note: quotes are from The Book of Common Prayer, 1928 edition, except Apollo's vow which is from the 1662 edition
If any of you know cause, or just impediment, why these two Persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it.
Starbuck sat on his bunk and looked at his locker, regarding the dress uniform hanging on the open door, waiting for him to put it on. He knew he needed to get started if he wasn't going to be late, and he shouldn'tcouldn'tbe late, he was the best man. But that knowledge wasn't enough to make him move.
"Hey!" Giles came in, stopping abruptly. "Aren't you ready yet?"
"Does it look like I am?"
"It doesn't. You'd better hurry up."
Starbuck sighed. "I suppose so."
Giles looked at him carefully, and then sighed himself and sat down on the bunk. "What's up? You don't approve of the marriage? Leaving out that you should have refused to be the best man, I guess you could always speak out and say you know a cause or just impediment, assuming you do..."
"Does anybody actually ever do that?" Starbuck asked with faint curiosity.
"You mean except in vids? No, I don't think so... you could be the first," he offered.
Starbuck shook his head. "No... it's not this wedding."
"No? Whose?" Giles asked; no beating around bushes for him.
"Yours?" The russet-haired pilot was shocked. "You're getting married?"
After a moment's silence, Giles reached over and gripped Starbuck's bare shoulder supportively. "I'm sorry, man," he said sincerely. "But speaking of 'causes and just impediments'..."
"I know," Starbuck said. Marriage was between a man and a woman, or, if you were Piscan and a member of the protected Aldebarean Way, between a man and two women, though he wasn't sure if there were any Aldebareans in the Fleet, them being so anti-tech... He sighed. Two men couldn't be married. Period.
"I wish there was some way," Giles said.
"I know," Starbuck repeated. "Thanks, Giles." When he and Apollo had decided to come out to Blue Squadron, five sectares after they'd realized that what had started between them shortly after Apollo had died at the hands of Iblis was the real thing, they'd done it out of a sense of fairness. Apollo had been a bit surprised to discover that most of the squadron had had them pegged, and that they all figured there was no way Starbuck was going to get any preferential treatment out of it. Starbuck had known they'd all marked down the way Adama and Apollo carried themselves and extrapolatedcorrectlyfrom that. What neither of them had expected was that the squadron, regardless of their personal beliefs, were rock-solid behind them. The Destruction and its aftermath had made everyone understand the need to grab what you could of joy... Starbuck sighed again. "I just want to be married to him. Silly, isn't it?"
Giles shrugged. "I don't know. I don't know if it's silly or reasonable or what. What I do know is, you don't have time to be moping about it now; if you spoil her wedding, Deitra will kill you. Slowly and painfully. Stand around the reception and brood if you like, but right now you'd better get moving."
"You're right." Starbuck shook his head to clear it of all the unprofitable longings and got to his feet. "You're very right." He started to dress.
After the wedding, Giles got himself a glass of "the good punch" from Jolly, who was manning the refreshments, and drifted over to stand next to Boomer. "What are you looking at?" he asked for openers.
"Them," said Boomer, gesturing with his glass. "They look good together."
Giles had to agree. Some six sectares ago, Deitra had walked into the O Club with her target acquisition system on, and locked onto Bojay. He, still under the impression that he had a thing for Sheba, hadn't stood a chance. He'd never known what hit him, and from the look on his face as he danced with his new bride, he didn't care one damn if he ever figured it out. He was in dress uniform but Deitra had opted out of that, as a woman would. As a woman who looked like her, who had a friend like Cassie, who could lend her a dress like that, ought to be required to by law, Giles thought. White and off the shoulder and flowing like water in low-grav around her as she danced... Damn, it was enough to make you want to get Sealed yourself.
Speaking of which... "Hey, Boomer. You notice Starbuck today?"
"Not being you," Boomer said, "no. I didn't especially notice him."
Giles ignored that jibe and said, "He's depressed."
Boomer instantly sobered up, looking around the room until he spotted Starbuck, who was standing next to the punchbowl staring across the room at Apollo, who was talking to his sister. Boomer closed his eyes for a minute. "Oh-oh," he said softly. "Trouble in paradise?"
Giles shook his head. "Not like that," he said, grinning as Boomer relaxed. The one down side to the two pilots being in love was that Apollo was the captain, and he could be a real bastard when he was unhappy. Half the squadron was terrified of what they'd be subjected to whennot ifStarbuck moved on. "Anyway," he went on, "I said Starbuck is depressed. Unless you're implying that Athena is a depressing woman, which is better than implying the Adamans are into incest, I suppose"
"Giles, would you shut up?" Boomer hissed at him. "I don't know which of those suggestions would get me killed quickest and I don't want to find out." He glared at the shorter man until he'd finished laughing, and then asked, icily, "Depressed about what?"
Giles said, "So, don't laugh, but he wants to get married."
Boomer stared at him in shock for a centon or two, and then said, "Well, he can't."
"He knows it. That's why he's depressed."
"Starbuck wants to... that's just too weird."
