Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pandora Post #16

Title: Pandora

Part Sixteen: Strangely Entertaining

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. Nothing dirty here, just good, clean, meteor-fighting fun! Enjoy, guys. Do keep in mind, these aren’t beta’d yet. Forgive me my mistakes, misspellings and misstatements. Oh, and incidentally, Happy Independence Day, Togo. The fireworks were a particularly nice touch.


The entertainment center on the Neptune was a huge compound next to the docking bay that held all the amenities of a small, modern metropolis. There were five different restaurants with designated chefs who guaranteed that what you ate would taste different than what you could order from the mess. There was a massive zero-grav chamber for people who needed job training or for those few insane enthusiasts who enjoyed zero-g handball, and a smaller gravity gymnasium for kids to play in. There was a nightclub, several bars and a specialty ice cream shop. There were also two movie theatres, one that catered to adults and another with all the bells and whistles of a children’s paradise, and that was the theater to which Garrett was hurrying now.

Garrett had fucked people who were parents before. He had even gone on dates with people who were parents before. But he had never gone on a date with a parent and their child at the same time, and his lack of previous experience bugged him. Did you dress up or dress down? Did you cater to the kid or give them some money and point them towards the arcade? Did you just gut it out and grit your teeth and hope the silences didn’t become too awkward? He had no idea, and he was unusually determined that this turn out good for everyone.

Garrett ended up dressing in a pair of casual dark jeans and a simple long-sleeved shirt with a mandarin flair. He styled his hair with a little gel, glanced at his chrono and called it good enough; he didn’t want to keep them waiting.

It took a little over ten minutes to get to the theater, and by the time he did his particular party was almost at the head of the ticket line. Cody saw Garrett first and started hopping up and down with excitement, and Garrett slipped into place next to them, ignoring the glare he got from the mother of five behind him. “Hi.”

“You made it.” Jonah sounded mildly surprised. “Kinda thought you weren’t coming.”


“Because you didn’t let me know you got the message.”

“I was in a rush to get ready and get down here.”

“Doesn’t take much time to make a call.”

“It doesn’t take much time to drink a cup of coffee either,” Garrett snapped, irritated by Jonah’s nitpicking. The other man flushed slightly and looked away, and Garrett immediately felt like a dick. There was no need to bring that incident up. He was saved from having to apologize by Cody taking up the reins of the conversation.

“See him?” The boy pointed at the neon-green space ninja on his shirt. “He’s Marco, he’s the green Space Ranger and he’s my favorite. Nala is the red, and she’s good too. The purple is John. John is kind of boring, but Nala has a pet monkey that fits in her spaceship and it wears a red suit too. Its name is Kiko.”

“Kiko the space monkey, got it,” Garrett said.

“Should be Cody the space monkey,” Jonah said, ruffling his son’s hair. He glanced at Garrett as he bought three tickets. “You ever been into a children’s theater before?”

“Not since I was a child, no.”

“I reckon they’ve improved some since then. You don’t get motion sickness, do you?”

“No…” Garrett replied cautiously.

“Good.” Jonah led the way through the old-fashioned revolving doors. They bought popcorn and sodas and then a holographic usher directed them to their seats, which were large and reclined. They all lay back and stared up at the dome-shaped screen above their heads. Cody was chatting a mile a minute and Garrett let the words just wash over him, not feeling quite up to making more conversation just then. He had been a dick outside. Jonah had a right to know whether he could plan on company or not, and there was no call to be as rude as he had been. He ate a tiny handful of popcorn and grimaced. What the hell was it flavored with, anyway?

“Not to your taste?” Jonah asked softly from where he sat. Cody was between them but the way the chairs swiveled, their heads were close together.

“It’s just been a long time since I’ve been to the movies. I’ve just got to get into the right headspace,” Garrett replied. “Jonah, I'm—”

The lights in the theater suddenly went down, and Garrett was forced to stop talking as the sound came on. There wasn’t really any other option. Space Rangers vs the Meteor of Death had a score that sounded like xylophones played by monkeys on crack, and the speakers were loud enough that it would have been impossible to get a word in edgewise. Then there were the lasers, all of which made a satisfying zing sound as they fired despite it being the depths of space with nothing for sound waves to resonate in, and to top it all off the wicked Meteor of Death had what sounded like a classic Transylvanian accent. Also, whoever had thought to anthropomorphize a meteor needed, in Garrett’s opinion, to be booted back to kindergarten-level natural science.

The chairs rocked and rumbled along with the action as the valiant Space Rangers duked it out with the fireball-spewing Meteor of Death. They managed to prevent it from crashing into the planet Earth, conveyed very fancifully as a modern-day Garden of Eden instead of the cesspool of pollution Garrett knew it to be, and then at the end of the movie the green Space Ranger and the red Space Ranger kissed, which got a lot of groans and yucky faces from the little boys in the audience.

The only saving grace of the entire movie experience was the moment when the Meteor of Death almost swallowed the red Space Ranger’s monkey. It was a scene fraught with tension, and Cody had gasped and grabbed onto Garrett’s arm with one hand, and his father with the other. That caused a sudden brief flood of something warm to flow through Garrett’s chest, and he was able to bear the vampire-wannabe Meteor and his zinging assailants with better composure after that.

They went and got ice cream afterwards. Garrett insisted on it, despite Jonah’s assertion that they hadn’t even had lunch yet.

“Lunch was popcorn,” Garrett said blithely, ignoring the fact that he’d eaten less than a handful from his bag.

“We’ll have a real lunch when we get home,” Jonah warned his hyperexcited son. “So just a small one.”

“But Daddy…”

“One scoop or none, bucko.”

Cody ended up getting a scoop of strawberry swirl with rainbow sprinkles, Garrett got caramel vanilla bean, and Jonah, with a sly aside grin at his one-night stand, got coffee flavored. Cody finished first and darted across the hall to play on the nearest jungle gym. Garrett and Jonah sat and ate in silence for a moment, just watching him, before Garrett spoke up.

“Was that particular choice in venue a set-up to get me to leave you alone in the future?”

