Part Five

 

Starbuck was allowed to stay with Apollo throughout the examination. Salik had quickly realised that nothing short of high explosive would get the lieutenant to leave, and allowed Starbuck to sit in a corner on the understanding that he kept quiet and didn't interrupt. On the whole, Starbuck was very good, despite his anxiety.

When he started stacking it up, Apollo had a lot of things that he admitted weren't quite right. He confessed that the headaches were getting unbearable, told Salik about the pins and needles in his right hand and leg that drove him mad sometimes, the numbness in his hand that made him drop things, the clumsiness that made him fall over so much, about not being able to concentrate. He admitted too, that he knew it was having a bad effect on his work.

Salik had already noted the slow, unsteady walk. He spent quite a lot of time working on Apollo's leg, testing his reflexes and getting him to walk around the room. The dragging right foot was getting very obvious now, but Salik didn't comment.

Starbuck stirred uneasily in the corner, but obeyed the injunction to keep quiet. He'd tried to chip in once, but Salik, a small, fussy little man, had intimidated even Starbuck into silence with one cold look.

"Interesting," Salik said as Apollo finished his catalogue of the symptoms. "Vision problems?"

"When my head hurts, sometimes." Apollo agreed.

"All right." Salik shone an ophthalmoscope into Apollo's eyes, making little grunting noises at whatever he saw there. "Your eyes seem okay, so it's not bad vision that causing the dizzy spells and blackouts."

"I never said anything about being dizzy."

"You didn't have to," Salik told him with a slight sniff. "How bad?"

Apollo shrugged. "I get dizzy if I stand up too quickly, that's all. Only lasts a micron or two."

"Is it happening more frequently? Every day? More than once a day?"

"Yes," said Apollo reluctantly, to all three.

Salik nodded, studying his hand held scanner. "And the blackouts?"

"I'm not sure that's what they are. All I know is that sometimes I lose concentration for a few centons."

"Like a centar and a half, this morning. And again when you were with the commander twenty centons ago," said Starbuck audibly. He subsided when both Apollo and Salik glared at him.

Salik turned back to Apollo and waited, and eventually Apollo confessed that they were frequent and getting worse.

"There's times I can't remember what happened," he admitted. "I know I'm there, it's just like I'm asleep and missed it."

Salik nodded, satisfied.

"I want to take some scans, Captain, then you and the lieutenant can amuse yourselves in the waiting room for half a centar while I look at them." There was a thin little smile on the doctor's face. "Nothing too energetic of course."

Even Starbuck blushed.

 

 

It was only when Apollo admitted to Salik that he'd taken himself off the flying rota a sectar before because he knew he wasn't fit to fly, that it really hit me how ill he must have been feeling. It really worried me that Salik was concentrating on all the physical symptoms Apollo had. He didn't ignore the suggestions that this was stress-related, but he didn't major on it. I realised then that Apollo was sick, really sick, and Salik was looking grave by the time he was finished and sent us out to wait.

I was amazed by how much Apollo had hidden from me. I wasn't mad at him for that - I knew why he'd tried not to worry me - but it did make me mad at myself for not seeing what was in front of me. And mad at Adama, mad as all hell at Adama. More than half Apollo's reluctance to admit he was ill was because he didn't want to admit how much the stress of dealing with Adama's hostility was getting to him.

The worst of it was having to stay calm and upbeat for Apollo's sake. Now you may not have noticed, but I'm not naturally a restrained kind of personality. I don't agree with the commander's view that I'm superficial, mind you, but I do sometimes find it hard to control my emotional responses to things. What I wanted to do was run around shrieking. It was hard work just to walk into the waiting room and act cool and collected.

I called Boomer and told him where we were. He was as relieved as I was, I think, that Apollo was at least seeing the quack, and he gave me the rest of the day off. My new boss was certainly more generous and sympathetic than the miserable, exploitative oppressor of the people who'd sat in the duty office before him and I told the miserable, exploitative oppressor so in no uncertain terms. Apollo managed a grin at that, but he was tired and shaky and once we settled down to wait, he dozed most of the time until Salik was ready for us.

