In Our Lives In Love

There were shouts ringing out overhead, echoing off the walls, loud cries as they moved, circling each other, waiting. The voices egged them on, and made each man's heart pound faster. Exchanging grins, they moved in tandem, in silence.

Starbuck moved ahead, reaching past his opponent to distract him. Giles turned his head a fraction, and it was enough. Apollo ran past them both, moving around the pair and losing his own guard, Boomer, in the process. Starbuck shuffled back out of the way as his teammate grabbed the ball, and headed for the opposite wall. he didn't look back to see where Apollo was headed; he kept his attention on keeping Giles busy while his teammate got ready.

He heard Giles' grumbling as he tried to keep pace; Starbuck gave him a cheerful grin. He grabbed the pass from Apollo deftly; with another step and a leap he threw the ball for a goal. As the final buzzer sounded, he spun and caught Apollo's upraised hand in triumph.

"Yeah, yeah, rub it in," Boomer muttered as he walked past, giving each of his friends an elbow in the ribs.

"Hey, you had your chance," Starbuck told him as they all began heading for the locker rooms. "Four yahrens ago I *asked* you if you wanted to partner with me."

Boomer rolled his eyes. "Once. While Apollo was sick!"

"Yeah, well, if you'd played your triad right, I might have kept you." He gave Apollo a smirk, which the other man simply rolled his eyes at, then ignored.

Boomer and Giles both laughed, disbelievingly. Starbuck looked affronted. Boomer shook his head. "Like Apollo would have let me?" he asked before moving ahead, towards his locker. Starbuck was left without the chance for a rejoinder.

Shaking his head, he followed his teammate into the locker room.

The problem, he told himself as he caught the look Apollo flashed him, was that Boomer was right.

There was silence, for only a moment. Then the shouting began again. He looked over and found his partner watching him. They exchanged a brief nod, then a brief grin, before moving into place. They moved in tandem, settling themselves into position quickly, easily.

He looked back once more and saw his partner nod. He hadn't really needed the encouragement, but sometimes he still needed the reassurance.

Turning, he listened in. The voices began to ring off the walls, echoing and threatening to distract him if it were not for the anchor behind and beside him. He moved, then, running forward in a burst of speed.

Police shouted warnings; he shouted his own as he came into the room. As they moved in, the suspects alternately began fighting, fleeing, or held their hands up in surrender. Jim Ellison found himself moving quickly past one man who had his hands on his head, more scared of being shot, than of being arrested. Jim ignored him as soon as he heard an officer behind him grab the man's arm.

The swell of shouts, radios, and pounding footsteps of those trying to escape -- only to find the building surrounded -- threatened to overwhelm his senses. He barely had to think about it to focus in on the one sound he knew was there.

"Hey, Jim, watch out for that guy about to jump you from behind," came the casual tones. Jim spun, grabbed the man, and spared a look at his partner. Blair just grinned.

It was all over in moments. A swarm of uniforms filling the room, hands in the air and shouts of surrender. Jim found himself quickly with no one to guard; everyone tucked safely away. He glanced over to where his Guide was standing, knowing where Blair had gone though he hadn't been aware of tracking him as he'd moved.

Blair was still grinning. Jim returned it with a nod as Blair came over. "So, now that that's done," he began with the same, laid-back tone.

Jim just smiled. "Come on, Chief."

"Hey, Ellison," called out one of the other cops.

Jim turned to see Sergeant Kaloweiz.

"Thanks for letting us borrow Sandburg yesterday." The sergeant moved away, nudging a handcuffed woman before him. Jim turned his surprise onto Blair.


"Um, yeah, did I forget to mention--?" Blair backpedaled as Jim moved forward.

Jim took another step, and Blair laughed, and ducked behind Sergeant Rollis.

"Hey, man, keep me out of this!" the large man cried, moving out of Jim's way.

"Sandburg...." Jim growled.

"It was just a minor bust," Blair explained, still moving towards the entrance of the warehouse where the truck was, keeping people, boxes, and unrepentant grins in between himself and Jim.

"Get back here!" he yelled. He knew that grin, and hated it. He couldn't see it, of course, but he knew his wingman was wearing it right now.

Starbuck's viper was diving towards a cluster of Cylon fighters, obviously not caring that another half-dozen were bearing down on his position. Apollo swore, aiming his own viper after them.

It wasn't that Starbuck's ploy was a fool-hardy stunt. It was that it was the best way to protect the personnel shuttle still trying to make its way back to the safety of the battlestar. He and Starbuck, along with Giles and Jorn, had been patrolling the side and rear of the fleet. The fleet had become spread out, and though the Galactica had tried to order the ships to tighten their formation, a few had fallen behind.

One of those was the Radiant, from which the shuttle had originated, carrying newly trained personnel from the Radiant for the Galactica. Apollo had been about to head over towards the Radiant to reiterate the Galactica's orders, when Giles had called out they had Cylons on their rear scanners.

