Let's Face the Music and Dance

pas de deux: the sixth movement of the Dance sequence


There may be trouble ahead,
But while there's moonlight and music
And love and romance,
Let's face the music and dance.
—"Let's Face the Music and Dance", Irving Berlin

Apollo woke up. He wasn't sure what time it was, but he thought it was near evening. He was hungry; he'd barely been able to eat a thing at lunch. Starbuck was sprawled out beside him in what he'd learned was the man's normal way to sleep. Odd, how even after a dozen yahrens together he'd only woken up beside Starbuck twice before this. Odd and sad.

Of course, it could have been more. It could have been eight, if his father hadn't been such a gallmonging boray about it. Well, seven, he corrected himself; Starbuck would almost certainly still have snuck out this morning. He smiled, that thought chasing his father out of his mind. Starbuck so carefully preparing their wedding even though his secton had been straight out of a psychodrama. Flowergirl, singer, caterers... he sighed happily, looking at Starbuck's outflung hand with his grandfather's wedding ring on it. The heavy gold ring with the engraved leaf and vine pattern and the single tiny sapphire complemented Starbuck's beautiful hand as if it had been made for him. Apollo had briefly wondered what Adama would say when he saw that ring on Starbuck, but Anacreon had left it to his eldest grandson in his will, not his own son (who had his grandfather's ring), so there wasn't anything he do.

Except get angry. But Apollo was beyond caring if Adama got angry. He'd heard from Boxey that "Grandfather tried to steal Pop's picture!" and realized his prediction that Adama would have a stroke if he saw it hadn't been exaggerated. It hurt, more strongly than he'd thought, that Adama, who'd seemed to like Starbuck, had rejected him—them both—so completely. He could only guess how badly it hurt Starbuck, who'd looked on Adama as a father figure. He hoped he'd convinced him that Ila wouldn't have reacted so.

For the first time he wondered: if his mother had still been alive, and he had told her first (if she'd even needed telling), would she have tamed his father's wrath? Would Adama have put a good face on his disapproval, as he was doing for Athena's marriage to Bojay? Or would it have caused a rift in their marriage, for Ila wouldn't have rejected one of her children, Apollo was sure of that, sure of her abiding love, and more: she would never have turned her back on Starbuck. They had openly adored each other, and Ila had mentioned Starbuck in every letter she'd written. He hadn't realized she'd taken Starbuck to Naiacap after Semtek, but it was just like her. He hoped she was looking down at them and smiling.

And that Zac was happy with his new brother...

He raised himself on his elbow and reached out his left hand to thread his fingers through Starbuck's tousled hair. The light over the desk, still on, glinted off the plain golden band Starbuck had put there. Athena had their mother's father's ring, Grandfather Lykos'. Undoubtedly she'd put it on Bojay's hand when they married. Bojay might have his grandmother's ring, or he might have to find one... And how would Ila have felt about that, her father's ring on a man like Bojay? Apollo had to admit he honestly didn't know. Nor did he know how Lykos would have felt; he hadn't been close to the old agrist. Zac had been his favorite, the one who'd spent part of his vacations on the farm and loved it. Lykos had given his dead wife's ring to Zac, and after his death Zac had dug the ring out and worn it around his neck, so it was lost. Like their paternal grandmother's, gone with Serina...

But it was right that Starbuck should marry him with a new ring, or new to them at any rate. Just as Starbuck himself was "of unknown provenance". The ring was eighteen karat and of fine craftsmanship; plain maybe, but, as Starbuck had said, sending Apollo into a blushing fit, "perfect". As Starbuck was finely made by the gods he didn't acknowledge, as pure as could stand the worlds and as beautiful as the worlds could stand.

So beautiful that Apollo couldn't believe his luck, having this man in his bed. Even sprawled out over most of it. Apollo would be more than happy to tuck up next to Starbuck in whatever room he left for him for the rest of their lives.

They had both fallen asleep after making love, which they'd done as soon as the door shut behind them. Too much nectar, Apollo thought dreamily, stroking Starbuck's hair. Too much nectar and as much of each other as we could get. He smiled, seeing on the floor over Starbuck's shoulder the cream and blue silk crumpled on the floor. His own clothes were in as tangled a pile at the foot of the bed. And they hadn't unpacked a thing but the lube, which Starbuck had prudently placed on the top of his small bag.

Their first time married. The beginning of their life together. Perfect. Even the ache in his arm was inconsequential. Kissing and fondling until the hunger had grown too great, and Starbuck's mouth had been hot and sweet on his cock, pushing him into ecstasy and then Starbuck taking him and taking him back to paradise...

