Starbuck smiled and waved at the two men passing him and Apollo in the corridor. Next to him, his wingmate tried not to look at the couple. "I wish they wouldn't do that," Apollo muttered.
"Do what?" Starbuck asked.
"Flaunt their lifestyle like that."
"Like what?" Starbuck asked, confused.
"You know. They walk around holding hands. They kiss in the middle of the corridor. They're practically showing off."
"I seem to recall that you and Serena did a lot of showing off," Starbuck commented.
"That's different," Apollo protested.
"In what way?" Starbuck wanted to know.
"We were normal."
"Normal? What does normal mean? Heterosexual?"
"For your information, Apollo, heterosexuality isn't normal. It's just common. What do you have against Ty and Marko anyway?"
"Like I said, the way they flaunt their lifestyle."
"What exactly do you mean by 'lifestyle,' Apollo?"
"Their being together, being a couple. If they have to live that way, they should at least keep it to themselves."
"Why should they? Opposite-sex couples don't."
"Like I said, that's different."
"I don't think it is different. A couple is a couple. Ty and Marko are a couple just like you and Serena were."
"Serena and I were Sealed!"
"Just because they can't get Sealed doesn't mean they don't love each other. They're still married, even if they didn't do it in the Kobolian temple. Did you know they're planning to adopt a couple of children from the orphan ship?"
"Oh that's just great," Apollo muttered. "What kind of example are they setting for those children?"
"A good one, I hope," Starbuck answered. "An example of parents who love each other."
"It's not right," Apollo insisted. "Men belong with women, not other men."
"I never took you for a bigot, Apollo," Starbuck said sadly.
"Yes, you are. Those are some of the most bigoted statements I've ever heard. No one else I know has a problem with Marko and Ty."
"I guess I'm just more conservative than anyone else you know. I believe in values and morals."
"So do I," Starbuck answered. "One of my values is that I don't condemn someone for who they love." With that statement, he turned and walked away.
Miserable, Apollo watched his friend leave. He really didn't believe all those things he'd said about Ty and Marko, or about same-sex lovers in general. The problem was that he didn't dare let anyone think he supported them, or they might think that he was queer too. Which he was, but he didn't want anyone, least of all Starbuck, to know that. What if Starbuck found out how he really felt? He might not want to be friends anymore, and Apollo didn't think he could live with that. No, no one could ever find out that he was attracted to men in general, or Starbuck in particular. No one would ever have a reason to think he was. After all, as Starbuck had kept reminding him, he'd been married to Serena.
Starbuck was feeling depressed. He'd hardly been able to believe what he'd heard Apollo saying. He'd always known that his friend was a bit conservative, but he'd never taken Apollo for a bigot. At least he knew now how his wingmate felt about men who liked other men. He could never come out to Apollo now. He could never let Apollo know how he felt. He loved Apollo very much, as a friend and as a would-be lover, but Apollo could never know that, especially not after what he'd said.
Over the next few days Apollo noticed that he didn't see Starbuck very often. In fact, he hardly saw his friend at all. Finally, he managed to catch up to him at the Officers Club. "Star, what's going on?" he asked.
"I don't understand. What do you mean, what's going on?"
"Are you avoiding me?"
"Not exactly," Starbuck replied. "I'm just having a hard time reconciling the Apollo I thought I knew with the things I heard you say about Ty and Marko. They're my friends too, you know."
"Look, it's not like I have anything against them personally. They're both good people, good warriors."
"But you still can't accept them for who they really are," Starbuck pointed out.
Apollo sighed. "I just don't know why they have to be so obvious. I don't want to know what they do in the bedroom."
"I don't recall that either of them has ever mentioned what they do in the bedroom. Not in public, at least."
"But anyone who sees them together must have figured it out."
"I never knew you had such an active imagination, Apollo," Starbuck teased. "Besides, it's not any different to imagine them in the bedroom together than it is to imagine a man and a woman, is it? I mean, if you see me and Cassie holding hands and kissing, do you think that about us?"
Apollo actually had spent a lot of time together thinking about Starbuck and Cassie together, but he didn't say that. "That's different. You and Cassie are normal."
"Normal. That's what you keep saying. And I want to remind you that heterosexual couples are no more normal than homosexual ones - just more common."
"Why do you keep defending them?"
"Ty and Marko? Because they're my friends, just like you were."
"Were?" asked Apollo.
"I don't know if I can continue to be friends with a bigot," Starbuck answered.
"Starbuck, wait!" Apollo cried out, but Starbuck had already left. Now what could he do? Had he lost Starbuck completely?
