1. When he was very small, Apollo was frightened by the strange man who came to the house where he and his mother lived. The man was very tall and he laughed when he picked up Apollo and called him his big boy. But Apollo was Mama's boy, and he screamed and kicked and cried until his mother took him away from the man and hushed him. His daddy would never hurt him, she said; his daddy loved him. Apollo eventually learned that she was right, but he was always a little bit frightened of the man who came to their house that day.
2. Apollo was tongue-tied and shy with people he didn't know. There was a definite hesitation in his speech, a little stammer, that worried his mother. Apollo liked the speech therapist and he liked the games they played. He didn't mind talking to her and eventually the little hesitation went away. He was still shy, though.
3. Apollo loved his big cousin, Jason, better than anyone else. Jace knew all the best games and sometimes he let Apollo tag along and play. Mostly, though, Jace said that Apollo was too little to play big boys' games like Triad. Apollo had to watch. But every now and again Jace would look over to Apollo and nod; and Apollo's face would get hot and he'd wave back, pleased that Jace had noticed him.
4. Apollo liked school, mostly. He liked reading and writing and the way his teacher praised him when he did things right, and he liked the little gold stars she put on his best work. His mother liked those too, when he took them home to show her. His daddy was pleased because he always wanted Apollo to be the best in his class, so Apollo tried hard to please him. Apollo always tried hard.
5. Apollo didn't like sums, though. All the other little kids in his class had daddies to help them with their sums, but Apollo's daddy was a long, long way away on his big ship. His mother said she couldn't do sums either, and why didn't Apollo read his nice new story book instead? Apollo would have liked to read his book, but he had to do the sums all the same. So his mother laughed and helped him do them until he could manage on his own. She was disappointed that she never got a gold star from his teacher. Apollo thought that she deserved one, so he made one for her, a big huge star, colouring it in with his best colouring pencils. She liked it.
6. Apollo was six when Athena came; just what Athena needed for a big brother, said his mother. He didn't want to be a big brother. In fact, he'd wanted a big brother of his own to have fun with and to play Triad with. He wanted Jace really, but Jace couldn't be there all the time and had to go home to Aunt Alicia's. A big brother wouldn't be quite as good as Jace, but was the next best thing. Apollo was worried his mother would be hurt when he told her that the baby was all right, he supposed, but not quite what he was expecting, but she was very nice and she was sorry for disappointing him. He forgave her. She didn't often let him down. She promised that Athena would have hair one day and be prettier. Apollo hoped so.
7. When Zac came, his Dad said that Apollo was just like Jace. He had Zac to take care of the way Jace had taken care of him. Apollo was eight, then, and didn't quite see that his Dad needed to talk to him as if he was still a baby, but he did appreciate it when his Dad said that he relied upon Apollo to look after his mother and Athena and Zac while his Dad was away, fighting the tinheads. His Dad trusted him not to bother his mother and to be good, so he was good. Mostly.
8. Tenth-day was always quiet and solemn; they couldn't run about and shout. They had to remember it was a Holy Day and God was watching them. Apollo wasn't so sure about God. He sometimes thought that his Dad and God were too alike: they both didn't like the same things, the things that were more fun to do than going to Chapel, and they both expected a lot of him at school and at home. The seats in Chapel were hard. When it had just been him and his mother, yahrens ago when he'd been a kid, he used to sit and squirm the way Zac did now, listening to the singing until he fell asleep with his head on her knees. Now he thought the singing would be better if Athena didn't insist on joining in with her own words, some of which made him laugh until his mother frowned at him. He could see that she was trying not to laugh as well. Zac, who was four now, was the one who fell asleep, leaning against Apollo with his head heavy on Apollo's arm.
9. Apollo got very tired of Zac tagging along everywhere. Zac was too little to join in with Apollo and his friends and he just got in the way. But their mother often made him take Zac with him, so Zac sat and watched him play Triad on the beach below the house. Every now and again he'd look to check Zac hadn't wandered off, and he'd nod, satisfied. Zac always liked that. He liked it when Apollo noticed him.
