a strong man; he's not used to being a victim."

Apollo wasn't sure what his face showed, but Salik shook his head.

"I know, Apollo," he said. "But Cylons hate the entire human race. Bojay hated him. It's different. Don't expect him to bounce back from this like any other injury he's ever had."

"I understand, I think."

"I hope so. Mind you, that girl of his is going to need counselling, too. What she saw..." Salik shook his head. "Don't let the fact that she's strong enough to function in the emergency fool you into thinking she's too strong to break. Get her counselling before she goes on combat duty."

Apollo nodded.

"Okay. Then get out of my office. I'm tired enough to pass out right here, and I've still got work to do."


"You can look in on him now," Salik conceded. "And you can see him again when he wakes up. We'll just pretend you're all family. Does a patient good to have more than one visitor. Now go away."

Apollo did. He opened the door to the recovery room carefully, in case Zeffie was still there, not wanting to intrude. But Athena had already taken her away, so he walked up to the pod where Starbuck, swathed in bandages until he was almost unrecognizable, lay. "Hey, Bucko," he said softly. "Can you hear me?"

There was no reaction from the sedated man. Apollo smiled at himself, closing his eyes against the sudden tears that threatened. "Well, in case you can, listen up. You're going to be fine. Zeffie's safe, and you're safe, and Bojay is in the seventh hell. Possibly they've even made a new one all for him." He reached out involuntarily and threaded his fingers through Starbuck's thick fair hair. "Gods, Bucko, I'm sorry. But I won't let you get hurt again. I promise. 'Cause I love you, you know that. I have to go now, but I'll be back. A lot." He touched a finger to a unbandaged, unbruised spot on Starbuck's left cheek and then he left.

And Boomer refused to let him go anywhere but home. When they got there, Sheba was gone, he didn't know where (though he could probably have guessed if he'd wanted to), but Boomer came in with him, and got him a drink, and talked with him until the ambrosa and nerves and terror caught up with him and he passed out in midsentence.

Cassie deleted her search results and all related files without even looking at them. She didn't care any longer if she was right in her guess about who was the girl's biological father, and she was sure she was. She didn't care if Apollo would have to step down and Boomer would get the promotion he deserved and would be waiting on for years otherwise. The girl in the critical care unit, talking softly and non-stop to Starbuck, anchoring him to life by her voice, that girl had a father whom she loved. And Starbuck had a daughter whom he loved enough to die for. It wasn't right that anybody should think about trying to replace him in her life with anyone.

She loved Boomer, very much. He was everything she needed, even though it had taken her a long time to realize it. She loved their children, too. But standing in the doorway just now and watching Zephyr and Starbuck, she'd realized that she still had a flare of regret. And anger. And jealousy. Somehow, Starbuck had never loved her quite as much as she'd known he was capable of loving someone. There'd always been the shadow of another person between them. And she'd always suspected who.

But in the face of what she'd seen over the last day, she knew that, right or not, it wasn't hers to do anything about. It wasn't her place to punish Apollo for being first with Starbuck, even if she felt he used that for his own purposes. Because doing that would hurt Starbuck far worse than she'd allowed herself to think about, even though, it was obvious, there was no way he'd lose Zephyr's love. And he'd certainly been hurt enough already.

"Hey," Boomer said softly, his hands coming down gently on her shoulders; she hadn't heard him come in. "What are you doing?"

She looked at the blank screen in front of her, reflecting her face, and then tilted her head up to look up at him. "I don't know why you love me sometimes," she said.

He tightened his hold. "I could give you a long list, but just because, sweetheart." He bent down and kissed the top of her head. "Just because... what have you been doing, you need to ask me that?"

She shook her head and then leaned back to rest against him. "Just sitting here, thinking," she said. "Thinking about love, and hate, and insanity. Jealousy. Not being able to let go."

"Sounds depressing," he said gently.

"It was, kind of. I love you so much."

"I know," he said. "And you were crazy about Starbuck. I know that, too. I don't mind; how can I? I still am, just a slightly different flavor."

"Crazy," she said meditatively. "That's what it is, isn't it? What he does? Makes people crazy."

"At least we don't all react like Bojay."

Cassie glanced reflexively at her computer. Not as bad, maybe... just a slightly different flavor. "Boomer, do you think he knows who her father is? Her biological father, I mean?"

