Starbuck and Apollo were just about to head onto the court for their Triad match when Starbuck stopped his partner.
"Don't I get a kiss for good luck?" he asked petulantly.
With a laugh, Apollo kissed his life mate. "That will have to hold you until the game's over," he replied, then added, "And good luck."
"I don't need luck. I have the best Triad partner in the fleet."
"Then why did you want me to kiss you for luck?" Apollo asked.
Starbuck grinned. "I needed an excuse to make you kiss me."
"Since when do you need an excuse?" Apollo laughed. Flinging an arm around Starbuck's shoulders, he said, "Come on, let's get out there and win this game."
"I love you, you know," Starbuck said suddenly.
"I love you too," Apollo answered as they stepped on to the court.
The game turned out to be a bit more challenging than the two warriors had expected, but by the halfway point Starbuck and Apollo were ahead. Apollo was just about to attempt a complex shot that would gain them a substantial lead if he made it when he received an elbow in the gut from one of their opponents and went down. His head made a sickening "thud" sound as it impacted the floor.
The game was immediately stopped as Starbuck ran to his unconscious lover's side. "Pol?" he asked worriedly. "Apollo? Are you all right?" He looked at the people standing around him. "Someone call a doctor!"
A medical team was called and Apollo was transported to the Life Centre. Starbuck hovered at his side, worriedly, until Apollo woke up.
"Starbuck?" Apollo asked in a groggy voice. "What happened?"
"What happened is that you just scared the pogees out of me, pal."
"Wait a centon.... Starbuck? You're alive!" Apollo grabbed his friend in a fierce embrace.
"Uh, I'm happy to see you too," Starbuck said in confusion.
"I thought you were dead!" Apollo exclaimed. Then he looked around. "But where's Serena? Has something happened to her?"
A suspicion was beginning to form in Starbuck's mind. "Apollo, what's the last thing you remember?"
Apollo looked at Starbuck in equal confusion. "My wedding, the star, the planet .... Why?"
"What yahren is it? What's the date?"
Still wondering what his wingmate was getting at, Apollo replied with a date that was almost two yahrens previous.
Starbuck called the doctor in. "I think Apollo has lost his memory," he told Salik.
Salik examined Apollo and pulled up the results of the tests he'd run when the Captain had been brought in to the Life Centre. "Captain Apollo, you have a concussion," he announced. Then he started asking questions. "What is today's date?" was one of them, just as it had been Starbuck's.
Apollo again gave the date, or at least the date he thought it was. Salik sighed. "Captain, you have amnesia. It seems that you have forgotten the last two yahrens."
"Amnesia?" Apollo was stunned.
"You hit your head pretty hard, Pol," Starbuck told him.
"Is it permanent?" Apollo wanted to know.
"I have no way of telling," was the doctor's reply. "Your memory may come back in a few centares, or a few days, or not at all. Some may come back while some doesn't. There's no way to predict it."
"Great," Apollo muttered. Then he looked at Starbuck. "So, how did you survive? The last time I remember seeing you, you were surrounded by Cylons...." he let his voice trail off. The memory obviously disturbed him. "I really did think you were dead."
Starbuck explained about his capture and Baltar's decision to release him. He avoided talking about what had come next - the Cylon attack on the planet Kobol and Serena's death. When he was finished, Apollo smiled. "Not that I'm not happy to see you, Star, but I still haven't seen Serena. Where is she? I assume that she'd be informed when her husband is in Life Centre."
The lieutenant squirmed uncomfortably. How could he tell Apollo that Serena had died just days after the wedding that was Apollo's last memory of her? "I think I'll go call the Commander. He should know about this."
Apollo grabbed his arm. "Starbuck, what aren't you telling me?"
With a sigh, Starbuck stopped. "There are some things that have happened in the last couple of yahrens that you need to know about. I really think you should hear them from your father."
"I want to hear them from you," Apollo answered. "You're my best friend and you're always honest with me."
So Starbuck told Apollo about Serena's death. His mate took the news stoically. Then Starbuck filled him in on the other events of the two yahrens gone from his memory. Finally, he said, "There's one other thing you should know, and I'm not quite sure how to tell you."
"More bad news?" Apollo assumed the worst. "Has something happened to Boxey, or Athena?" Starbuck had already mentioned Adama so Apollo assumed his father was still alive and well.
"Not bad news, really, just something you might call unexpected."
"Tell me," Apollo insisted.
"All right." Starbuck took a deep breath. "Apollo, for the last half yahren, you and I have been lovers."
Apollo was about to laugh, thinking Starbuck was playing some sort of joke on him, when he saw by the expression on his wingmate's face that Starbuck was serious. "Lovers," he repeated. "You and I are lovers."
Starbuck nodded. "We've been living together for a few sectares. Living together, raising Boxey together... sleeping together."
"You're right about this being unexpected. It's going to take some getting used to."
"I understand," Starbuck told him. "I'll go get some things from our quarters and move back into the Bachelor Officers' Quarters."
"Starbuck..." Apollo hesitated. "You don't have to move out."
"Yes I do," Starbuck replied. "As far as you remember, you're married to Serena and she just died. You have to mourn her all over again. I won't intrude."
Just then Dr. Salik returned. "Captain Apollo, is Lieutenant Starbuck going to be spending the night in your quarters with you? If not, I'd like you to spend the night here in Life Centre. You have a concussion and you need someone to keep an eye on you."
"I guess I'll be spending the night here, then," Apollo admitted. "Starbuck, will you ask my father or Athena to look after Boxey?"
"I'll take care of Boxey," Starbuck offered.
"Thank you," Apollo said gratefully.
As he was about to leave, Starbuck turned back to Apollo. "Look, Apollo, there's one thing I want you to remember. I love you. That hasn't changed. I love you, but I won't force myself on you. I won't force you into a relationship you don't remember."
"I..." Apollo didn't know what to say. He wished he could tell Starbuck that he loved him, but he couldn't. He honestly didn't remember being lovers with Starbuck. "Thank you," was what he finally said.
"Don't thank me," Starbuck replied. "You don't have to thank me for not throwing myself at you when you don't want me. You don't have to thank me for looking after Boxey. You don't remember it, I realize that, but for the past couple of yahrens Boxey has become almost like my own son."
"Starbuck, it's not that I don't want you. I just don't remember."
"It's all right, Apollo. I understand. Look, this is most likely temporary. In a few days, maybe even sooner than that, you'll remember everything, good and bad, and then we can make up for lost time."
Apollo gripped Starbuck's hand in his. "I do care for you, Starbuck. I care very much. When I thought you were dead, it hurt."
Starbuck nodded. "I know the feeling. There was a time not too long ago when I thought the same thing about you."
"I wish I could remember it."
"Don't worry about it. It's probably the kind of thing you'd want to forget even if you didn't have amnesia. Now, I have to go get Boxey. I'll take him back to your quarters for tonight and bring him to see you before he goes to bed, all right? He'll probably be worried about you if he saw the triad game on IFB."
"I thought they were *our* quarters," Apollo protested.
"They were. They will be again. For now, though, like I said, I'll stay in the BOQ until you get your memory back."
Starbuck departed, and Apollo was left wondering what else had happened in the last two yahrens that he'd forgotten about.
Boxey was waiting in the Learning Centre when Starbuck arrived. He'd seen the triad match on IFB while he was taking part the after school program offered to children whose parents were unable to pick them up immediately when learning period was over.
"Starbuck! How's my dad?" the boy demanded when he saw Starbuck.
Starbuck looked around until he saw the teacher who was running the after school program. "Is there somewhere I can talk to Boxey alone?" he asked. The teacher showed them to an empty classroom.
"Starbuck, what's wrong?" Boxey asked in concern. Starbuck was acting much too seriously for his liking.
"Boxey, your dad is fine," the Lieutenant assured him. "But he did hit his head pretty hard, and it made him lose his memory. Some of his memory - not all of it. He's forgotten almost two yahrens. He didn't remember that your mother died. He didn't remember that I live with you guys."
"Didn't remember? How can he not remember?"
"Like I said, he hit his head. When people hit their heads it can do weird things to their brains, and mess up their memories. But physically, Apollo is fine and I'm sure his memory will come back."
"He doesn't remember that my mom died," Boxey mused thoughtfully. "That's bad."
"Well, I had to tell him about it, so he knows now. But he'll have to mourn for her all over again. And you're two yahrens older than he remembers you being. Everything will be different for him, and it'll be hard, but we'll help him."
"Is he at home?"
"He has to spend the night in Life Centre. I'll take you to see him after we've had dinner, okay?"
"Are you going to cook?" Boxey asked suspiciously.
"I think we'd better eat out," Starbuck suggested, a suggestion to which Boxey readily agreed. Suddenly Starbuck realized something. "There's one other thing," he said. "When your dad is released from Life Centre, I'm going to move back to the Bachelor Officers' Quarters."
"But why?" the boy demanded. "You've lived with us for half a yahren! Why are you leaving?"
"Boxey, your dad doesn't remember me living with you. He doesn't remember anything about my relationship with him. He thought we were still just friends. He's still getting over losing your mother. If - when - he remembers, I'll move back in. Until then, it's best that I stay in the BOQ."
"I don't like it," Boxey pouted.
Starbuck gave him a hug. "I don't like it either, kiddo, but it's the way things have to be right now."
