Title: Vignette: Tsunami
Part Three: Garrett's POV
It was cold, wet and dark. A perfect trifecta of discomfort. Garrett resisted the urge to cover his ears against the continual heavy pound of water on the bunker roof, and tried to ignore the crawling, itchy dampness of his clothes. They were designed to move water away from the skin, but when you were basically marinating in a frigid foot-deep puddle, there wasn’t much that could be done. A few feet away his pilot leaned up against the wall, closed eyes cast upward, a picture of misery. Her brown hair clung like limp seaweed to her face, obscuring her pale, square features, and the only noise she made was an occasional sniff. Garrett wanted to say something consoling, but there wasn’t any way he could approach that genuinely. After all, it wasn’t him who had mistimed things and lost the shuttle.
It wasn’t entirely LeeAnna’s fault either. The wave had come faster and higher than anyone had predicted, which stung because Garrett’s environmental modeling had been way off this time around. The colony’s single weather satellite was on the fritz, so it wasn’t reliable either, and by the time they’d made it out to the coastal lab the storm had taken out the closest communications array. There was no way to get back in touch with the Box, and so they’d taken refuge in the underground bunker, per emergency orders, and waited for the wave to pass.
Then things really got fucked up. LeeAnna didn’t secure the ship well enough to the landing pad, and the all-encompassing tsunami washed it away like a grain of sand. The bunker had withstood the wave, but not well enough to keep water out, and now there was the rain on top of that. Continual dripdripdrips of water splashed into the dank pool at their feet, an unsynchronized accompaniment to the gloom. It was so much like a scene out of obnoxiously atmospheric literature that part of Garrett was tempted to laugh. A small part, a jerky, perky part. The rest of him felt better being pissed.
“They’re never gonna let me fly again,” LeeAnna said suddenly, her voice quivering a little. Garrett didn’t know whether it was from the cold or her state of mind, but she sounded pathetic either way. “I can’t believe I lost an entire shuttle.”
“You’re not the first one,” he replied philosophically.
“No, I am!” she insisted, her voice rising a little at the end. “Danny just scraped the bottom of his on a landing, and yeah, it flipped, but at least there’s something left to repair. Mine is completely gone. Gone! Fuck, I should have stuck to sims and kept my job with the factory. They’ll never trust me again. Shit. Shit.” Her teeth were chattering now, and she wrapped her arms around her chest even more tightly.
An unhappy thought occurred to Garrett. “Are you a natural?”
“Why?” she demanded, suddenly angry. “What, you think we can’t be shuttle pilots just because we’re naturals? Think we can’t do the work, huh? Is that what you think?”
“No…” he said slowly, revising his words before they came out. Time to tread cautiously. “It’s just, it’s cold down here. There’s who knows what kind of bacteria in the water, and I don’t want you to get sick.” He forced a chuckle. “Hell, I don’t want to get sick either. We should conserve body heat.”
She looked suspicious. “Aren’t you married?”
Garrett rolled his eyes. “I’m not coming on to you, I’m cold. Just come here.”
LeeAnna pried herself off the wall, shivering too hard to really argue the point. She sloshed over to him and tentatively leaned in. Garrett took over and pulled her close, wrapped his arms around her and briskly rubbed her back. After a few seconds of stiffness she faded into his embrace with a quiet moan of relief, and he felt her muscles unknot in ragged jerks. And the movement helped bring up his own temperature a bit.
You’re not my type anyway, he snarked to himself. His type was hours away, someplace warm and dry, probably sleeping at this time of night. All alone in their huge bed…just the thought of Jonah sprawled out beneath their comforter made his chest tighten a little. Surreptitiously, Garrett checked his com. No signal. He hadn’t had a signal for hours.
It was the perfect storm. No way to communicate, no way to get out of here, and “here” was an absolute bitch. It wasn’t as though it was Garrett’s first time in a bunker; he’d played a part in too many of his father’s war games to be unfamiliar with bunkers, and the last time he’d been “kidnapped” he’d been held for three days. But that bunker had come with amenities, including entertainment and a bored, suggestible soldier who was more than happy to keep his “prisoner” occupied while they waited for the counter-assault. This bunker had none of the same attractions, and even if Garrett had been standing chest to chest with the sexiest man alive, he still wouldn’t have been compelled to do anything. That was monogamy for you, taking all the fun out of ways to combat boredom.
