part five - in progress - parts 1-12 completed


Starbuck watched Apollo leave with mixed emotions. He'd said more than he had intended to, and not just about Sheba... but it had all been true. Adama had probably been right, as he usually was; it had probably upset Apollo to hear that Starbuck had once been in love with him. He hadn't meant to upset him—well, not in that way, anyhow—but maybe it would make him take what Starbuck had said about Sheba more seriously. He wondered if Apollo had been telling him the truth about hoping there was nothing to get on Bojay, considering the mutual antipathy between those two. Maybe he should have told Apollo that Bojay wasn't after Sheba; even if it took Apollo a while to see the truth about her, it wouldn't hurt to...

Starbuck blinked. Mutual antipathy. Same reason? Not the same person, maybe, but...

"Is Sheba why you don't like Apollo?" he'd asked Bojay, and he'd gotten the answer to that question. But the underlying question, why don't you like Apollo, hadn't been addressed. Unless it had. Unless "You don't like her any more than I like him" was the answer. That 'him' with no antecedent that both of them had known who it was... Starbuck's new best friend (his original best friend), his wingmate. Bojay's replacement... Bojay had hung onto that jacket for four yahrens, well after he had to have thought he'd been rejected. It was the one he flew combat in...

Starbuck straightened. He had to find Bojay. Now. Too much time had gone by, too many misapprehensions. Too much unsaid. He'd meant to wait, take it slow, but he couldn't. Not one more centon.

He got as far as the corridor before he remembered: he had no idea where his wingmate was. After a couple centons' indecision, he checked the O Club with no success, and then ducked back into the BOQ. Still no Bojay. Where do you go?

He got on the comm and called the rejuvenation centers, asking if Giles was there (no sense starting any rumors about Robin and himself, especially not now) until he found the right one. "No, don't call him over; I'll come there. Thanks."

He paused in the doorway, looking around. He almost missed them: Giles in civilian clothes was an unusual sight. Starbuck couldn't remember the last time he'd seen the sergeant out of uniform. Of course, dating a flight officer (and if Robin calling him 'adorable' didn't mean this was a date, Starbuck would eat his boots) would be awkward if every time they looked at each other they were reminded of the chasm between their ranks, and the regulations against fraternization, even if those weren't always strictly enforced these days... Starbuck suddenly wondered how Giles and the other enlisted pilots felt about the shuttle pilots like Dietra, Sorrell, Robin, and Brie just waltzing into commissions like that. It wasn't fair, somehow. Starbuck filed the thought away for mentioning to Apollo at some later date and headed in Giles's direction.

He was sitting at one of the gaming tables, his elbows on the table and his chin resting on his interlaced fingers, intently scrutinizing the board. Starbuck glanced at the board himself, but he wasn't aficionado enough to have any idea who was winning, if indeed either of them were yet. Settler was a game slow to unfold, and it bored Starbuck to tears. Athena had gotten exasperated with him when he'd said he couldn't abide a six-centare game. "You play Pyramid for ten, twelve sometimes!" she'd snapped, and his explanation that Pyramid wasn't a ten-centare game, it was ten centares of constantly and rapidly occurring new games hadn't appeased her. Thank all the gods she'd turned him down when he'd been mad enough to propose.

"Can I interrupt a centon?"

Giles looked up, assuming, reasonably, that he was wanted. "What's up?"

"I want to borrow Robin for a couple of centons. I'll bring her right back," Starbuck promised.

Giles shook his head. "She's not mine," he said, turning back to the board.

Starbuck caught the look in her eyes and hoped Giles caught on before she had to hit him over the head and drag him off. Though maybe she liked his not being possessive. She stood up and jerked her head toward the refreshment bar. "Let's go over there," she said. "Want something to drink, Gi?"

"What? Oh, yeah. Thanks."

She grinned at the oblivious sergeant and led Starbuck off. "Two ades," she ordered, and then turned to him. "What do you want, Bucko?"

"Who's the most approachable of the Pegasans?"

She snorted. "Got a decahedral die?" she asked. "None of 'em, really... what do you want to know? Maybe I'll do."

"Well, got any idea where Bojay goes off duty?"

She shook her sleek head. "No. And they don't either, actually. Unless it was a squadron quasi-function, where they basically all went, he disappeared. They used to joke about it; I remember Nokio saying once that Bojay was a new Colonial drone and powered down between shifts."


"You looking for him?" She handed over some scrip as the bartender put two glasses down in front of them.


She shook her head again. "Sorry... Good luck. It's a big battlestar."

"No kidding."

"If it helps," she said, "I think he did the same thing on the Pegasus. I mean, it must be somewhere pretty obscure."

"No shortage of those," Starbuck said morosely.

"Well, cheer up, Bucko," she patted his arm. "He's bound to turn up sooner or later." She picked up the two glasses.

