Friday, December 30, 2011

Pandora Post #29

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Nine: Goes Around

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. OMG, next to last post! I’m hoping my first post of the new year will be the final part of Pandora. This is a very talky, exposition heavy section, I know, but grin and bear it. The last part will be dirtier than you can shake a stick at, I promise.


Garrett wasn’t a naturally organized person. It was one of many differences between his own and his father’s personality, and had led to a lot of memorable arguments when he was a teenager, but eventually he’d gotten it into his head that everything and everyone he enjoyed would be a lot easier to handle if he kept things like the names of his various boyfriends straight. He went from a laissez-faire slob to a conscientious planner, and the change stuck. As he took on more responsibility with work and his father’s career, he became more and more grateful that he’d bothered to learn the skills. Garrett could network, reference and crosscheck like a pro, and all of that ability was coming in handy now, because when life got busy naturally it didn’t stop at “busy,” it tried to kick his ass.

He had scores of contacts from his solitary days in the central system, and he tossed two thirds of them immediately when it came to getting help for Isidore. He needed someone patient, compassionate and relatively wealthy to act as a sponsor, and honestly Garrett’s tastes hadn’t run that way for most of that phase of his life. In the end he talked to several different friends before deciding on Symone St. Clair, the daughter of a Federation senator who lived in New Paris on the planet Solaydor. She ran a charitable organization now, but when Garrett had known her she’d been a slutty, outcast aristocrat who could find anything for anybody, good or bad. Since then she’d reformed somewhat, but she was still willing to do a favor for the right price.

“What do I possibly have that you want?” Garrett asked as they chatted via vidscreen.

“Nothing but your company,” she pouted. “And the name of your fucking tailor. You refused to give it to me when you lived here and you always looked so fucking good, and my Jeanine is finally leaving me for New Caledon and I hate to buy without the creation fitting me like a glove.”

“You’ll find him a place to stay?” Garrett pressed. “And help him get whatever professional certifications he needs to work there? Immigration visas, health screenings—”

“I won’t let your little lamb loose on New Parisian society, Garrett, don’t be so fussy,” she sighed. “He’s that good a piece of ass, hmm?”

“No prying, Symone.”

“It’s not prying, it’s gossip!” she exclaimed. “That’s totally different. And word has trickled down that you’re actually living on the Fringe, willingly. And that you’ve had a baby.”

Garrett burst out laughing. “I have absolutely not had a baby. Hell no. I’m dating a guy with a kid.”

“But do you want to have a baby?” She batted her long, violet eyelashes at him. “I bet you’d look super hot all knocked up. Some men really enjoy the experience, and you know, you could just have the uterus and it’s accessories put in without going for the entire changeover to female. Although either way you could always change back afterwards.”

“Thanks for the thought, but I don’t have any desire for swollen feet or awkward cravings,” Garrett replied, remembering some of his conversations with Claudia.

Solaydor was one of the most gender-fluid planets in the central system, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to swap sexes or create their own entirely. Garrett had slept with Symone several times when she went through her Symon phase, and might have stayed for longer if she hadn’t abruptly decided to switch back when she met a straight guy that she wanted to go after. As a result of their mental and physical flexibility, Solaydors had some of the most open immigration policies in the central systems. Incoming immigrants were judged more on their mental fitness and ability to accept other cultures than they were on their health or job set, and Garrett was sure that Isidore could pass the psych exam.

“When’s he going to arrive?” Symone asked, letting go of the pregnancy issue for now.

“In a month. He’s got a few transfers to make, but I’ll give you his Federation ID number and schedule. I’m giving him a com too, so expect him to call you once the distances get a little more manageable.”

“Gotcha. I can’t wait to meet him.”

Garrett hoped Isidore would survive meeting Symone, but she could provide the quickest avenue to an exit for Isidore. The sooner he left Paradise, the better.

The plan was made in one week, getting the equipment and documents Isidore needed took a second week, but the delay was all right since it took that long for Isidore to regain most of the weight he’d lost and learn the basics of interstellar travel. Garrett lent his ship to Thérèse to drop Isidore off at the nearest space station that ran regular trips back to the central system, because even if Thérèse wasn’t crazy about him, she wasn’t going to screw him over either.

“I don’t know how to thank you,” Isidore told Garrett as they said goodbye, his mouth muffled against Garrett’s shoulder.

“Don’t thank me. Just go and don’t look back.” Garrett kissed his cheek and then let Isidore go. “And keep in touch with me, all right? I’ve paid for service on your com for six standard months, so don’t let it go to waste.”

“I won’t, I promise.”

Seeing Isidore leave was satisfying and more than a little bit of a relief. One thing down, a seeming thousand others to go. Wyl had regenerated to the point that the doctors had decided to wake him up, and Garrett wanted to be there for that, but he had to deal with some family troubles first. Not with his father, who was still comatose, and not with Claudia or Renee, but with his grandmother, who had decided that she needed to take a larger role in her son’s life now that he could no longer fight her about it. Claudia was afraid of defying Dame Mildred Caractacus, but Garrett, who was more than accustomed to pissing off his grandmother, took point on the issue.

He let his grandmother’s call come through on the video, then muted it before she had a chance to say anything. “Hi, Millie.” He watched her carefully sculpted mouth make a moue of vicious disdain. Mildred Caractacus had seen more surgery than a ward of cardiac patients in her lifetime, and these days she looked like the most brittle twenty-five year old that Garrett had ever seen. After a few centuries not even grafts and Regen could hide the passage of time, and Garrett had the feeling that Mildred was growing herself a transplant shell in some hidden underground bunker. He watched her mouth move for a few seconds, then said, “Oh, sorry, we’ve lost sound capacity. I actually can’t hear a word you’re saying.”

Well, get it back! she mouthed. Garrett tilted his head and frowned like he didn’t know how to read lips. “Wait, is this about your trip? Because there’s really no room for you here, Millie, the mansion is completely full right now and anyway, I can’t approve your temporary visa.” He saw her say something about Claudia but feigned ignorance. “Bother? Oh, it’s no bother for me to pass the information along. Maybe you can come next year, once Dad is up and running again. No change recently with him, by the way, but thanks for asking.”

I wasn’t asking that! he saw her say.

Garrett’s face lost all expression and he leaned in toward the vidscreen. “No, but you should have been,” he said grimly before canceling their link. The com beeped again a few moments later, and Garrett went on to block Mildred’s com signature from getting through.

Claudia covered her mouth with one hand from where she sat off screen. “She’s going to be furious.”

“Furious at me.”

“And at me, Garrett.”

“Yeah, and at Dad, but it’s going to be okay. He’ll be awake soon and he can take care of her from there. I’m just running interference.”

“She’s your family,” Claudia reprimanded him gently. “I don’t know why you and Miles have always been so upset with her.”

“Millie’s something of a perfectionist,” Garrett replied with a twisty little smile. “She hated the bad publicity my mother’s death brought on her family, and she recommended that my father disown me when I went through my own difficult period. Dad disagreed, obviously, and they haven’t been civil to each other ever since.” He held out his arms. “Gimme baby, I need oblivious cuddling.”

Claudia rolled her eyes but moved over to sit next to him and handed him Renee. “She looks bigger,” Garrett said, shifting the sleeping baby in his arms so that she rested more horizontal. “I haven’t even been back a month, but she looks bigger to me.”

“Little babies grow so fast,” Claudia agreed. “Miles is missing it. I feel so bad, like I should be filming her, capturing every moment so that he can relive it later and see what he didn’t get to, but I just don’t have the energy.”

“He’ll see plenty,” Garrett predicted. “I mean, she’s not even crawling or talking yet. All he’s missed is watching her eat and make messes in her diapers, which isn’t exactly compelling.” Claudia smacked the top of his head. “Although she’s so cute that everything she does is special,” he added with a grin.

“Nice try, mister. Have you talked to Jonah and Cody?”

“I heard from them last night,” Garrett replied. “They sent me a vid of their new house. They’re almost all moved in, apparently.” Toys were already littering the floor and getting in Jonah’s way. It hadn’t taken long for Cody to forget the time he used to spend making sure the floor was clear so that Garrett didn’t fall and trip over any of them when he was blind. Cody had held onto the portable projector and taken Garrett all around the house for the message, leaving a few rooms unopened that he described as “just full of Daddy’s stuff.”

His bedroom was pretty large for a small child, and the walls were sunshine yellow and made to look like fields stretching out into the distance. Garrett had no idea why Cody had chosen that simulation for his room, the kid had never lived anywhere with fields, but maybe it was the oddity that appealed to him.

“I got a new Space Ranger,” Cody said, and he set the projector down on the floor and picked up a foot-high doll. “The black Ranger. He’s new, his name is Dallas. He has a really cool special move.” Cody gave a command and the doll jumped into the air and kicked his legs out to the sides, then managed a front flip before landing in a crouch. “Isn’t he cool? There’s another new Ranger out that’s white too, but Daddy says I don’t get to have her until my birthday. But that’s not until forever, but he says I need to learn to be patient but I don’t want to.” Cody sighed massively. “He’s grumpy, so you should come home and we can cheer him up.”

Jonah had looked okay when he came on screen. Tired, but still absolutely gorgeous. “Hey, darlin’. I hope things are looking up for you and your family. We’d love to talk to you, Garrett. Call us when you can.”

Garrett had taken the coward’s way out and sent them a message instead, and then he had been unable to go to sleep for three hours until he finally jerked himself off, picturing Jonah the whole time. Bastard.

Still, he felt relatively alert and fresh the next day when the doctors took Wyl out of Regen. Robbie was there, not pacing but set and still in that watchful way that meant he was tenser than a taut wire.

The Regen tank was drained, Wyl was taken off the respirators and then the top of the tank was opened up. It shouldn’t have been enough to wake Wyl up; he’d been under sedation for weeks and usually it took an injection of strong stimulants to get the subject stirring, but then Wyl always had to be different. Five seconds after the tank was cracked open his eyes were fluttering, and five seconds after that they were wide open and he was speaking. His voice was hoarse, he was still covered with the viscous healing gel of Regen and beneath that he was stark naked, but he either didn’t notice or didn’t care.