The next day, Starbuck went to visit Ty and Marko, who had just adopted a boy and girl from the orphan ship.
"Great to see you, Bucko," the two greeted him. "Meet our son and daughter, Jayce and Rena."
Starbuck greeted the two children cheerfully, and sat down to socialize.
"Do you ever think of adopting, Starbuck?" Marko asked. "I'm sure you'd be a good parent."
"Me? I don't think so. I'm a single warrior. I've seen how hard it is for Apollo to arrange for someone to care for Boxey when he has to go on patrol or when the squadron gets called out in an emergency. At least the two of you have each other."
"Speaking of Apollo, how is the handsome Captain these days?" Ty wanted to know.
Starbuck sighed audibly. "I've learned a few things about him the past couple of days that I don't like," he admitted.
"Like what?" his friends asked.
"He's a bigot. He's said some pretty unkind things about men like you. Men like me," he added, "though of course he doesn't know that."
"You haven't come out to him?" Marko asked.
"Of course not. Not after the things he's been saying lately."
"What kinds of things has he said?"
"That two men being together isn't normal. That the two of you should keep your relationship to yourselves and not flaunt it. He thinks it's perfectly okay for an opposite-sex couple to 'flaunt' all they want, of course."
"I think the Captain protests too much," Ty commented.
"What do you mean?" Starbuck asked.
"Have you ever thought that maybe your friend Apollo is hiding something?"
"What could he be hiding?"
"Maybe you and he aren't so different after all."
"Now you have me really confused, Ty," Starbuck complained.
"You're cute when you're clueless, Starbuck," Marko put in. "What my sweetheart here means is that maybe Captain Apollo actually does like men, and he's trying to hide it by making those comments."
"Apollo? No way. The man is so straight you could use him as a level."
"He might just be a very good actor, Starbuck. After all, anyone that saw you with Cassiopeia or Athena, or any of your many other girlfriends, would think you were a ladies' man, when both Ty and I know that you're a man's man."
"Not just any man, though," Starbuck told them.
"No, just one," Ty agreed. "And I think you should tell him, don't you, Marko?"
"You should tell him," Marko agreed.
"I can't," Starbuck answered softly. "Things will never be the same between us if I tell him."
"Things will never be the same between you if you keep it from him," Ty answered.
"I love him," Starbuck protested. "I can't lose him."
"From what you've been saying, Starbuck, it sounds as if you might have lost him already," Ty said.
"And if you haven't, you will. No relationship can survive when one person is keeping secrets from the other," Marko added.
"Part of me knows that you're right," Starbuck admitted with a sigh. "But a larger part of me just isn't ready to tell Apollo the truth."
His two friends nodded. "One day you'll be ready," Marko told him. "You won't want to keep it a secret forever."
"When that day comes, both of us will be here for you," Ty added. "Remember that we're your friends."
When Starbuck left his friends, he was feeling very depressed.
Starbuck did his best to avoid spending much time with Apollo for the next few sectons. When he saw his wingmate he was polite and sociable. He tried to avoid any mention of Marko and Ty or same-sex relationships.
However, he couldn't stay away from Apollo entirely. He still loved him, and Apollo was still his friend. He also enjoyed spending time with Boxey, which is how he ended up having dinner with Apollo and Boxey in their quarters one evening.
"There are some new kids in my class at school, a boy and a girl," Boxey piped up. "They used to live on the orphan ship, and they had their school there, but they were adopted and they live on the Galactica now with their new parents."
"Who are their parents?" Apollo asked. "Do I know them?"
"I don't know," Boxey answered.
"What's their father's name?" Apollo persisted. "He must be one of the warriors if they live on the Galactica."
"They have two fathers," Boxey replied. "Both their fathers are warriors."
Starbuck almost choked on his dinner.
Boxey continued. "One of their dads is called Sergeant Ty, and the other is Lieutenant Marko."
Apollo cleared his throat. "Boxey, I would rather that you didn't spend time with those two new kids outside of school. Don't go to their quarters with them after class."
"Why not?" Boxey asked.
"Because I say so," Apollo answered.
Starbuck turned to Apollo. "Apollo, may I speak to you in the kitchen for a centon?"
Apollo got up from the table and followed his wingmate to the kitchen. "What is it? What couldn't you say in front of Boxey?" he asked.
"Why are you keeping Boxey from making friends with Ty and Marko's kids?" Starbuck wanted to know.
"I don't want Boxey to get the wrong idea," Apollo replied. "He's too young to understand what it means to have two mothers or two fathers. He wouldn't understand two men being married the way his mother and I were."