He smiled in remembrance or anticipation, he honestly wasn't sure which. Both, so entwined he'd never be able to sort them out, most likely. And didn't want to. This honeymoon was a wonderful idea. He owed Boomer big time for the second day. Pure decadence. Starbuck swore they weren't leaving until sixthday, 13:05, just in time for the shuttle back to the Galactica.

But he'd had the nerve to take Apollo to dine before they got to the room.

"I'm not hungry, Starbuck," Apollo had complained. "Not for lunch, anyway."

"You need to stoke up," Starbuck had said suggestively. "You're going to be busy."

"There's such a thing as room service."

"A room service waiter's not enough, Pol."

Apollo had paused, looking at him. Starbuck was very serious; Apollo just couldn't tell about what. "Enough of what?" he finally asked.

"Audience," Starbuck had said. "I want to be seen with you. I want to show you off. That you're mine."

So they'd eaten in the best restaurant on the Star. Or at least Starbuck had eaten. Apollo's stomach had been too full of lepidopterids for there to be room for food, so he'd feasted his eyes instead. But now he was hungry. So, room service...

He slipped out of the bed and hit the turboflush while he thought about what he was going to order. Things they didn't have because Boxey wouldn't eat them or the commissary didn't stock them. Delicacies. Fresh protein, for instance, cooked in that delicious Gemonese style. Berries and cream (or what passed for cream these days). Libran Delight. Decadence... He could hardly wait.

Starbuck stirred slightly while he was on the comm, but quieted when Apollo came back to the bed and sat next to him. He just sat there, watching Starbuck sleep, until the door chimed.

That woke Starbuck. "What?" He rolled over, opening his eyes. "We're on break."

"It's room service, sweetheart," Apollo said. "That's all."

Starbuck smiled up at him with a look in his eyes that shivered his spine. It took him a moment to realize he'd never said 'sweetheart' before... "Hungry?" Starbuck asked. "You should have had lunch."

"That's where we're different. I don't want to share."

Starbuck smiled again, more mischievously. "I'm aware of that. Get the food before he decides he's got the wrong room."

Apollo pulled on his silk trousers before going to the door. The waiter wheeled in the little table and accepted a tip. He had his face under control, but his eyes lingered on Starbuck in the bed for more than strictly necessary. Apollo couldn't really blame him. But he was glad when he was gone.

"Are you getting up?"

"No. Well, for a centon," Starbuck admitted. "But push that over here. Bring a chair if you must, but I'm staying in bed." He jumped up and ducked into the turboflush for a centon, and then came back and crawled back under the covers, graceful as a felix, reaching one long arm to snag some Libran Delight.

Apollo laughed at him. He was sitting on the bed, feeling Starbuck's knees against his hip, a sweet distraction. He dipped a berry in cream and leaned over to feed it to Starbuck, who ate it slowly, finishing with a gentle nibble on Apollo's fingers.

"Decadence is right," Apollo murmured.

"You seem to be enjoying it."

"Oh, I am. It wouldn't do for a steady diet, I think, but I'm definitely enjoying it." He laughed suddenly. "And I'm so glad Boxey isn't in the next room, I can't tell you."

"I can imagine," Starbuck grinned, nibbling his Libran Delight. "We owe Theni."

"Yes..." Apollo fell silent for a centon. "We do," he said finally and finished the protein.

"Uh-oh. Here comes the real you. What's that face for?"

Apollo shrugged. "I was just thinking about Bojay."

"Pol, I don't want to talk about Bojay on my honeymoon. Even about Bojay and Theni getting married."

Apollo sighed. "I'm sorry, Starbuck."

Starbuck looked at him through the fall of his blond hair, disheveled from sleep and loving. "No. I am," he said after a centon. "This is important to you. If you want to talk about it now, we will." He grinned suddenly. "After all, we're both of an age where we need something to do to fill up the rest of the day."

Apollo laughed, and then sobered. "If you're sure..."

"I'm sure." He sat up, brushed his hair back, and looked serious. Seriously adorable, Apollo thought. He made a note to make sure Starbuck was always dressed when he suspected his husband of trying to slip one past him; that would take his advantage down to something nearly manageable... Starbuck was talking. "What exactly is it bothers you?"

Apollo thought about that and finally said, "I mean... I know he's your friend. And obviously Theni likes him. And Boxey—and it's not all cupboard love with him, Starbuck. But... well. I'm not you. Or them. And I can't forget the way that he stood there on that hangar deck and told me the wrong man was in charge of the Fleet. And how, if the Cylons hadn't showed up while that sentence was still hanging in the air, we might have fired on each other. And I don't know how much of that was Cain, and how much Sheba, and how much fear, and how much that he was unmistakeably the other alpha lupine on that deck, him with his pack and me with mine, and so we were destined to be at each other's throats. But he was this close," he measured off half of the last joint of his little finger, "to armed mutiny. He actually made me draw on him. And then he came on the Gamoray mission, and since then he's been a pain in the astrum, to be polite about it. Standing around, sniping, a beta lupine just waiting for me to make a false move, trying to push me into one—I just don't know... and now he's marrying my sister, and I wish to God I knew why."