"Robin," he stopped her. "Any chance he's with somebody?"

She put the glasses back down and regarded him seriously for a centon. "I really doubt it," she said. "I asked about him once, 'cause, you must admit, it's just a bit strange to see a guy go for three sectares and never even make a move on anybody. I asked if he'd left someone on the Pegasus. Nokio told me not to waste my time. Seems like he and Sheba were hot and heavy for a while, and then she dumped him, and he's been Celibate of the Sectare ever since. And since she's after Apollo now—" She shrugged and patted his arm again. "I don't know, Bucko; you may be better off waiting for him to reappear."

Wait for him to come back to the BOQ in the wee hours, when trying to talk to him would have everyone in Blue who was there and half of Green coming down on them? Starbuck didn't think so. "Nah," he said, "I'll run him down. It may be a big battlestar, but it's finite."

"Take a lunch," she advised him, picking up the glasses again and heading back toward the table where Giles was.

Starbuck watched her settle back into her chair and survey the board. Left someone on the Pegasus: for some reason, that possibility hadn't even occurred to him. But at least he was sure Bojay wasn't off somewhere mooning over Sheba. He didn't know what he was doing, any more than he knew where he was, but he was sure that wasn't it. He blew out a gusty breath and went into the hall, where he stood and looked both ways indecisively. Bo, where are you?

BOQ, O Club... he could check the shuttles, but somehow he doubted Bojay had left the battlestar. He could call the RCs and ICs but he had the feeling Robin was right: it was someplace obscure. Someplace he couldn't be found. Boj had always had a tendency to go to ground... Think, Bucko. You know this man (used to.)(Do, damnit.). Where would he go? If you were Bojay, where would you be?

He had to laugh: he'd suddenly remembered Boxey telling Apollo, in all seriousness, that if things were always in the last place he looked, he should just think of where he was going to look last and look there first instead. Apollo, already running late for dinner with Adama, Athena, and Sheba, had just looked at his son and said, with great patience, "Thank you for that brilliant suggestion, Boxey. Starbuck, feel free to strangle him and hide the body somewhere tonight."

Starbuck, fairly convinced that Boxey had hidden Apollo's Star of Kobol because he didn't want his father going to dinner with Sheba, had regretted he wouldn't have the time to work it in. But now he needed to follow that suggestion. Think of where was the least likely place, the deepest hole, so to speak...

And then, quite suddenly, he knew. Knew beyond any doubt on one level, though on most of them he couldn't believe it. Trusting his gut, he headed for Rejuv Center 6, smallest and least used, the one with the storage closet for rounders equipment, a game played on a field so large they couldn't do it without a planet (or reasonable equivalent). The closet he and Bo had always hidden out in when they wanted to be private in the middle of the battlestar. The closet he hadn't even looked in since...

And while he walked corridors, rather quickly, and stood on turbolifts, rather impatiently, he thought about what Robin had said. It was a reasonable reaction. It hadn't been his, but then they'd been reacting to different things. He'd thought either he hadn't been enough to hold Bojay, or that he'd scared him off; either way, Bojay had run from him, he'd thought, and so he'd gone slightly crazy looking for someone who wouldn't. Not expecting to find them, of course, especially after finding out that his longest-term lover wasn't serious from the beginning and hadn't thought he was. And of course, the more people he tried, the more he got a reputation which meant he'd fail... And Bojay? He'd been hurt differently. He'd offered love and been slapped down so hard he'd never tried it again.

Starbuck punched the level button several times. That hurt. He hadn't meant to do that to Bo, but he had, and it hurt to think about it. Even if Bojay didn't still want him (but he did, he did, he had to: the jacket, Apollo, even disappearing again today after that talk last night) Starbuck had to set him straight about that. He couldn't let him go on one unnecessary centon longer.

No matter what happened.

He halted in front of the closet. "Bojay? You in there?"

After a short pause he answered. "If I say no, will you take the hint?"

"I'm very bad at hints."

Another pause. "Then I guess I am."

Starbuck opened the door and went in, pulling it shut behind him. Bojay was sitting on the floor—on a rounders pad, actually—one knee bent and a book resting on it. He always could read; Starbuck couldn't have counted the evenings they'd spent Bojay reading and him playing solitaire... He was wearing a blue-grey shirt and the glance he shot at Starbuck before ignoring his presence had come from eyes turned almost the same color. Starbuck had nearly forgotten how fascinating that could be since the uniform kept them the same pale brown all the time. He'd always had, he remembered now, the desire to take Boj to a fabric store and just drape him in swatches, see how many distinct shades they could turn...

Back to the business at hand, he reminded himself and sat down a handbreadth away from Bojay's feet, stretching his legs out to the wall the other pilot was leaning against. Bojay had a bottle next to him on the other side, about a third empty. The cap was still on it and Starbuck hoped he hadn't been drinking yet. Drinking alone hadn't been one of his vices before, but then being alone hadn't been one of his pastimes, either.

