"Love is not all" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I was lookin' for love in all the wrong places, lookin' for love in too many faces
Searchin' her eyes lookin' for traces of what I'm dreamin' of
Hopin' to find a friend and a lover, I bless the day I discovered
You: another heart lookin' for love
"I thought you were going out with Sheba tonight." Starbuck finally said it, about two centares into the evening.
"I did, too," Apollo said, studying his cards, and then raised his head suddenly as a thought hit him. "Lords, Starbuck, did you have other plans? You could have said so. I'd've understood. I don't need company that bad."
"I hope I'm better than nothing," Starbuck said indignantly.
"Of course you are. Idiot. But it's not like we don't see each other... you didn't have plans, did you? Just because I'm suddenly at loose ends doesn't mean you have to cancel your plans, let..." he paused. What was the flavor du secton's name, anyway? Damned if he could remember. "...her down, too."
"Nope." Starbuck tossed two cards into the center of the table. "No plans. Just wondering about yours."
Apollo shrugged and decided to go for it; he ought to be lucky in cards, oughtn't he? Tossing out three cards he said, "We had plans. Dinner at the O Club, whatever seemed good afterward. She called, said she wasn't feeling up to it."
"Hope she hasn't got that thing going around."
Apollo looked at his best friend. Starbuck was one of the few people he knew who actually sounded sincere when he hoped Apollo and Sheba were going to make it work. If Apollo didn't know how easily Starbuck could sound that way when he didn't mean it, it would have been... But Starbuck's eyes were sincere, too, and after nearly fifteen yahrens he thought he could read them. "She said she was tired. Long patrol."
Starbuck nodded. "Your father still making noises about a MidWinter wedding?"
Apollo sighed, and wondered why. Sheba was almost everything he'd ever thought of his bride being, the single exception being her career. He couldn't picture her without the uniform, though; even when he saw her in a dress with her hair up, there was a misty overlay of the lieutenant. But that was the way things were, now. Even Serina had gotten into uniform. And died... But Sheba wasn't Serina; despite being Cain's daughter (or because of it) she'd been raised to fight and fly. And in every other way she was everything he'd always dreamed of in a wife. Well, not dreamed of. Expected was closer. He sighed again and said, "Yes. He is."
"That's a mighty big sigh for a man in love," Starbuck observed.
"It's not that," Apollo objected, tossing five more cubits onto the pile. "It's just... you know how I hate to be pushed."
"Uhmmmm," the blond nodded, covering the bet and putting down his hand. "Don't I just."
"Frack." Apollo dropped his cards disgustedly. "How can you win like this?"
"You are possibly the worst pyramid player on the battlestar," Starbuck informed him. "You know the rules and the strategies, but you can't keep every card you have from showing on your face. So, you going to ask her?"
Apollo pulled the cards to him and began shuffling. "Yes," he said after a pause. "I suppose I am. She expects me to, after all."
"You shouldn't let yourself get in that position if you don't want to. Need some help getting out? I know some girls who'd be glad to, ah, compromise you."
Apollo looked at him sharply, trying to decide if he was serious. He probably was. "No. I don't need any help getting out. I mean," he corrected himself, "I don't want to get out. Sheba and I are fine. We'll be happy. I just..." He shook his head. What? Wish Father would stop picking out my brides? "I just wish I felt like this wasn't our fathers' idea as much as ours."
Starbuck shrugged easily. "From what I've seen, fathers feel they have the right to meddle in their children's love lives. Tell me you won't do the same to Boxey, if you think he's screwing up. And if you love Sheba, what does it matter if her father and yours thought your marrying her was a good idea?"
"I suppose you're right... And we do get along."
Starbuck laughed suddenly. "Get along? Is that your euphemism for 'the sex is great'? I hope so, anyhow."
"Sorry. But you must admit, that's important."
"Yes. I will admit that." Apollo dealt. "And it's not a problem."
"Good. So, can I be your best man again? And will you wait for me this time?"
"Of course. To both." It was the only possible answer. So why did it, and the question, and the whole fracking situation, feel wrong?