Cassie came in briefly to make sure we were all right and see if we wanted any coffee or anything. Apollo was asleep on my shoulder, so we didn't wake him, just talked quietly. I hadn't really seen her for a while. She'd put on weight, I noticed, and only sniffed when, with my usual gentlemanly good manners, I mentioned it.

"Giles is a far better bet than you as a father," she said and gave me a saucy little grin.

"You're not!"

"I am. We'll invite you to the Sealing, even though you don't deserve it."

I looked at her apologetically. I'd have jumped up to hug her but I didn't want to disturb Apollo.

"It's all right," she said, and gave me an odd look. "You can congratulate me properly later. I just wanted to see you two were okay. Apollo's evidently comfortable."

"He's making my shoulder ache, but I'll get by. Can I be the baby's uncle?"

"I'm counting on it." Cassie bent down and kissed me. Then, unusually, she kissed Apollo's cheek as well. "Salik's just running a few more tests. We won't be long."

I looked down at Apollo, then at her.

"Not good, is it, Cass?"

She evaded the question. "Salik won't be long," she said again.

Her smile was professional and insincere, and if she thought it fooled me she should have known better.

No, it wasn't good. Not good at all.

 

 

"Bad news, then?" said Apollo as soon as he and Starbuck got back into Salik's office, not giving the doctor time to say anything.

"Not the best news, no." Salik paused, hesitated, fiddled with things on his desk. "But not the bad news I think you've been worrying about. It's not a tumour, Apollo."

Starbuck's breath was let out in a long sigh and Apollo relaxed and grinned. He flashed a smile at Starbuck.

"Hallelujah!" Starbuck grinned back. "I was getting pretty scared out there."

"Me too," Apollo admitted. "So, it's just stress?"

"I didn't say so." Salik was still grave. "No it's not the stress - although that hasn't helped - and it's not cancer, Apollo, but it's still serious. Very serious. I need to operate and we can't wait."

Apollo's grin faded. "But - " A centon's silence. "What is it?"

"It's been six sectars since the shuttle crash."

"Yeah. But what has that to do with it?"

"Everything, I'm afraid." Salik sighed. "I'm sorry, Apollo, it looks like we missed something. You had a serious head injury and there was quite a bit of damage, causing the concussion. But you seemed to make a good recovery and everything seemed fine then. Nothing showed on your scans. But the new scans I've just done show that the wall of a blood vessel to the brain is seriously weakened. That sort of damage is almost always the result of head trauma. It has to be from the crash, and I missed it. I'm sorry."

"Don't worry. I'll not sue." Apollo managed a slight grin. "What does it mean?"

"Most of the problems you've had have been because the vessel walls have been leaking blood, putting pressure on the cerebral cortex. That's why you're having motor difficulties."

"My leg, you mean? But I thought I'd just done some damage in Triad practice and it was slow to heal."

Salik shook his head. "No. Actually, Apollo, you've had a series of relatively minor strokes, little haemorrhages that have caused the blackouts and the dizzy spells, the lapses in concentration, the occasional slurring in your speech. And one has damaged the area of the brain that controls the motor nerves in your right leg and foot."

"Shit."

"Well, I won't argue with that," said Salik, his thin smile wintry-cold. "You've been incredibly lucky so far, but we can't let this go on. I've got to operate and repair that blood vessel."

"That'll cure me?"

"It will alleviate most of the symptoms."

"Oh." Apollo regarded the doctor closely. "Not cure, then."

Salik shrugged. "Some damage may be irreversible."

Starbuck's hand closed over Apollo's, tightening the grip until Apollo winced slightly. "It's all right, Starbuck," he said, turning his head to meet Starbuck's wide, frightened gaze. He looked back at Salik. "What sort of damage?"

"The symptoms that have a temporary effect on you - the blackouts and dizzy spells: they should clear up. So should the headaches. But I doubt I can do much for your leg. I think that's permanent, Apollo. We'll have to see. But frankly that's not the most important consideration at the moment."

"Right," said Apollo, helpless.

Starbuck was pale, but apart from the frightened eyes, he was unusually composed. "If you don't operate or can't?"

