Apollo sat in his cell and shivered a little.

'I'm going to die tomorrow,' he thought to himself.

It had been careless of him to allow himself to be captured. He knew that. But since Starbuck's death, he'd ceased to be careful. Life meant nothing to him without Starbuck.

At least Starbuck hadn't been around to be captured as well.

'Baltar did promise me a quick death,' Apollo noted. 'Not that I believe anything Baltar says. He just got bored with torturing me.' Death would be a relief.

'Maybe I'll see Starbuck again. Maybe wherever I go after I die, Starbuck will be there too. Except Starbuck's not Kobolian.'

Apollo tried not to remember seeing his wingmate's viper spiralling out of control, its engines on fire. He tried not to remember landing on the nameless planet where the viper had crashed. He tried not to remember dragging Starbuck out of the cockpit and holding him in his arms as he died. He tried not to remember whispering, "I love you, Starbuck," as his best friend took his last breath.

Unfortunately, Apollo couldn't help but remember.

'But it'll be over soon. The executioners will be here in the morning.'

He was sorry for his family, of course. His father and Athena had already lost Zac, and Boxey had lost Serena. And they'd all felt the loss of Starbuck strongly, though not as strongly as Apollo had. He hated to cause them more grief. But there wasn't much he could do about it. Even if he escaped, he had no way to get back to the Galactica. Even if he could find his viper, he'd been here too long. The battlestar would have left days ago. They couldn't afford to wait for him when there were Cylons around.

'Wish I'd told Starbuck I loved him while he was still around to hear it. I wonder if he heard me when I told him before he passed over? Not that it would have made a difference. He was unconscious, mercifully, and he wouldn't have been able to respond.' Apollo had buried him on that planet with a rock cairn to mark the spot, though he doubted anyone else would ever see it.

Stretching out on the hard metal deck -- the Cylons hadn't bothered to provide him with a bed -- Apollo tried to sleep. 'Nothing else to do here.' The lights on the base star went down at a certain time for sleep period, though he doubted Cylons slept. 'Must be for Baltar's benefit,' Apollo thought.

Just as he was dozing off, Apollo thought he saw a light. 'Great. Now I'm hallucinating.' He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to ignore it. Then he saw it again. A bright, white light was shining somewhere in the room. Apollo tried to see what it was, but he'd become so accustomed to the darkness it was hard to see in so bright a light. Then it was gone. 'Good. Maybe now I can go to sleep.' But no, there was still something in the room. It wasn't as bright as it had been, but there was a white shape standing over him.

"Go away, whoever you are," Apollo said. "I'm going to die tomorrow, and I'd like to get some rest before I face my executioners."

"Don't you have some time for an old friend?" asked a familiar voice.

"Now I know I'm hallucinating," Apollo said out loud.

Starbuck sat on the floor next to him. "What, you think I'm a figment of your imagination?"

"You're dead," Apollo stated bluntly, without opening his eyes.

"So? That doesn't mean I'm not here."

Apollo slowly opened one eye, then the other. He saw that Starbuck, or at least what he thought was Starbuck, was wearing a colonial warrior's uniform, but it was bright white. "Am I dead too?" he asked.

"No, not yet," Starbuck answered. "But like you said, you're going to die tomorrow."

"Why are you here?"

Starbuck -- was it really him? -- took Apollo's hand. "I didn't want you to die alone. You were with me when I died, and I wanted to be there for you. I heard you, you know," he added.

"Heard me?"

"When you told me you loved me. It was the last thing I heard before I crossed over. Why did you have to wait until the last micron to tell me?"

Apollo sat up so that he could look Starbuck in the eyes. "Because, as Boxey says, I'm slow. It wasn't until I realized I was going to lose you that I was finally able to admit it to myself. By then it was too late, of course."

Starbuck smiled. "No, it wasn't too late. I heard you. I love you, too. I just didn't get a chance to say it back there on that godforsaken rock."

Reaching out a hand to touch Starbuck's face, Apollo said, "You're here. You're really here. How is that possible?" He wanted to throw his arms around the other man and squeeze the daylights out of him, but first he had to make certain that he wouldn't just be hugging thin air.

Not nearly as hesitant, Starbuck reached out and embraced the one he loved. He and Apollo held each other for a long time. When they finally released one another, Starbuck said, "The Lords of Kobol sent me."

"Pardon me?" Apollo had forgotten he'd asked a question.

"You wanted to know how it's possible for me to be here. The Lords of Kobol sent me. They let me keep an eye on you from... from wherever it is they are. We are," he corrected himself. "Anyway, when I found out what Baltar had in mind for you, I knew I had to be with you. I couldn't let you face this alone, not after what you did for me when it was my time."

