Friday, December 24, 2010

Pandora Post #7

Title: Pandora

Part Seven: A Timely End

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. This one is twice as long as my usual post, but golly, it’s Christmas! Enjoy:) BTW, in this part graphic sex happens. NC-17, people, so don’t be surprised. The first parts can be found a few posts down. I’ll put them all in the same place soon. I keep saying that, but I mean it this time.

Garrett caught a short nap before his lunch date with Jezria, enough so that he could handle plowing through the reams of legalese she was going to be throwing at him. Fortunately he didn’t have to go far to meet with her, since she was coming from a meeting with his father. They sat out on the terrace, placed their order with one of the kitchen staff and got down to business. Which was, as Garrett had suspected, mind-numbingly exhaustive.

“Health insurance?”


“That’s not just an inclusive part of the set-up? I’m going to be living there for three years, I think that qualifies me as a resident.”

“But not as a citizen,” Jezria clarified. “You’re not going to be paying taxes to Pandora or, by proxy, Olympus. Therefore you’re not entitled to the same benefits the colonists are. The medical facilities in particular will be rather expensive, given the distribution of naturals. Hence, the health insurance.”

“Is it any good?”

“Garrett,” she groused, “the contract is right there in front of you. Read it for yourself. Evaluate. Decide.”

“You know I can just private pay if anything disastrous happens to me.”

“That’s not the point, but if you don’t want to take advantage of what we offer, that’s completely within your purview.”

Garrett laughed. “You sound annoyed.”

“Well, you’re quite annoying sometimes.”

“Good thing I make up for it with the view.”

Jezria rolled her eyes. “Being beautiful can hardly be equated to being a good person, Garrett. Although for the record, I think that you’re both. But I think that three years in your company will inure me and pretty much everyone else on this expedition to your charms, so if I were you I’d do my best to put friendly first.”

“Wait.” This was news to Garrett. “You’re coming on this trip?”

“As chief administrative officer. Similar to my current position, really, except I expect I’ll have a lot more grunt work to do getting the colony up and running effectively.”

“You’re leaving the mantle of senator behind?”

“For now. I’ve been a public servant for more years than I care to let on. I’m ready for a change of pace.” She folded her small hands neatly over her soft, rounded midsection and smiled at him.

“Holy shit.” Garrett shook his head slowly. “I feel like I’m in some sort of parallel universe. Everything is changing. I’m moving to the edge of the galaxy, you’re giving up the Senate, Dad is having a baby…”

“Is that what had you so worked up on the comm yesterday?”

“Yeah. It threw me for a bit of a loop, but I’m happy for him. Them.”

“You just don’t want to be around for it.”

“Kids, Jezria,” Garrett said with heavy emphasis. “Children. Frightening, needy, maniacal little creatures with no instruction manual and a million ways for a parent to fuck up. Of course I want to get out of here. They don’t need me to be any part of this kid’s upbringing. It’s probably safer that way.”

“You don’t think you’d make a good big brother?”

“I’m more the fly-in, fly-out type, I think. More like an absentee uncle or something.”

“You have some very strange notions about yourself,” Jezria said, her eyes dark and uncomfortably penetrating. “But you’ll grow out of it, most likely. I think Pandora will be good for you.”

“Yes, freezing my ass off in the middle of nowhere will undoubtedly help me build huge amounts of character. Having a place to be and work to do while avoiding the impending rise of the happy family? Now that will be good for me. Where do I sign?”

“You haven’t read the last thirty-seven pages,” she pointed out.

“I can’t, I feel like I want to gouge my eyeballs out with this fork as is. Its fine,” Garrett said with a wave of his hand. “Now let me sign this thing so we can eat. Your ambrosia salad is getting room-temperature.”

“If you’re comfortable with that,” Jezria said. She pulled out the signatory page, then handed over a pen. “And the thumbprint next to it, please.”

Garrett signed with a flourish, pressed his thumb down and handed it all back to her. “Now let’s eat.”

“Gladly. Welcome aboard, Garrett.”