"If - when - the vessel wall breaks completely, then Apollo will have a cerebral haemorrhage, a massive stroke. That could be fatal." Salik paused, glanced at Apollo. "It will almost certainly be fatal."

"No choice then." Apollo was bleak.

"No," agreed Salik. "There's no choice. But you need to understand the risks, Apollo. This is a very invasive procedure involving major surgery. The odds are that the procedure itself might provoke another stroke, and it may be more damaging that those you've suffered already."

"Well, at least I'll be in the right place if that happens."

"Hopefully. It's a difficult operation.."

"How great are the risks?" Starbuck cut in.

"Of Apollo having another one when we operate?"

Starbuck nodded.

"High, I'm afraid."

"But like he says, you'll be there to deal with it."

"A severe stroke could be fatal, even with us there. I don't want to be too pessimistic, but we'd have a much better chance if you'd come and seen me earlier, Apollo. Now the risks are much greater."

Apollo sighed and leaned against Starbuck. "I was scared. I mean, really scared. As long as I told myself it was just the stress, then it wasn't too serious. I didn't want to think about it being anything else, although I was thinking about cancer, not this."

"You'd be surprised if I told you how many of my patients say the same thing."

"No, I wouldn't really," said Apollo, tone dry. "Most people would rather pretend there's nothing wrong. And I didn't want to admit just how much the stress was getting to me. You know that me and the commander aren't exactly on the best terms?"

"I know," Salik acknowledged.

"Admitting I was ill was like giving in to him. I didn't want to do that, let him win." Apollo sighed again. "So just to get this all straight. If you don't operate I'm in line for a massive stroke that will probably kill me. And if you do operate I'll probably still have the massive stroke and it will still probably kill me. Great choice."

"Not really. If I don't operate, you will have a brain haemorrhage, Apollo and you will most likely die. It's just a matter of time. If we operate, there's a good chance we can repair the blood vessel and get rid of the worst symptoms. But the bottom line is that we have to do this, and we have to do it right now. Cassie's getting Dr Lyre across from the long-term care unit to assist."

"Well, I don't think we have anything else planned for the day," said Starbuck, with a pathetic attempt at a grin.

Apollo shook his head. "I didn't have anything planned, but I do now. No, not today. I need to prepare Boxey for this and I need to sort out my will and things. Tomorrow."

"It could go at any time," Salik warned, alarmed.

"I know, but I need some time to get ready. Tomorrow."

"I don't like this." Salik shook his head. "You're taking a big risk."

"Apollo, we shouldn't delay."

"It hasn't popped yet," said Apollo. "Please. I need a little bit of time with Boxey."

"All right." Salik agreed, reluctantly. "But no more delay. We'll operate tomorrow morning. And I'll fit you with a monitor. Then if there's any change in your vital signs, it'll set off alarms here and we'll have a chance to get to you at least."

"Fine. Thanks."

"I don't like this, Apollo," said Starbuck.

"I don't like any of it."

"Do you want me to tell your father?" asked Salik. "I'm downchecking you from duty with immediate effect and I'll have to tell him that you won't be available for duty for some time."

Apollo managed a grin. "Don't worry about that. He suspended me this morning anyway. I told you it was affecting my performance. I'll tell him myself, later. Actually, I'm almost glad it's something like this. I was beginning to think the commander was right, and I really am a failure. Or that I was cracking up."

"You're not cracking up, Apollo. And any dip in your performance is directly attributable to your illness. The commander will realise that when you tell him."

Apollo nodded. "I hope. Thanks, Doc. Can you fit me with that sensor? Me and Starbuck have a lot to do."

"We do?"

Apollo grinned at him. "We do. At least, I hope we do."

 

 

I didn't cry when Salik told us that Apollo could die if that thing in his head burst. I couldn't. Have you ever been punched, really hard, in the gut? The breath whooshes out of you and you bend over double, trying to contain the pain and shock. That's what I felt like. Only I hadn't got punched. Someone had just cut me open and yanked my guts out.

I could calculate the odds better than anyone in the Fleet. I could see that for all his attempts at reassurance, Salik was afraid he wouldn't get Apollo through this. No matter which way you cut the deck, things looked grim.