Starbuck sighed. "Maybe you're right. Maybe you two were destined to be at each other's throats. You were both captains, and your commanders were at odds, and you know Sheba was part of it. But Cain's gone, and whatever part of it Sheba was, she's not now, not for either of you—and I will not talk about her on my honeymoon, either," he added quickly. "Whatever she was for him, he's Theni's now, though I'd personally think twice before I called her the alpha bitch." He grinned and then went on, seriously. "But whatever you think, you aren't changing their minds today or tomorrow. And I really don't want you to be brooding about them. Theni's no green girl, Apollo. She knows what she's doing. It's not like he's the first man she ever slept with—you don't have to worry that she's mistaking sex for love. She never did that."

"That verges on too much information," Apollo answered. "But, seriously, she's only known him a few days. Unless they've been slipping around behind my back."

"I can't believe you said that."

Apollo replayed the sentence and groaned. "I just gave you a major weapon, didn't I?"

Starbuck smiled at him. "Don't fret, Pol. I'll never tell her. Anyway, there are some things that shouldn't leave the bed."

"You've used pillow talk before."

"Not yours."

There was no response to that but to lean over and kiss him.

Several centons later Starbuck reverted to the conversation. "Anyway, even if you're right about how he was, things have changed. And if he's with Theni, then," he shrugged fluidly, "unless you think she's angling to be the power behind the throne, then he's not after you any more. Boj really isn't ambitious, Apollo, he just..." Starbuck shrugged. "He's hard to get to switch tracks, that's all. He can be loyal—Hades, Pol, what you hated about him at first was the product of his loyalty to Cain."

"Maybe. But I don't like him. And the people I love do... Hades, Starbuck, Father even took them to dinner."

Starbuck ruffled his hair. "And that's more about him and you than him and Bojay, isn't it? But you don't have to like Bojay just because other people do. No two people in the worlds relate to a third the same way, even when they seem almost identical. Like me and Boomer to you, for instance."

"Well, I should think not. Maybe you and me to Boomer."

"Except you're his superior office, his captain, or at least you were. You outranked him most of the time you've known him, and I was at best only nominally his peer, him always being fast track, and your second for a while. And I'm still under his command more than you. It's different. And how I relate to Bojay, how Theni does, how Boxey does... it's not relevant to how you do. I mean, Bojay never threatened to pull a blaster on me, or scared me enough that I drew on him. And I never had his woman leave him to chase me. He sure as Hades never disobeyed an order from me, 'cause I never gave him one. And you and he never served together, weren't wingmates, never wasted entire furlons together. It's different. Maybe you can't like him."

"You do." He left the bit about Sheba for later; Starbuck had been deadly serious when he'd said he wouldn't talk about her now.

"Yeah. I do. I always did." He shrugged. "He is my friend, even when he didn't think so, but I know my experiences with him are different so I don't expect you to like him like I do. I have several friends you probably won't like; I expect not to like all yours."

Apollo regarded him seriously, because he was serious. He wasn't talking about messing around with Giles, who Apollo did like or at least didn't dislike; he was talking about remaining friends with someone Apollo really did dislike. He was talking about... autonomy. And although Apollo's first instinct was to say that as a married couple they should only have common friends, his better self had stopped him saying it. He remembered asking his mother once, home from his prep school and old enough to join them at dinner, even old enough to be the man 'escorting' the young daughter of one of the couples, asking why married couples were never sat together at dinner.

"They just aren't," she'd said, and then, "and that's not good enough for you, is it?"

"Why aren't they? What's the rationale? Wouldn't you rather talk to Father than Sire Odeon? I know he'd rather talk to you than Siress Ludmilla."

She smiled. "But he quite enjoys Sire Odeon's daughter on his other hand, and I enjoyed that young musician. And Odeon's not that bad, for that matter. The fact is, Apollo, married people aren't conjoined twins. They have different interests and, often, different friends. When you're married you'll understand it better; at least, I hope you will. Your wife won't be happy if you try to keep her firmly in your circle at all times."

Serina certainly hadn't... and Starbuck certainly wouldn't. Especially if it came out sounding like it was his right, somehow. "If you do find out he's plotting to overthrow me or my father, I hope you'll mention it," he said finally.

Starbuck's eyes glittered with laughter. "Depends on what position he's offering me," he teased.