After the meeting, the rest of his afternoon was spent getting the last of the things he wanted to take with him packed aboard his ship and getting rid of things he didn’t have a use for. Wyl helped out, in between tweaking Garrett’s engines to run with more power and efficiency. He went through Garrett’s pile of cast-offs and provided color commentary that was almost enough to make Garrett reconsider asking for Wyl’s help in the first place, but not quite.

“What the fuck is this thing, anyway?” he asked, holding up a dangling, twisted cord studded with brightly-colored knobs.

Garrett glanced over at it from his pile of clothes. “Personal massager.”


“It goes with a particular type of body art. You have to have plugs and the right kind of neural network.”

Wyl raised his eyebrows. “And you have it?”

“No, I’ve never gone in for the massive bodysculpting stuff, but I had a lover for a while who did.”

“And when did you kick him to the curb?”

“Oh, maybe…ten years ago? Or eleven?” Anistaz. Dumb as a box of rocks, but he’d had an amazing body and Garrett had never been that interested in his conversation anyway. They’d spent a few exciting months together before the urge to nest hit his lover, and Garrett had promptly fled.

“And you’ve never bothered to get rid of it?”

Garrett shrugged. “I might have found someone else to use it on.”

“Man, I hope you washed it first.”

Garrett rolled his eyes and turned back to his clothes. In the end, Wyl took a couple of old-style paperback books off of his hands that he thought Robbie would enjoy, and some subdued vintage t-shirts that Garrett couldn’t ever remember wearing but which fit Wyl perfectly. They carted most of the rest of it to the recycling chamber and then parted ways, with a promise to meet again for dinner.

Miles ordered in from a sea-themed restaurant, fish and crab and five different types of snails, and Claudia paired it up with some light, crisp wines. Robbie and Wyl joined them on the terrace and the five of them sat down to a comfortable, friendly meal. It was perfect. Everyone knew each other, Wyl had long gotten over his early apprehension of Miles, and between the security concerns, the upcoming baby and Garrett’s imminent departure, there was more than enough to talk about.

They spent three enjoyable hours together before Claudia finally couldn’t control her yawns and excused herself, making Garrett promise to wake her if she was asleep to say goodbye before he left the next morning. Miles followed her, and then Wyl rubbed his hands together and smiled evilly.

“Time to go clubbing.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Robbie groaned, tilting his head back and sighing. “I’m too old for clubbing.”

“Bullshit.” Wyl patted Robbie’s knee gently. “But nice try, baby. You really go all out on the “curmudgeonly” front sometimes, it’s adorable.”


“It’s my party, right?” Garrett asked.

Wyl nodded emphatically.

“Then I say you go clubbing with us.” Garrett imitated Wyl’s evil grin. “And you let Wyl pick your clothes. No fatigues or gray t-shirt and black pants. And do consider some highlights. Just a little across your cheekbones and along your eyebrows.”

Wyl said “Yes!” just as Robbie said, “Hell no. No makeup. No dyes. Absolutely not. Your party or not, I will stage a hostile takeover and run this my way if I have to.”

“You are good at hostile takeovers,” Wyl offered.

“Don’t encourage him,” Garrett warned. “My place in an hour, we can go down together.”

“Where are we going?” Wyl asked. Robbie just looked resigned.

That was a good question. Garrett hadn’t been to any of the clubs in a while, not since his pick-up a week ago, and since tonight would be his last night here for quite some time, he wondered if he shouldn’t make a crawl of it and hit them all. But Robbie would get fed up with that fast, and despite Garrett’s teasing he did care if his friend was uncomfortable.

“The Palladium,” he said at last. What the hell. He had promised Isidore he’d stop by again if he got the chance.

Garrett glanced through his clothing, idly fingering his more elaborate clubbing costumes and wondering which to go with. He probably wouldn’t get much of a chance to use them on Pandora, and he probably wouldn’t have time for the brief period he would be spending on Olympus getting things ready for the science staff. He could make a scene tonight in something that glittered like a starry sky, or he could keep it simple and attract less attention. He finally went with something more subdued, in amethyst and garnet jewel tones that clung to him and left nothing to the imagination but didn’t scream his presence, and accented it with cool blushes of color over his cheekbones, forehead and down the bridge of his nose. He pressed tiny sparks of light to the edges of his eyes and the shell of his ear, then called it good and went to meet Robbie and Wyl.