Robbie stepped forward stiffly, reaching a hand in towards Wyl. Wyl got a grip and pulled himself up against his lover, holding him in a brutally tight grip. “Fuck, ‘m sorry, I’m so sorry, I knew you would be upset but I couldn’t wait but I wanted to, Rob, I swear I did but I just couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t...” After a second Robbie’s arms mirrored Wyl’s, coming around to hold him up and close and so tight that you didn’t have to be an empath to know that this was a desperately intimate moment, the kind of moment that didn’t need a lot of outside eyes intruding.

“Come on,” Garrett whispered to Claudia as he gently pulled her back towards the hall. “We’ll come by and say hi later.”

“Right…” Claudia replied, a little dazedly. They left the room but instead of heading back towards the living quarters, Claudia pulled away from him. “I think—I think I need to go see Miles. I need to talk to him for a while.”

“Okay,” Garrett replied. He watched her walk towards his father’s sealed room and gave himself one moment to feel the kind of pity he knew Claudia didn’t want, then went back to their living quarters.

Thérèse was with Renee and didn’t seem to have any intention of handing her over, and so Garrett went to his room and lay down on his bed. After a few minutes he took his journal off the table beside him and opened it up. The little cartoon hopped to brisk attention. “Journal Record Twenty-Three Recording!” it shouted. The tiny machine clicked, and Garrett knew he was supposed to start talking, but he didn’t know how to start. He couldn’t even parse it all out in his mind, how could he possibly make his thoughts intelligible enough to be spoken? Eventually though, words did start come through.

“I think…I might be…an idiot. I think it’s entirely possible that I’m too much of a fool to keep the good things that seem to come my way, which you’d think would indicate that I don’t deserve them, but…I still want them. I want them more and more every day, yet I’m awful at expressing that. But I also think that it’s past time I work through it. And I need to do that fast, because I’m starting to feel hollow and I know that when my dad wakes up it will help, but I know now that what I need most in my life isn’t something I can find here. I’m just afraid I’ve already fucked that it all beyond repair. I do that.

“Miles needs to wake up and he needs to do it fast, because we need him back and then I need to go. I really, really need to go.” He paused for a second, then shut the journal down and rolled back out of bed. Whether she needed it or not, Thérèse was going to get some help with Renee, and Garrett needed to use the house’s off-planet connection to order something anyway.


Two weeks later, Miles woke up. His awakening was much more structured than Wyl’s, more gradual and controlled. The doctors had given them a few days to get used to the idea and prepare things back at home for Miles before doing the deed, and Claudia was a nervous wreck the whole time.

“He might not remember us.”

“They can do some restoration therapy if that’s the case,” Garrett said reassuringly as he stirred a pot on the stove under Thérèse’s watchful eye. “But he’ll remember.”

“He might not.”

“He will.”

“He might have changed emotionally,” Claudia continued, her worry unabated. “That can happen sometimes coming out of a long Regen. He might remember us but not love us anymore.”

Good fucking lord, had Garrett ever been this insecure? He dropped the spoon, earning himself a smack on the shoulder from Thérèse, and went over and sat next to Claudia on the couch. “Sweetheart, of course he’s going to love you. Even if he didn’t remember you, he would love you. How could he do anything else? You’re awesome. Your baby is awesome. And hell, I’m obviously awesome, so how can he not remember and adore us?”


“You need to calm down. It’s going to be fine. Want a sedative? Maybe a drink to soothe your nerves?”

Claudia huffed an amused sigh. “I’m breastfeeding, Garrett.”

“You have packets and packets of that stuff stored up. You can afford to go out on a limb and have a glass of wine without polluting your baby.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Crass,” Thérèse muttered from the stove.

“Don’t talk about my stepmother that way!” Garrett protested, and got glares from both women for his trouble. “Fine, I see that my attempts at levity are unappreciated. I’ll just sit here quietly and brood with you.” He put a mock-tortured expression on his face. “Oh no, will he remember the color of my hair? Will he remember the time I crashed his official car when I was ten? Will he retroactively punish me for the tree incident?”

“What tree incident?”

“You don’t want to know,” Garrett assured her. “Let’s just say I barely escaped with my life after destroying some very public property and leave it at that. By the time Miles found out it was a little late to ground me, thankfully.”

“You must have been a frightening child,” Thérèse commented.

“The emotionally supportive term is ‘challenging,’” Garrett replied, and changed the topic before she could say anything else. “The doctors want us there in half an hour. Do you want to get gussied up or anything?”

Claudia’s eyes went wife, and she glanced down at herself in horror. “Oh God yes. Oh, I have to hurry.” She checked that Renee was still sleeping in her bassinet before rushing over to her bedroom and shutting the door behind her.

“You don’t need to be adding to her stress,” Thérèse chided.

“Are you kidding me? I’m making her happier. She’ll spend the next twenty-five minutes doing her hair and putting on makeup she doesn’t need instead of worrying about Miles and what he may or may not remember.”


“Still nothing. Stop talking to me and stir.” That got him a dirty look, but Thérèse did keep stirring the pot, which was beginning to smell delicious. Garrett didn’t tell her that, though. She didn’t need the encouragement.

They weren’t allowed in for the process of actually removing Miles from the Regen tank, cleaning him up and getting his first impressions like they had been with Wyl. Miles was a more medically complicated case, but after about ten minutes one of the doctors came out with a smile on his face, looked at Claudia and said, “He’s asking for you.”

“Oh,” she breathed. Her arms were shaking slightly as she held her baby, and Garrett was almost tempted to offer to take Renee, but he knew Claudia wouldn’t give her up now. She wanted them to be reintroduced as a unit, and there was no denying that her daughter was an emotional support Claudia badly needed.

“Get going,” Garrett said. He gave her a little push towards the door. She went, the doctors left and the door shut. Garrett looked around the barren hallway, figured it would be a while before he was needed, and called up Wyl. “Bring cards.”

Wyl came, looking as healthy and normal as he ever did after two weeks out of Regen, and they sat cross-legged on the floor and played poker.

“How’s Robbie?”

“Busy as hell,” Wyl replied, but the smirk on his face was very informative. Garrett groaned.

“Glad your homecoming party has been so vigorous.”

“What can I say, absence makes his heart grow fonder,” Wyl said, and the smirk spread into a grin. “And abstinence makes his—”

“Stop, I already know, and please don’t talk to me about abstinence.”

“Feeling a little pent up?” Wyl asked as he laid down a straight flush. “A little…restricted? A little unfucked?” Garrett sighed and folded.

“No. Maybe.”


“Shut up.”

“Whatever,” Wyl said. “You’re so pining for Jonah. You can’t even touch yourself, can you?”

“Of course I can.”

“Not without thinking of him,” Wyl predicted.

“Shut up.”

“You’re just so adorable.”

“Seriously Wyl, I don’t care if you’re fresh out of the tank, I will hurt you.”

“Then Robbie will seek terrible revenge on you.”

“It might just be worth it,” Garrett warned, staring at his cards. Three queens. He had to win. He laid his cards down and Wyl nodded his head for a moment, impressed, before he put down three kings.

“Son of a bitch.”

“I’m a lucky guy,” Wyl said expansively, collecting the cards again. “I’ve got Robbie, I’m alive and fully functioning, I still have a job…thanks for what you did for Izzie, by the way.”

“You call him Izzie?”

“It was that or Door.” Wyl shrugged. “And honestly it was just as much my fault that that dumbass got into the compound, because I was the fucking supervisor and I could have checked the guy out more, but I didn’t.”

“Don’t dwell on it,” Garrett advised him. They both glanced over at the closed door.

“How long do you think they’ll be at it before they remember you?”

“If I’m lucky,” Garrett said, gathering up the cards and shuffling them, “all day.”

In the end it was only about two hours, but that was long enough for Garrett’s ass to get numb and for him to lose ninety percent of the poker games he and Wyl played. Usually Garrett was pretty decent at poker, so he figured Wyl was cheating and informed him of this suspicion. Wyl just laughed, gathered up his cards and left when Claudia came out of the room, looking just disheveled enough and holding a squirming Renee.

“Are you ready to go in?” she asked him, the brilliance of her smile lighting up her entire face.

“Sure,” Garrett replied easily, getting to his feet. “I take it your reunion went well.”

“Yes,” she murmured, her hips swaying back and forth to a gentle , unconscious rhythm as she rocked her baby. “Very well. After you two talk the doctors will check Miles’ blood work again and then he’ll come back to the house. They don’t want him stressing over his duties yet, so he’s going to take another week off just to be with us.”

“Good,” Garrett said. He kissed the top of Claudia’s head, then went into the room that had formerly held his father’s Regen tank. Now there was a bed, and the lights were bright and his father was awake, sitting on the bed in loose pants and a short-sleeved shirt and looking a decade younger than he had the last time Garrett saw him. “Dad.”

Miles smiled. “Son.”

“Nice to see you up and about,” Garrett said. “You took your sweet time,” he added.

“Sorry about that.”

“Yes, well…see that it doesn’t happen again.” After another second of just looking at each other Garrett came over and sat down on the bed, and he tried not to feel too much like a kid again when his father slid an arm around Garrett’s shoulders.

“Where are your boys?”

“They stayed on Pandora, Dad.”

“You’ve been away from them for a while, then.”

Nearly two months. “I have. But I needed to be here.”

“I’m glad you came.” Miles smiled. “Claudia couldn’t praise you enough. Thanks for everything you’ve done for her.”

“I couldn’t do anything else,” Garrett replied seriously.

Miles stared at him for a long time, totally silent, doing that assessing thing that he did that Garrett had hated as a child, because his father could always read him like a book if he could get him to hold still long enough, which was one reason he’d never stopped moving. “But now you can, Gare,” Miles said at last.

“I will,” Garrett said, and it felt so good to have it out there, even if obliquely. His father knew what he meant. “As soon as I’m sure you’re okay.”

“Soon, then.”

“Yes,” he said, finally returning his father’s embrace. They held each other tight, reconnecting with flesh and bone and breath, and Garrett felt lighter than he had for months, maybe years. Soon. Soon he would leave. Soon he would be back where he was needed now, and where he needed to be. He thought maybe he was finally ready for it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pandora Post #28

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Eight: Comes Around

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. Still not quite dirty, but very plotty. We’re tying up loose ends, people!


Therese had become Garrett’s unofficial escort around the base, and she was the one who walked him to Isidore’s cell. The marines guarding the brig didn’t look happy to see either of them, but they opened the door without question.