"I'll offer you a position better than any he'll come up with."

"Oh, yes?" Starbuck said. The sheet he was half covered in couldn't hide the fact that he found that suggestion intriguing even if his tone was light.

Apollo wished he had Starbuck's recovery time; the man might have been twenty instead of over thirty. On the other hand, he was always willing to lie down for Starbuck. That had scared him for yahrens, how willing he was, but now he embraced it. And his husband, pulling the blond down on top of him while kissing him as passionately as he could. Starbuck came willingly, even eagerly, his cock rising more, hardening against Apollo's thigh as Apollo ran his hands down the sleek, firm back to the equally sleek buttocks where he dug his fingers in the way the blond loved.

"You like this position?" Apollo husked against Starbuck's throat, gripping with his knees.

"I'd turn in anybody," he said. "Well, not you..." He recaptured Apollo's mouth, one hand reaching for the tube resting on the bedside table. Then he sat up, leaning back and loading up his hand.

Apollo waited, concealing his impatience with a little joke. "So you like me better than him?"

Starbuck tossed the lube back onto the table. "Bojay has his points."

"Oh?" Apollo arched his back slightly, involuntarily.

"Ummm..." Starbuck trailed the fingers of his left hand up the inside of Apollo's thigh, tickling slightly. "He's gonna keep Theni busy. And he likes to babysit. And he saved your life. That definitely makes me like him. But," and he slid his finger inside, "not quite as much as you."

Apollo moaned, arching his back, yielding to what he needed, the giving as much as the taking, the being taken by the man he belonged to. "Gods, yes, please," he said.

"A little patience, Pol," Starbuck said, pushing his finger in and out. "Soon enough." He bent over and kissed Apollo's stomach, his blond hair tickling Apollo's skin. Apollo reached one hand into that hair, pulling slightly. Starbuck came with the pull for a long, hungry kiss, and then pulled away to fill the emptiness he'd left with two fingers, and then three. His left hand drifted across to roll Apollo's balls gently together and then he caught Apollo's knees, positioning him, and thrust gently into him, filling him with his usual slow patience, possessing him thoroughly.

Apollo closed his eyes, clutching the sheets and pushing forward. Starbuck adjusted his legs over his shoulders and began to thrust in earnest, repeating Apollo's name as he did. He reached forward, finding Apollo's left hand and holding it tight in his own right—and how he loved that little twist, their good hands together as they loved each other—and when Apollo opened his eyes it was in time to see the expression on his husband's face, his head thrown back as he came. Starbuck was never more beautiful than at this moment, and unless Apollo had lost his mind, he'd been getting even more so in the past secton. Apollo tightened his grip on Starbuck's hand and pulled the blond down on top of him for a deep kiss and close embrace. "Oh, gods," he said when he could, "I love you. I love you."

"I know," Starbuck answered, stroking his back. "I know, love. I love you, too."

Long centons passed while Apollo just lay in that embrace. But finally his fastidious nature reasserted itself and he stirred. "I'm going to take a turbowash," he said. "Want to join me?"

"Ummmmm," said Starbuck. "Yes."

Apollo took a few moments to strip the sheets off and put on new ones. The closet had several extra sets, he'd noticed when he'd pulled down an extra pillow. He wondered again if Starbuck had asked for them or if the usual clientele went through them... as quickly as we will, he admitted. Then he joined Starbuck in the hot water. This might, he thought, be more fun if they weren't sated already, but it was good in a different way. Washing each other's backs, tender kisses, looking their fill at bodies they'd had to pretend not to notice for so long...

He loved it. He loved Starbuck and this room and his whole life.

At least for the moment.

When they came out, Apollo pulled on his silk trousers again to push the cart out into the hallway. Starbuck headed back to the bed, though he grabbed up his little bag on the way, saying, "How about a little two handed Pyramid?"

Apollo shrugged. "Why not?" He opened the door.

"What's this? Pol, did you bring porn? Who'd have guessed it?"

Apollo turned around so fast he almost fell over. "No, I did not. What have you got?" Then he recognized it: the small package Theni had brought them. It was the right size and shape for a vid.

"Warrior of the Centare: Special Edition," Starbuck read the label. He chuckled suggestively. "Just how special, I wonder?"

Apollo stared at him. "My sister would not give us porn—" he broke off. "Do you mean you and she... No. I don't want to know. That is too much information."

Starbuck just grinned at him. "Your sister," he said, "is a multi-faceted woman, Pol. In some ways, I envy Bojay. And I can't wait to see this vid."


"Did they ever interview you?" he asked curiously.

"No." Apollo was happier to be able to say that than he could have vocalized. "They asked but—"

"You said no," Starbuck shook his head. "You're too damned modest. Not that I haven't wished I'd said no, myself."