“What, you didn’t like the Meteor of Death?” Jonah asked, his eyes crinkling slightly as he smiled. “Nah, it wasn’t a set-up. Cody asked to bring you with and I didn’t remember until you got here that this might not be your thing, but I figured since you came anyway…” He shrugged. “It’s the only movie playing at the children’s theater until we land. Cody’s seen it twice already, but today is his day and so we do what he wants to do.”

Garrett licked a long, slow line around the edge of his ice cream, coaxing a patina of sweet chillness onto his tongue. “Even if what he wants includes inviting me to a movie.”

“Told you, Cody likes you,” Jonah mumbled, his eyes fixed on Garrett’s mouth.

“He’s a great kid,” Garrett offered, and he meant it sincerely. Bad taste in movies aside, Cody was gregarious verging on charming, and very cute. It would be almost impossible not to like him, and given Garrett’s persisting fascination with the kid’s dad, that was a good thing.

“He is, yeah,” Jonah said with a faint sigh. Garrett could almost see Jonah rein in a nascent lascivious thought .

“If he really likes movies, the next time we all get together you should come and visit the lab. I have a climate simulator that can do some amazing things.”


“Friendly, education-oriented visit to the science lab on your next day off,” Garrett interrupted with a casual wave of his hand. “Bring some of Cody’s friends if you really want to make a production out of it.”

“Lacey’s dad is a scientist,” Cody offered from just behind Garrett’s elbow. Both of the adults started in surprise at his sudden appearance. “Lacey says that her dad says that the lab is a great place to work as long as the—see, then she said a word that I can’t say but it rhymes with witch—isn’t looking over your shoulder. And then she said her dad said another word I can say, but it rhymes with bucking—”

“Good time to quit there, Cody,” Jonah interjected, getting to his feet. “And we need to get you some real food before the sugar makes you keel over.”

“Can Garrett come?”

“Not this time,” Jonah replied, to the disappointment of both of his companions. “But our next day off we’ll see him again,” he added. The glance he threw at Garrett was a little defensive and a little resigned, but more than a little interested. It was enough encouragement for Garrett, who grinned cheerfully back as they exchanged polite goodbyes, then watched the pair walk away.

A project. He had a project now, a personal project, and that felt good. Garrett had friends on board the Neptune but Jonah was the first person he’d felt more than an everyday kind of interest in. Tall, lanky, comfortable, gorgeous drifter-turned-colonist Jonah was someone Garrett could see spending hours and hours with. Hell, he already had, and as bad as that movie had been he wouldn’t have traded the time for anything. It eased the sense of detachment he’d been feeling after the trials and exertions of yesterday, and despite the Jonah’s reservations Garrett didn’t see any reason to deny himself someone he wanted, and who wanted him at least as badly.

A project. Perfect.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shadows and Light 4 excerpt

So, for the patient and devoted, and I suppose for everyone else too, here's an excerpt from the next chapter of Shadows and Light.  It's not beta'd or heavily edited, so it will undoubtedly be tweaked again before you read it on Literotica (soon), but I felt compelled to share regardless.  It's close to the beginning of the story.  Enjoy:)


It was Xian who ended up finding them a den about fifteen minutes later, and Rafael was more than ready to stop at that point. The appointed spot was a dense thicket down a hill several meters off the trail, heavily shadowed by pine trees. It would be nearly invisible from the trail even in the daylight, and there was a slender stream right next to it, which would be good for the horses and for the two of them. They both dismounted once they’d made their way down the hill, and Xian handed the reins over to Rafael.

“I’ll prepare the camp while you care for the horses.”

That was one of the new skill sets Rafael had had to learn: how to tend to a huge, odiferous, time-consuming animal in a way that would keep it fit to ride. It was far from his favorite aspect of the trip, but after several weeks and with Xian’s help, Rafael was fairly efficient at it now. He found a place beneath the trees where the horses could stand comfortably, and even graze some, and then took off their saddles and pads and exchanged the heavy bridles for simple rope halters. He staked their leads to the ground, then spent some time brushing both of the beasts down and checking their hooves for stones. Then he hauled some water for them, and by that point he was sweating and freezing simultaneously. His horse looked down at the ground, sniffed for a moment, then whuffled indignantly.

“Do I look like a miracle worker?” Rafael demanded. “I can’t make grass spring up from rock.” His horse continued to stare. “The grain cakes will be harder and harder to get. Just be patient and I’ll find you food later.”

This provoked a whinny, and Rafael gave in to the inevitable. “Fine. Don’t blame me if you’re starving in a week.” He took two thick grain cakes out of his saddle bag and fed one to each horse. “Now stop your whining.”

“I never thought I’d see you argue with something that couldn’t argue back,” Xian remarked from the entrance to the shelter that would be their home for the next day. The inside of it had been lined with heavy wool blankets, which would serve the dual purpose of keeping out the light and keeping in the heat. He had pulled the rest of their personal belongings inside and made up a pallet on the ground that would be just large enough for the two of them, if they stayed close. After experiencing the pleasure of sleeping with Xian for the past two weeks, Rafael had every intention of staying as close as humanly possible.

“Arguing with inanimate objects is one thing; arguing with that beast is another. Just because he can’t speak doesn’t mean he won’t try to drown me in guilt.”

“My poor pet, a slave to the will of his noble steed,” Xian smirked as he slipped his arms around Rafael’s waist from behind, pressing cool lips to his neck.

“I live to serve,” Rafael replied flatly, but he nevertheless leaned back into the embrace, craving the physical connection to Xian.

“I know,” Xian said, and kissed him again before pulling back. “The snares are almost ready.”

“I’ll help you set them,” Rafael said.

“As you wish.” They walked together past the stream, wending their way through the thick press of pine needles. Xian held a length of slender wire in his hands, and was expertly tying a noose into the end of it. Once finished, he handed it to Rafael and began on the next one. “We may get lucky with one of the larger traps here. A badger would bring plenty in trade.”

“Or we could simply pay for food,” Rafael offered, not for the first time. He winced as a finger suddenly flicked his ear, hard.

“Or you could learn to be self-sufficient,” Xian said. “I don’t show you all of this because I enjoy boring you, Rafael.” He handed him the second snare and began tying the third. His long, milk-pale fingers dexterously slid the wire into the appropriate loop. “These are things you need to know if we’re to succeed. Once we reach—” He stopped speaking as the wire suddenly slipped from his hands, falling limply to the ground. They both stopped and stared at it for a long moment. Rafael looked uncomprehendingly down at the wire, and then over at Xian.