"Probably," he said. She could read him well enough by now to know he thought he did. "Does it matter?"

"No," she said. "It doesn't. She loves him enough to kill for him. And he loves her enough to die for her. That's all that matters."

"Die?" Boomer said sharply.

"Oh, no, he won't. Though it was damn close. But he tried to. That's what counts." She stood up. "Boomer, are you off duty?"


"Good. Take me home."

"Any time you want," he said, putting his arm around her and holding her close. "Let's go."

Although he'd have rather been in the Life Center, Apollo had his duties to perform. But this wasn't, strictly speaking, one of them. Although, as Sub-Colonel (Strike), you could argue that anything to do with cadets was his business.

"What the—" he bit back the word and substituted, "hell is Security doing nosing around the Life Center?"

"Something has to be done about Zephyr's terminating Bojay," Adama said. "The Council—"

"Father," Apollo stared unbelievingly at him. "You're not serious. You are. What do those idiots think she should have done? Stood there and watched that fracking lunatic rape and kill Starbuck and then start in on her?"

"No, I'm sure they don't. But the law is uncompromising. Deliberate human termination is a crime—"

"Bojay killed Clarsarc," Apollo interrupted. "He was doing his utmost to kill Starbuck. The circumstances were not normal."

"No," Adama agreed. "And I'm quite sure that a plea of self-defense would be accepted without question."

"No," Apollo said sharply.

Adama looked at him in surprise. "No?"

"No," his son repeated. "That's not acceptable. I'm not an advocate, but I Protected Starbuck, remember? When he was accused of terminating Ortega all those yahrens ago? I remember exactly what Solon said. 'You'd undoubtedly be dropped by the Colonial Service but you'd most likely only receive a suspended sentence.' Most likely! She loses her commission and maybe spends time on the Prison Barge for putting down that rabid dagget? That would be the definition of a travesty. It shouldn't be considered human termination. It should be considered her duty. Hell, Father, she should get a fracking medal for it."


"I know. But, Father, it's not reasonable. It's not just. It's not right. He was going to kill all of them. He did kill that cadet. If self-defense means she's dismissed and goes to prison, the law's insane. As insane as Bojay."

"The law is inflexible, Apollo."

"Well, it shouldn't be. And I know there's only supposed to be ten centares until the Tribunal convenes and we've already pushed it to twice that. And I know she ought to be in the brig. Or at least under guard in the Life Center. I know it all. And I say, Frack the Council. And the Tribunal. And the Opposers, and the Law. She's staying with Starbuck; she's not going anywhere. And when the Tribunal convenes, I'm Protecting her. And if I lose, she's not going to the Prison Barge. There's not a Warrior on the Galactica, from Sub-Colonel to Private, who'll let Security get their hands on her. And there are more than a few of us who'll resign our commissions if she has to."


"I know," he said. "It's blackmail, and against the regs and the law."

"It's wrong. I mean," Adama lifted his hand, "it's incorrect in a couple of particulars. There's not a Warrior from Commander to Private who'll let her go to prison for this. And Colonel Tigh is Protecting her."


"He has a lot more experience than you, and he'll impress the Tribunal more. Besides, you have to be a witness."

"This is ridiculous." Apollo was suddenly calmer, knowing that Adama and Tigh were on their side. "I can't believe there's even a charge being laid."

"Tigh's arguing that with the Chief Opposer right now." Adama leaned back in his chair. "I have every hope he'll convince him to decide not to bring charges. He's holding back the threat of a mutiny for a last resort."

"I suppose they could find her Not Guilty by Reason of Justification," said Apollo.

"That's how I would vote," Adama nodded. "But no charges being brought at all would be the best."

"That's what he decided," Tigh said from the doorway.

Apollo sank onto his father's desk in relief.

"He didn't relish arguing for any penalties to be brought against a young woman who had to watch her father undergoing what we had fairly graphic visuals of to present to the Tribunal. Musa, on the other hand—"

"Yes, what about him?" Adama said. "Are they bringing charges?"

"The Opposer wasn't sure what charges to bring. I convinced him to let us handle it," Tigh said. "As a military matter."

"He fired on the shuttle," Apollo protested.

"Actually, he says he didn't. He just watched while Bojay did. And in the end he wouldn't go along with Bojay."

"I don't want him in my wing," Apollo said uncompromisingly.

Tigh nodded understandingly. "I don't want him on the Galactica."