Wyl looked about like Garrett had expected, punky with his hair on end and clothed in sheer black fabric everywhere except his groin, where it was opaque, probably at Robbie’s insistence. He had thick boots on, black chain jewelry and black shadow limning his eyes. He was hot, but Robbie was absolutely gorgeous, if clearly self-conscious. Wyl had chosen white for him, pants that clung just enough to his hips to stay up and a sleeveless shirt that could have been painted on. The shirt wasn’t quite low enough to meet the pants, and everywhere that bare skin showed, there was the faintest shimmer of glittery white, not from skin but from some kind of accent powder. Garrett looked from Wyl, who was smirking, to Robbie, who said flatly, “Don’t ask.”

“Not worth my life,” Garrett agreed. He took in their looks and let himself feel a little flattered, and then the three of them took an official car to the club, courtesy of his father’s insistence.

As before, there was no problem with the bouncer, and the stir they caused making their way to the dance floor was gratifying. The crowd parted and made room, and Garrett turned to his friends with a grin. “Dance with me.”

Wyl didn’t have a problem with that, sidling over and sliding down in a way that turned even Garrett on, and Wyl wasn’t his normal type at all, but Robbie was still looking self-conscious and on edge. Garrett pulled him close and murmured, “Just pretend we’re alone. Or better yet, you’re alone with Wyl. No one is watching you.” Lies, lies. “Just hold onto him and move.”

Despite his protestations to the contrary, Robbie did have a sense of rhythm, and when he relaxed enough to get going he moved beautifully, intensely, focusing on Wyl to the exclusion of everyone else and moving against him like sin. Wyl managed to split his attention between Robbie and Garrett for a while, but the magnetic pull of his lover overwhelmed him and soon Garrett was alone, and not minding it. He kept dancing for a while, moving from person to person and space to space until he was at the edge of the crowd again.

A hand touched his back, just fingertips, tentative but familiar. Garrett turned and smiled at Isidore, who was standing a little ways back but looking hopeful. He caught the young man’s hand and pulled him forward into an easy embrace, swaying a little to keep them feeling as though they were dancing. “You found me,” he purred.

“I thought you might come in tonight,” Isidore said, slowly letting his arms creep up to Garrett’s shoulders. “My aunt works at the governor’s mansion, and she told me that you were supposed to be leaving tomorrow. So I took the night off, just in case.”

Isidore’s skin was too dusky to reveal a blush, not in the dim lights of the club, but Garrett could feel the heat of it from a few inches away. “I’m glad you did,” Garrett told him, meaning every word of it.

“Are you leaving tomorrow?”

Garrett hated to disappoint him, but there was only one answer he could give. “Yes. I am.”

Isidore gave him a half smile and a nod. “Yeah, I figured as much. You’ve never come in with friends before. Are they hanging out with you tonight?”

“I think at this point I’m on my own,” Garrett said. Robbie and Wyl would find their own way home when they were ready.

“What do you want?” Isidore asked, his silver-inset eyes shining brightly. “We can do whatever you want.”

“So easy,” Garrett mused with a grin. “Didn’t I warn you about that last time?”

“Last time was amazing,” Isidore replied. His smile was so cute and earnest that Garrett just had to kiss it, and Isidore melted into his arms, his nervous tension vanishing at this sudden affection. They kissed for a long time, finally stopping when Garrett saw that they were attracting a crowd. He smoothly pushed them back towards an alcove, the most private spot you could get in The Palladium that wasn’t a toilet.

“Maybe we should leave,” Garrett suggested softly.

“Where do you want to go? The hotel?”

The idea didn’t appeal for some reason. This was his last night on Paradise and he wanted to really be on it, to see it. The planet had never truly been home to him, but he wanted to feel it somehow before he was confined to the sterile shipboard environment for the next few months. “Some place out of doors. Private, if possible.”

