Lt. Starbuck looked at the cards in his hand and sighed. Not the best hand he could have, though not the worst. In truth, the cards had nothing to do with his mood. He was bored and restless. For the past who-knew-how many yahrens he had attempted to fill a hole in his life with women and gambling. But neither of those quite fit the hole. The hole was, in fact, shaped like his friend Apollo —  his best friend, and the man he was in love with. Starbuck had tried everything he could think of to fill the emptiness he felt knowing that Apollo did not feel the same way about him. He'd gone through just about every single woman in the fleet (and a few who weren't), even dating Apollo's sister, thinking perhaps a female version of Apollo would help. But Athena was not Apollo. No one was except, of course, Apollo himself.

In some ways, having Apollo as his friend made the situation worse. It meant he could spend as much time as he wanted with him, and with his family, but it also meant that he was always not quite as close as he wanted to be to the man. But Apollo had been sealed to Serena. He liked women, though he hadn't dated anyone seriously since his wife's death.

Lately, even gambling wasn't interesting him. It was simply a diversion on top of other diversions. He had to make a decision soon. Perhaps his only option was to leave the Galactica entirely. Join a different squadron? Live somewhere other than the Bachelor Officers' Quarters?. But that presented another dilemma: how to explain his actions to Apollo.

Then there there was Boxey, Apollo's son. He was fond of the boy, and Boxey looked on him as a sort of uncle. He hated the idea of not seeing Boxey regularly. Well, at least he had that deep space mission coming up. He'd spend a secton or two away from the Galactica and Apollo. Maybe that would help him make up his mind. He threw down his cards and left the gambling lounge.


Captain Apollo was trying to convince his son to get ready for bed when there was a knock at his cabin door. He opened it to find Starbuck standing there. "Hey, Starbuck, you're just in time to read Boxey a story — that is if he ever gets in to bed."

Boxey looked up and grinned. "Hi, Starbuck!"

Starbuck smiled and ruffled the boy's hair. "Come on, kiddo, you know even warriors need to sleep once in a while, otherwise they fall asleep in their vipers."

"Read me a story?" Boxey asked hopefully.

"Even better, I'll *tell* you a story," answered the lieutenant.

"All right!" exclaimed Boxey and ran to his bedroom.

"Make it a clean story, okay?" asked Apollo.

"Don't worry. I'm not planning on corrupting him — not until he's a few yahrens older, at least."

Apollo followed Starbuck to Boxey's room. He stood in the doorway and watched his best friend and his son. Sometimes he wondered what kind of parent Starbuck would make. He wondered what it would be like to co-parent Boxey with his friend. He wished he could just come out and ask Starbuck to move in with him, to be his lifemate. He wished he could haul Starbuck off to *his* bedroom, for purposes much different than telling bedtime stories. But Starbuck was quite obviously interested in women, not men. And even if he were, he didn't really have the best reputation when it came to long-lasting relationships. No, Apollo would have to satisfy himself with Starbuck's friendship. It was better than not having Starbuck in his life at all.

After Boxey was tucked in, Starbuck turned to his friend. "Apollo, I'm going on deep-range patrol for a secton. I wanted to tell you so that you can give Boxey my apologies for not being here to tell him stories for a while."

Apollo tried to hide his distress at Starbuck's sudden announcement. "We'll miss you," was all he said. He offered the lieutenant his hand. "Be safe."

The blonde pilot shook Apollo's hand. "Yeah, uh, I'll miss you guys too," he said, and quickly turned to leave so that Apollo didn't see his face.


A few nights later, Apollo was once again trying to persuade his rambunctious son to go to bed. Boxey pouted. "I miss Starbuck," he said.

"I miss him too," said his father

"Dad, are you and Starbuck going to get sealed?" asked Boxey.

Apollo almost choked. "What makes you think that?" he asked.

"You love him, don't you?"

"Sure, I love him. He's a lot like my brother. Like your Uncle Zac." Apollo's brother had died in a Cylon attack two yahrens previously.

