Section Six


“I wanted a word with you, Starbuck,” Bojay said, hurrying to catch up with the lieutenant. They met outside the duty office door. “You aren't sleeping much in the barracks any more.” He looked accusingly at him.

Starbuck looked thoughtful, stroked his chin, stared at the ceiling, a slight frown on his face as he considered this. “Actually, Bojay,” he said at last. “I'm not sleeping in the barracks at all.”

He had managed to achieve a modicum of self control when with Apollo in public, and everyone thought that his protective, loving attitude came from his delight in having his best friend back. No-one had yet guessed things went further than that - something Boomer considered to be a major miracle. Only God could have smitten the entire OC with collective blindness about the real object of Starbuck's affections.

It wasn't that the OC hadn't realised that Starbuck in the throes of a very hot affair with someone - they weren't that blind - but most unusually, he wasn't saying who. Speculating about who it might be filled in odd moments between patrols and card games and amused Boomer, especially when Apollo, solemn and innocent, joined in the guessing game. Starbuck had encouraged their curiosity, countered all their sly remarks with an enigmatic smile, evaded outright demands for information and, out of sheer wickedness, had started a book running on who his latest love might be. He stood to win quite a bit when the news came out.

Now when he looked at Bojay he smiled the infuriating smile of a man sated by passion and lots of extremely energetic sex.

Bojay was not impressed. “Look, I don't care who you're sleeping with….”

“You don't?” Starbuck was disappointed. “You must be the only one in the barracks not to be in on the betting; except Apollo and Boomer, of course, but then they're in the know and notoriously mean with their money.”

“Can it, Starbuck. I'm not interested in your bets. All I'm bothered about is that you're breaking Regs. You're supposed to sleep in the Warriors quarters, within reach if there's an alarm.”

“Yes,” agreed Starbuck serenely. “And?”

“And so where the hell are you every night?”

“Sleeping in the Warriors quarters, within reach if there's an alarm. I'm just not sleeping in the bachelor barracks. In fact, it's a permanent change. I'm moving out of the barracks today.” He watched Bojay get ready to start a tirade, then delivered the body blow. “I have our Strike Leader's permission, Bojay.” he said, with malicious emphasis on the ‘our' “He's satisfied with the arrangement."

Bojay coloured and bit his lip. Almost two sectars after Apollo's return to duty he was still having some difficulty in adjusting to what he saw as an effective demotion. He turned and stamped away, leaving an amused Starbuck grinning after him.

Starbuck knocked on the duty office door and stuck his head around it. Apollo looked up from the sheaf of reports on his desk and smiled. “What was all that about?” he asked. He'd been vaguely aware of voices in the corridor.

“Bojay, trying to tell me he wasn't pleased with me sleeping outside the barracks every night.” Starbuck looked thoughtful. “I might be misjudging him: although he denied it, he might only have been trying to decide whether or not to put a bet on and trying to get information out of me on which horse to run, so to speak.”

“This is Bojay you're talking about,” Apollo reminded him dryly. “He makes even me look exciting and impulsive. He wouldn't want to put a bet down: the only regulations about gambling aren't exactly encouraging, and you know Bojay. He probably even pisses by regulation.”

“You're very exciting, in the right circumstances. But you're right. He was trying to throw his weight around. I had to tell him that you were satisfied with my sleeping arrangements and he's run off in a temper for having to be reminded he's no longer sitting in this office. You are satisfied with my sleeping arrangements, aren't you, Apollo?”

“Oh my, yes. The sleeping is just fine and the other arrangements are v ery satisfactory.” Apollo ran his tongue over his lips suggestively and Starbuck moaned at him from the doorway.

“Don't do that! I'm likely to come in my pants.” He shifted uncomfortably, acutely aware of his thumping great erection. All Apollo had to do was look at him, and he got hard.

The last couple of sectars had been heaven. They'd been together every night, Apollo had discovered the delights of making love to Starbuck and their physical relationship was very, very intense and very loving. They'd kept things to themselves, mainly because Starbuck was afraid of rushing Apollo, but today they were going public. They'd decided that it was time to tell Adama and their friends, time to make it clear that they were an item.

Boxey, happy and content again (with Muffit once more deactivated), had been back living with his father for most of the time Starbuck and Apollo had been together, and Apollo had explained carefully to his son about how important Starbuck was to him. Boxey had happily accepted that Starbuck would be there at night with his Dad, the way his mother had been when she was alive. He'd enjoyed sharing the secret with them but he was pleased that Starbuck was openly moving in. He was looking forward to the sensation he'd cause at school when he announced that he now had two Dads. No-one else at school that he knew of had two Dads.

Apollo smiled at Starbuck. “Aren't you supposed to be moving house today?”

“I am. I've taken one load of stuff. I can't believe how much clutter I've accumulated. I was just on my way for another load when Bojay decided to pretend he was still in charge.“ Starbuck closed the door and leaned over the desk to kiss his lover. “And aren't you supposed to be talking to your father?”

“He got held up in the Council and Tigh just called me. I'm just going.” Apollo got out from behind the desk and wrapped his arms around Starbuck's neck. “Kiss me properly, and I'll go now. It'll take my mind off my dismal simulator scores.” Physically he was back on top form, but still in the slow process of re-qualifying for flight status and chafing at the delay.

“Stop fretting. You scored 96% this morning - I hacked into the computer to check. Pretty amazing, considering how much the stuff crapped up your system and it's not really that long since you came off it. Salik's stopped the remoxifen, and that's a good sign. You'll be back soon, hotshot.” Starbuck slid his hands down the Captain's back and fastened them onto his buttocks, pulling him in close and kissing him passionately to cut off Apollo's melancholy wail of “But it's been nearly three sectars, Starbuck!”

“Lords, Apollo, I love you,” he said breathlessly a few centons later.

“Love you too,” Apollo said, He felt Starbuck's mouth at his hair again and he laughed. “You know, Starbuck, it'll be a bad thing for this relationship if I ever go bald. You have this real fetish about my hair.”

“I love your hair,” said Starbuck indistinctly, kissing the top of Apollo's head. “I love you and I'll still love you when you're eighty, bald, wrinkled and probably impotent.”

“I'll hold you to that, although I'd rather pass on the impotence.” Apollo tilted his head back and kissed Starbuck again, then freed himself reluctantly. “I'd better go. And you'd better get the rest of your stuff in.”

“By your command,” Starbuck said, brushing Apollo's lips with his.