“Do people around here really want him dead?” Garrett asked sotto-voice as he and Therese walked down the hall toward Isidore’s cell.

“Enough do that Robbie won’t let anyone back here unaccompanied. You’re the only one other than him and the staff cook who’s keyed to get through the door.” She glanced sideways at him. “A lot of marines died in the explosion, and Commander Freeman was very popular. The marines guard in pairs to help prevent any accidents.”

“Accidents,” Garrett repeated with a small, bitter smile on his face. “This man is innocent.”

“So you say.”

“So I know. But you certainly don’t have to take my word for it,” he allowed. He looked more closely at Therese. “Are you looking for revenge too?”

“It’s not my place, sir.”

“That was a very nice and almost reassuring non-answer.”

Therese stopped outside of an opaque white door and turned to face Garrett. “I’m not going to do anything to harm the prisoner, sir.” She indicated the security pad. “He’s in here. I’ll be back for you in an hour.”

“Thanks.” Garrett watched Therese walk away, then turned back to the door. He was actually a little nervous. It was one thing to proclaim to all and sundry that Isidore was innocent, but when it came right down to it, Garrett didn’t really know the man all that well. He had been a lover, a fling, a few pleasurable moments in the timeline of Garrett’s life. But Garrett had always been a good judge of character, and he didn’t think he was wrong about Isidore.

“One way to find out,” he muttered to himself, then pressed his hand to the pad. After a moment it blinked an affirmative and opened, and Garrett stepped inside.

The cell was fairly typical, bare floor and bare walls, recessed lighting in the ceiling, a sink, a toilet and a cot. There were also a few atypical touches: a bedside table, and a tablet on it that probably held a lot of books, knowing Robbie. The cot had a blanket and a pillow, both of them mussed, and lying on his side but on top of the blanket was Isidore. As soon as Garrett saw him his heart clenched.

Isidore had changed. Not just an “oh, has it really been so long?” kind of changing, but truly physically altered. Isidore had been slim before, but he was pathetically skinny now, no more sweet, kissable tummy or rounded cheeks. He was even skinnier than Wyl, and Wyl had the highest metabolism Garrett had ever seen. Isidore’s dark hair fell lank across his face, way too long for him, and the silver insets were gone from his eyes, leaving them simple black pools of misery. His lips looked dry and chapped, and he barely seemed to register it when Garrett walked in.

“Oh, sweetheart,” Garrett breathed softly.

Those sad dark eyes suddenly seemed to revive, and Garrett could tell after a second that Isidore was really looking at him now. Instead of being happy though, he looked pained, and made a whimpering noise deep in his throat. Garrett moved forward but Isidore scrambled back, tucking his knees to his chest.

“Please, no,” he whispered, and his voice was broken. “Nonono, I can’t…you can’t…you can’t be here.”

Garrett knew better than to run on in, but he took a small step forward. “Why can’t I be here?”

“Because you must hate me,” Isidore replied earnestly, his lips stumbling over the words, “and I can’t take it if you hate me, I can’t hear you say that because…please, just don’t be here.”

“I don’t hate you,” Garrett promised him, scooting forward another few inches. “I know this wasn’t your fault.”

Isidore was already shaking his head. “It was, though, it is, because I let Jayce in. He’s my cousin and I vouched for him, it wasn’t the first time he had dropped off a part for us, but I should have been more careful. I knew he thought…I knew how he thought.” Isidore shrugged helplessly. “I just didn’t think he would do that. Who would do that?”

“You can’t predict insanity,” Garrett said with a sigh. “Not even the most highly trained doctors can always predict insanity, so how could you expect to? I don’t blame you for what happened, sweetheart.” He got close enough to the bed to gesture to it. “May I sit? I’ll stay on this side if you want.”

Isidore looked at Garrett for a long moment before shaking his head despairingly. “This can’t be real. You can’t really be saying this. I must…I must finally be crazy too. I’ve gone mad.”

Garrett snorted and sat down. “No you haven’t. You’re just being selectively deaf. Isidore, your cousin was definitely to blame for the damage he caused, but all you were to this whole situation was an avenue of attack. You were a way in. You’re a victim, not a violator. Now for fuck’s sake, stop cringing and give me a hug before I develop a complex.” He held out his arms towards the younger man.

Isidore stared at him blankly, like it was too much to take in, and Garrett thought for a second that he had pushed too hard, been too blunt, but then Isidore was hurling himself across the cot, jamming his head beneath Garrett’s chin and digging into his chest with his sharp chin. He couldn’t hold on very tight but Garrett took care of the holding for him, ignoring the discomfort of bony edges and enfolding Isidore in the hug he’d been dying to give him from the moment he saw him. For the second time in under twenty-four hours he had his arms full of traumatized ex, and even though the men couldn’t have been more different, the situation was similar enough that Garrett had to smile a little, just to himself. He felt like a fucking shrink.

The nice thing about Isidore as compared to Robbie, though, was he welcomed the affection. Not that Garrett could blame him, the kid was clearly starved of touch and attention, although he didn’t believe for a moment that Robbie would mistreat him. Still… “Have you been eating anything at all? Seriously, sweetheart, a few more missed meals and you’re going to be nothing but skin and bones.”

“I can’t keep anything down,” Isidore confessed in a small voice.

“Are you sick?” Garrett asked seriously.

“No, I just…”

Feel so guilty you can’t keep yourself fed. For fuck’s sake. Garrett sighed, part exasperation and part resignation. “You know, Robbie’s going to put in a feeding tube if you keep this up.”

“He already said that was a possibility.”

“Good. You know he doesn’t think you’re guilty either, right?”

Isidore actually laughed, but it was a dark, choked sound. “But he can’t let me go, because everyone wants to kill me.” His hands clenched unconsciously in Garrett’s shirt, and Garrett stroked a hand through his hair and down his neck. “My mother came to see me, but it was just to tell me that she couldn’t have me back in her home. My cousin’s family is threatening her; they told her to get me out, but she told them she couldn’t. She’s just trying to protect me too, but she can’t. Eventually they’ll have to let me go or charge me with a crime, and Commander Sinclair doesn’t want to do that. So he keeps me here, but the marines…” He sniffed wetly into Garrett’s shoulder. “I knew a lot of them. Some of them were my friends, the ones in the motor pool, but most of them died in the blast. The ones who bring me my meals, sometimes they talk to me. It’s usually not good.”

“That’s just them being assholes,” Garrett said hotly. “If you can identify them we can go to Robbie and bring them up on charges of misconduct.”

Isidore was shaking his head before Garrett even finished the sentence. “No, that would just make things worse. Besides, it’s not like I blame them. They have a right to be angry.” He lifted his face and stared into Garrett’s eyes. “So do you. Why aren’t you? I carry some of the blame for this, I do. I let him in, I helped kill Commander Freeman and put Wyl into Regen and hurt so many other people, and your father was hurt by the same people, fuck, Garrett…why aren’t you angry?”

Garrett framed Isidore’s face in his hands. “Because I’m not,” he said softly. “Not at you. I’m not angry at you. I don’t blame you. I’m not angry. It’s okay.”

He didn’t have a chance to say anything else, because a second later Isidore’s mouth was attached to his, heads tilted and their lips locked like lovers. Isidore moaned into Garrett, clutched at him with heat and desperation and Garrett…

It felt good. God, it felt so good, the sudden need and passion, this feeling that the man he was kissing would suddenly die without him. It felt like something Garrett wanted, or that he should have wanted, but as good as it felt…it just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like Jonah, and that was what would have made it right.

Fuck me, I am fucking ruined for life. He was ruined for anyone other than Jonah, he actually was. Garrett was more than in love, he was living in a state of voluntary monogamy. Motherfucker.

There was no way that Garrett could push Isidore away, but he didn’t let himself go with him either. He waited for the kiss to end, holding Isidore but not really responding, and after a few more seconds Isidore fell back. His eyes were wet, but there was a wobbly, self-deprecating smile on his face. “Too little, too late, huh?”

“It’s not you,” Garrett assured him.

“Sure it isn’t.”

Isidore’s tear-damp eyes went wide a second later when Garrett smacked the back of his head.

“I understand the compulsion to wallow, sweetheart, but you’ve done more than enough of that. Seriously, it isn’t you. I just happened to fall for someone far far away, and as it turns out I seem to be incapable of falling, however briefly, with anyone else. It’s not you, but we do need to figure you out.”

Isidore leaned back, not quite far enough to leave Garrett’s arms but far enough to give them both some breathing space. His hands trembled slightly where they rested against Garrett’s hips, another place to stay connected. He still needed that connection, even if it couldn’t be intimate, and Garrett didn’t begrudge him that. “What is there to figure out?”

“What you’re going to do. You can’t stay here, that’s obvious.”

“Commander Sinclair looked into extradition procedures, but there are too many legal loopholes for me to be sent to another planet, and I can’t afford to send myself.”

“I’ll send you.”

Isidore blinked, somehow opening his wide eyes even wider. “You can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because…because you can’t! Interstellar travel is incredibly expensive, Garrett, and you can’t afford to…” He paused, and Garrett grinned at him.

“Yeah, actually I can,” he confirmed. “I have to admit, my first thought was just to bring you back to Pandora with me, but I don’t think that’s going to work.”

“No,” Isidore agreed with a slow, sad shake of his head. His hands tightened for a second on Garrett’s hips before he forced himself to let go, wrapping his arms tight around his own waist. “It wouldn’t. But,” he laughed a little, mostly to himself, “I really don’t have any idea…I mean, I’ve never been off of this planet. I’ve barely even been outside of this city. I have no idea how to live out there.”

“I have friends who can help you out,” Garrett promised him. He did, too. He had lots of friends from the occasionally-misbegotten days of his youth, friends with means and opportunity and who also owed him favors, and he was more than prepared to cash some of them to set Isidore up. “You’ve got skills, and there are plenty of people who would pay for them. You’d have to head to a planet in the central system because I know more people there, but the basics would be taken care of long enough for you to get on your feet. We’ll get you released, and the next step you take will be onto a freighter headed away from here.”