"No, not that way!" said Boxey in a "grownups are so dense sometimes" voice. "You love him like you loved my mom."

" do you know? I mean, I do, but I didn't realize you knew." Obviously his son was more observant than Apollo gave him credit for.

"It's so obvious, Dad," said Boxey. "It's the way you look at him. So, are you?"

"Am I what?"

"Going to get sealed. Two people who love each other usually do, don't they?"

"Well, yes, they do, but I don't know if Starbuck loves me," answered Apollo.

"So ask him," said Boxey.

"'s not that simple, Boxey."

"Why not?"

"Well, some people think that two men or two women shouldn't get sealed. That men should only be with women, and women with men."

"That's stupid," said Boxey. "Besides, Starbuck isn't like that."

His son continued to surprise him. "And how do you know *that*?"

Boxey rolled his eyes. Did his father not know *anything* ? "I heard him talking to Aunt 'thena. She was saying that she might like to get sealed with Cassiopeia, and Starbuck said he thought that was great and wished her good luck."

Apollo shook his head. His sister and Cassie? He knew they were close, but... Maybe Boxey was right. He really was dense.

"Anyway," said Boxey. "He looks at you the same as you look at him. He looks at you like Mom did when she was alive. He tries to hide it, though. I don't know why."

Apollo hugged his son. "I don't know either, but I intend to find out."

"Yaaay! Does that mean you're going to ask him to get sealed with you?"

"Well, first I have to ask your grandfather for permission. You know the Commander performs most of the sealings."

"I'm sure Grandpa will be happy for you. Maybe you could have a double sealing with Cassie and Aunt 'thena."

The next morning Apollo nervously approached his father. "Father, I need to talk to you about something — alone."

Adama excused himself to Colonel Tigh and took his son into his office. "Yes, Apollo, what is it? You know you can talk to me about anything."

"Um, is there any reason why two men or two women couldn't get sealed? Would you perform such a ceremony if someone asked? If *I* asked?"

Adama beamed at Apollo. "I was wondering when you were going to ask," he said. "I would be happy to seal you and Starbuck. Have you asked him yet?"

Apollo's jaw dropped. Did everyone know about his feelings for his wingmate? "Uh, no, not yet. When he gets back from patrol I'll ask him."

The Commander of the Galactica embraced his oldest son. "Congratulations, son. Tell Starbuck I said welcome to the family. Assuming he accepts, which I'm certain he will."

"How can you be so sure?" asked Apollo. His family was full of surprises lately.

"Son, I've seen you and Starbuck together. I've seen the way you look at each other. Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken you this long to realize it yourselves."

Apollo wondered how many other people on the Galactica knew. Most likely his entire squadron, if it was that obvious.

"Starbuck is returning from patrol tonight. I'll let you know what his answer is. Thank you, Father."

"Good luck, Apollo. But I don't think you'll need it."


Captain Apollo stood nervously in the flight bay waiting for Starbuck. Finally the lieutenant appeared. "Starbuck!" he called.

Starbuck heard his name being called. He turned and saw Apollo waiting for him. He was surprised. His friend didn't usually meet him when patrol was finished. He approached the captain, who grabbed him in a tight hug. Surprised, he returned the embrace. "Gee, I know you said you'd miss me, but I didn't know you'd miss me that much."

Apollo released him and cleared his throat nervously. "I, uh, I realized a few things while you were gone. Could you come to my quarters after briefing? Boxey's dying to see you, and, well, I'd really like to talk to you."

"Sure thing," said Starbuck, wondering what Apollo wanted to talk to him about.

After his briefing, Starbuck arrived at Apollo's quarters. The Captain welcomed him in. "Hey, where's Boxey?" Starbuck asked.

"Oh, he's with Athena. I think she's teaching him how to cook or something. He should be back soon. Sit down, I'll get you a drink."

Starbuck settled on the couch and Apollo brought him a drink. "So what did you want to talk to me about?" asked the lieutenant.