"Well, neither of you have to worry," said Adama. "He asked to speak with me, so I went to see him. He's a very distressed young man, who feels very keenly his failure to spot how insane his Squadron Leader was—"

Apollo had to admit, "He wasn't the only one who missed that. But he is the one who went with him to Clarsarc's World."

That was the first time Adama and Tigh had heard what the Warriors had named the planet. Adama nodded. "That's true. He knows he failed badly. Not only in spotting Bojay's madness, but afterwards. He froze up. He's afraid that he'll do it again. He told me he wants to resign his commission and go to another ship, an agroship or some other place where he can work at a job that won't require—"

"Guts?" suggested Apollo. "Sorry..."

"No, I don't think you are. But that's understandable." Adama sighed. "I agree with him, at any rate. He's no longer capable of serving, even if people would work with him. If he just goes away, that will be the simplest and quickest way to get this behind us. He'll need counselling, and I'll make that a condition of his employment."

"She'll need it, too," said Tigh. "Bojay was a piece of felgarcarb at the end, but he was still inside a human body. And she killed him. That and what she saw, she'll need to work through it with a professional. But she's strong. I see no reason why she shouldn't go ahead and graduate, get commissioned, and be assigned to a squadron with her classmates."

"Good," Apollo stood up. "That's done, then. Now... We have a funeral to arrange. Damn. Starbuck should be there, to give the eulogy. But I don't suppose we can wait."

Tigh said, "Zephyr's giving it. It seemed right."

"Is that wise?" Adama asked with concern. "Is she up to it?"

"She agreed," Tigh said. "I think it'll be fine.

"It will," Apollo nodded. "She's tough."

That afternoon Boomer stopped by Athena's quarters, a little uncertain about it but feeling that if he was to be any help to Apollo over the next few days he'd better know what was going on.

"Hi," she said, opening the door. "If you're looking for Omega, he's not home yet. If you're looking for me, bless you and come in. I need some company that's over three today."

He grinned and did so, snatching up the little boy who had come running to see who the visitor was and could he duck into the hallway while the door was open. "Rascal," Boomer chuckled. "Not very well behaved for a Prince of Caprica." By now, details of Bojay's less unfocussed ramblings were all over the ship, source, most likely, Musa's guards.

"Don't even start that," Athena said, very seriously. "In the first place it's felgarcarb, all that about Houses and so on. Tigh's second in command of this fleet, not Apollo. And I would hope we have enough sense to pick our leaders on the basis of their ability, not their bloodline, some Council members notwithstanding. Let's put you in with your brother, okay, Lykos? You two amuse yourselves for a bit. Mommy's going to have a grown-up talk."

She reached for the child, but Boomer shook his head and said, "I'll carry him. I kind of miss mine being little enough to put places."

She laughed.

"And in the second place?" he asked, putting the boy down next to Kairos.

Athena said, "And in the second place, if we are paying attention to all that, then, even if these two are the only legitimate blood grandchildren my father has, they're not House of Adama. They're House of Lares."

That distracted him. "House of Lares? I didn't know Omega was related to Sire Lares."

"He was the old man's senior great-grandson," she said. "Not that that matters now, and I can't believe I even brought it up. I should have said, House of Omega... It's just I don't want people thinking stupid things."

"Good luck with that," said Boomer. "People being people, I mean." He followed her back out to the front room, wondering how hard it had been for Omega to so successfully kill all talk of his family connections. It had helped, he supposed, that none of the House of Lares had been in the Service. And, in a twisted way, that none had survived the Destruction. If a Larean had been on the new Council, it might have been different. But, as she had said, it didn't matter now and it wasn't what he'd come to talk about. Neither was what he said next, but he was a methodical man and she'd brought it up. "So, you guessed about Zephyr? I mean," he clarified, "that 'legitimate grandchild' line."

She shot him a look from her pale blue eyes and seemed to consider what to say next.

"You think she's Zac's?" he said, committing himself.

She shrugged. "It seemed pretty obvious one I thought about it. Here, look." She crossed the room and picked up a picture lying on a shelf of the storage unit. It was of Zac, in uniform. "I got him to pose for this a couple of days after he was assigned here." She looked down at it a bit sadly, and then handed it to Boomer. "You know, she's a sectare older than he got to be? But they're almost exactly the same age, her now and him then."