When Boxey arrived in the Life Centre to see his father, Apollo was stunned. He'd tried to prepare himself mentally for seeing a boy who was two yahrens older than he remembered, but it was still a surprise. He'd missed two yahrens of his son's life. They were gone, as if they'd never happened. But Boxey would remember them. Boxey would remember things that he, Apollo, didn't. He didn't even remember what it had been like to be a father.
Apollo noticed that Starbuck stood nearby, close but not in the way. There was something else Apollo didn't remember: his relationship with Starbuck. Starbuck was his best friend. That much hadn't changed. But lovers? And how did Boxey feel about Starbuck?
He turned his attention back to his son, who was talking a metron a micron as usual. "Dad, you have to stop him!" Boxey was saying.
"Sorry, Boxey, stop who from doing what?"
"Stop Starbuck from moving out!"
"That's his decision, Boxey. It's what he thinks is best."
"It's not 'best'!" Boxey exclaimed in disgust. "It's stupid!"
Apollo saw that his parental skills were already being put to the test. "Boxey, don't talk that way," he admonished. "You shouldn't say things like that about Starbuck."
"I didn't say that Starbuck is stupid. I said what he's doing is stupid. And it is. He lives with us. It's where he belongs."
Obviously his son was well versed in the fine art of splitting hairs. "Didn't anyone ever tell you not to argue with grownups?"
Boxey grinned. "Yeah. You did."
Something else he couldn't remember. "Apparently you didn't listen."
"Well, Starbuck told me that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself, even with grownups."
Apollo couldn't think of any way to argue with that. He wondered what else Boxey had learned from Starbuck. "Listen, Boxey, it's close to your bed time. I'll be home tomorrow."
The boy frowned. "Is your memory going to come back?" he wanted to know.
"I don't know," Apollo admitted. He and Boxey exchanged hugs, then Boxey left with Starbuck.
After Boxey was in bed, Starbuck collected his things in preparation for moving out the next day. He hated the idea of going back to living in the Bachelor Officers' Quarters, but he didn't know what else to do. Apollo didn't remember anything about their relationship. He hoped that it would only be temporary, but he had to face the possibility that Apollo would never remember.
He didn't know what he would do if that was the case.
The next day, as Apollo was on his way to his quarters, he ran into a young woman in the corridor.
"Apollo!" Sheba greeted him. "I was at the Triad match yesterday. I saw your accident. How are you?"
Apollo looked at her in confusion. "Do I know you?" he asked.
"What do you mean, do you know me?" Sheba inquired, equally confused.
"I'm sorry, but when I hit my head it did some weird things to my memory. I've forgotten everything that's happened in the last two yahrens. Obviously I must know you, but who you are and where you came from is a blank to me. I thought I knew all the warriors. I guess I don't."
"Oh, poor Apollo!" Sheba exclaimed. "What does Dr. Salik say? Is the memory loss temporary, or permanent? How are Boxey and Starbuck taking the news?"
"One question at a time, please! My head still hurts. Dr. Salik says I have a concussion. He doesn't know if the memory loss is permanent. Boxey is bit upset but he seems to be handling things okay. Starbuck... Is my relationship with Starbuck any of your business?" Apollo was suddenly suspicious of this woman, who for all he knew was a total stranger to him.
"I'm your friend! Of course it's my business! I care about you! And Starbuck too, of course," she added quickly.
"Why don't you tell me who you are and how I know you before I start filling you in on the state of my personal life," Apollo suggested.
So Sheba told him the story of Cain and the Battlestar Pegasus. She left out some of the details about the questionable tactics Cain had carried out that had not endeared him to Adama, Apollo or the rest of the Galactica's warriors. "We've been friends ever since," Sheba told him. "At one time I thought maybe we would be more than just friends, but that was before you and Starbuck moved in together, of course." She smiled a completely insincere smile at him.
Apollo was surprised that Sheba would still want to be friends with him if she'd hoped at one time to be, as she put it, "more" than friends. He hoped he hadn't led her on. Well, she probably wouldn't be this friendly if he had. "So, you and I are friends, then," he said.
"Yes, all three of us - you, me, and Starbuck. And Boxey too, of course."
"Starbuck is moving out of my - that is our - quarters. He says that if I can't remember my relationship with him, then it's best that we don't share quarters."
"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that, Apollo," Sheba told him sympathetically. Inside, she was planning how she would take advantage of the situation.
Apollo parted from Sheba and headed for his quarters. He was quite surprised that he'd been friends with such an attractive woman, yet had apparently preferred Starbuck to her. Or maybe it wasn't so strange. After all, Starbuck was his best friend, and Sheba was a stranger. He could still hardly believe he'd gotten over Serena's death and moved on to fall in love with anyone. Her loss was still an open wound. The problem was, to everyone else it had been two yahrens since her death.
He found Starbuck and Boxey waiting for him in his quarters. "Shouldn't you be in school?" he asked his son.
"I told his teacher he'd be about half a centare late so that he could be here when you arrived," Starbuck told him. "But only half a centare, Boxey."
Boxey greeted his father, gave him a hug and a kiss, then, reluctantly, left for school.
"I hope you don't mind that I gave him permission to be late for school," Starbuck said apologetically.
Apollo shrugged. "You've been living with us for how long, Starbuck? Half a yahren? I feel like I've barely been Boxey's father for a secton. You have more parenting experience than I do!"
"You'll do fine," Starbuck assured him. "You did it before and you'll do it again. Boxey's a good kid, and he loves you. Just make sure you don't let him try to take advantage of you. If he tries to tell you that you let him do something 'before', don't believe him. Ask your father, or Athena, or me if you're not sure.".
Apollo's father and sister had been to see him when he was in Life Centre and had tried to fill him in on the missing parts of his life. They'd confirmed that he and Starbuck had been sharing quarters for several sectares.
"Can I? Ask you, I mean. You've been closest to Boxey of anyone. If you could tell me what I've forgotten, it would really help."
"Of course you can ask me. Ask me anything." He looked at the time. "But not right now. I have a patrol to fly. When are they going to let you back into a viper?"
"Not until they're sure my head has healed. At least flying a viper isn't something I forgot. Can we get together after your shift?"
"Sure thing. O club? Or are they not letting you drink because of your injury?"
"O club would be fine. Believe it or not, they do serve non-alcoholic beverages there. How about 1300, so I'll be home when Boxey gets out of school?"
"I'll see you then," Starbuck agreed. He lifted the bag containing his few personal possessions. "Gotta drop this off at the BOQ."
"You really don't have to move out," Apollo said yet again.
"Yes, I do. It's only temporary. Your head will get better and your memory will come back, and everything will be like it was before." Starbuck left, whistling a jaunty tune as he did so.
The question of what they would do if Apollo's memory didn't come back wasn't asked. But Starbuck had already formulated a plan to deal with that occurrence. Apollo had fallen in love with him once. He'd just have to make sure that Apollo fell in love with him again.
When the two met in the Officer's Club, Apollo was surprised to find that he felt a bit nervous about seeing Starbuck. Well, maybe not exactly nervous - the feeling was more like anticipation. He looked forward to seeing Starbuck. Starbuck didn't change. He was consistent. Just being with him made Apollo feel better. The world didn't seem quite as crazy as it did when Starbuck wasn't around. Except that Starbuck *had* changed - or, more precisely, their relationship had changed. They had been lovers. And now they weren't.
Starbuck arrived carrying a tray with two glasses of fruit juice. "Now, just because I'm not drinking doesn't mean you can't," Apollo pointed out.
The lieutenant shrugged. "I don't have to drink every time I'm here," he replied. "So, what did you want to ask me? Stuff about Boxey?"
"Stuff about everything," Apollo answered. "For starters, could you tell me about Sheba?"
The cheerful expression on Starbuck's face vanished. "What do you want to know about her?"
"What kind of relationship did I have with her? Were she and I together before you and I were?"
"Not that I know of," Starbuck answered cautiously.
"Was she interested in me?"
Starbuck hesitated, trying to think of a way to answer. "I would say so, yes." Throwing herself at you was a good indicator of that, was what he thought but didn't say.
"So after you and I moved in together, were we friends with her?"
Starbuck was just about to answer when the subject of their conversation arrived. "Apollo!" she greeted the Captain cheerfully. "Starbuck," she added politely. "How are you feeling? How's your head?" These questions were of course addressed to Apollo, with Starbuck being ignored.
Apollo began to answer Sheba's questions. Without asking if she could join them, Sheba sat at the table and continued to pelt Apollo with questions about his injury, how Boxey was dealing with it, and when Apollo could go back on regular duty. After about a half centare, Starbuck rose from the table.
"Excuse me," he said, trying to remain polite. "I just remembered that I promised Colonel Tigh I'd get my reports done after I finished my shift. I'll see you later." The last was addressed to Apollo, not to Sheba, but it wouldn't have mattered, since Sheba paid no attention to anything Starbuck said.
Apollo watched his friend leave, and wondered why he felt a sudden sense of loss. He'd been enjoying Starbuck's company. Now here was Sheba, someone he barely knew, or, at least, someone he didn't remember. He considered staying and making polite conversation, but why? He didn't enjoy this woman's company. She'd just barged in on him and Starbuck and then acted like Starbuck wasn't even there.
"Will you excuse me, Sheba? I'm kind of tired, and my head hurts. I think I'll go back to my quarters." It was a lie, of course, but one that he was sure Sheba would believe.
"Oh, of course!" Sheba said instantly. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
Just leave me the frack alone, was what Apollo wanted to say, but he settled for, "No, thank you."