Apollo took it very calmly. Too calmly. But I think he'd suspected for sectars that something was seriously wrong. Like he said, he was hiding it, not facing up to it. He was relieved that it wasn't the cancer he'd dreaded, but this was almost as bad. He could be just as dead.

I was shaking when we left Salik's office. Reaction, I expect, but I had to keep it under control. I had to hide it. Only Apollo mattered now. I had to work hard to keep my tone light.

"And what exactly is it that you want to do today that can't wait until Salik's sorted you out?"

"Get the next shuttle over to the Rising Star. We need to get Boxey out of school."

"The Rising Star? What do you want to do over there? What are you up to, Apollo? You need to rest."

"I'd rather we went to the Star. There's a place over there does civil Sealings, where we can do it, just walk in and get Sealed. I've wanted to do it for sectars, but I've been scared to ask you." He stopped in the corridor outside Life Centre and looked at me seriously. "I love you and I want to Seal with you."

"Yes," I said.

I said it without thought, because I didn't need to think about something I'd wanted for so long. But when I did stop to think about it there were other advantages. Sealed, I became his legal next of kin and could take leave of absence to be with him for as long as it took, and no-one could stop me.

Not even vindictive commanders.

"Starbuck – look, only if you really want to do it. I don't want to blackmail you into it. You don't have to this if you don't want to."

In a corridor where people were passing us every few microns, I couldn't do much but take his hand in mine.

"Do you remember when Thenie and Boomer got sealed? I stood right behind Boomer when they held hands like this and made their promises, and I spent the entire time wishing it was you and me. I've been scared to ask you, too, in case you said no. I'm not much, Apollo, but I love you and I can't imagine ever Sealing with anyone else. Shit, I've run parsecs to get away from people who wanted to Seal with me. Not you though. You're different. So, ask me nicely, and we'll go and get Boxey."

Apollo grinned. He couldn't kiss me with so many people around, some of whom were already giving us curious glances as they passed, but the long fingers tightened on mine.

"Will you marry me, Starbuck? Today?"

"I suppose so. I've got nothing better to do now that Boomer's given me the day off and it'll fill up the afternoon."

There's nothing I don't know about gracious acceptance speeches. It was good enough for Apollo, though.

"We've just time to get Boxey and catch the noon shuttle," he said. "Let's go and do it."

So we did. It was weird, as if Apollo had found some reserve of almost manic energy, charging about all over the place. We virtually kidnapped Boxey from school, Apollo over-riding the teacher's protests, and we were away without explaining anything. We just made the shuttle.

Boxey was delighted to miss school and didn't ask too many questions. It wasn't until we were docking with the Rising Star that we told him about the Sealing, and he was almost incoherent with delight. What pleased him the most was that he was to be our only witness. It was secret, just between the three of us.

We bought the rings from a jeweller in the bazaar on the way, taking Boxey's expert opinion on the choice. I could only be impressed by the way Apollo steered Boxey away from the really glittery ones. I quite liked them myself, especially the emerald ones, but Apollo's not a flashy ring sort of man. Boxey thought the decision was his, when the perfectly plain gold bands were picked out. I didn't mind. It was what the rings represented that mattered.

We had to wait a centar for a slot at the Civic chapel, but that was okay too. We used the time to get the rings engraved with our names and the date. Then it was our turn. The ceremony was very short, but we weren't too worried about that. There was no priest, no incense, no Kobolian star medallion, but the promises were the same and we meant them, faithfully.

There was a guy outside doing holopics and we had some taken. All three of us together.

It may have lacked the solemnities of a proper Kobolian ceremony. It may have been a bit rushed, because the man doing the civic Sealings had two more stacked up behind us. The guy with the holopic may have managed to cut our feet out of the pictures.

But it was okay for us.

 

 

"Can I see the commander, Colonel?"

Colonel Tigh turned from the command dais and gave Apollo an odd look. "You're braver than me. Are you sure you want to go in there?"

"I don't have a choice. I need to talk to him."

"On your head be it. I'd have thought that you were in enough trouble for one day, Captain."

Apollo paused and turned back from the bridge office door. "What else has happened?"

"IFB," said Tigh, succinctly.

"The Sealing?"

Tigh nodded.

