Part Three: Easy Company
Notes: This is the next part in a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The first parts can be found a few posts down. I’ll put them all in the same place soon. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. If you do want to and you like it, throw me a comment, make me eager to continue :)
Garrett led the senator over to his father and promptly abandoned both of them, stealing away his new stepmother with a breezy “You two enjoy yourselves.” His father frowned at him but turned his attention to Jezria, which suited Garrett perfectly. Two birds distracted with one stone. Claudia would be easy company for him, and he needed to be ensconced with someone in order to be left alone by everyone else.
Claudia cast an uneasy glance over her shoulder at her husband as they walked away. “Shouldn’t I stay with him?”
“Miles is a big boy, he can handle himself with Senator Dowd for a few minutes. He’s used to her.”
“It sounds so strange to hear you call your father ‘Miles.’”
“I’d call him Dad, but then the temptation to call you Mommy out of sheer proximity might be overwhelming.”
Claudia smacked him lightly on the arm with the back of her hand. “You’ve got a decade on me, Garrett.”
“I know, the potential for kink here is profound, isn’t it?”
Claudia laughed like he’d intended, some of her tension seeping away. “Don’t you dare start calling him ‘Daddy,’ I don’t think I could take it.”
“Not tonight,” Garrett promised her. “I’d have to be drunk to do that and unfortunately, we’re on call.” They stopped in an alcove next to a sweet-smelling potted lemon tree, took two glasses of that dark champagne from the ubiquitous wait staff, and looked out at the crowd. Garrett sipped, then nodded approvingly. “This is lovely. Did you choose this?”
“Yes. I had it brought in with the last shipment of medical supplies from Clix, they have the most wonderful environment for grapes there. It’s a newer variety of champagne, a noir de noirs. It’s called Elysium.”
There was no escaping ancient mythologies tonight, it seemed.
“Do you miss the restaurant?” Claudia had been a master sommelier before marrying his father.
“Not really, no. There’s so much to do right now. Miles is working nonstop, and I’ve got my hands full sorting out things with the estate.”
“It’s a lot,” Garrett agreed. He was tempted, very badly tempted, to offer up advice. Garrett had played host for the more social aspects of his father’s career many times before, and having that mantle taken away was still something he was getting used to. Claudia probably wouldn’t have been offended if he’d offered to help, but it wasn’t a habit he wanted to let himself develop. “How does it feel living in full view of the public?”
“It’s taking some getting used to,” Claudia acknowledged, inhaling the scent of her champagne before sipping. “I thought the wedding was bad enough…I had no idea Miles was so popular with the newsfeeds.”
“Yeah, that’s Mom’s fault,” Garrett said.
“Oh, no.” Claudia looked at him apologetically, her large dark eyes going wide with apprehension. “I don’t mean to imply that I blame your mother for anything, Gare. Honestly—”
“It was a joke, Claudia,” Garrett said gently. He knew his mother was a sore spot with Claudia. Hell, she was a sore spot with everyone, a figure of extremes: passion and elegance, vanity and need. Her movies were still some of the most popular holofilms ever made, and the woman had been dead since he was three. His mother had been the archetype of celebrity, and part of her legacy was an eternal spotlight on the family she left behind.
“No one ever expected Dad to marry again,” Garrett went on. “That he found you too charming to resist isn’t your fault, but it is enough to make asshole reporters pry into your private life and crash your wedding. Dad did fire that security firm, right?”
“Yes,” she said. “We’ve got a new one working for us now, based here on Paradise. In addition to Miles’ personal security staff, of course.”
Garrett frowned. “Based here? Out of where, Rapture? How long have they been established? Were they on the losing side?”
“Gare.” Claudia looked a little exasperated now. “They aren’t assassins. Everyone was fully screened before being allowed access to our compound. Miles took care of it personally.”
Miles isn’t infallible, Garrett wanted to say, but there was no sense in getting into an argument with Claudia about his father. As far as Miles’ new bride was concerned, the suns rose and set at her husband’s command. It was, Garrett reflected, sweet. Cloyingly so. He drank some more champagne.
“Gare…” Her touch on his arm was tentative. “You’re not upset, are you?”
“Nothing about you and my father being together upsets me,” Garrett said firmly. It was true enough. He loved his father, wanted him to be happy. Claudia made him happy, and so Garrett loved her too. She was easy to love, all earnestness and patience. Claudia had a practical mind, and in many ways was the complete opposite of his mother, but that was probably part of her appeal, Garrett figured. She also wasn’t quite easy enough with him to point out that he hadn’t really answered her question, which was another point in her favor.
He took pity on her. “Looks like Dad’s finished with Jezria. I suppose I can be forced to spare you if you want to return to the lion’s den.”
“I should be with him,” Claudia immediately agreed. “Won’t you come with me, though? He hasn’t had a moment with you all night.”
“We can have a moment later,” Garrett said. “You go have one now.” He smiled brilliantly at her and nudged her away, watched her draw back to his father’s side like the attraction between them was magnetic. He glanced at his watch. It was late enough that he could escape without being missed for long. High fucking time, too, he snarked internally, then felt like hitting his forehead. What the fuck was wrong with him, anyway?
Garrett left the ballroom as unobtrusively as he could, only having to deflect a few people in his quest for solitude. The rest of the mansion was empty except for roving security, and all the lights were dimmed. There was carpet underfoot, and fresh air flowed through the hallways. So different from his father’s last residence, the battleship that had been his command center during Paradise’s civil war. That had been militantly spare, the only personal decorations coming through in his personal quarters.
Here, this entire mansion was his domain, his and Claudia’s. Garrett could already see glimpses of their personalities coming through in the decorating, the marble and slate and sculpture stemming from his father’s sensibilities and the rich, earth-toned fabrics covering chairs and draping windows speaking to Claudia’s. It was more than just a place to live for them. They were turning it into a home, their home.
As, Garrett reminded himself, they should. He wasn’t complaining so much as…noticing. Evaluating. He was welcome here, he knew that. He always had a home with his father. In fact, the only homes he’d ever had were with his father, or briefly with Robbie. He’d never made one for himself. And you’re how old now? Never mind, don’t answer that. Well, maybe he would look for a place of his own. Somewhere more stable and long-term than his personal ship, which was where he kept all his belongings currently. It was something to consider.
Rather than stay in the mansion tonight, Garrett walked to the shuttle bay where his cruiser was docked, alongside some custom hotrod of Wyl’s. Wyl had offered to “improve” his ship, but he wasn’t ready to void every warranty on the thing in favor of artistic sensibility and ridiculously fast speeds yet. Garrett opened the hatch and walked inside, then sighed with relief as the door closed behind him. Another evening whiled away. Another night he’d be spending by himself.
And that, Garrett reflected as he moved toward his bedroom to change, was actually all right with him. Huh. Voluntary celibacy. Who would have guessed that keeping his own company would be so effortless?