The fleet ships had quickly increased speed, closing ranks with the other fleet ships and the Galactica. The shuttle, however, was left behind. Blue Squadron was being launched, but the fleet had become so spread out that by the time the pilots had mustered for launch, the Cylons were already closing in. The four patrol vipers had flown in to provide protection for the lagging ship -- and here they were, trading laser cannon fire in the space around the shuttle.

Starbuck had aimed his viper directly towards a knot of approaching Cylon fighters, giving them a more tempting target than the shuttle. The ploy had effectively drawn away many of the fighters, but it made Apollo's heart skip beats.

There were times he wished he'd given in to the urge to reassign Starbuck to be someone else's wingman. If he didn't have to be right there to *see* Starbuck putting himself in danger, he might be able to sleep better at night. He knew he was deluding himself -- keeping an eye on Starbuck was the only way to convince himself that he hadn't snuck out and gotten himself killed on the far side of the battlezone. But sometimes he liked to pretend -- it was either that, or strangle Starbuck himself.

Instead of reprimanding his wingman, Apollo aimed his viper and hit the firing button. One more Cylon fighter disappeared in a shower of molten metal.

"Thanks, Apollo," came Starbuck's voice. "How about getting a few more?" He sounded cheerful, high on adrenalin and fraction-of-a-second escapes.

Apollo didn't bother replying; some things were better left said in private. Preferably to a partner who was whole, unharmed, and who understood the futility in giving your captain a heartattack during dogfights.

"Coming, Starbuck," he said into the comm, heading for another Cylon fighter.

"I can't believe you didn't *call* me!" Blair knew he probably didn't need to be yelling. Jim was only upstairs, and the loft wasn't so big that even a non-Sentinel would have trouble hearing him. But Sentinel Jim was, and he'd probably tuned Blair out the moment he'd stepped through the front door.

That had to be the only explanation for why he wasn't down here, taking his chewing out like a man. He'd dialed down his hearing until he couldn't hear...

"You could have called! You could have left a message, let me know what happened!" Blair was pacing, now, the length of the living room. It was that or run upstairs and pummel his lover. Maybe he'd do that anyhow, he fumed.

"It was *nothing*, Chief. Ten seconds and it was over."

"Ten seconds, he says. What if you'd been driving? Or facing down a suspect? Or talking to the Police Commissioner? Or don't you think he'd notice a little thing like one of his detectives staring out into space, totally unresponsive--" He cut off as he turned to find Jim at the foot of the stairs. *Frowning* at him. Like this was his fault?

"I was at my desk. Paperwork -- who doesn't zone out over paperwork?"

"That's not the point, Jim!" Blair went over, wondering if proximity would help him get through to the most stubborn, aggravating, close-mouthed Sentinel he'd ever come across.

"Then what *is* the point?" Jim sounded tired of the argument already. Blair almost felt sorry for him, because the argument was nowhere near over, yet.

"The *point* is, you're supposed to tell me about your zone outs! I'm your Guide, how am I supposed to help if you don't talk to me?"

"Help? Help with what? I sat at my desk, staring at some forms. Half a minute later I came out of it. There was nothing for you to *do*."

"Nothing, huh? How do you know? How do you know this won't happen again? When you aren't at your desk, but driving 65 down the interstate?"

Jim shrugged, apparently unconcerned. Blair knew better. He knew how much Jim hated being different, being dependent on someone else to control his own body. It never ceased to amaze him that Jim let him help, at all, instead of simply shutting off his heightened senses, like he had as a child.

Blair felt his anger dissipate, and he walked over. "Jim, all I'm saying is that you can't afford to dismiss something like this until we *know* for sure it isn't--" he swallowed the word 'dangerous' and searched for a suitable replacement. "Going to happen again." He didn't want to go through how he felt about this sort of thing. Didn't want to describe how clearly he could imagine being visited by Simon, and told that 'I'm sorry, Ellison was killed today because....'

"I'm sorry, Blair. It just didn't seem like that big of a deal. For all I know it wasn't really a zone out. It just felt like one, but it hardly lasted any time at all."

Blair sighed, grateful that Jim had come around fairly quickly this time. "Why don't we be sure of that, OK?"

"How do you propose we do that?"

With a smile, Blair relaxed. He was glad to see Jim relax a little, in response. "First of all, I want you to describe as clearly as you can, what was happening before you zoned out. Then we'll see if there were any stimuli that triggered the zone out -- and find out what pulled you out of it." He headed over to the kitchen to grab his notebook off the counter, returning to the couch. "Come on, Jim." He indicated the seat beside him.

With apparent reluctance, Jim came over and joined him. Blair figured it was only a ruse because although Jim really didn't like this analytical examination of his life, he did love to cuddle. Blair's work in guiding Jim had become a thousand times easier when he'd discovered that. Cuddling on the couch had become one of his most frequent methods of interrogation.