Isidore looked at him consideringly. “Do you mind taking my bike?”

“Is it enclosed?”


Garrett considered it. His outfit would suffer, but it wasn’t like he had to worry about impressing anyone after this. Not in these clothes, anyway. “That’s all right. How far are we going?”

“It’s just outside the city limits. Twenty-five, maybe thirty minutes,” Isidore promised.

“Then take me, I’m yours,” Garrett said. Isidore smiled again, just a little bit, before turning and leading the way out of the club. They went behind the bar and through the service entrance to the parking lot out back, where one of the many vehicles parked towards the edge of the lot was Isidore’s bike.

“Nice,” Garrett said as Isidore led him over to the vehicle. Garrett didn’t know anything about bikes, but he could tell quality when he saw it, and this ride had a vintage look to it, bright and shining and obviously well-maintained, much sleeker and less modified than a lot of the more modern aerial bikes.

“It’s my baby,” Isidore said as he keyed off the alarm. “I was a bike mechanic before the garage went under. I spend way too much money keeping this one running, but I can’t bear to give up on it.”

“How old is it?”

“Almost half a century,” Isidore replied, throwing his leg over the bike. “It was my dad’s.”

“You’re doing a great job keeping it up,” Garrett said as he joined him, wrapping his arms around the young man’s waist and leaning in close. He felt Isidore’s breath catch in his chest, and smiled over it.

“Thank you,” Isidore said faintly. “Uh…do you want a helmet? I only have one…”

“You’ve got the gyroscope keeping us upright, yeah?”


“Then I’m fine.” Garrett pressed a kiss to Isidore’s neck. “Let’s go.”

Isidore pulled the close-fitting helmet over his short, spiky hair, then revved the bike into ignition. A bike that could actually rev…so retro. Garrett grinned as they pulled around The Palladium and out onto the road. They got out of the downtown area fairly quickly and headed into the hills on the north side of Rapture. The desert gave way to rocky, scrubby ground that was broken by solitary houses and occasional trees growing out of red, iron-rich earth. They went on and up, until the houses were gone and the road was only two lanes, and then turned off onto a dirt path that went up a little more. They stopped on a large, flat slab of rock at the edge of a cliff, and Isidore killed the engine. Garrett got off and looked out around.

Rapture was laid out before them, sprawling across the valley floor and far more beautiful at night, when all there was to see were thousands upon thousands of lights, steady and bright. One of the two moons was a sliver, barely there, while the other was almost full, a misshapen orange blob glaring angrily down at the world. Isidore came up behind Garrett and slid his arms around his waist. “The old man is drunk,” he murmured.

“Old man?”

“The man of the moons,” Isidore explained. “They’re his eyes. When one is open and the other closed like this, we say that he’s drunk.” He looked out over the city. “It’s kind of dumb—”

“No, it isn’t,” Garrett said. “You like it here, don’t you?”

“Here is what I know. I was born here, my parents were born here, both sets of grandparents were born here. We came with the original colonists and we’ve been here ever since. So, yeah, I guess I do like it here. I’m happy being some place that I know so well. I think it would be really hard to never have a home like this, or to always be going someplace new.” He glanced at Garrett. “Where’s your real home? I know it isn’t Paradise.”

“No, it’s not…” Garrett let his voice trail off as he thought about it. “I don’t have one yet,” he said at last. “I have family, I have friends. My home tends to be wherever they are, but as far as an actual physical place goes, there isn’t one.”

“Do you think you’ll find it where you’re going?”

“On Pandora?” Garrett scoffed. “Not likely. It’s an underdeveloped, under-populated, viciously raw planet. It’s always cold there, raining or snowing or the wind is blowing hurricane speeds…I can’t imagine making a home there.”

“How long will you be there?”

“Three years.”

Isidore sucked in a breath in surprise. “That’s a long time.”

“I know.”

“So…there really is absolutely nothing that can happen with us.”

