I don't wanna talk
About things we've gone through
Though it's hurting me
Now it's history
I've played all my cards
And that's what you've done too
Nothing more to say
No more ace to play

Starbuck was miserable.

Starbuck was miserable because Apollo was getting married — to a woman. Again. He supposed he should have seen it coming; Apollo was always worrying about appearances, what other people thought, what his father thought. So when Adama started to drop hints about Sheba, it hadn't taken long for Apollo to catch on.

Once more, Starbuck came out the loser.

The winner takes it all
The loser standing small
Beside the victory
That's her destiny

Sheba was the winner. Starbuck was the loser. She probably thought her destiny was to be Apollo's spouse, his life mate. Starbuck had no claims to Apollo other than being his best friend and his wingmate. Sheba had won fairly, he supposed.

I was in your arms
Thinking I'd belong there
I figured it made sense
Building me a fence
Building me a home
Thinking I'd be strong there
But I was a fool
Playing by the rules

Starbuck remembered how it had felt to be held by Apollo when they were on Kobol. His former wingmate had whispered to him, "I thought you were dead." Had he finally come to his senses? Was he ready to admit that he loved him? No. Serena had been standing back just a little way, giving them space, but ready to take Apollo back into her possession.

He'd been foolish enough to believe that if he just waited long enough, Apollo would realize that they were meant to be together. He hadn't said anything directly. He hadn't said, "I love you and I want to marry you." There were unspoken rules about that. When they were together, they never talked about commitment. They were frack buddies, not lovers, not meant to be married. He'd done his best to drop hints about being jealous of Serena, and for a while he'd thought that Apollo had understood. When Apollo hugged him, he thought that it meant he was ready to commit to a real relationship. They could make a home together on the Galactica or maybe one of the other ships. Then his dreams had come crashing down around him the same way the tombs of Kobol had come crashing down under Cylon fire.

The gods may throw a dice
Their minds as cold as ice
And someone way down here
Loses someone dear
The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall
It's simple and it's plain
Why should I complain?

Starbuck sometimes wondered if the Lords of Kobol had something planned for Apollo. The beings in the ships of light had said something about it not being Apollo's time yet. They'd also hinted that Starbuck had some sort of role to play as well, as long as he stayed with Apollo. Well, he didn't need the Lords or some light-people to convince him to stay with Apollo. The Lords had apparently decided to take Serena away from him, though. Just like the way Starbuck lost at the many games of chance he played on the Rising Star, with just a roll of the dice, someone lost someone they loved. Apollo lost Serena. Starbuck lost Apollo. Not the same way, of course, although it had seemed that way when Iblis had killed him. No, he just lost the man he loved to a woman. That was all. Why complain? It was very simple, in Apollo's mind. He could never commit to a man. Marriage was for men and women, not men and men.

But tell me does she kiss
Like I used to kiss you?
Does it feel the same
When she calls your name?
Somewhere deep inside
You must know I miss you
But what can I say?
Rules must be obeyed

Did Sheba kiss Apollo the way Starbuck had? He wondered what she was like. Did she cry out Apollo's name when she was in bed with him? How did he feel if she did? What was it like for him to be with her? Was it different? He supposed it had to be; being with Apollo had been different for him than being with Athena or Cassie had been.

He wondered if Apollo knew how much he missed him. Did he think about him at all? Did Boxey ever talk about him? He wondered how Sheba treated her soon-to-be stepson. But rules were rules, and the rules were that they didn't talk about women when they were together. They didn't talk about much of anything because all they had time to do was jump into bed and frack each other's brains out before they were due on patrol or Apollo had to go pick up Boxey or whatever. But once Apollo had announced his engagement, Starbuck had put an end to their furtive meetings for sex. This was another rule he obeyed: casual sex is one thing but adultery is another. Athena and Cassiopeia hadn't expected a commitment from him. Sheba expected Apollo to marry her.

The judges will decide
The likes of me abide
Spectators of the show
Always staying low

Starbuck knew he would be expected at the Sealing. He'd be a spectator at the spectacle. He'd missed Apollo's first wedding, having been a prisoner of the Cylons. Now he would have to attend the second one. If he didn't, people would ask questions. They'd wonder why Apollo's best friend wasn't there. So he'd go, but he'd try to keep a low profile. If there were tears, well, he'd say something about weddings making him cry. It wouldn't be a total lie.

The game is on again
A lover or a friend
A big thing or a small
The winner takes it all

"The wedding's off," Apollo stated matter-of-factly.

"Pardon me?" Starbuck asked, stunned.

"I don't want to marry Sheba. She's not my type."

"That seems like a rather sudden decision," Starbuck observed. "Especially considering the Sealing ceremony is supposed to take place less than a secton from now."

"It's been coming for a long time. I just didn't want to admit it. I didn't want to have to explain to everyone why I don't want to marry Sheba."

"Why don't you want to marry her?" Starbuck asked.

"Because I would rather be with you," Apollo answered.

"With me? As a lover, Apollo, or just as a friend?"

"Can't we be both?" Apollo asked.

"I don't know, Pol. I mean, I won't deny how I feel any longer. I love you. I don't want to just be frack buddies anymore. If you want to be with me, it's for the long haul. It's a big commitment, not a small one. Winner takes all. No second chances."

"I don't know if I can do that."

"Then that's it, Apollo. All or nothing."

"I see. Well, I guess this is goodbye."

"Goodbye, Apollo."

I don't wanna talk
If it makes you feel sad
And I understand
You've come to shake my hand
I apologize
If it makes you feel bad
Seeing me so tense
No self-confidence
But you see
The winner takes it all

A few sectons later....

"Can we talk?" Apollo asked Starbuck.

"What about?" the Lieutenant asked warily.

"I don't want to make you feel bad or anything."

"Why, have you come to shake my hand? Congratulate me on winning the battle over my feelings for you? I'm sorry if it makes you feel bad to see me this way. I admit that I'm a bit tense sometimes. Losing your confidence will do that to a person."

"Why have you lost your confidence?" Apollo wanted to know.

"I don't trust myself anymore. I fell in love with the wrong person. I really thought I could win you over. I don't like to lose, whether it's in Pyramid or Triad or in love."

"Winner takes it all, huh?" Apollo asked.

"Something like that."

'What if I admit that I was wrong? That you won after all?"

"What do you mean?" Starbuck asked cautiously.

"I'm in love with you. I want to marry you. We might not be able to be Sealed, but we could be civilly married. That is, if you still want me."

"You're sure about this?" Starbuck wondered out loud.

"Very sure. More sure than I ever was about Sheba, that's for certain. I know that I hurt you, and all I can do is apologize and promise that I'll never hurt you again if I can help it."

"Apollo, I've gotten my hopes up too many times to have them dashed again."

"What can I do to prove to you that I'm sincere?"

Starbuck thought about that for a long time. Finally, he answered: "Go public. Announce on IFB that Captain Apollo is marrying his male wingmate. Tell everyone we know, including your father."

Apollo smiled. "I already told my father. I also told Boomer, Jolly, Giles, Greenbean and everyone in Blue and Red squadrons and probably half of Silver Spar. I'll put that announcement on IFB first thing. Then will you believe me?"

"We'll see," Starbuck answered. He was still cautious.

Sure enough, the next day it was all over the ship that Captain Apollo and Lieutenant Starbuck were engaged to be married. Finally, Starbuck believed it was true.

As he stood next to Apollo and repeated his vows, Starbuck knew that he had won after all, and the winner really did take it all.

Song lyrics Copyright1980 Union Songs AB Written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus