In other quick news, Camellia 2 came out yesterday, yay, and my M/M Romance Group story Ten Simple Tips for Surviving the Apocalypse is downloadable now. I'm going to be at Denver Pride all weekend at the Out In Colorado booth, so hey, if you're around, come visit me!
Also, last thing: my birthday was lovely. I have the best husband. Period.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Title: Redstone Chapter 4
Five minutes until his shift—his final shift—was over. Robbie Sinclair went through the motions, checking in with each gate guardian and going over the fresh statistics for each ward. Caravan was a thoroughly modern prison, but it still emphasized human contact over purely machined policing, so every ward had four rotating guards to watch over their prisoner population, averaging about forty prisoners per ward. It wasn’t perfect, but it kept the inmates happier when they could see that they weren’t being forgotten by the people in charge, and was a decent deterrent against violence—better than leaving a mech to watch over things. And when violence did break out, well…that was kind of what Robbie was for. He was the captain of the special squad, called in when things got really rough. Not that they had more than a half dozen times over the past three months. Caravan’s commanding officer had a handle on things.
He let the machine scan his implant and bid it farewell as he signed off, then headed for the door. If he was lucky he’d be able to grab Wyl and get to the transport ship before—
Busted. He turned back toward his commander’s office. “Yes ma’am?”
“Come here, please. I need to speak with you.”
Damn it. So much for a low-key exit. Robbie followed her into the office, the room plain and functional just like its denizen. That wasn’t really fair to retired Colonel, now Head Warden Grace Grave, whose parents had been practically prophetic in their naming of her. She was more than functional, she was a genuinely good leader, concerned for her employees and inmates alike and constantly working to improve prison stats on mental health, training and rates of recidivism. Caravan was a max security penitentiary, but not all of the prisoners there were lifers. In fact, the very concept of life in prison was outdated now, considering that Regen could keep people healthy for centuries. But a century’s span of time wasn’t considered to be unjust when it came to punishing the worst crimes, and so people stayed in for longer periods than ever. If they were ever to rejoin society with any semblance of normalcy, continual training and education was needed. Grace was a pioneer in moving the prison system beyond punishment and into genuine rehabilitation for the especially-aged prisoner.
Her concern now was endearing, but Robbie preferred it when it was directed toward others. Still, he sat down across from her and inclined his head. “Ma’am.”
She looked at him—yes, gravely, Wyl joked about it far too much—and folded her hands. “When you told me you had put in for a transfer, I didn’t think twice about signing off on it because of your excellent record here, despite the brevity of your service. I wondered why the location of the transfer was under blackout protocols, but I know you have an extensive record and assumed it pertained to something classified in your past. However, your transport ship has arrived, and once I recognized the name on it I knew something had to be wrong.” She leaned forward, dark eyes swallowing the light. “Why are you transferring to Redstone?”
Robbie sighed. “Ma’am—”
“Is it blackmail of some kind? Or some sort of delayed punishment against you? Because there are steps that can be taken, very private and cohesive steps, to ensure that you don’t get taken advantage of for something you did in the past, whether it was on the books or not. I won’t have anyone in my prison being abused in any way.”
“Grace.” It was the first time he ever used her first name, and was enough to stop her in her tracks. Grace was accustomed to formality from all her employees and Robbie had always been more than happy to give her that before. Right now, though, he didn’t have time for it. “I promise you, I’m not being coerced into doing this.”
Her narrow lips thinned even further. “Redstone is considered a punishment duty for Federation guards sent there. I know it, and although I dislike the precedent that sets and the mentality it encourages toward the inmates, without consideration from the upper echelons there’s nothing I can do to change it. I’m quite certain, however, that you haven’t done anything that would merit this sort of contemptuous move.”
“It’s a private matter.”
“There are no private matters when it comes to the professional setting.”
“Except there obviously are, or Redstone wouldn’t be used as a punishment for guards,” Robbie pointed out. Grace huffed.
“Don’t mince words with me, Robbie. Are you telling me that you can’t tell me why you’re being sent to Redstone?”
“And yet…I see here,” she looked down at her tab, purely for show because Robbie was certain she had already memorized whatever she was looking at, “that you’ve also made a request for spousal accompaniment.”
Uh-oh. Robbie kept his expression impassive, but he didn’t like the way this was going. “Yes, I have.”
“You’re aware that there are practically no extracurricular options for Redstone spouses. In fact, very few employee spouses are given permission to travel to Redstone due to its very poor accommodation of them. Spouses have literally been driven to injure themselves while confined there, and the rate of divorce coming out of a stint on Redstone is triple the Federation average.”