Sheba clenched her knees around Bojay's legs as the orgasm flooded her body with sensation, shuddering and gripping his hand at the end of her outstretched arm. Through the kaleidoscope of flame she felt him thrust, once, again, and flood her anew with his heat. She heard him cry out her name and she collapsed onto his chest, her breasts flattening against him and her hair covering his shoulders. His free arm came away from the blankets to wrap around her, stroking her back, and she heard his panting breaths turn into the name only he called her. "Sha, Sha, Shaaaa."
She couldn't remember the last time she'd called his name in bed. Suddenly, uncontrollably, she felt tears dropping onto his throat.
"Hey," he said softly, concern in his tones, "what's this, sweetheart? Are you all right?"
"I hate myself."
"No," he said firmly.
She had to laugh. "No? No, what? I don't? I shouldn't?"
"I won't let you."
He meant it. She raised her head to look at him, his worried hazel eyes, his tousled brown hair. He wasn't Apollo, all lean aristocrat with emerald eyes and sable hair, but she wouldn't have traded them... except she was. She swallowed and said, roughly, "And how are you going to stop me?"
He sighed, pushing her hair back behind her ears and trailing his fingers along her jaw. "I won't come to you again," he said simply.
Her breath caught in her throat, trapped by the heart that had just leapt there.
"It's why you feel bad," he went on. "You're cheating on your promised. We weren't doing that before..."
She managed to speak. "Stop it, Jay. Don't say that. Don't ever say that. I couldn't bear it." She slid her arms around him, pulling them together. "Don't."
"But, Sha," he began, his arms tightening around her in spite of his words.
"No," she said against his skin, feeling the scar from one of the times he'd gotten between her and death against her cheek. "No, you're wrong. I don't feel like I'm cheating on Apollo. I feel like I'm cheating on you." He was silent, and she added, "I feel like I've ruined your life."
"Oh, Sha," he said, sliding one of his hands into her hair and bringing her face to his for a kiss. It was what he did when he couldn't think of what to say, or couldn't say what he'd thought of.
She didn't mind. She could read his thoughts, it seemed; she knew what he wanted to say, and she answered him once the kiss was done. "I don't want to marry him. Why will I?"
He sighed. "Because your father told you to." He said it as if it were perfectly reasonable.
She remembered that day. Cain's hand on her shoulder. His fiery blue eyes boring into hers. His voice commanding and persuasive at the same time. "Adama's son Apollo is your promised husband. He has been since you were children. And now here he is."
Bojay added, softly, "We always knew you'd marry one day. And that it wouldn't be me. I always knew it. You haven't ruined my life one bit."
"Shut up, Jay," she said. "Just shut up. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to marry him. I don't want to lose you... Oh gods, I hate my life."
"Sha," he said, "don't."
"I'm cheating on you and I can't bear it"
"You're not," he insisted, "not on me, how can you be when I know? Sha, hush, hush..." He rolled them over and crouched over her, kissing her into wordlessness while his hands stroked her body, gently pinching her nipples, arousing her until she moaned into his mouth, wanting him again, and it was too soon, much too soon, but he'd learned her well over the yahrens and his fingers and then his mouth brought her ecstasy again, and this time when she climaxed she called his name, her legs wrapped around him and her hands in his hair. And then he pulled the blankets around them and cuddled her to him in the dimness of the rented room, kissing away her tears, until she fell asleep at last.
Athena walked along the corridor to her place, wishing for the thousandth time that their schedules meshed better than they did. Still, it could be worse: they could be completely offset instead of only by a few centares... She paused. Someone in Starfighter tan was sitting on the floor beside her door. Apollo or Starbuck would have just let themselves in. Who could that be?
When she got closer, she was startled to see it was Sheba. She'd thought Apollo and she were out tonight... The pilot got to her feet and Athena saw she'd been crying. Oh, lords, she thought, what have you done now, Appy? She liked Sheba almost despite herself; there were moments when she and the Pegasan felt like sisters. As well as moments when they fought like them, too. Sheba had been spoiled and a little whiney and imperious, like Boxey on a bad day, when she'd first come over, but lately she'd been much easier to like, and Athena had high hopes for her relationship with Apollo.
If he ever stopped dragging his feet.
"Sheba?" she said. "What's wrong?"