Hopefully Cody hadn’t been too upset when Garrett hadn’t come home. He was a smart kid, he knew the drill, but Garrett still worried. Hell, worrying was kind of his job now. He was practically a parent. Jonah would say that he was Cody’s parent, but Garrett knew that that wasn’t technically true. They weren’t married, after all, despite LeeAnna’s perception. The subject had never even been broached. Why the hell hadn’t it been broached?
Because Jonah is scared to push, scared to ask, scared to make any extra demands. Despite everything, Garrett knew his lover was still worried that he was going to take off. His ex had done a number on the man’s self-esteem, and no matter how many times Garrett told him he loved him and was staying, it still hadn’t sunk in. Jonah just smiled and kissed him, or changed the subject. The man was a master at avoidance.
And now here Garrett was, hugging a distraught, distrusting woman in the middle of nowhere while they waited for rescue, so tired and cold he could barely stand, wet in all the wrong places and chafing mercilessly. Perfect time to think about marriage; why not? It wasn’t like he was any stranger to crazy right now.
Honestly, Garrett had never considered getting married before, not even to Robbie. Marriage was an ancient institution that didn’t have the same social consequences these days; in fact it was more symbolic than anything. There were enough alternatives to marriage out there that most couples just didn’t bother. His parents had been an exception, driven by the old-world conservatism of his grandmother.
Still, marriage was just so…quaint. Partnerships were more common, and simple contracts even more so, but when he considered the options, Garrett knew that those weren’t going to cut it. A contract would send the wrong signal, and a formal partnering wouldn’t be emotional enough, not for either of them. Garrett wanted forever, he wanted Jonah and Cody to officially be his family. He wanted there to be options for them if something moronic like this happened in the future and he ended up dead. He wanted Cody to be able to get advanced medical treatments back in the central system, and getting there would be a lot easier if they were married. He wanted Jonah to look at him and realize that he wasn’t going anywhere, because he loved what they had together, and what they were together. He never wanted it to end.
“What?” LeeAnna mumbled against his shoulder.
“Nothing.” Just coming to a life-changing decision, here. Marriage. Garrett wanted it. So many of his exes would be laughing their fucking heads off if they knew.
Garrett spent the next hour daydreaming—or maybe it was closer to hallucinating, he was practically out of his mind with fatigue—about how he’d propose. Something romantic, definitely. Dinner out at a restaurant, a custom-made ring or a brand or whatever Drifters used to signify permanence. Fancy suits, decadent dessert, getting down on one knee, the works. Classic. It would be awesome. They’d be awesome.
“Awesome,” he slurred happily. Yeah, he could do that.
Finally the rain let up enough for another shuttle to reach them. No one said a word as the rescue crew hauled them up out of the bunker, other than to ask if they were okay and attach portable warmers to their clothes to start raising their body temperatures. LeeAnna fell asleep as soon as they were strapped in, but Garrett fought to keep himself awake. He couldn’t sleep yet, he still had to get home to his guys.
Martina was waiting for him back at the lab. “What happened to you?”
“Got stranded,” Garrett muttered, rubbing his hands together. The heater was good for his core temperature, but it kind of sucked with the extremities. “Lost the shuttle, lost the coms.”
“And the experiment?”
“Fuck the experiment.”
Martina scowled. “That equipment is expensive, Garrett, and nature getting in the way is no reason to scrap months’ worth of work. Tell me you re-secured it before you took cover.”
“I re-secured it.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not lying!” he exclaimed. “I’m too miserable to lie right now! I re-secured the damn equipment and uploaded the latest data to my portable before I scuttled into a hole in the ground like a fucking cockroach. Where I was cold and wet and stuck with a bitchy pilot and didn’t have my husband or my kid for comfort, so excuse me for being abrupt with my honesty!”
“Your husband?” Martina smiled slightly. It didn’t at all look like a natural expression on her. “Are you and Jonah planning on getting married?”
“We will be as soon as I ask him,” Garrett assured her. “Can I leave now?”
“Sure. I’ll even give you a lift.”