Garrett smiled and turned around in his arms, then leaned in and kissed the young man lingeringly. “We can be friends,” he breathed as he finally pulled away, nuzzling his nose against Isidore’s cheekbone. “Very friendly friends. Friends with lots of benefits.” He kissed Isidore again, tracing his parted lips with the tip of his tongue, before slipping slowly to his knees.

Isidore moaned and leaned back against his bike, thankfully close, and braced himself as Garrett undid his pants and pulled out his cock. Garrett pushed Isidore’s knees a little further apart so he could settle comfortably between them, or as comfortably as he could expect on solid rock, and then opened his mouth and breathed hot, moist air out onto his lover. The weather wasn’t cold, it rarely got cold on Paradise, but there was a sharpness in the air that told Garrett dawn was approaching, and he knew that the heat of his mouth would be a delicious contrast to that. He licked teasingly, never closing his lips around Isidore but never drawing back, and Isidore panted and mewled and finally slid one hand into Garrett’s hair, and that was all the encouragement Garrett needed to plunge down his lover’s cock and bathe him in wetness and warmth.

Garrett loved the heavy, hot feel of a cock in his mouth. He was a slut for bare skin, a total nudist whenever he could be, and few things felt better than going down on someone and having their body splayed out for him, naked, ready and desperate to be touched. He couldn’t have that with Isidore right now, not outside on a fucking slab of rock, so Garrett made the most of the bare skin he could have. He let the head of Isidore’s cock go to the back of his mouth and swallowed, his throat gripping the hard, needy flesh. Isidore suddenly cried out and seemed to melt, his hips thrusting forward as his shoulders fell backwards, and he came hard into Garrett’s mouth.

Garrett drank him down, humming appreciatively, and then stood up, using the bike for leverage when he realized his legs had gone numb. Fucking rock. Still, Isidore was clinging to him and smiling and staring like Garrett had hung the moons, and so he couldn’t complain.

“You’re so good at that,” Isidore murmured, pulling him close and kissing him. Garrett opened his mouth to the questing tongue and let the young man lick up every trace of himself he could find, grinding his own aching erection against Isidore’s spent cock.

“Do you want to fuck me?” Isidore asked finally, breathless from their kissing.

“Desperately,” Garrett said, and he was so hard with want that the word wasn’t at all flattery, just truth.

“I hoped so,” Isidore replied with a grin. “I’m ready for you.” He turned in Garrett’s arms and draped himself against his bike, holding himself up on his forearms. Garrett slid his hands under Isidore’s filmy shirt and pulled it up, exposing the smooth expanse of his back. He undid the fastening on his own shirt and pulled it aside, then pressed himself to Isidore. The heat and the slight, catching stickiness from sweat felt so good. He crawled one of his hands down the back of Isidore’s pants, and when his fingertip dipped inside and he felt the slickness there, he smiled.

“You prepped early.”

“I wanted to be…uhn, god…ready, if…fuck, Garrett,” he writhed back suddenly when two fingers slid inside. “Please, fuck me.”

The sky was lightening now, traces of rose, gold and orange drifting up on the horizon like curls of smoke. Garrett watched the colors come, felt the heat of his own personal sun in the warmth of Isidore’s body, and reflected that if he tried, if he wanted to enough, he could make this place home. He wasn’t one to second-guess a decision, though, and it was with a feeling of quiet acceptance that he moved the rest of their clothing aside just enough to press his cock into Isidore’s clenching channel. Isidore moaned, pushed back against Garrett and he bottomed out inside of the younger man. Garrett stayed there for a little bit, kissing the back of Isidore’s neck and stroking around the tight ring of his entrance with his index finger, which made his lover shiver, before sliding out and pushing in again.

“Garrett, more,” Isidore whimpered, and when he reached around and felt the young man’s resurging interest, Garrett decided to stop teasing him. He set up a rhythm, easy at first, then harder once he felt certain that he wasn’t going to be driving his lover’s cock into something hard and painful. He absorbed everything about the moment, Isidore’s warmth and scent and the sounds he made, so beautifully inarticulate. He watched the sky brighten into pale pastels, the clouds disappearing as the dawn burned them away, and his orgasm came in a surprising rush. He ground tightly against Isidore as he poured into him, letting the harsh ecstasy of the first few moments consume him before remembering his lover. Reaching around, he gripped Isidore’s cock in one hand and pressed firmly against the base of his testicles with the other, rubbing hard on his perineum the way he knew the young man liked.