Bojay had gone back to his book, turning a page as Starbuck crossed his ankles. He was definitely playing the There-is-no-Starbuck game. Playing it well, too, Starbuck admired. He was momentarily tempted to see how long the other could keep it up, but he remembered all too well how long that might be. Sure, when it really counted he could outstay anyone, even Bojay, as witness the end of the silent pickets, but he didn't have four and a half days now. Of course, he'd come down here with no clear idea what to say—it had all depended on what he found, after all—so now he just opened his mouth and listened to what his subconscious thought was a good opening gambit.

"Like old times, isn't it?"

Bojay's jaw clenched. For several microns, though, it looked like he might be going to stay silent. Then he said, "You keep saying that. No. It's not."

"You keep saying that," Starbuck rejoined.

"One of us isn't learning," he said pointedly.

"So, why not? I mean, here we are."

Bojay paused again, and then, deliberately, pulled his bookmark from the back of the book and put it in place, laying the book down on the floor by the bottle. He drew up his other knee and rested his forearms on them, and gave Starbuck a level look out of stormy eyes. "Because nothing important is the same. Only a few superficial things. We didn't come here. I did, and then you did. I don't even know why. I don't understand you any more."


"Please, Starbuck. Leave me alone. Things are hard enough—" He bit down on the end of that sentence.

But he'd said enough to guarantee that Starbuck wasn't leaving him alone in any sense of the phrase. Those last four words had set the fizz to bubbling inside him again, and he had to remind himself to move carefully.

Before he could think of his next line, Bojay was continuing, his voice strained. "Look, Starbuck. Just let go. The first time, you came here and you didn't know anybody, and Hafez stuck us together and for then it worked out. But we've both changed... everything has."

"Not that much."

Bojay leaned his head on his wrists for a minute, saying, so softly Starbuck almost couldn't hear him, "O atgof atgas." It wasn't a phrase Starbuck knew the meaning of, but Boj's voice was full of pain. Then he raised his head and said, "Okay, listen. I'll tell you how it is, then..." He blew out a breath. "How I see it. When I came back, it was pretty obvious. You've got a whole new life now, and it's full. You've got a girlfriend, a real stunner, and everyone says you're serious. You had a wingmate, a good pilot and the Strike Captain, and he's messing with Silver Spar and I guess figured you and me had been together before, but you want him back. Gods know a blind man could see he wants you back. 'Cause he's your best friend. You've got a lot of friends now, but he's the one you've known for a dozen yahrens. You were always close to him, and now... Starbuck, you even baby-sit his kid. You and a kid... the notion would have made a felix laugh once. Your life is full. There's no room in it for me. That's why it's not like old times and never will be like old times, and you don't have to keep coming around. I'm okay, and the less you mess with me the better I'll be. Okay? I don't even know why, when—" Once again he bit off the end of a sentence; this time he went on quickly. "I'm not hanging around with Silver Spar any; you can rest easy there. Go back to Apollo. Put me with that guy he flies with, your other friend. I won't bother him if he doesn't bother me. Just... Leave me alone, can't you?"

"I don't think so," Starbuck said gently.

"Why the frack not?" Bojay asked, sounding suddenly weary.

"Because there are some things that you've got wrong. A lot of important things. You can't help it, it's not your fault. Some of it's sorta mine, but... look, Boj," he said as the other man started shaking his head, "just listen to me. I learned things today, things I didn't know, things that, that change everything. But even before that I was learning things about myself I hadn't admitted before. Look, just listen. Please?"

"Will you go away after?"

Starbuck stuck his thumbs between his fingers for good luck and wished he could do the same with his toes, which he couldn't with his shoes on. "Yes," he said, "if you still want me to." Though I'm not saying for how long.

Bojay sighed and leaned back against the wall. "So. How is it, then? What do I know that's not so?"

Starbuck remembered hearing that from Bojay yahrens ago... it's not what you don't know that kills you, Bucko, it's what you do know that's not so. Never had that been more true. He took a deep breath, ordering his thoughts, deciding what to attack first. "Okay. I'll tell you how it is. I don't have a girlfriend. I broke up with her, or no. That's too definite. We just slid apart. But we're not seeing each other any more. We weren't good for each other." He took another deep breath. If this was going to work, he was going to have to say it all. "She left. Then she came back. Only she didn't, really. He left her, and she didn't have anyplace to go but me. But she was the only one who ever came back, and I let that blind me for a while to all the reasons she'd left in the first place, all the reasons it was a good thing. Like, she didn't trust me. She thought I would terminate someone. Not that I had, I mean she did and that was bad enough, but that I would if I got the chance."

