Family by Claire
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For as long as Apollo can remember Adama has instilled in him the knowledge that he is to be the next Head of their House. He was to take the seat in the Council of Twelve, before it was torn asunder and re-woven the only way they could. And now the understanding that he is to lead the Fleet when his father is gone. That he is to stand in front of everyone and lead them to the promised land. That he is to be the perfect Caprican, with no room for mistakes, no room for self-gratification. That he is to be who his people need him to be. Adama has told him this often, told him of the path his life must take. Leader, warrior, peace-keeper. And Adama has told him of the other path he must walk. That as the last son of the Noble Houses of Kobol, he must be more than a leader. He must be husband, father, patriarch, that it is up to Apollo to keep the line of Kobol alive.

And he tried, tried it with a woman he'd just met and a child who belonged to neither of them to build this family his father was so insistent on. Took Serina into his bed even knowing he could never take her into his heart. Still feels shame and guilt that the pain over her passing was muted so much by the joy that one he'd thought lost was returned to him.

And he's trying it again with Sheba. Sees the pride in his father's eyes when he looks on the two of them. Sees his father imagining a Sealing between the Houses of Adama and Cain, and grandchildren around him when he finally passes. He's trying even though he knows it feels so wrong. Her body is too smooth, too supple beneath his own. Her hair too dark, her eyes too brown. And he feels himself holding back, unable to give her everything that he is, unable to truly let himself go with her. As fierce a warrior as Sheba is, she's still too soft, too vulnerable, too unprepared to handle the maelstrom Apollo knows is within him. Knows that there has only ever been one person who ever really was.

"Father?"

Because he has to do this, has to correct it now before anything else happens.

"Come, Apollo, sit."

And his father is waiting, waiting like he knows.

But Apollo can't sit, needs the focus of movement.

"I'm not who you want me to be."

He's beginning to wonder if he ever really was. And Adama doesn't say anything, merely motions for Apollo to continue. Only Apollo doesn't know if he can, doesn't know if the words can make it past the lump that seems to have settled in his throat.

"Apollo?"

"I can't do it, father. You've raised me to follow two paths in life, and I tried, I tried to stick to them, to both of them. And it was so easy for you, you loved mother and she loved you, and I know you want that for me and Sheba, but I don't love her, I never did. I tried, I tried so hard to love her, but she's not the one I want, she'll never be the one I want."

And the words are coming now, coming without seeming to stop.

"You told me that the Lords would guide me on my paths, but if they are then why is it so difficult? Why would the gods give him to me if he wasn't meant to be mine? I want to be who you need me to be, father, but I can't deny who I am. You always told us that nothing would go wrong if we were only true to ourselves, and to our family. But what if being one means I can't be the other? I don't know what to do..."

The words stop now, halted by a hand on Apollo's shoulder.

"Apollo, calmly."

Looking into Adama's eyes, Apollo collects himself, his thoughts. And his entire world spills out in only five words.

"I'm in love with Starbuck."

And he's expecting the scorn, the derision, the shame in his father's eyes. But they don't come, and the hand on his shoulder squeezes slightly.

"And does Starbuck return this love?"

"Yeah."

Shy smile brought on by memories of frantic kisses, of skin sliding against skin, of gasps and moans and whispered words in the darkness. Fading as memories overlap. Of Starbuck telling him he won't be a party to him cheating on Sheba, that if Apollo has to have her then he can't have him, of the pain in blue eyes every time Apollo and Sheba are together, of lost moments and lies.

And fingers touch his cheek, stroking, soothing.

"All love is to be cherished, Apollo, no matter the source. Did you really think I would be any less joyful at the prospect of having Starbuck as a son-in-law than I would have been at the thought of Sheba as a daughter-in-law?"

"But you wanted me to carry on the line of our House."

"And you have."

Apollo knows the confusion is showing on his face because Adama's voice is still soft, comforting.

"I have a grandchild, you've already given me that."

"But Boxey's not..."

Only he doesn't know what to say. Knows it can't be 'not mine', because Boxey is his, with every fibre of his soul, Boxey is his son. But maybe Adama knew it before he did.

"Apollo, family is not made by blood, it is made by the heart."

And the wry laugh can't help but escape. "Then it was all for nothing? The lies, the secrets, making Sheba think I felt something for her... oh gods, Sheba."

Because if there's one other innocent in this besides Starbuck then it's Sheba. Sheba, who never asked to be lied to. Sheba, who only tried to be what Apollo wanted, never knowing that she was trying the impossible.

But Adama merely smiles softly, a smile hiding a million thoughts and a thousand actions.

"I have little doubt that Sheba will be just fine. She is a strong and capable young woman. And nowhere near as blind as you seem to think those around you are."

And Apollo remembers the looks Sheba would give Starbuck, almost commiseratory and yet understanding. Remembers the cancelled dates, the subtle movement from lovers back to friends, touches more sisterly than sexual.

"How?"

"It is difficult to hide love, especially when you don't really want to."

Apollo knows it is the truth, knows he never wanted to hide what he felt for Starbuck, just...

"I only wanted you to be proud of me."

The words are barely a whisper.

"Oh, my son, know this, I have never been anything but proud of you."

Arms wrap around him, strong, loving. And Apollo could stay here forever if only his father wouldn't let him go. But he does. Steps back and looks at him.

"Now, I think there's someone else you need to see, yes?"

Apollo doesn't even realise he's moving before he's out of the door. Running down corridors, barely missing a collision with one of the tech crew, legs carrying him to the one place he needs to be. And he's in the OC, sea of bodies in front of him. Moving between them, ignoring the calls of his name and the hands that would have him stop. Ignores them until he is standing before the one person that matters. Tousled blond hair and blue eyes that looks at him with a mixture of confusion and hope. And he doesn't know what to say. Apologies and pleas, forgiveness and sanctuary. So many words to say so many things.

"'Pol?"

But when he opens his mouth the only thing that comes out is

"I love you."

And he finds, as Starbuck's lips meet his, that they're the only words he needs.

End
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