10 Apollo wasn't comfortable about the transition from primary school. He still didn't like maths, but he'd learned to do the work quickly and accurately, to get it out of the way so he could read some more. He loved history. He couldn't get enough of reading history. His school now was much bigger and it wasn't easy to make friends. He wasn't that interested in the things that they were and he was too much the perfect student. He wasn't comfortable in crowds, not knowing what to do or say to make people like him. The little stammer came back.
11. Jace was at the same school, but much further on, a senior. He looked after Apollo, the way he'd always done, made sure no-one bullied him. And it was better when the Triad season started and people realised he was quite good at it and wanted him to play on their team. Apollo liked Triad better than maths. He made some friends through Triad and eventually forgot to stammer.
12. Apollo spent his fourteenth birthday on the Galactica. Just you and me, his father said, and Apollo was flattered to get all his dad's attention. He worried a little about how his mother would manage without him, because Zac was six and a Holy Terror. Still, Apollo had a good time. The pilots let him spend a lot of time with them and they answered all his questions and one of them, Geraint, took him out in a Viper a few times. Apollo was incoherent with delight, hero-worshipping Geraint and following him around the entire ship for days. Too young for you, Ger, one of the other pilots said, and laughed. Apollo hadn't known, then, what the pilot had meant, but he dreamed of Geraint for sectars afterwards.
13. Commander Cain was one of his father's friends. As long as Apollo could remember, Cain and his wife Bethany had spent time with them when his father was home, a secton or so of family vacation time. Cain's daughter, Sheba, was a yahren older than Athena. The two girls didn't get on that well and Sheba spent most of the time trailing after Apollo. His mother made him be polite, especially when he didn't want to be.
14. Commander Cain was big and loud and he talked to Apollo a lot about all the battles he'd had. When he was a kid, Apollo had thought Cain was the best warrior in the world. Now he wasn't a kid any more, he was bored with Cain's stories. He sat and listened and said nothing, watching Cain and his father. His father smiled as he listened and shook his head. Apollo thought that his father was bored with Cain's stories, too. They were both too polite to say so. They were a credit to his mother's training.
15. Apollo didn't have a lot of time for girls, even without the dreadful, horrible Talk his father insisted on giving him. He didn't know who was the most embarrassed. His father's ears were red. And it wasn't as if he hadn't done biology at school. His mother laughed at them both.
16. Still, Apollo wasn't that impressed by girls. There were some very pretty girls at school. The boys chased after them because the girls expected them to. But Apollo was even more uncomfortable with girls than he was with crowds, and most definitely didn't know what to do or say to make them like him. He got hot and embarrassed and mumbled a lot, instead. He did try to date one or two of them, not at all seriously. Kissing was quite a lot of fun, he supposed, but on the whole, girls just weren't terribly interesting. They giggled too much and they hated it when he didn't concentrate totally on them.
17. Apollo's mother gave him an odd smile when he told her.
18. Apollo was sixteen when he went to Jace's graduation from the Academy. Jace was senior cadet, but he still treated Apollo as if he was Jace's little brother. His father was there, too, in his dress uniform. His father was surprised, he said, by how much Apollo had grown. Apollo was as tall as his father now, but thin as a weed and didn't quite know what to do with arms and legs that seemed too long for him to control. Apollo was surprised as well, surprised about all the medals his father wore. His father didn't ever talk about the battles much and Apollo hadn't realised that, in his own quiet way, his father was as much a hero as Commander Cain. He wondered if he'd ever serve on the same ship as Jace. He wondered if he'd ever serve on the same ship as his father. He'd rather serve on the same ship as Jace.
19. The Adaman family had always been important in the military, but now his father was the most important man on Caprica, the representative to the Council of the Quorum of Twelve. Of course, it was good that his father came home often to attend Council meetings, even if only for a few days at a time, although Apollo fretted under the more frequent scrutiny of his schoolwork and activities. His father was quite critical sometimes. Apollo knew his father only wanted the best, and he had to work hard to deliver. His mother was very good at diverting his father when Apollo wanted to be left alone.