"Fool," Bojay said involuntarily and then clenched his jaw.

"So," Starbuck continued, "no girlfriend. And I asked for you to be my wingmate, it wasn't Apollo's idea. Yes, we're friends but... we were never like us. Never. I missed you."

Surprise flared in Bojay's eyes. It was followed by hope that was put down so violently it made Starbuck ache to see it. But the other man didn't say anything.

Starbuck swallowed and continued. "I did. It damn near killed me when I heard about Molecay, and that was after two yahrens of thinking you'd run."

Bojay's eyes went wide. The hope pushed its way up to peer over the stone wall. He still didn't say anything.

Nonetheless, Starbuck felt the atmosphere change. "See, like I said last night," he said, "Hafez told me you asked to go. Tigh told him so. I thought you'd changed your mind, or got frightened off. That I wasn't enough to make you risk anything—"

"O gods," Bojay said breathlessly, hope rampant in his eyes. "O gods. Nothing could be wronger. You were enough to make me risk everything."

"I thought you'd run," Starbuck said again. "I thought you'd left, and I," he swallowed, "I pretended like I didn't care. So I... abandoned you."

"You didn't mean to, Buck," Bojay said intensely. "You didn't mean to."

"But I did, didn't I? I never answered your letter. I never got in touch with you. I made you think I was glad you were gone."

Old pain crossed Bojay's eyes. Deep pain. He hadn't spent the last four yahrens not thinking about Starbuck, pretending he didn't care. That was obvious.

"I wasn't," Starbuck said. "Gods, please believe me, Bo. I wasn't. It hurt. It hurt so bad I couldn't deal with it. I didn't."

Bojay moved his hand onto Starbuck's knee, tentatively at first, and then, when Starbuck didn't punch him, he turned the touch into a caress, rubbing Starbuck's calf gently. "I'm so sorry, Buck," he said, incredibly, intensely. "I should have known something was wrong. I should have written again. I should have been clearer the first time, I don't remember exactly what I said—"

"I do. Every word. It's not your fault; how could you suspect I'd be lied to like that?"

"You memorized my letter?"

Starbuck smiled at him. "You kept my jacket?" He reached forward and caught Bojay's hand when it touched his knee again and pulled himself forward on the floor of the closet until his own knees were bent and they were sitting as close as, as, as two very close things. His mind wasn't working well, all hazed like it had been when Apollo had just driven him over the edge into temporary loss of reason, and all from just a touch. Actual sex might drive him mad.

Or save him.

"You're right," he said, hearing his voice gone husky, "it's not like old times. And a lot has happened. A lot has changed... but I don't want old times. Not really. I'd settle for that... but I don't want it."

Bojay's hand had turned in his and was clasping it so tightly he might well have bruises. "What do you want, then?" he asked in a voice as roughened as Starbuck's own.

"I want to say what I'd have said if Bean hadn't shown up. If I'd had the chance to grab your tunic and haul you into that washroom... if you hadn't stunned me into silence by loving me."

"I think that's what scared me the most," Bojay said softly, a slight laugh in his voice. "You do talk a lot."

"Bo," Starbuck moistened his lips, saw desire drown the pain in Bojay's eyes. "I don't want to talk right now after all."

"No," Bojay agreed. "Talk later."

"Yes." Starbuck turned, getting his knees underneath him, rising and leaning forward. "Just one thing..."

Bojay's free hand was burying itself in Starbuck's hair, pulling him closer. "Clebryn," he said fondly; Starbuck remembered that one: chatterbox...

"Just this: there's plenty of room for you in my life."

He caught Bo's sigh in his lips.

Their first kiss was everything he'd ever wanted from a kiss. Ever since Apollo had seduced him on the practice court, he'd realized he loved sex with men at least as much as with women. Maybe more. The differences excited him: the strength, the drive and the demands and even the angularity of the body under his, the taste of come, the feel of a cock, the size of hands... And this was Bojay. This taste in his mouth, this dream he hadn't admitted to now in his hands—frack in his hands, with its hands all over him. Past and present and future... forever, that's what this was. The forever he'd been searching for all his life. He remembered Bojay telling him once that Cambran had two words for 'ever', one for past and one for future. Standard, like Caprican, only had one, and that was how he felt: past and future swirling together into one indistinguishable, indispensable now and forever...

He pulled away just enough to speak. "Let's go someplace else."

"What?" Bojay said, sounding like he thought Starbuck had lost his mind.

"Let's go someplace else. I'm not twenty-six anymore. A closet's not my preferred location."

Bojay seemed reluctant to move, or at least reluctant to stand up.

"Come on—you're taller than I am. And older." And I don't want your first time—our first time—to be in a closet.

He started to stand up but Bojay clenched his fingers in his shirt and pulled him back. "Starbuck, Starbuck, Starbuck," he said. "Where are we going to go?"