Xian’s face was always hard to read, his casual expression of imperturbability down to an art after half a millennium of life, but something about the sudden lowering of his eyelids to half mast, hiding the blank white orbs from view, was very disturbing. In all the years of his apprenticeship and the short time they’d been together since then, Rafael had never seen Xian fumble. To see it now meant that things were happening that Rafael had steadfastly refused to discuss for the past two weeks, and the cold ache that swelled suddenly in his chest had nothing to do with the weather.

After a moment, Xian bent and retrieved the loop of wire as though nothing had happened. He expertly finished tying the knot, then turned to Rafael. “Get those two set and baited, then meet me back at camp. Dawn is coming fast.” He took the one left in his hands and moved on, leaving Rafael staring after him in the iron-grey light. After a moment he snapped out of his fear-induced fugue and went to do just that, trying to find signs of animals and choose likely spots for the snares, but in the end he simply tied them down within five feet of each other before sprinting back to their camp.

Xian was already there, not sitting in the den he’d prepared but stroking the nose of his own horse, a large grey male with tufted black ears and a much less argumentative disposition that Rafael’s. He looked over at his former apprentice as he skidded into the small clearing. “Problems?”

“No,” Rafael said after a moment, trying to slow down the anxious beating of his heart. “No problems.”

“Then we’d best get inside.” He stepped away from his horse and took Rafael’s hand, then led him back into the den. They both sat down, and then Xian lowered the final heavy blanket over the entrance, plunging them into total darkness. Rafael sat and shivered, completely unnerved, and jumped when he felt Xian’s hand on his shoulder.

“Sleep,” Xian said.

“Shouldn’t…but shouldn’t we—”

“We’ll talk about it later, pet,” Xian soothed him. “It will keep for a few more hours, and I know you need the rest. Lie down with me.”

“Xian…” Rafael didn’t think he could sleep with the specter of the dreaded “talk” hanging over him, something he’d gone out of his way to avoid up to now, but he was tired from hours of riding through the dreary, interminable hills. The environment simply didn’t energize him the way living in a city had, and he had lived in Clare in whole life before their exodus. To be a stranger in what was essentially a new world was a new and uncomfortable fear that he fought with constantly.

Rafael let himself be coaxed onto his side on the pallet of blankets and cloaks, and when Xian nestled in behind him and fit their bodies together like lock and key, the ache in his chest began to dissipate. He focused on the soft touch of his lover’s breath on his skin, and the steady cadence of both of their heartbeats, and slowly he allowed himself be comforted until he couldn’t stop from sleeping.

If Rafael’s waking moments were marred by an underlying fear of impending change, his sleep was just as invaded by twisted memories shaped into terrifying dreams. He saw his ejection from the Upper City over and over again, and each time Xian brought him back from the brink of death, he did it while laughing, delighting in his former apprentice’s pain. Rafael saw himself bound in the circular chamber, hanging from chains and waiting with breathless anticipation for his master’s hand, or his whip. Instead of Xian it was Myrtea who wielded the weapon, though, and she bit brutally deep into his skin, drawing blood and baring bone.

Even worse were the dreams where she had Xian under her control, chained and helpless. She called him “My beloved,” and she touched him intimately with hands like burning brands, leaving bright red blisters on Xian’s perfect, pale skin. They should have healed almost instantly but they couldn’t; the Blood of Erran had left Xian, abandoned him to his latent mortality, and he was dying now and it was all Rafael’s fault. All he could do was watch and listen as his lover screamed, strange and high and breathy, hardly more than a whimper but—


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Opening Worlds excerpt

Here I was thinking I'd posted this before, and come to find out, I haven't.  *slaps self*  Thank you Ma'am, may I have another!

This is an excerpt from a story called Opening Worlds that's coming out in an anthology with Storm Moon Press in June.  They're looking to contract for a novel that continues the tale in 2012, which is 100% pure, organic, unadulterated and hypoallergenic awesomeness.  I'll keep you updated.

And in other news...hot season has returned with a vengeance, but we're promised rain for Easter.  Please, God.  Please.


Jason Kim looked over the mission log his supervisors had sent down earlier that afternoon and stifled a sigh. Back to Perelan. Damn it, he knew that the Silver Star was the best ship for those particular runs—part container vessel and part upper-class cruiser—but that didn’t make him like them any better. Admittedly, the cargo was good. There was always a high demand for luxuries on Perelan, and he never had a problem filling the hold while he was there, but the passengers... He could happily give them a pass. It was part of the deal, though, and while he was captaining a merchant vessel instead of a military starship these days, he always honored his deals. No pretending the life support couldn’t handle an influx of people, no insinuating that their treatment of his highly-trained civilian staff was anything other than exemplary. In fact, it was likely his staff would do the civvy version of a mutiny if he refused passengers from Perelan, and Jason didn’t want to deal with that.

He sat back in his chair and glanced at the log again, charting courses and times in his mind. He’d load fuel and foodstuffs for arrival at Ceyla City and pick up passengers there. That would include three Perels, who apparently had decided they wanted to finish their post-adolescent “tour of the ‘verse” in high and expensive style. Following Ceyla City, they’d stop by Ishtar to load elegant, hand-crafted consumer goods that would be snapped up on Perelan, and then finally circle back to the vaunted planet itself, to drop off his three interlopers. After that, thank whoever his scheduler was, he was off-duty for a month. It was past time, too.

“Orders come down the pipe, sir?” his second-in-command asked, smiling slightly. “Fluttering down to you like little angels from on high? Zipping along the information super conduit? Smacking into your brain at warp speed—”

“Thank you for that series of outdated turns of phrase, Flo; you must have been saving them up for a while.”

“Yes, well, I like Old Earth idioms as much as the next person, sir.”

“Or far, far more than the next person.”

“Yeah, that.” She peered at the screen with interest. “Where’re we going?”

“Ceyla, Ishtar, Perelan.”

“Money run,” she noted, not at all put off by Jason’s terseness. “Passengers?”

“Whomever we can fit comfortably, but we’re reserving three suites for some Perels coming aboard in Ceyla.”

“Oooh, they’ll need them,” Florence smirked. “Make sure they get the biggest beds available, too. Perels rarely sleep alone.”

“I’m well aware of their preferences.”

“They’ll be good for business. Everyone wants to travel with a Perel...” Florence’s voice trailed off as she remembered why Jason might not like to hear that. “Sorry, sir.”

“Water under the bridge, Flo.”

“Nice one,” she congratulated him.

“For you, I’m willing to make the effort.” Jason looked over the mission log again. “The delivery for Ceyla should be arriving around fifteen hundred hours, local time. Can you handle the loading and pre-flight check? Make sure all the staff are on board and prepped?”

“Absolutely, sir,” Florence said immediately. “I’ll let you know when everyone is settled and we’re ready to head out. Go and do something relaxing. Have a bubble bath. Hit a punching bag. Holo-snipe something.”

“Point taken,” Jason said dryly.
I will probably give you more later.  I'm a giver:)  Happy weekend, people.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I received a contract offer from Dreamspinner Press today for my almost-long-enough-to-be-a-novel-but-not-quite novella A Blinded Mind.  This is a story that I wrote for NaNoWriMo, and it's really pretty dark considering my usual fare, but also much more structurally complex.  Which is not to say I'm shooting for the Pulitzer of erotica here, but I'm really happy it's going to be published.

Of course, I did end it with something of a cliffhanger.  Which means I'll have to do a sequel eventually if it sells.  Which, as my regular visitors know, is not my strong suit.  I can write good sequels, but writing them in good time...yeah, I tend to fall down on that front.  So why do I do this to myself, leave plots and characters hanging?  Poor planning, latent love and inspiration for improvement.  And alliteration, I get a huge kick out of that:) Anyway, more soon about the release.

In other areas of my life, it looks like my darling man will have not just a job but a good, tecnhologically and creatively interesting job when we get back to America, if, y'know, congress passes a budget.  So, um...what's the hold-up?  C'mon, Congress!  You can do it!  Pass that budget! Yeah!

I swear, I haven't been drinking.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pandora Pt. 15

Title: Pandora

Part Fifteen: The Man Behind The Curtain

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 particular chapter is long and rated NC-17 for explicit naughtiness. No joke, no April Fool’s, just pure Pandora. Enjoy!


Garrett stared into the climate modeler and watched his latest simulation come to life. The S-series machines had a slower computing power than the later models, which meant that his simulations took longer to create and to load, but it had the best visuals package of any of them. Watching the weather unfold in the heart of the machine was like being on the planet itself. Garrett adjusted the imaging equipment on his head, then used the control pad to move his point of view further into the oncoming storm.

This particular simulation was investigating the probability of wintertime tsunamis and how they might affect Pandora’s single, solitary outpost. The Neptune would arrive on the planet’s main continent during its summer season, and would have about eight standard months of building time before the worst of the weather hit and working outside would become untenable. Not that summer was a hell of a lot warmer than winter, but the storms were milder, and there was even a brief growing season that they’d have to take ruthless advantage of if they were going to become self-sustaining in five years, which was the Pandora Project’s current goal. Originally it had been three years, but Doctor Sims’ biologists and botanists had stated in firm unison that such a thing was impossible, and eventually they’d managed to convince their supervisor of that as well. Which didn’t mean that there hadn’t been plenty of fights over it, but nothing was ever easy with Martina Sims.

Garrett moved his view to the walls of the outpost and gazed out over the dark, storming ocean. On a planet beset on a yearly basis with hurricanes, tidal waves and floods, the founding colonists of Pandora had chosen to put their only settlement right next to the damn sea. Yeah, growing seasons and subtropical jet streams and blah blah blah, but from an efficiency perspective it was ridiculous. For six months of solid and impassable winter, the settlement—called Pandora City but commonly referred to as the Box—was completely shut in. No building was done except for repairs, no one went outside except in dire circumstances. Over the few centuries of low-level colonization, almost all the deaths that weren’t attributed to old age, illness or murder happened when someone found a reason to go out into the fury that was winter outside the Box.

And here it came, like clockwork, the first great tidal wave of the winter season, not always the worst but terribly shocking for all that. Garrett watched from his virtual vantage point on top of the wall, watched the water melt away from the coastline as ever-shifting tectonic plates battled for supremacy miles below the surface of the water. He sped the simulation up, and saw water slide with terrible speed, away over rocky beach and out, out into the horizon, then come crashing back with a growing force, higher and taller than anything nature-made that he’d ever seen before. The front edge of the water boiled with energy, and it crossed the ground between the coast and the Box in moments, a dark purple wave with its edges foaming a sickly, rabid white. Garrett could almost feel the foundations of the sturdy settlement shudder beneath his feet as the wave rose up and then crashed over them, flooding his vision with blackness and covering the Box with water. The Box could take it, obviously, it had for many years and with the environmental shields up the water just sheeted over them, but it was nevertheless shocking to be plunged into such a deep darkness, and surrounded by so much total, sepulchral silence.

“-arrett. Garrett!” A hard hand smacked him sharply on the shoulder. “Are you listening to me?”

It took a moment, but Garrett finally pulled himself out of the simulation and removed the imaging helmet from his head. He felt strange, shaky and a little ill. His supervisor, naturally, ignored that. Martina’s pretty face glared at him, her mouth twisted in a frown. “I’ve been calling your name for the last two minutes.”

“I was working,” he said slowly, putting himself back together after it felt like everything had been washed away.

“No, what you should have been doing was working. What you were doing was watching your cute little climate simulations and wasting my time. And why didn’t you tell me that you have a first aid class scheduled today?” She pointed at the hardcopy of his work schedule that she had fisted in one hand. “You’re supposed to participate in all expedition-required educational classes on your days off.”

Garrett shrugged insouciantly, getting into the flow of fighting with Martina. “I scheduled it for an off day, but then the class was cancelled. I didn’t choose when it was rescheduled, and—oh, look here.” He checked the schedule she was brandishing in his face. “It says here that it’s the last standard first aid class being offered before we make Pandora. Looks like my attendance is non-negotiable.”

“You shouldn’t have waited until the last minute,” she fumed. “There’s too much work to be done for you to go swanning off and leaving a dozen projects just sitting—”

“It’s one afternoon,” Garrett pointed out. “One tiny little afternoon. A blip on the radar of life.”