20. Most of all, Apollo hated the media's interest in him and the rest of the family. Now that his father was famous, he found that he was suddenly attractive to the girls at school who'd given up on him before. He wasn't very good at handling it and got even more embarrassed than usual. When he complained, his mother gave him the odd smile again.
21. Apollo loved his books and loved history, but he had always known that he'd go to the Academy when he finished with school, take his commission and follow his father into Fleet. It was tradition, one that demanded his unquestioning devotion to what his mother called the family's Triple Goddess: duty, honour, service. Apollo never realised that there was such a thing as choice.
22. Apollo had thought that going to the Academy would be like the transition to his school from primary classes, that he'd have the same painful adjustments to make. But he was surprised at how well he settled down. He was well ahead in his studies and he found his feet through Triad again. They played both forms of Triad at the Academy: two man and three man teams. He was teamed up with Starbuck in the two man teams, and they added in Boomer for triple Triad. Starbuck and Boomer were two of his room-mates in the first-yahren dorm. They started out talking in Triad practice and soon spent a lot of time together. Apollo had thought he was too serious, but Boomer could give him points and still win. Starbuck was just unfathomable.
23. Apollo liked Boomer, trusted him and relied on him, but was fascinated by Starbuck. The orphan was as unlike Apollo as he could be and still be the same species, but they got on pretty well from the very first day. Starbuck had been the one to approach Apollo, of course. Apollo had been too shy to make the first move, and had spent most of his first day observing, watching as Starbuck hit the dorm like a whirlwind: charming, energetic, making everyone laugh. Apollo had envied Starbuck's easy manners and confidence, and had almost burst with embarrassed gratification when Starbuck made the move to be friends.
24. Starbuck taught Apollo how to play Pyramid. Starbuck taught him that not everything had to be serious. Starbuck taught him to laugh at himself. Starbuck even taught him how to be more at ease with girls (and was Starbuck a master at that!) and only shook his head when Apollo still didn't think dating was terribly important. I'll have your share of the girls, then, said Starbuck and Apollo was okay about that, if a little lonely sometimes when Starbuck was out with one of them.
25. When his mother met Starbuck, she smiled at Apollo.
26. Apollo was in his third yahren at the Academy when Jace was killed in a firefight near Borallus. Apollo managed not to cry in public at the Midnight Watch they held for Jace, but he couldn't believe that Jace was gone. Now he'd never serve in the same ship as Jace.
27. Apollo was relieved when they made him Senior Cadet. He knew his father was pleased about it. Indeed, Apollo was glad because it meant that he didn't have to explain a failure that would have left his father bitterly disappointed. His father's expectations were something of a burden, sometimes. And Apollo was relieved, on Graduation Day, to be posted to the Columbia. He didn't want to serve on his father's ship. He wanted to find his own way, make his own mark, and his father had a long shadow. The Columbia had been Jace's ship.
28. Apollo missed Starbuck and Boomer more than he thought possible. Both of them had been posted to the Galactica, serving with his father. They wrote every secton. They didn't see much of the commander, they said, but he was distantly kind when he did see them, remembering that they were Apollo's friends. Starbuck said that he'd kept a list, and he'd taken money from every other Galactican pilot, playing Pyramid. He said it was a new ship's record. He had a new scheme for winning at the tables in the Chancery on the Demeter Transfer Station, where Fleet ships came in for some R&R. Apollo funded the game plan and Starbuck sent him his share of the profits by return of post. Apollo decided that the single cubit piece deserved to be preserved. He had it pierced, and wore it on the same chain as his daggit-tags, for luck.