"I think it's sad. I mean, honestly, Boomer, look at Barton, he's dating Briea sergeant and a lieutenant, and nobody blinks. Everybody dances at the wedding of a couple of lieutenants, and if Apollo had fallen the other way and ended up with Sheba, the party would have gone on for days. But they can't get married because of some stupid rule? It's sad."
"I never figured you for a leftist radical," Boomer said. "Marriage is"
"I know. 'This man and this woman' and all that. But, hell, Boomer, marriage is about love, isn't it? It's about commitment and forever and all that stuff. Isn't it? So what does it matter what sex they are?"
"Well, I agree with you," Boomer said, "but it's not legal."
"Well, it pisses me off." Giles glared at the oblivious priestess on the other side of the room. "I mean, you think the captain doesn't want to lock Starbuck down? You think Bucko doesn't want to belong? It's cruel."
Boomer put his hand on Giles's arm. "Calm down, buddy. I agree, but what can we do?"
Giles took a deep breath. "Nothing, I guess. It just gets me. I mean it; he's depressed."
Boomer looked thoughtful. "I hadn't really given it much thought," he admitted, "but you're right. We all kid about what's going to happen when Starbuck gets tired of it, but it's been a yahren already"
"and he's not. But he gets jumpy as a felix every time some woman makes eyes at Apollo. He's not convinced he's good enough... not that exactly, but..." He shrugged. "Love's not a given for him."
"Yeah. It's a bitch they want to and can't," Giles agreed. "I mean, look at Bojay. He was nervous as a felix this morning, could hardly stay on his feet, and now... you ever see him so happy? He probably doesn't look like that even when"
"Please, she's my wingman, I don't need that image messing up our relationship," Boomer cut him off.
"I'll tell you something else that's a bitch," said Cree, who'd snuck up on them unnoticed. "Happened to my cousin. His lover got hurt, and his parents wouldn't let Dakota in to see him. Starbuck and the captain should make sure they've got powers signed for each other. Dunno what the commander thinks, but he could sure get in the way if it's the captain in the life center next time."
"The commander likes Starbuck," Boomer said with the certainty of a man who'd been in and out of the commander's household for ten yahrens or more. "Starbuck drives him up the wall, but he likes him."
"He's no fool, Cree," Giles said. "How many sectares has it been since they told us? How many nights does Starbuck spend at Apollo's? You think the word hasn't filtered up to the bridge?"
"And that would be assuming Boxey never says anythingwhich is a physical impossibility. Or that Adama didn't have eyes. Look at thathow hard is it to guess?" Boomer added.
'That' was Apollo having crossed over to take Starbuck's punch away from him, setting the cup on the table, and draw his lover into a private conversation. Apollo's hand only briefly rested on Starbuck's arm, but to anybody who didn't categorically refuse to admit the possibility, the intimacy was as plain as if they'd been kissing.
"Get a room," Giles said softly, with a trace of envy he couldn't prevent. He looked away, and spotted the Wing's Chaplain. "Hey," he said, "look at Hyperion. He actually looks approving."
Boomer and Cree made noises of disbelief as they turned. Then, "Damn," said Boomer. "I think you're right."
There was a brief silence, and then Giles said, "Okay, you old vulpine, you. What's hatching in that fertile brain?"
"What is a marriage, anyway?"
Cree answered, unexpectedly, "An honorable and holy estate not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; a union in which two, living faithfully together, may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together until death does them part." He blushed. "My father was a deacon; I was an altar attendant when I was six... I must have been at a couple of thousand Sealings."
"Okay, my point is," said Boomer, after a hard look to make sure Cree wasn't about to get all pious on them, "I don't see why they can't have a wedding."
"It won't be legal, sure, but what Boj and Deitra just did wasn't legal. They had to sign all those civil forms. Why can't Apollo and Starbuck sign those powers you mentioned, Cree, and get married in front of God?"
"Because God doesn't like it?" Cree asked.
"The Church doesn't like it, maybe," Giles said, warming to the notion. "But God? Tell me that" he jerked his chin at Apollo and Starbuck "isn't from God?"
"So," said Boomer, depositing his cup. "The women in my family used to say, one wedding breeds another... Let's go talk to Hyperion."
So, a secton later, Giles was once again hurrying Starbuck into his dress uniform. But this time Giles was wearing his own, with the bronze-braided tan cape and the blue-stoned pectoral of the non-commissioned officer, and he was hanging onto the ring. "Come on, Starbuck," he said. "You don't want to be late to your own wedding, do you?"
"No, but I don't want to show up looking like a fright, either." Starbuck shook off his hand and straightened the fall of his cape, and then altered the pectoral minutely.
"You look a perfect vision of delight and loveliness," said Giles. "Now come on."
"Giles, why is it that sergeants are such mother-gallies?"
"Because God curses us with lieutenants to look out for," Giles replied. "Come on, or Apollo's going to think you got cold feet."
"Oh, I doubt that," said Starbuck, thinking about last night. "He may curse my persnickety, vain nature, but he won't think I'm changing my mind."
Giles shook his head. "Come on, lover-boy. It's my job to get you there on time, and I don't intend to have Apollo send me to fly garbage scows for a secton because I couldn't."
