Monday, October 1, 2012

Paradise Post #8

Notes: Aww, cockblocked by plot!  I had this awesome sex scene going, I wrote most of it out, and then I realized that it wasn’t what was needed here.  The story needed to be furthered more than my intimate encounter could do for us, so I’m saving that particularly dirty scene for later and giving you…this.  Still good, though!


Title: Paradise


Part Eight: Grin and Bear It







                Contrary to what a lot of people seemed to think, Jonah was not, and had never been, easily fooled.  It wasn’t hard to tell that there was a lot of discomfort in the air, most of it stemming from Garrett.  There was an edge between him and Robbie, something beyond simply being former lovers surrounded by present ones, an edge born of secrets and a disinclination to share them.  Jonah didn’t press his fiancé about it even though he was curious, because there was another edge in the air as well, resting firmly between himself and Garrett, and he didn’t know what to do about it. 

That it pertained to the Drifters in orbit, Jonah knew.  That their existence somehow meant that Jonah was suddenly going to abandon everything he had and whisk Cody away into the stars to live with his history again, well, there weren’t even words for that kind of crazy.  He’d never give up what he had now, not without a hell of a fight, and he couldn’t say it any more clearly than that.  He had said it, in fact.  Garrett just smiled, comforted but not fully appeased.

                There were layers to Garrett’s anxiety, stacked up and sifting over and through each other, changing a little more every day.  The man had the most complicated heart that Jonah had ever encountered, and if blunt declarations didn’t do the trick, then Jonah could be more subtle.  He spent every night in Garrett’s arms, no matter how hot it got or how long it took him to fall asleep.  He woke up with him every morning, unless Garrett had taken off first.  He kissed him whenever he saw him, light and easy, and every time his lover smiled a little more freely.  

                Their bed became a strange, sort of sacred space, one where they almost never spoke.  Two weeks into their visit and they were still making love every night or morning, more often if Garrett could get him along during the day.  Garrett was determined, creative and exhaustive, and after the first couple times Jonah welcomed the addition of a sound-dampening cloth strung up over their bed like a canopy, muffling all sound to the outside world but encapsulating it for the lovers inside, giving each gasp or laugh or moan a special sort of poignancy.

                Jonah pulled out of his lover and stretched out beside him, overheated despite the cool temperature of the room.  Garrett’s skin was tacky with cum and lube and sweat, and they stuck a little wherever they touched.  Neither of them minded very much.  “No school with Cody today?” he asked idly, stroking his fingers into Garrett’s hair.  It was starting to grow out again, silky gold shining against Jonah’s tan hand.

                “No lessons, no work, no checking in with Jezria, and Claudia has promised to leave us alone,” Garrett replied, groaning with satisfaction as he rubbed his thighs together.  Claudia had taken it upon herself to organize their wedding, and she was being thorough.  Very, very thorough.  Jonah hadn’t even known what a boutonniere was before yesterday.  “Wyl and Robbie are taking a mental health day for themselves and Miles has to work, so I thought we could take Cody into Rapture.  We haven’t been to the bazaar yet.”

                “Sounds like fun.”  They’d gone into Rapture several times in the past two weeks, but once was to a restaurant and the next was to a huge indoor mall, each time with a few plainclothes marines at their sides.  Paradise had settled considerably in the past year, but it could still be dangerous, and Miles wasn’t taking any chances with a member of his family.  Garrett seemed to enjoy the fact that the marines kept any gawkers at a distance, and was even more pleased that they hadn’t run into any Drifters in their wanderings.

                “It will be.  There are all sorts of stalls that offer everything from fresh eyes to cloned pets to body art.  By the way, tattoos?  I say Cody has to be at least twelve before his first one.”

                What?  “He wants a tattoo?” Jonah asked, nonplussed.  “Since when?”

                “Since he saw Robbie’s Devildog Squadron tattoo.  It’s a marine thing.  They’re easy to get removed,” Garrett added with a smile.  “A little iontophoresis and you’re good to go.  I got my whole body done for a party, once.  It took a while, but the result was worth it.”

                “The things you do for beauty.”

                “Fashion takes time,” Garrett agreed.  “So, shower, breakfast, bazaar.  Yes?”

                “Sure.”  And no tattoos for his kid, not even if they could be removed.  Not by twelve, either.  Maybe by twenty.  Maybe.




                They took a private car into the city, past the skyscrapers and flashy buildings and out toward the edge of downtown.  They had a pair of marines as escorts, again, but Garrett seemed to know one of them, and was enjoying himself by needling her.  “Thérèse, were you pining for me?” he asked coquettishly, tilting his head to one side and batting his eyelashes at her.  “Is this your way of asking for attention?”


                “So loquacious, darling, be sure you don’t hurt yourself lifting all those heavy words now.  And your partner is…”

                “Kelly,” the man driving them offered.  “Corporal Kelly, sir.”

                “Nice to meet you, Kelly.  Do you mind if I shorten it?”

                “Not at all, sir.”