“Why?” Isidore whispered. “Why are you going to all this trouble? We never really spent much time together, and clearly there isn’t—I mean—” He gestured back and forth between the two of them. “So…”

Garrett shrugged. In truth he felt more than a little responsible for Isidore, seeing as he was the one who had introduced him to Wyl in the first place and set this chain of events in motion. That wasn’t what Isidore needed to hear, however. “It’s the right thing to do. And I always liked you, and Wyl likes you, and you’re a good person, so please stop looking for ways in which this isn’t going to be a good thing for you, because I’m determined that it will be.” Garrett smiled broadly, eventually coaxing an answering smile from Isidore. “You got it?”

“Yeah,” Isidore said after a moment. “I got it.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Hi there!

So, thanks to my conscientious readerwife I will definitely be posting the next part of Pandora before Friday, but this post isn't really about that.  This is a Real Life mini-rant, solely cathartic for myself since I know the person I'm mad at will never, ever read this blog.  I'm gonna give it a go anyway.


To the thieving douchebag who stole our 4-Runner's catalytic converter:

Are you fucking serious?  Do you not have anything better to do with your life than crouch beneath our twenty-two year old Toyota in the wee hours of the night, lying on your back in the darkness on cold and ice and trying to be sneaky while you hacksaw through the part of the car that keeps us from sounding like a motorcycle gang on the road?  Is the incredible after-market price of $40-150 really so enticing that you would go to that trouble and stick us with a huge bill right before Christmas?  Also, do you believe in karma?  Because I tend to lean that way, and given the way your life seems to be going I'm going to bet that eventually you're going to get pneumonia from lying on the cold cold ground, or cut yourself with your damn hacksaw and get sepsis or lockjaw, or get into a car accident and end up with me for a PT, at which point I will "accidentally" kick your crutches out from underneath you. You suck.

Sincerely, me.

I had no idea people even went after that kind of thing.  Stereos maybe, in a big city, but we live in Boulder!  Granola-friendly college town.  WTF?  Anyway, done now!  I'm going to go write about something I like instead.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pandora Pt. 27: 2 of 2

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Seven, 2 of 2: Action

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. This part is especially for my readerwife, who informed me that my lack of posting punctuality resulted in her battling the plague. Poor darling! Have some story and a nice hot cup of tea.


Garrett got Therese to help him find the parts and pieces he needed to get the maximum effect out of his upcoming confrontation. Putting body armor on felt strange—Garrett hadn’t worn it since he’d worked a job in a war zone almost twenty years earlier, and before that he hadn’t touched the stuff since his teens. But Miles had insisted that his son get combat mods and learn how to use them right, and that had meant practicing with the unsympathetic marine drill instructor that his father ordered to teach him and surviving several months’ worth of daily private lessons. By the end of it Garrett was screwing his instructor after every class, which made learning much more fun, but he wasn’t sad to say goodbye once the class’ tenure was over.

Learning how to fight as a kid didn’t mean that Garrett had any chance of lasting very long against Robbie, but he didn’t really have to last; that was the beauty of the armor. He just had to be there and moving around long enough to get the other man to open up. If he could have fucked the sadness and guilt right out of him Garrett would have considered it, but both of them had other commitments now and he knew that Robbie would never be with anyone but Wyl as long as Wyl was his, whether he was in Regen or not. It was just the way the man was wired.

Therese passed the word that Robbie was back just as Garrett got the last piece of armor locked into place. He put his cheat code into the programming, felt the locks between the joints strengthen and then looked over at her. “Thanks. Don’t let him leave, okay?”

“He said he would be in for several hours,” Therese replied.

“Even better.” Garrett twisted from side to side, testing the fit and flexibility of the armor before heading out of his father’s home and into the rest of the compound, the military section. The place was crawling with marines, and he got more than a few confused or disdainful looks as he walked along, but Garrett calmly ignored them. Just outside of Robbie’s office he was stopped by two guards.

“Commander Sinclair isn’t seeing civilians right now, sir.”

“That’s nice, but I’m not a civilian,” Garrett explained with a languid smile. “I’m the new political liaison for the governor’s wife, and there have been a few concerns raised over the legality of some of the action that Commander Sinclair is taking in his laudable and never-ending quest for the truth. My questions won’t take more than a few minutes of his time.”

“Your name, sir?”

The second marine rolled his eyes. “It’s Governor Caractacus’ son.” Moron, he added unspoken, but Garrett could read it in his body language. “Sir, I’m sure he’d be happy to meet with you at any other time, but Commander Sinclair specifically ordered that he remain undisturbed right now.”

“I appreciate that, but this matter really can’t wait for your commander’s next free minute, which I have the feeling won’t be until sometime next week,” Garrett replied. “He won’t be mad at you for letting me in, Corporal. I guarantee your safety.”

“I don’t think you can do that, sir.”

“Try me,” Garrett suggested winsomely. “If I’m wrong I’ll owe you a bottle of whiskey. The real stuff.”

“Great,” the corporal deadpanned. “That would give me something to drink when I get stuck with KP duty.”

“It’ll certainly make the time go faster,” Garrett promised him. The marine sighed and cast his eyes towards the sky, but he went ahead and opened the door. His fellow guard looked shocked and anxious, but Garrett just ignored them both and strode inside of Robbie’s office.

Well, what was now his office. It used to be Jane’s, and Garrett could tell. The walls were fuschia and the ceiling was cornflower blue, and neither of them were the sort of personal touches that Robbie had ever felt compelled to put into his work or living spaces. It was a big office, with a circular table surrounded by chairs, a desk and a large operational command projection laid out on one of the walls. Robbie was behind the desk, and when he looked up from his files and saw Garrett, his neutral expression didn’t change at all.

Well, it didn’t change to someone who wasn’t a connoisseur of everything Robbie, but Garrett had spent years learning to read the man. That tightening of the mouth meant anger, the barely-discernable squinch of the eyebrows was guilt, and the sudden relaxation of his fingers signified happiness, which Garrett was gratified to see. It didn’t show up in Robbie’s voice, however.

“Shouldn’t you be with Claudia?”

“She can live without me for a little while,” Garrett replied, sitting down in the chair across from his ex. Fuck, but Robbie looked tired. He even looked a little grayer through the temples, and that wasn’t supposed to happen with Regen charging your battery. “I thought I’d come by and say hello to you instead, since you seem to be avoiding the world.”

“I have work to do, Gare.”

“I know. I’m sorry about Jane,” Garrett said sincerely. “She was a brilliant person.”

“Yeah, she was,” Robbie agreed. He let his shoulders sag for a moment, showcasing how tired he really was. Robbie never let his guard down with people he didn’t implicitly trust, but even then it was rare.

“When’s the last time you slept?”

“I catch cat-naps,” Robbie said with a shrug.

“You should catch a real rest, in your own bed.”

Robbie’s jaw clenched for a moment. “I’d rather not.”

Garrett could see why he wouldn’t want to play shack up in his own place if it meant being alone. It was the same reason Garrett was reluctant to go back to his own apartment on board the Neptune. “Maybe when Wyl is up and running again.”

“Whenever that is,” Robbie said tonelessly, as though he didn’t know down to the minute when Wyl was expected to wake up. Liar. “What do you want, Gare? Because you’re not doing as good a job of mothering me as Claudia would, so if that was the purpose of this visit then she would be here instead of you.”

“I can’t just want to see you?” Garrett protested.

“Not under the circumstances.”

There was no beating around the bush with Robbie. “I want to talk about Isidore Cain.”

It wasn’t at all surprising that Robbie immediately sat back and shut down, the friend evaporating in the face of the military persona. “There’s nothing to discuss. Mr. Cain is being held as a matter of national security.”


“He has proven links to a terrorist organization, Garrett.”

“So what? I have proven links to suicidal psychopaths too, but that doesn’t make me one of them.”

“We’re still actively investigating all leads concerning the series of attacks on our forces,” Robbie continued as though Garrett hadn’t said anything. “Mr. Cain might not be a terrorist, but his connection to them is undeniable. He could be in danger from those connections if we were to release him into the general populace, or even into the larger prison system.”

Garrett gritted his teeth. “I get the protective custody idea, but Isidore shouldn’t be in prison at all. You know he had nothing to do with what happened here, or you’d have drawn and quartered him by now. He at least should have access to legal counsel.”

“No.” Robbie’s voice was implacable. “He stays where he is.”

“You’re being a real dick about this.”

“You can go now,” Robbie said calmly. “Give Claudia my regards.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No I’m not.”

Robbie’s eyes narrowed. “Yes. You. Are.”

Garrett pretended to consider it. “Ah, no. I really don’t think I am.”

“This is why you wore the armor, isn’t it.”

“I had been hoping it wouldn’t come to this,” Garrett said honestly. “But I’m not going to just let it go, either.”

“You’re asking to get hurt.”

“Oh, please,” Garrett scoffed. “You won’t really hurt me.”

“I could put you in the brig instead.”

“Good! Then I could talk to Isidore.”

Robbie sighed audibly. “You’re being a child.”

“No, you.” The cheat code that Garrett had put into his armor had given it more-than-human strength and resilience, and when he kicked the edge of Robbie’s desk, it slid back two feet and pinned Robbie to the wall. Wow. Garrett wondered for a second whether he should have turned the power down some, but after a second he didn’t have any time to consider it because Robbie was shoving the desk away, and his neutral expression had become furious. He was on Garrett in a second, picked him up and slammed him against the circular table a few feet away. Garrett heard the joints around his chest plate whine a little at the force, but they held. Good.

Garrett grabbed a chair off the ground beside the table and smashed it into Robbie’s back. Robbie barely even shivered, but it was enough space for Garrett to wrangle a little more distance for himself and to get a knee up between them. He used it to shove Robbie back and sprung up to his feet, then directed a fast thrusting kick towards Robbie’s midsection.

Robbie caught the kick and used it to throw Garrett onto the ground again. His hands automatically moved to break the ankle, and Garrett was glad he hadn’t neglected to attach any of the pieces of armor when he heard the ankle joint fixture snap into its furthest allowable configuration. Garrett grabbed one of Robbie’s feet and yanked, pulling him down to the floor. He punched him in the stomach and kicked towards his face, and when Robbie dropped his leg Garrett rolled off his back and didn’t hesitate, he just piledrove Robbie back into the table. Robbie managed to reverse them mid-throw and this time when Garrett hit the table, it broke beneath the force of his impact.