Boomer looked at the picture. He didn't think he'd seen it before, she hadn't kept it out front as far as he could remember, not that he'd been in her quarters all that often. The occasional party... Zac's resemblance to Zephyr was strong in this picture; the uniform helped, but it was just, as she'd said, pretty obvious. "You didn't say anything?"

"What was there to say? By the time I guessed, she was already fourteen. Pointless to bring it up, it would just have caused a lot of grief for everyone. I'm not sure Father and Apollo are ready to hear it now, for that matter," she added.

"So you think he was right?"

"Starbuck? Yes. I mean, first of all, Father would have had a fit, his baby with a whore. If he believed it. Apollo, too. She'd have been miserable with them, and Lords know she's been fantastically happy with Starbuck. Besides, if her mother knew she was Zac's—and how else would Starbuck have known?—then she'd have had to have some pretty compelling reason not to go to Father. I don't know what it was, but I'm sure Starbuck thought this over."

Boomer looked at the picture again. "It's funny," he said, thinking about it. "I know he was a man, a commissioned officer... I mean, we call them 'green kids' but they're not children, kids his age. People his age. But I still find myself thinking of him like he was, I don't know. Fifteen."

"That's Father and Apollo," she said, taking the picture from him and touching it gently with her fingertips. "They've got him preserved in amber, always a boy. The baby of the family. He never really got the chance to prove to them he was grown up. Father hardly saw him when he was a child, and even Apollo, he was so much older and gone himself when Zac went through his teens. And he was always the quintessential older brother, always the responsible one. I was in the Service, too, but I was stationed in Caprica City while Zac was at the Academy. And I was his older sister, not his little sister, so the dynamic was different. He used to come and talk to me..." she sighed and replaced the picture. "I knew he was growing up. Had grown up. But they didn't really have a chance to find that out. He was only here a few days. You know what my first thought was, when I realized Zeff must be his? I was so glad he'd actually had sex before he died. I couldn't say that to them, you know? But I was."

Boomer shook his head gently. She was right, it wasn't the first thing that would occur to Apollo. Or the last, for that matter. Which reminded him of why he had come over. "Athena," he said, "I was wondering if I could talk to you about, well..."

He paused. She smiled. "I didn't think you'd come over to admire the boys. Can I get you some kava? And whatever it is, Boomer, of course you can."

"Thanks," he said. The minutia of that allowed him to get his thoughts back in order, and when they were sitting down he started, "I was surprised, the other night, when I took your brother to his quarters. Sheba wasn't there... I'd thought, from the way they were acting in the Life Center, that as soon as she got out of there, you know, away from Security..." he paused, trying to think of the best way to put it.

"That she'd go home to Apollo?" Athena said. "Lords, Boomer, I thought you knew, when you volunteered to take him home. You took her off the hook, doing that. I'm sure she went to Giles's."


"You really didn't know," she observed. "Well, I shouldn't be surprised. He's such a private person, after all. And Sheba and Giles, they're not likely to let it out. Or any of the men she's had affairs with, for that matter."

Boomer blinked. That was a very calm reaction.

Athena laughed a little. "Oh, that sounded bad, didn't it? I didn't mean it to. She's still not my favorite person in the fleet, but she's good for my brother, in an odd way. They really do get along with each other, very well now that she's accepted who he is."

"I think I'm lost," he said carefully. "Are you saying he knows?"

"He knows, but he doesn't know. He can't know officially or he'd have to do something, and he doesn't want to. He's pretty happy. He's always been fond of Sheba, and she's fond of him. It's a lot better than when she was madly in love with him. Then she was unhappy, and that made him unhappy. And she does take care of him, when he needs it. Like the other night. He needed someone to hold on to. When you came in, I thought you would do, but I should have known better. I don't mean he doesn't love you, or that you can't take care of him, but you're not who he thinks is someone he can hold onto in public. I was trying to decide if I could give Zeffie to Omega—I was afraid she wouldn't want a man just then, she'd said... anyway, and then Sheba got there and it was all right. But when you said you'd take him home, she didn't have to. He'd rather you in private than her. So she didn't. She went and found what she needed and let him get what he needed from you."

"We aren't—" Boomer started to protest.

