Sunday, August 21, 2011
Pandora Post #22
Part Twenty-Two: The First “R”
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. Lots of satisfactory plot furthering in this one, I hope!
“So, what exactly is wrong with the vidscreen?”
“Power issues,” Garrett told Wyl casually. “There was a surge here that blew a lot of things out. Repairs are going pretty slowly.”
“Is everyone okay?”
Garrett smiled wryly to himself. “As far as I know.”
“Who’s place are you at? The call address that came up on my screen was different from usual.”
“I’m at Jonah’s.”
“Oh, really?” Garrett could hear Wyl’s eyebrows raise. “’At’ as in staying there on a semi-regular or even more permanent basis, or ‘at’ as in your own screen just isn’t working?”
“Living with him…for the moment.”
“Sounds special. And serious. It sounds especially serious.”
“It’s just for the time being.”
“Hey, whatever works for you. Just don’t do the Prince Charming thing, Gare,” Wyl warned.
“That thing where you’re perfect and awesome and then take off without so much as a glass slipper for a keepsake.”
“I think you have me confused with Cinderella.”
“Is it true confusion?” Wyl mused in a pompous tone of voice. “Or is it simply a more accurate retelling of the fairy tale?”
Garrett frowned. “I think your Symbolism in Ancient Literature class is rotting your brain. Why literature, anyway? Why not study engineering?”
“Because I can already do all the engineering I need to,” Wyl replied. “Why should I get a degree that will just give me a piece of paper saying I can do what I already know I can do? It’s useless. Whereas I’ve got a lot to learn about Ancient Literature and I like it. Robbie likes it too. There’s some amazing stuff that was written thousands of years ago.”
“If you say so,” Garrett said, with just the right amount of snide condescension in his voice, he thought. He waited for a second.
“You are such a dick.”
“I know,” Garrett grinned.
“I’m flipping you off right now, Gare, I hope you realize that.”
“I’d be disappointed if you weren’t.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Save the snark for when you can give it to me face to face. When the fuck are you coming back to visit, anyway? It’s been over six months. You could come for when the baby is born, Miles and Claudia would love that. You’d have to get here pretty fast, though.” Wyl’s tone shifted to sly. “You could bring Jonah and Cody with you. Everybody here wants to meet them. Claudia’s beside herself about it, but I’m sure you know that.”
“Yeah.” Garrett had talked to Claudia just a few hours earlier. It was mostly him listening, but she’d been very excited about the prospect of meeting Garrett’s significant other, complete with kid. “It sounds like things are less intense over there right now.”
“Yeah, they are. It’s kind of creepy, honestly,” Wyl confessed. “There was fighting, there were terrorist attacks, there were kidnappings and then, about a week ago, it all stopped. Everything. We’ve barely had an armed robbery since then. Something’s going on and it’s driving Robbie and Jane kinda nuts trying to figure out what it is.”
“That’s…very disturbing,” Garrett agreed, his mind racing through scenarios.
“The bad guys could just feel like the risks aren’t worth it anymore,” Wyl offered hopefully.
“Terrorists thrive on risky situations. They simply make the risk reciprocal and far more damaging to the other side. Miles and Robbie have to worry about a large civilian population in addition to Federation troops. The terrorists have the advantage as long as they’re at large.”
“You sound like Robbie,” Wyl sighed. “Seriously, where’s the optimist in you?”
“The realist in me killed him a long time ago.”
“Damn. I’d hate to meet your inner pessimist.”
“Yeah, he’s a real bastar—” The door chimed as it suddenly swung open, and then Cody was in the room and Garrett was revising his vocabulary to something more age appropriate. “A very bad man, I mean.”
“Garrett!” Five fast footsteps were all it took for Cody to launch himself from the door to the couch. A small body impacted Garrett’s side and his breath left him with a sudden whoosh as arms tightened around his neck. “I got done with school early because Mr. Hugelin wasn’t feeling well today and the substitute teacher was in another class, so they had to let us go but they weren’t going to let me go because Daddy wasn’t home, but I told them you were here so they let me come home after all!”