Back in the Bachelor Officers' Quarters, Starbuck sat on his bunk, feeling miserable. He'd spent his first night without Apollo last night, and had hated it. Unfortunately, he had another lonely night to look forward to, and likely a stretch of them. In fact, he might even have to spend the rest of his nights alone, if Sheba got her talons into Apollo. She certainly hadn't wasted any time. As soon as Starbuck had moved out, there she was, even if Apollo didn't remember her. He wondered if she even cared that Apollo was grieving. Probably not. It wasn't like she'd ever even met Serena. To her, Apollo's wife didn't exist.
His thought were interrupted by none other than Apollo. "There you are. I was wondering where I'd find you."
"What are you doing here?" Starbuck wanted to know. He'd thought Apollo would be with Sheba right now.
"You left. I was concerned."
"Concerned? About me? Why?"
"I haven't forgotten everything, Bucko. One thing I do remember is that you don't do reports. Which means, you lied." He sighed. "I felt bad, because I was the one who asked you to get together, and then we never even got to talk before whatshername interrupted us. Is she always that hard to get rid of?"
"I shouldn't say anything that might influence your opinion of her," Starbuck demurred. "For all I know, you might decide you like her."
"Somehow I doubt it. She seems a bit pushy for my tastes."
Starbuck refrained from pointing out that Serena hadn't exactly been docile.
"Anyway, like I said, we never really got to talk. Can we try again, without interruptions, hopefully?"
Starbuck smiled. Apollo realized, as if he hadn't already known, that he really liked that smile. "Of course. When and where?"
"How about my quarters? I'm sure Boxey would be thrilled to see you."
"You said without interruptions, Pol."
"Once he gets into bed, we can talk then."
"Obviously you haven't tried putting him to bed yet."
"Oh oh. I don't think I like the sound of that," Apollo moaned.
"You'll learn, Pol. Anyway, I don't want to get Boxey's hopes up of me moving back in with you guys right away."
Apollo frowned. "I keep telling you -"
"I know, Apollo. And you know my reasons. How about in your quarters, but while Boxey's at school? Would that work?"
"That would work. Same time, then? After your shift?"
"I'll be there," Starbuck answered with another smile.
Apollo was just about to leave when a question occurred to him. "Starbuck, can I ask you something?"
"Why weren't we married? We lived together but neither of us wears a ring, so I assume that means we never married. Why not?"
"Married couples can't fly together," was Starbuck's immediate answer.
"But Serena was my wingman," Apollo objected. "Though that was before we were married, I guess. I don't recall hearing that rule before. Or is that something else I've forgotten?"
"The Commander only made the rule recently, after Serena died.. So many of the new flight cadets are women, he and Col. Tigh were concerned about how it might affect a squadron to have a married couple in it - thought it might affect unit cohesiveness or something. Anyway, they had some reason or another to justify it." Starbuck hesitated. "I kind of wondered about the timing though. Maybe he made it to stop us from getting married."
"Would he do that?" Apollo asked. He realized that he really had no idea how his father had reacted to his being with Starbuck. The last time they'd talked, they'd just concentrated on filling in the blanks in his memory.
"He wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea that you and I were a couple," Starbuck admitted. "Though he does seem to be gradually getting used to the idea."
"So you think he made the rule about married couples not flying together to stop us from marrying?" Apollo wasn't sure he understood. Was flying with him that important to Starbuck? Or was it he himself who had made the decision? "Why would that stop us?"
"Well, I am kind of attached to the idea of being your wingman. I'm the jealous type, I guess. " Truthfully, Starbuck hated the idea of not being there to watch Apollo's back when they were flying. As much as he would have loved to be married to Apollo, the idea of not flying with him was troubling. Still, he had been thinking that maybe he could let go of his position as Apollo's wingman if he trusted his replacement, if it was someone like Boomer, for example. But there was another candidate for the job, someone he didn't trust - Sheba. He would never forgive her for having gotten Apollo killed. Even if the beings in the lightship had brought him back, Starbuck would never forget the brief, horrible moment when he'd seen Apollo die in front of him and thought he'd lost him forever.
"Don't you trust me?" Apollo asked. He didn't like the sound of that. Was Starbuck afraid that if they spent any time apart, if they didn't both live together and work together, he would be unfaithful?
"It's not that," Starbuck protested. "I just don't like to see you going out there against the Cylons without me."
Something nagged at the edge of Apollo's mind. Something that Starbuck had said once, something about his going anywhere without him. He tried to recall what it was, but failed. He did remember how Starbuck had acted when he'd been replaced as Apollo's wingman, with Serena in his place. He'd been jealous. Had Starbuck been in love with him even then? And if he had, how had he, Apollo, not noticed? Because of Serena, of course.
Serena. He'd loved her. Or at least he'd told himself that he did. The problem was that their wedding had taken place at the absolute worst time. Starbuck had been missing and presumed dead. Many of the warriors were sick and possibly dying. Apollo hadn't felt like celebrating at all. Serena had talked him into it, saying that she thought Starbuck would understand, and approve. So they'd gone ahead with it, without any of Apollo's friends or squadron mates there. Without his best man.
"Are you remembering something?" Starbuck asked hopefully, seeing the faraway look on Apollo's face.
"Serena," Apollo answered, and Starbuck's face fell. He quickly changed the subject. "So, you'll come by tomorrow and we'll talk about Boxey, about what I don't remember."
"Yeah. Tomorrow," Starbuck answered flatly.
Apollo could tell that Starbuck was unhappy, and couldn't really blame him. They'd been lovers for half a yahren, and here he was talking about his dead wife. He wished there was something he could say to make it better. Then he thought of another question he wanted to ask. At this rate there would be nothing left to talk about tomorrow. "Were we happy?"
"You mean you and me, together?" Starbuck asked.
"Yes. Were we happy together?"
"I thought we were," Starbuck answered.
Apollo really wanted to know what Starbuck meant by that answer, but he realized it was past time to pick up Boxey from learning period. "Frack. I have to go. But we'll talk tomorrow, right?"
"I'll see you then," Starbuck answered as he left.
After Apollo left, Starbuck went over their conversation in his head. Apollo had wanted to know if they had been happy together. Yes, they had been happy - blissfully happy, at least most of the time. However, there had been times when reality had intruded, usually in the form of Apollo's family. While the Commander and Athena hadn't been overly hostile to them about their relationship, it had been obvious that they didn't exactly approve.
This had hurt both warriors deeply. Adama had been like a father to Starbuck when he and Apollo were growing up. He and Siress Ila had taken in the young orphan and made him part of their family. His relationship with Apollo hadn't exactly been what you would call brotherly, though. They'd discovered a mutual attraction when they were teenagers. It had only been exploration, experimentation - two boys discovering their own bodies and each others.' Both went on to date women. Apollo had even married.
But after the Destruction, and Serena's death, the two warriors, no longer boys, had turned to each other for comfort and support. Their attraction had always been there, even if they'd sublimated it for yahrens. And now that they were older, they realized that not only were they attracted to each other, they loved each other. "How could I have not seen what was right in front of me?" Apollo had asked. Then he'd added, "I love you, Starbuck. I've always loved you. I always will love you." That was when they'd made love for the first time as adults. Starbuck had moved in to Apollo's quarters soon after, and they'd made plans to marry, until the Commander had made his new rule.
They'd both been disappointed, but were still happy together. Sharing quarters was close to being married.
But had Apollo been happy? This was what bothered Starbuck. Why had Apollo only forgotten the time they'd been together? Why hadn't he forgotten everything? Most people with head injuries only forgot the events leading up to their injury, not two entire yahrens. Apollo thought he was still married to Serena. Had he been happier with Serena, with a conventional relationship? Would the Commander have let Serena continue to be Apollo's wingmate after they were married?
Had Apollo truly loved him? He'd said he did. He wouldn't have asked Starbuck to share his quarters if he didn't. But how happy had he been? He loved Apollo more than anything in the universe. Most of all, he wanted Apollo to be happy. Would Apollo be happier without him?
Should he let Apollo go?
No. He wouldn't give up that easily. He loved Apollo, and he would fight for him.
Meanwhile, back in Apollo's quarters, the Captain was thinking. Starbuck's answer to his question troubled him. "I thought we were." Starbuck thought they were happy. Didn't he know? What did he mean by "thought?"
He wished he could remember his time with Starbuck. Then he'd know if they'd been happy or not. But all he had was Starbuck's memory of their relationship. Starbuck was a gambler, and good at bluffing. If there was something he didn't want to talk about, he'd find a way to avoid it.
Maybe Starbuck was mad at him for something. Had they had a fight before he got hurt? Or was it something more recent - like Sheba, for instance, or even Serena. Starbuck had made no secret of the fact that he'd been jealous of Serena.
There was a knock on his door, and Apollo opened it to find his father there.
"Apollo, may I talk to you for a few centons?"
"About what?" Apollo asked.
"How are you feeling? How's your head doing? Any memory coming back?"
His father was being evasive. "My head still hurts sometimes. No memories as of yet. Now, why are you really here?"
Adama sighed. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but Colonel Tigh and I have discussed it and come to the same conclusion: you're relieved of duty."
"That's not news. You relieved me of duty until my head heals."
"That's not what I mean," Adama reluctantly replied.
"You mean permanently?" Apollo asked in shock and disbelief.
"More like indefinitely. Until you get your memory back."
"I don't believe this! Why? I haven't forgotten how to fly a viper. I was flying a viper two yahrens ago. I don't think much has changed since then."