“What’s the catch?”
She sighed exasperatedly. “There isn’t always a catch when I offer to do something for someone. I’m just trying to make things convenient for you. And it will give me time to transfer the data to my own portable.”
Ten minutes later Garrett let himself into their small, stone-sided home. He wasn’t expecting the light to be on in the living room, and he really wasn’t expecting both Jonah and Cody to be waiting up on the couch. Well, Jonah was waiting up. Cody was asleep, but seeing both of them together still sent a thrill of warmth up his spine. “Hey.”
“There you are.” Jonah twisted as best he could and held a hand towards Garrett. He looked tired but so relieved. “Hey, darlin’.”
“Hey.” Garrett took off his heavy coat, worked his feet out of his boots, tripped over Cody’s backpack and came over to the couch. He took Jonah’s hand and let himself get pulled down so he was sitting on the arm. Jonah gently kissed the back of his hand. It was ludicrously charming.
“Yes,” Garrett nodded slowly. “I am. Just tired.”
“I bet. You wanna head up to bed? I’ll join you as soon as I put Cody back in his room.”
“I want to marry you.” The words just slipped out before he had a chance to sensor them. Jonah’s eyes went wide, and he shook his head slightly.
“You must be real tired, darlin’.”
Garrett sighed. “I am, but that’s not why I want to marry you. I’ve been thinking about it all night. I want this, this life with you and Cody. I want everything. I don’t want to leave, I don’t want that to even be an option. I want you to look at me and know that I really want to be with you. I want us to get married.” He grimaced. “And I wanted it to be all romantic, but that didn’t happen. Fuck. Can we start over?”
“This is plenty romantic,” Jonah breathed. His grip on Garrett’s hand got tighter. “No do-overs. But baby, are you sure? Marriage is a…it’s a big shift. I’d never make you do that.”
“See, that’s the problem. You think I have to force myself, but I want to do this. I want to marry you, I want to be Cody’s real dad, I want…all of that. Public recognition, legal status, all the good stuff and all the shit that comes with it. You’re my…my everything. I want all of you.”
“You’re really sure?” Jonah’s eyes were darker than usual, and his lips were still open, parted just enough to tempt. Garrett wanted to fall against him and consume him, but Cody was there. “You want to marry me? Marry us? ‘Cause it’s not just me, it’s both of us.”
“I love Cody and I love you.” Garrett slid off the couch and down onto his knees so their heads were at the same level. “Marry me. We can symbolize it however you want; I’ll get you a ring, anything, I’ll tattoo your name on my forehead. Just say you’ll marry me.”
“Darlin’.” Jonah pulled Garrett closer and brushed a kiss against his mouth, just a brief caress, but it was electrifying. “There’s nothin’ I want more.”
Relief flooded Garrett’s chest, blended with a giddiness that was only partially due to his utter exhaustion. They kissed again, deeper, longer, and astonishingly he felt his libido start to kick in, despite his damp and horrible clothes and the awkward angle, and maybe, just maybe, they could—
They stopped kissing and looked down. Cody was rubbing his face against Jonah’s thigh, his sleep-crusted eyes slowly opening. “Garrett?”
Ooo-kay. That put a damper on things. “Hey, Cody.”
“You’re back!” Thin arms wound around his neck and gripped way too tightly for such a small kid, and Garrett pulled Cody up against his chest and kissed his hair. “I was worried about you.”
“I’m sorry you were worried. I came back as fast as I could.”
Cody pulled back a little and frowned. “You’re all wet.”
“I know. We got stuck out there for a while because of the storm, but it wasn’t too bad.”
“You missed dinner. Daddy made mac and cheese.”
“Really?” Garrett glanced over at Jonah. “I’ll have to ask him to make it again.”
“There’s enough left for you,” Cody assured him. “Daddy didn’t eat much.”
“Aww, because he was pining?” Garrett asked with a grin. Cody looked puzzled. “Never mind, I’m just tired. You ready for bed, Cody?”
“Will you tuck me in?”
“Sure,” Garrett said. He stood up and lifted Cody into his arms with only a little wobble. “I can do that.” He and Jonah shared a smile. “I can do that.”
He could do it for as long as they needed.