Apollo sat next to his friend. "Nothing in particular. It's just been a while since we really talked, you know, the way friends do."

"Well, life gets busy sometimes. Work, women, games, and all that stuff. You know how it is."

"I notice you haven't been seeing anyone lately. Don't tell me you finally ran out of eligible women," Apollo tried to keep his voice light and teasing.

Starbuck looked serious as he replied, "I'm tired of the dating game, Apollo. I'm too old for it."

"What, you mean you're thinking of settling down?"

The blonde man sighed. "If the right person wanted to settle down with me, sure. The only reason I've been with all those women is that I was trying to replace someone — someone who isn't interested. I've tried to fill the hole that it left inside me. But it didn't work."

"Starbuck..." Apollo began, but just then the door opened and a small boy came barrelling through.

"Starbuck! You're back!" cried Boxey and launched himself at the warrior.

"Oof! Hey, I missed you too, kid, but let a fella breathe, would you?" said Starbuck, hugging the boy.

Boxey clung to Starbuck happily, then turned to his father. "Have you asked him yet?"

"Asked me what?" Starbuck was puzzled.

"Asked you to stay for dinner," replied Apollo, shushing his son with a look.

"No, he hasn't asked me yet. Are you going to?" asked Starbuck.

"Yeah, of course. Will you stay for dinner?" asked Apollo.

"Yes, I will stay for dinner. That all you wanted to know?" Starbuck wasn't certain if he was asking Boxey or Boxey's father, but Apollo answered.

"Yes. Now you can keep him busy while I make dinner. Just don't teach him to gamble."

"Awww, your old man is no fun, Boxey. C'mon, I'll teach you some card games. But no gambling. That can wait a yahren or two."


Boxey chattered at light speed through dinner and afterward while the two adults were relatively quiet, though Starbuck was persuaded to talk about his deep space mission. Finally it was time for Boxey to go to bed, and Starbuck told him a story, as promised. When the story was finished, Starbuck kissed the boy good night. "'Night kid," he said.

"Goodnight, Starbuck. I love you," said Boxey.

"I love you too, Boxey." He left the room and almost walked straight in to Apollo. The dark-haired man looked serious.

"He's not the only one, you know," said the captain.

"Only one what?" asked Starbuck.

"Only one who loves you."

Starbuck realized he was trembling. "You want to enlighten me on who the other one is?" he asked.

" said earlier you were trying to replace someone who wasn't interested. Is that someone me?"

"What if it is? Would it make a difference?"

"It would make a very big difference. I'm in love with you, Starbuck. I have been for a very long time."

"But Serena..."

Apollo sighed. "I did love Serena. She gave me Boxey. But you.... I loved — love — you much more than I loved her or anyone. And what about all of your women?"

"I told you, Apollo. They didn't mean anything. I was trying to fill the hole inside me, the one that was there because I didn't think you could love me the way I love you."

"And how do you love me, Starbuck?" asked Apollo softly.

"How about I show you?" He put his arms around his friend and kissed him soundly.

After a few centons of kissing, Apollo finally pulled himself away. "Starbuck, will you marry me?"

Starbuck grinned. "Yes, Apollo, I will marry you."

The two men heard a cheer from the direction of Boxey's room. He was standing in the doorway, watching them. "It's about time!" he said.


The sealing ceremony went as planned, a double ceremony with Athena and Cassiopeia. Most of the pilots from Starbuck and Apollo's squadron were in attendance, as well as all of the women's friends. The party went on quite late, and the two men finally pulled themselves away to put a very tired boy to bed.

"Story," mumbled Boxey as his fathers tucked him in.

"Okay," said Starbuck. "Once upon a time there was a tall, dark and handsome viper pilot, and an equally handsome blonde lieutenant, and a small boy who decided that the two men should get sealed."

"Oh, I know how this one ends," said Boxey, beaming. "It ends with,'...and they all lived happily ever after.' "