"Oh" Then a shrug. "Oh well."

Adama was deep in some report or other when Apollo came in, not looking up to acknowledge the interruption. Apollo watched him for a centon, wondering how they'd managed to get so far apart. Remembering how much he'd loved and admired his father, he was a little bemused as to how Adama had reverted to the scary almost-stranger that he'd seemed in Apollo's early childhood before they'd had the chance to get to know each other.

"Dad?" Something he hadn't called the commander for sectars now.

Adama looked up, face set and cold. Maybe they'd never really known each other..

"Well, well. If it isn't the bridegroom. Or is it the bride?"

Apollo took a deep breath. Oh, that was how they'd managed to get so far apart.

"One of the advantages of being with Starbuck is that I'm not tied to any one role," he said, keeping his voice even toned.

Adama flushed dark red. "What do you want?"

"To talk to you. I've something to tell you."

"I heard. IFB are more efficient than you - not that that's hard at the moment. Do you always intend to make your family announcements over the Fleet's broadcasting system?"

"I'm sorry you heard that way…"

"It's how I always hear about you. Second hand." There was no softening of Adama's tone. "Luckily I heard before the Council meeting this evening, otherwise I would have looked a complete fool. You've embarrassed me enough there. Do you think I enjoy knowing that everyone in the fleet is discussing your sexual habits? This Sealing isn't likely to improve matters."

Apollo sighed. He was still over by the door, leaning back against it. Now he pushed himself upright and came over to the desk.

"Please. I want to talk to you."

"And I resent this, Apollo. I realise that it takes a lot to make you ashamed, but I did think disciplinary action might do it. I might have known better, that you'd use it as an excuse to embarrass me even more than you have already. You've disgraced me enough recently with this liaison with Starbuck and your failure to perform even the most basic of your duties, shaming me in front of Tigh and the other officers. That's bad enough, without this."

"It's important. What I have to say is important."

"Really? Then no doubt I'll hear it on the next IFB bulletin. I'll wait until then." Adama looked back down to his papers.

"Fine," said Apollo quietly. "I'd hoped Thenie was right and that you really did care still. But I guess that there's nothing left."

"Very melodramatic." Adama was icily contemptuous.

Apollo smiled at him slightly. "Oh, it's been a melodramatic kind of day. But I thought you might want to hear this. I was wrong."

"Very wrong. You expected me to be delighted about this marriage, perhaps? Be reconciled in floods of tears? You don't know me if you thought that, Apollo."

"I'd just come to that conclusion." Apollo turned away. "I'm sorry to have bothered you. I won't do it again."

 

 

By late evening, the rush of energy was over and Apollo was flagging noticeably. Acknowledging his illness meant he didn't have to hide it anymore, and instead of pretending that everything was all right, he allowed his exhaustion to show.

We'd got back to the Galactica after a very expensive lunch, only to find that the news had got back before we did. You have to hand it to IFB. They must have spies everywhere. Our Sealing was the lead item on the mid afternoon news broadcast, mercifully without pictures of the actual ceremony, although IFB had dug stills of us out of their archive

Adama didn't take it well. He'd seen the broadcast before Apollo had the chance to tell him himself, and was not pleased. Not pleased at all. Apollo got frozen out when he tried to tell him the news. That got me really mad, to see the lost, hurt look on Apollo's face, but there wasn't a lot I could do right then. I had my hands full with Boxey.

The kid was devastated when we told him how ill his Dad was. He'd adored and idolised Apollo since they'd met, had wanted nothing more than for his mother to Seal to Apollo so that he finally got a Dad. And not just any Dad. He got Apollo for a Dad. That meant everything to him.

At eight, he was old enough and smart enough to realise how serious this could be. Apollo put in a lot of time reassuring Boxey, promising him over and over that everything would be all right. That was one promise that I hoped he'd be able to keep.

By the time Athena and Boomer arrived for supper and we'd told them, our wedding day had turned a touch gloomy. They arrived with a bottle of nectar, wide eyed about the news of the Sealing, but delighted and ready to celebrate. The celebration was more muted than they'd expected, and we drank nectar with a kind of quiet desperation while Boxey cried and I tried to cook a wedding supper no-one really wanted to eat.

