angel

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land
Christina Rossetti

 

Day of Destruction +8, late
Battlestar Galactica: Commander's Quarters.

 

Tired of waiting, Athena had lit the candles by the time that Apollo arrived at their father's quarters.

She'd already set out the traditional remembrance food: the simple meal of bread and fruit, and wine from a vineyard that was a wasteland now. Lighting the candles was the last thing, and everything was ready. She set the big-branched candelabrum in the centre of the table. The engineers had been told to conserve power as much as possible by powering the ship down for the night: the room was dimly lit and cold. The candles made the dim room mellow and golden, softening the corners and ceiling with shadows. Nothing made the cold easier. Athena had a wide woollen scarf pinned around her shoulders and was wearing fingerless gloves, but even so she'd cupped her hands around one of the candle flames more than once in an attempt to take the chill from her fingers.

She repositioned a plate so it was in a perfect line with the one opposite. There. That was better.

She sat back. There was nothing more to do but wait. At least Apollo was back. She didn't have to worry that they'd be delaying this once again.

He'd got back from Caprica just before she'd come off duty, coming straight up to the bridge. He didn't say anything to her about whatever it was he'd been doing down there; there were too many secrets and he was better than most at keeping them. But it was strange that the first thing they did after putting him in charge was send him on a dangerous mission. At least he'd said hello before disappearing into the bridge office with their father, Tigh and old Sire Anton. She was glad he was back and that he'd brought Starbuck back in one piece. Mind you, she had no idea why he thought he'd had to drag Starbuck down there in the first place. Joined at the hip sometimes, those two.

She chewed on her lower lip, considering. Starbuck had a lot of fun playing the fool, but he wasn't one. He was very far from being one. Those last few sectons before the destruction of the Colonies, he'd spent every spare centon in Apollo's company. She'd scarcely seen him.

And since Cimtar... well, it didn't really matter now, did it?

It didn't make any kind of sense. Apollo wasn't the sort of devil-may-care life and soul of the party kind of person that Starbuck was. He was more like Athena; quiet and serious. Oh, of course he was brave and everything, but he didn't do it with Starbuck's panache and nonchalance. Starbuck breezed through life, while she and Apollo plodded along behind being earnest and staid. They both did restrained well.

If that was what Starbuck liked, then she was as just good as Apollo was at it. It just didn't seem fair that he'd drop everything to be with Apollo and only give her a smile in passing. And the least he could have done was look sorrier that she didn't want to marry him. He'd just looked astonished. Well, maybe no-one had ever turned down the great Starbuck before. Maybe it was time someone did. Long past time.

She sighed so heavily that the candle flame flickered, and slumped into her chair.

Damn Starbuck.

She was nibbling on the stickiest date she could find when Apollo finally arrived.

"Dad'll be here in a few centons. He and Anton were just finishing up.” He leaned over her to give her a kiss on the cheek and she let him. She'd been letting him do that since it all happened. Maybe it made him feel better, more secure.

"I hope he isn't long.” She glanced at the timepiece hung on the wall. "We have to do this before midnight."

"He knows. There's so much to get through, Thenie. I sometimes wonder if he ever sleeps."

"We should have done this three days ago. It's not right to do it late."

"I don't think that Mamma and Zac will worry too much about it."

"It's not respectful."

"They'd understand."

She sniffed, and took her time to choose another date. They were rich and sweet, and soon there would be no more of them. They'd never see one again, most likely.

"Anton and Colonel Tigh will join us later, for the actual meal." Apollo watched her.

"They aren't family."

"They are now. Anton seems to adopted all of us, and Tigh's Dad's best friend and has no one else."

She put both elbows on the table and propped her chin on her hands. She didn't care about Tigh and Anton. "I just want this to be over. It's all so...” She hunched the shoulder nearest to him unable to find the right word. "I don't know what's going on half the time. You do, though."

"What they tell me about. And that's not everything."

"You know more than me. And you got to go home. I want to go home."

"Home's not there anymore. There's nothing there anymore. No one should ever go back again.” He sat back in his chair, as slumped as she was. "It'll be better when this is over."

"Nothing will ever be better again. Will it?"

He actually laughed. It didn't sound like he meant it, but he laughed. "No. It won't."

She gave him a tight little smile and offered him the box of dates; a reward for not telling her soothing little lies, the way most people tried to tell her lies. She didn't need lies.

She didn't know what she needed, but she knew that.

 

 

They'd finished most of the dates and Apollo was eyeing the wine when their father arrived, full of apologies for being late.

"Tigh and Anton will join us in a centar. That should give us enough time.” He stooped to kiss Athena and smooth her hair with one hand; the other rested on Apollo's shoulder. "They have their own remembrances to make."

It should be just family. But there was no point protesting. He never listened to her, and only sometimes listened to Apollo. Mamma had been the only one he really took any notice of and Mamma was gone.

Adama went into his bedroom to get something, snaffling the last date as he went. He came back out with Mamma's treasure box. He looked a little shamefaced at Athena's surprise and Apollo's raised eyebrow. "I went back to Caprica to see how the refugee operation was working, making sure that people got onto ships. But I'll confess that I also went to get this. What she kept in it was important to your mother. I've added some of Zac's things, too."

They sat on the floor in as close to a circle as three people could manage, the box open in front of them. Their father went first, choosing a velvet covered jewellery case and a holopic. Apollo laughed again when he picked out one of Zac's Triad gloves, and it sounded more like he meant it this time, but his face was sad when what he chose for Mamma's remembrance was a piece of paper with a star drawn on it in crayon. Athena chose a brooch, a spray of diamond flowers that Mamma had loved and worn so often, and a crystal block set with a lock of Zac's hair. The lump in her throat was painful and her eyes burned, and she held crystal and brooch so tightly that the sharp edges pressed into her hand. They left red marks behind.

"We'd better begin. Your mother first.” Adama opened the velvet case in front of him. He took out her wedding tiara and Athena gasped at how beautiful it was, all scrolls and little pinnacles, set with diamonds that glittered and sparkled in the candlelight. His hands had to be shaking for it to sparkle so much. "I first saw this when your mother came into the temple the day we were sealed. It held her veil in place. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing, I can tell you; getting married is no joke. But when the music sounded and the choir started to sing as she came into the temple, I turned to watch her and knew then I was marrying the most beautiful woman on Caprica... "

 

 

Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.
George Eliot.

 

 

 

 

(1405 words)