Martina put her hands on her hips. “Every moment counts.”


“No!” she said stridently, her voice rising with agitation. “Every moment counts, Garrett! And when those moments are supposed to be spent working for the greater scientific advancement of the expedition, I expect them to take place here, in the lab. Your professional time is mine and I don’t like to share it. Plan better in the future.” She turned and stalked off down the lab, leaving a wake of startled glances passing between her and Garrett. They didn’t often have confrontations, mostly because Garrett gave as good as he got, so watching anything happen between them that went beyond monosyllables was a surprise.

Garrett shrugged it off. He’d almost forgotten the first aid class. Again. Now he definitely had no choice, though. He turned off the climate modeler and set the imaging helmet back on its stand, then stood up and stretched, rubbing lightly at his lower back.

“Oh please,” Shekar said from where he sat a few tables away, “Don’t even pretend that your highly ergonomic lounge chair makes your back hurt.”

“You know, jealousy is an unattractive emotion,” he advised his friend.

“It’s not jealousy!”

“Envy, then,” Garrett grinned. “Avarice. Greed. Covetousness.”

“Covet what?” Shekar shook his head. “That isn’t even a word.”

“It is, my friend, and it applies to you.” Garrett patted him on the shoulder. “But don’t worry, I forgive you.”

“Thanks,” Shekar said dryly.

“My pleasure.”

“Speaking of off hours, it’s my turn to cook tonight,” Shekar said, looking between Garrett and Lila. “Are we doing dinner?” They’d taken to cooking for each other one night a week, and of the three of them Shekar was by far the best cook.

“I should be done learning to amputate limbs with my teeth by then,” Garrett agreed. “Lila?”

“Oh, I can’t,” she said apologetically, her cheeks flushing slightly. “I, um, I have a date.”

“A date?” Shekar asked, his face falling. “Really?”

“Yes, and it’s the only night he could get off this week, otherwise I wouldn’t have scheduled it during our dinner,” she told him. “I’m sorry.”

“Like an actual date with a person?” Shekar persisted. “In person?”


“Who is it?”

“He’s a teacher.”

“What, like a children’s teacher?”


“But you’re a scientist,” Shekar said, looking totally confused. “What do a geologist and a children’s teacher have to talk about?”

Lila rolled her eyes. “What do a geologist and a mathematician have to talk about?”

“Lots of things! Soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering, the calculations for the core sampling equipment…we have plenty to talk about, we work together!”

“Exactly,” Lila said shortly. “And I’m tired of talking about work.” She turned her eyes resolutely back to her own equipment.




“You already said that.”

“Yeah, well, I meant it,” Shekar snapped. “And actually, this is all for the best, because there are plenty of things I need to catch up on and I think tonight’s the night. Garrett,” he turned back to their bemused audience, “sorry to disappoint you, but my cooking will not be on the menu this evening. I have things to do.”

“What kind of things?” he asked mildly.

“Just…things. Important things. I have to go talk to Doctor Sims.” Shekar stood and took off down the lab, his tatty white coat fluttering behind him. Lila looked after him and sighed.

“That went well. Not.”

“He’ll get over it,” Garrett said quietly.

“He’ll have to.” She looked down again and Garrett put a hand on her shoulder, then left the lab and made his way to the infirmary.

“Doctor Caractacus!” The perky nurse at the front desk grinned when she saw him. “Great to see you! The class is almost ready to start, they were just waiting on you, so go right on in.”

“Thank you.” He walked into the room she indicated and found himself the subject of numerous stares from no one he recognized. The medical technician at the front of the class, a burly older man, frowned and pointed at a seat. Garrett sat.

“Let’s get started.” He stood behind a table covered with numerous bulky medical devices. “First off, before we get going with the hands on stuff, I want to explain a few things to you. I assume everyone here knows that you can’t put a natural in a Regen tank, give them injections of Regen or use any equipment on them that relies on Regen.” He waited for his students to nod en masse.

“That being said, though, there are a lot of devices that you can safely use on a natural, and I’m going to show you how to work them. There’s a medical locker in every wing of every floor of this ship, and each of these lockers is stocked with everything you’re going to see today. Some of these will be unfamiliar to you, so pay attention while I go over how to use them. This,” he held up a boxy thing with electrical pads attached to it, “is a defibrillator. It jumpstarts a person’s heart by charging it with an electrical current. You turn the machine on, stick these pads on the guy’s bare chest, and when it zaps you let it do its thing. If it tells you you screwed up, you rearrange the pads and try again. Red light means don’t touch, because there’s current running through it. Green light means you can touch.” He dropped it back onto the table, then moved on to the next device. “This…”

The session stretched into five long, droning hours of boredom. As far as Garrett could tell it mostly boiled down to, “Apply pressure and call for help” if it was bleeding and “do CPR and call for help” if someone wasn’t breathing or had no heartbeat. The devices were good if they were there but mostly, caring for a natural was too complicated for a layman. They all had to memorize the number for emergency services on the ship, practice setting limbs and caring for burns and doing chest compressions, and a lot of other things that Garrett remembered having to learn as a child but never using. By the end of the five hours he was tapping his foot on the floor and struggling not to drum his fingers. Fuck it, he needed out of here. He needed to be doing something. Or someone.

Less than two weeks away from Pandora and he hadn’t been laid since the night before they left Olympus. It was pitiful. So what if Jonah had been amazing? Garrett had slept with plenty of amazing people. Jonah wasn’t his first drifter, either; he’d carried on a very satisfying affair for several months with the head of a drifter clan while he traveled with his father, helping him juggle being a senator and an active Federation general. That had been right after he and Robbie had called it quits…three years of the good, the bad and the ugly, and Garrett treasured every minute he’d had of the longest relationship in his life to date, even if sometimes Robbie had frustrated him to the point of losing his temper. He hadn’t spoken to Robbie, or Wyl, for almost a week now…too long.

The class was abruptly ended, and Garrett leapt for the escape route, more than ready to kiss the infirmary goodbye. He didn’t need to get his brain chemistry checked today, he was done with the damn class, he didn’t need a shot of Regen…

“But I don’t like shots,” a small, familiar voice whimpered pitifully from behind a curtain.