                “Don’t encourage him,” Thérèse muttered.  Garrett laughed, and Jonah and Cody just looked at each other and shrugged.  Garrett got a huge kick out of bothering the marines, but as long as Cody didn’t start imitating him, Jonah didn’t mind.  Most of them thought it was more amusing than anything else.  Thérèse might be an exception, though.

                A few minutes later they were at the western edge of the bazaar, a market that encompassed about a square kilometer.  The rest of downtown was for Federation imports and elites; the bazaar was where you found the native Paradisians, rural traders and small time interstellar shippers.  It was a huge, teeming place, and more of a security risk than anywhere else in the capitol, but the city’s security forces as well as the marines were patrolling.  They should be safe enough.

                The hardest part about it wasn’t making their way through the crowd, which was bustling, but keeping Cody close.  Every time there was an explosion (and there were plenty of them, generally small ones that were brightly colored, some that shot sparks or holograms into the air) Cody wanted to go there, tugging out of Jonah’s grip almost every time.  Garrett was more proactive, and settled his grip onto the back of Cody’s collar.  That handhold slowed the kid down.

                By the fifth time, Jonah was getting tired of it.  He knelt down and looked sternly at Cody.  “Bucko, if you keep tryin’ to run around I’m just gonna pick you up and head back to the car.  I don’t want you gettin’ lost, okay?”

                “Sorry,” Cody said, staring abashedly down at the ground.  His feet were twitching, though.  “But can we go watch fire dancers, please?  Wyl told me all about them and he says they’re the best, and they’re really close, I saw the flames shoot up—”

                “Sure, we can go.”  Jonah straightened up and turned around, only to come face to face with a girl in green.  She had bright red hair tied back with a sash, and wore a long, heavy skirt.  Her face was round and her cheeks were pink, and Jonah knew her the moment he laid eyes on her.  She smiled broadly at him.

                “Mr. Helms!  Fancy meetin’ you all the way out here!”

                Jonah felt more than saw one of the marines move up behind him.  “Hello, Charlotte,” he said, keeping his voice pleasant and light.  The last thing he needed was for Garrett to get nervous and signal their escorts to do something rash.  “I’d heard the Gondola was in orbit.”

                “And you didn’t call?  Da will think you don’t like him,” she admonished.

                “Your da and I didn’t part on the best of terms.”

                “Oh, that’s nothin’ but old worries, Mr. Helms, for old days.”  She reached out to take his arm, and now one of the marines—Kelly—stepped up next to Jonah warningly.  She withdrew her hand but kept her smile.  “And that must be your boy, hmm?”  She turned her brightness on Cody.  “I’ve not seen you since you were a baby. You’ve grown so big!” 

                Cody looked a little confused, and Garrett kept a firm hand on his shoulder.  “Is there something you want?” he asked, his tone flat.  “Or were you just looking to interrupt our day together as a family?”

                “Not at all, sir,” and now Jonah winced internally, because “sir” was an insult among Drifters, “I’d never dream of interrupting you without a reason.  My da asked me to keep an eye out for Mr. Helms here, and to ask him to share a drink, for old times’ sake, if I saw him.  Our tent’s not far.”  She looked back at Jonah.  “As long as you can spare the time.”

                “Sure.”  Charlotte grinned and Garrett glared, and Jonah turned back to his fiance.  “This won’t take long,” he promised.  “You can go see the fire dancers and I’ll be with you in a couple minutes.”

                “Fine.  Take Kelly with you.”  Jonah started to protest and Garrett held up his free hand.  “It’s protocol for family members, Jonah.”  His face was unyielding, and Jonah finally nodded.  “Good.  Lovely to meet you, Miss Dechiara.”  He smiled politely at Charlotte, then turned and headed towards the dancers, Cody and Thérèse firmly in tow.  Jonah and Kelly were left with Charlotte, who turned and led them back through the crowd.

                Jonah smelled his destination before he saw it, a particularly harsh blend of tobacco that he knew Kilroy favored.  The whole of the Gondola had reeked with it.  And there Kilroy Dechiara was, sitting on a chair under a bright red canopy, an assortment of robotic parts laid out on a blanket on the ground beside him.  He was tall, like Jonah, broader through the shoulders and had the same red hair as his daughter.  He stood up as soon as he saw them.  “Jonah Helms!  Well, you’re a sight for sore eyes!”  He pulled Jonah into a rough embrace.  “Who’s your company, then?”

                “Corporal Kelly, with the Governor’s marine guard.”

                “Ah…so it’s true, then.”  Kilroy’s grin showed a few too many teeth.  “Charlotte, why don’t you take the corporal to have a drink over at Mindy’s?”

                “No thank you,” Corporal Kelly said immediately.  “I need to remain with Mr. Helms.”

                “Then perhaps you could do us the courtesy of givin’ us a little space?” Kilroy suggested quickly, not at all put off.  “Just a few extra yards, for a private conversation.  I’d be greatly obliged, sir.”

                Kelly waited for Jonah to give him a reluctant nod before letting Charlotte draw him a little ways off.  Kilroy motioned to the empty chair next to his, and they both sat down.  “I’ll be damned.  I’d heard you found a Federation man out on that colony of yours, I just didn’t know he was quite so important.  A member of the Governor’s family, no less.  Pretty too, ain’t he?  Man like that doesn’t have to work to live, I reckon.”