Isidore arched against Garrett, throwing his head back and yelling Garrett’s name as he came again, a thick white plume of heat that slowed to an ooze against Garrett’s palm. Garrett supported their weight with one arm, bracing against the bike with the other, until Isidore’s eyes opened again and his breathing slowed to nearly normal. Then he pulled out, slowly, semen and lubricant clinging to him like a heavy mist. It almost hurt to pull away, but Garrett knew he had to.

Isidore’s shirt became a casualty of their mess, helping both of them get mostly clean again. After that they just stood a little longer, Garrett’s chest to Isidore’s back, breathing softly and watching the sun rise over the hazy horizon. Once it was fully up Isidore faced Garrett, kissed his cheek and said, “I’ll take you back.”

He ended up taking Garrett home instead, driving up as far as he could in an unauthorized vehicle before having to drop Garrett off. Garrett got off the bike, kissed Isidore on the mouth and said, “Give me your contact info. Wyl Leyton—he’s the mechanic who takes care of the military vehicles—he’s been bitching about needing more help for a while now. I’ll tell him to look you up.”

Isidore looked surprised, but dutifully recited his number before saying, “I’ve only worked on civilian models, though.”

“I’m sure you can learn the other types. One engine is the pretty much same as the next, right?”

“I… can’t even dignify that with an appropriate response.”

“Ah, now the truth comes out. Find a niche and suddenly everyone becomes a nose-in-the-air critic.” Garrett grinned. “You’ll fit right in.” He kissed Isidore one last time, then pulled back and let his arms drop to his sides. “Goodbye, Isidore Cain. Have a lovely morning.”

“It can only go downhill from here,” Isidore said, but he managed a little smile. “Thank you for…all of it. And I hope you like Pandora better than you think you will.”

“It can only go up in my estimation,” Garrett assured him. Isidore nodded, then revved his bike and roared away. Garrett watched him disappear down the private road before checking in with the guard and walking back to his ship.

Garrett forwarded Isidore’s information to Wyl, then took a long shower. He changed into a lightweight, elegant suit and fielded a brief phone call from Jezria before going into the mansion. Miles was in a meeting with his security advisors but Claudia was in the kitchen, and Garrett was greeted by a bright smile as he joined her.

“Gare! Do you have time for breakfast?”

“Actually, Jezria already called to let me know that she’s leaving in half an hour,” Garrett said apologetically. “She wants me to follow and got my clearance ahead of time, so I’m actually here to say goodbye.”

“So fast?” Claudia exclaimed, disappointment plain in her voice. “Garrett, really?”

“Sorry, honey.” He enfolded her in a gentle hug and kissed her temple. “But I’ll be back before you know it.”

“It can’t be soon enough,” she said against his shoulder, holding him much tighter than he was holding her. “We’ll really miss you, Gare. I’ll really miss you.”

“Soon you’ll be too busy to miss me,” he promised her. “Seriously, enjoy the calm while it lasts. And take care of Dad. He’s prone to getting swept away.”

“I’ll make sure he’s okay,” Claudia said. “Are you going to go say goodbye to him?”

“Briefly. Dad and I don’t really do goodbyes.” He let go of her and stepped back with a smile. “I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Okay, Gare.” Claudia wiped quickly beneath both of her eyes and managed to smile back at him. “Travel safely.”

“I’ll do my best.”

The meeting with his father was much less emotional. Garrett knocked on his office door, stuck his head in and said, “Dad? Got a second?”

“Sure.” Miles stood up out of a cluster of his advisors and let himself out of the room. “You’re taking off?”


“Okay.” They shared a brief, one-armed man hug and then let go of each other. “Come and see us as soon as you can get away.”

“Oh, I will. I want to start corrupting my sibling at an early age.”