“Oh.” The first week of Garrett’s convalescence had been a long, delightful stretch of near-solitude with Jonah, who sent Cody to stay with friends most afternoons once he was out of school until dinnertime. With Jonah’s help Garrett had weathered visits from all and sundry, including an awkward half hour with an utterly ashamed Martina that he’d been glad to get over with. In the end new safety protocols were designed for the lab and Martina had a reprimand put into her file, which Garrett thought was a little excessive but didn’t argue over. Jonah had fed him, comforted him, made him feel desirable and wanted and appreciated…and then the week had come to an end, and Garrett still had five days to go before his new eyes were ready to implant. And now Cody was home, and Cody didn’t know that Garrett was lying to Wyl about the vidscreen. Garrett needed to end this call, now.
“Family time, I get it,” Wyl said smilingly. “I’ll call you again soon. Sometime when Robbie can talk too.”
“Bye, Cody,” Wyl added.
“Leyton,” Garrett elaborated. “Mr. Leyton.”
“Bye, Mr. Leyton.”
“Way to make me sound like my dad, Gare,” Wyl muttered. “So yeah, bye. Hope the screen works next time.” Wyl ended the connection and Garrett breathed a sigh of relief that lasted until Cody turned in his arms to face him.
“Why does he think our screen is broken?”
Truth or lie, truth or lie…Garrett decided on something in between. “Because I told him the screen didn’t work so he wouldn’t get upset about seeing me injured.”
“Oh,” Cody said, a little more subdued. Warm fingers splayed gently against Garrett’s cheek. “Is he your family?”
“He’s in my extended family,” Garrett said. “Kind of like a brother, but we’re not actually related.”
“But you love him?”
“I care about him very much.”
“As much as my daddy?” There was no masking the hint of jealousy in Cody’s voice.
“No,” Garrett chuckled, “not nearly as much as your dad.”
“As much as me?”
“Not as much as you either,” Garrett said, and he was surprised to find that it was true. He loved Wyl and Robbie like brothers, but it felt different with Jonah and Cody. Everything felt different with them. Garrett was resigned to the fact that he’d fallen in love, he’d figured that out a little while back, but he was staunchly avoiding thinking about it right now. There would be time to sort all that out later.
“Good,” Cody said firmly. “Cause I like you a lot better than Jack even though Daddy said Jack’s my other real dad, but I don’t think he really liked me ‘cause he never came to see us except for a few times and after the last time Grandma said what the hell did Daddy expect after such a fuck-up, and then Daddy got really mad and that’s when we left the other place and went to Olympus.”
“Oh.” Never underestimate the capacity of children. Garrett reminded himself to be extra careful about what he said in front of Cody in the future. “That’s too bad.”
“But I like it more here anyway,” Cody finished. “Want to watch Space Rangers until Daddy comes home?”
“Do you have any homework?” Garrett asked.
“No…yeah. Just stupid reading practice,” the little boy muttered. “I hate reading.”
“Cause it’s too hard and I never get the words right, and I’m the only one in my class who hasn’t finished stupid See Spot Fly and I can’t, ‘cause it’s too hard.”
“See Spot Fly is one of my favorite stories,” Garrett confided. “But I can’t read it now because of my eyes. It would be really, really great if you could read it to me.”
“But I’ll mess it up!” Cody protested.
“You know, I think I remember some of it. I’ll help you with the hard parts.”
Cody sighed. “I really don’t like reading.”
“I know, but you’d make me really happy if you tried, just for me.”
Cody sat still and sullen for a moment, then slowly reached down towards the floor and the backpack that he’d left there. Moments later Garrett heard the boy’s tablet power up, and then Cody settled against Garrett’s side again and began, haltingly, to read the story. Garrett actually did remember enough about the children’s classic to help out, and by the time Jonah got home they’d read through it twice, and then Cody read it again for his pleasantly surprised father.
“Never thought I’d see the day,” Jonah commented as he got ready for bed that night. Cody was asleep and Garrett was already ensconced in what he was beginning to think of as his side of the bed. “Books have never really been Cody’s speed. He’s always preferred watching a movie or show to being read to.”