"Oh." Where indeed? Neither of them had a room, even with a roommate they could temporarily lock out. The men's section of the BOQ barracks where they were quartered had seventy-odd occupants, a quarter of whom were there at any given moment. Starbuck hesitated.

"And I am not," Bojay added, "in the mood to want to wait a centare—" he glanced at Starbuck's chrono "—and forty-some centons just to get on a shuttle to the Star."

"No," Starbuck agreed hastily; there were a lot of reasons that was a bad idea, not least of which was that he didn't want Bojay to stop what he was doing right now for a single centon, let alone a hundred and forty... not counting the trip... Gods. He threaded his fingers through Bo's short brown hair, not nondescript, fine, silky, so good to touch, and admitted to himself, just for the moment, that they were going to have to talk. A lot. It wasn't any use pretending this was going to set everything right. Just the important things. But later. After.

He tried to think, which wasn't easy. But there really wasn't anyplace else. The Celestial Dome, maybe, but that was a pain to get to and really no more comfortable than here, with the added ever-present risk of somebody (Apollo) showing up. Other holes in the wall. No actual room, with a bed or a couch or even a carpet. When Bojay lay back, tugging Starbuck down on top of him, he went eagerly. "Here's good," he said, finding Bojay's mouth again for a deep and hungry kiss. "Here's good."

Bojay made a wordless sound of agreement, his hands dragging Starbuck's shirt off his shoulders. Starbuck let go long enough to shake free of the garment and toss it aside. He'd undone the blue-grey shirt already, and now he pushed it away, baring Bojay's torso to his mouth.

There were new scars there, scars to learn and ask about later, and bruises from the fight the night before, including a rather spectacular one on his ribcage. That had to have hurt. Starbuck skirted it with his caresses and licked Bojay's belly, earning himself moans of pleasure. He scrambled over an outstretched, slightly bent leg, and reached for Bojay's waistband. Another thing he liked about men: how quickly you could get to the main event, if you were so disposed. Sure, sometimes you wanted to take a lot of time, but sometimes you didn't. With women you always had to, if you cared. But a hand brushed over Bojay's cock said he didn't need to, and he didn't want to. Impatience was eating him up, and making him want to—

Bojay's hand suddenly tightened on the back of his head. "Buck," he caught Starbuck's chin and raised his head until their eyes met, "Buck—are you sure?"

It wasn't the usual reading of the question, the one he ought to be asking if it was going to be asked, given their relative experience. But Starbuck understood it at once, as if the old Angelic telepathy had come back. Are you sure you mean it? If we go on and you don't, it'll kill me.

He swallowed, searching his memory for words he hadn't heard in more than four yahrens. "Mor sicr â sicr," he said, as sure as sure, and then he changed it, though he didn't know the Cambran for it. "No, surer than sure, Bo. Surer than sure." He leaned forward and kissed the other man gently. "I love you. I have for yahrens. I always will."

Those pale brown eyes cleared, and then incandesced, and Bojay moved his hand back into Starbuck's hair. "And I love you," he said. And kissed him. Anything but gently.

Starbuck heard himself almost growling as they thrust against each other, tongues and cocks both. He revelled in the hardness against him and the sudden aggression, the raw desire he felt in himself and sensed in Bojay. Tangling hands and legs as they did, they managed to scramble out of their trousers without ever really letting go of each other, and four yahrens of denied, frustrated, sublimated, and repudiated passion was released in frenzy. Bojay's strong hold muffled Starbuck's cry against his shoulder, but his own rang in Starbuck's ear like a temple bell.

And then, passion spent, they lay, arms and legs wrapped around each other, silent and contented. Starbuck felt the pulse in Bo's throat as it slowed to resting, felt his own beating in time. Bojay rubbed his hand over Starbuck's back in soothing circles. At this moment, they were all there was in the universe, and Starbuck wished it could stay that way. At least they still had over fifty centares of break left... He stirred, catching hold of the hand draped over his shoulder and kissing its palm. "Now," he said, "we should go someplace else."

"Where?" Bojay asked.

"Well, I expect we've still got plenty of time to make that shuttle." Now it was he who turned the other man's wrist to look at his chrono. "Yep. More than a centare."

"A room on the Star for the rest of the day?" Bojay sounded a bit doubtful.

"The rest of the day?" Starbuck repeated. "Two nights. We're on break."

Bojay's hand stilled for a moment, and then resumed its stroking. "We can do that? Go away?"

Starbuck wasn't sure what that tone meant. A tinge of disapproval, more surprise, anticipation... Probably Cain would have had a hissy fit. But Boj didn't sound like he was thinking about saying no. "Sure. We tell 'em how to get in touch. It's not like the Star is any huge distance away."