I wasn't exactly nervous as I waited for Apollo to reach the bridge office in answer to Tigh's summons, but I'll admit to being a little apprehensive about how he'd take the news the Council had for him. My old Apollo had been a little easier to read and anticipate; the new one was still a bit of an unknown quantity. He wasn't anywhere near as fragile as he'd been, but I didn't want anything to upset him, threaten the confidence and stability he'd won back so painfully. I thought that he would be pleased with what the Council had in store for him, but I couldn't be certain.

He was better, infinitely better than the physical and mental wreck I had found on the Barge almost four sectars ago. Salik was pleased with his progress, and had reduced the number of counselling sessions - probably to their mutual relief. Apollo never likes talking about his feelings, and I expect Salik found it as painful to get him to talk as Apollo found it to force himself to speak about what happened.

He was almost his old self again. He was back on form as Strike Leader, and working hard to regain flight status. His simulator scores were all now consistently in the high nineties and I knew that he was desperate to get back into a Viper. Salik was making very encouraging noises about Apollo's progress and had finally taken him off the remoxifen. Salik said he didn't need it anymore, that there were no more traces of Shadow in Apollo's blood stream and nervous system. Salik would continue to monitor him for a few sectars, but I thought it would be only days now before he would be back on flight status and I could get him out on a few training flights and see him regain his wings. That would help give me my Apollo back.

It's wrong to have favourites, and I loved all my children very much, but Apollo is, perhaps, the dearest to me. His was the only birth at which I was present. Athena I missed by only a few days, but Zac was almost eight sectars old when I saw him for the first time. Poor Ila. She never complained. She said she knew what she was taking on when she married me, but I do regret never being there when it mattered.

Being there when Apollo was born was one of the most precious and special moments of my life. It did make a difference to how I felt about him, perhaps because we'd shared an experience together that I'd missed with his siblings. Ila and I held each other and cried, and did all the things new parents always do - checking he had the right number of fingers and toes, wondering at how much hair he had and how dark it was, commenting on how much he looked like me, or Ila, or his grandfather, when really he looked just like himself, like Apollo. I'd been astonished about how perfect he was, even to the tiny fingernails on the hand that was already curled around my finger, gripping feebly. The best moment was when he opened those wide green eyes, just like his mother's, and stared at me. He didn't look too impressed, I remember, but just yawned and went sleep cradled in Ila's arms for the first time.

I've been so proud of him all his life. He was a clever, shy, loving and funny child, very protective of his mother and the younger children as he grew older. He learned about responsibility early, with a father absent for much of the time. And he was an achiever, my little son, a fighter. He never liked giving up, and he always wanted to do well. When he followed me into the Academy I was delighted, and the proudest moment of my life was watching his graduation parade, and knowing that my son - my beautiful, wonderful son - held the Sword of Honour and was graduating with some of the highest scores ever recorded.

Those were the good things to remember, better than the later memories. His reaction to Zac's death, and his mother's, then Serina's. He was always more sensitive than either Athena or Zac, always more deeply affected by what happened, always prone to believe that it was his fault somehow. He had recovered from those losses, but I had once despaired that he'd recover from the Barge.

Finding him on the Barge still haunted me. It was worse than watching Zac die or knowing that Ila was gone on Caprica. For both of them, death had come quickly, and, I hope, instantly, perhaps even kindly. When I found Apollo cowering in that pitch dark cell, badly beaten and drugged, and after we realised what Reese had done to him, I'd thought then that what had happened was a worse kind of death, the death of everything he'd been while the abused body dragged on in some kind of travesty of life. For the first few sectons I'd dreaded that he would sink so deep into depression that he'd never recover, that my son was gone for ever. I mourned Zac and Ila, but I didn't want to mourn Apollo when he was still alive.

Somehow, though, Starbuck has managed to bring him back, convince him that what happened wasn't his fault, and that he isn't as worthless and polluted as he thought he was. His recovery is remarkable - Salik thought so at first and watched him carefully, ready to act if Apollo showed any signs of regressing. But he hasn't. He's grown steadily stronger and more stable, regaining physical health, regaining a large measure of what Reese and the Shadow had taken from him. I think that he's as well now as he'll ever be.

Starbuck is the one I have to thank for that. I would be the first to admit that I'd had doubts about Starbuck. He was everything Apollo wasn't. He was an orphan of unknown parentage, a gambler and a chancer even then, always rebelling against authority. He dragged my previously well behaved son into scrape after scrape at school. I wasn't very pleased about that. We were one of the first families on Caprica, and I was convinced that Starbuck was just using Apollo, trying to gain something through him - social acceptance, perhaps - that was denied the orphan.

Ila was more philosophical about it. She thought that Apollo was too repressed and serious, too well behaved, and that he needed someone like Starbuck to make him laugh and enjoy himself. I didn't agree, not at first. I tried to steer Apollo towards more suitable friends. He flatly refused to listen to me. It was the first time he'd ever defied me. I was furious. I wasn't used to my quiet son being so independent.

I also have to be the first to admit that Apollo was right and I was wrong. I watched Starbuck over several sectars on my visits home, and realised after a while that he adored Apollo, that his attachment to Apollo was, and is, as genuine and as deep as Apollo's to him. I don't think it would have mattered to Starbuck if Apollo had been as poor and as socially ill-connected as he was. Now, after fifteen yahrens, I can't imagine either one without the other. I can't imagine anyone else who understands Apollo so well and is able to reach him and comfort him, to bring him back from the wasteland. I failed. So I owe Starbuck a great deal.

Apollo arrived, disturbing my reflections. He looked well and even happy, rather happier than he had been since the Destruction. A definite advance. I smiled, glad to see him looking so well.

“You have the look of a man who's just scored 96% in the simulators,” I said.

He looked startled, then laughed. “Are you hacking into the computers too?” he asked. “Or is Starbuck your secret informant?”

“I have my sources, Captain,” I said. “Listen, Apollo, I know you wanted to talk to me but that's going to have to wait for a few centons. The Council wants to see you.”

He flinched slightly. The last time they'd demanded to see him he'd ended up in the brig and on trial for his life.

“It's all right,” I said hastily. “It's good news”.

He managed a smile. “Well, it can't be as bad as last time.” It wasn't much, but it was the first time he'd managed to refer to the trial lightly.

“No. It's really all right. They're waiting for us.”

I felt a stab of the now familiar anxiety for him. The settled, confident happiness had been quenched, and he was quiet as we walked to the Council Chamber. He said nothing more. I hesitated about saying too much, but paused outside the door to put an arm around the still-thin shoulders and hug him to me.