“I’m aware, ma’am.”
“And yet you persist in wanting to bring Wyl with you?” She shook her head. “I expected better of you, Robbie.”
Robbie didn’t expect her disapproval to hit him quite so hard. He already had a mission, working for Grace had always been secondary to that. But she was a good commander, and a fair person. Moreover, she was completely charmed by Wyl, just like almost everyone else who met him. “I gave him the option to stay here or go to another planet, ma’am. He refused.”
“Of course he refused, you’re practically newlyweds.” Robbie shifted in his seat, but she waved his objection away. “Anything under fifty years is practically newlywed. He adores you; of course he wants to be with you. But Redstone isn’t conducive to happiness, Robbie. I’m worried about you. Both of you.”
“I appreciate that.” And he did, very much. “But Wyl and I are good. He won’t hesitate to tell me if he wants to leave, you know him well enough for that. In the meantime, he’s bringing plenty of things to occupy himself with while we’re there. It’s only for six months, ma’am. We’ll be all right.”
“I can see you’re determined to do this.” Grace sighed, faintly but just loud enough Robbie could pick it out. “And to keep your reasons to yourself.”
“Very well, then. I’ve approved the transfer, as well as a promotion for you. The very least I can do is ensure that you’re choosing your own shifts. You’ll be third in command, after the Warden and his lieutenant.”
Well, that was…a surprise. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“I also increased your weight allotment to make sure that Wyl can have his tools. Redstone wreaks havoc on electronics and mechanicals, but if anyone can engineer something to make it work in that place it’s your husband.”
“That’s very generous.”
Grace shrugged and looked down. “I thought the situation merited a big gesture. I rarely have the chance to make them.”
Robbie considered her, this staunchly plain woman in an age when you could be as beautiful as you wanted, her lovely red hair kept short, her uniform pressed and clean, no jewelry, no mourning marks. He knew she’d been married once, and that her wife had left her several years ago. No children or other close family that he knew of. Garrett would have to meet her, Robbie decided. He’d adopt her in an instant. “Thank you. You’ve been one of the best commanders of my entire career. It’s been an honor to serve under you.”
Grace smiled a little. “Careful, your marine is showing.” Most of the prison guards were civilians, highly trained but without a military background. It could be a sticking point in interpersonal relations, each group with a chip on their shoulders when it came to capability.
“I mean every word.”
“Well, then.” She stood up and offered Robbie her hand. “The honor is all mine.” They shook firmly. “You have a little under six hours to get everything onto that transport, Robbie. I suggest you go and start motivating your husband.”
“I’ll do that.” He turned and left, and resolutely didn’t let himself think about might-have-beens. It wasn’t that Robbie loved being a prison guard, but he liked having purpose, order, a certain structure to his life. Since retiring—again—from the military, he’d lost a lot of that. Being here, if only briefly, had felt like slipping into his old uniform again. It was comfortable and comforting.
He entered his private quarters, and heard a loud, “Fucking damn it!” from the back room, and grinned. Then again, comfort was relative.
“You okay?” he called out as he set aside his weapons, which were sucked from the entryway table into the wall and secured.
“Fine,” Wyl called out irritably. “I just cut my finger on this stupid damn lump of iron. Iron, for fuck’s sake. Do you know how hard it is to match these resonant frequencies? Redstone better be exactly as advertised or my system isn’t going to work, and then I’ll be pissed.”
“Your communications system?” Robbie unfastened his jacket as he headed into the back. There was Wyl, perched on his work stool and wrestling with a chunk of iron the size of his head.
“Yeah. It’s just about done, which is good because I won’t be able to work on it on the transport ship and we’ll want to deploy shortly after we get to Redstone. Actually, en route would be best but since it’s not our ship there’s no way to do that. Which, hey—how are we going to get access to a ship while we’re there?” Wyl swiveled to look at Robbie. “Because I’m not spacewalking these over the surface of that place, it’ll probably make my suit malfunction.”
“It looks like I’ll have access to the station’s ships as a result of my new promotion,” Robbie said, leaning against the doorframe as he took in his husband’s state. Messy dark hair, scarred fingers despite regular Regen use because he was always more excited than cautious when it came to his work, plain white shirt and brown pants covered with oil and grime…Robbie had never loved anyone so intensely in all his life. It hit him, looking at Wyl now, how stupidly lucky he was to have him. Wyl was happy right now, and Robbie wanted to keep him that way forever. Maybe Grace had a point.