Bojay sighed, his chest rising and falling comfortably under Starbuck's head. "Sounds like a plan to me, Buck."

"Only problem is, we do have to move."

Bojay chuckled. "Well, now that you mention it, my back is a bit cramped."

"Hah. Four centimetrons is as good as a metric," Starbuck teased.

"Shorty," Bojay rejoined.

Like old times. Starbuck smiled. Only better.

He sat up and reached for his trousers, and then paused. Before he could decide what to do Bojay, who had also sat up but had reached for the second shelf behind him, tossed a towel at him. "Forethoughty," he said.

"Providential," said Bojay. "There are a couple of stacks of 'em. Why, I don't know." He chucked the towel he'd used into the corner and began pulling on his own trousers.

"You don't use them in rounders?" Starbuck asked, not that he really cared.

"No." Bojay looked up. "You never played?"

He shrugged. Not only had organized sports not been his thing until he'd been introduced to triad, but rounders was one of those extremely organized sports, lots of required practices and teamwork and centares of tedium... not to mention the fact that at Umbra-Ten all organized sports were simultaneously a privilege and a control, and Starbuck had rarely earned the former and always resisted the latter. Strenuously. "I've seen it." He tried to remember if rounders had ever come up between them before and couldn't, unless you counted gambling on games of course, which probably meant Bojay hadn't been that fanatic himself. "What position were you?" he asked, picking up his trousers.

"Center field." Bojay's shirt had never actually come off and he buttoned it up before looking at Starbuck and adding, "Like you care."

Starbuck had to laugh. "True. I haven't watched it since I saw Zac play for his prep school."

"I haven't played it in about that long," Bojay admitted. "Longer." He paused, his eyes darkening again. Without saying anything he reached for his shoes.

Starbuck didn't wonder; he recognized that look. He saw it enough; everyone did. Hades, he knew he wore it on occasion. Bo had probably played on Pisco. Dead Pisco, full of dead friends and family. There wasn't anything to say, so he didn't, just pulled his shirt on, picked up his jacket, and stood up.

After a moment Bojay joined him, picking up his book and bottle in one hand and snagging his jacket by the collar with the other. It was his uniform jacket, Starbuck noticed; though there were no rank pins on it the holes were there. He was suddenly aware that at the top of the Galactica's circular patch were two little, almost invisible lines of holes: the traces of the Pegasus's shield on the leather... He hid from that thought by picking up the towels and saying, "I'll chuck these in the laundry chute back at the barracks before we leave."

"You're sure taking off like that is okay? I mean," Bojay clarified, "are we going to start the next shift by getting yelled at? That's one bit of old times I'm not missing."

Starbuck snickered as he unlocked the door. "Actually, Apollo's worse than Hafez ever dreamed about being. Mostly because he has no sense of proportion. He can't get a little mad... and he hasn't got Hafez's vocabulary."

"Who does?"

Starbuck laughed. "Your point. But this is perfectly legit. Trust me."

"I guess I have to," Bojay replied, shutting the RC's door behind them. His tone was enigmatic and Starbuck couldn't see his expression.

They walked down the hall in silence. It wasn't quite like the old companionable silences, but it wasn't like the more recent strained ones, either. Starbuck wasn't at all sure it was a good thing, but he couldn't think of anything to say. Silence was probably best at this point: the wrong thing said might scare Bojay away. Wait till the Star.

Wait till next shift.

In the BOQ he chucked the towels in with his laundry and then pulled out his old carryall. He stuck a change of clothing into it and then paused, wondering if they might go someplace for dinner or just stay in... He voted for not leaving the room till day after tomorrow, but Bojay might want to get out, stretch his legs... he had in the past.

"Huh," Bojay said, distracting him from wondering if he should pack for eating out or not.


"I need to borrow a bag. Know someone who might?"

Starbuck shook his head. "Just use this one," he said. "We're only gonna be gone two days, how much can we need? And we don't have time to hunt somebody up."

Bojay shrugged and dropped a shirt and pair of trousers in on top of Starbuck's, and then followed that with his book. Starbuck blinked at him in surprise and Bojay grinned, shook his head, and reached into Starbuck's locker over his shoulder for a deck of cards. "I don't know about you," he said, "but I'm too old not to need something else to do. And if you're not, I don't want to know it."

Starbuck had to grin. "Much as I hate to admit it, and I don't very often, I too am slowing down just the least little bit." He took the cards and tucked them into the bag, and then added toiletries and some lube, the latter just in case. After all, he reflected as he watched his wingmate rummage around in his locker, it had taken him a couple of sectons to be ready to try that. He enjoyed the hell out of it now, but there was no sense in rushing things. Nothing wrong with waiting... or, he sighed softly as Bojay bent over to pick up something he'd knocked off the top shelf, with being prepared. Just in case. He grinned to himself and waited for Bojay's last items. Once they were in, he zipped up the carryall and checked his supply of cubits. He'd won enough last night to spend this break in style, even without Bojay kicking in any. "Ready? Let's go."

