Part Sixteen: Strangely Entertaining
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. Nothing dirty here, just good, clean, meteor-fighting fun! Enjoy, guys. Do keep in mind, these aren’t beta’d yet. Forgive me my mistakes, misspellings and misstatements. Oh, and incidentally, Happy Independence Day, Togo. The fireworks were a particularly nice touch.
The entertainment center on the Neptune was a huge compound next to the docking bay that held all the amenities of a small, modern metropolis. There were five different restaurants with designated chefs who guaranteed that what you ate would taste different than what you could order from the mess. There was a massive zero-grav chamber for people who needed job training or for those few insane enthusiasts who enjoyed zero-g handball, and a smaller gravity gymnasium for kids to play in. There was a nightclub, several bars and a specialty ice cream shop. There were also two movie theatres, one that catered to adults and another with all the bells and whistles of a children’s paradise, and that was the theater to which Garrett was hurrying now.
Garrett had fucked people who were parents before. He had even gone on dates with people who were parents before. But he had never gone on a date with a parent and their child at the same time, and his lack of previous experience bugged him. Did you dress up or dress down? Did you cater to the kid or give them some money and point them towards the arcade? Did you just gut it out and grit your teeth and hope the silences didn’t become too awkward? He had no idea, and he was unusually determined that this turn out good for everyone.
Garrett ended up dressing in a pair of casual dark jeans and a simple long-sleeved shirt with a mandarin flair. He styled his hair with a little gel, glanced at his chrono and called it good enough; he didn’t want to keep them waiting.
It took a little over ten minutes to get to the theater, and by the time he did his particular party was almost at the head of the ticket line. Cody saw Garrett first and started hopping up and down with excitement, and Garrett slipped into place next to them, ignoring the glare he got from the mother of five behind him. “Hi.”
“You made it.” Jonah sounded mildly surprised. “Kinda thought you weren’t coming.”
“Because you didn’t let me know you got the message.”
“I was in a rush to get ready and get down here.”
“Doesn’t take much time to make a call.”
“It doesn’t take much time to drink a cup of coffee either,” Garrett snapped, irritated by Jonah’s nitpicking. The other man flushed slightly and looked away, and Garrett immediately felt like a dick. There was no need to bring that incident up. He was saved from having to apologize by Cody taking up the reins of the conversation.
“See him?” The boy pointed at the neon-green space ninja on his shirt. “He’s Marco, he’s the green Space Ranger and he’s my favorite. Nala is the red, and she’s good too. The purple is John. John is kind of boring, but Nala has a pet monkey that fits in her spaceship and it wears a red suit too. Its name is Kiko.”
“Kiko the space monkey, got it,” Garrett said.
“Should be Cody the space monkey,” Jonah said, ruffling his son’s hair. He glanced at Garrett as he bought three tickets. “You ever been into a children’s theater before?”
“Not since I was a child, no.”
“I reckon they’ve improved some since then. You don’t get motion sickness, do you?”
“No…” Garrett replied cautiously.
“Good.” Jonah led the way through the old-fashioned revolving doors. They bought popcorn and sodas and then a holographic usher directed them to their seats, which were large and reclined. They all lay back and stared up at the dome-shaped screen above their heads. Cody was chatting a mile a minute and Garrett let the words just wash over him, not feeling quite up to making more conversation just then. He had been a dick outside. Jonah had a right to know whether he could plan on company or not, and there was no call to be as rude as he had been. He ate a tiny handful of popcorn and grimaced. What the hell was it flavored with, anyway?
“Not to your taste?” Jonah asked softly from where he sat. Cody was between them but the way the chairs swiveled, their heads were close together.
“It’s just been a long time since I’ve been to the movies. I’ve just got to get into the right headspace,” Garrett replied. “Jonah, I'm—”
The lights in the theater suddenly went down, and Garrett was forced to stop talking as the sound came on. There wasn’t really any other option. Space Rangers vs the Meteor of Death had a score that sounded like xylophones played by monkeys on crack, and the speakers were loud enough that it would have been impossible to get a word in edgewise. Then there were the lasers, all of which made a satisfying zing sound as they fired despite it being the depths of space with nothing for sound waves to resonate in, and to top it all off the wicked Meteor of Death had what sounded like a classic Transylvanian accent. Also, whoever had thought to anthropomorphize a meteor needed, in Garrett’s opinion, to be booted back to kindergarten-level natural science.