The Captain raised an eyebrow. "You're one of the Lords?"

"You were wrong when you said I'm not Kobolian. Chameleon never seemed big on religion, but maybe it's through my mother. I don't know for sure. But anyway, I'm one of them and you're one of them too. Or you will be soon. And I'm going to be with you all the way, 'Pol."

"But the Cylons will see you!"

"No, they won't. No one can see me but you, 'Pol."

"After it's over, after I die, will I be with you?" Apollo asked.

"Forever and for always," Starbuck answered.

"Forever isn't nearly long enough to be with you," Apollo replied, reaching for Starbuck again. "But I guess it will have to do." He kissed Starbuck, who kissed him right back.

Part of Apollo wondered if it was really acceptable to have sex with one of the Lords of Kobol, but he reminded himself that he was about to become one, too. And it wasn't as if Starbuck was objecting. He participated with great enthusiasm. The two men devoured each other. As their clothes came off, Apollo noticed that Starbuck still had some of that white light around him.

Apollo stretched out along his lover's body, moving against him, rubbing their cocks together, savouring the sensation. He moved so that he was just about to enter Starbuck's body, then he stopped.

"Why did you stop?" Starbuck gasped.

"I don't have anything to use -- no lubricant. I don't want to hurt you."

"You can't hurt me, Apollo," Starbuck reassured him. "It's all right. I want this as much as you do."

"You're sure?"

"Please, Apollo. Take me. I'm yours. I want you inside me."

With a groan, Apollo complied. He couldn't believe this. He was inside his lover, but his lover was, technically, dead. Not only dead, but a Lord. He felt Starbuck running his hand through his hair.

"Apollo, stop thinking so much. Just enjoy yourself."

And Apollo was enjoying himself. He tried to make it last, tried to take it as slowly as possible, knowing that this might be his only chance to ever make love with Starbuck. But he couldn't stop himself from speeding up his thrusts, moving faster, pushing harder. He could tell that Starbuck was enjoying every moment of it as well.

Then it felt like all the circuits in his nervous system were overloaded, and he heard Starbuck screaming his name in ecstasy. He cried out as well, and then collapsed on top of Starbuck.

After coming back to his senses, Apollo rolled off Starbuck, who wrapped his arms around him and kissed him. "Sleep now, Apollo. When you wake up, it will all be over."

* * * * * * * * * *

When Apollo next opened his eyes, he was no longer on the Cylon base star. He assumed he was on some sort of ship, but it was like no ship he had ever seen. Everything was an incredibly bright white. "Starbuck?" he called out, looking for his lover.

Starbuck was there in an instant with a kiss for him. "How do you feel?" he asked.

"Fine, I guess," Apollo answered. "Am I dead?"

"Yes, you're dead. The Cylons came for you early this morning. They took you to Baltar's throne room, and one of them shot you right in front of him."

"Why don't I remember any of that?"

"I confess. I played a little mind trick on you. Your body was there, but your mind was already gone. It was like you were unconscious, sort of."

Apollo wasn't certain he liked the idea of Starbuck playing mind tricks on him, but since he himself was now one of the Lords, he assumed Starbuck wouldn't be able to do things like that to him anymore. Anyway, he'd done it for a good reason. "At least Baltar's ugly face wasn't the last thing I saw before I died."

"No, you saw mine instead."

Apollo laughed and kissed Starbuck again. "Starbuck, your face is beautiful. All of you is beautiful." He couldn't believe how happy he felt. He was with Starbuck, whom he'd thought he'd never see again. They were with the Lords. Most of all, Starbuck loved him.

Still, he wished that his family didn't have to go through the pain of losing him. That was one thing that tempered his happiness. They probably wouldn't even know what had happened to him, unless Baltar happened to catch up to them and had an opportunity to brag about it.

"Captain Apollo," came a voice from seemingly out of nowhere. Apollo looked around and saw some white-cloaked figures had suddenly appeared.

"My Lords," Apollo said, bowing slightly.

"There is no need to bow, Captain," said one of the figures. "You are one of us now, as is Lieutenant Starbuck. Welcome. It's good to have you here."

"It's good to be here. I'm very glad that Starbuck is here."

"Starbuck was very concerned about you," said a woman. She would be a Lady of Kobol. "He told us once that he would gladly give his life to save yours."

Apollo looked at Starbuck. "When did you tell them that?"

Starbuck shrugged. "I don't remember."