They got to the shuttle bay with ten centons to spare. While they waited, leaning against the wall with the carryall on the floor between them, Starbuck heard his name called. He turned to see Cassie gesturing at him. "Be right back."

"Don't miss it."

Starbuck was two steps away before the tone registered. He stopped and turned. "I'm not even tempted," he said.

The tension went out of Bojay's shoulders. Starbuck smiled at him and went to talk to Cassie.

"Are you going to the Senior Ship?" she asked without preamble.

"The—Why would I be going there?" he asked, pretending he didn't know.

"Starbuck, you're going to have to talk to him sooner or later."

"You want us to talk, tell him to come to me. He knows where I am. He knows who I am," he added bitterly.

"Starbuck," she remonstrated.

"No. I'm not going there. Probably ever and certainly not now. I'm going on break. I'm going to have a good time."

Her lapis-colored eyes widened. "With him?"

He bit back his new litany—Bojay's all right—and said, "Yes. With him."

"Well," she said after a moment. "Don't get into trouble, Starbuck."

"Oh, I don't intend to," he assured her.

"You never do," she said.

The sound of the shuttle arriving kept him from having to answer that. "I've got to go, Cass."

He left before she could say anything else and rejoined Bojay, who'd picked up the carryall and was waiting for him. "Let's go."

"What did she want?"

"Nothing important. Really," he said to the skeptical look he got. "Let's go."

Starbuck called the Officer of the Day at the Wing from a public comm in the Rising Star's lobby to tell him where they were and then headed back to the room. It was a nice room, an expensive room: it even had a window.

Bojay was sitting on the ledge of the window when Starbuck came in, looking out at the stars. He turned his head just enough to see who it was, giving Starbuck a good look at his admirable profile. At all of him, really, the long legs stretched out to brace against the other side of the window, the lean angular body, the strong hand resting on his knee... Starbuck felt his body telling him that waiting was vastly overrated.

He walked across the room and leaned against the wall beside Bojay, looking out the window over his head. "Whatcha lookin' at?"

His wingmate was quiet for a centon, and then, just as Starbuck was about to prod him, answered, "Time."

Okaaay. Starbuck had no idea what that meant, so he just made a sort of all-purpose sound of acceptance.

Bojay smiled a little. "Some of those stars aren't even there anymore. It's like looking into the past."

"Ah. Dare I say 'old times'?"

"I expect you dare pretty much anything," Bojay grinned. Then he sobered. "But don't." Before Starbuck could respond, he'd swung his feet to the floor, stood up, and looked into Starbuck's eyes from a handbreadth away. "Let's just concentrate on now."

Starbuck was more than willing to oblige. This kiss was even better than the first one, knowledge replacing conjecture and the first fingers of familiarity reaching to hold them as closely as they held each other. His hands found their way to Bojay's head, his fingers in the silky brown hair, just slightly longer than it had been yahrens ago, and he felt strong arms tight around him. But despite how good it was, Starbuck kept thinking how much better it would be in the huge bed they'd paid so much for. After only a few centons he pulled away, catching Bojay's hand and tugging him towards the bed. Not, he was gratified to see, that much pulling was needed.

The edge of the bed caught him on the thighs and he fell backwards, bringing the other man with him. He used the momentum to roll over on top again. Bojay didn't seem to mind; he was busy unfastening Starbuck's shirt. Starbuck shook loose of the garment and tossed it to the floor and then found that Bojay had taken advantage of his distraction to get the leverage needed to end up on top. Two can play at that game, Starbuck thought, but as Bojay licked and nipped his way from throat to nipple Starbuck let him win for the moment despite his plans.

"Arglwyddi," Bojay murmured against Starbuck's throat, "ti'n hardd iawn. So beautiful..."

Starbuck could hardly remember a single Cambran word from Bojay since he'd come over from the Pegasus. Until today. He remembered the first time his wingmate had dropped into his native tongue, on furlon after the Sarabahandran campaign, remembered the way he'd frozen after, waiting for ridicule, remembered the way the occasional Cambran word had become another show of affection between them... Even trying to push him away earlier today Bojay had been speaking Cambran, saying the opposite of what he was trying to say...

Starbuck recovered the initiative with a quick motion, yanking Bojay's shirt, still buttoned, over his head and throwing it onto the floor and then rolling them over once more. As he crouched over his lover, he froze momentarily, his eyes on Bojay's left arm. Earlier, Bojay's shirt had never come off, just been pushed out of the way. The scars on his chest and shoulder, up over his collarbone, those Starbuck had seen. This... He blinked and almost touched it. Not a scar, exactly. Not a tattoo. More like a, a burn: a winged sword in a shield high on the arm.