"All right, all right, I'm coming." Starbuck took one last look at himself and then left the barracks, the short pilot right beside him. "Giles," he said as they waited for the turbolift, "did I thank you for setting this up?"
"Yes, you did," Giles said, "me and Boomer both. We'll do very nicely on your information. We may even share with Cree, though what an ensign needs with dates is beyond me."
"He won't be an ensign forever."
"True. He'll be a lieutenant and think he knows it all..." He pulled Starbuck onto the turbolift. "Wait till we get there before you put the finishing touches on."
"You have got the ring?" Starbuck said, suddenly worried.
"Yes, I've got it," Giles held up his hand to show the red-gold band securely around his thumb. "I wouldn't dare forget it."
"Where are we going?" Starbuck demanded abruptly. "We just went past our level."
"Ah, well, didn't Boomer mention it?"
"Well, you see, there wasn't enough light for the cameras"
"Well, IFB got wind of it, and asked Hyperion if they could film it. I think they're planning some sort of documentary on changing life-styles in the Fleet, and this will fit right in"
"Nobody asked us!"
"Well, it's a public function. Sort of. It's religious, I mean..." Giles paused and said, "Look, you can't get any more publicly committed than married on IFB."
"Well..." Starbuck subsided. "I can't believe you didn't tell me. I'd have gotten a haircut."
"Starbuck, you look good enough to eat. Every single person watching that thing is going to envy Apollo, and so will most of the married ones. Calm down."
"Apollo is not going to like this."
"I know... I'm trusting Boomer won't tell him."
Starbuck snickered. "Boomer has a fine sense of self-preservation."
"Besides, the Commander okayed it."
"Well, that's spiked Apollo's guns, then..." Starbuck smiled. He still couldn't believe that Adama had welcomed him into the family with a warm hugeven warmer than he'd ever seen Apollo getand a whispered, "Ila always wished you were ours. She'll be happy looking down on you. You'll make him happy and take care of him, I know." Approving the filming was likely a message to the Council, but Starbuck couldn't bring himself to care. He'd known he was going to be knee-deep in politics the first time he'd kissed Apollo, and it hadn't stopped him then. It sure as all seven hells wasn't going to stop him now.
The lift doors hissed open and Starbuck followed Giles out. They were at the main banquet hall, he saw, where official Fleet functions were celebrated. He snickered to himself, and followed Giles around to the starboard rear entranceway. After a brief argument between Starbuck and Apollo over who was marrying whom, Hyperion had stepped in and pointed out that technically nobody was getting married. He was Blessing a Union, and as far as he was concerned, they were making it up as they went along. So, Starbuck and Apollo were both entering from the sides and meeting at the altar, accompanied by Giles and Boomer. Giles now stuck his head in the side door and apparently spotted Boomer at the other one.
"Boomer looks wrung out," he observed to Starbuck cheerfully. "Ready?"
"As I ever could be," Starbuck said. It was funny, but he'd lost all his nerves sometime that morning. It couldn't be stopped now.
"Then, let's go."
Starbuck knew he should have only had eyes for Apollo, but there was no way to shake the habits of a lifetime. He saw, with amazement, that over a hundred people were there, including a couple of Councillors who had to be there for Adama's sake. He saw Boxey bouncing up and down in the front rowhe didn't see Muffy, thank, most likely, Athenaand Cassie hanging on the arm of someone he didn't know and Sheba standing by herself... Adama holding the civil documents they had to sign, and Hyperion, in full robes despite the High Priestess's suggestion that he mute the whole thing down, and then, having noted the exits, Starbuck let himself fall into Apollo's eyes.
"Forasmuch," Hyperion began in his rich, resonant baritone, "as Apollo and Starbuck have consented together in union, and are now come to witness the same before God and this company, I ask that they exchange Rings, one with the other, as a sign of the pledge which they have made: Apollo, that you will have Starbuck as thy wedded spouse, to live together from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, comfort, honor and keep him, keeping yourself only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?"
"I will," Apollo said, and his voice rang clearly and confidently to the end of the banquet hall.
"And Starbuck, that you will have Apollo as thy wedded spouse, to live together from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, comfort, honor and keep him, keeping yourself only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?"
"I will," Starbuck said, knowing the only person who needed to hear it was right there, but saying it loud enough for the rest as well. Then he held out his hand and Giles handed him the ring, and he slid it onto Apollo's left handfeeling oddly exhilarated that that was his strong hand. "With this Ring, I witness my vow," Starbuck said.
Apollo took his ring from Boomer and slid it onto Starbuck's hand. Green eyes brimming with emotion, he said, and his voice was suddenly softer, and his words were the old form of the Holy Ritual, "With this Ring, I thee wed; with my body I thee worship; and with all my worldly goods I thee endow." In the silence he brought Starbuck's hand to his lips and kissed it once.
Starbuck's heart faltered and he had to swallow. He tightened his fingers around Apollo's and they turned to face the rows of people. Hyperion hadn't missed a beat. "We call upon God and the Lords of Kobol to bless this union," he pronounced, "that these two persons, living faithfully together, may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, whereof the Rings given and received are a token and pledge, and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together until death does them part. For those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder."
"So be it," said Adama.
And so it was.
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