“Gotta have it anyway, bucko,” another voice, equally familiar but completely not who it sounded like under any circumstances, replied.

It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t.

“It will only take a second,” the female doctor’s voice said soothingly. “Then you’ll be all done.”

“But it hurts.”

“It didn’t hurt your friend last time, did it?”


“His friend?” the man’s voice—not that man’s voice, oh no—asked under his breath.

“Doctor Caractacus. He and Cody met the last time Cody was in to get a shot, and they ended up getting theirs together.”


“C’mere, bucko.” Garrett heard a creak and shift as the weight on the infirmary cot changed. “Just relax, okay? I’ve got you. You’re gonna be fine.”

“You’ll just feel a little pinch,” the doctor promised. There was a small whine a moment later, then the noise of a band-aid being unwrapped and the softer, muffled smack of a kiss. Garrett intimately knew all of the sounds two bodies made when they connected, and this was a reassuring, gentle kiss, probably the father’s lips to his son’s head. A moment later the doctor pulled back the curtain, and Garrett saw what he had been sure he wouldn’t see.

His one night stand, Jonah, sitting on a cot with Cody in his lap, both of them admiring the Space Ranger band-aid that decorated his son’s arm. The doctor saw Garrett first.

“Doctor Caractacus! Cody, look, it’s your friend from before.”

The two men’s eyes met, and Garrett would have been hard pressed to say which of them was more shocked. Jonah looked a little less put together than the last time Garrett had seen him, but anyone would be disheveled with a squirmy five year old on their lap. His sandy brown hair was tied into a ponytail, but several hanks had been pulled free, and there were stress lines clearly visible around his eyes and mouth. He was a little paler than Garrett remembered, and clean shaven now instead of alluringly scruffy, but Garrett’s stomach still clenched with sudden want at the sight of him.

“Garrett!” Cody wiggled until his father put him down, and he crossed the few meters between them with a bouncy step, the pain of his shot forgotten. “Daddy came with me this time and it didn’t hurt all that much, and look, I got another Space Ranger band-aid! This one is the purple Space Ranger though and he isn’t my favorite, and last time I got the green one and I like him better. Remember?”

“This is your friend?” Jonah asked in a slightly-strangled tone.

“Yeah Daddy, he sat with me and then we got shots. Are you getting one today?”

“Um, no,” Garrett said, finally pulling his mind out of the memory gutter. The last thing he needed was to get an involuntary erection in front of a child. “Today I had to come in for a class.”

“Like a school class?”

“Exactly like that, except more boring,” he confessed.

“That doesn’t sound like fun.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Garrett drawled, looking straight at Jonah with slightly hard eyes. “If I hadn’t come in for my class, then I wouldn’t have gotten to meet your Daddy. Something tells me he can be a hard man to find.” Not that Garrett had tried to find him, he’d made himself resist, but the man had blown off their morning after, and the almost inevitable prospect of more intensely hot sex, with no explanation, and now he was here? It was too good an opportunity to pass up.

To his satisfaction, Jonah winced. “Doc, how about you check on Cody’s ears while we’re in?” he suggested. “Maybe find him a red or green Space Ranger band-aid.”

“Sure,” the doctor said, a little mystified. She took Cody by the hand and led him over towards another partition. Garrett crossed his arms and stared at Jonah, and Jonah stared right back.

“You cut your hair,” Jonah said at last.

The non-sequiter threw Garrett. “Yes. When the environmental controls were offline.”

“I saw you then.”


“Skin room on the top floor. I didn’t know it was you,” he added when he saw Garrett’s eyes narrow. “Cody and I could just see your back. You seemed kinda into whatever you were doing, so we found another place to look at the stars.”

“I can’t believe you’re Cody’s dad. He told me all about how wonderful and perfect and protective you are.”

Jonah winced again. “He mentioned your name, but I didn’t think it was actually you. You had a private ship; I took you for a private contractor. Never reckoned you’d be joining the expedition to Pandora.”

“I am a private contractor,” Garrett said, “in the science lab. For the next three years, at any rate. Keeping the ship was part of my contract. I haven’t really joined the expedition.”

“Huh.” A little of the warmth seemed to leave Jonah’s face. “Well, that figures. You sure as hell aren’t a natural.”

“Neither are you. What’s a drifter doing heading into the Fringe with a group of colonists? Why aren’t you off on your own ship somewhere?”

Jonah’s lips thinned. “My boy’s a natural. Couldn’t keep him healthy on board a ship, not with all the places we stopped. He needs a real home, some place he can have a real life. I heard about Olympus’ call for colonists and signed on as a pilot.”

“Oh.” That made sense. Still… “It must have hurt to leave your family behind.” Drifter clans stayed tight for generations, the entire extended family living on a ship that added on more space as more children were born.

“Nothing’s more important than Cody.”

Why did that sound so…final? Garrett decided to let go of his irritation and lighten the mood. “I still owe you a cup of coffee, you know.”

“You don’t owe me a damn thing.”

Garrett frowned. “Why so vehement?”

“Because I know where you’re headed, and the answer’s no.”

Well, fuck. Way to cut through the small talk. “No, you won’t have coffee with me, or no we won’t be sleeping together again?”

“Both,” Jonah said firmly. “Don’t get me wrong, that night was damn fine and you’re more than just easy on the eyes, but I’m not gonna be bringin’ someone home for a casual thing, and I won’t be passing my son’s care off to other people just so I can go and get some action on the side. It’s just me and Cody now and he’s my priority.”

“Cody likes me,” Garrett pointed out.

“’Course he does, you were sweet to him and you’re a nice guy,” Jonah said with an easy shrug. “Thanks for helping him out when I couldn’t be here.”

“My pleasure,” Garrett muttered. “I still don’t understand why you don’t want to see me again, though. What we did was really, really…” fucking amazing incredible wonderful perfect, “nice.”

“I know. But that’s not the point.” Jonah shook his head. “I’m not looking for a relationship right now, ‘specially not with someone who isn’t going to settle on Pandora. I shouldn’t even have had that one night, really, but it had been a long time for me and you, well, you’re pretty irresistible.” He smiled a familiar half smile, and Garrett’s stomach clenched again.