The chairs rocked and rumbled along with the action as the valiant Space Rangers duked it out with the fireball-spewing Meteor of Death. They managed to prevent it from crashing into the planet Earth, conveyed very fancifully as a modern-day Garden of Eden instead of the cesspool of pollution Garrett knew it to be, and then at the end of the movie the green Space Ranger and the red Space Ranger kissed, which got a lot of groans and yucky faces from the little boys in the audience.
The only saving grace of the entire movie experience was the moment when the Meteor of Death almost swallowed the red Space Ranger’s monkey. It was a scene fraught with tension, and Cody had gasped and grabbed onto Garrett’s arm with one hand, and his father with the other. That caused a sudden brief flood of something warm to flow through Garrett’s chest, and he was able to bear the vampire-wannabe Meteor and his zinging assailants with better composure after that.
They went and got ice cream afterwards. Garrett insisted on it, despite Jonah’s assertion that they hadn’t even had lunch yet.
“Lunch was popcorn,” Garrett said blithely, ignoring the fact that he’d eaten less than a handful from his bag.
“We’ll have a real lunch when we get home,” Jonah warned his hyperexcited son. “So just a small one.”
“One scoop or none, bucko.”
Cody ended up getting a scoop of strawberry swirl with rainbow sprinkles, Garrett got caramel vanilla bean, and Jonah, with a sly aside grin at his one-night stand, got coffee flavored. Cody finished first and darted across the hall to play on the nearest jungle gym. Garrett and Jonah sat and ate in silence for a moment, just watching him, before Garrett spoke up.
“Was that particular choice in venue a set-up to get me to leave you alone in the future?”
“What, you didn’t like the Meteor of Death?” Jonah asked, his eyes crinkling slightly as he smiled. “Nah, it wasn’t a set-up. Cody asked to bring you with and I didn’t remember until you got here that this might not be your thing, but I figured since you came anyway…” He shrugged. “It’s the only movie playing at the children’s theater until we land. Cody’s seen it twice already, but today is his day and so we do what he wants to do.”
Garrett licked a long, slow line around the edge of his ice cream, coaxing a patina of sweet chillness onto his tongue. “Even if what he wants includes inviting me to a movie.”
“Told you, Cody likes you,” Jonah mumbled, his eyes fixed on Garrett’s mouth.
“He’s a great kid,” Garrett offered, and he meant it sincerely. Bad taste in movies aside, Cody was gregarious verging on charming, and very cute. It would be almost impossible not to like him, and given Garrett’s persisting fascination with the kid’s dad, that was a good thing.
“He is, yeah,” Jonah said with a faint sigh. Garrett could almost see Jonah rein in a nascent lascivious thought .
“If he really likes movies, the next time we all get together you should come and visit the lab. I have a climate simulator that can do some amazing things.”
“Friendly, education-oriented visit to the science lab on your next day off,” Garrett interrupted with a casual wave of his hand. “Bring some of Cody’s friends if you really want to make a production out of it.”
“Lacey’s dad is a scientist,” Cody offered from just behind Garrett’s elbow. Both of the adults started in surprise at his sudden appearance. “Lacey says that her dad says that the lab is a great place to work as long as the—see, then she said a word that I can’t say but it rhymes with witch—isn’t looking over your shoulder. And then she said her dad said another word I can say, but it rhymes with bucking—”
“Good time to quit there, Cody,” Jonah interjected, getting to his feet. “And we need to get you some real food before the sugar makes you keel over.”
“Can Garrett come?”
“Not this time,” Jonah replied, to the disappointment of both of his companions. “But our next day off we’ll see him again,” he added. The glance he threw at Garrett was a little defensive and a little resigned, but more than a little interested. It was enough encouragement for Garrett, who grinned cheerfully back as they exchanged polite goodbyes, then watched the pair walk away.
A project. He had a project now, a personal project, and that felt good. Garrett had friends on board the Neptune but Jonah was the first person he’d felt more than an everyday kind of interest in. Tall, lanky, comfortable, gorgeous drifter-turned-colonist Jonah was someone Garrett could see spending hours and hours with. Hell, he already had, and as bad as that movie had been he wouldn’t have traded the time for anything. It eased the sense of detachment he’d been feeling after the trials and exertions of yesterday, and despite the Jonah’s reservations Garrett didn’t see any reason to deny himself someone he wanted, and who wanted him at least as badly.
A project. Perfect.