Notes: Finally I have a path forward in my head, a clear and present plot. This means you get Garrett and Robbie and real development. And more soon, because this is working on me now, making me love it, making me want to go deeper. We’re going to meet some very interesting people soon. I don’t know yet if I’m going to love them or hate them. On verra, as they say in Togo. We’ll see.
Part Six: Trip On Guilt, Stumble Over Honesty
At 0300 in the morning, not even a day after arriving on Paradise, Garrett shouldn’t have been awake. No matter that the artificial days and nights on his ship didn’t match up perfectly with the cycle on Paradise, it had still been an exhaustively long day, and Garrett should have been too tired to be up. In truth, he was too tired to be up. There was nothing he wanted more than to be nestled face-first into the gigantic bed in his ridiculous suite, taking up more than his fair share of the space and getting away with it because Jonah was good that way. He could be sleeping in his fiance’s arms right now, and instead he was dressed (in loose, informal house clothes, but still, dressed was dressed) and making his way to the juncture of the Governor’s mansion and the military’s headquarters. All because Robbie had to “talk.”
Garrett didn’t care for Robbie’s talks. They usually had the dual purpose of shaming and educating him, and just anticipating it was making Garrett preemptively defensive. The worst of it was, no matter what Robbie had on his mind, it was probably worth listening to. Because he couldn’t be happy with being a superior human being, he had to try to improve everyone else too. Fucker. Some of Garrett’s most epic bitch sessions with Wyl had been on this very subject, although Wyl was better about having his imperfections pointed out to him than Garrett was.
It wasn’t until the marines let Garrett into Robbie’s office and went off to fetch their commanding officer that Garrett realized, a little too late to be useful, that when Robbie had said, “We need to talk soon,” and given him that meaningful look, he might have meant sometime during the actual day, not at 0300 in the morning. But the prospect had gnawed at Garrett, taking tiny, vicious bites out of his subconscious until he had given sleep up as a bad deal and forced himself up with a sigh.
If he had been a little more forthcoming, Garrett probably could have avoided this whole conundrum in the first place. He knew what this talk was going to be about. But honestly, it wasn’t relevant—it wasn’t—that there was a Drifter ship in orbit above Paradise. There were hundreds of clans, probably thousands of ships. There was no reason for this one to be important, not even to Jonah. So why bother mentioning it? It might not be relevant, but Garrett knew it would perturb his lover; Jonah was the type to brood if he thought he could get away with it. Garrett had just been saving them all some grief. And naturally, of course, Robbie was about to undo all that patient circumspection with his own brand of taking care of someone, which was forthrightness, honesty and a bunch of other crap.
“When I said ‘talk,’” Robbie’s voice said from the door, and Garrett swiveled around in the chair he had claimed to face him, “I didn’t mean ‘wake me up to come and deal with your issues at all hours.’”
“Not true,” Garrett teased with a smile, determined to get his jabs in while he still had a leg to stand on. “You never put limitations on discussions of serious subjects. You should, it would make you a healthier and more rested person, but you don’t. I can only assume that’s the military training taking over your greatly diminished free will.”
“Do not be an asshole to me right now, Gare, I’m this close to yelling at you,” Robbie growled. He had on grey gi pants and a black t-shirt, and he looked completely edible. Robbie had always worn “annoyed” so well, with that little line between his eyebrows and the harder line of his mouth. Garrett appreciated the fact that he could look and not want, now. It made the teasing easier. “You were supposed to let Jonah know about the Drifters.”
“I don’t really see why.”
“Because it’s something that might affect him and you’re supposed to discuss things like that with your significant other, Gare.”
“Still not seeing the relevancy.”
Robbie rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. “Here’s some relevancy for you: that ship has been up there for over a standard month, keeping a careful distance from the surface and only trading through intermediaries, like most Drifter ships do. Now all of a sudden, just minutes after Jonah landed your ship actually, they want permission to dock a shuttle. Not just that, they want to dock it in the closest port in Rapture to the mansion. Any guesses as to what prompted their sudden request?”
Garrett had spent his entire life surrounded by tacticians. It didn’t take more than a second to figure out what Robbie was referring to, and why it had taken him and Miles away from the group yesterday. “Oh, damn it. They must have a skimmer.”
“Exactly,” Robbie agreed. “They heard Jonah’s transmission to the Tower here, recognized the accent and now someone’s curious. That in and of itself isn’t a problem, but…”
“If they heard that, what else have they been listening to?” Garrett finished. He felt really tired all of a sudden, tired down to his bones, tired on the inside of his skull, just behind his eyes. “They’ve been listening to ship transmissions going into and out of Paradise.”
“With a pretty high tech skimmer, because we didn’t detect anything when we inspected them before allowing them a long term space dock,” Robbie said. “It’s just circumstantial right now, but I’m betting that tomorrow we’ll start seeing some of them in town, asking questions, trying to get in touch. I think they’re interested in Jonah. I’ve got several theories on why.”
“And you want me to facilitate testing those theories by telling Jonah about these newly loquacious Drifters.”
“He can hear it from you, or he can hear it from me,” Robbie said. He was wearing his “determined” face now, and Garrett knew there was no gainsaying it. “For all I know they just caught a sliver of conversation and someone recognized him and wants to say hello. Drifters are a very insular, tightly bound society, it’s not impossible that Jonah misses certain aspects of it. He shouldn’t be denied the right to make a connection just because you’re nervous.”
“No thanks.” They sat and stared at each other in silence for a minute. “What are you really worried about?”
“Nothing I can put a name to,” Garrett said morosely, resigned at this point to telling Robbie the truth.
“Is it the wedding?”
“Only insofar as I wish the wedding was over already so that I could have proof that Jonah and Cody belong to me.”
“They’re here, with you. Isn’t that proof enough?”
“It’s never enough,” Garrett scoffed. “You know me, I want a dozen impossible things done for me before breakfast, just to feel secure enough to go about the day.”
“You’ve gotten a lot better, Gare,” Robbie said soothingly.
“Yes, well. It’s always a relative measure.” He sat quiet under Robbie’s gaze, then gave him a half-smile as his former lover walked over to him and clasped his shoulder in one broad, warm hand.
“You’ll be fine,” Robbie stated. No prevarication, just belief. “Both of you. You’ll tell him in the morning?”
“Yes,” Garrett sighed. “Can I make it seem like I just learned it, or does that not queue up with your code of honor?”
“Whatever makes you more comfortable.” Robbie squeezed his shoulder, then let go. “Now, I’m going back to bed. Wyl won’t get any sleep if I don’t.”
“Aww, you’re his teddy-Robin,” Garrett cooed, happy to have a change of subject.
“Don’t call me that.”
“But it’s your legal name, Robin of Locksley.”
“Go to bed, Gare.” Robbie left, and Garrett swung the chair back and forth in a 90 degree arc, rhythmic and blank. Go to bed. He could do that; in fact most of him yearned to slide back into his warm bed and cuddle up to his own teddy-Jonah. But he was awake now, wide awake and pensive and jittery, and he’d be a miserable bedmate at this point. Better to let Jonah sleep. Coffee was what he needed, and some time alone. By the time his fiance woke up, Garrett would have worked out what he needed to do, he’d have found that fine line between Robbie’s abject honestly and his own penchant for obfuscation.
Coffee, then deep thoughts. Garrett got up and headed toward Claudia’s kitchen.