They beat on each other hard—not with abandon, because neither of them really wanted the other person to get hurt, but with intent. The chairs surrounding the table were splintered after a couple of minutes, but even when the two of them hit the door the guards didn’t come in. Garrett really did owe the one a bottle of good whiskey for going along with this.

It was hard, though. Robbie didn’t have on any armor but that just made him tougher to fight, because Garrett had to be careful while still not letting Robbie beat the ever-living fuck out of him. He had to push him just hard enough to start to break, but not to break entirely. He couldn’t let Robbie just work him over, though; if he did Garrett would just get thrown out and he’d be further than ever from reaching Robbie or talking to Isidore.

It was a fine line to walk, and Garrett was struggling to maintain it as the pair of them proceeded to trash Robbie’s office. The only thing they managed to stay away from was the tactical projection, and by the time Robbie was breathing hard Garrett was almost willing to take that out too, if it meant he’d survive another couple of seconds.

But then as fast as it had started, it stopped. One second Robbie’s hand was poised above Garrett’s face, ready to provide him with another black eye to match the one Garrett had already collected. The next second he was kind of collapsing, trying to fall in on himself and not being allowed to. Garrett fell down with him and a few seconds later they settled against the wall, Robbie with his eyes shut and Garrett sitting next to him, holding Robbie’s head against his chest. Robbie wasn’t the type of man who even knew how to cry, but Garrett could feel the tension releasing jerkily inside of him, resulting in sudden twitches and hitched breath.

“I only saw him once before he went under,” Robbie said after a moment. “I found Wyl in the motorcade and he was bleeding, there was blood everywhere and I had already seen what had happened to Jane. I went crazy looking for Wyl. I ignored people that I should have helped trying to find him and when I did, he wasn’t awake. And I had work to do, your father had been attacked and there were civilian casualties piling up out in the city… By the time I got back Wyl was in Regen. He didn’t wait for me.”

“It must have been really bad,” Garrett murmured, stroking back Robbie’s short hair.

“Bad enough. And I know Wyl didn’t mean it personally, I know that he can’t handle that kind of sensory stimulation without freaking out, but…well. You know.” Garrett just nodded, still stroking. “No Jane, no Miles, no Wyl. No one.”

“I’m here,” Garrett told him.

“For now,” Robbie sighed. “And it helps. Thanks, Gare. I think I needed this.”

“I’d say so,” Garrett agreed wryly, but he didn’t stop petting Robbie until Robbie finally pulled away, leaning his head back against the wall.

“I wasn’t joking about the protective custody thing,” Robbie said after a second. “People know who Isidore is and what his connections are. He’s gotten threats from both sides, Garrett. I’ve got a lot of marines here who are feeling vengeful, and none of his family members will come forward and claim him because they’re afraid of being targeted in the city, either by their neighbors or by the terrorists themselves. If I let him go he’ll end up dead, and if I let him into the legal system the first thing they’re going to do is get his status changed and have him transferred. I have a lot of things to deal with right now, but I’m not going to send this kid to his grave just because I don’t have time to work out a solution.”

“Then give him to me,” Garrett suggested. “Let me have him, as a pet project. I’ll get him taken care of and you won’t have to worry.”

“I always worry when you’re involved, Gare.”

“Well, you shouldn’t,” he retorted, “because I’m always perfect.”

“Liar. Why haven’t you talked to Jonah and Cody yet?”

Garrett scowled at the pointed non-sequiter. “Have you been gossiping with my stepmother?”

Robbie chuckled. “I know it’s hard to remember when she’s changing diapers, but Therese is still a marine, which means she debriefs me on what’s happening.” He turned calm if tired eyes on Garrett. “So what’s going on?”

“I just can’t talk to them right now,” Garrett said.

“That’s a dick move, Gare.”

“I’m not doing it to hurt them,” he insisted. “I’m doing it to keep myself from hurting, Robbie, which is exactly what will happen to me if I talk to Jonah and Cody right now. I need to be here, not there.”

It wasn’t the total truth, and the way Robbie was looking at him right now, Garrett knew that he knew that. Stupid ex-lovers and their stupid ability to read his stupid thoughts. But Robbie didn’t call him on it; he just shrugged after a second. “I’ll get you keyed in to see Isidore.”

“Thank you,” Garrett said earnestly. He kissed Robbie’s forehead, eliciting a smile from his friend.

“Whatever. Get out of here, Gare, and tell my marines they’re going to be on KP duty for the next week because of this.”

“Don’t be so mean,” Garrett scolded him. He groaned as he got to his feet, then reached down and helped Robbie up. “Go get some sleep, then come have dinner with us. Claudia is worried about you.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“be careful, don’t strain yourself with that.”

A final smack on the shoulder propelled Garrett towards the door with a smile on his face, even though it stung.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Writing Update, Story Excerpt

Hey there, darlins.

So clearly this isn't the next part of Pandora yet.  What can I say, its got Garrett and Robbie fighting in it and I have to get the mood just right or they stay angry at each other, which I just can't be having.  Instead, knowing that you all are a deserving and awesome group, I thought I'd share some of what's been consuming my writing time over the month of November.  Freaking NaNoWriMo.

Earlier this year I got a contract to continue the story I started with Opening Worlds, which was published by Storm Moon Press.  It's got to be a genuine novel, and so far I'm at 65k words and still going.  It features Jason and Ferran on Ferran's home planet and is going to be very cool once it's been beta's and edited and so on.  However, I'm going to give you a taste anyway.  Please keep in mind that this could totally change by the time the book is published.

And also, ps--there are times I wish I had a writing wife.  Someone to kick my tail into working on cool stuff who is not me and is not my husband, because he only reads what I give him.  He's good at it, but he doesn't solicit., poke, prod or trade stories.  My last writing wife left me when RL got tough, and I can't blame her. Fortunately I have some very encouraging readers (and Tiffany, I think I will do a revisit on The Captain's world next, even if it's just an interlude.  They've been neglected for too long.  Good idea.)

Okay.  Explanations and whining over.  Here's the first chapter of Changing Worlds.

Very much R-rated, people.  Don't like m/m lovin', don't read.


A month, Jason Kim reflected, was a very malleable amount of time.

As a child a month had been a near-interminable amount of time, it’s challenging length compounded by the fact that he lived on one planet, went to school on another, and that neither of those places had months that matched the Federation standard. He’d count down the days until he got to return to his parents’ house, only to realize that because of calculation errors he would be stuck in limbo for three days until the school’s shuttle schedule matched the way it should to get him home.

Once Jason entered the Academy, everything changed. Life revolved around the Federation time standard, a relic from Old Earth, twenty-four hour days and seven day weeks. Seven years of intensive training left him a capable military officer and an absolute adherent to the standard, and that was how he lived his life. One month passed the same as every other, and life was dictated by the mission, not by the prospect of leave or the chance to see family and friends. It was easy to let any idea of a personal life slide after his parents died, and he had always been most comfortable in his own company anyway.

Things didn’t change so much after he left the military. Jason immediately went to work for the Shimona cartel, specializing in transferring goods and passengers in a state of elegance. Jason had the kind of appeal they were looking for in a ship captain: he was attractive, he was efficient and he was impersonal. They needed someone who could be polite while maintaining his distance, who wouldn’t get distracted from doing his job. Jason was that person, even after he met Blake, even after they blended their lives together. Time might have passed more pleasurably, but it was still set to a steady, predictable beat.

Blake left and time became purely professional again, perhaps a little slower than before, but still filled. After a year, Jason had begun to feel like he had gotten a handle on the rhythm of the rest of his life. And then…then, Ferran had come aboard.

Suddenly a month was nothing, a tiny blip in the radar. Suddenly a month was filled with a whirlwind romance, ridiculously fast from Jason’s perspective. His passion for Ferran was consuming, moreso than he’d ever experienced before. Jason had no idea that so many of the emotions he’d been sure he could live without would come barreling back into his mind and body. Because there was a time limit on Ferran. Less than a month, from the time he boarded Jason’s ship, the Silver Star, to the time that he returned to his planet, Perelan, and reintegrated into his home society, so truly alien from a human’s.

Monotonous weeks turned into a conscious measure of minutes, and those minutes were spent memorizing, cataloguing and cherishing every bit of his lover that Jason could get. Ferran had been the first to say it, “love,” that fraught and frightening word, but he had meant it, and so Jason had felt relief when he said it back, even though their affection was destined to end in nothing. How could it not? Ferran was restricted to his home planet after his brief period of interstellar liberty, the fate of all male Perels, and Jason took a leave of absence and returned to his own home, alone, and emptier than he could ever remember being.

A lot could change in a month. Jason had found love like he’d never experienced and lost it all in less than a month. And now, less than a month after he’d given up hope, Ferran was back, he and Jason were for all intents and purposes married and both of them would be moving back to Perelan in the company of the Federation ambassador tomorrow, to begin training Ferran as a diplomat.

And Jason? He didn’t know what role he was going to play on Perelan, other than husband and resident alien oddity. To be perfectly honest, he didn’t really care. For the first time in a long time Jason was content to live in the moment, not because he had nothing to look forward to, but because he was happy. Really happy. The whole thing still felt slightly surreal.

“What about this?” Ferran asked, looking over at Jason from where he sat, cross-legged, in front of the closet. They were packing up the last of Jason’s belongings that would be brought with them to Perelan, and Ferran was incredibly inquisitive. It was fortunate that Jason didn’t have much of a capacity for embarrassment, because otherwise he’d have been constantly red. He’d had no idea his mother had kept so many of his childhood things. What Ferran was holding up now looked like a plaster imprint of Jason’s five year old hand.

“That can stay,” Jason said, carefully folding one of his favorite sets of casual clothes, made from actual silk and cotton. They wrinkled if he wasn’t careful with them. He set them into the case laid open next to his dresser.

“What is it for?” Ferran asked, setting his own hand curiously against the imprint. His fingers were long and milk-pale, capped with thick, blunt nails that were almost out of place on his otherwise delicate hands.

“It’s just a child’s gift,” Jason replied. “We made them in class one day. I thought my parents had gotten rid of that long ago, where did you find it?”

“In a box in the back,” Ferran said. “There’s a mask as well.” He pulled out a brightly-colored dragon mask, the lines almost perfectly colored in by a young Jason, who had been something of a perfectionist even then. Ferran put the mask in front of his face. “It’s very fierce, but a little hard to see out of.”

