But then Apollo had come along - Apollo and his family. Having the possibility to go to the Academy was more than he‘d ever hoped for, so that alone had made him a very happy man, determined to work as hard as he could to show everyone he was worth it. He‘d never expected to make friends - well to be honest at that time he‘d thought to be better of without any. He didn‘t need anybody and he didn‘t want that to change. Trusting other people was a risk he wasn‘t prepared to take. So he put up his defenses against the other cadets, being friendly, still at the same time absolutely making clear the wanted to be left alone. Even today Starbuck didn‘t know how Apollo and Boomer had managed to break through these defenses, only how glad he was they had. No matter how much time it had taken them, they had been persistent. And then the first time he‘d spent with Apollo‘s family, he‘d never forget how fantastic it had been, somehow they had managed to give him the feeling he was a part of them.
Soon after that Starbuck began to rely on Apollo and Boomer even if he didn‘t realize it at first. When he finally did his first reaction had been fear, he had been scared pissless. How could he have allowed things to go so far? He had begun avoiding them, those two would‘ve none of it though. They had chased him down, inquiring about the reason. He hadn‘t told them, instead he‘d thanked them and said right now he didn‘t want to talk about it. They hadn‘t pushed him, just laid a hand on his shoulder to silently remind him they‘d be there when he wanted them to be. This first touch had almost made him flinch, but he controlled himself quickly. These two wouldn‘t hurt him...
From then on they had really been friends, even though Starbuck would wonder for a very long time why they should care for him. After all he was a nobody and especially Apollo was - in a way - everything: rich, important, influential family, top of the class... Only with flying (even if it was just a tiny bit) and the ladies Starbuck was more successful, since he‘d quickly learned what they wanted to hear and his natural charm never failed. He treated them well, never made any promises to them, so most weren‘t too disappointed when he left them. Somehow they seemed to feel he couldn‘t really give them the love they wanted.
The only constants in his life were Apollo and Boomer, particularly Apollo. With him Starbuck was so in sync that they understood each other without many words, always knowing instinctively how to give the other what he needed. During the last few centars he had finally allowed himself to recognize that connection as what it was: love - and not the brotherly kind. Once again he was scared as hell, not knowing what he should do, if anything at all. He‘d retreated to the celestial dome to find an answer to that question.
So long he‘d thought love did not exist, that is was some romantic crap, never found in true life and now he did not only have proof it existed, but was the proof himself... How ironic! Not even a woman, no, he had to pick his best friend, his best straight friend - at least as far as he knew! Damn, why couldn‘t his life be normal? It just never seemed to be... For a brief moment he had been tempted to avoid Apollo again, then he had dismissed it. There was no way that could work, the man would just search him out and demand to know what was wrong, like he had done so long ago. So he was left with two choices: either pretend nothing had changed or spit his secret out at the risk of losing the most important man of his life.
Starbuck grimaced, it wasn‘t as if there was a choice at all. Apollo would feel that there was something bothering him as sure as the cylons were chasing them. He always did, even if it was just a small thing, so there was no way to keep something this big hidden from him. Not even worth trying... So he could as well just get it done with. Getting to his feet he sighed, the single sign he allowed to show his nervousness. His legs took him to Apollo‘s quarters while his mind still tried to figure out what to say.
Once there he was greeted cordially and quickly ushered inside, an arm around his shoulder. Long ago now he‘d gotten used to this, Apollo was a very affectionate man and his way of showing was a lot of touching. Starbuck normally sat down on one of the chairs in the living room after having poured them a glass of ambrosa, today he didn‘t, he was too restless. Instead he began pacing avoiding looking at his friend. Said friend was slightly irritated at first, then when Starbuck didn‘t say anything he became worried.
„Bucko? What‘s wrong?“
Starbuck‘s tongue darted out to moisten his lips, a quick motion not lost to Apollo who recognized it as the evidence of what it was: anxiety. That just added to his confusion. It had been a long time since the blonde had shown any indications of that around him, the early days of their friendship to be specific. Back in the time it had been because he‘d been scared to admit even to himself that he - like every human - could be in need of other people, of friends and of the support they were able to give. Since accepting that simple truth and the fact Apollo already had given him these things he had begun to trust him, first with small things, later with everything, returning the favor whole-heartedly. They trusted each other with their lives on a daily basis, both going above and beyond to keep the other safe, not hesitating to put the own life in the line if need be.
„`Pol, please don‘t hate me when I tell you, okay?“
That definitely took the brunette off guard, as well as the pleading tone in which it had been spoken. Starbuck had reached a corner again, so he took the opportunity and blocked the blonde‘s path. Intentionally invading his personal space Apollo laid his hands on Starbuck‘s shoulders, his gaze fixed on his face, knowing it would provoke the desired reaction: eye contact.
„Of course I won‘t, why would I?“
It was the same tone he used to calm Boxey when the boy was scared: soft, soothing, calming, gentle, all at once. Now that he was allowed to look into Starbuck‘s eyes the Captain began to decipher every single emotion of the ones he saw there. No trouble to recognize the nervousness and even a little fear, they were obvious. A bit harder was the hope, the wish that whatever he was about to be told would turn out better than Starbuck anticipated. Underneath it all still noticeable was loneliness, not as much as when they had meet though. Then most clearly visible was the strong affection Starbuck had for him - and vice versa. Due to his curiosity Apollo looked deeper and for the first time he saw it was possible that affection was stronger than just mere friendship, that it might even be... love. Was he interpreting things so he saw what he wanted to see?
„With Cassie and me, it‘s over, a few centars ago she broke up with me“
Apollo had already opened his mouth to say something, was however stopped when Starbuck continued.
„She always complained I was talking so much about you. I used to reply that you‘re my friend, so she should not be surprised I spoke of you often. Earlier though she snapped, yelling at me she doesn‘t want to be second after you, that I loved you more than I loved her. That got me thinking...“
At that point Apollo tried to interrupt him.
„No, hear me out, please... What if I really loved you? What if that‘s why I can‘t really love a woman - because I‘m already in love with you?“
It was only a soft whisper, yet Starbuck could hear it was laced with hope and desire. This made it much easier to go on, to say what he wanted to say.
Apollo‘s eyes were sparkling, a sure sign he was thrilled.
„And that‘s why I should hate you?“
One of his hand moved to Starbuck‘s cheek, softly tracing the muscles of his neck up to the cheekbone, lingering there lightly.
„Don‘t you know how long I‘ve dreamed of hearing you say that? I love you, too, Bucko, I was just sure you feel the same...“
An arm found his way around the blonde‘s waist and he felt himself being pulled flush against Apollo who for a moment just held his gaze. The amount of love conveyed through that look made Starbuck almost dizzy, but that didn‘t stop him from immediately kissing happily back when Apollo finally lowered his mouth onto his. Since when had Apollo become so good at seducing??? It felt as if he was being consumed by fire, by passion, as if all he could give and even more was taken, his complete surrender an absolute demand. And Starbuck‘s defenses crumbled easily, not having had a chance in the beginning. For the first time of his life he let someone else take control, allowed himself to be overpowered. There wasn‘t even the slightest bit of fear, his trust in Apollo being so total.
Only when they broke apart was when they realized the brunette had pushed his friend hard up against the wall, both grinding against each other, hands roaming freely. Both leather jackets were already on the floor, Apollo‘s tunic almost undone. Their eyes were darkened with lust and desire by now and when Apollo smiled offering him his hand asking:
Starbuck was only too eager to oblige.