“Stop worrying. It's very good, little son. I just don't want to spoil the surprise.”

He looked at me, and evidently took heart of grace from my expression. “All right,” he said, lightening up and followed me into the Chamber.

I had left the Council technically in recess while I got Apollo, but I knew them. They would have taken advantage of my absence to indulge in a little old fashioned politicking, working on those ever shifting alliances and power plays. Anton had the look of a man who was enjoying himself hugely, so I knew they hadn't been sitting there talking about the latest Triad matches.

I had agreed with the Council that Anton would handle this, and I'd take no part, an observer. It touched me too closely. Anton called them all together and motioned Apollo towards the seat that had been set for him, starting out with the usual courtesies. Apollo agreed politely that he was very well, fully recovered, thank you, and sat back, waiting.

Anton didn't keep him waiting long. “I'm taking charge of this item of Council business, Captain, as your father feels that he ought not to be involved in this particular decision. I don't think he disagrees with us though?”

He looked at me enquiringly and I shook my head, giving Apollo an encouraging glance. I don't know how successful I was because Apollo looked dubious. The look he gave me said plainly that he didn't trust the Council as far as he could throw them.

“Oh?” was all he said, non-committal and reserved. He's very good at being reserved, my son, and Anton smiled.

“Well, we've been thinking about the future, Captain. Unusual for politicians, really to think much beyond the immediate situation and how it can best be exploited for their own ends, but that's the advantage of having a military President. He focuses minds a little.”

Apollo shot me an anguished look, and rolled his eyes slightly. He thought he was in for a long-winded political oration.

Anton saw him and grinned widely. “Don't worry, my boy, I'll keep this one short. After a lifetime in politics I don't need to practice my oratorical skills.”

Apollo had the grace to look slightly ashamed of himself and turned on a look of such spurious interest that I was hard pressed to maintain the Presidential demeanour.

“The point is, Apollo, that we know that finding Earth is a long term hope. It may be next secton, but it may be yahrens away from now. I doubt if I'll see it somehow. So we've been thinking about how to ensure the Fleet's safety over a voyage that may last generations. We need to think now about how we'll protect our people when you and your fellow pilots are too old to get into a cockpit any longer.” Anton smiled at him. “You'll not be scoring 96% for ever, you know.”

Apollo looked at me startled, and I shook my head, as surprised as he was. I hadn't told Anton. He had his own sources.

“An impressive score, and I'm sure you'll get even better,” Anton went on. “We've been making some decisions about how we'll go about ensuring the Fleet's continued protection. We've decided to recruit as much new blood as we can and set up our own Academy. Our decision was based on that very perceptive and thought provoking paper you wrote a few sectars ago.” He held up a hand to cut off whatever it was that Apollo was about to say. “We agree with your conclusion that the forge ship and the Celestra are ready to start full scale Viper production and that we can start increasing warrior numbers. We also accept your assessment that we can't emulate the Academy back home. We certainly can't offer recruits a four yahren training, but, as you suggested, we should be able to offer a yahren's intensive military training equivalent to the last yahren at the Academy on Caprica.”

Apollo was looking both mutinous and hostile at this point. He thought he knew where this was heading and he didn't like it, but Anton still didn't let him get a word in.

“If I have this right, Captain, your scores at the Academy were so high, particularly in the development of battle training simulations, that you were kept on for a yahren after your graduation as an instructor, the youngest instructor in Academy history. I know that Colonel Lee was very reluctant to let you go at the end of that yahren, but he knew that you really wanted the combat experience you'd earned. That makes you the best qualified person for this, Apollo. We want you to set up and run the new Academy.”

Apollo drew a deep breath, and the effort he was making to keep his voice even was evident to me, at least. “Thank you, sir,” he said. “That's a very flattering offer. But I must decline. I've every intention of regaining flight status and I intend to get into that Viper cockpit for a good few yahrens yet before I get sidelined into non-combat duty.” He gave me a hard look. I think he thought I was trying to manoeuvre things so that he was in less stressful, less dangerous work, that I didn't trust him not to crack up.

“Of course,” Anton said blandly. “This in no way affects your status as Strike Leader. We're more than satisfied with your performance there. Very much more than satisfied. The Council would be very loathe to entrust military command to anyone else.”

There was a loud murmur of agreement from the Council - which probably owed something to collective guilt - and Apollo blinked.

“You want me to do both?”

“We think you can manage,” Anton said.

Apollo wanted to be crystal clear that he understood what was on offer. “You want me to set up cadet training while still leading the squadrons on active combat duty?”

“Yes. However, I don't think that you could manage Blue Squadron as well, do you? Could you bear to give that up?”

Apollo was watching me, looking for my reaction. He seemed to draw confidence from the look he got back. I hope the pride and love I felt for him was showing. He considered what Anton said, not rushing into a decision. He loved being a squadron leader, I knew that, but I also know that he'd love the challenge of setting up cadet training, moulding the future generations of pilots. He'd be damned good at it, too. Lee had been very reluctant to let him go from the Academy staff.

“Yes,” he said at last. “As long as I retain overall military command and my flight status, I'll hand over Blue.”

“Good,” Anton said, to an approving murmur. “Lieutenant Boomer seems to have done an excellent job in running the squadron in your absence. Your recommendation?”

“He's one of my best friends, sir,” Apollo said, with his usual honesty. They'd admire him for that, for declaring an interest. I'd noticed how they admired the qualities that, as politicians, they were noticeably lacking themselves. “But I don't think that affects my judgement of his abilities. He's a fine officer and he deserves promotion.”

“We agree. He takes Blue Squadron, effective immediately. Please tell him about the new command arrangements and his promotion after this meeting. Which brings me to yours.“

Apollo looked taken aback. “My what?”

“Your promotion, Captain. A Battlestar Strike Leader has always been the most senior Captain, a major in all but name. But in view of your new responsibilities, we decided to review the ranking. You'll be taking on some command duties, too, Apollo, and we don't think that your current rank adequately covers the new role. Promotion to major seems a bit niggardly, barely a step up from Strike Leader, so you're promoted to Colonel, also effective immediately.”

Sometimes having to maintain the Presidential role in public is almost suffocating. I would have loved to have laughed aloud. Apollo was staring at Anton in amazement and looked rather as if the elderly, dignified Councillor had just hit him in the face with a wet fish.

“Oh,” he said, idiotically.