“Your eyes are a little bigger than mine,” Jason remarked, amused. Ferran’s eyes were easily twice the size of his own, with amber irises and large, dark pupils evolved to capture the light. Ferran pulled the mask away and grinned, and for a moment it was all Jason could do not to stop what they were doing and take Ferran to bed. Again. But they’d only been given a week for their impromptu honeymoon, and spending too much time lost in his lover was what was giving Jason a headache about finishing packing now. It wasn’t like he owned a lot of things. Packing was a task that should have taken half a day, max, but it had stretched out, slowed down and crawled to a halt as Jason let himself get lost in the reality of having Ferran with him again.

Forever, he reminded himself, turning back to the last of his clothing. We have forever now. I don’t have to count every second. But the anxiety in him refused to be soothed, and he abandoned the clothes in favor of joining Ferran in front of the closet. “What else is back there?”

“I haven’t checked yet,” Ferran said, but he looked eager to keep going.

“Let’s find out.” Jason reached back into the cedar-scented depths of the closet and closed his hands around a small cylindrical tube. He pulled it out. “These are mine, actually.” He barely remembered burying it back there only a year ago.

“What’s in it?” Ferran asked curiously.

Jason unscrewed the cap on the cylinder and pulled out a sheaf of thin films. “They’re pictures.”

“Pictures of what?”

“All sorts of things,” Jason said absently as he remembered back to why he had stuffed almost all of the pictures he owned into a tube and shoved them into the back of his closet like a petulant child. It had been an unusually turbulent moment for him, one of the few times when he let emotion carry him away into actions that weren’t logical. Instead of just getting rid of the pictures that bothered him, Jason had completely cleared house. Both his quarters on the ship as well as his home had been cleaned out.

“Do you mind looking at them?” Ferran was an empath, and he doubtless was picking up on the sense of resistance inside of Jason. These weren’t really things that he wanted to look at again, but he didn’t have any choice. He had no idea when he’d get the chance to come back to his childhood home, and apart from that he wasn’t a child any longer. He couldn’t hide from things that made him uncomfortable.

“It’s all right,” Jason said gently. “Let’s look at them.”

The first one was a black and white photograph of his parents. They were in profile, looking out from the balcony of their house at the crashing waves below the small, cliff-top colony of Jacksonville. They both looked stern, a little distant, but that was how his parents had always looked in pictures. You had to be with them to see the grace of his mother’s movements, or really tell that the lines in his father’s face came from smiles. They had been older than most couples when they’d had him, and he’d lost them far sooner than any of them had planned. He shouldn’t have hidden this picture away.

“My parents.” He handed the film over to Ferran, who took it carefully. His lover gazed down at the photograph with lively interest.

“You look like your father.”

Jason smiled. “Thank you.” He had always admired his father’s way with people, his inner strength and his calm demeanor. Any comparisons were, in his mind, favorable.

“What was his name?”

“Gary. My mother was Min-suh, but my father called her Minnie.” The next picture was a portrait of his mother, and Jason handed that one over as well. The one behind that was a candid photo of himself and Blake, and that…that wasn’t quite so easy to look at.

Ferran knew instantly. “This is your last lover?”


“How long were you together?”

“Just for a year.” Which was still the longest romantic relationship Jason had ever had, actually.

Ferran was quiet for a moment, then asked, “Does it bother you to look at him?”

“A little.” He didn’t want to lie to Ferran, and he suspected that the Perel would know if he’d tried to anyway. “But you should know about Blake. At the least you should know that he existed. He was out of my life for a year by the time you met me.” Jason put that picture, and the two behind it, back into the tube. “These ones can stay. I’ll take the other two, though.”

Ferran held the pictures of Jason’s parents side by side and admired them for a long moment. “We don’t have anything like this on Perelan. It’s considered disrespectful to make images of our loved ones, because it implies that we can’t hold them in our hearts without help. Remembrance of the past is important, but our historians do not like dwelling on specifics. I’ve only ever painted in the abstract.”

“You’re a painter?”

“It was one of the skills my mother thought it important for me to learn.” Ferran handed the pictures back carefully. Jason took them and set them back on the bed, filing this new information about his husband into the “to be explored” category. Jason wasn’t a painter but he had access to courses that Ferran might like, instructional holos and the means to buy any equipment that Ferran might need. Although right now there wasn’t the time to buy anything, and Jason knew for a fact that nothing was shipped to Perelan without express permission.

Jason reached back into the closet. After a moment of searching his hands closed on another cylindrical object, and he felt like groaning for a moment. More pictures? How many of those had he secreted away? But no, this time what he brought out brought a smile to his face. “I thought this was in storage on board the Silver Star.” He partially unsheathed the weapon and looked down at the short, straight blade. Still shining, still sharp. Just like he’d left it.

Ferran’s eyes went a little wide as he took in the sword. “You use this?”

“Not really,” Jason said, turning the sheathe over in his hands. It was painted with a flower pattern and coated with red lacquer, and the metal fittings were engraved with silver that was so tarnished it was almost black. “Swordsmanship went through something of a renaissance while I was going through the Academy. I learned fencing and kendo, and some Indonesian styles. This sword is actually Korean, and a lot shorter than the katanas that samurai used.”

“Who are samurai?” Ferran asked.

Jason smiled. “I forget sometimes how few movies you’ve seen. Why didn’t you go to any theaters while you were travelling around the universe?”

“There were other things to do,” Ferran replied, a mischievous look in his eyes. “Many other things. And alien films are one of the few things we’re occasionally granted access to on Perelan.”

“Well, tonight I’m introducing you to the archetype that is the samurai,” Jason said decisively. “Movies and popcorn, that’s the tradition.”

“I like your traditions,” Ferran smiled, wrapping his arms around Jason’s shoulders. “I liked celebrating your birthday.” It had been Jason’s birthday three days ago, and they had baked a cake, loaded it down with candles and spent the rest of the evening celebrating in a more intimate way. The kitchen was a place they both liked to be and Ferran was an excellent cook, far better than Jason even after so many years of learning it on his own. The white truffle cake was one of the few things Jason could make that Ferran didn’t already know how to improve upon.

“We’ll do the same for you when your birthday rolls around,” Jason promised, but Ferran shook his head.

“My birthday isn’t important,” he said, quietly but with complete assurance. “We never celebrate the birthdays of males on Perelan. Instead, each house celebrates the birthday of their reigning matriarch. It’s a feast day for the entire family. To celebrate my own birth would say to the others in my house that I was putting myself above them, and above where a sterile male should be stationed. I don’t mind it.”

Jason was inclined to insist that Ferran’s birthday was important and that they should celebrate it anyway, but he stopped himself. There was a lot he had to learn about Perel culture, and he didn’t want to make any assumptions before he had a chance to really sit down and talk with Giselle Howards, the Federation ambassador to the planet. She’d be able to give him a crash course in Perelan and its people without the risk of Jason offending his new husband.

“What is it?” Ferran asked, curling in even closer. He tended to cuddle when he thought something might be wrong. It wasn’t a habit that Jason felt like breaking, either. He liked the fact that for the first time in a long time, someone wanted to be close to him. Not just wanted, but needed to be close to him. The intensity of that emotion was something that Jason was still adapting to, but the more they were together the more he grew accustomed to letting himself need his husband back.

“Nothing that can’t wait,” he said after a moment. “Come on. Samurai movie time.”

In the end Jason chose the movie Samurai Fiction, an Old Earth classic and a far less violent example of the genre than some of what he had to pick from. There was plenty of fighting to keep it interesting, and enough discussions of personal honor and the Japanese class system that it would give Ferran a good beginning.

It was definitely violent enough for Ferran. “Is killing really so casual for humans?” he asked a little tentatively at the end of the movie. Jason ran a soothing hand down the feathery, amber-tipped quills that ran the length of Ferran’s spine and over his head. They tended to get sharper when he was upset or confused, and at the moment they were standing nearly on end.

“Not really,” Jason replied. “It’s just a movie. People watching it know it’s just for entertainment.”

“Why is death so entertaining?”

Jason stared at a piece of popcorn that had fallen to the floor and considered the question for a moment before answering. “Death is…mysterious. For some people death is the utter end, for others it’s the beginning of a new way of life. Everyone has a different opinion on death, but the one thing we know for sure is that there’s no definitive explanation for what happens after you die that everyone agrees on.

“The ability to kill another person can be seen as a good thing depending on who does the dying, or it can be a skill that makes other people consider you a monster. It all depends on what you decide to do with that ability. And a person who can face the prospect of death with calm and acceptance…it’s captivating, in its way. Admirable.”

Ferran listened to the explanation with his head cocked, disbelief clear in his eyes. “Perels think of any death other than old age as something shameful, something to be avoided at all costs.” His beautiful, expressive face was somber, and his ears were flared back, a sign of discomfort. “After our civil war, with so many of us dead or wounded, it became clear that we had taken our ability to destroy life too far. It was unsure for a time whether our species would even survive. All lives are to be treasured, even those who have little to offer their houses or society at large. Unnatural deaths are very rare, and suicide is one of the worst things a Perel can do. It brings shame on an entire family.”

“Like your brother?”

Ferran nodded. “It’s one reason that my petition to be trained as a diplomat was taken so seriously, even though I’m only a sterile male. There’s a flaw in my breeding, and the matriarchs thought it was possible that I might kill myself if they denied my petition.” Ferran took in Jason’s expression and hurried to add, “I didn’t lie when I told you before that I wasn’t going to kill myself, though. I would never do that. It is the ultimate expression of hopelessness, and I was never without hope.”

“Good,” Jason said firmly, leaning in and capturing Ferran’s lips in a kiss. The Perel seemed to melt against his body, warm and lithe and pliable, and Jason pulled him closer, framing Ferran’s smooth, pale face with his hands and opening up to his lover’s rough, questing tongue and the hungry little purrs that accompanied it. Before they had technically gotten married, Ferran had let Jason do all the driving when it came to their sex life. Now that he felt more secure, Ferran was occasionally reaching for control, taking it and giving it back to Jason as they gently dueled for dominance.

“It’s our last night here,” Jason said around their kiss, barely able to spare the breath to get the words out. “What do you want?”

“You.” It was what Ferran always said, and it was so full of truth and need that Jason couldn’t help but hold him a little tighter, and pull him a little closer.