"We're constantly upgrading the vipers. Making modifications, improvements. I don't want you to be out there in a fire fight and discover that your viper isn't doing what you think it should do, or doing something you didn't anticipate. And the Cylons have improved as well. They're always trying out new tactics, and we have to be ready for them. You no longer have the experience to tell you how to anticipate and respond to their tactics."
Apollo stood in the middle of the room and stared, speechless, at his father. Finally, when he felt he could speak again, he said quietly, "I want you to leave."
"I'm sorry, Apollo. I'm only thinking of your safety."
"Leave," Apollo repeated, and the Commander left.
Miserable, Apollo sat and stared at the walls of his quarters. He felt insufferably lonely. Boxey was spending the night with one of his friends from school. Athena was on the bridge. He didn't want to talk to any of the other warriors. He still didn't know what he'd forgotten, and didn't want to discover that he'd forgotten something important about one of his friends.
He picked up the handset on the wall and called down to the BOQ. Giles answered. "Giles, this is Captain Apollo," he said, careful not to include a rank - for all he knew, Giles had been promoted sometime in the last two yahrens. "Could you see if Lieutenant Starbuck is around? I need to talk to him."
When Starbuck answered the call, Apollo simply said, "Can you come to my quarters? I - I need you."
Starbuck was there almost before Apollo had put the handset down. "What's wrong?" he asked as soon as he was inside. "Is it Boxey?"
"No, nothing like that. It's me. The Commander has relieved me of duty."
"Indefinitely. Until my memory comes back. If it doesn't.... I suppose I could find a desk job."
"Did he tell you why?" Starbuck asked.
Apollo told him the reasons Adama had given him. When he was finished, Starbuck said, "Is that all? I could run you through the changes Wilker has made to the vipers. I'll even give you a refresher course on Cylon battle tactics. It's all in the computers - every time they do something new, the information gets fed into the computer and then fed into the simulator that we use to teach the cadets. It shouldn't be a problem to get you in one."
"You'd do that for me?" Apollo asked gratefully.
Starbuck put a hand on Apollo's shoulder. "Of course I would do that for you. You're still my best friend, Apollo. That hasn't changed. And I still love you, no matter what."
Apollo pulled him into a hug. "Thank you," he said. "For what?" Starbuck laughed.
"For everything," Apollo replied.
They were standing so close, facing each other. Apollo's arms were still around Starbuck. Without thinking of any consequences that might arise, Starbuck leaned forward and kissed Apollo.
Even if Apollo's mind didn't remember this, his body definitely did. It responded instantly. His cock sprung to life in his suddenly confining trousers. He moaned as he returned the kiss. The two warriors clung to each other for dear life.
Then Apollo pushed Starbuck away. "No," he said. "I - I can't. I'm sorry, Starbuck. Serena.... "
Starbuck glared at him. "Right. Serena. You think of her while I'm kissing you? That's just great. Did you think of her when we were making love, too?"
Starbuck stormed out of Apollo's quarters.
Apollo stared after Starbuck, stunned. He'd obviously said the completely wrong thing, but he didn't know how to make it sound any better. He couldn't be kissing Starbuck while Serena's memory was so fresh in his mind. Sure, to everyone else it had been two yahrens since she died, but to him it had only been a couple of days.
So now he had two things to be miserable about. Being relieved of duty, and Starbuck being pissed at him. Great. Well, this day couldn't get any worse. He decided to go to bed. Maybe things would look better in the morning.
To his surprise, Starbuck was at his door first thing the next morning. "Can I come in?" the Lieutenant asked worriedly.
"Of course," Apollo answered, stepping aside to let him in.
Starbuck cleared his throat a few times and looked at the floor. He obviously had something to say, but apparently was reluctant to say it. Finally, he blurted, "I'm sorry!"
"Sorry?" Apollo asked, uncertain at first what Starbuck was referring to.
"About last night. I'm sorry I yelled at you. I'm sorry I kissed you. I shouldn't have done either of those things. I keep forgetting that you're still getting over Serena, that it's only been a few days since you found out she was dead. I shouldn't have said those things to you. And I shouldn't have kissed you. That wasn't fair to either of us." He hesitated. "Are we still friends?"
"The best," was Apollo's immediate reply. "You are always my best friend, and I hope that's one thing you don't forget. I may have forgotten a lot, but I haven't forgotten that."
At that moment Starbuck wanted more than ever to take Apollo into his arms, kiss him and tell him how much he loved him, but of course he refrained. One day, though, he would, either when Apollo's memory returned or when Apollo fell in love with him all over again. It would happen, somehow.
"I'm off duty today," Starbuck informed his friend. "Do you want to go over the changes to the vipers like we talked about?"
"Can we talk first?" Apollo requested.
"About Boxey? Sure thing."
"Not just about Boxey. About everything. There's so much I've forgotten. Every time I see an old friend, I wonder what's been going in their life for the past two yahrens. Who's been promoted? Who's married? Who's...died. I want to know everything, good and bad, no matter how trivial or unimportant it might seem."
"That's a tall order," the blond man mused. "You might end up jogging *my* memory. Ask me questions about specific people. That might help. I'm afraid that I'll probably forget a few things, but hopefully nothing important." "Good," Apollo answered with a smile. Gods, how Starbuck loved that smile. Unfortunately, it tended to have the effect of making him want to rip Apollo's clothes off, throw him down on the bed and frack his lights out. He tried to will his erection to disappear before Apollo saw it. "Have you eaten?"
"Huh?" Starbuck snapped back to reality.
"Breakfast. Have you eaten breakfast?"
"No, no I haven't," Starbuck answered, removing his flight jacket and trying to discreetly hold it in front of him. "Well then, sit down and I'll make some for us both."
"Uh...could I borrow your shower? I came here first thing, before I'd showered or shaved or anything."
"Sure thing," Apollo answered with a shrug, though he noticed that indeed, Starbuck *had* shaved this morning and his hair appeared to still be wet from a shower. Why Starbuck needed two showers, he had no idea. Or, wait a centon, he did have an idea. An idea which caused a stirring in his own trousers. Better stop thinking about that, or he'd need a shower too. Starbuck was already in the shower, and.... Whoa. Better not think about *that.* If each other's presence affected them this strongly, he wondered how they'd ever been able to leave their quarters.
He forced himself to think of other things while he made breakfast.
While they ate, Apollo peppered Starbuck with questions. Starbuck did his best to answer them. He told Apollo about the ice planet and the Cylon gun. He told him about the time there had been an out-of-control fire on the Galactica, and his father's needing heart surgery while it was going on. He related the story of a murder on the Rising Star, which he had been accused of, and how Apollo had acted as his Defender and solved the murder himself. He was thinking he'd run out of things to tell his friend when Apollo asked him, "So, what aren't you telling me?"
"There's something you're avoiding. Come on, I know you. Spill it."
With a sigh, Starbuck gave in. He told the story of Count Iblis, and Sheba's obsession with him, and how the man-demon's objective had been control of the fleet. He told about following Apollo to the shuttle bay when Apollo had been going after Sheba, and what had happened on the asteroid when they found Sheba and Iblis.
"You died," Starbuck said, trying to control his voice. "I'll never get over seeing that happen. I thought I'd lost you forever. I'd never even told you that I loved you. You were dead and I couldn't make Iblis pay for what he'd done to you."
"What happened then?" Apollo wanted to know.
Starbuck explained about the beings in the ship of light. "They said they heard me saying I'd trade my own life for yours. They said that they brought you back because of it."
Apollo reached across the table and took Starbuck's hand in his. "Thank you," he said. "Thank you for offering your life for me. Thank you doesn't seem like enough, but it's all I can say."
"You've risked your life for me more times than I can count," was Starbuck's response. The fact that Apollo was holding his hand made him warm inside. It looked like things were working out the way he wanted them to. After all, how many straight men held hands with their best friend?
To Apollo, the fact that Starbuck had been willing to lay down his life for him was proof, if he needed it, that Starbuck truly loved him, that they weren't just sex partners. Starbuck's love for him was stunning. He'd never known a love like that. He honestly couldn't say whether or not Serena would have offered her life for his. He and Starbuck hadn't even been lovers when Starbuck had made the offer. "Is that why you love me?"
"The fact that I've saved your life so many times - is that why you love me?"
"Apollo, if I were to list all the reasons why I love you, we'd be here from now until the bovines come home."
"Bovines come home? Where did you learn *that* expression?" Apollo asked in amusement.
"From you, actually. You picked it up when you were on Equellus. You stayed with a farmer and her son, and they apparently used expressions like that all the time."
"Where were you when I was on this Equellus?"
"Looking for you. Your viper had run out of fuel and you'd landed on this little out of the way planetoid where they were being terrorized by this Cylon called Red Eye. Anyway, none of us knew where you were, and I was dividing my time between looking after Boxey and trying to find you."
"This was when we were already together?" Apollo assumed.
"Actually, no. It wasn't that long after Serena died, and I hated the idea that Boxey could lose you so soon after losing his mother. I was still with Cassiopeia then, which is how I was able to talk her into caring for Boxey while I was out looking for you." He paused. "Did you know that Boxey beat me at Pyramid?"
Apollo had to laugh. His son beating Starbuck at Pyramid? "Who taught him how to play Pyramid in the first place?" Apollo teased.
"Okay, yes, I did. I guess I deserved it."
"Speaking of Cassiopeia," Apollo continued. "How did she feel about you and me being together?"
"She was angry at first," Starbuck admitted. "I don't blame her. Our getting together did happen rather suddenly. I wasn't able to do things properly - break things off with her the way a gentleman should. But she got over it eventually. She said she could see how happy we were."