“Colonel Tigh is increasingly involved in the management of the entire Fleet,” I cut in, unable to sit quiet any longer. “He has less time and resource available for military and defensive matters: those duties will devolve to you. That will mean quite a bit of command work for you, Colonel.” I had been determined to be the first to call him by his new rank, and I enjoyed doing it. It sounded very good.

Those wide green eyes, so like his mother's, met mine.

“Oh,” he said again. It was a step up from idiocy. He sounded merely simpleminded this time.

“That lacks a certain emotional fervour,” Anton said with a smile, and the Councillors laughed.

Apollo recovered himself and grinned at Anton, whom he'd always liked. “I'm in shock, that's all,” he said, trying to regain some dignity.

Anton nodded. “We hoped it would be a glad surprise,” he said in dulcet tones. “So do you accept, Colonel?”

“Yes sir,” Apollo said. “Thank you.” He meant it this time.

“Good. Congratulations, Apollo. We'll make the formal announcement in about an centar, to allow you to break the news to your officers first. We'll give you your insignia tonight, at the reception.”


“I'll tell you all about it later,” I said. I wanted to get him away and hug him half to death. “Council business is now concluded?”

“Aye,” they responded, and I hustled my still rather dazed son away, with their congratulations ringing in his ears.

The corridor outside the Chamber was empty and I took the opportunity to hold him very close for a centon, before carrying him off to my office for a few centons quiet celebration.

“You kept that quiet,” he said as we went in, evidently recovering some equilibrium.

“I wanted to surprise you.” I looked at him and added, honestly, knowing that he would appreciate it. “And we delayed until I was sure that you could handle it.”

“And are you?” he asked quietly

“Absolutely. You're fine, Apollo. You know that.”

He nodded. “I think I am and I think I can handle it,” he said. “I'll enjoy it.” He took the glass of ambrosa I handed him. “Tigh. Is Tigh okay about this?”

“Relieved. He was under too much pressure. You won't have any problem there, I assure you.” I raised my glass. “Here's to you, Colonel. I am very proud of you, little son, you know that.”

Apollo's glass touched mine. “Thanks, Dad.” He smiled at me mistily and added in a shy voice. “That's all I've ever wanted, you know.”

I nodded. I knew. It's the most wonderful thing in the world to know that your son admires you and wants to emulate you, as Apollo is finding with Boxey, who adores him.

“You'd better go and tell Starbuck and Boomer the good news, Apollo, and get ready for the announcement. What was it you wanted to talk to me about? Can that wait?”

“Not really.” Apollo put down the glass carefully. “It's rather personal, and it's happening right now. It's something I wanted you to know before everyone else finds out.” He paused, looked at me a little doubtfully. “It's about me and somebody else.”

“Oh?” I used his own exclamation back at him and waited.

“I've been having an affair…no, that's not the right word.” He frowned, trying to find some way of telling me something I thought I already knew. “I love someone very much - I always have, really - and we're together now and we've decided we want to be up front about it. Live together, I mean, as a couple, openly. Boxey's okay with it. In fact, he's thrilled. But I'm not sure how you'll react.”

“Live together without getting sealed?”

“Sealing might be a little problematic,” he said wryly.

I was right. “Starbuck?”

He looked at me and laughed. “Am I that obvious? I told him you'd probably guessed”

“I've seen the way you look at him sometimes, when you think no-one is looking. And I've seen the way he looks at you. I've always wondered if you were lovers.”

“Not until after I got out.” He was smiling. “I'd never realised he felt that way about me.”

So that was what had helped him recover. That was how Starbuck had convinced him that Reese didn't matter.

“He always has, I think,” I said calmly. I had often wondered how I'd react if this happened. The Book is decidedly neutral at best about homosexuality, but truly all I wanted was for Apollo to be happy. If that meant Starbuck, I could accept it. “Since you met.”

“So he says.” Apollo looked at me shyly. “Do you mind?”

“No, I don't mind. Not if you're sure.” I think I was convincing. He relaxed visibly and he was looking happy again. “I've always half expected this. Actually, Apollo, I was rather more surprised when you married Serina.”

“I did love her, father,” Apollo said and looked thoughtful. “But if Starbuck hadn't gone missing then, I don't know if we would have got sealed so quickly. I needed her to help me cope with that, although I didn't realise it at the time. If you need to put labels on it, I'm probably bisexual. It's people I love, not gender.”

“Except that Starbuck is the great love?” I asked him. I thought that if Starbuck had come back at Kobol and told Apollo then that he loved him, that it was very unlikely that Apollo would have sealed with Serina at all. I wondered if she'd known it too. She was as intelligent as she was beautiful: there wasn't much she missed, and I'm sure she must have seen how Starbuck felt about Apollo. I think she knew that Starbuck was her real rival. She'd insisted on getting sealed when Starbuck was missing, when she knew that Apollo was reeling from Starbuck's loss. I have no doubt that she loved Apollo, but I have often wondered about her motives. Well, whatever they were, they died with her on Kobol.

“As the man says himself, the one and only. I'm really very happy with him, Dad.”

“I can see that.”

“And lovemaking's the best I've ever had.” He sighed reminiscently.

“That's a little more information than I needed, although I'm flattered to have your confidence.” I bent down and held him very close. “I love you very much, little son, and I'm very proud of you. Nothing changes that, certainly nothing to do with you and Starbuck. He's part of the family anyway. You've given me Boxey: I'll just have to look to Athena to provide me with more grandchildren.”

Apollo grinned at me, relieved, and hugged me back. “Then it's just as well we promoted Boomer. Things seem to be getting serious between them”

“Good lord!” That was news. I smiled. “Good. Boomer's family, too. He'll be better for Athena than Starbuck was.”

Apollo laughed and nodded. “Starbuck's mine,” he said possessively. “He's very good for me . What's this reception?”

“All officers, full dress, Council chamber, seven tonight. It'll be in the announcement on the new Command arrangements. Bring Boxey. He'll be delighted to see you get your Colonel's crowns.”

“And it'll do his grades the world of good, to be up that late.” Apollo stood up. “I'd better go and tell Boomer about his promotion.”

“And yours?”

Apollo grinned. “I was thinking about just telling Starbuck, in the OC and in the loudest voice that I can manage, that he'll be sleeping with a Colonel tonight. I might just do it too, just to see their faces.”

“I wish I could be there,” I said, relieved to see him so easy and confident again. “I wouldn't mind seeing that one for myself.”