The pilot swallowed, pushing her long brown hair back. "Athena, I know it's late, but I'd really like to talk to you."
"Of course," she said. "And it's not that late to me, I just got off duty... Come in," she opened the door. "What's wrong? What happened?"
"Nothing happened, exactly." Sheba bit her lips. "I just need to talk to you."
"Of course. Kava? Tea? Ambrosa?"
"Sit down, I won't be a minute. Take off that blaster, get comfortable," she added over her shoulder as she turned on the brewer and headed for her sleeping room. When she came out, Sheba was curled into the corner of the couch, looking miserable. Oh, Appy, she thought. "Let me get the tea," she said, and did so.
She sat on the couch next to the pilot and took a sip of tea, and then said, "Now, what's wrong?"
"Everything," Sheba said, sounding a little like her old self. Except that Sheba would have been offended, and this one just sounded weepy.
"Can't be everything," Athena said bracingly; soothing had never been her style. Sheba should have gone to Cassie if she wanted a soft shoulder to cry on and someone to pat her and say, there, there. "You're still a lieutenant, for one."
Sheba managed a little half-laugh. "Yes."
"Can I talk to you about Apollo?"
I knew it. Only a screwed-up love life makes a woman look like that. "Of course. What's he done now?"
"Nothing." Sheba looked up. "Really... I want to ask you: is he in love with me?"
Nothing. I'll bet. Precisely nothing... "Sheba" she began.
"No, please. Honestly. Is he?"
Athena paused and took a couple of deep breaths while she thought about it. "Honestly? I don't know, Sheba. He's planning on asking you to seal with him, as soon as he gets his back down from Father pushing it. So I suppose he thinks he is. But is he? It's not quite like with Serina, but I'm not sure he was really in love with her, either. She wanted him," she sheered off a bit, since Sheba had certainly made a dead set at Apollo, though not quite as ruthlessly as his first wife had, "and he was fond of her, and there was Boxey... I'm not much help, am I?"
"I don't know," Sheba said thoughtfully. "If he were, wouldn't he have told you? Wouldn't you know? Being his sister?"
"Now that I don't know. He's a lot older, and very private... Why? Did he say something, or fail to say something? Do you think he doesn't?"
"Gods, I hope he doesn't," Sheba said fiercely. "I like him. I don't want to hurt him. But I can't marry him. I just can't."
Sagan. That's not... Wow. "Oh? Why not?"
"Because I don't love him. And I don't care if our fathers made some bargain back when we were infants. Or me an infant and him a toddler, or whatever." She sounded like she'd just come to a decision.
"What if he does love you?" Athena ventured, suddenly worried about her reticent brother.
"Then I'm sorry for him. But I'm in love with someone else, have been for yahrens, and I just can't bring myself to marry Apollo. He wouldn't want me, would he?"
"No," Athena could answer that firmly. "He wouldn't. Especially not if the somebody's around."
Sheba blushed slightly. "Well, he is. Very much. And I won't give him up."
"Then you'd better not marry my brother."
Sheba sighed. "The Commander won't be happy, either."
"Father wouldn't want you to marry Apollo if you don't want to." Especially not if you're going to cheat on him. "He'll understand."
Sheba smiled at her, a bit shakily. "I was going to ask your advice," she said, "but all at once I just knew." She buckled on her boots and stood up. "Thanks for the tea, and the ear... guess that was all I needed. I'll tell your father in the morning, and then Apollo."
"You don't need to tell Father."
Sheba shook her head. "He took me in, and he wants it. And he and my father planned it... I think I should." She picked up her blaster. "The only thing I'm really sorry about it, we won't be sisters. I'd have liked that."
"No need to be strangers," Athena said, and hugged her. After a startled moment, Sheba hugged her back, and then she left. Athena sat back down and stared at the door. "Appy," she finally said, "I don't know if I'm sorry you didn't get her or not... But you're better off without her this way. I hope like hell you're not in love."
"So she actually said she was going to break it off with Apollo? For someone else?"
"Yes... She didn't say for who, though. Must be Bojay, though, she said yahrens..."
"Bojay. Big surprise there."
Athena snuggled up closer and pulled a long strand of golden hair through her fingers, gently. "To everyone but Apollo."