"Were we happy?" Apollo asked again.
"I thought we were."
"You said that before. What do you mean, 'thought'?"
Starbuck took a deep breath. He kept wavering between telling the truth and making something up. But he'd said the same thing twice now, so he should explain himself.
"I can't help but wonder why you only forgot the time after Serena died, including the time we were together as a couple, and went back to a time when Serena was still alive."
Apollo thought for a few centons. "I'm sorry," he finally said, "but I have no idea why it happened like this. I don't know anything about brain injuries or memory loss. You said I hit my head pretty hard."
"I suppose I could be reading things into it that aren't there," Starbuck admitted. "Even Dr. Salik can't explain it satisfactorily. For all I know it might just be a result of the blow to your head and not have any psychological component."
A thought occurred to Apollo. "You said that my family had a hard time accepting our relationship."
"Yes, that's true. I told you that I thought the Commander might have made the rule about married couples flying together just so that he could stop us from getting married."
"How did he treat us, in general?" Apollo wanted to know.
"He pretty much ignored me," Starbuck admitted. "He was reasonably polite to you, but not overly warm. He practically radiated disapproval every time he saw us together."
"Maybe that has something to do with it," Apollo mused out loud.
"What has something to do with what?" asked Starbuck, not following his friend's train of thought.
"My father disapproving of me. I've always hated it when he disapproves of something I've done. I know how much he liked Serena, how happy he was to marry us. Maybe I went back to a time when he was happy with me."
"Apollo, you know that he's been practically a father to me as well. Having him disapprove of us hurts, but you can't live your life trying to avoid his disapproval."
"I know," Apollo sighed.
Seeing how much this troubled Apollo, Starbuck decided to try to cheer him up. "Come on, 'Pol, let's go to the landing bay. I'll give you a refresher course on vipers."
Starbuck showed Apollo the improvements that had been made to the vipers. They went over every instrument, every computer function, everything that made a viper the superior fighting machine that it was. "They've done all this in two yahrens?" Apollo was astonished.
"Hey, Wilker doesn't spend all his time in the lab fixing up Muffit," Starbuck joked. "Although he does have his limitations. He can't put Cylons back together after he takes them apart." Starbuck then had to explain about the time that Baltar had managed to escape from the prison barge and had demanded that his two Cylon pilots be released. Wilker had tried to reassemble them, but hadn't been completely successful. Fortunately, this had worked to Starbuck and Apollo's advantage by preventing Baltar from leaving the Galactica.
After the run-through on the vipers, the two warriors moved on to the simulators. "You realize this is going to take more than one cycle of instruction," Starbuck warned Apollo. "We have to make sure that you know those new viper controls well enough to pilot one in your sleep, not to mention two yahrens worth of Cylon battle tactics. Are you sure you're up to it? How's your head doing?"
"My head is doing fine. I'll do whatever it takes to fly again. If you don't have time to teach me...."
Starbuck interrupted him. "I'll make the time," he promised.
So for the next few sectons, Starbuck would meet Apollo when his duty shift was over and they would work on the simulators. Apollo was doing desk duty. One of his jobs was to schedule the flight rotations. He'd also had to assign Starbuck a new wingman. With Col. Tigh's approval, he'd assigned Boomer. He made sure that he left Starbuck enough time between duty rotations to work with him on the simulator.
After their work on the simulator, Starbuck and Apollo would often stop by the O Club for a drink. Now that Starbuck had filled him in, as much as he could, on what had happened during the two yahrens that he didn't remember, Apollo felt a lot better about socializing with his friends.
And he still didn't remember. It had been sectons since the accident that had robbed him of his memory, and he still hadn't regained it. There were occasional flashes, usually centring around Starbuck - something the Lieutenant said or did would cause some flicker at the back of his mind - but they seemed random and disconnected. None of them was clear enough to really call a "memory."
He lived his life, though, almost as if nothing had changed. Boxey had accepted his father's loss of memory. Starbuck had filled him on the milestones that he'd forgotten. The biggest change was that he was on desk duty, which was a pain. But he and Starbuck were working on changing that.
Sometimes he saw Sheba in the Officer's Club. Starbuck had told him a lot about her. Some of it was good - she'd rescued the two of them when they'd been floating in space after setting charges on the hull of the ship to try to smother a fire. Apollo had lost his handhold and gone flying; Starbuck had leaped after him. It had seemed a pointless thing for him to do; after all, two weightless men were still weightless. But there being two of them made them easier to spot from a viper, and Sheba had found them and rescued them. Some of it was bad - Sheba had acted like a selfish, spoiled princess when Cain had been around. She'd lied for him and covered up his bad behaviour. She'd acted the same way with Count Iblis. It was because of Iblis that Starbuck disliked her so much.
Apollo had asked her about Iblis. She'd tried to defend herself, even telling him that the beings in the ships of light had asked her if she would give up her life for him, just as they'd asked Starbuck, and she'd said yes. He'd confronted Starbuck about this - after all, it was something he hadn't included in his account of the events. Yes, Starbuck admitted, she'd said that. Really, though, she hadn't had much choice. They didn't know who these beings were or what they wanted. She didn't want to make herself look bad in front of them. They'd argued a bit, but had soon made up. Apollo couldn't blame his friend for being angry at someone who had very nearly gotten him killed. Had, in fact, gotten him killed.
One day when Starbuck and Apollo were working on the simulator, Colonel Tigh walked in on them. "What are you doing?" he demanded. They hadn't told anyone about their plans for getting Apollo flight-ready again.
Apollo explained their plans to the Colonel. "If I can learn the Cylon battle tactics and memorize the new features on the vipers, there won't be any reason to stop me from going back into regular duty, will there?" he asked.
Tigh seemed thoughtful. "I can't think of any, but I'll have to clear it with the Commander," he finally answered.
Somehow neither Starbuck nor Apollo liked the sound of that. Neither of them could say for certain, but they both suspected that there was something behind Adama's refusal to let Apollo go on regular duty, something more than his loss of memory. But they couldn't exactly stop Tigh from talking to him.
Adama came down to the simulator in fury. "What are you doing? Why are you using the simulator?"
"I'm helping Apollo re-learn the viper controls and Cylon battle tactics," Starbuck explained calmly.
"I relieved Apollo of duty!" the commander reminded him.
Apollo stepped out of the simulator. "You said that was only until I got my memory back. Well, it doesn't look like I'm going to, so I'm going to replace it instead. I am going to learn the new vipers inside and out, and I'm going to be the best student of Cylon battle tactics you've ever seen."
Adama was obviously still angry, but he carefully controlled his voice. "Apollo, I know that you want to go back on duty, but it's not safe. You had a serious head injury. You might have blackouts, become disoriented. The pressure in a viper cockpit might not be good for you. I can't put you back on duty. I'm sorry." He turned back to Starbuck. "And you, lieutenant, report to Colonel Tigh. I've asked him to assign you punishment duty."
"Punishment for what?" Starbuck demanded.
"What order did I disobey?" the Lieutenant wanted to know. Adama didn't answer him. He simply walked away.
Furious, Apollo followed his father. When they arrived at the Commander's office, he went in without waiting for an invitation.
"Why did you assign Starbuck punishment duty?" Apollo demanded.
"Because he disobeyed orders," came Adama's reply.
"The orders relieving you of flight duty."
"I wasn't on duty!" Apollo told him.
"You were preparing to fly a viper again, and I won't let you do that. I suppose I should have assigned punishment detail to you as well."
"You're not punishing Starbuck for trying to help me get flight-ready. You're punishing him for daring to fall in love with me." Apollo had just come to this realization. "Well, let me tell you something. It's not one-sided. I'm in love with him too."
"You mean you were," Adama pointed out. "Before you lost your memory. Now that you've forgotten him, maybe you'll come to your senses and find a suitable partner, once you've gotten over Serena, of course. A female partner."
"That's why you don't want me to fly," Apollo realized. "You want to keep me away from Starbuck as much as possible. You can't control our off-duty hours, so you'll keep us apart when we're on duty."
"Don't be ridiculous, Apollo. I'm simply concerned about your safety."
Apollo could tell that his father wasn't telling the whole truth. He turned to leave. Before he left, though, he decided that even if his father wouldn't tell the truth, he would. "By the way, you were wrong. I didn't mean that I *was* in love with Starbuck. I mean that I *am* in love with Starbuck." With that, he left the Commander's office.
Since Starbuck was on punishment detail, Apollo headed back to his quarters. He'd only been there a few centons when there was a knock on the door. Wondering who it was, he opened it to discover Sheba.
"Sheba," he said politely. "What can I do for you?"
"I just came to see how you were doing," the female warrior responded. "We never seem to get a chance to talk when we're in the O Club."
"I'm fine," was Apollo's curt response.
"Then why are you in such a bad mood? Is it because of the desk duty? I was sorry to hear that you wouldn't be flying with us anymore. There's no sign of your memory returning?"
"None," Apollo answered, again curtly. He had no desire to socialize with Sheba right now. Or with anybody, for that matter. He wanted to talk to Starbuck, to tell him of the realization he'd come to. He had fallen in love with him all over again, just as he had done before he'd lost his memory.
"Dr. Salik doesn't know why you only forgot two yahrens? Don't most people who lose their memory forget everything - their name, their family, their friends?"
"Actually, that's very rare. Most people who have head injuries forget only the few centons before they hurt their head, not entire yahrens of their lives."
