I watched Athena walk out the door with that little swish of her hips that told me she knew we were watching. *Cassie and Athena?* My mind was all too ready to show me the pictures of what that combination of light and dark beauty would look like. Shaking my head, I dared a peak at Apollo. He had this stunned, I-can't-believe-I-just-heard-that look on his beautiful face and my heart melted even more. Was it possible that Athena was right? Could he ... love me back?
"You know, I think I'd pay to watch that." His wondering tones made me laugh out loud for the first time to what seemed like forever. Those dark eyes swung to mine and suddenly I couldn't breathe. "Why couldn't you tell me, Starbuck?"
My voice sounded like rusty nails to my own ears. "Didn't want to lose your friendship. You'd have been nervous around me. Might have even stopped letting me come over. And I needed that. Needed to see you and watch you and listen to the sound of your voice."
His eyes were dark as space but warm, so very warm. "Never, Starbuck. I could never turn you away. I need you as well. I've missed you the last few sectars."
I had to close my eyes against the innocent power of his gaze. *He doesn't understand. He is trying to be supportive but he can't know this need. This burning, hungry need that fills up all my empty places sometimes.*
Then I felt it. A kiss. So soft, I might have missed it except for the spicy scent that accompanied it. His scent. My eyes opened briefly then closed in dismay. He was trying to give me what I needed but he was so hesitant. This had to be going against every instinct he had.
"Don't, Apollo." I managed to squirm back and get some space between us. "I'm sorry you had to find out about it this way but I don't want you to think you have to do anything." I could feel my eyes begging him. "Just ... tell me we can still be friends? That I haven't disgusted you."
"You could never disgust me, Starbuck. You're my best friend and always will be. And I know that I don't have to do anything." His hand caressed my cheek, sending little warm tingles straight to my pleasure centers. "But I want to do something. I'm just not sure how."
He's so dark complected that it's hard to see him blush but he was blushing now. I could feel my heart leap at his words while my traitorous body moved closer to him and my brain tried to come up with reasons why we shouldn't be doing this. But thank all the Lords of Kobol, my body won the debate.
His lips are so soft and full and warm. I tried to go slow but I needed to taste him in the worst way. He gasped and that was all it took to slide my tongue deep to entwine with his own. He tasted of the tea that Cassie liked but most of all like Apollo. In a hundred yahren, I'll still be able to pick him out of the crowd, not that there would be anyone to compare him to. If he never let me kiss him again, I'd at least have this one to keep me warm on the cold, lonely nights.
I could feel his body against mine. *When did that happen? Oh Lords, he feels good.* He has such a solid strength that I've leaned on for way too long. But right now, I don't think I could have stood on my own to save my life. I was shaking and feeling about as strong as that feather that Boxey had shown me the night before.
We broke apart to breathe and his arms stayed tight about me. "I am not letting you go, Starbuck. I am not trying to placate you or give you what you want. I want this too. You are my other half, the one I depend on. I don't have to always be the strong one with you. You give me a safe place where I can just be ... Apollo."
Tears filled my eyes at his amazing statement. I wanted to be that for him but I didn't know if I could. Clearing my throat, I tried to reply but his lips were back on mine and my thoughts short circuited. He was learning much too quickly how to turn me into nonthinking mush. All I could do was groan into his mouth and rub my tongue against his. When I slid across the sensitive skin of his palate, he shivered in my arms and moaned.
By now, I was shaking so hard that I knew he could feel it. He pulled just far enough away to look at me and when I saw him shake his head, I felt my heart drop below my boots. "Starbuck, I love you. But right now, you're white as a ghost and we both need to eat something before we take this any further. Cassie will have my head if I don't take care of you."
*He loves me?* That was all I heard. Over and over in my head. *Starbuck, I love you.* When I next realized what was going on, I was sitting at the kitchen table and he was humming while he cooked. My hands were wrapped around a cup of hot char and the steam was tantalizing my nose.
Apollo looked over and smiled. "Oh good, you're back with me. Just a bit more and I'm going to feed you." He fixed me with his steely gaze, the one he usually uses on the new recruits. "And you are going to eat every bite, if I have to hand feed you myself."
"I love you, Apollo." My mouth blurted out what my brain was busy trying to suppress.
"I know you do, Starbuck. That's why we're here. And here is where you are going to be from now on. Right here, with me and Boxey. Where you belong." He stopped what he was doing and leaned over to kiss me again. Just a gentle slide of lip over lip but it felt like a brand, burning me with his heat. "I don't say it enough to anyone. So, I'm going to practice on you until I get it right. I love you, Starbuck."
Then he went back to the savory mix he was stirring so intently. Food hadn't tasted very good lately but for the first time in a long while, I felt hungry. He's so graceful when he's working or flying. Economical in his movements with no need to hurry or improvise. I watched him openly for the first time since I realized that I loved him and wanted him.