“In our bed?” he whispered, nuzzling the pulse point beneath Ferran’s jaw before he bit it, very lightly. Ferran shivered in his arms.

“Wherever you want me,” Ferran breathed. “Anywhere, any way you want me.”

“The bed, then,” Jason decided, standing up and drawing Ferran up with him. They had already christened every room of the house, including the butterfly pavilion and, during a rare moment of good weather, the balcony. He wanted their last night to be one of comfort and closeness as opposed to fast and furious, or in the case of the garage, practically acrobatic.

They kissed their way back to the bedroom, so absorbed in each other than Jason didn’t remember the photographs he’d left out on the bed. Ferran reached out and moved them to the dresser before they could be crushed, and a moment later they were lying on the bed against each other.

Perels were physically similar enough to humans that it had never been a challenge for Jason, physically or mentally, to be intimate with Ferran. The challenge had come in being emotionally ready to involve himself with a race of people who were renowned for their sexual appetite. That was the most that the majority of people ever learned about the few Perels that were allowed off their planet, and it was initially enough to put Jason off of getting close to Ferran. He hadn’t counted on his second in command conspiring to force him to socialize, and he’d soon learned that there was a lot more to Ferran than simply sexual hunger.

Which wasn’t to say that there was anything wrong with Ferran’s hunger when it was focused on Jason. Ferran twined his slender, strong legs with Jason’s and pulled them tightly against each other, their erections rubbing tantalizingly through the thin cotton pants that they both wore. Jason had a shirt on as well but Ferran was bare-chested, which he always preferred as long as it wasn’t too cold. His skin was so warm…

The urge to strip them out of their clothes and just rut until they came was strong, but Jason wanted more than sex tonight. “Let me touch you,” he said softly, stilling the rhythm of Ferran’s hips with one hand as he caressed the length of his lover’s thigh. Ferran was panting quickly, his chest rising and falling in short bursts, but he nodded his assent.

Jason started at the too, stroking a hand carefully through the quills on his lover’s head, feeling them quiver under his fingers and switch from soft to sharp, soft to sharp. When they were sharp, they were almost edged enough to cut the tender skin of his lips, so Jason left the touch to his toughened hands and winnowed his fingers through the thin, straight strands. Short and blunter at the edges of Ferran’s face, the longest quills along the top of his head and the nape of his neck were almost six inches in length.

Jason trailed his fingers down a cluster of quills just behind Ferran’s ear, pausing there to gently scratch the tight skin. Ferran purred and turned his head into the touch, the rigidness of his desire relaxing some as he got into the comfort that Jason was offering. Ferran’s ears slanted back against his head, crinkle-edged and tufted with a wisp of amber hair. They were adorable, and incredibly sensitive, but Jason knew that Ferran was sensitive about the things that spoke most loudly to the differences between him and Jason, and that sensitivity sometimes made him self-conscious. For a moment Jason wondered exactly how much his new husband was working to be sensitive to human culture, perhaps to things that even Jason wasn’t noticing, but then Ferran mewled needily and nuzzled against Jason’s throat, redirecting his attention back to the now.

Jason kissed over Ferran’s closed eyelids, so thin they were almost transparent, their lashes long and dark. He kissed his pointed nose and the tip of his sharp chin before losing himself again in Ferran’s mouth. God, his lover could kiss. His tongue was long, and rougher than a human’s, but Jason never came away from Ferran’s embrace feeling raw. Jason’s tongue delved into Ferran’s mouth in turn, cautious over canines that were marginally longer and sharper than a human’s. Perels could be omnivorous but preferred vegetarianism, by and large. One hand cupped Ferran’s neck, fingers burrowing into the quills there while the other kept moving against Ferran’s side, brushing over the edge of his abdomen before skirting back to safer territory.

They broke apart long enough for Ferran to murmur, “Jason.” His voice was dark and throaty, almost a growl.

“Let me,” Jason replied, trying to stay on track with what he had in mind. He wanted, no, he needed to ground himself in Ferran tonight, touch every bit of him, feel the reality of him. Everything else was about to change. Ferran had to be familiar, he had to become the basis of Jason’s sense of home now.

Ferran whined faintly but acquiesced, and Jason continued his steady march down his lover’s body, kissing and licking at his throat, tormenting each new set of nipples as he worked his way down Ferran’s chest. The skin was slightly darker around those, a flush of pink against unrelenting paleness. Even on the tender skin of Ferran’s stomach the tissue was thicker than a human’s, more resistant to scratches and tears. The only place his skin truly softened was over his eyes, and…

Jason undid the tie on Ferran’s pants and pulled them down and away, leaving his lover nude. The head of his erection was bright red and flowing with milky fluid. It glistened against the length of it and pooled at the base, no hair to get caught in. Jason liked being able to see everything. He licked the head once, gently, just enough to get a taste before moving down the bed.

Ferran whined again, louder this time, but he didn’t reach for himself, or reach to redirect Jason back to his cock. He pulled his knees back and shuddered when Jason kissed the insides of his thighs, stroked down over the long, taut muscles of his calves. Ferran’s toes were long, exceptionally so as compared to a human, and his feet had high, spring-like arches. His toenails were black and thick, protective, and Jason spared a moment to kiss the biggest nail on each foot before he finally began to slide back up Ferran’s body.

God, he was leaking, flowing so much it almost looked like he was coming in slow motion. Perels, Jason had learned, produced a lot more seminal fluid than humans did, and their bodies made use of it. Jason ran his fingers through the liquid that had collected against Ferran’s balls, which were drawn hard and tight against his body, then ran them back underneath his lover until his slick fingers probed at Ferran’s entrance. His lover relaxed immediately, welcoming the press, the rich fluid acting as a perfect lubricant. Gathering a little more, Jason pushed his fingers back inside as he lowered his mouth onto Ferran’s cock.

His husband came quickly, keening, the build-up too much for him to resist. Hot sperm filled Jason’s mouth to overflowing, and he swallowed quickly. It tasted more bitter than a human man’s, musky and thick, but Jason swallowed again and again, addicted to the flavor. When it was clear there would be no more, Jason gently let go of Ferran’s swollen, sensitized organ and moved to pull his fingers out.

“No,” Ferran pleaded, clenching him tight. “Be in me.”

“I will,” Jason promised. “Give me a moment and I will.” As soon as Ferran nodded and relaxed he sat back, pulling off his shirt and pants with more haste than he normally did, even if they were making love, and threw them onto the floor. A second later he was pressed against Ferran again, their bodies perfectly matched, and then Ferran drew his legs back and rolled his hips and suddenly it was impossible not to slide into him.

Hot, so hot, so slicktightperfect…and God, Jason was going to come in a second if he didn’t control himself. He leaned back on his arms a little bit, putting some distance between himself and Ferran. It didn’t help. The low lights made his lover’s eyes look like they were glowing, and Ferran’s hands were everywhere, stroking down his chest and over his shoulders and urging him on. After a moment he gave into the urge, pulling back and then stroking in with more and more force until Jason was gasping for breath, his whole body was burning with tension and he knew that he was on the cusp of exploding, and all it would take was a look, a word, a movement…

“Jason.” One word, one look that he couldn’t even understand when there was so much there to see, and Jason flew apart, burying himself in Ferran and coming so hard that his vision dimmed and his hearing went fuzzy. Everything seemed to be quivering, from his hair to his toes, and it took everything he had left not to black out and collapse on his lover.

Ferran knew, of course. He was an empath, he felt Jason’s emotions, and his ability to feel them was becoming stronger the closer they became. He held Jason close, cradling him against his body but not suffocating him, giving him the space he needed to catch his breath. It took minutes, and every minute was a gift, every second was a blessing. He breathed out and Ferran breathed in, drinking in his exhalations and purring with pleasure.

It was frightening, how much Jason was beginning to crave the closeness he had with Ferran, how much he was starting to need him. The love hadn’t been nearly as hard for Jason to reconcile as the growing understanding that he was becoming genuinely dependent on someone else for the first time since he was a child. He’d been part of a team, he’d been in relationships but all of those had paled in comparison to what was happening to him now, and he was both glad and anxious about that.

Eventually Jason came back to himself enough to get up. He went into the bathroom and got a clean washcloth, wet it and came back to find Ferran curled on his side, his huge eyes at half-mast, gazing in his direction.

“I am also nervous.”

Ferran’s sudden confession took Jason a little by surprise, and he raised an eyebrow as he scooted close enough to begin to wipe his lover clean. “Why are you nervous?”

“I want you to be happy on Perelan.”

“I will be happy,” Jason promised. “I’ll be with you.”

“Yes,” Ferran said, but that was all he said, and Jason was learning to hear his new husband’s silences as well as he did his words.

“I said forever,” Jason told him, smoothing a palm over damp skin. “I meant it. I don’t expect it will all be easy, but we’ll learn how to deal with that.”

“I believe you.”

“As well you should,” Jason said, trying to lighten the mood a little. “Or didn’t you know that I’m always right about these sorts of things?”

“That’s not what Florence told me,” Ferran countered, referring to Jason’s former second in command on board the Silver Star. She had been keeping in touch with both of them, sending brief text messages to their communicators almost daily. She managed to make them laugh more often than not, very frequently resorting to ancient idioms that Jason had to explain to Ferran, or jovial commentary on what she considered Jason’s many amusing traits. Her last text to Ferran had read, Suggest installing a low-intensity shock button to use when you go out on the town with him. Wished for one many times myself. Might prompt him to use his words.

“Flo is biased against me, you know that. She thinks I have no social skills.”

“She’s wrong about that,” Ferran agreed with a smile. “You’re very sociable with me.”

“You see? You can’t listen to her.” Jason leaned in and kissed Ferran, and let his lover’s insistent hands keep him drawn close instead of getting up to clean the clothes from the floor like he’d intended to. Jason was well and truly exhausted, and it didn’t take much time for him to fall asleep in Ferran’s arms, his lover curled possessively around his head and shoulders.

Jason woke up in a cold sweat sometime before dawn, his breathing fast and his heart pounding so hard it felt like it might beat out of his chest. The nightmare that had woken him was dissipating quickly, leeching from his brain like an evaporating mist but leaving behind a dark, sticky residue. The urge to scream, caught by his tight jaw and clenched teeth, slowly receded, and eventually Jason was left exhausted but absolutely unable to get back to sleep. He glanced over at Ferran, still curled close to him, still asleep. Well, that was a mercy. He didn’t want to have to explain to his lover what was going on with him. Not that he knew himself, exactly.