“Why not get together for something we could all do?” Garrett shocked himself by asking. Holy shit, was he really this desperate? “Dinner in one of the restaurants, or we could go to the gravity gymnasium.”

Jonah’s jaw seemed to tighten. “Damn it Garrett, I don’t want Cody liking you any more than he already does.”

“You’re bound to see me around. This ship is big, but it’s not that big.”

“Managed to miss you until now,” Jonah countered. “And no, no dates. No coffee, no dinner, no—”

“Are you coming over for dinner?” Cody asked, appearing as if by magic at Garrett’s side. The boy grabbed onto one of Garrett’s long-fingered hands with both of his own. “We’re having macaroni and cheese. It’s my favorite. Do you like it?”

“I do like it, but your daddy doesn’t want me to come to dinner,” Garrett said a little spitefully. He saw Cody’s face crumple with confusion and Jonah’s eyes go pleading and sighed. “Besides, I have other plans for tonight. Maybe another time.”


“Don’t pester the man, Cody,” Jonah said, getting up off the cot. His long body unfolded to its full length, and just looking at it vividly reminded Garrett of how it had felt to have all of that pressed against him, weighing him down, pushing inside of him…

“I have to go,” Garrett said suddenly. “It was nice to see you again, Cody. And you, Jonah…?”  He knew but he wanted to hear it from Jonah's lips.

“Helms,” he said softly. “Jonah and Cody Helms. Nice to see you too, Doctor Caractacus.”

“You got it on the first try,” Garrett said, a little bemused. He shook his head slightly to clear it, then gently detached himself from Cody. “Have a nice evening.” He then turned on his heel and left the infirmary, his mind whirling with so many emotions that he had no idea how to sort through them all. Mechanically, his feet took him back towards his quarters, where he would be alone, with no friends to eat dinner with and no lover to have sex with and no child to be chatty with. When his com rang in the elevator it was almost a palpable relief. “This is Garrett.”

“Good evening, Garrett.” Jezria’s smooth voice penetrated the fog of his emotions. “Would you mind joining me in my quarters? An issue has been raised concerning your work and I’d like to discuss it with you.”

“Concerning my work?” Anger, one of the many swirling things he’d been feeling, suddenly took the fore. “Who’s been talking to you about my work?”

“I’d rather discuss it in person,” Jezria said. “May I expect you soon?”

“I’ll be there immediately,” Garrett snapped, then disconnected and rerouted the elevator. It took him five minutes to get to Jezria’s spacious quarters, and in that amount of time he’d managed to work himself into a satisfyingly indignant lather. Jezria buzzed him in and he got right to the point, despite the fact that several of her aides were with her.

“Who’s complaining about my work?”

“Please sit down, Garrett.”

“I feel like standing,” he gritted. “Who. Is. It.”

“Doctor Sims expressed some concern today over your work ethic. She feels you undermine her authority and don’t fully dedicate yourself to the time you have in the lab.”

“Doctor Sims is an idiot.”

“I have to take this complaint seriously, Garrett, and so should you,” Jezria reproved him. “She said you spent over an hour watching simulations this morning, and then you took the afternoon off to do a first aid class.”

“The class was rescheduled and beyond my control, and as for the simulations, well, I need to see them in order to be able to evaluate my work.” Garrett began pacing, trying to describe something he found very difficult to articulate. “Martina is a structural engineer, she works with numbers and equations and concrete designs. Climatology is chaotic, it’s fluid, it’s changeable. The environment won’t conform to an equation no matter how many hundreds or thousands of data points we have to go off of, and to be honest the data collection that’s been done so far on Pandora has been pretty shoddy with regards to weather patterns. I can’t get a good idea of the magnitude of the potential errors in our assumptions unless I can get a feel for what’s happening, and for that I need to design and review simulations. I’m a scientist, but I’m not a mathematician or an engineer. I need visual cues to facilitate my understanding.

“I’ve done everything Martina has asked of me in good time, when it makes sense for me to pursue it. Do I have a handle on the weather patterns on Pandora for the next hundred years? No. Am I getting there? Yes. But I can’t work miracles, and frankly no one working for Doctor Martina Sims will ever be able to work miracles the way she second guesses and double checks every bit of work we produce.” Running abruptly out of steam, Garrett flopped down on the couch across from Jezria, who looked at him concernedly.

“Are you all right?”

The temptation to shout, “Do I fucking look all right?” was almost overwhelming, but he managed to restrain himself. “No,” he said simply. “But I can handle it.”

“Very well. I’ll add my opinion of the formal complaint to the file before it goes into admin, and so you know, my opinion is that her objections are unfounded and that no further notice should be made of it. But you’ll have to deal with Doctor Sims on a daily basis, so please try not to overly antagonize her.”

“If you had any concept of the amount of control I use on a daily basis with her grand high misanthropic majesty, you wouldn’t be cautioning me, you’d be praising my godlike restraint,” Garrett sighed.

“I’m sure I would, dear. How is your father?”

“Busy,” Garrett replied. “I haven’t spoken to him for a while. I did talk with Claudia the other day, though. Things are kind of riled up in the capitol. He might have to institute a curfew.”

“That won’t be popular.”

“Well, I know I hated it as a teenager.”

Jezria smiled and smoothly shifted gears. “Thank you for addressing this matter so promptly, Garrett. I think you’re doing very good work.”

“From your lips to God’s ear.” Or whatever the saying was. “Mind if I go now? I have a hot date with my hand that’s not to be missed.”

“Crass,” Jezria chided him.

“Honest,” Garrett said, standing up and straightening his suit.

“Go, then. And Steven,” she turned to one of her aides, “I’m done with the food security information for now as well. Thank you for collecting it all for me. Go and have a nice evening.”

“Thank you,” Seven said, also standing. He looked at Garrett and smiled slightly, then motioned towards the door. Garrett took the hint and led the way out. Once they were both in the hall Steven’s smile got wider and more sympathetic. “Bad day, huh?”

“You could say that,” Garrett replied, rolling his neck in a circle before focusing on the aide. Steven Miyakawa, the first person to welcome him aboard the Neptune and, by all accounts, a very rewarding lay. Garrett remembered flirting with him, that first day, making the other man blush, and he thought, Fuck it. Jonah got his engine revving and then didn’t want him? He’d play with somebody else. “Want to go out for a drink?”