I'd moved all my things into our quarters. Hell, I'd even put them all away in deference to his tidy habits, and still Apollo hadn't reappeared, so I went off to one of our favourite places, up to the celestial dome to find some time and space to think. Apollo had discovered the dome soon after he'd come on board. Somehow it had survived the numerous refits the Galactica had had over her long life, and had been waiting, dusty and forgotten, for him to find it.

He loves the dome. Apollo's a lot quieter than most people, reserved with those he doesn't know very well and isn't comfortable with, and he doesn't mind spending time on his own, just thinking. I'm his counterbalance, to stop him from getting too serious, but when he wants to get away, even from me, this is where he comes.

He brought us up here nearly a yahren ago - me and Cassie and Sheba. At the time I'd thought that he and Sheba were going to get it together, so I'd stuck with trying to make a go of things with Cassie. She was the closest after Athena that I ever thought I might seal to, and maybe if Apollo and Sheba had made it and he was lost to me forever, I'd have done it.

We'd eventually split while Apollo was in the Barge, when not even she could cope with the state I was in. We're still friends, me and Cassie. When I got Apollo back, I was able to see how badly I'd treated her, and went to tell her how sorry I was. We've talked a few times since. I think she's the only person apart from Boomer and Athena to know that Apollo and me are lovers. I owed it to her to tell her. She didn't seem very surprised, although she went very quiet. I think she's happy for me. She's starting full medical training soon, something she'd always put off when we were together. So I suppose she's moved on too, now.

Since Apollo and me got together, we've come up here now and again for a bit of privacy. Boxey's a wonderful kid and I love him, but, sheesh, there's not a lot he misses. Being only eight, he's pretty down on any hint of sentimentality between adults, even consenting adults. He thinks it's unmanly, or something, and threatens to throw up if he sees anything he thinks is “soppy”. Apollo said he was the same when Serina was alive, making disgusted heaving noises every time he'd caught Apollo kissing his mother. Apollo thinks that having Boxey running round on permanent soppiness alert is kind of funny.

Me, I'd like to be able to kiss Apollo now and again without provoking howls of outrage from his son, but I do find it adds a certain spice to things. Boxey being around imposes a lot of restraint on us: no kissing or touching or yearning looks until that young man is safely tucked up in bed and fast asleep, and then me and Apollo can have some fun, strictly inside his - our - bedroom in case Boxey decides to get up to use the bathroom or something. Still, the restraint in public means that we're so pent up and intense when we do get into bed that we don't exactly get a lot of sleep and what little we do get is of the exhausted stupor variety.

So we come to the dome whenever we can. It's a special place for us. Apollo made love to me for the first time in here, under the stars. He'd only been on the receiving end until then. He said he liked me making love to him, and that me coming inside him was washing away all the feelings he had about what had happened on the Barge. So for a little while I went along with that and played dominant, knowing it was comforting him and helping him heal, but in the end I persuaded him to try it. Apollo surprised me a bit about how insatiable he can be: I told him that I needed the rest and it was time he did some of the work.

He enjoyed his first taste of being on top. I've pretty catholic sexual tastes and it certainly wasn't the first time a man had fucked me, but the sensation of Apollo filling me and moving in me was the best. After that, we decided that being bottom or top are only roles we can switch between, and neither of us minds who does what as long as we're both sweaty and breathless and coming like maniacs at the end of it.

I have to admit that I was a bit worried about what the Commander would say. I was fifteen when I met Apollo, when the grudging authorities acknowledged my war orphan status and kept the promise made that all war orphans who opt for warrior training would get the best of educations. I'd just transferred into Apollo's school as I intended to specialise in computing and his school was the best in Caprica City for maths and IT. He fascinated me from the start, and we were soon inseparable. I think I fell in love with him on the first day, and I've loved him ever since.

Adama didn't like me at first. He didn't like the fact that his carefully brought up son, scion of one of the first families, his pride and joy, was fast friends with a nameless orphan with a talent for getting both of us into trouble. I don't think Adama or Siress Ila had ever been summoned to school before to hear anything but praise about Apollo. Once he'd met me they got summoned almost as often, but now it was to deal with two guilty little delinquents.

The first time Adama and Ila even saw me was in the Dean's office, awaiting suitable punishment for our sins. We'd been caught setting up one of our less popular teachers with some interesting little devices we'd developed in Chemistry lessons. They'd worked like a dream, smothering the pompous old fool with evil smelling smoke. That was great, but we had an added bonus: as the fumes spread through the building, the whole school was evacuated and the emergency services called out. Lords, but it was funny - until the school authorities pinned the blame precisely where it belonged. We came close to being suspended. What saved us both was Apollo's exemplary record and lack of previous convictions. The Dean didn't want to lose his star pupil, and he couldn't suspend me and not Apollo, but he still called in Apollo's parents and my orphanage supervisor to talk about it. We all met up in the Dean's office and the memory is not one either me or Apollo tend to dwell on.

Adama was home on leave at the time - just our luck. Apollo was a bit big by then for his father to wallop - Adama had never had to do that and probably wouldn't know where to start - but the fight was spectacular and he was grounded for sectons. Adama was furious with him, and even more furious when Apollo refused to stop being friends with me. We were reduced to him sneaking out to meet me, and that caused more fights and arguments, and I was definitely not flavour of the sectar in the Adama-Ila household. After that our activities were a little less ambitious, but sometimes just as much fun. We didn't always get caught, either.

I think Adama knew, too, how I felt about Apollo. He watched me like a hawk, always coming up on us suddenly and unexpectedly, to check that I wasn't leading his precious boy even further astray than I'd managed already. He didn't need to worry. The thing was, Apollo was so important to me by then - friend, brother, all the family I'd lost and couldn't even remember - that I never dared make a move on him. If he'd rejected me, I'd risk losing the only bright thing in my life, the only bright and beautiful thing I'd ever had. So I never said anything to him, but really I've loved Apollo all my life. Well, all of it that really matters. The fifteen yahrens before I knew him don't count.

It was a long time before Adama was comfortable with me around. Maybe it was Ila who softened him. She was a bit more relaxed about me, and, I think, pleased that I had the ability to coax Apollo out of his shell. He was always shy and reserved, and she worried about that. She hadn't failed to notice that he laughed a lot with me. Maybe she thought that despite my faults, I was good for him. Adama eventually came around, even grew quite fond of me, and after a couple of yahrens I was living more in their house than in the orphanage.