Hell of a day.

 

 

Athena jabbed angrily on the doorbell of her father's door.

"It's pretty late," said Boomer.

"He has to know," Athena shot back, and as the door opened she swept in past her startled father, Boomer trailing reluctantly along in her wake.

Boomer stayed by the door, trying to look invisible. The one disadvantage of marrying Athena was having to take her family along with her. He wished devoutly that she'd been an orphan, or that he was somewhere else. Anywhere would do.

"Athena," said Adama, not exactly welcoming, looking involuntarily at the wall-hung chronometer.

"I'm not staying," she said. "But Apollo said that you wouldn't listen to him when he tried to tell you what's going on. You'll listen to me."

"Athena, I am not interested in this Sealing. Your brother will live to regret it, and I don't want to talk about it."

"If he lives at all," said Athena harshly.

Adama sighed. "Is melodrama a characteristic in both my children?"

"How would I know? And what do you mean, ‘both'? You only seem to have me since you've disowned Apollo and I'm not feeling calm enough to look critically at my behaviour when I'm told my only surviving brother is in imminent danger of dying from a cerebral haemorrhage. We obviously didn't inherit your self control, Dad. Maybe me and Apollo got the drama from Mother. But like Apollo says, today's been a dramatic kind of day."

Adama was staring at her fixedly.

"Now you know," she said, rubbing the tears away. "Salik's operating tomorrow, to try and repair the blood vessel before it bursts. But he could die. He's really sick, Dad. What you do about it now is up to you, but I wouldn't want to be in your shoes when Mother gets to hear about this. She'll never forgive you for what you've done to Apollo. Never."

Adama managed to speak. "Athena…"

"And you don't deserve to be forgiven! How can you live with yourself, Dad?"

"Athena…"

"What are you going to do about it?" she demanded. "What are you going to do about going to see him and telling him you're sorry about the way you've treated him for the last few sectars?"

"He's ill? He's really ill?"

"Oh for Sagan's sake, do you think I'd lie about something like this? Not even for dramatic effect, Dad."

Adama was ashen faced. "I didn't know."

"What does that have to do with it? None of us did. But we weren't trying to bully him into being something he didn't want to be." Athena faced up to her father squarely. "You were and you know it. What are you going to do about putting things right with him?"

Adama still hadn't absorbed the news. He looked from Athena to Boomer. "But I don't understand. What's caused this?"

"Damage from the shuttle crash," said Boomer.

Athena didn't let him say more, weighing straight back in. "He's been ill for sectars and we didn't realise it. That's what's been causing all the problems with work. I thought it was you and him fighting that was affecting him, because you were being a vindictive old man who couldn't get your own way and were abusing your position of power to punish him for it."

"Thenie!" hissed Boomer, alarmed.

"No," said Adama, speaking with some difficulty. "She's right."

"Yes, I am." She gave her father a cool look. "I've not been very pleased with you recently, Dad, but you are not going to let me down over this, are you? You know where he is." Then with a rare flash of Starbuck-like humour: "I'd hate to be in Lieutenant Callan's shoes. Apollo'll have him driving the shit wagon for the next millennium."

 

 

"How sensitive do you think this thing is?" Apollo fingered the sensor Salik had attached to his left wrist.

He was lying on the sofa, his head in my lap so that I could, he suggested, soothe the fevered brow and he was handy to take care of any little problem I might develop in the groin area. Despite everything, he was determined that we should have a proper wedding night. I told him I was more interested in an improper one, myself, but it was a bit of an effort. I'd rather curl up in the dark somewhere and cry. But Boxey was finally asleep and Apollo was keen to make use of those pillows again.

"Don't know. Why?"

He grinned up at me. "I was just wondering whether if my heart rate goes up and my breathing gets a bit short, we'll have half of the medical corps stampeding into the bedroom ready to save my life. Boy, will our faces be red."

"Theirs too, I guess. I hope it's a bit more sensitive than that," I said. "Cassie said it was monitoring minute changes in your blood pressure."

"Then why don't you get me warm?"

"Warm?"