"Does he think that maybe there's something you don't want to remember? Something that's causing you to repress the memories?"
"I have no idea."
"There's a reason I was wondering," Sheba continued, to forestall any questions Apollo might have about why it was any of her business. "Not long before you got hurt, something happened, and I wondered if maybe you were feeling kind of, I don't know, conflicted about it."
"What happened?" Apollo demanded.
'We, that is you and I, had an affair. Just a brief one, but you were trying to decide when to tell Starbuck about it, and how. You were going to leave him for me."
Apollo felt sick. He'd cheated on Starbuck? How could he have done such a thing? Not only cheated on him, but apparently had been planning to break up with him. Because of Sheba? He didn't even like her. He loved Starbuck. How could he have hurt him like this?
"Starbuck didn't know?"
"I don't think so," Sheba answered. "No, he couldn't have. He'd have said something by now. Why didn't you say anything before now?"
"I was waiting for you to remember. I figured your memory would come back in a few days, maybe a secton, and then you'd remember and you'd come to me and we'd pick up where we left off. You'd just found about Serena. I didn't think you'd be ready to jump back into an affair with me unless you actually remembered it yourself. But now it looks like you're not going to."
Apollo was trying to think of a way to tell Sheba that he wasn't interested in re- starting the 'affair' she was talking about when she leaned forward and kissed him. The kiss didn't make him feel anything. His body didn't respond to the kiss the way it had to Starbuck's when they had kissed.
Just at that moment, Starbuck walked in. After living there for more than half a yahren, he knew the lock code and even now seldom bothered to knock. "Hey, Pol, I finished my punishment duty. Want to go to the O Club.... Oh." He saw Sheba. He saw Sheba kissing Apollo. "Well, what do you know. It wasn't about Serena after all. See you around, Apollo." He turned and walked out.
Apollo turned to Sheba in fury. "Get out of my quarters. NOW."
"But Apollo...." Sheba started to defend herself.
"I don't want to hear anything more from you. I can't change the past. But maybe I can do something about the present. I will not resume an affair with you. I don't want to have anything to do with you. Consider yourself transferred out of Blue squadron. You can join Bojay in Silver Spar. In your off-duty times, you don't come near me. Got that?"
"But we were in love!" Sheba wailed. "We were going to get married!"
"Not anymore," Apollo responded shortly. "Now leave, before I call Security."
Reluctantly, Sheba left, and Apollo went to find Starbuck.
Starbuck had returned to the BOQ, furious at Apollo and at himself. 'I should have seen this coming,' he thought to himself. 'Apollo forgot everything about our relationship. He's gone back to women. Serena's not here anymore, so he moved on to Sheba and left me behind. How could I have hoped he'd fall in love with me again?'
Apollo was the person who meant more to him than anyone. Apollo was the one he'd really, truly loved, more than he'd loved any of the women he'd been with over the yahrens. He'd tried to hold on to him, but obviously hadn't succeeded. It was probably a good thing that they'd never married.
The question that remained was: what would he do without Apollo?
Apollo himself arrived in the BOQ at a dead run. "Starbuck, I need to talk to you," he gasped out.
"I think I saw enough in your quarters to not need words. I hope that you and Sheba are very happy together."
"To Hades with Sheba!" Apollo hissed in a whisper, not wanting everyone in the BOQ to hear them.
A flicker of interest appeared in Starbuck's eyes. Those words did not sound like the ones of a man speaking about his lover. Apollo pressed his advantage.
"Please, let me tell you what happened. It's not what it looked like. Let me explain, and if you don't like what you hear then you don't have to talk to me again. Please."
Starbuck hesitated. Part of him wanted to hear Apollo's explanation, but a greater part of him feared being hurt even more than he had been already.
"Please, Starbuck, if you still love me, let me explain."
Starbuck did still love Apollo, and he couldn't resist the pleading words. "All right," he said reluctantly. "Where can we talk?"
"My quarters," Apollo suggested, and that was where they went.
When they arrived, Starbuck asked, "So, what happened? Why were you kissing Sheba when I walked in? I should learn to knock, I suppose."
"I didn't kiss Sheba. She kissed me. Took me completely by surprise. I didn't ask for it. I didn't want it. Sheba doesn't interest me in the least."
"Not at all?" Starbuck wanted to believe Apollo, but was still wary.
"Starbuck, you're the only person I want. You mean more to me than anyone on the Galactica, or in the fleet, or in the entire universe. Dammit, Star, I love you."
Hearing those words, along with his nickname, the one only Apollo used - everyone else called him "Bucko" - stopped Starbuck in his tracks. "Did you get your memory back?" he asked.
"No." Apollo shook his head. "I just fell in love with you all over again."
"You love me?"
"More than anything."
"Gods, Apollo...." There were tears in Starbuck's eyes. "I've waited so long to hear you say those words."
Apollo took Starbuck in his arms and held him close. "You can hear them whenever you want, as many times as you want." He was about to kiss Starbuck, but stopped himself. He stepped away from the blond man. "There's something I have to tell you. You won't like it. You may never want to speak to me again after you hear it."
Starbuck did not like the sound of this. "Tell me," he said.
"I had an affair with Sheba while you and I were together. It happened right around the time of my accident, just before, I guess."
"And you know this how?" "Sheba told me about it. She thought maybe it had something to do with the time period I've forgotten."
"You believe her?"
"Why shouldn't I?" Apollo asked.
"Maybe because Sheba is a manipulative, lying bitch?"
"Listen to me, Apollo. When Sheba kissed you, what happened? What did your body do?"
"Absolutely nothing," was Apollo's answer.
"And when I kissed you couple of sectares ago, how did it react then?"
Apollo almost blushed. "I think that was rather obvious."
Starbuck smiled. "Put the evidence together, 'Pol. You have no interest in Sheba. Your body doesn't react to her presence the way it reacts to mine. What does that tell you about the possibility of an affair between you and her?"
"That it's absolutely zero," Apollo responded with a smile.
"Good. Now get over here and kiss me already."
Apollo did so, and the two spent a few pleasant centons kissing. When they came up for air, Apollo asked, "Will you marry me?"
"Really? You want to get married?" Starbuck asked in surprise.
"Really. Let's do things right this time. Let's tell my father to take a flying leap."
"Not unless you want us to be brought up on charges of insubordination," Starbuck admonished.
"Figuratively tell him, then."
"Speaking of flying, what about the rules saying that married couples can't fly together?"
"I'm not flying right now anyway," Apollo answered. "I'm sure my father would find a way to keep us apart if I were. I don't have my memory back, and I may never have it back. No matter how many lessons you give me in a simulator, which the Commander has forbidden anyway, I won't be allowed back on flight duty unless and until it comes back. There's no reason for us not to get married."
Starbuck kissed him again, and all conversation ceased for the next centare.
When they were lying in bed a bit later, Apollo rolled onto one side and looked at Starbuck. Just looked. He wanted to drink in the sight of his lover lying there looking completely debauched and obviously very happy. He didn't want to forget anything about Starbuck ever again.
Starbuck opened his eyes and looked back at him. "What are you looking at?"
"What's so interesting about me?" Starbuck asked with a yawn.
Starbuck laughed. How Apollo loved that laugh. He loved everything about Starbuck. He'd loved him since they were boys, since the first time they'd gotten into a bed together and begun exploring each others' bodies. And loved him even more since the first time they'd made love in this bed, as adults.
"What are you thinking about?" Starbuck asked curiously.
"Our first time. Or times, I guess I should say."
"Back in your father's house on Caprica, or here?"
"Both. We were kids on Caprica. Our first time here.... You had just told me about Iblis. You told me that you'd seen me be killed, and you couldn't put off telling me that you loved me any longer. You said that I might hate you and never want to see you again, but you had to tell me, because you didn't want to lose me without ever having told me."
"Apollo - you remembered!"
"What? I .... I did! I remembered!"
"What happened next?" Starbuck asked. "What happened after I told you I loved you?"
Apollo grinned. "I said, 'How could I have not seen what was right in front of me?' and then I said, 'I love you, Starbuck. I've always loved you. I always will love you.'And it's true. I have always loved you and I will always love you. Which is why I want us to get married as soon as possible."
"You still want to get married?" Starbuck asked hesitantly. "I mean, now that you have your memory back, you can fly again. With me."
"Like I said before, somehow my father will find a way to keep us apart. I have an idea, though." Part 10
"An idea?" Starbuck was intrigued. "Let's hear it."
Apollo explained. His current job put him in charge of assigning duties to all the pilots. He intended to transfer Sheba to Silver Spar squadron, as he had told her he would. That left a vacancy in Blue squadron. Boomer was currently Starbuck's wingmate. "How would you feel about Boomer being my wingman?" Apollo asked. "Think you could give him up?"
"For you, yes," Starbuck responded. "But where does that leave me?"
"You're the best pilot in the fleet. How would you feel about training some of the new flight cadets? Being your wingman would probably feel like an honour to them."
"I suppose I could do that. But that still leaves both of us in the same squadron."
"If you read the new rules carefully, I think you'll see something that my father didn't intend. He never specified that two married pilots couldn't fly in the same squadron - they just can't be wingmates. So you can still keep an eye on me when we're out there."
"I never thought of that. He and Tigh kept saying that it could affect unit cohesion if two people who were married to each other were in the same squadron, and then he never actually forbade it?"
Apollo went and fetched a copy of the binder in which he kept all of the postings his father or Tigh made regarding changes in rules or regulations. "It's right here, see?" He showed Starbuck the relevant page. "My only concern is that if we take advantage of it, he might change it again."