“Don’t even think about it, kiddo.”

Garrett laughed a little. “Bye, Dad.”

“Goodbye, Gare.” And that was that.

The last people Garrett needed to say goodbye to were Robbie and Wyl. It was their mutual day off, so naturally he and Wyl were sleeping in. Or rather, Wyl was sleeping in. Robbie was up and reading one of the paperback books that Wyl had retrieved for him from Garrett’s discard pile. He let Garrett into their officer-sized apartment in the barracks, which was still smaller than Garrett’s living quarters aboard his personal ship, and offered him a cup of tea.

“Not coffee?”

“Sometimes I prefer tea,” Robbie said, sipping at his own cup of something far too pale to be an effective stimulant, in Garrett’s mind. “Sorry we lost track of you last night.”

“It was nice of you to come along,” Garrett replied.

“Still, it was your birthday. We should have been more focused.”

“If you had been any more focused you would have burst into flame,” Garrett teased his ex. “It’s nice to see that you’ll dance with someone. You’ve still never managed it with me.”

“I don’t dance, Gare.”

“You do dance with Wyl, Robbie,” Garrett pointed out. Robbie shifted a little uncomfortably, and Garrett had pity on him. “I think it’s great. Just don’t ever screw things up with him, okay? He’s what you need.”

“I know.”

“Can you go get him so I only have to do this once?”

“You want me to wake him up?” Robbie asked incredulously. “Pull him out of bed on our day off? I have to live with his wrath, you know, you get to escape it.”

“Such a baby.” Garrett rolled his eyes and walked back into the bedroom. He sat on the edge of the bed and prodded the blanket-covered lump in the center of it. “Hey. Wake up.”


“Nope, no coffee, just me. I’m leaving, so say goodbye.”

“Ugh.” Wyl poked his head out from under the blanket and blinked red eyes. “Goodbye. Now go ‘way.”

“Charming as ever,” Garrett said dryly. “Don’t forget to check your messages at some point today. I sent you the contact information for a mechanic you’d probably get along with.”

“Who is he?”

“Isidore Cain. He could have been my next ex.”

Wyl snorted. “Way to think positive, Garrett. This is who you ran off with last night?”

“Technically I think we ran off this morning. He’s a sweet kid; I’d appreciate you giving him a look.”

“Sure,” Wyl sighed. “Consider it your going-away present.” He leaned up, hugged Garrett fast and then flopped back down onto the bed. “Now can I go back to sleep?”

“Do that.” Garrett left the room and mouthed He needs coffee to Robbie, who nodded. They embraced, and Garrett inhaled the scent of Robbie in the morning, tea and toothpaste and his particular brand of soap, and it sent a nostalgic pang through him. Fuck, he needed to get out of here.

“Gotta go,” he said, pulling back.

“See you later, Gare. Take care of yourself.”

“I will. Be safe, Robbie,” he added, feeling like he was channeling Claudia but unable to stop. “This is going to be a dangerous place for a while.”

Robbie chuckled. “Everywhere is dangerous, Garrett.”

“Deep, truly deep. Bye, Robbie.” Garrett left their apartment, walked back to his ship and sealed himself in with a sense of relief. He moved to the bridge, sat down and started turning things on. He confirmed his clearance to depart with the military guard and the control tower, got coordinates for his rendezvous with Jezria’s ship and left the shuttle bay with as little fanfare as he could possibly manage. In seconds pale blue sky gave way to blackness, and stars, and Garrett inhaled deeply. A weight that he didn’t realize he’d been feeling seemed to evaporate, and he was smiling broadly as he contacted Jezria.

Her face appeared on his comm screen. “Garrett! Right on time. Are you ready to go, then?”

“Ready and waiting.”

“I’m sending the flight plans to you now. Your autopilot should have no problems following them.”

“I’ll be on your tail,” he promised her.

“Excellent. First to Olympus, and then on to Pandora.” Jezria logged off, and Garrett made sure his autopilot was receiving before leaning back in his chair and propping his feet up on the dash.

So long, Paradise.

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