"No. Of course not. But sex isn't what I'm talking about, not for him." She looked into her kava and sighed, and then looked up and shrugged. "He's not a very passionate man, my brother. Affectionate, yes, and with deep emotions. But not, not physical, you understand?" He nodded and she continued, "Mother and I never talked much, but she said to me once that it helped to marry a man in the Service because he was gone a lot. I think she and Apollo are a lot alike. He doesn't mind at all that Sheba's gone so much. I doubt Father cheated on Mother, I really can't imagine that. But she wouldn't have minded if he had, as long as he kept it quiet, came home when he was supposed to, and no one ever knew." She smiled at him. "Am I embarrassing you, Boomer? I forget sometimes, let my mouth run away with me."

"Not yet, you're not," he said. "But soon, I'm afraid."

"No, we can stop. It's just, you should understand that Apollo loves Sheba, in his way. He loves you more, but your relationship with him is perfect as it is. Sheba wanted more than he could give; she settled for less from him but looked elsewhere. I'm not saying they never sleep together," she added, embarrassing him after all, "only that it's probably not often and, I'll bet, not that great. So she looks elsewhere and he lets her, and she takes care of him when he does need it, because they're, well, affectionate. Fond. Used to each other. It's not a deep relationship, because she needs more from him than he can give her to sustain depth, but it's strong in its way. I quite like her now that she's accepted that she's way down his list of love, and never getting higher... well, higher, if people died, but it wouldn't mean anything. She wouldn't get more from him if she was the only one left. Once she realized that he's giving her all he has to give her, she had to decide if she could make that work or had to leave. She chose to stay. On her terms, but that's okay for both of them."

"What about Starbuck?" Boomer asked impulsively. After all, Starbuck was as close to Athena as he was to him, and if he knew, she had to.

She nodded. "He's the flip side, poor thing. He gets nothing, but it's enough."

"Nothing?" Boomer raised an eyebrow.

"Or everything," she agreed. "It depends on how you look at it, I suppose."

"And what you want," Boomer said.

Athena sighed. "I wish Starbuck was awake. Apollo's so unhappy."

"I know. But you heard Salik. Several days. Maybe a secton."

She nodded. "At least that stupid termination charge was dismissed. Is the funeral for that cadet tomorrow?"

"Yes," he said. "Everyone's going who can. Too bad Starbuck can't be there."

Zephyr, tall and stark in the simple cadets' version of the dress uniform, crossed to the lectern. She didn't have any notes, simply stood there looking out at the assemblage. When she finally spoke, her voice was firm though strained. "Clarsarc was our colonel. Not just because of his grades or his skills. Because of himself. He was an excellent academic, a fine pilot, and he'd have made a fine Warrior. But he was more. He was a good friend. A good man. We'll miss the hell out of him. Maybe me especially, because I was his second, and they're telling me I have take his place at graduation. And because he's dead because he was with me, us... you all know that."

She paused a moment, and, in the assemblage Apollo stirred slightly. They didn't need to let her feel she was responsible for this.

"But," she continued, "I know what he felt about that. He let me know before he died, he didn't put any blame on me or the Captain. He put that right where it belonged. And he let me know I was to do the same thing. It was his last order to me. 'Sarc," she turned to look at the capsule lying in state, surrounded by candles, "you don't have to worry, I know whose fault it was. I'll put the blame where it goes; you don't have to hang around and nag at me in my dreams. But I do have something to say about it, so, bear with me, 'Sarc, okay? He said you were an innocent and you had to die for the people. That innocents always have to die in order for others to be saved. I know what you would have said to that, if he'd given you the chance. You'd have said it was a bargeload of felgarcarb, though I admit you probably wouldn't have said felgarcarb... canid's kidneys, you'd have said, or something like that."

She smiled shakily over the rustle of amusement that ran through the cadets; clearly, Clarsarc's speech patterns were an old and familiar joke. She took another breath and continued, "It's not that he was a lunatic, or that your dying didn't actually save anyone." A brief expression in her eyes added, anyone worth saving. Remembering Musa and comparing him to what he'd heard of Clarsarc, Apollo couldn't disagree. "That's not what I mean. After all, you wouldn't have minded dying to save anyone else. But you wouldn't have agreed with his basic premise. Innocents don't have to die, in the sense that it's inevitable. They do die, always have, for tens of millennia. But you put on this uniform because you believed they shouldn't die. 'Sarc, we don't all have your sense of purpose or clarity of vision. But we all learned from you. We learned a lot. We will all miss you: you are a grave loss. But we will all remember you. For ever. Goodbye, Cadet-Colonel Clarsarc. We won't forget. We promise."