Moving slowly, Jason eased out of the circle of Ferran’s arms and off of the bed, grabbed a robe that hung on the back of his bathroom door and slung it on, then walked quietly into the living room. He stood at the door that led to his balcony and stared out into the darkness, just barely able to detect the violent crashing of the waves far below. Lightning cracked through the sky, streaks of silver and gold in dark indigo clouds. Beautiful. Frightening. Sort of like what was happening here.

In his most ruthlessly practical moments, when he was alone, Jason contemplated what he’d gotten himself into with a certain amount of grim resignation. He was going to be the first human being given intimate access to an alien world, an alien world that humans didn’t honestly know very much about. He was going there married to a highly-ranked member of that society, from what Jason could tell, but also a relatively powerless one. Infertile males were used as bargaining chips by their mothers, traded to other families to be caretakers and homemakers. Ferran was the first one to be allowed to pursue a different path, but there were probably whole labyrinths of political issues driving that decision that Jason knew nothing about, much less how he fit into the grand scheme of things. There was no doubt in his mind, though, that his presence among the Perels was entirely calculated.

Jason didn’t doubt that Ferran loved him. His new husband was as innocent a creature as Jason had ever seen in some ways, barely old enough to be considered an adult by his own people. He and his cousins had been on the verge of completing their post-adolescent tour of the ‘verse, were actually headed back to Perelan, when he and Jason had met. The depth of deceit that it would take to fool Jason into falling for him was beyond Ferran, not to mention that had snaring a human partner been premeditated, Ferran could have done a hell of a lot better. Gone for someone with more money, more power, more connections. Jason was a loner and always had been, and there was no lack of infatuated humans waiting for the first hint of something more with the attractive aliens to catapult them into love.

Instead Ferran had fallen in love with Jason, and he had risked a great deal to be with him. The proposal had come through Ambassador Howards, the Federation’s representative to Perelan, not from Ferran himself, and there had been no assurance that Jason would agree to a marriage. But in the end Jason had agreed, and for the next year at least, he and Ferran were legally bound to each other. There was still a lot to work out about that: how they would need to conduct themselves on the planet, how Jason’s actions would reflect on Ferran, even what Ferran’s duties within his own house would be now that he was no longer a viable bargaining chip. All his worth, all his beauty and gentility and intelligence had been spent on catching Jason, and Jason wasn’t at all sure that he was going to prove a worthwhile investment.

He hadn’t had a nightmare for a long time. As a child they were night terrors, leaving him upright and screaming, unable to see or hear as his mother tried to calm him. His parents had refused drugs and therapy, his father instead opting to teach Jason meditation and other methods of self-control. They had eventually worked, and he’d become very adept over the years at blocking or burying the things that made him uncomfortable. Only occasionally was it so bad that those things manifested as nightmares, but it looked like now was going to be one of those times.

Uncertainty, doubts of his own self-worth, fear of leaving the simplicity and structure of everything he knew for the mystery that was Perelan…Jason had a lot to be afraid of. He closed his eyes for a moment and breathed in deeply, letting the air circulate through the lowest parts of his lungs before emerging as a faint hiss through his teeth. He needed to handle this. And privately, because the last thing his new husband needed at the moment was insecurity from Jason. Ferran was going to be dealing with a lot once they got back to Perelan. Jason couldn’t add to that stress. Silently he promised himself to take up daily meditation again, to work kata and other exercises that were comfortingly mindless, physical movements that would ground and occupy him. He could handle this on his own. He would have to.

Jason opened his eyes again and sighed. The very edge of the horizon was limned with violet, signaling the beginning of dawn. Ambassador Howards would arrive in less than three hours to take them away in her ship. Jason glanced around his house, his eyes lingering on the hardwood floors and handmade cabinets, the simple, comfortable furnishings and soothing earth tones. There was a neat stack of containers by the door that contained everything he was taking with him to Perelan. Well, almost everything.

Jason turned and headed back into the bedroom. If he couldn’t sleep, the least he could do was finish packing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pandora Post # 27, 1 of 2

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Seven, 1 of 2: Reactionary

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. I know this is a short post, but I had to get something up before Thanksgiving or feel like a total bum. The second half of this part is almost done and will be up shortly. Longer too, I’m thinkin’.

PS-Happy Thanksgiving! Wait…what will I do without turkey cooked in a dutch oven?


Garrett tended to take most things in stride following his lengthy stay in a rehabilitation clinic as a teenager. The part of him that responded with the strongest emotions, the part that was responsible for real outrage and unspeakable joy, that part had been dulled to calm his brain and level his mood. Garrett still enjoyed a good fight and recent events had shown that he could still be depressed when the tragic or the unexpected hit, but for the most part he considered himself remarkably even-keeled. So experiencing real shock and surprise wasn’t something that happened very often, and after the last few weeks he’d had he didn’t expect to experience any more unless something miraculous happened.

It didn’t end u being miraculous, but what Garrett found out was a hell of a surprise.

He was eating breakfast with Claudia when he got the news. Therese was cutting up fresh fruit at the counter, Claudia was sipping tea and watching with amused eyes as Garrett tried to feed Renee from a bottle.

“She’s squirmy,” he muttered, trying to get the nipple to her mouth but missing and hitting her cheek instead as she wiggled in the cradle of his arm.

“She’s hungry,” Claudia corrected with a grin. “She feeds from a bottle all the time, Gare, you can do this.”

“It’s not the feeding, it’s the holding and feeding simultaneously,” Garrett said, trying and missing Renee’s mouth again. She wailed and waved her arms. “You’ve either got to hold still for this, honey, or we’ve got to get some tie-downs.” Finally he got the nipple to her mouth and relaxed as Renee started to suck voraciously. “Damn, you are an eating machine, aren’t you?”

“Garrett,” Claudia chided him gently. “Come on, it can’t be that surprising. Don’t you feed Cody?”

“Cody is six. I can call up a meal for him and sit by and watch him eat it and yeah, he too is an eating machine but I don’t have to do the feeding. Except for cutting things up into bites, sometimes.”

“He sounds like a good kid.”

“He’s a great kid,” Garrett agreed. The last time he and Cody had had breakfast it had been just the two of them; Jonah had been on shift, flying shuttles inland. They’d eaten waffles delivered from the ship’s kitchen and tried to balance their forks together over the top of a bottle. Things had been strained between the adults but Cody was happily oblivious, and the ease that Garrett had interacting with him was a palpable relief. Cody was so easy. So happy.

“You miss him? You could call them,” Claudia offered.

“Not right now,” Garrett said. “Later.” Later.

“Are you sure? I bet it would do you good to see a friendly face.”

“It would,” Garrett said. Then, just to be an ass, he continued, “Like Isidore. Does he still work here? I haven’t heard any mention of him for a few months.”

When he looked up from Renee, Garrett was surprised to see Claudia’s complexion draining to a pallid white. “Oh…oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you…I thought you knew, but I shouldn’t have assumed that.”

“Tell me what?” Garrett’s stomach twisted uncomfortably. He wasn’t in love with Isidore, but he did like him. “Is he dead?”

“No…no, Gare, he…Isidore is a suspect.”

This time Garrett’s stomach dropped clean out of his body with shock. Isidore Cain was a suspect in a terrorist attack? Adorable, gentle, ridiculously appealing Isidore? Whom Garrett had recommended to Wyl as a mechanic? No fucking way. Apart from all the other reasons, Garrett’s ability to judge people could not possibly be that bad. “He’s a suspect? Claudia, Isidore is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. He is not the kind of person to smuggle explosives into the governor’s military base and blow up his fucking motor pool!”

“Language,” Therese said severely, and came over and took Renee and the bottle out of his arms. She left the kitchen and left Claudia shifting in her seat, not really meeting Garrett’s eyes.

“No, it’s not that he did the blowing-up himself, but he let the person in who did,” she continued. “The cameras showed that it was his cousin. Isidore let him into the compound because he said he was delivering parts for a custom bike that Isidore and Wyl were putting together in their spare time. But instead he had a bomb, concealed in the machinery so the surface scans at the gate didn’t see it, and he set it next to the generator. He was killed in the explosion.”

“I do remember that.” Claudia had left him a message detailing that part while Garrett was engaged in his mad dash back to Paradise. “But that doesn’t mean that Isidore had anything to do with his cousin’s insanity. I can’t believe it.”

“I know.” Well, huh. Garrett had been expecting a bit of a fight about that. “I mean, I know Isidore, Gare, and I don’t think he had any involvement other than letting his cousin inside. But his father’s half of the family has a lot of ties to the resistance, it was one of the things that bothered Jane about hiring him in the first place but Wyl talked her into it.

“Once Robbie made the connection, he put Isidore into a holding cell. I know that he’s talked to him several times, but Isidore hadn’t been released yet. Robbie wanted to hold him as an enemy combatant.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Garrett pushed to his feet, anger surging through him. “If Robbie questioned him, then he’s already gotten everything he possibly can out of him. Robbie’s interrogations could make a robot beg for its maker and Isidore isn’t a criminal, he wouldn’t try to lie. He wouldn’t want to. He should be let go. He should at least be given legal counsel.” Garrett paced back and forth for a moment, then whirled to look at Claudia again. “I need to speak to him.”

“The guards won’t let you in, Gare,” Claudia said with a sigh. “They’re under orders not to.”

“Then I need to talk to Robbie. He gets back in today, right?”

“Garrett…” Claudia sighed, stood up and came over to him, placing a hand on his arm. “It was chaos. Robbie had to take control and fast, and Wyl had been injured and he was put almost immediately into a Regen chamber, you know how much harder he experiences everything and he just couldn’t take it. They barely had a chance to speak before Wyl went under, and everything was just…it was very hard, Gare, and it’s still so hard for Robbie.”

“I get that, Claudia, but that isn’t an excuse for him being an idiot.”

“You have to be kind, Garrett.”

“I plan on being kind, honey.” Garrett squeezed her shoulder gently before turning and heading towards his room. With Robbie, though, kind could mean giving him a swift kick in the ass, literally. To get away with that, Garrett had to be prepared.