29. They met up only once in their first three-yahren posting, both the Columbia and the Galactica at Demeter at the same time. Apollo had the hangover from hell for two days afterwards. For once, Starbuck didn't desert him for a pretty girl, but did manage to get the three of them banned from almost every bar on Demeter for a yahren. At least, Boomer put the blame on Starbuck. Starbuck affected innocence and a certain air of martyrdom that made Apollo laugh, despite the headache and the conviction that he'd embarrassed himself terribly in one bar, singing. Apollo had a faint and futile hope that his father wouldn't find out. Apollo decided that excessive drinking was not a good idea. He didn't have the head for it and he was really too old to be scolded.
30. Apollo made Captain just before his twenty-sixth birthday. His father was delighted, proud, loving. Apollo, too, was delighted and proud because he knew that he was meeting all those expectations his father had for him and even the Triple Goddess had to be satisfied. Then he was posted away from the Colombia, to take up his promotion on a battlestar where there was a vacant Strike Captain's post. Starbuck and Boomer met him on the flightdeck when he arrived on the Galactica. They were the great consolation for ending up serving on the same ship as his father, loving and affectionate when they greeted him. When he hugged Starbuck, his heart thumped, most unexpectedly. He didn't understand it.
31. Apollo and his father worked it out, in the end. Not without a few clashes, of course, but his father really was proud to have Apollo serve on the Galactica and they agreed what his father called the Rules of Engagement: Apollo was to be treated like any other officer on duty. Only off duty could he be number one son. Well, it mostly worked out that way. With practice.
32. Apollo realised that Galactica became home very quickly. When he said so to Boomer and Starbuck, Boomer gave him the same odd little smile that his mother often did. Starbuck just laughed and got him to finance his next system. In retaliation, Apollo made Starbuck his wingman. Boomer seemed to find that incredibly funny.
33. Athena joined the Galactica when Apollo had been there a couple of yahrens. She opted for Bridge, rather than combat duty. Apollo thought that she'd always felt that their father had preferred sons to his only daughter, and that she spent a lot of her time seeking his approval: on the bridge, she had more chance of their father noticing her. She settled in quickly and Apollo was glad, at first, that she was there. It was right that if she had to serve at all, she should serve on a ship where he was responsible for protecting her. He'd done it all her life, after all.
34. Apollo was sorry he couldn't protect her from Starbuck. It was the closest he and Starbuck had ever come to a fight, when he found out that Starbuck was dating Athena. He was fond of Starbuck, loved him like a brother, but he knew how very dangerous Starbuck could be when it came to girls. It worried him to see Athena fall in love. He couldn't see Starbuck meaning it. Starbuck had never meant it before. He got a heavy feeling in his chest whenever he saw them together.
35. Zac joined them two yahrens after Athena. Zac the tag-along, Zac the Holy Terror, Zac the bright, energetic, vibrant little brother whom Apollo had protected all his life, the same way he'd protected Athena, the way that Jace had protected him. He couldn't protect Athena from Starbuck. He couldn't, in the end, protect Zac from the Cylons. Zac died only a few sectons after joining the ship. The Colonies died the same day. Apollo was bereft. It was his fault he'd had to leave Zac behind. His fault.
36. On a Caprica that burned, Apollo and his father looked over the ruins of the house on the cliffs. His mother had been there. Now there was nothing, just ashes blowing in the salt-smelling breeze that came in over the ocean. They found the fire-proof box in which his mother had kept all those precious things she treasured: holopics of them all, a baby's improbably tiny satin shoe, the silver chains that had been wound in her hair at her wedding. In the box was a huge paper star, painstakingly coloured, painstakingly preserved. He cried, then, for his mother and for Zac, who'd never tag-along again.
37. When the survivors came, Apollo wouldn't have cared if they had taken out all their fear and terror on him, but the woman with the little boy wouldn't let them, and then his father came, calm and measured and dry-eyed (although if you looked closely enough, you could see the red puffiness of the skin around his father's eyes) and saved the day, giving orders to salvage what he could from the wreck of their worlds. The little boy looked up at Apollo with shining eyes, just as tag-along Zac used to look, and asked for a ride in the deadly Viper parked behind him. Apollo said fighter planes were no place for little boys, and he didn't mean the child.