"You? Say no to free publicity? A chance to expose the whole Fleet to you?" Apollo shook his head. "Never."

"I don't want the whole Fleet," Starbuck said seriously.

"I know. But I don't mind if they envy me."

Starbuck's smile was a little misty.

Apollo looked away from him, catching his breath, and his eyes fell on the vid casing. "Don't tell me they got 'special' footage of you. That beady-eyed, toothy little newscaster certainly was fawning all over you—"

"Oh, please." Starbuck looked both disgusted and affronted. "Zara? Not even close to my type. Why do you think she was crowing about my 'brilliant career' being over not two sectons later? She got nothing on vid you couldn't show Boxey."

"Well, then, what do you think that is?"

"Who knows?" Starbuck said cheerfully. "I don't think we should sit around and guess, either. Let's just watch it."

Apollo shook his head, feeling the blush starting. "I really don't like..."

Starbuck grinned at him and patted the bed. "When was the last time you watched any porn, Pol? Seventeen? Come on, try it, you'll like it." He mimicked an ad slogan and Apollo had to grin. "Modest and shy and so proper... in public, anyway."

"You're bad for me."

Starbuck mimed hurt. "I thought I was good for you."

"Depends on who you're asking," Apollo said, sitting beside him. "The general public doesn't think so."

"I'm not thinking about the public. General or otherwise."

"I know." Apollo kissed him. "You are good for me. And to me. And with me... You're the best thing in my life, ever." He kissed him again and then leaned up against him, resting his head on his lifemate's bare shoulder. "I can't imagine life without you. And I'll even watch the damned vid with you."

Starbuck put his arm around Apollo, like he never did in public—not shy, Starbuck, no; anything but shy; but self-contained. And unwilling to advertise how much something meant to him when he didn't know how long he'd have it. Apollo leaned into the embrace, refraining from apologizing yet one more time.

"Judging by last night, and this morning, and just now, and, well, a lot of times," Starbuck said, his breath stirring Apollo's hair a little, "you'll like it if it is porn. If it's good, anyway. But we don't even know what it is. For all we know, it's a documentary on perverts in the Fleet—well, no," he corrected himself, "Athena wouldn't spring that on us. But it could be a documentary on, who the hades knows? Changing lifestyles or something."

"You're right, of course." Apollo sat up and took the casing from him and stood to put it in the machine. "One of us has to watch it anyway. I don't feel like explaining to Theni why we ignored it."

Starbuck laughed, his teeth flashing white. "You have an excellent point there." He patted the bed again. "C'mon, sit down. If it is porn maybe we can pick up a few pointers."

"You need pointers?" Apollo said reflexively and then realized. He knelt by the bed and put his head on Starbuck's knee. "I know," he said. "I do, that was just a joke. No other men but me. I know."

"Don't take yourself up," Starbuck said, not sounding wounded at all. "It's a perfectly reasonable thing to say. And anyway, it's mostly true... no other men. But I've watched a lot of vid."

Apollo looked up to see Starbuck's smile, warm and loving. He shook his head. "You are a degenerate, aren't you?"

"Yep," he confirmed cheerfully. "And I'm doing my best to live up to your father's expectations. Or is that down?"

"Whichever," Apollo said, "I don't want to talk about him on my honeymoon." He climbed up on the bed. "Start the vid. If it gets too embarrassing I'll just hide under the covers."

Starbuck laughed and punched on the vid.

It started like a regular episode of Warrior of the Centare, the same logo and IFB studio, and Zara's smiling face. But then, instead of the usual pull-back shot to show the interviewer and her subject together, there was just a cut to the Warrior. Starbuck stiffened: it was Sheba. He stopped the playback. "You did say Theni gave you this?"

"Yes. Both of us, she said," he remembered.

"Okay, then." Starbuck started the play again.

"What do you mean, 'okay, then'?"

"You still haven't heard?" Starbuck stopped the play once more. "You really don't gossip, do you?"

"Gossip is bad for morale. Tell me."

"Your sister smacked the felgar out of Sheba. Twice."

"What?" Apollo couldn't believe it. "Are you serious? You mean she actually hit her?"

"That's the story. Of course, Blue was confined to barracks, so I didn't see it, but I sure heard about it."

Apollo had felt the threat of violence in Athena's anger just a few days earlier, but he still couldn't quite believe that she'd really hit Sheba. Then again, what had Boomer said? The last time I looked, Athena was more than capable of taking care of herself. Ask Sheba. Ask Athena. Ask any of a dozen who saw it... "What happened? Tell me, Starbuck."

The blond shrugged. "Sheba went off in the ready room. She got Giles up on report, lit into Bojay, and wasn't that polite about you."

"Or you, from what Theni said."

"She told you?"

"That part. Not that she jumped Sheba."

Starbuck grinned. "Modesty runs in your family, doesn't it? She did, though, in the O Club."

"In the O Club?"

"Yep. Walked right up and slapped her silly. In front of about half of Silver Spar. And then told her off. Very impressively. She's the toast of Green. And Blue's pretty crazy about her, too."

Apollo hid his face in his arms for a centon. "How could she?"

Starbuck shrugged. "She had plenty provocation, and nothing to lose. You wouldn't, I wouldn't, and Bojay never would, either. Boxey couldn't. And Giles just might, but he'd get in Hades' own hole for it."

"I know, but... she hit her?"

"Not hard enough, I'd say," Starbuck said acerbically. "It didn't stop her trying to stir up trouble when you got back."

"Maybe it made her," Apollo pointed out.

"She was already causing trouble," Starbuck said uncompromisingly.

"I shouldn't have led her on."

"Maybe. But she's not blameless. And adults know how to take no for an answer, or so I've been told."

"I suppose..."

"Apollo, you are not to blame yourself for that. You were smitten at first, but you got over it. You didn't ask her to seal with you, you never even slept with her—"

"And how do you know that?" Apollo was sure he hadn't ever said so. He'd managed not to discuss his sex life in detail with Starbuck, even if he hadn't managed anything else.

"She told everybody who'd listen," Starbuck said. "Not in a way very complimentary to you, either, I might add."

Apollo blushed.

"So your leading her on was mostly her chasing you, in my opinion. Don't blame yourself."

Apollo was remembering something Athena had said. "Starbuck, what did she call me? In front of Boxey, I mean? Theni didn't say, just that it was obscene."

"Catamite," Starbuck said bluntly. "I think he got a decent definition out of Theni. Just forget her, Pol. Let it go. It's not your fault."

"Whose, then?"

"Hers. Cain's. Your father's. The Cylons'."

"Now you're reaching."

"Not really." But Starbuck didn't follow it up. "Let Boomer deal with it, it's his job now. You can just ignore her."

"I wish. Somehow I think that's easier said than done."

"Well, you can try. You want to look at this vid or not?"

"I suppose."

"If you don't, we don't have to. I can watch it any time."

"Oh, Hades, why not? Play it." He leaned against Starbuck. "How bad can it be?"

Starbuck put his arm around Apollo's shoulder. "It's from Theni. There's no telling." He started the playback.

The vid was cleverly edited—"I smell Melpemone," Starbuck murmured, and Apollo had to agree that Boomer's IFB girlfriend was a more likely technical choice than Athena. Zara's standard questions were interspersed with declamations by Sheba that made her sound like an idiot. Almost against his will Apollo found himself giggling when Sheba 'told' Zara that her greatest military ambition was "to have my Viper painted pink." He couldn't imagine what context that had been yanked out of, but it was funny, especially when Zara 'followed up' with "But wouldn't that be unorthodox?" and Sheba 'answered' that "surely anyone with brains can see the immense value of the idea! Tactically it's pure genius."

The piece ran about ten centons, twice as long as Warrior of the Centare's usual length, and by the end they were both laughing. Starbuck turned off the player and settled down. "Theni is a genius," he said. "I'm glad she's on our side... I wonder how many copies of this she made, and who got one?"

Apollo nodded. "I don't see how she could have put this together with everything else she's been doing... Taking Boxey, and everything."

"She's a multi-tasker, your sister. And very determined."

"She is that," Apollo agreed. He thought for a few centons. "We owe Theni big time, don't we?"

"You could safely say that," Starbuck agreed.

Apollo sighed.

"Now what?"

"I was just thinking... Do you suppose she will have kids and want us to babysit?"

"With luck, Boxey'll be old enough to do a lot of it."

Apollo shook his head. "He did sound like he wanted to."

"Yep," Starbuck said. "Though he'll probably get over it."

"Athena's kids... that's..." His voice trailed off.

Starbuck heaved a sigh. "Pol, the last time I saw her and Boj, which was this morning at our wedding, she was way past the 'when are we going to do this, honey?' look and definitely into the 'I want to bear your children' look. And he was not running. So, yes. Your little sister's going to have kids. Or at least try. You might as well get used to it."

"You're familiar with those looks?"

"I have run like a scalded felix a time or two," he admitted. "I am a pretty desirable specimen, if I have to say it myself."

"Oh, you don't," Apollo reassured him. "I'll say it. Though it will just feed your vanity."

"It's not vanity if it's true, how many times do I have to say that?"

Apollo laughed. "They neglected your theological education at the orphanage, didn't they?"