“Yes, well, I take full credit,” Garrett said with mock smugness. “Throw a little blind cachet in there and anyone will read to you, even a kid who moves at the speed of light.”
“Thanks.” Soft lips pressed a sudden kiss to the side of Garrett’s mouth. Garrett turned to get more, but Jonah had already withdrawn to finish getting undressed. “You’re good with him.”
“Well, better than Jack, at least.”
The sounds of rustling cloth stopped. “Cody mentioned Jack?”
“Briefly,” Garrett said.
“What’d he say?” Jonah’s voice was guarded, and Garrett was torn between saying nothing and relieving his lover or using the opportunity to dig for more information. Curiosity won out over discretion.
“He said that Jack didn’t really seem to like him, and it was after one of his visits that you and your mother had it out and you decided to leave.”
“Huh,” Jonah grunted after a minute. Garrett waited for explanation but it didn’t come. Jonah finished undressing silently, slid into bed and turned on his side away from Garrett. The silence couldn’t have been more deafening, and Garrett wasn’t going to put up with it.
He spooned in close to Jonah’s back and wrapped an arm around his lover’s stiff shoulders. “You don’t have to tell me anything about it, but don’t do this either,” Garrett said. “Don’t make this place uncomfortable for us.”
Jonah blew out a resigned sigh and relaxed fractionally in Garrett’s arms. “Didn’t think Cody even remembered that,” he said after a moment. “I’d hoped he didn’t. Cody and Jack only met a few times once he grew out of bein’ a toddler…Jack never knew how to handle ‘im.” Jonah laughed a little bitterly. “Not that I really gave him the chance to figure it out. We were together for close on to ten years when we decided to have Cody. Not a lot of facilities out there that will cater to Drifters, but we thought the one we’d found was pretty good. Before he was born we’d been told there’d be some issues, but we thought we could handle it. Then when he was all ready, and the doctors handed over our baby, and they told us he was a natural…” Jonah’s voice drifted off. Garrett moved even closer, plastering himself to Jonah’s back and rubbing a soothing hand over his arm.
“Jack lost it when we found out. Didn’t know what to do, didn’t know which way was up and which was down. The next thing I know he’s telling me we can’t take the baby, and I went a little crazy. Blew up and said he was an asshole and selfish and that he didn’t love either of us, and didn’t deserve to have a kid. I ended it between us, that very day, Cody’s first day. Didn’t give Jack a chance to apologize or come to terms with it. Didn’t give him a chance to get used to havin’ a kid at all, much less one with serious health issues. I was basically total shit at being supportive. It’s my fault Cody doesn’t know his other father, and it’s my fault Jack never learned to love our son.”
Garrett didn’t think he’d ever heard Jonah sound so brutally, bitterly frank. “You were in a state of shock,” Garrett said eventually. “Both of you were. You handled the situation much more responsibly, even if you were a little severe with Jack. You can’t blame yourself for that.”
“Can blame myself for a lot more than that,” Jonah replied, and now his voice was so soft Garrett almost couldn’t hear it. “I always wondered what would have happened if we’d waited for a more reputable clinic, for better doctors. Naturals don’t run in my family. Cody could have been born normal if I hadn’t been so goddamned impatient for him. My mama made sure I never forgot that. She didn’t really approve of two men havin’ a baby anyway, so this was like a sign from God for her.”
“Well, that makes your mother a bitch,” Garrett said firmly. Jonah stiffened in his arms but Garrett just held on and hoped he wasn’t committing a terrible faux-pas.
Jonah started to shake, and Garrett was becoming truly worried that he’d fucked up this night beyond repair. Then Jonah drew in a shaky breath, and after a second Garrett realized it was laughter, and not tears, that were making his lover tremble.
“Hell, Garrett…you can’t say things like that about a boy’s mama, even if they’re true.”
“Consider me duly chastised.” He kissed the back of Jonah’s neck, burrowing his lips through silky hair to the even silkier skin beneath it. “You’re a good man and an even better father. Cody is damn lucky to have you.”
Jonah’s responding chuckle sounded a little resigned. “Glad you think so, Garrett. Thanks for reading with him.”
“I was happy to do it,” Garrett told him. “I really was.”