"Wait a centon. I've been here before -- haven't I?" he asked the Lords and Ladies.

"Yes, Captain. After your encounter with the one known as Iblis, or Diabolis, we brought you here. It was then that Starbuck said he would give his life so that you might live."

Starbuck looked to be feeling extremely self-conscious. "It's the truth," he said quietly.

Apollo hugged him. "I love you, Starbuck. I would die for you."

"You're already dead."

In his excitement at being with Starbuck and meeting the Lords of Kobol, Apollo had almost forgotten that.

"Apollo and Starbuck," said one of the Lords. "Do the two of you wish to be together, to have a physical relationship?"

"Tell him it's none of his business," Starbuck whispered to Apollo.

"On the contrary, it is our business," answered the Lord.

"Does it matter?" Apollo asked.

"We are not humans. We are not corporeal," answered one of the Ladies. "We allowed Starbuck to take physical form when he went to you in Baltar's prison, but that is not his normal form, nor will it be yours."

"I'd hoped they would forget about that," muttered Starbuck.

"You look pretty corporeal to me," Apollo said to the Lady.

In response, she removed the cloak she was wearing. Underneath, instead of the form of a naked woman, Apollo saw just the barest outline of a body, one that he could see right through. "We take these forms in order to speak to you, but these are not our usual forms. They are but vessels for the true being inside."

All Apollo could think of was his night of ecstasy with Starbuck on the base star. Would that be the only time they would ever be able to make love with each other?

"When you depart your mortal life, you leave your physical being behind," said one of the Lords. "You have no need of it anymore."

"I do need it," Apollo replied hotly. He couldn't believe he was arguing with one of the Lords of Kobol. "I need it in order to share physical pleasure with the one I love, and he with me."

The Lords and Ladies of Kobol conferred among themselves for a long time. Starbuck and Apollo took advantage of that time to hold each other, kiss each other, touch each other, not knowing how long they had left in their physical bodies.

Finally, the Kobolians turned to speak to their two newest members. "Starbuck and Apollo," one of them said. "The two of you have earned your places here, and you may stay here if you so wish. But you could do much for your people if you were still with your fleet.

"The love the two of you have for each other is obvious. We feel it would be cruel to take away your ability to physically express that love. Would you like to return to your people?"

The two warriors looked at each other before blurting out, "Yes!" simultaneously.

"So be it."

* * * * * * * *

Apollo woke in his quarters on the Galactica and noticed two things: one, he was naked, and two, there was someone there in bed with him. "Starbuck?"

The Lieutenant opened his eyes and looked at his wingmate in surprise. "Apollo."

"Pardon me for asking such a stupid question, but how did you get here?"

Starbuck yawned. "I was hoping you could tell me."

"You don't know either?"

"Haven't a clue. But...."

"But what?"

"Um, 'Pol, I had sex with someone last night, someone male -- I can tell from the twinges I have in, shall we say, the relevant places -- and you're the only one here."

"Come to think of it, I'm a bit sticky in the 'relevant places'," Apollo noted. He didn't know how the hell he could have forgotten having sex with Starbuck, but apparently he had. "Were we drinking?"

Starbuck shrugged. "Must have been, though I don't really feel like I have a hangover."

Apollo tried to think back to the last thing he could remember, but nothing about drinking or sex came to him. The last thing he remembered was being on a patrol with Starbuck and getting into a nasty skirmish with the Cylons. But how had that led to having sex with Starbuck? Lords knew he'd wanted to do it for as long as he'd known him, but he'd never thought it would actually happen.

Something about his demeanour must have worried Starbuck, because he asked, "Apollo? Do you want me to leave?"

That was the last thing Apollo wanted. "Frack no, Star. I want you here. I want you here permanently, if you want to stay."

Obviously that was what Starbuck wanted, because he lit up like he was still wearing that glowing white uniform. 'Wait a micron. What white uniform?' Apollo tried to remember when he'd seen Starbuck wear such a uniform, but the memory escaped him. 'Must have been a dream.' He turned to face his wingmate and friend. "Star, I should have told you this long ago. I love you. I love you more than life. If anything ever happened to you, I think I would die. Don't ever leave me, all right?"

Literally glowing with happiness, Starbuck took Apollo into his arms and kissed him tenderly. "I love you too, 'Pol, and I won't leave you, ever. I wish I could remember making love with you, because it's something I've wanted for yahrens."

Grinning lasciviously, Apollo pinned Starbuck to the mattress and lay on top of him. "Then let's do it again so that we can remember it this time."

Starbuck grinned back. "Best idea I've heard in a long time."