All Mixed Up

Epilog - "Happily Ever After"

Adama shifted his position slightly in his reclining chair and felt Boxey snuggle closer in his sleep. He sighed in deep contentment and stroked the boy's hair. When he looked up, Apollo was looking at him, a smile on his face that was both fond and rueful. Moved by an obscure impulse he didn't, this time, examine, Adama said, softly, "I often wished I could do this with you."

Most of the rue left Apollo's smile. "I know," he said. "I occasionally indulged in sulking, but one thing I've learned since I got married: the Service demands a lot, and—" he broke off, his expression screwed up into a near-parody of perplexity. "What's that saying about dependents?"

After a moment Bojay offered, a bit hesitantly, "If the Service wanted you to have dependents, they'd have issued you some."

"That's it," Apollo nodded. "Thanks... He lives with me and I still have to hand him over to others on a regular basis."

"You're doing a fine job with him," Adama said. "Under the circumstances, you're doing as well as could be expected."

Athena, who'd turned to watch them, now rose lithely and crossed to put her hands on her brother's shoulders. He looked up at her and she smiled at him. "You're doing wonderfully," she said. "He adores you, and he's happy as a myan."

"I never understood why they were supposed to be happy," Cassie said from her seat on the couch. "They get steamed alive and eaten, mainly, don't they?"

"Raw, sometimes," Athena said nostalgically. "But they're relatively brainless."

Apollo laughed up at his sister. "Are you saying my son is brainless?"

"She's been talking to his teachers," Starbuck said. "All that filling in on off-days. But I always thought it was because myans are—"

"Starbuck," said Apollo, Athena, Boomer, and Cassie simultaneously.

Boxey stirred. "What did you do, Papa?"

"Nothing," Starbuck said in an injured tone. "I was just about to impart an interesting fact, that's all."

"Oh." Boxey yawned, his nose wrinkling and his eyes remaining shut. After a moment his breathing evened out again and Adama could tell he was asleep once more.

"At least he didn't want to hear it. Speaking of his teachers complaining," Apollo said.

"Anyway, they aren't," Omega put in quietly. Bojay chuckled; it was apparent to Adama that the pilot enjoyed his partner's education, which was probably more expensive than Apollo's, considering that Omega's family had been wealthy enough to make Adama's seem... well, not middle-class, no sense in getting hyperbolic. But they probably had had more money than anyone would have known what to do with. Omega finished, "It's oistreida that are hermaphroditic, not myans."

Starbuck blinked at the operations officer, and then grinned. "So they give pearls to themselves?"

"Starbuck." Only Apollo and Boomer said it this time; Cassie and Athena looked as if they were actually contemplating the scenario.

Boomer added, "Apollo's going to be able to give people pearls before too long."

"I think I was just insulted," Starbuck said.

"Let me remove your doubt; you were," Boomer said.

"Help me out, here, Boj. I'm outnumbered."

"Much as I love a losing cause..." Bojay grinned, and Sheba finished his sentence, as she was wont to do,

"There are limits to his self-destructive impulses." She gave Bojay a fond look with only a trace of worry in it. "Fortunately."

"Some friend you are," Starbuck huffed, and Adama knew him well enough to know he was deliberately making light of the darker undertones that had crept into the conversation.

Across from Adama Tigh smiled suddenly, the humor transforming his dark face. "I've always found a certain amount of self-preservation a good trait in an officer."

"Thank you, sir," said Bojay. Tigh had given up on getting the ex-Pegasus pilot to use his name when he'd blamed it on his upbringing; he wouldn't call Adama anything but 'sir' either. But, Adama thought, he wasn't acting the junior officer, more like a young member of a somewhat formal family, and he was, the commander remembered, Wayist. Meanwhile, Starbuck was miming dying, going so far as to fall out of his chair. Apollo had hidden his face, but his shoulders were shaking, and Athena and Cassie were frankly laughing. You could always depend on Starbuck, Adama thought; that lighthearted attitude was perhaps half put on, but the blond pilot knew when to deploy it and when not to.

Adama settled back, the heavy boneless warmth of his sleeping grandson more comforting than a long drink, and looked around his front room. The evening had surpassed his most optimistic hopes. Tigh had thought him mad, inviting his children's ex-lovers, but Adama hadn't worried about that. Once Apollo had broken through his self-imposed—no; Adama knew he had to take some responsibility for the misconceptions his eldest had labored under for so long—once he'd broken through those misconceptions to the truth, he had, much like his sister, become a person much easier inside himself. And he'd never been angry at Sheba or at Boomer, only at himself. Once Starbuck had moved in with him, he hadn't been angry at anyone.

The only doubtful part of the evening had been Bojay. Adama hadn't originally intended to ask the pilot, but he was too old a campaigner not to know that plans were what people made to give the Universe something to play with. He had asked Sheba to stay behind after a morning meeting when her squadron was on the day shift. She had, clearly wondering why.

"Sheba," he'd said, "as I'm sure you're aware, Harvest Fest is coming up in three sectons and, fortuitously, it falls on Seventh Day this year. Silver Spar will be on first shift and Red on break, and I'd like very much if you and Boomer would come to my celebration. We'll have to start a little bit earlier, for Boxey's sake, and because Apollo and Starbuck are on third shift and will have to leave by 2160, but if we sit down at 1900 that will leave us plenty of time."