"I don't see why you have to punish Rena and Jayce just because you disapprove of their parents. They're having a hard enough time adjusting to their new environment, new school and everything."
"How do you know so much about them?" Apollo inquired. "Boxey didn't even mention their names."
"Like I said before, Ty and Marko are my friends, and they talk about their kids. I don't choose my friends based on who they're married to."
"But you have lots of other friends. Me, Boomer, Jolly, Sheba, Bojay, just to name a few. Why do you have to associate with Marko and Ty? People might start to think you're like them."
"I am like them, Apollo." Starbuck was surprised at how calmly he was able to make that statement.
"You're what?" Apollo asked in disbelief.
"I'm like Ty and Marko. I like men. I love men, actually. I like women too, but not as much as men. Most of the women I go out with are just a show to cover up what I really feel."
"How long have you known?" Apollo asked.
"Most of my life," Starbuck admitted. "Though I didn't admit it to myself until fairly recently."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"I had a hard enough time telling myself, Pol. It was only through being friends with a couple of men who were completely accepting of themselves as lovers of men, and lovers of each other, that I was able to accept myself. And you have to admit that you haven't exactly been accepting of men who love other men."
"I have a confession to make," Apollo admitted. "I haven't been open with you, either. You know how you said you put on a show to cover up what you really feel? I've been doing the same thing."
"So you mean those things you said about same-sex couples...."
"Aren't how I really feel. I've been a complete idiot, Star. I was afraid that if I showed the least bit of support for two men who loved each other, then people would guess that I was one of them, that I like, or love, men as well. I wasn't ready to admit that to myself, let alone to anyone else." He smiled a bit shyly. "You're the first person I've told."
Starbuck smiled back. "I'm honoured." Then he added, "There's something else I have to tell you, Pol."
"You can tell me anything."
"When I say that I love men, it's true, but really I love only one particular man."
"Who would that be?" Apollo asked, torn between hope that Starbuck loved him and dread that Starbuck loved another.
"The most beautiful man in the universe," Starbuck answered. "The man who is standing right here before me."
"I can't possibly be the most beautiful man in the universe," Apollo protested, taking Starbuck in his arms. "That title belongs to you."
The two were about to kiss when a familiar voice called from the dining area, "Dad! Starbuck! What are you guys doing?"
Reluctantly, Starbuck and Apollo broke apart. "I love you, Star," Apollo whispered as they joined hands and returned to the kitchen.
"What were you guys talking about for so long?" Boxey demanded when they returned.
"Mostly grownup stuff," Apollo answered. "Boxey, I was wrong when I said you shouldn't go to Jayce and Rena's after school. Starbuck knows their dads, and he says they're good people. And since they just came from the orphan ship they probably need friends."
They continued their meal, with Apollo and Starbuck occasionally reaching under the table to grasp each other's hands. Then Boxey had a question.
"Dad, how come Rena and Jayce have two dads when most kids have only one dad, or no dad at all, even?"
Apollo knew he should have expected to be asked this sooner or later. He took a deep breath. "You know that some kids don't have dads because they were killed by the Cylons, like your first dad was."
"I don't remember my first dad," Boxey said.
"I know. As for why Rena and Jayce have two dads, they have two dads for the same reason that you had a dad and a mom. Your mother and I loved each other, so we got married. Sgt. Ty and Lt. Marko love each other, so they got married. There aren't a lot of men who want to marry other men, or women who want to marry other women, but there are some."
"Dad, do you think you'll ever get married again?"
Starbuck grinned as Apollo turned slightly pink with self-consciousness.
"Actually, Boxey, I've been thinking about that. There's someone I want to marry. I just haven't asked them yet."
Starbuck felt stricken. Apollo was thinking of marrying again? Hadn't he just said that he loved him? How could this be? Before he could get up from the table, though, Apollo reached for his hand.
"Starbuck, will you marry me?"
Stammering in surprise, Starbuck couldn't answer right away. "Y-y-yes, Apollo. I will marry you," he finally gasped out.
Then they finally did kiss.
"Does this mean I'm going to have two dads now?" Boxey wanted to know.
"It sure does, Boxey," Starbuck answered.
A short time after their wedding, Apollo and Starbuck were walking down a corridor when Apollo took Starbuck's hand in his. They'd never discussed whether or not they would engage in public displays of affection, and Starbuck hadn't attempted any.
"Captain, I do believe we're flaunting," he teased his new spouse. "What will people think?"
Apollo stopped in his tracks and pulled Starbuck close to him. "To Hades with what people think," he replied. "I love you, and I'm going to flaunt that where everyone can see it."
"I love you too, Pol," Starbuck replied.
They kissed where everyone could see them.