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.”
“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.”