Sheba had looked a bit flustered. "Commander—"

"Now, Sheba, this is not a command; it's an invitation. I would very much like to have you there."

"Adama, then," she'd smiled, "I'm very grateful for the invitation, I really am—"

"Harvest Fest is a celebration for families," he'd said gently. "No one should celebrate alone."

"Actually," she'd said, "Boomer and I were going to ask Bojay and Omega to join us. Bojay's like my brother and I really can't..." She'd paused. "But I do thank you for thinking of us."

"Well, that's not a problem," he'd said without really thinking about it. "The more the merrier was never truer than about fests."

So he'd walked out onto the bridge and beckoned Omega over and asked him. Omega had been slightly startled; startled enough that he'd actually let his eyes slip sideways to where Tigh was leaning over a terminal reading the data scrolling up the screen. Adama, who'd viewed Tigh's slowly opening up to someone on a personal level with a great deal of satisfaction, had added quite truthfully, "Sheba wants Bojay, and I'm sure Tigh will appreciate your presence. As will I; it will help us feel not so outnumbered."

Omega had smiled and promised to check with Bojay that evening. Adama had then secured Tigh, as he had in fact meant to do anyway, and it had only been later in the day that he had realized that having Apollo and Bojay together was a bit like having two daggets in a room who weren't fond of each other. They'd stopped actually snarling, but Apollo certainly went all stiff-legged and careful around the Pegasan; not surprising, perhaps, but actually, Adama had decided upon further reflection, something that needed to be dispensed with. He couldn't, of course, mandate his son's friends, but he could expect him to behave well to his junior officers. Especially since the last time they were discussing who to promote to squadron command Omega had almost apologetically pointed out that Bojay had nearly three yahrens' experience. Sheba had confirmed it, and then, with an air of being hanged for a rammet, said that he'd actually been the Pegasus strike captain for fourteen sectares. But she'd been unwilling to discuss why it had never been mentioned before. Adama hadn't pressed her, though Tigh had wanted to; the whole contingent of Pegasus people had known it, including the other pilots, but there was no point in raking up discomforts from the past and secrets decided nine sectares ago. None of Cain's people had been entirely sane when they'd arrived, but they were all integrated into the fleet now, and Adama had no problems with letting the past alone.

So, when he was making final plans with his son and daughter, he'd carefully included the names of everyone who was coming. Apollo had been quiet. Athena had said, "That's... ten. Well, eleven with Boxey. And only three of us are women... I don't even want to try to balance that table, Father; you'll have to. Though," she'd added with the quick smile that reminded him of Ila, "half of your male guests don't actually want to sit by women..."

In the end, he'd kept Cassie beside him, with Tigh beside her, then Omega, Apollo, and Boxey, while on his other hand he'd had Sheba, then Bojay, Starbuck, and Boomer, with Athena at the end opposite him. It hadn't been a perfect table, perhaps, but everyone had at least one person to talk to, and Apollo was across the table from the two he might be most uneasy with (and they from him), while Tigh, who might intimidate most of the people here, had Omega and Cassie, who, in Adama's judgment, didn't get intimidated in social settings by anyone.

And as it had turned out, Apollo had been cordial to Bojay all evening. In fact, Adama had been surprised—pleased, but surprised—at how cordial. He'd mentioned it to Starbuck when the blond had been helping him bring out the desserts, and Starbuck had surprised him again by his offhand response. "Oh, that's Pol's guilt coming out," he'd said. "He never really wanted to marry Sheba and Boj is her best friend. He liked to pretend it was all about that thing over the fuel, and that was part of it, but Sheba was in that hangar bay, too. It was mostly how he was acting about her." He'd disappeared into the front room with a tray, leaving Adama to ponder what he'd said and come to the conclusion that Starbuck was not only right, but the right one. Very probably the only one who could make Apollo happy. Or, he refined the thought, the only one with whom Apollo could be happy.

After dinner, Boxey had of course wanted to play Trango. To Adama's surprise, Bojay and Sheba had volunteered to play. Boxey had made big eyes at Apollo and roped him in, and Cassie and Athena had agreed to make it a three-way contest. Boomer had begged off, saying he hadn't played since he was about nine, but he'd watched the others while Omega made quiet conversation with Tigh and Adama and Starbuck prepared the desserts. After which, Boxey had climbed into his grandfather's lap, asking for a story, and fallen asleep half-way through.

Soon Apollo and Starbuck would have to leave, to get ready for their upcoming shift and put Boxey to bed. That might break up the evening, but it was still early and Adama thought Cassie and Athena, and Tigh, would stay, and that would probably keep the rest of them. But for now he was feeling very contented and paterfamilias, in the midst of a group of young people, all happily settled with their loves, and his grandson, and his oldest friend... Ila's absence was a muted melancholy, and Zac's, but he'd grown accustomed to them and, after more than a yahren, he was able to be happy anyway. As long as his family, his children and those he'd taken into his heart, were happy. And this evening had shown him that they were.

He looked down at Boxey's dark head and thought about the story he hadn't been able to finish. "And they all lived happily ever after," he said softly.

Prolog Chap 1 Chap 2 Chap 3 Chap 4 Chap 5.1
Chap 5.2 Chap 6.1 Chap 6.2 Chap 7.1 Chap 7.2 Epilog


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