She saluted, right hand to her left shoulder and her chin up, though her eyes were clearly brimming. As one, the cadets rose to their feet and did the same and, a beat later, so did every Warrior in the hall. Zephyr held the salute for a full centon, and then dropped her hand and turned back to the lectern. Opening the Book that rested there, fighting tears, she began to read.

"Behold, I will show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. And then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

Apollo, only half listening to the words he'd heard far too many times, suddenly stiffened as memory assailed him. Beside him, he felt his father alerting in the same way. There was, quite abruptly, no doubt at all in his mind, or Adama's either, most likely. He could hear those same words, in a different, young grief-stricken voice trying hard to stay level and mostly winning. It wasn't anything supernatural, any inherited choice of words, these were the most ordinary of words for a funeral. It was their faltering delivery, it was the posture of the rangy young body, the angle of the head and the way the brown eyes fought back tears... it was Zac. Zac at his grandfather Lykos's funeral, struggling valiantly to stay in control and say the right things. That eulogy had been very different from the one Zeff had just given, but yes, gods yes, the giving of it was the same: the strain to say the right things to convey heartbreak without giving in to the emotion, the tension... even the feeling that he, she, was the wrong person to be doing it. Apollo had come from his ship and Adama from his, but the old man had wanted his favorite grandchild to deliver his eulogy. Zac had done his duty even though he'd wanted to be hiding somewhere crying his heart out. Apollo stared at Zeff, remembering all the other times she'd teased at his memory, and he saw now that every time it had been Zac he was being reminded of. Zac's enthusiasm, Zac's angular grace, Zac's eyes and nose. Unhampered now by the subconscious insistence can't be, she's Starbuck's it was obvious.

The rest of the funeral passed without Apollo's noticing. He lost track of his father afterwards but was sure he'd gone home. So that's where he went as soon as he could get away.

He keyed in the code and went into Adama's quarters. He didn't generally go in without being invited, but he thought he'd be expected. He thought they had something to talk about.

Like what to do about Zephyr. And how to react to Starbuck's not having told them the truth.

Especially since he couldn't get mad at Starbuck. Not now. Not now. Not when he'd so nearly lost him. Had his mortality so convincingly demonstrated. Not just a 'thought you were dead' experience, a clean, lost-to-the-war sort of thing, but a gruesome, painful, watching-you-die-hearing-you-die-smelling-you-die tactile thing that had ripped his heart out and left him with a gaping hole inside.

A, to be clichéd about it, Starbuck-shaped hole that ached with emptiness and yet...

He had nearly lost him. And was still trying to come to terms with how that made him feel.

So why did this have to come up now? He didn't have enough time to sort them both out, even without the added worry of how in the name of every god that had ever lived Bojay had gotten so bad without anyone noticing. Or how many other people had him cast as the crown prince. Or... he shook his head. It never rains but it pours, he thought and smiled as he realized that was one of those phrases the 'kids' didn't really understand. Boomer had told him Bren wanted to know why the people in an IFB show didn't just 'turn off the fire sprinklers' when they were caught in the rain...

Maybe Starbuck was right. Maybe they should stop for a while, turf all the kids outside for a giant camp-out, let them learn about weather and animals and trees...

Starbuck. It always comes back around to him. He blinked and looked around, realizing he was standing in the dark. "Father?" he called before asking for the lights.

"I'm here, Apollo." His voice came from only a couple of metrons away, in the front room.

"Father? Why are you sitting here in the dark?" Apollo made his way towards Adama.

"I've been thinking," Adama said. "Lights, one quarter."

The room turned dim, enough for Apollo to see his father in his favorite chair. He sat on the couch opposite him. "Have you come to any conclusions?"

"I'm not sure," Adama sighed. "I think so."

"Are we right?"

"Oh, I think we are. Which means we've been very wrong for almost twenty yahrens."

"He wanted us to be," Apollo pointed out.

"That doesn't change the fact that we were. I thank the Lords of Kobol we were able to behave ourselves well enough we were allowed in her life growing up."

That was so unexpected Apollo found himself unsure what to say.

"I've been thinking," Adama went on, "if Starbuck's right about her age, she's older now than your brother was when he died."