Cassie smiled and kissed the fingers playing with her hair. "He can't see how Bojay looks at her? Is he truly that clueless?"
"He wouldn't be going to bed with her if he thought she was sleeping with Bojay. Or anyone. Or even just in love with someone."
"Just?" Cassie said.
"You know what I mean, Fluffy."
Cassie wrinkled her nose the way she always did when she heard that name; Athena kissed her on the tip of it. Cassie smiled. "Yes. I do. So, is he in love?"
"I don't know. I hope not. I hope it's just affection and duty."
"Well, he'll be better off. Nobody ever died of a broken heart."
Sometimes Cassie's past made her hard. Athena quoted softly, "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain; Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink And rise and sink and rise and sink again." She ran her finger down Cassie's fair cheek gently and continued: "Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath, Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;" she paused just a moment to kiss her medic's fingers, and then concluded, "Yet many a man is making friends with death Even as I speak, for lack of love alone."
Cassie's luminous blue eyes grew softer and she pulled Athena's head up for a kiss. The kiss deepened as Athena tasted her lover's mouth on hers, felt her body warm and yielding under her own. She forgot her brother and his problems for the moment, losing herself in Cassie, the golden glory of her hair and the paleness of her skin and the rose of her mouth and nipples. And the white of her teeth nipping gently at Athena in return, her talented fingers...
Much later, as they cuddled against each other, Cassie slowly running her fingers through Athena's tangled hair, she said, "Of course, Apollo's got a fall back, you know."
"Hmmm?" Her brother was the last thing on her mind.
That woke her up. "Starbuck? Our Starbuck?"
Cassie giggled again; the way Athena called him that always amused her. "Yes, Thee," she never used pet names; Athena understood their connotations were bad. At least 'Fluffy' had never occurred to a client... "Our Starbuck."
"Lieutenant Libido? Lieutenant Lover-Boy?"
"It's a good thing he's not still a flight officer," Cassie observed, amusedly.
Athena hoped she wasn't blushing. "Are you? You are serious. He wants... No. I can't believe it."
Cassie shrugged, her slim shoulders rising and falling in the circle of Athena's arm. "I've seen all sorts and conditions of men in my ex-line of work," she said lightly. "You get to know a lot. Some men want women and men both. Some men fall hard for one man and fight it... Take a good long look at Starbuck someday, Thee, as if you'd never seen him before, never had him in your bed. As if he were a stranger. See where his eyes go, how they light up, and for whom."
Athena thought about it, massaging Cassie's fingers lightly. "You mean, he's in love with Appy?"
"Uhmh," said Cassie. "Anyway, he more or less told me soit's hard for a guy to say to a woman he's in bed with, you understandwhen we were talking about Apollo once."
"You talked about Apollo with Starbuck?" Athena thought that probably should have made her annoyed, but instead she was vaguely amused and intrigued.
Cassie nodded. "He was worried about Apollo. Said he'd never had a real girlfriend before, which nearly made me lose it laughing, and he was worried that Serina was using him. And later he was worried that losing Serina had killed his libido entirely..."
Athena shook her head. "He really talked about that with you?"
"Not all the time. But sometimes..." Cassie yawned.
"Well, according to Sheba there's not much wrong with his libido."
"According to Sheba, he was going through the motions," her lover corrected her.
Athena started to contradict her, and then paused. That would make you wonder if he loved you, all right. But still, "Do you really think Appy...?"
Cassie yawned and shrugged again. "I don't know. I'm not a telepath. I have to have something to work with. And Apollo wrote 'Property of Starbuck' on me so long ago he wouldn't react if he found me naked in his bed."
"That much help I don't want my brother to get."
Cassie nuzzled her sleepily. "Don't worry. I'm not at all interested in the sword side of your family, Thee."
Athena giggled a little herself. "Wonder what he'd do if he found Starbuck naked in his bed?"
"Don't know." Cassie yawned again, her pink tongue curling a little like a felix's. "I'll talk to him."
"Sagan, no... Starbuck." She put her head down on Athena's shoulder and closed her eyes. "He'll want warning if nothing else. Night, now, Thee."