Starbuck smiled. "Don't worry. Colonel Tigh is on our side. He was seriously pissed at the Commander for making him assign me punishment detail when I hadn't actually broken any rules and expecting him to go along with it. He did ask me if I would help some of the deck crew move some boxes from one of the supply shuttles, just so that it would look like I was doing something. They weren't heavy or anything, but they were awkward and the deck crew was shorthanded today."
"I wonder...." Apollo mused.
"Sheba's timing seemed a little too good. I wonder if you were set up on punishment detail to keep you away just long enough for Sheba to make her move?"
"Do you really think the Commander would do that?" Starbuck asked in astonishment.
"I wouldn't put anything past him."
Meanwhile, in one of the lounges on the Rising Star, Cassiopeia was enjoying a drink with some friends. She'd been hurt when Starbuck had left her for Apollo, but had eventually moved on and forgiven him. She'd also realized that she'd done essentially the same thing to him when Cain had been around.
She noticed that Sheba was nearby with some of her friends. She had a rather odd relationship with Sheba. As Cain's daughter, Sheba had nearly been her stepdaughter at one time. It had been obvious that she was a "Daddy's Girl", though, and hadn't wanted to share her father with anyone. Then, when Cassie had saved Bojay's life with her medical training, Sheba had begun to show her some grudging respect and they had become a little more friendly. She approached Sheba's table in time to hear what she was telling her friends.
"So anyway, Starbuck walks in just as I'm kissing Apollo. You should have seen the look on his face! Boy, was he pissed! But he just got all calm and controlled and said, "Well, what do you know? It wasn't about Serena after all."
"What did he mean, 'not about Serena' ?" someone asked.
"He must have thought that Apollo wouldn't go back to being bed-buddies with him because his memories of Serena - his wife - were too fresh. Then when he saw Apollo with me, well, he drew his own conclusions." Sheba sighed. "It would have been great, but Apollo didn't play along. He threw me out of his quarters. Serves him right that the Commander put him on desk duty."
Cassiopeia approached. "Hello, Sheba."
"Oh, hi, Cassie. Care to join us?"
Cassiopeia smiled. It was not a nice smile. "No, thank you. I was just listening to your story. Seems that you got between Apollo and Starbuck."
"I wish. Apollo went tearing off after Starbuck as soon as I left."
"What, you thought Apollo would just throw himself at you?"
"Why not? It's either me or Starbuck, and what's Starbuck got that I don't?"
"Besides the obvious? A heart," replied Cassie, pouring her drink over Sheba's head and walking away.
Back in Apollo and Starbuck's quarters, the two warriors were working out their plan for Blue squadron. Apollo would go back to being squadron leader, assuming Adama allowed him to fly again. Boomer would be Apollo's wingman. Starbuck's title would be Training Officer, and a series of cadets would rotate as his wingman. Of course, this planning was frequently interrupted because the two men had to keep stopping to kiss. They had a few sectons to make up for.
"I missed you," Starbuck sighed. "I mean, it sounds crazy, because you were always right here, but you weren't the same you, if you know what I mean."
"I know," Apollo laughed. "I wish it had never happened. But maybe we're stronger now. I think we were getting a bit complacent before the accident."
Starbuck shuddered. "Remind me never to get complacent. I don't think I could stand to lose you again."
Apollo kissed him. "You won't. Not if I can help it." They both knew that there would always be the possibility that one of them would lose the other, and that it couldn't be helped. After all, they were at war. They would simply cherish each other all the more while they were together.
Just then Boxey walked in. "Hi, Dad. Hi, Starbuck." He'd given up asking when Starbuck would move back in with them. Then he noticed that they were kissing. "Um, Dad, Starbuck, why are you guys kissing?"
"Busted," said Starbuck.
"Boxey, I have some good news. I have my memory back, and Starbuck and I are going to get married," Apollo told him.
"That's great!" Boxey threw his arms around his father and hugged him, then hugged Starbuck too. "Is Starbuck moving back in with us?"
"Are you?" Apollo asked.
"You'd better believe it."
When Boxey had finally been sent to do his homework, Starbuck and Apollo went back to their plans. "I won't tell my father about my memory right away. I have to make the changes to the duty roster first. And if it's okay with you, I want us to be married before I tell him. I don't want him to make any kind of pre-emptive strike and change the rules on us before our plan is in place."
The next day, Apollo and Starbuck set to work on wedding plans.
"Who should we invite? Not your father, obviously," Starbuck noted.
"I wish we could invite him. He probably wouldn't attend, of course. But he is my father, and up until all of this felgercarb happened, he was one of the most important people in my life. I would have liked him to be part of my wedding." Apollo sighed. "I wish he could see how happy I am with you. I wish he approved."
Starbuck put an arm around Apollo's shoulders. "Pol, I don't even remember my parents, so I can't say I know what it's like for you. But I do know that you have to live your own life, regardless of what your father thinks. You can't make your every decision in life based on what he would approve of. He was at your first wedding, right?"
"Yes, but I had very mixed feelings about that wedding. The timing was completely wrong. We were in the void, everyone was sick, and you were gone. I thought you were dead. It was supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life, and instead it was one of the saddest. If you hadn't come back...."
Starbuck kissed him. "I did come back. I'm right here."
Apollo returned the kiss and wrapped his arms around Starbuck. "I know. And I thank the Lords of Kobol that you're here with me."
They stayed like that, just holding each other, for a few centons. Eventually, though, they went back to their wedding plans, though they stayed close to each other.
"Do you want a big wedding?" Starbuck asked.
"No. Do you?"
"Not really. Just a few friends in attendance would be fine with me."
The guest list was fairly short, limited to their close friends. They would invite the other members of Blue squadron and some of the other warriors.
As they were setting a date, Apollo suddenly said, "There's something I should tell you."
Starbuck didn't like the way that sounded. "What is it?" he asked cautiously.
"I'm sorry, that sounded pretty ominous, didn't it? I just wanted to tell you that I know now, for sure, that I didn't have an affair with Sheba."
"I knew that," Starbuck answered.
"You did? How did you know?"
"I trust you. I know you wouldn't do that to me."
"I think you trust me more than I trust myself. When I lost my memory, anyone could have told me anything, and I would have believed it."
"Give yourself some credit, 'Pol. That was a scary time for you. Two yahrens of your life had been erased. You were desperate to find out as much as you could. You didn't do anything wrong. Sheba did. She lied to you."
"Let's keep the information about my memory between you, me and Boxey for the time being, okay? I'm curious to see what else Sheba and my father come up with."
Boxey was sworn to secrecy. His two fathers made it out to be a game, and the boy was happy to go along with it. He liked having a secret.
Invitations were posted and the two warriors made arrangement for a judge to marry them and a room to hold the ceremony and a small party afterwards. Apollo remained on desk duty, but he looked forward to getting off it soon. He hoped.
One afternoon when Apollo was on duty and Starbuck wasn't, the Lieutenant was surprised to see Sheba at the door to his and Apollo's quarters. "What can I do for you, Sheba?" he asked politely but cautiously.
"You're really going through with it? You're marrying Apollo, even though he doesn't have his memory back?" she asked him.
"Yes, Sheba. Apollo may not remember the last couple of yahrens, but he knows that he loves me and that I love him. Since he's not flying a viper anymore, there's nothing to keep us from getting married."
"He hasn't told you," Sheba stated.
"Told me what?"
"Starbuck, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but before Apollo's accident, he and I were having an affair. He was going to break things off with you so that he could marry me. I just wish he'd told you before he had the accident. Now he doesn't remember it. I told him about the affair, and I told him to tell you, but I guess he didn't, since you're getting married."
"No, he didn't tell me," Starbuck lied.
"I thought you should know," Sheba said. "I mean, it doesn't look like he's going to come back to me, but this is the kind of thing you should know about someone before you marry him. What you do with the information is up to you."
"Thank you for telling me, Sheba. I'll take your information into consideration. This is very serious."
"I'm sorry I had to be the bearer of bad news, Starbuck. I never had anything against you. I just love Apollo, you know."
"Of course. Thank you for coming." Starbuck laid on the charm as thickly as he could until Sheba was gone. Then he laughed. "Wait until I tell Apollo," he chuckled.
Sheba was already on her way to see Apollo. She found him in his office. "Apollo, can I talk to you?" she asked with false timidity.
Apollo sighed. "What is it now, Sheba?"
"Well, um, I heard through the grapevine that you and Starbuck are getting married," Sheba began. "I guess you didn't tell him about our affair."
"Whether I told him or not is none of your business, since I don't plan to resume any affairs with you."
"Well, I've been hearing some things in the women's quarters, things I thought you might have missed since you don't live in the Bachelor Officers Quarters. Things you should know."
"What kinds of 'things'?" Apollo asked, curious in spite of himself.
"Things about Starbuck. People are saying that while he was living with you before, he was having an affair as well. With Cassiopeia. I'm sure he didn't tell you."
"No, he didn't tell me." He paused for a moment, then asked, "So, who are the people saying this?"
"Oh, you know, people. Warriors, other med techs, people like that."
"Anyone specific?" Apollo wanted to know.
"You know gossip. Someone hears it from someone else who heard it from someone else."
"I see. Well, thank you for telling me, Sheba. You're dismissed." "That's it? Aren't you going to do anything?"
"What do you think I should do?"
"Go back to your quarters and throw Starbuck's astrum out of there!"
"I can't do that. I'm on duty."