He looked over and realized he'd missed the transition of smokey blue to eyes the color of an old ambrosa and now slightly worried.

"Relic of my misspent youth," Bojay said, his tone striving to be as light as the words.

Not exactly. Misspent, probably, and relic Starbuck devoutly hoped. But not youth. It hadn't been there before he'd been transferred. But Starbuck didn't intend to go into that now, though the Pegasus insignia on Bojay's arm (if nowhere else) was a sharp and inescapable reminder that they had a lot to talk about. Fight about, probably. Just not now. Absolutely not now...

So he kissed Bojay's shoulder and licked his way down the lean torso, finding and cataloging the right spots to make the other man forget everything else, lingering on them. The rest of their clothes came off more slowly this time, with caresses. Starbuck had never seen anything in his life more beautiful than Bojay at that moment, ardent and aroused and wanting him so much. He'd seen him naked before, many times, but never since he'd woken to the knowledge that had eaten at him for the last four and a half yahrens, never since he'd been in love. There were scars, a lot of scars for a Viper pilot, but somehow they weren't flaws. They were a sign, proof that they'd both cheated Death to come to now, to this moment. It was familiar and new and exciting, and the knowledge that he didn't have to hide his own desire, didn't have to keep his hands off...

Bojay wasn't using any language at all, moaning with desire as he pushed against Starbuck's hand, seeking release. With a moan of his own, Starbuck took the rampant cock into his mouth. Bojay's hands tangled in his hair as he thrust; Starbuck caught his right hand with his own, holding tight with fingers interlaced. When Bojay came, with another cry, his hand convulsed on Starbuck's with a fierce pain that broke Starbuck's grip. But he didn't let go, just slid upwards to lie with his face on Bojay's shoulder as he took his own throbbing cock in their joined hands. After a moment, as his lover recovered, he felt Bojay's hand take over setting the tempo for him, and his other hand turn Starbuck's face to his for a kiss that went straight to his groin and brought him to a climax like he'd never felt before. With anyone.

He wasn't sure how long they lay there before Bojay finally moved, reaching for the towel he'd evidently put on the table by the bed. Starbuck lay with his eyes closed, sighing with contentment, as Bojay wiped him down, and then protested equally nonverbally when the other man tried to get him to sit up. "Come on," Bojay cajoled, "why don't we actually get in the bed?"

There was a reason, Starbuck knew. Right. "Because I'd have to move," he said.

Bojay laughed. "Still lazy," he said. But he stopped trying to get him to move and instead just pulled the bedclothes from underneath him and back over both of them.

Starbuck found the energy to move after all and wrapped his arms around Bojay. After a moment he realized he had a scar under his cheek—the one that looked like a blaster shot. Viper pilots didn't get shot up often, or anything else for that matter; generally anything that penetrated the fighter left the pilot dead just from that. Bojay had gotten hurt a lot. Three scars... He knew about the scar on Bojay's thigh: Gamoray.


He hadn't seen Bojay get shot. They'd heard it, and Sheba—who'd been the one to say they shouldn't take a medtech because they wouldn't have time to stop for the wounded—had taken off like a shot, with Apollo, half-smitten already, right behind her and Cassie. Starbuck and Boomer had gone and done the mission. And he'd pretended that the mission had been what he'd been thinking about, when really he'd just been on autopilot. The emotional mess compounded of Apollo and Cassie and Cain and Sheba and Bojay, Bojay hurt or dead—he hadn't been able to face it. But he'd sat in the shuttle on the way back to the Pegasus with his arm oh-so-casually draped over the seatback and his fingers just touching Bojay's hair...

Gamoray hadn't helped him sort out his feelings, hadn't done anything but make him hide again. But at least he knew that scar, though he hadn't seen it before. This one, the other... He needed to know. "Where'd you get this?" he asked.

"The vacation palace of the Delphian Imperator," Bojay answered, the hint of laughter in his voice.

"Classy place to get shot," Starbuck said. "He have a daughter or something?"

"No. A Cylon problem."

"Ouch. And this?" He traced his fingers lightly along the length of the other one.

"You know those rifles Cylons carry?"

"I've been privileged to see them up close, yeah."

"The bayonets work."

"Ouch again," Starbuck winced. "You have been doing ground combat, haven't you?"

"We lost our infantry squads," Bojay said, and yawned.

Not hard to imagine, two yahrens behind the lines. The Galactica's infantry complement was way lower than it should be, and Tigh didn't scruple to throw cross-trained pilots at difficult missions. As Starbuck was all too well aware.

His hand was stroking the shoulder under his head, and Bojay yawned again. Starbuck felt himself drifting off as well. He made an effort and said, "Love you..." and felt Bojay's arm tighten around his shoulder.

"Me, too."

And then he fell asleep.

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