"Night, Fluffy..." And Athena gathered her a little closer and closed her own eyes.
Starbuck sat in the O Club the next morning, waiting for Cassie to show up. She'd called him and told him she was buying him breakfast. He hoped it didn't mean she'd noticed that he hadn't been out with a woman in a few sectons... though he didn't hold out much hope for that. She was a woman, and an ex-lover, and she paid attention to him. He wasn't sure why, exactly; it wasn't just because he'd finally convinced her to make a pass at Theni, though that didn't hurt.
Even more, he hoped that it didn't mean she'd had a fight with Theni and was looking for comfort. He did not want Theni after his hide. He'd never forgotten that steam purge; he had no desire to make her that mad at him again. Even if she and Cassie were fighting, she had every cubic millimetron of Apollo's possessive streak.
On the other hand, if Cassie just wanted to buy him breakfast and talk about old times, he was up for it. She was good company and he didn't have to fake things with her. Any things.
"Hi, Bucko," she said, appearing suddenly and kissing him on the cheek. He rose and pulled out her chair and she smiled radiantly at him, tugging a tiny bit on his heartstrings. Old times had been good times, for a while.
"Hi, yourself," he said. "You look lovely. Happy. I'm jealous as hell."
She smiled again. "Your day will come."
"Yeah, sure." He shook his head. "Never mind me. I'm in a bad mood."
"I see," she said seriously, waving to get the waiter's attention. Unnecessarily, there'd been three of them arguing over whose table it was, which they had not been doing while it was just Starbuck. After ordering she rested her chin on her laced fingers and said, "What's put you in that mood, hmm?"
"Not what you think," he said quickly. A couple of times in the past four sectares he'd actually found himself in bed with Cassie again, and when he'd woken once to find Athena had come in and was curled up on Cassie's other side, he'd realized just how pathetic he'd become: a man whose flit ex-girlfriends feel so sorry for him they sleep with him. He'd been that down since, but he wasn't going back there, no matter how attractive it seemed at the moment. "My love life is fine."
"Ummmm," she said. "A bit heavy on the possessive. Whose love life isn't?"
"Not yours, anyway," he smiled, refusing to be drawn. "Like I said, you look very happy."
She let him change the subject while the waiter brought the food, though they talked in generalities. She and Theni hadn't told the worlds yet; Theni wasn't quite sure how Adama would take it. At least, that was the official excuse; Theni had told him that what Cassie wasn't sure how Adama would take was her, the ex-socialator. But she was dragging Cassie to every family event that she could, and if Adama didn't know something was up he'd have to be blind and deaf and stupid, and he was none of them...
Besides, Adama had his standards and his expectations, sure, but they crumpled to dust if his children challenged them. Pol's problem is he never learned that, not like Zac did, Starbuck thought. Still, if he hadn't been on the Galactica the odds were great that he'd be dead, so it all worked out. And it wasn't as though Starbuck ever would have benefitted by Apollo's challenging that particular set of his father's expectations. Not like Cassie would when Theni did...
"So," she said halfway through the meal, "is it Apollo's love life that's in trouble?"
"Why would you think that?"
"Starbuck," she said, "it's me, remember? His love life matters more to you than yours. His life matters more"
"His love life is fine," he interrupted. "He's gonna get married at MidWinter, which, as best as I can tell in this antiseptic environment, is only a couple of sectares away. If that."
"Married?" she asked gently. "To whom? Not Sheba."
He blinked at her. "What do you mean, not Sheba?"
"Well," she said, "you know she and Theni are good friends. She told Theni she's marrying Bojay."
Starbuck stared at her. "She said..."
"She's marrying Bojay. She said she's not in love with Apollo, and she doesn't care any longer what her father wanted, and so she's marrying the man she's in love with."
"Holy frack," he said. "Apollo's going to be upset as hell. I wish she'd figured it out a bit earlier."
"Better now than after the wedding," said Cassie cheerfully. "And you were upset anyway. Why? Because he was getting married?"
"That doesn't mean I'm glad he's going to get his heart broken," he snapped, knowing she was right.
"Of course not. But is he?"
He started to say of course, and then paused. "Of course," he did say after a moment. "He's in love with her. Or thinks he is."