But the Lord only knows how he'd take the news that what he'd feared fifteen yahrens ago had finally happened, and Apollo and me were lovers. Apollo was definitely far too big to wallop now, and I knew that, just like fifteen yahrens ago, he'd refuse to give me up; but I didn't want there to be another spectacular fight. He loves his father very much, and he needs everyone who loves him at the moment. I hoped Adama would be okay with it, but still, I worried.

The dome is so quiet, the noise from Galactica's engines muted by the hatch to a low, almost inaudible murmur, and I was so engrossed in thinking about Apollo, that I almost fell off my seat when my communications link went off. It was Core Command, with a crisp message that Captain Apollo required my immediate presence in the OC. In the OC? That boded well. If Adama had cut up rough, Apollo wouldn't want to tell me in the OC. I was out of there as fast as a Viper out of a launch tube, dying to know what had happened.

Apollo and Boomer were waiting for me, both looking like cats that had been locked in the dairy overnight. Apollo came to meet me and hustled me into a corner. “Where've you been?” he hissed quietly

“In the dome, resting from my labours as a porter. All okay?”

“Fine. He's fine about it. Pleased. And completely unsurprised. He seems to have been expecting it.”

I looked at Boomer, who'd joined us. Adama's acceptance of me and Apollo didn't really explain why Boomer looked so smug. Something else was going on. “What's up?”

Apollo told me, and I just stared at him for a centon, stunned and delighted. Then I couldn't help myself. I whooped like a banshee and caught hold of him and hugged him so hard that he complained later that he could feel his ribs cracking. I just held him for a moment, my face in his hair, then I felt him laughing and he twisted in my arms to look at Boomer.

“Is he standing on tip-toe?” he demanded.

Boomer looked, grinned and nodded, and Apollo laughed with satisfaction. “Good. It's been bugging the hell out of me how he manages to nuzzle my hair every time.”

My yelling had caught everyone's attention and they were all milling round now, demanding to know what was going on.

“Put Apollo down, Starbuck, and tell us what's happening,” Cree said imploringly.

“Apollo, I could kiss you!” I said, outrageously. I was still holding him in a hug, reluctant to let him go. He always feels so good, wrapped in my arms. The remark caused a few laughs.

He tilted his head back and looked thoughtful. “I might even let you,” he said and grinned at me.

He looked so adorable I almost forgot myself and did it. All I could do was pray that my hard-on wasn't as visible as it felt.

“Better not,” I said regretfully, making sure everyone could hear me “I'd just get put on report for kissing a Colonel in public. That's a very unsuitable place for kissing a Colonel.”

There was a short silence as they all digested that news.

“Colonel?” Bojay said in a stunned, disbelieving tone.

“Apollo?!” Jolly sounded a whole heap more enthusiastic.

“Really?!” Sheba was almost jumping up and down in excitement. “But that's wonderful!” I saw her dig Bojay in the ribs to make him sound more sincere. There were times when she lost patience with her wingmate.

Apollo grinned at them and I let him go, so he could turn to talk to them properly. They were all there, every pilot not currently out on patrol or in the ready room.

“Are you serious?” demanded Jolly, and when Apollo nodded, he started the hugging amidst some loud and enthusiastic cheering. Anything Apollo wanted to say was delayed as he got handed from one pilot to another. He was breathless and laughing by the time they'd finished and had quietened down enough for him to speak.

“Very flattering!” he said when he got back to me and Boomer. We hugged him again, and he quietly and unobtrusively kept his hand in mine. “I have three - no, four - things to tell you all. First, that we're going to start recruiting soon and setting up cadet training, and the Council has asked me to run that along with giving me overall military command - ”

“ - and making you a Colonel,” I said , rubbing the salt into Bojay's wounds.

“We've done that bit,” he said, but there was another cheer anyway and he got adorably pink about the ears. Apollo's really very modest, and doesn't often realise how much the pilots like him.

“But you're staying as Strike Leader?” Bojay asked, trying not to sound as chagrined as he must have felt.

Apollo nodded. “Yes - although I'll be happier about that when I regain flight status.”

“Hey don't worry about it,” Cree said. “If I could score 96% I'd be so delighted I'd tango around the OC naked. Your problem is that you're such a bloody perfectionist - Colonel. Sir.” He got very polite, very quickly, seeing the look on Apollo's face.

Apollo gave me a very nasty look. Suddenly he was very much the Colonel about to put me on report: there definitely wasn't much of the Apollo who loved me in his expression. My only consolation was that he was still holding my hand. “Starbuck, why don't you just get IFB to broadcast my simulator scores to the entire Fleet on their daily bulletin? There may be one or two people out there who haven't heard yet.”

I held up my free hand defensively. “Don't blame me! I haven't told anyone.”

“No? So who else is spying on me?”

“Do stop being paranoid, Apollo,” said Giles. “We're interested, that's all. We want you back out there as much as you want it. But, where does Tigh fit into all of this?”

Apollo was still giving me a very suspicious look, but really, I hadn't told anyone but Boomer. Of course, one or two people may have overheard. People like Adama and Anton and the entire OC….one or two people like that.

“He concentrates on helping the Commander manage the whole Fleet.”

“If this means you're taking over from Tigh, Apollo,” said Dietra in a very satisfied tone - she and Tigh did not get along - “we'll form a nice orderly queue right behind Starbuck and take turns to kiss you unconscious.”

“Very, very flattering. And very tempting. I could make that an order.”

“Tell us the rest, first,” Greenbean said, “And then we celebrate! Although I draw the line at kissing senior officers.”

“Well, second is that I really can't manage to run a squadron as well, so I'm giving up command of Blue Squadron."

“Hey,” said Jolly, disappointed. “Not so good. So who do we get?”

Apollo sighed. “Hard one, that. Well, I mean - look at you!” He looked at the squadron he'd loved and flown with ever since he'd arrived on the Galactica, and tried to look disparaging, but they all knew how proud of them he was. “We really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for this one. In the end, the best of a poor bunch. Boomer's promoted to Captain to run Blue.”

“No way!” Giles screamed, and the hugging started again, with Boomer being passed around this time.

While everyone was busy getting Boomer dishevelled, I took the opportunity to look sorry and contrite. I did the big blue eyes and trembling bottom lip routine, the one I'd taught Boxey, and Apollo grinned at me, his hand squeezing mine. That was all right then. He wasn't really mad.

“And third?” someone yelled from the back when a semblance of order was restored.

“Third's definitely the runt in the litter. Third is that there's a Council reception at seven tonight, all officers to be present in full dress uniform, so the Commander can give me and Boomer our new insignia. Free food and drink on the Council.”