"He probably only made up the day," Apollo said. "I mean, the doctors would have told him how many sectares old she was, even if her mother didn't."

"Yes." Adama was quiet for a few centons, and then said, "I have only one picture of him in uniform. Your mother had his graduation picture; I found it on Caprica." He didn't have to explain that; the last time they'd been to their house was seared into the minds of both.

Apollo thought about it, wondering why he'd never thought about it before, never noticed all his pictures of Zac were of him as a child... "No," he said finally. "I don't have one."

"Your sister has one. I never liked it."

That seemed to be all Adama was going to say, at least for the moment. After a little while, Apollo ventured, "I can't believe he didn't tell us."

"Can't you?" Adama sounded ironical. "I can... Neither of us was very complimentary, were we? Did we sound like we wanted to put Zac in Starbuck's place, with a whore?"

That was like a slap in Apollo's face. Somehow, all he'd really been thinking was, she's Zac's child. She's my niece. She's Father's granddaughter. He hadn't been thinking of her mother at all.

"Would we have been happy, nineteen yahrens ago, looking at that ill-fed, scruffy baby, at her mother, at where her mother lived and what she did, to say, 'yes, Zac was part of that'? I wouldn't have been." He paused as if he were going to say something and then shrugged. "I'm not, to tell you the truth, happy about it now, though I love Zeffie and am very glad she's here."

Apollo thought about it from that angle. He hadn't come to any real conclusion when Adama spoke again.

"I wouldn't have raised her well, either. I'd never have been able to forget what her mother was, and I'd have seen her mother in every bit of youthful high spirits. I did anyway, but she wasn't mine to correct, so I left her alone, biting my words down. I wouldn't have had she been living with me." He sighed. "Starbuck did a fine job with her."

"But," said Apollo, "if he knew she was Zac's—"

"First," his father pointed out, "we don't know that he did. We don't know what she told him. But if he did, he knew us well enough not to tell us. It was a kindness all the way around. Everyone benefitted from it."


"Everyone," he repeated.

"Maybe so," Apollo conceded. "But what do we do now?"


"Father, we can't do nothing."

"Of course we can." He stood up. "Come with me, son. I want to show you something."

Puzzled, Apollo rose and followed him into the corridor, and down to the nearest turbolift. Once they were inside, Adama turned to him and said, "You realize, Apollo, hardly anyone else can possibly guess this?"


"Zac was only on this battlestar for a few days before Cimtar. Not even long enough to have been on a patrol yet, you must remember. Many of those here never even saw him, and those who did? A handful of days after twenty yahrens—no one will think of him."

"Athena," Apollo said.

"If she hasn't already guessed it," Adama nodded, "she will. And Boomer knew him as a boy; he might. Only us four—"

"And Starbuck."

"Yes. If he didn't know, he could easily. Especially since Zac followed him around like a pup, at home and again here," Adama's voice was filled with rueful amusement.

"Yes, he did, didn't he?" Apollo acknowledged that. He knew that Zac had looked up to him, but Starbuck had been... well, Starbuck had been Starbuck, and Zac had always loved him. Enough to give his daughter to him...

"So it's only us," Adama said. The doors of the turbolift hissed open and he walked out.

Apollo followed, startled to see they were outside the Life Center. Adama led the way inside, raising a quieting hand to the medtech on duty and peering into the unit where Starbuck would be, sleeping his sedated sleep and healing.

"There," Adama said, his voice satisfied but sad. "Look at that, Apollo."

Apollo looked in. Starbuck lay quietly, an IV delivering sustenance while a canula helped him breathe. His arm was still heavily bandaged, and the edges of the bruise on his face, emphasizing his pallor, showed around the bandage that still covered his eye and cheekbone. On a chair next to his pod, still wearing her dress uniform, was Zeff, who almost certainly shouldn't have been there. She was holding his hand in hers, and her head was pillowed on his shoulder, her hair spread out on them both. She was sleeping almost as soundly as he.

"Now," asked Adama. "You tell me: whose is she?"

Apollo sighed.

"Yes." Adama nodded. His voice was full of regrets, but his tone was final nonetheless. "She's Starbuck's daughter." He put his hand on Apollo's shoulder. "Son," he said.

Apollo turned to look at him.

"Let's go to the Officers' Club and buy each other some drinks."

Apollo smiled. "Sir," he said, "that sounds like a wonderful idea."

part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4
part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8


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