38. Apollo didn't really stand a chance against Serina. Everyone was clutching and grabbing, trying to make some sense out of the Destruction, trying to make something good out of being alive in the middle of such devastation. When Starbuck told him that he'd asked Athena to marry him, Apollo was sick, even though his sister had turned Starbuck down. Starbuck was consoling himself with a socialator. Apollo had never had a real girlfriend, not really, but Serina offered stability, comfort, a family. And Serina offered Boxey. Apollo thought that somehow he could make it all right with Zac if he protected Boxey to make up for the way he hadn't been able to protect Zac.
39. Apollo stood no chance, none at all.
40. When Starbuck went missing, something inside Apollo went missing too. He couldn't quite understand it. Every few centons he had to stop, check arms and legs to make sure they were still there. It felt like something had been lopped off, maimed. He couldn't work it out and Boomer was too sick to help him. So when Serina said that time was too precious to waste and wait, and none of them knew how much time they had, Apollo married her and Kobol appeared out of the void. Neither mattered.
41. Apollo never thought twice about adopting Boxey. After all, he'd failed again and Serina had died: it was the least he could do to try and make up for it with Boxey. And if he thought that getting Starbuck back was a greater joy than losing Serina was a great sorrow, he buried that thought deep. He buried it with Serina.
42. Sometimes, dimly, Apollo worried about the weight he was putting onto Boxey: protecting him for Zac, protecting him for Serina... Luckily, he came to love Boxey for his own sake. In time, he protected Boxey only for Boxey's own self. Apollo surprised himself, how he took to fatherhood. He liked it.
43. Cain came back, and Cain left again. Sheba was as persistent at twenty-five as she had been at eleven. Apollo wasn't best pleased at the way in which his father welcomed her into the family. Apollo wasn't best pleased at the way his father looked at Apollo and Sheba, and smiled. Apollo didn't really like Sheba very much. Oh, she was pretty enough and available, and he'd learned in the short time with Serina that there was a heady pleasure in sex.
44. Starbuck was still seeing the socialator.
45. Apollo didn't want to marry Sheba. He thought it was quite enough to die for her, saving her from Iblis. He did succeed in protecting Sheba, and that, he thought, was sacrifice enough.
46. Apollo didn't remember being dead on the Ship of Lights. Starbuck remembered it. He didn't say very much about it but he looked frightened, sometimes. And sometimes he'd come up to Apollo and touch him - a hand on his shoulder, a hard grip on his arm. Apollo thought he was seeking reassurance that Apollo really hadn't died, that Apollo was still there. Once, Starbuck laid his fingers along the side of Apollo's face, and nodded. Apollo felt his face grow hot. He was pleased that Starbuck noticed him.
47. Starbuck said that he didn't like Apollo going places without him, even when it meant going back onto a Cylon baseship to blow it up. Apollo was glad Starbuck was the one going with him. Boomer was sore at being left behind, but ... but, well, Apollo didn't like going places without Starbuck, if it came to it. Starbuck was the best at waggling his wings.
48. The Hand of God, Apollo called it; the celestial dome at the top of Galactica. His safe place. His refuge. He was sorry he'd ever taken Sheba there, along with Starbuck's socialator, Cassie. He wasn't sorry Starbuck knew about the dome, because it meant that Starbuck knew where to find him, when he ran away from the medals ceremony. Starbuck said that Iblis killing Apollo like that had made him think about himself, about his life, about Apollo.
49. That's when he kissed Apollo, Starbuck's tongue licking over Apollo's bottom lip, teasing and loving. That's when Apollo sighed and got his hands behind Starbuck's head, tangling his fingers in the thick blond hair, and pulled him in closer, opening his mouth to Starbuck's insistent tongue. That's when he let Starbuck pull him down to the floor. That's when he took Starbuck's hard cock for the first time, gasping as Starbuck thrust into him until he didn't know where he ended and where Starbuck began. That's when they became lovers.
50. So that's why Apollo's mother smiled.