There was a massive groan.

“But that means we'll have to talk to bloody politicians,” Greenbean mourned.

“For free food and drink and I'd talk to the Imperious Leader,” Jolly said laughing.

Giles poked Jolly disrespectfully in the midriff. An easy target. Jolly's a big man. “For free food and drink, you'd kiss the Imperious Leader!”

“Yeuch!” Bree said, pulling a face. “What a disgusting thought. I hope fourth's better.”

“Yeah, what's fourth?” Sheba demanded.

Apollo glanced at his chronometer. “Well, I think the fourth thing's the best of all. But then, I'm selfish.”

“Tell,” invited Bojay, trying to sound as if he cared. The first three had probably given him indigestion. Anything that Apollo wanted or took pleasure in would make the condition chronic.

Apollo smiled round at them all, and his grip on my hand tightened. His long fingers were caressing the back of my hand lovingly.

“The fourth thing is that there's three centars to go before the reception; Boxey's got late classes today; I've got lots of places - suitable and unsuitable - that I just love to have Starbuck kiss; so if you lot don't mind, I'm going to take him off to our quarters to get him to do just that. Bojay, you have the com. We'll see the rest of you later.”

He flashed them a smile so brilliant it must have burnt its way through the bulkheads to vaporise passing Cylon baseships. And in the midst of a stunned silence in which you could see jaws dropping all over the OC, my normally quiet, shy, reserved, I-won't-show-my-feelings-in-public-if-I-die-for-it lover hauled me out of there.

I didn't protest. I was as stupefied as they were, delighted and stunned at being claimed so publicly. As soon as he got me into the corridor, Apollo kissed me into submission. Besides, he's a Colonel now. I have to do what he says. It's unfair, but that's the military for you, what Colonel Lee at the Academy used to describe as a system of unreasoning hierarchy. And I love him so much, my system is one of unreasoning horniness. I'd have willingly kissed any place he wanted in front of each and every one of them.




The reception had been surprisingly enjoyable, Starbuck thought. He and Apollo and Boxey had turned up together, a family, with Boxey between them holding onto both his Dads' hands. The warriors had had a few centars to absorb Apollo's bombshell - although most realised they were more astonished by the way he'd broken the news, than by the fact that he and Starbuck were a couple - and although their appearance had caused a mild sensation, it was a great deal less than they might have expected.

Most people were covertly watching Adama to gauge his reaction, and were pleased or disappointed, according to their natures, when he greeted his son and his son's lover with equanimity and affection. Their friends were just whole-heartedly delighted and supportive, although those who'd lost money on the betting were understandably chagrined and spent a lot of time trying to work out Starbuck's likely profits.

Apollo had enjoyed himself, getting solemn only when his father had pinned the silver crowns to his collar, but otherwise relaxing to an almost unnatural degree. The funniest moment for Starbuck had been when Croft had come over to add his own congratulations. He and Apollo hadn't met since Apollo's release, first because Apollo was too ill and withdrawn to see anyone, and then because he was too busy getting back to work and screwing the hell out of Starbuck in his free time. Apollo had thanked Croft for what he'd done and the Commander had shrugged that off.

“My pleasure,” he'd said. “The bastard had it coming and I'm glad to see you haven't let it affect you and Starbuck. Good luck with that, too, Apollo.” He'd clinked his glass against Apollo's and turned away, then suddenly paused and turned back. “By the way, I'm impressed at how well you're getting over the Shadow. 96% is a bloody fine score in the circumstances.”

Starbuck chuckled to himself as he remembered the look on Apollo's face at that remark, and his indignant demand to know if there was anyone, anyone at all, in the entire frakkin' Fleet who didn't know his simulator scores? And had Starbuck thought about relaying the information to the Cylon Empire? Surely they deserved to know as well?

“Why're you laughing?” Boxey asked sleepily as Starbuck tucked him into the warm blankets. It was Starbuck's turn to put Boxey to bed, and go through the nightly rituals with him. Boxey thought it was wonderful that he had two people now to see to him and tried to encourage a bit of rivalry to improve the service.

“Do you know your Dad's scores on the battle simulator, Boxey?”

“Uh-huh. He got 96% today. He gets good grades.” Boxey struggled briefly with sleep.

Starbuck grinned. Maybe everyone in the Fleet did know. “That's what I was laughing about. About your Dad.”

“That's okay.” Boxey was having difficulty in staying awake long enough to finish his sentences. “You can, ‘cos you love him.”

“Very much. Go to sleep now.” Starbuck laughed and kissed him good night and headed out into the living quarters. Apollo wasn't there, but the main bedroom door was open. Grinning, Starbuck lounged in the doorway taking in the beautiful sight of his lover lying naked and ready for him.

“You could get cashiered for that, you know,” he said. “There'll be a regulation somewhere that says senior officers shouldn't seduce their juniors.”

“I'll take the risk.”

“Bojay will be able to tell you which regulation it is. He'll be able to quote number and sub paragraph probably.”

Apollo arched his back, making his already prominent erection even more obvious. “I'm lying here naked and panting for it and you want to talk about Bojay? Stop wittering and come to bed.”

“Is that an order, Colonel?”

Apollo laughed and shook his head. “In here I don't give you orders. But I could beg very, very prettily.”

He held out a hand and Starbuck closed the door and came to join him, rapidly shedding his clothes as he crossed the room. He got onto the bed with Apollo, sitting astride him, and leaning down to kiss him. “Well, Apollo?” he asked

Apollo reached up and began to tweak Starbuck's nipples. The Lieutenant caught his breath and returned the compliment with fervour, leaning down again to suck noisily on a nipple, using his teeth to make Apollo shudder with pleasure and desire.

“Well,” said Apollo, sounding breathless. “What I'd really like to do is pound your lovely little arse to a jelly, Starbuck. When everyone sees you hobbling round tomorrow, I want them to realise exactly what I've been doing to you.” He had his hands on Starbuck's erection by then, stroking and squeezing it gently. His own hard prick was pressing urgently up between his lover's legs.

“I just love it when you get all domineering,” Starbuck said as he transferred his attentions to the other nipple. “I hear and obey - but only if I get to fuck you senseless before morning. I don't see why we shouldn't both hobble and wince every time we sit down. Just think about the rumours we could set going.”