“Promotion?” Wyl grinned. “Aw, see how your boss loves you!”
“I think she loves you more.”
“I’m very loveable.”
“Yeah, you are.”
“You’re being very agreeable.” Wyl put down his tool. “That means something’s wrong.”
“Nothing is wrong.”
“Yes it is; I usually have to pry compliments out of you with a sonic screwdriver.” Robbie must have winced a little, because Wyl frowned. “That was just a joke. What’s going on?”
Robbie sighed. “I don’t want you to feel like going to Redstone is something you’ve got to do.”
“Actually, I do have to do it.” Wyl cast his hand over his cluttered table. “Who else will get all this installed?”
“I’m not helpless with tools.”
“Who’ll code out messages in Morse?”
“My dad taught me Morse code, I’m sure I can remember most of it.”
“Who will keep you from sinking into a depressive pit of funless responsibility?” Robbie didn’t have a response for that, and Wyl pointed a finger at him. “Exactly! So shut up, I’m going. What brought this bout of nerves on, anyway?”
“Warden Grave seemed very upset that I’m selfishly subjecting you to Redstone during my punishment tour there.”
Wyl shook his head. “Grace is oversensitive to relationship stress. Redstone isn’t going to be any worse than Hazard, and I survived there okay. Hell, at Redstone I won’t even be a prisoner!” He looked up at Robbie seriously. “Besides, Isidore is counting on both of us. I’m not going to let him down. If it’s supposed to be bad for us, it’s got to be ten times worse for him.”
“So it’s settled. I’m going.”
Robbie smiled. “Yeah, it looks that way.”
“Are you done thinking silly thoughts?”
“Define silly,” Robbie said as he stepped forward and dropped down onto his knees in front of Wyl’s chair. “Does going down on your in your shop qualify?”
“Nnnnooo,” Wyl drawled, his brown eyes wide as he let Robbie spread his knees. “That’s not silly at all, that’s probably the best idea you’ve had all day, oh my god, Robbie—fuck—uh—” He’d already opened Wyl’s pants, eased him out and sucked him gently into his mouth. Wyl wasn’t hard yet but Robbie liked touching him like this, feeling Wyl’s cock swell between his lips and slowly work its way toward the back of his throat.
Wyl’s hands fluttered over his head for a moment, like he couldn’t quite commit to touching Robbie with them before he murmured, “Fuck it,” and threaded into Robbie’s hair. “You knew what you were getting when you decided to do this before I’ve had a chance to clean up,” Wyl said hoarsely. Which means his hands were filthy and now so was Robbie, but Robbie didn’t care. “You, oh fuck, shouldn’t we…Robbie, yes, that,” he said as Robbie pressed his tongue hard against the nerves beneath the head of Wyl’s cock.
Newlyweds, Grace had called them. Robbie felt like it sometimes, when he’d had a long shift and seeing Wyl again was like suddenly getting feeling back into a dead limb. He’d been pleasantly alone for much of his life, but he couldn’t imagine going back to living without Wyl. He couldn’t even imagine a brief separation, at this point. Robbie ran his hands up Wyl’s taut thighs as he bobbed his head, sucking Wyl deeper every time, finally sliding his hands under Wyl’s ass and pulling him bodily forward, as deep as he could get. It was too much but Robbie didn’t care, he just wanted Wyl to arch and moan under him like this, to say his name like a curse and a prayer and clutch tighter at his head, to writhe and try to press even deeper as he— “Robbie, fuck, fuck, babe I’m coming, I’ve got to, ah, ah, ah, fuck!”
Wyl pulled back after the first pulse, painting Robbie’s tongue and then his lips before thrusting back in with a groan. Robbie let Wyl have control, move Robbie however he wanted to, whatever made him feel best. Even after he finished coming, he didn’t let go of Robbie’s hair for another minute, holding him in close as his legs quivered where Robbie’s broad shoulders kept them splayed. “You…are the best,” Wyl finally said, bending over to kiss Robbie’s forehead, then his nose, then finally his lips. “Shit, what brought that on?”
“Nothing in particular,” Robbie said softly. “I just wanted to, that’s all.”
Wyl grinned. “Well, right now I want you to fuck me in the shower. Do we have time?”
Robbie pretended to consider it. “I’m not sure, how quickly can you pack all this up?”
“For you?” Wyl got to his feet and drew Robbie up to stand with him. “I’ll figure out a way to put time on hold.”