                “He’s a climatologist,” Jonah snapped, offended for Garrett’s sake.  “He doesn’t get by on his looks.  And if that’s the tenor of what you have to say to me, I’m gonna be going now.”

                “Slow down,” Kilroy said calmly, holding out his hands.  “I didn’t mean to upset you.  Lord knows you’ve got reason to want something different, after what your mama put you through.  I was just makin’ an observation.”  He poured two cups of grin out of a dented metal pot on a little table between them and set one down in front of Jonah.  “Proper brew.  Been awhile, huh?”

                Hell, it had been awhile.  Grin was a purely Drifter drink, a mélange of whatever happened to be in the stores, usually bad coffee, cocoa powder, old tea leaves and  berry crumbs and caffeine extract, if you had some.  The maxim was that you just had to grin and bear it when you drank, hence the name.  Jonah took a swallow, felt the lining of his throat start to tickle and had to cough.  Kilroy laughed.  “Can’t hold it anymore, boy?”

                “Only you would add juniper berries to grin,” Jonah said hoarsely.  “That’s terrible.”

                “Wakes you up in the morning, though.”  Kilroy swallowed his own cup down, then sighed with satisfaction.  “S’pose you wake up to coffee every morning now.”

                “I like coffee.”

                “An’ I like nekkid women, but you don’t see me indulgin’ in ‘em every day.  Honestly, boy, don’t you miss the old life even a little bit?  Or is it all smooth sailing with your pretty scientist?”

                “The old life didn’t want me and it didn’t want my son,” Jonah said firmly.  “If this is all you’ve got to talk to me about, I’m leavin’.”

                “It ain’t all.  But,” Kilroy grimaced now, “this ain’t exactly the spot for a real conversation.  What say you come back to my ship, and we talk there?”

                “Not gonna happen.  Come to the Mansion and we can talk there.”

                “Oh, I think not,” Kilroy chuckled.  “I think that’s a little rich for my tastes.  Let’s say a neutral location in the city, sometime next week?”

                “I could do that,” Jonah said cautiously.

                “Good, good.  I knew you wouldn’t turn your back on an old friend.”

                “You were always my mama’s friend, Kilroy, not mine,” Jonah said, and if there was a little regret in his voice, he tried not to let it show in his face.  “Talkin’ to me isn’t gonna get you in any better with her.  I haven’t spoken to her for over a year.”

                “I’m not here to bring up bygones,” Kilroy insisted.  “Let the past lie, s’what I say.  I’m interested in the future.  It’s hard days for Drifters now, even in the Fringe, and gettin’ harder every second.  I’m doin’ my part to keep our lifestyle alive.”  He glanced over at Kelly, who was ignoring Charlotte’s charms in favor of staring at both of them.  “And again, this ain’t the time.  Here.”  He handed over a slip of paper—actual paper, fuzzy at the edges—with a communication code written on it.  “This is my personal com.  Call me up and we’ll meet this week.  There’s plenty needs talkin’ about, Jonah.  Don’t let your new friends make you forget your old ones.”

                Jonah didn’t say anything, just took the worn piece of paper and tucked it into his pocket.  He finished off the grin, ignored Kilroy’s sudden smile and walked over to Kelly.  “We can go now.”

                “Yes, sir.”  As they turned away Jonah saw Charlotte’s eyes roll mockingly as she mouthed Yes, sir! at him.  He shook his head and walked towards the bright red flames that leapt into the sky.

                Garrett and Cody and Thérèse were there, standing at the edge of the crowd and watching the display.  Cody didn’t even notice when Jonah rejoined them, he was so entranced, but Garrett saw him coming and reached out a hand as he got close.  Despite the tension between them, his grip was warm and reassuring.  Jonah leaned in and kissed his cheek. 

                “Everything all right?” Garrett asked almost soundlessly.

                “Fine.  Tell you about it later.” 

Garrett searched Jonah’s face with an unusually intense gaze before he finally nodded.  Later, Jonah had the feeling, wasn’t going to be much fun.


  1. I have a bad feeling this Kilroy guy wants to exploit Jonah's relationship with Garrett and it's going to cause trouble between them. Great chapter.

    1. Thanks, darlin! I'm going to be using Kilroy for good, for evil, for all sorts of purposes:)

  2. Kilroy is really sleazy. Ugh. Hate him already.

    Garrett's insecurities are not unexpected. I wonder if/when/how Jonah will be able to convince him of his commitment to their relationship. Hrmmmm....

    Good work :-) Looking forward to the next part that will *hopefully* include the sex scene you mentioned.

    1. Garrett's in for a rough ride, and a lot of it's going to be his own fault, as per his usual MO. And I'll put the good sex scene (the really good one--haven't written this particular scene before) in as soon as the story will let me. Freakin' thing. :)

  3. This gets better and better - I LOVE this story :D

    1. Thank you, hon! Keep reading, I'm going to keep ramping it up.