"Really? She had her doubts."
"He said so."
She blinked startled blue eyes at him. "Really? He said he was in love with her?"
He paused again. "He said..." We're fine, that's what he said. That's not exactly what he used to say about Serina...
"I thought so. Even Theni wasn't ever sure what he felt, and nobody doubted with Serina."
"What are you getting at, Cass?" he asked. "That he was marrying her out of duty and won't feel bad about it? You're probably right." And he felt relieved about it.
"Well, that's part of it," she said. "Listen, Starbuckwhy haven't you ever taken your own advice?"
"Which advice?" he asked warily.
"Just ask him. Just tell him how you feel, how you honestly feel, and ask him how he feels."
He closed his eyes briefly. His successful advice about Theni was coming back to bite him in the butt. "It's not the same," he said. "I had insider knowledge" He broke off. "You and Pol?"
"No," she said. "As far as I can tell, it never crossed his mind. Which is insider knowledge of another kind, wouldn't you say?"
Cassie wasn't vain, but she was certainly aware of her assets, and her effect on men. He had to admit, if Pol had never reacted to her... He swallowed, hard. "You mean, you think...?" The question trailed off.
"I don't know," she said. "But what can it hurt to tell him? How many more yahrens are you going to go through life maimed and empty and wanting?"
He ignored her dead-on evaluation of his life and said, "He might deck me."
"Apollo? You? Not unless you jump him. He'd never hit you for telling him the truth, no matter how repugnant he found it. And he'll never find you repugnant, Starbuck, even if he doesn't want to be your lover."
"This is so"
"Sudden?" She smiled. "It's not every day he gets dumped. You don't have to take my advice, your advice. You can just go on like you have been. But you'll never have a better chance than now. Talk to him, Starbuck. If nothing else, you'll feel better for not having to hide it from him."
"I don't know, Cass."
"Think about it," she said, rising and kissing his cheek again. "I'd so very much like to see you happy. And Theni already bought him a wedding present."
So he had to laugh as she left.
Apollo sat alone in the darkness in his front room after Sheba left. Boxey was at his friend Marco's, and Apollo had planned a nice dinner at home, just the two of them, and then listening to music and probably bed... and if the moment came up, he was going to bite the bullet and propose.
Bite the bullet. That should have told him how eager he was. And he knew that by morning he'd been unalloyedly relieved that instead, what he'd gotten was an emotional but firm dumping. He wasn't even able to be irritated at discovering that she'd been sleeping with Bojay at the same time as with him. He was just glad she was gone.
And that was what was bothering him. Glad she was gone, and that she hadn't been able to fall in love with him. Because gods knew he hadn't been able to fall in love with her. He hadn't ever been able to fall in love with anybody, and at least Sheba had escaped the trap of falling for him.
He'd wanted to marry Serina. He had. The sex had been good, hell, wonderful, better than with Sheba (and now he knew why), and Boxey had reached out and grabbed his heart from the very beginning, but he'd never really loved her. They'd had fights about it, she accusing him of just wanting a presentable wife at first, but finally throwing it in his teeth that what he wanted was a ready-made heir so he could moon over Starbuck. That accusation had come after they'd married, when he'd let her push the wedding date up because he was so cold and dead inside with Starbuck gone and he wanted something to warm himself... She'd interpreted it differently; she'd told him after the wedding, after Starbuck had come back, that she knew who he loved and it wasn't her...
Gods, how he'd tried to convince her that she was wrong, but then she died, and he'd never know if her anger had made her careless or her heartbreak had made her stop caring.
Because he didn't love Starbuck. He couldn't. That would be...
A disaster. That's what it would be. A man like Starbuck did not want another man in love with him. Starbuck loved women. He'd seen that as long as he'd known him. Starbuck had made eyes at the girl cadets and chased women in the bars, and fought men who put their hands on him... Pretty and poor with no family, of course he'd had offers. If they'd been as polite as that. And he'd never taken one.
Apollo had put a lot of yahrens into being Starbuck's friend. In his soberest introspective moments, he knew it was the most important relationship of his life. He knew he'd pick Starbuck over his sister, his father, even his son. It shamed him to know that, but he knew it. And he couldn't risk it.