"We'd better not aim for hot, just in case it sets off the sensor. I'll have to leave you do all the work and just lie back and enjoy it."

"No change there, then," I muttered and kissed him.

The next few centons were very intense. Despite everything, we both got hot and bothered. Still I didn't hear any klaxons and Salik didn't suddenly leap through the door at us, so that sensor had to be discriminating enough to tell the difference between him getting horny and an imminent stroke. Wonderful stuff, medical science.

"What's the odds on Thenie having gone straight to see him?" Apollo asked when he finally came up for air.

Boy, he knows how to put the fires out.

"Well, I wouldn't take any money betting against it. The question is, Apollo, what do you want to do about it?"

"Who says we'll need to do anything? What makes you think he'll come?"

The door chime went and I grinned down at him. "I wish I'd taken money on that one though, Apollo. Do I let him in?"

He scowled and said nothing.

The door chime went again.

"He'll wake up Boxey," I said, slyly.

"All right," Apollo was not very gracious about it and made no attempt to move to let me up.

"Enter," I said loudly, and the computer allowed the door to slide to one side.

Adama looked very white and shocked. Athena had managed to get through to him, then. Apollo struggled up to face him.

"You've heard then," he said in a neutral tone.

"Athena told me."

"I would have told you myself, but you weren't interested. You were more worried about the political damage me getting Sealed to Starbuck had done you." Apollo leaned back against me, and I put my arms around him, to hold him.

"Actually, I think that I was more enraged and hurt that you'd taken such a momentous step without telling me," said Adama.

"Same difference."

"To me there's a distinction. One implies I didn't care about you at all."

"You don't," said Apollo flatly. "You only care about who I sleep with."

"No, that's not true. What Athena said stopped me short and sharp, Apollo, and reminded me of something that I'd forgotten. No, of something I haven't allowed myself to remember. That I love you very much and that I haven't treated you very well, because I happened to disagree with the way you chose to live your life, because it was something very different than what I had planned for you. I'm sorry, son. I didn't mean what I said to you. I'm very sorry."

Apollo said nothing, but I could feel him shaking.

Adama waited, and the silence grew deeper. He sighed. "Please try and forgive me."

"I suppose that you always preferred the quiet, compliant me, the one who always did what you wanted. Even when I gave up what I wanted to do with my life, you acted like it was nothing; that it wasn't a sacrifice, just something to be expected of me because you wanted me to follow you into the military. I don't even remember you even acknowledging that I had other plans; that I had the right to have other plans, even that I had the right to think differently than you."

"Apollo - "

"I think it's too late. I'm not the Apollo you want me to be. I don't think I ever have been but I was always too busy trying to make you proud of me to dare say so before."

"I've always been proud of you - "

"Oh believe me, it has really felt like it these past few sectars. Maybe you were proud until I had the temerity to make some choices for myself. Then I made you sick, remember? I disappointed you. You wished it had been me instead of Zac, you wished that I was the one who was dead. Well, maybe tomorrow I won't disappoint you on that one, at least."

"Apollo!" Even I thought that was going too far. Adama looked like he'd been hit. It didn't make me feel too good either, to hear him talk like that.

There were times Apollo was very like his father. I'd have always said that Apollo was hot-tempered and it was quickly over. Adama was the one with the cold, implacable temper that was slow to burn and slow to dissipate. I hadn't realised before that Apollo had inherited some of that. He certainly seemed to want to make Adama squirm. We all knew that Adama hadn't meant what he'd said about Zac. But if Apollo felt at all remorseful about the blow he'd just dealt his father, nothing of it showed.

"This afternoon I tried to forget even that and what you said about me and Starbuck. I wanted to go into tomorrow with as clean a sheet as I could manage. But you weren't interested. I can't see why that's changed, unless you're now worrying about the political fallout when people find out I'm sick and remember what a loving and supportive father you've been. "

"Apollo, please."

"I'm tired, and I want to go to bed," said Apollo, still cold. "If you'll excuse us, Commander, it is our wedding night and I've got a big day tomorrow."

"I'm sorry," said Adama again, and even I could see the old man was having a hard time keeping back the tears.

But Apollo wasn't much moved by that.

"Good night, Commander," he said.

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