"Don't think I'm not on to you," Jim said as he made himself comfortable between Blair's legs, resting his back against Blair's chest, and his head on Blair's shoulder.

"Of course, Jim." Blair gave him a one-armed squeeze, then began with his first question.

That night, he rolled over in the bed and reached out. He'd been dozing, waiting for his lover to join him. He'd been woken by the movement of the mattress, and now he felt the air-chilled skin of his love's naked body.

Smiling in the darkness, he moved closer, drawing his lover down. "Come here," he whispered, pulling the cool body towards his own blanket-warmed one.

"Mmm... you feel nice."

"And you feel cold. Come on, lay down," he whispered. A moment later he was covered, chest to toe. He could see in the dim light a wide smile shining down on him.

"Is this what you meant?"

"It'll do," he laughed. Wrapping his arms around his lover's waist, he hugged him tightly. "I love you."

"I know."

He laughed again. Rubbing his hands up and down his lover's back, he felt the chill beginning to fade. "Feeling warmer?"

"Mmm.. yeah; keep doing that."

He rubbed harder, digging his fingers slightly into muscles he only discovered now were tense. He began to massage them gently, eliciting moans and grateful sighs. After a while, when the body lying on top of his was limp with relaxation, he leaned up and laid gentle kisses on every spot he could reach.

There was an amused laugh. "If you're trying to get somewhere, you shouldn't have rubbed my back, first."

"I'm not trying to 'get anywhere'," he replied, but continued kissing soft, warm skin. He nibbled an ear, nuzzled a stubbled jaw, pressed one long, slow kiss on an upturned mouth. When they broke away, he stared at the face so close to his.

"Did I say I loved you?"

"I think you did," he grinned.

"Mmm. Good. Then do with me as you like."

Again, he laughed, then he did as he'd been bid.

"Are you awake?" Starbuck whispered, pitching his voice low enough to not wake his lover, if he were still sleeping.

"Yeah... don't feel like moving out of bed, though."

It was morning, but early. Boxey had stayed with his grandfather last night, and no one would be expecting them anywhere, for at least two hours. The perfect time for extended snuggling.

"Can I ask you something?" He ran his hand down Apollo's back, wondering if he were going to make things worse by asking.

Apollo raised his head and looked at him, confused. "Of course."

"Are you still mad at me for yesterday?"

"Huh? I'm not mad at you."

He almost asked 'are you sure', but knew what Apollo would say. He didn't really know why he'd asked, except that he knew Apollo had been upset by his actions yesterday, in attacking the Cylons. He might not be angry, but he was probably upset. Apollo didn't talk freely about how he felt, even when justifiably angry. Usually Starbuck could get him to admit how he felt, anyhow.

"Starbuck, I'm not mad. I wish you hadn't done it, but that's because I wish it hadn't been necessary." Apollo sat up, and put his hand on Starbuck's arm. "You know how I feel, seeing you engaged in battle."

"Yeah, the same way I feel when it's you, flying in."

"Exactly. Talking about it isn't going to change how we feel, or how often we're going to have to do it, anyhow."

Starbuck leaned against his lover, wrapping his arms around Apollo's chest. "I know. I knew that a yahren ago when you first kissed me." He sighed. "I knew it yahrens ago, when I first fell in love."

"That doesn't make it easier," Apollo whispered.

"No," Starbuck agreed, and sat up. "But this does." And he gave Apollo another long kiss. He felt Apollo's hand move up his back to hold his head, fingers entwined in his hair. He reached down for the blanket and tugged it out of the way, scooting to lie down again, drawing Apollo with him.


"Mmmmm." Blair burrowed under the blankets, one arm snaking out to latch onto Jim's waist when he tried to move.

Jim smiled, and settled back to wait. Blair woke up slowly, when given the liberty, and Jim found that he enjoyed letting him do so. It gave him opportunity to lie in bed in peace and quiet, and stare at the most wonderful thing he'd ever seen.

Usually he managed to let Blair sleep for fifteen minutes before the staring turned into needing to touch. He never meant it to wake Blair -- he'd have happily caressed his lover all morning, with Blair sleeping through it. But Blair never seemed to be able to remain asleep when Jim was touching him.

When accused, Jim denied tickling him. He also denied deliberately arousing him, and accused Blair of simply being too sensitive. *That* usually got Jim on the defensive.

He traced a line around the edge of Blair's ear, brushing back the long hair falling over it.

"Mmmmm...." Blair snuggled closer. Jim suspected he was wide awake, but faking in order to convince Jim to continue.

Luckily for both of them, it worked. He mover closer, so he could reach more of the bared skin, and ran his fingers up and down every inch.

Half an hour and several sleepy kisses later, Blair opened his eyes and looked at him. "You're forgiven."

Jim gave him a look of surprise. "For what?"

"For waking me," was Blair's reply, then he pulled Jim down to kiss him again. Jim went willingly, not minding at all that he'd woken Blair two hours early on their day off. He never asked if Blair really meant waking him, or everything else.