"Aren't you going to do *anything*?" Sheba asked again.
"What I do is between me and Starbuck. You're dismissed, Lieutenant."
Apollo waited until Sheba was safely out of earshot before proceeding to laugh his guts out.
Later, when Apollo had met his mate for an early dinner on the Rising Star, he noticed that Starbuck looked worried. "What's the matter?" Apollo asked in concern. "It's not Boxey, is it?"
"No, nothing like that. Boxey is happily spending some time with Athena. No, it's Sheba I'm worried about."
Apollo sighed. "What has she done now?"
"She told me about the affair she claims you had with her. She seems almost convinced of it herself. Is she delusional or what?"
Apollo thought for a moment. "I wonder if she does believe we had an affair. I remember a few nights before my accident, she made a pass at me. You and I were at that party Jolly was having, remember, and you went to ask Dillon's parents if it would be okay for Boxey to spend the rest of the night there so that we didn't have to wake him up to bring him home?"
"I remember. So while I wasn't there, Sheba made moves on you?"
Apollo grimaced. "Yes. She was very aggressive. And drunk."
"Lovely," Starbuck muttered.
"That's not all, though. She came to see me today."
"Really? What did she want?"
"To tell me that you've been carrying on with Cassiopeia behind my back."
"Lords," moaned Starbuck. "You know I haven't been, right? I mean, you do believe me."
Apollo interrupted before Starbuck could continue. "I know you wouldn't do that to me, just like you know I wouldn't do anything like that to you." He smiled and reached for Starbuck's hand. "I love you."
Starbuck sighed with relief and took Apollo's hand in his. "I love you, too."
Apollo reached under the table and ran his other hand up Starbuck's thigh to his crotch. "Yes, I can tell how much you love me," he said with a wicked grin.
Reluctantly, Starbuck slapped the hand away. "Behave. We're in public."
Apollo moved his hand so that it rested on Starbuck's upper thigh, millimetres away from his crotch. "For now," he said.
Starbuck couldn't remember ever eating a meal faster in his life.
Later, in their quarters, Apollo said, "I hate to spoil the mood, but what are we going to do about Sheba?"
"I have an idea. Let's invite her to our wedding."
Starbuck smiled. "Sort of. Send her a cryptic message asking her to meet you somewhere. When she arrives at the 'meeting' she'll discover it's our wedding. Everyone else there will think she's a guest and she'll be forced to behave. I assume you plan to announce that your memory has returned at the wedding?"
"Well, anyway, once she finds out your memory is back *and* you're married to me, she'll realize that all her wicked little plans have been for naught. She'll be totally humiliated."
"You're too nice," Apollo protested. "I was hoping you'd come up with something really horrible to do to her."
"I guess being with you has reformed me of my former evil ways," replied Starbuck.
Apollo rolled on top of him. "Not all of them, I hope."
The next morning as Starbuck was heading for his patrol, Apollo gave him a quick kiss. "After tomorrow, I hope to be flying with you again, even if I'm not your wingman."
"Hey, we're taking time off for a honeymoon aren't we?" Starbuck protested.
"You know as well as I do that we have a two-day furlon. Thank goodness Cassie agreed to look after Boxey."
"Yeah, I guess we couldn't exactly ask your father to look after him while we're in a room on the Rising Star fracking each other's brains out."
"Speaking of my father..."
"Would it bother you if I invited him to the wedding?"
Starbuck frowned, deep in thought. Finally, he answered, "He's your father. If it's that important to you, invite him."
"Not if it upsets you."
"Apollo, I love you, and I will do anything for you. I want most of all for you to be happy. If inviting your father to our wedding will make you happy, we'll do it."
Apollo grabbed Starbuck and hugged him hard. "I love you," he whispered.
"I know," Starbuck answered. "That's why we're getting married tomorrow."
Apollo was in his office a few centares later when he felt the first Cylon blasts hit the ship. "What the frack was that?" he asked.
The red alert klaxon sounded. Warriors were scrambling for their vipers. Barely pausing to think, Apollo followed them, heading for his own viper.
"Captain Apollo," someone said as he ran past, "you're not supposed to be flying!" Apollo ignored him. The ship was under attack, and Starbuck was out there somewhere. The Galactica needed him. Starbuck needed him.
As he approached the vipers, he grabbed the radio. "Blue Squadron, this is Squadron Leader."
Starbuck was the first to reply. "Am I glad to see you!" he exclaimed.
Boomer's voice came next. "Apollo, are you supposed to be flying?"
"It's okay. I have my memory back," Apollo answered. So much for his planned wedding-day revelation. "Can someone bring me up to speed? What's the situation here?"
As Acting Squadron Leader, Starbuck gave Apollo a quick run-down. A massive Cylon attack squadron had managed to make it past the few vipers that had been patrolling and managed to fire on the Galactica before the rest of the pilots scrambled. While the colonial warriors were confident they would gain the upper hand, it was turning out to be an uphill battle.
While he certainly wasn't happy that the Cylons had attacked the Galactica, Apollo was glad to be back in a viper. This was where he belonged - flying a viper alongside Starbuck, fighting the Cylons.
At one point in the battle he realized he hadn't heard Starbuck's voice on the radio for several centons. "Starbuck?" he called. "Squadron leader to Starbuck." There was no answer for several microns, and then the voice that Apollo loved to hear crackled over the radio in response.
"Right here, Apollo."
Apollo breathed out a sigh of relief. "Don't do that to me again." "Do what?" Starbuck asked.
"Scare me like that. Please keep talking so I know you're all right." He decided to make it an order. "Everyone check in every few centons so that I know you're still with us, all right?"
Boomer's voice came in just then. "Apollo, behind you!" Almost before Apollo could react, Starbuck was there.
"I've got him, Apollo," Starbuck assured him, blasting the Cylon off his tail.
Eventually, the battle was won and the exhausted but happy pilots returned to the Galactica. As he left his viper, Apollo noticed that Sheba was nearby.
"Apollo!" she exclaimed. "I didn't realize you were cleared to fly again." Apollo grinned at her. "My memory came back. Isn't that great?"
"Uh, yeah, that's great, Apollo. I'm happy for you," Sheba muttered, trying not to look directly at him.
Colonel Tigh was in the viper bay checking on the status of the mission. Seeing him, Apollo suddenly had an idea. He called to the Colonel.
"What is it, Apollo?" Tigh asked.
"Would you call the Commander to come down here, please?"
Tigh was about to do so, then stopped. "Why?" he asked.
Apollo smiled mysteriously. "I need to ask him for a favour." Then he climbed on to his viper and stood on the canopy. "May I have everyone's attention, please?" he called. The other warriors stopped what they were doing and stood to attention.
"I have an announcement to make," Apollo continued. "Lieutenant Starbuck and I are getting married - today! Right here!"
A cheer went up from the assembled warriors. Sheba tried to duck out of sight. Bojay, seeing her, grabbed her arm. "Hey, where are you going? Apollo and Starbuck are getting married right here in the viper bay. This should be something to see!"
Sheba realized that she was surrounded by cheering, whooping pilots and couldn't move more than a few microns in any direction. She was trapped.
The Commander arrived and, seeing the warriors standing around, demanded to know what was going on.
Apollo jumped down from his viper, and the crowd parted to allow him to reach his father. "Commander," Apollo said politely, "would you do me the very great favour of marrying me to Starbuck?"
Adama looked as if he were about to refuse when he realized that almost all of the fleet's warriors were waiting for his answer. Pasting a false smile on his face, he answered, "Of course. Where is Lieutenant Starbuck?"
'Starbuck!" someone yelled. The crowd parted again to reveal Starbuck hurrying toward Apollo, with Boomer at his side.
"We needed a best man," Starbuck explained.
Apollo looked around. "We're still missing a couple of people." He motioned to Tigh. "Colonel, would you please call the learning centre and ask Athena to bring Boxey down here, please?"
They waited a few centons for Boxey and Athena to arrive. Finally, everyone was in place and Adama began the ceremony from memory. When he reached the part in which he had to ask if anyone objected to the marriage, Sheba was about to say something when she saw that she had suddenly been surrounded by several colonial warriors who were keeping a very close eye on her.
She kept her mouth shut.
When the ceremony was finished, Apollo and Starbuck kissed long and hard, much to the discomfiture of the Commander. Then they turned to Colonel Tigh. "Sir, could we start our furlon a bit early?" Apollo asked.
Tigh gave them a stern look, then broke into a smile. "I think that can be arranged, Captain."
"Thee, I know it's short notice, but could you take Boxey tonight? Cassie is supposed to pick him up tomorrow after school," Apollo told his sister.
Athena had not always been accepting of Starbuck and Apollo's relationship, but had found the wedding oddly moving. She smiled at her brother and his husband. "Is that all right with you, Boxey?"
"I guess," Boxey answered, a bit disappointed that he couldn't accompany his parents on their honeymoon. Adama suddenly spoke. "Apollo - what happened? What about your memory?"
"It came back," Apollo informed him. "Isn't that wonderful?" "Yes, of course," Adama answered.
"And Starbuck and I are married now, so it's no use sending Sheba to my quarters to try to seduce me."
"I wouldn't do that!" the Commander protested.
Apollo turned to his spouse. "Come on, let's go back to our quarters. Our reservations on the Rising Star aren't until tomorrow, so we'll have to make do with our quarters for our wedding night."
"Apollo, as long as you're there, our quarters are where I want to be."
The two warriors kissed, and went to start their honeymoon.