So he didn't love Starbuck.
He couldn't love Starbuck.
But why couldn't he love anyone else?
The door chimed. He ignored it. He didn't want to see anyone until morning. If it was an emergency, they'd comm him.
It chimed again.
And Starbuck came in. Of course. His best friend.
"Hey," Starbuck said. "I heard about Sheba. Thought you could maybe use a little company." He sat down on the couch next to Apollo. Much too close, but Apollo had nowhere to go unless he stood up.
"Want a drink?" he offered in a attempt to do so.
"No," Starbuck said, putting his hand briefly on Apollo's shoulder. "I'm fine... What about you?"
"Oh, I'm fine," Apollo said, "never better, I didn't really want to get married to her, you must have been able to tell that." He stopped abruptly, realizing he was perilously close to babbling.
Starbuck turned a little to face him. He wasn't in uniform, either, though he wasn't dressed for a date. He was wearing those old, cream-colored casuals of his, with the open collar that showed his throat all shadowed and begging to be kissed... Apollo swallowed hard. Frack, why'd he have to come so soon?
"Pol?" Starbuck asked. "Are you sure you're all right?"
"I'm fine. I'm glad for them, they'll be happy, everybody and his brother told me Bojay was in love with her. And Father'll be off my back about it. So I'm fine."
"You really weren't in love with her?"
"What do you need, Starbuck? Three times is the charm?" He heard his voice get a little sharp but he couldn't help it. Starbuck was too close, the dark was too inviting, and he was too giddy... "I didn't love her. I didn't want to marry her. I'm fine."
"Good," said Starbuck, sounding satisfied. "'Cause I wanted to tell you something."
"There's no easy way to lead into it. No prep... I would never, ever want to hurt you, Apollo, you have to believe that"
"Of course," Apollo said. What the frack? Can he... No. Calm down.
"I love you. I have since CMA. And I don't mean like a brother. Or a friend. I am your friend, gods know that, but I love you more. Like a lover. Though not if you don't want." Starbuck paused. "Okay. I said it. I'll go away now."
"Starbuck," he reached out and grabbed the other man's sleeve. "Don't go."
Starbuck stared at him. "Pol?"
"I mean," he said, "I've got dinner for two waiting in the warmer, it would be a shame to waste it."
Starbuck sighed softly. "Sure, Pol," he said, and his voice was warm but resigned. "I'll stay."
It was the resignation that did it. Starbuck had meant it. All of it. Apollo closed his eyes for a minute, tightening his hold on the sleeve. There wasn't any risk left, was there? A stray thought hit him and he laughed, suddenly and happily.
"Oh, Starbuck," he said, opening his eyes. "I just figured out why I'm so unlucky at cards."
Starbuck looked at him with puzzled eyes that held a hint of is this the time for that? in them. "Why?" he asked patiently.
"Because I'm the luckiest man in love that ever lived," he said, and leaned over to kiss his beloved.
It was like flame hitting oxygen. Sheba and the meal were both forgotten as they tried to climb inside each other's skins. Hands and mouths roamed over bodies, clothes that got in the way were dragged off (that new green shirt became a dust rag), and then Apollo overbore Starbuck onto his back on the couch and covered his body with his own, kissing and being kissed, held with bruising intoxicating masculine strength while they thrust against each other until the night exploded.
And then they subsided, trembling. Awkward, thought Apollo, but we're bound to get better at it. And then he sighed happily. Because awkward and too fast it might have been, but it was still the best sex of his life. The prospect of it getting better... He opened his eyes, suddenly a bit worried. "Starbuck?"
His lover's arms tightened around him. "Don't move," he said. "Never move again. Gods, I love you, Pol."
Apollo relaxed. That sounded fine... Fine. For the first time in his life, he meant it.
He was fine.
|Baseball | General Fantasy | Fantasy Legends 1 | Fantasy Legends 2 | Various|
|Autumn Afternoon | Ilya's Wedding | Something... | Last Corner | Morgans|
|Original Fan Fiction|
Star Wars |
Power Rangers |
Battlestar Galactica | The A Team
Space 1999 | Alias Smith and Jones | Jurassic Park III
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