Could it be true? Could he really want a relationship with me, with a man? As far as I knew, he'd only ever dated or bedded women. And even then, only women he loved. He was a very constant lover and I shivered at the thought of having all that attention directed solely at me. I yearned for it and feared it at the same time. I really was a mixed up fool, I castigated myself while drinking down the char.
"Stop it, Starbuck. I can see you talking down to yourself and I want you to quit." He placed a full plate of eggs and toast in front of me and drew the other chair around so we were sitting side by side. "We are in this together. Please believe me when I tell you that I love you and I want us to make love. Even though, I expect you're going to have to show me how."
He was blushing again and his eyes were shy when he picked up a fork full of eggs and fed them to me. I opened automatically and began to chew while watching him go for a triangle of toast. He had that determined look on his face that he gets sometimes when he has a problem to solve. Perhaps he was sure. Perhaps I had a chance after all. If I could show him how wonderful male on male love could be then maybe he would be all right with this.
Oh, not for forever, of course. Nothing in my life had ever been forever, except my love for him and I would never lose that. I'd die first. I grinned and bit off a corner of toast while he watched me chew. I know I'll never get a chance to grow old with him but if the Lords just gave me a little while before they took me, I'd be satisfied.
Now, how to show him the joys of lovemaking with another man? Picking up the other fork, I speared some potato cubes and brought them up to his lips. Just watching the fork disappear into his mouth made me begin to sweat. *I will not think about his mouth. I will not think about sinking into his mouth. Frack!*
I'm still not sure where the food went but we must have finished it all because suddenly the plate was empty and I was feeling full. Almost too full. My stomach must have shrunk the last few sectars. My brain short-circuited again when he leaned over and licked away a crumb from the corner of my mouth.
Turning my head, I slid our lips together again. A myriad of flavors burst across my tongue but underneath them all was just . . . Apollo. Tasty and oh, so addictive. I sucked his tongue into my mouth and heard him groan before feeling his hand snake around my neck and pull me in even closer. We feasted for a long moment before he pulled away, panting.
"Bed, Starbuck. I'm ready for my first lesson." His eyes were sultry and just a little wild.
I felt my heart clench with a kind of painful joy. I could just see him stretched out across his navy blue blanket, all glowing flesh and sprawling limbs. What if he didn't like it? What if I couldn't make it good enough for him? What if he endured rather than enjoyed? And worse yet, it had been so long for me, what if I couldn't get it up at all?
"Oh, love. I can see every thought written on your face." He drew me to my feet and began leading me towards his room, never letting go of my hand. "We're going to be just fine. Even if we only hold each other today or kiss and touch. I'm going to love making love with you."
Apollo always knows the right things to say. He gets that from his father, Adama the diplomat. Maybe he was right. Today was for exploring and holding. And touching and kissing. Not to mention tasting and sniffing. I smiled at his open, beaming gaze and watched him light up as only he can. He really does glow from deep inside.
We entered his darkened bedroom and he called up the lights to fifty percent. He began loosening my uniform and I suddenly froze. I looked like a scarecrow and was afraid of what he'd say when he saw me.
"I already know that you've lost weight, Starbuck. I can feel your ribs." His strong hands ran over my torso and when I shivered he thought I was cold and called up the heat as well. "But you could never be anything but beautiful to me. So fair and lean, I feel like a stuffed pig next to you."
"Never." I hugged him to me, fierce in my denial. "You're solid and strong. I'm plain compared to your dark beauty."
He blushed again and dropped his eyes but kept on unfastening my uniform, his hands quick and sure. Must be all that practice at helping Boxey with his clothes. "Well, let's just agree that we each find the other beautiful and go to bed. Even if we don't do anything else, I could use a nap. That floor was hard."
I flashed back on our positions when I awoke. His back had
to be killing him. I ran my hands over the robe-covered flesh. "I could ... give you a massage to ease the sore muscles."
He peeled off my top and his hands touched my skin. I think I moaned. It had been so long since I'd been touched so intimately. He sighed and leaned forward to run his lips over my bare shoulder. I know I shivered beneath the gentle caress.
"A massage would be nice. But only if I get to massage you as well." He spoke a little breathlessly but his hands were intent on peeling off my pants. He pushed me down on the bed and knelt to remove my boots before leaving me naked before him. His eyes and hands ran up my legs to my groin and the wonder in his gaze made me want to cry.
"You're wearing too many clothes." I managed to croak out, reaching forward and pulling his robe off his shoulders, watching it slide down over bronzed skin that made my fingers itch to touch.
We ended up in a tangle on top of the covers, rolling first one way than another. I finished up sprawled on my back with his body anchoring me to the bed, one long leg between mine. He was kissing me again, one hand slowly driving me insane with its hesitant caresses to my skin. I gathered my strength and flipped him onto his back, slithering atop him like a blanket. He smiled sweetly up at me and touched my cheek.
"Make love to me, Starbuck. Show me how to love you."
I smiled through my tears and leaned down to kiss my dearest friend and soon to be lover.
Maybe dreams really do come true.
End part four