"Neglected it? Not really. I've just forgotten as much as possible, that's all. There's only so much room in a brain, you know, and I don't want mine cluttered up with junk." He paused. "No offense—"

"None taken," Apollo said. It was too bad Starbuck wasn't more religious, but he was a good man where it counted. "Not the first time I've heard it, anyway."

"I'll watch it around Boxey," Starbuck said.

"You're doing fine with Boxey. It's Father who's screwing up his religious ideas." He growled slightly. "I've have a mind to make us all join Theni as Diwests."

Starbuck snickered.

"Yeah, I know... It might be easier than Temple."

"Apollo, you haven't done anything to be kept out of Temple," Starbuck said firmly.

"I know."

"And you're not going to let a bunch of narrow-minded borays keep you away?"

"Which of is the believer?" He was amused at Starbuck's vehemence.

"I don't want you losing anything else. Especially not something that means so much."

Apollo smiled at him. "I won't. Only the Lords can forbid me Temple, and they haven't. But don't you worry about Boxey. He can handle your not going to Temple."


Apollo blinked at the tone. "Starbuck—would you go if I told you it would be better for him?"

"Of course. Though I'm damned glad you didn't."

"I knew you'd be a good father."

Starbuck said softly, "I'll try."

"You're wonderful already."

He sighed happily. "Did I ever tell you that Ila told me once I'd be a good father?"

"No. But I'm not surprised." He was a little surprised that it had ever come up between them, but only a little. He'd realized with a sort of resignation a long time ago that much as he loved his mother, they weren't able to discuss his emotional life. He wasn't able to discuss it.

"I was. But maybe she was right. And you. I've discovered myself worrying about him a lot last secton."

"That's half of it," Apollo conceded. "He's so... dependent."

"I don't know what you're supposed to do," Starbuck said softly.

"But you know what you're not supposed to do," Apollo told him. "That's as good. And you love him. I'm not worried."

"Thank you."

Apollo wasn't sure what to say to that. "Even if I die," he said finally, "I know he'll be taken care of. By you. So how could I worry?"

Starbuck sighed. "I would, of course. But please don't make me."

"I have no intention of it," Apollo reassured him. "Believe me: I intend to die at a hundred and sixty or more. In bed. With you."

"I can get behind that," said Starbuck.

"Oh, I hope so."

Starbuck laughed softly. "Just not at the moment, I'm afraid."

"That reassures me, actually," said Apollo. "I was starting to get an inferiority complex."

"There's nothing inferior about you, Pol. Finest quality, all the way through."

"Ummm... That's nice." He yawned.

"Go to sleep, Pol." Starbuck stroked his hair.

He closed his eyes and relaxed against his husband's shoulder. "I love you," he said after a moment.

"I love you, too," was the last thing he heard.

When he woke up, he was starving. He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept so much at such odd hours and missed so many meals. When he came out of the turboflush, Starbuck was awake and waiting, only one quick kiss before he ducked inside.

"I'm ordering breakfast," he called, looking at the menu.

"It's much too late for breakfast," Starbuck said, passing him on his way back to the bed. "Just order lunch. They won't care."

"I'll take your word for it." He glanced over the menu and started to order. Lunch was a better idea, given the available foods.

"Order ale this time," Starbuck called from the bed.

"You drink too much," said Apollo, doing as he was told.

"I know. And I smoke, and I gamble, and I'm obsessed with sex... But do I have any bad habits?"

"Now you come to mention it..." Apollo stood at the foot of the bed and looked at him. "You are the poster child for bad habits. Or you would be, if only you weren't so damned attractive with them."

Starbuck smiled at him. "Aren't poster children supposed to entice you?"

"When you put it that way—" Apollo pounced, pinning Starbuck underneath him. "You are definitely," he said, nibbling his husband's shoulder, "enticing."

Starbuck wriggled, not fighting but reacting. He gasped as Apollo's teeth closed gently on a nipple and then gave way to suckling.

Apollo paused a centon, crouching over him and looking up into blue eyes gone a little hazy already. "And you know what happens when I get enticed?"

"I get ravished?" Starbuck said hopefully.

"Something very like that," Apollo said, and went back to work, though anything less like work he'd never engaged in.

Starbuck moaned under his ministrations, shivering in pleasure. Apollo slowly made his way down along one hip and leg and devoted some extra time to Starbuck's feet before coming back up the other leg, kissing and nipping as he did. By the time he got back to Starbuck's cock, the blond was inarticulate. Apollo loved that, driving the usually talkative Starbuck's words clean away from him. He teased the cock for a while, running his fingers along its underside while he licked the balls, and then kissing the length of it, licking the head.