Apollo laughed and with a quick movement flipped Starbuck over so that he was on top, with Starbuck lying on his back underneath him. All that working out in the gym was paying off. He kissed the lieutenant passionately, his tongue probing deep into Starbuck's willing, hungry mouth. Then he started licking Starbuck, from throat to groin, taking in nipples on the way, ending in the bush of hairs around Starbuck's genitals. Starbuck was wriggling and moaning after just a few centons, and sighed heavily when Apollo finally stopped teasing him and took his hard prick into his mouth. Apollo's tongue flicked lightly over the slit, pulling a groan from Starbuck.

“Nice?” Apollo asked, one hand still playing with a nipple, the other gently stroking and massaging Starbuck's balls.

“It'll do.” Starbuck said with a sly smile at his lover, his own hands busily at work on Apollo's prick, the beautiful prick that would soon be inside him. “Reasonably comp……..oh!” he moaned and writhed as Apollo pounced. “Oh Apollo!”

Apollo had taken a good length of Starbuck's prick into his mouth, and the hot wetness had cut off any chance of Starbuck putting together any kind of coherent sentence. He could only exclaim and writhe as that wicked tongue licked the length of his shaft and round the head.

“Reasonably competent?" Apollo finished the sentence for his lover and Starbuck nodded wordlessly and moaned. At the same moment, Apollo slid a well-lubed finger into Starbuck, finger fucking him gently. Starbuck lost the plot completely at that point, everything centred on the way Apollo's mouth and hands pleasured him, licked and stroked him. Then Apollo was lying beside him, fingers still moving in him and massaging his prostrate, melting his insides.

“Ready?” Apollo asked gently, kissing him.

Starbuck could only nod. Somehow, Apollo kept up the stimulation with his fingers as he manoeuvred them both into the position he wanted, himself lying back on the bank of pillows, with Starbuck crouched between his parted legs, facing away from him. He gently removed his fingers and, hands on Starbuck's hips, guided his lover back onto his prick.

Starbuck gasped as he felt the familiar brief pain as Apollo penetrated him and pushed backwards, eager to get all of Apollo inside him. Then he was lying back against his Apollo's chest, with Apollo's legs wound over his, Apollo's hands on his genitals, stroking and squeezing, Apollo's lips on his neck and throat, Apollo starting to thrust into that tight hot space inside him.

Starbuck moaned again, and surged back to meet him, and they were moving together, slowly at first, then faster as the sensation grew deeper and hotter. Within a few centons Starbuck was all passion and emotion, every nerve ending focused on the feeling of Apollo's prick surging up into his rectum and the feeling of Apollo's hands on him. He was gasping for breath now, unable to breathe properly or think or do or be anything other than the soft warm channel that Apollo had created in him, the place where all heaven lay for both of them.

Then Apollo jack-knifed into a sitting position, forcing his prick up as high as he could reach and was crying out softly as he came, bathing Starbuck's prostate copiously, and Starbuck's own orgasm hit, Apollo catching the hot come juice on his hands. Gasping for breath Apollo fell back, still holding Starbuck close to him. They lay together for a long time, still joined, trying to get their breathing sorted out.

Apollo gently massaged the cooling come into Starbuck's genitals. “Now I'll taste you when I suck you again,” he said at last, kissing the back of Starbuck's neck.

“Stay in me,” Starbuck said urgently. “Please stay in me, Apollo.” He rested his head on his Apollo's shoulder and breathed deeply. “I love you so much.”

Apollo kissed his neck again. “I know, I know. As much as I love you.”

Starbuck managed to turn his head enough to reach Apollo's mouth, to kiss him with a love and tenderness that none of his other numberless lovers had ever been able to provoke in him. “Stay with me forever, Apollo,” he said.

Apollo's hold on him tightened. “Well, I have a problem with that,” he said, and as a startled and apprehensive Starbuck turned his head, he kissed his lover with the same loving tenderness Starbuck had shown him. Reassured, Starbuck returned the kiss with fervour. “Forever seems a little short to me for the length of time I'll love you and need you. Isn't there anything longer?”

Starbuck laughed and reluctantly wriggled free, despite Apollo's soft protests, and pulled Apollo into his arms. Apollo snuggled in closer: Starbuck loved that. It happened every time he put his arms around Apollo and it felt wonderful He took every opportunity to put his arms around Apollo, just to check it still worked. “Do you mean that?”

“Of course” Apollo smiled at him.

Starbuck looked very serious, and more than a little apprehensive. “Apollo, I've never had very much other than you, you know that. And the Lords know I don't want anything else. I know we can't get sealed, but I want us to make some serious promising to each other.”

“Commitment, Starbuck?” Apollo raised a surprised eyebrow. “From you?”

“With you, Apollo, yes. I love you.” Starbuck hesitated for a micron “And you?”

Apollo was very solemn as he looked into the rather anxious blue eyes. “I can't think of anyone else I'd rather seal with” he said, and smiled as Starbuck's anxiety changed to delight and love.

Starbuck kissed him then drew back a little. “Then repeat after me: I, Apollo, love you, Starbuck…”

“I, Apollo, love you, Starbuck, with all my heart.” Apollo's long fingers gently traced the line of Starbuck's jaw, and his lover decided against objecting to the unauthorised addition.

“And promise that we'll be together for as long as we live...”

“And promise that we'll be together for as long as we live.”

“Having the most amazing sex…”

Apollo laughed at this typical Starbuck-ism. “Having the most amazing sex.”

“Because you, Starbuck, are the best lover I've ever had…”

“If not the most modest,” said Apollo with a grin.

“You're making solemn promises, Apollo. We'll have less of the commentary, if you don't mind, and a bit more respect.”

Apollo sighed resignedly and gave in. “Because you, Starbuck, are the best lover I've ever had,” he repeated obediently.

Starbuck beamed at him then made his own promise. “I, Starbuck, love you Apollo, with all my heart, and promise that we'll be together for as long as we live, having the most amazing sex because I'm the best lover you've ever had.” He was cupping Apollo's face in his hands and sealed his promise with a kiss that, despite the fact they'd only just made love, had both of them ready for more.

“Mmnn. I love you.” Apollo managed after he'd been forced to come up for air. He was smiling into Starbuck's face, loving every familiar feature, hands busily caressing his lover's body. Then suddenly what Starbuck had said sunk in. “Hey!” he said indignantly. “You did that wrong! You were supposed to say that I'm your best lover, not that you're mine!"

Starbuck grinned and rolled on top of Apollo, pinning him down with his weight. He smiled into the outraged green eyes.

“Well, I am,” he said, and proceeded to prove it.



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