Apollo is conscious just enough to realise that he's awake, that sleep has retreated to the edge of the bed and is poised there, tantalising and teasing him with potential and possibilities, ready to flee completely.  He can't quite get his eyes open yet, but he's awake enough to be aware of the chill dawn air on his arms and legs, the goosebumps raising the fine hairs, the incipient shiver at the base of his spine; and he knows that this is what's woken him, that this slow, creeping cold has been enough to make his body hanker for warmth and wake him enough to seek for it.

He draws a breath, tensing his shoulders against the cold air pressing on his skin, trying to stop the tremors in muscles that are protesting against being forced out of the looseness of sleep.  He yawns.

Apollo knows it isn’t really dawn,  The Galactica operates throughout the full twenty-five centar day, but in many ways she runs as if she were a small planet with daylight, evenings, dawns, nights.  It stops them going mad, having a structure to their day; the illusion that they've gone through a proper daily cycle deceiving minds and bodies into believing that this unnatural life is normal.  So during the Galactican 'night', she powers down in all non-essential areas, everywhere other than the bridge and the flight-decks, putting them through a pretence, a deceptive cold darkness that mimics the Caprican night.

And Apollo knows that the cool dawn air is an illusion, that all that's happened is that the power conduits to his quarters have had their switches tripped to daytime mode.  He knows that the surge of power behind walls and ceilings and underneath the floor is beginning the measured, precise process of exchanging warm air for cold and the slow raising of the level of light to ape the way night gives way to morning.  Yet still his body is beginning to stretch itself, and wake from the soft formlessness of sleep and react to the sharpness of a new day.

He shivers, and his eyes prise open reluctantly.  He shivers again, the goosebumps tingling their way down his back and his legs, and reaches for the duvet.  As usual, Starbuck stole it sometime in the night, wrapping it around his lithe, golden body so that he, damn him, is giving off enough heat to rival a small furnace while Apollo's arse freezes off.  But because he's a considerate lover—and because, sadly, he's used to this—Apollo refrains from yanking the duvet back and tumbling Starbuck out of bed as he does it.  Instead, he tugs at the edge gently, to get enough of the duvet back to get himself covered again.  He has no compunction about slithering over the inch or two of cool sheet to press himself against Starbuck's warm back, snaking an arm over him.  He slides his hand under the soft shirt of Starbuck's sleepsuit and splays his hand out across the bottom of Starbuck's chest, the lower fingers pressed against the softness of Starbuck's stomach.  He can feel the steady thump of Starbuck's heart beating against his fingertips.

Starbuck shivers, grumbles something, a nonsense of sounds that aren't quite vowels or consonants, all slurred together and meaningless.  Apollo smiles and buries his nose in the soft warm place just above Starbuck's collarbone.  The skin is warm and moist, and when he breathes in, it feels like he's breathing in all of Starbuck.

Starbuck flinches.  "S'cold," he murmurs, not quite awake.

"You're the one stealing the duvet," protests Apollo, breathing little ghosting puffs of air over the side of Starbuck's neck and watching the skin quiver.

"Mmnnnph," says Starbuck.  He rolls over, capturing Apollo in a net of arms and legs and presses in close, so that Apollo's hand is now splayed over the small of his back. The skin there is sleep-warm, and although Starbuck twitches slightly under Apollo's cold fingers, he only mumbles some more. 

He doesn't wake though.  Apollo's a little disappointed about that, because he's usually the one to be first awake and alert, and Starbuck will murmur Not yet, and Just a few more centons, and Stay here with me where it's warm and We’ve got time; we've got plenty of time; and Starbuck has ways of warming a man that leave him sated and sticky and sweetly tired.

He waits, but Starbuck just snuffles against his neck, and shifts slightly, making himself more comfortable.  Apollo presses a kiss against the bit of Starbuck's cheek that's all that he can reach without moving, because he doesn't want to move.  Not from here.

Starbuck yawns and stills again.  He presses his face into the side of Apollo's neck and holds on, and his breathing evens out again, slows and slows, until there's barely a breath of warm air on Apollo's neck,

Apollo shivers one more time, before making himself relax, forcing the tensing muscles back into looseness.  It's an old trick, but it works. 

It's early yet, he knows.  Too early.  Still a centar or more before Boxey will wake and demand breakfast, and the day begins.  Still a centar before he has to move, to be somewhere else, to be someone else other than this quiet, sleepy, content Apollo who's slowly warming in Starbuck's tight embrace, who has Starbuck's legs and arms twined with his, who has Starbuck's breath warmly moist against his throat.  Still a centar before he has to be Boxey's father, Adama's son. Captain Apollo, and Strike Leader, and Third in Command and the myriad of other Apollos who have duties and responsibilities and who pull him away from here, from this body-warmed place under the duvet where it's only him and Starbuck.

The last little shiver tingles its way down his spine and leaves him lying quiet and still.  He rests his cheek on Starbuck's hair and closes his eyes, letting Starbuck's warmth leach into him until he's no longer cold. 


1000 words

March 2009