"Apollo, you and your squadron did well out there," Colonel Tigh offered by way of dismissal, and Apollo nodded; they really had. Boomer had been the hero of the day, managing to take out two Cylons on his own that had been dogging Starbuck away from the rest of them.
"Thank you, Colonel." He turned to walk out, and his sister fell right into step with him. "Hey, Athena," he said, sharing the walk off the bridge in easy spirits.
"Hey, yourself, Apollo. Just thought I'd tell you that Boxey was checking up on you all the time you were out there," Athena said with a smile. "He really does adore you, you know?"
Apollo's face softened as he thought about the boy who had become his son. He missed Serena, dearly, and so did Boxey, but it was more than just Serena's memory that bound them. Boxey had wiggled straight into Apollo's heart...and the captain would have it no other way. "I'll go find him right away," he said. "Tell our father..."
"Just be there for breakfast tomorrow, and I think he'll be happy," Athena reassured him. There were different priorities once a son became a father, and their father would understand completely.
"Thanks." Apollo flashed her his best smile, and then started off through the hectic, crammed corridors to reach his quarters. Soon, they'd be able to move some of these refugees back to the Bellerophon as those repairs were coming along nicely.
He finally reached his quarters, and even from the noisier corridor, he could hear the mechanical sounds of the daggit coming to greet him. He opened the door and leaned down, hand reaching to pet the daggit easily. "Hey, Muffit. How are you? Good boy, taking care of our Boxey?" Muffit's ears rotated happily, and then he moved aside to let Apollo further into the quarters. It was just in time, too, as Boxey had awakened to his voice and was now coming with one hand rubbing his eyes to see Apollo. The boy's face lit up like a solar flare to see the captain, and Apollo knew his heart had just melted a little more. He reached down and picked the boy up under his arms. "You are getting big, Boxey! Takes more to pick you up these cycles!"
"I'm only eating my share, I promise!" Boxey told him, which just made Apollo laugh.
"I know, son, I know." His quiet reassurance earned him those thin arms wrapped around his neck so trustingly. Apollo savored that, measuring his worth against the trust of a boy who had become the center of the universe, and decided he wasn't doing too bad. "You need to get back to sleep, and I need to get clean, then sleep," Apollo told the boy. "We're going to go eat with my father in the morning."
"Okay." As Apollo turned to carry him, Boxey looked over Apollo's shoulder. "Will Muffit get to come too?"
Apollo chuckled. "Yeah, we can take Muffit too."
"He gets bored, sometimes. And a bored daggit can get in trouble," Boxey said solemnly, sleepily believing in the illusion of his pet being real, and not just a programed companion.
"Yeah, good point," Apollo agreed, heart in his throat for a minute, over the resilience of a child's mind to adapt. He got the boy to bed, then pulled the blanket up over him. "You sleep tight now." He tucked the covers in around Boxey's shoulders against the chill of the quarters; Galactica was running environmental much lower to compensate for the body heat outside in the corridors, in the unused bays, and any other available sleeping space, but it left the quarters a little cooler than normal.
"Good night," Boxey said, soft and half-asleep already. Apollo watched him a moment more, then went to get out of flight gear and cleaned up. He hoped that he was every bit the father Boxey needed, that he did well by Serena's memory in raising the boy. There were days he wasn't sure he had what it took. Other days, he knew he was doing just fine. Moments like this found him able to push the Cylons far from his mind, and just savor the quiet peace of being in a family like he had made, with a boy, a robotic daggit, and himself.
When he finally slid into his own bed, it was with the quiet knowing that for now, all was well.
Commander Adama reached his quarters almost in sync with his son and the boy, Boxey, with the robotic daggit trailing at their heels. He took in the state of his son, just returned from a hazardous offensive against Cylons, and truly appraised what he saw, what he could feel radiating, in some ways. Apollo was walking casually, his hand on Boxey's shoulder, and the boy was smiling at everyone they passed, while Muffit emulated a pleased, happy daggit as well. The sight was definitely one of a family unit, complete as it was, the missing member kept alive in the bond of father and son. It would never matter, Adama knew in that moment, that Boxey was not born to Apollo. This flight for survival had broken so many bonds, yet in their place, new ones had been forged.
"Good morning, Apollo," Adama said on the heels of his realizations, and then he smiled down at the unexpected grandson. "And Boxey! How are you today?"
"I'm good, Commander Adama," Boxey reassured him, growing just slightly shy at being addressed. It made Adama nod, and he then opened the door so they could all enter the quarters. Athena was already inside; she had been off-shift and volunteered to ready breakfast.
"No Starbuck?" Athena teased. "Oh, wait, I see you upgraded your wing-man," she said with a smile for Boxey.
"Starbuck's great!" Boxey said, with the wide-eyed wonder at having a hero to praise. Apollo groaned theatrically.
"Now you've done it, Athena. He's going to tell us all about how Starbuck routed an entire Cylon squadron at Heliopolis."
All the adults laughed, and Boxey, not quite sure why, just smiled and sat down on the deck, Muffit laying beside him to be petted. "if you want me to, Apollo...although I can tell about the time both of you managed to lead the raiders away from the Fleet," he offered, watching as Apollo helped his sister ready the last parts of the meal, while Adama settled at the head of the table expectantly.
It was Commander Adama who answered him, indicating the chair next to him. "I think perhaps we would all rather hear the stories of what one small boy and his daggit do on the ship," he said, inviting Boxey to join him. The child hesitated, but came over, and soon lost all his nervousness, talking about life as a child on the ship that guided them all.
Apollo glanced over once, and had to pause, seeing his father and the son of his heart engaged so deeply in getting along. He was a lucky man, even with all the losses they had faced, and he felt reaffirmed that yes, they would all survive, and life would resume as it had been before.
Boxey was one shining star of that.