Starbuck writhed, trying to thrust, but Apollo had him pinned. Finally he found a word: "Poooool." Apollo took immediate steps to rectify that situation, taking Starbuck's cock into his mouth, keeping him pinned and setting the pace himself. Once again Starbuck was wordless with passion and desire, moaning.

And then he sat back abruptly, reaching for the lube. Starbuck almost whimpered with his need. Apollo pulled him upright, moving behind him, pushing his fingers inside and feeling Starbuck push back, wanting, ready almost at once. Apollo's own need was strong now, and he thrust into his husband, wrapping his arms around him and pinning Starbuck's. He began driving in, hard, kissing Starbuck's shoulders; the blond's breath was now coming in pants and little cries. After a few centons, Apollo reached and took Starbuck's cock in his hand; Starbuck's reaction nearly made Apollo come right then. He continued thrusting and working the blond's cock in counterpoint. Starbuck's hands were anchored on Apollo's right arm with bruising force, and the pain was blended with the ecstasy until Apollo couldn't tell them apart. When Starbuck came, finally, with a long cry that was nearly a howl, Apollo followed him at once, his own cry muffled against the flesh of his husband's shoulder. They collapsed, Apollo retaining just enough sanity to pull them into falling sideways, his arms around Starbuck.

Eventually he felt Starbuck catching hold of his hand and raising it for a kiss. The blond sighed deeply and said, "I'll have to entice you more often, I can see..."

"You'll kill me," Apollo said into his ear and kissed his neck.

"Where's your stamina?" Starbuck teased. "I'm the smoker."

"Your genes must be better than mine."

Starbuck was quiet for a centon. Then, "Maybe," he said. "But don't say that where anyone else can hear."

"I don't care," Apollo said softly but firmly. "I never have."

Starbuck kissed his hand again and they lay together in silence for several centons.

"Did I mention," Apollo said lazily, "how much I liked our wedding?"

"I got the idea," Starbuck said.

"Well, I'll mention it now: I loved it. I can't believe you got all that arranged while you were basically confined to quarters."

Starbuck looked a bit embarrassed. "Well, to tell the truth, I can't take all the credit. In fact," he admitted, "I can't take most of the credit. Giles basically put it together."

"Giles?" The feisty little pilot as a Sealing Coordinator was a truly disconcerting image.

"He told me he got a couple of ideas from Theni, so it'd be more Caprican than Libran, but mostly it was him. I just got to veto some of his more outrageous ideas. That you can thank me for."

Apollo looked at him apprehensively. "Do I even want to know what ideas you're talking about?"

"No, Pol, I don't think you do. I know you wouldn't have been happy with them."

He shook his head. "The things you don't know about people," he said. He was quiet for a few centons and then said, "I loved it anyway."

"Me, too," Starbuck said.

"All of it?"

"Yes, all of it. Every micron. Every syllable. Every note and hors d'oeuvre and dance-step. Every look. Every tiny bit of it." He sighed happily. "Melpemone is cutting together a vid for us, did Boomer tell you? It's their present to us."

"She's a talented woman," Apollo said, and then, "Even using the Word?"

Starbuck rolled over on his side and propped himself on his elbow. "Yes, Pol. Even using the Word."

"I wouldn't have if you didn't want to. You know that, don't you?"

"Yes, Pol. I know that. But you wanted to. It's part of who you are. It always has been. We aren't carbon copies, you know," using the old phrase for duplicates. "You believe. I didn't mind at all; in fact, I was glad to."

Apollo reached out and touched Starbuck's cheek lightly. "You're too good to me."

"Pol, that was nothing."


Starbuck smiled at him. "What can I say? You're easy to be good to."

"I don't deserve you."

"Hey, that's my line," Starbuck objected. "You deserve anything you want. You earn it. You sacrifice and give up—"

"And ask you to do the same thing."

"And I want to. For you. It's worth it. You're worth it."

"Gods, Starbuck. It scares me sometimes, how much I need you. How much you give me..."

"I'll always give you what you need, Apollo," he said seriously. "Now."

Apollo closed his eyes. All that wasted time...

"Pol. Don't. Forget the past. Now is real and the future's what counts." Starbuck's hand stroked his hair and then pulled him towards the other man.

Apollo opened his eyes and his mouth and fell inside the kiss, losing all his guilt in the forgiveness offered so readily. Better than forgiveness: understanding. Acceptance. Love...

Oh, gods. Such love. When they finally walked out of this room, there were going to be problems, a lot of them. But with Starbuck by his side, supporting him, Apollo was sure there was not one among them he couldn't deal with.

the end

The ProgramThe First DanceThe Second DanceThe Third Dance
The Fourth DanceThe Fifth DanceThe Sixth DanceThe Seventh Dance


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