“I don’t drink,” Steven said with a faint smile. “I’m an ascetic.”

“Really?” Garrett was instantly intrigued. “Are you a sexual ascetic as well?”

“Kind of. I have sex, I just don’t allow myself to orgasm,” the other man explained. He took in Garrett’s expression and laughed. “I know, it sounds like a punishment, but self denial really works for me, and I love bringing other people to orgasm.”

“What do you get out of self denial?”

“A sense of personal power and control,” Steven said. “Asceticism as my clan follows it is about not being ruled by your desires. Sex can be pleasurable for reasons other than coming.”

“So you never have orgasms?”

“Well…almost never.” He shrugged slightly. “Sometimes it happens, but not often.”

“I bet you’d have one with me.”

Steven arched one eyebrow. “Really? You’re that confident in yourself?”


Steven stared at Garrett for a long moment, then asked, “Do you want to test the theory?”

“Absolutely.” Just get me out of my head for a while. “Your place?”

“That’s fine with me.”

Steven’s place ended up being just one level down from Jezria’s. It was far smaller than hers and very sparsely decorated, but there was a shower and a bed and at the moment that was enough for Garrett. He was tired of being alone. He was tired of not being touched; he missed the comforting everyday physical contact that being with his family and friends had provided him, not to mention the feel of a warm, willing body against his own. He had never had sex with an ascetic before, but given the amount of time it had been since he’d been laid, Garrett had no doubt that he’d be able to bring Steven off eventually. That was what he wanted, exhaustive, mind-numbing sex without emotional entanglements.

They took a shower together, and Garrett took his time bathing Steven, rubbing his slender body down with a plain white washcloth and not letting the other man distract him with caresses. Garrett was a man on a mission. Steven was almost too skinny, but it looked good on him, and he seemed to enjoy being explored. He had an erection the whole time, but no matter how Garrett stroked and fondled him, he didn’t tense up or begin to leak. The gauntlet was thrown down.

Garrett had never minded exerting himself for his partner’s sake and he loved a challenge, so once they were out of the shower he pressed Steven back until he leaned against the bedroom wall, then sank to his knees in front of him. “I want to blow you,” he murmured.

“Whatever you want,” Steven replied, threading thin fingers into Garrett’s hair. Garrett leaned forward and took the warm, hard velvet into his mouth, moaning at the sensations that flooded through him. God, he missed this. He missed doing this for someone, missed being the reason for their pleasure. Admittedly, now he was doing it to a man who made a lifestyle out of denying himself pleasure, but it was as much for Garrett’s sake as it was for Steven’s. He licked every inch of his cock, then suckled insistently on the head while his hands manipulated Steven’s sack. Then he drew back and plunged down and stroked around the base for a while, and pulled off and did it all over again. Garrett went down on Steven until his jaw was aching and his lover finally, finally, was flowing with precome.

“Will you come if I fuck you?” he asked, removing his mouth from Steven’s cock with a slick pop.

“No,” Steven panted.

“Will you come if you fuck me?”


“Oh, you tease,” Garrett grinned. He stood up off the floor just long enough to tug Steven back onto the bed with him, more of a pallet really, then arranged them to his liking. Garrett laid Steven out flat on his back, stroking his dick firmly with one hand while he prepped himself with his fingers and oil with the other. Steven avidly watched every move he made and so Garrett made it a show, whimpering and groaning as he opened himself up in preparation to take Steven’s cock. He wasn’t really feeling it, but under the circumstances pretending was half the fun. He didn’t want genuine emotions right now, he wanted to fuck with no strings attached. No more falling in lust with one night stands. The old ways were the best ways.

Garrett sinuously straddled his lover’s slender hips, holding his cock in place and pressing against it, just enough to barely breech himself, before pulling off again. He allowed Steven to penetrate him by millimeters, just a little deeper every time, and he tensed and relaxed in a regular rhythm as he took Steen deeper inside. By the time he was finally down all the way his thighs were burning with exertion and his cock was aching with need.

“Can you keep going if you come now?” Steven whispered, splaying his long fingers over the tops of Garrett’s thighs.


“Then come.” He wrapped those long fingers over Garrett’s cock and stroked firmly, and it was all he needed to fall over the edge. His orgasm swelled and burst and he came with a drawn-out groan of pleasure. It felt good, very good. It was the pure physical release he was looking for, not less than he had hoped, not disappointing in any way. It wasn’t Jonah, but apparently he didn’t get to fucking have fucking Jonah, so…

Garrett caught his breath, and then he began to move again on Steven, longer strokes this time, rising and falling and fucking himself slow and steady, then fast and hard. He came again before he finally drew an orgasm out of his lover, and it lasted so long and was so satisfying to watch that Garrett didn’t even feel his own discomfort any more. After a few quiet minutes, they cleaned up, then went to sleep. They didn’t touch each other during the night, and waking in the morning wasn’t uncomfortable, but it wasn’t emotional either.

“Tea?” Steven offered, pulling a few cups from a cabinet.

“There’s no coffee?”

“I don’t drink coffee, but I could order you some from the kitchen.”

“Tea is fine,” Garrett said. They drank a cup of pale green tea together, more grassy than caffeine-imbued, and then Garrett leaned in and kissed Steven’s cheek. It was the first kiss that had passed between them all night. “Thank you. That was fun.”

“It was. I really didn’t think you’d be able to make me come.”

“Are you kidding? Darling, all you demanded was patience and stamina. We didn’t even get into pain play, or domination and submission, or nerve fetishes—”

“No, we didn’t,” Steven said, his cheeks faintly pink. “And we won’t be.”

“I know.” They both knew that they wouldn’t be doing this again. It had been a good night, but there hadn’t been any real connection between them. “Give Jezria hell today.”

“She has you for that.” Steven walked Garrett over to the door, clasped his arm, and said, “Enjoy your day off.”

“How do you know my schedule better than I do?” Garrett huffed. “Yeah, I will.” I’ll have lots of fun sitting in my apartment alone doing, huh, let me think, nothing! Sounds great. Garrett left Steven’s apartment and drifted slowly back to his own, physically wrung out and satiated but not really there mentally. He should have been there. He should have been basking in the afterglow and the feeling of a job well done, but instead he felt untethered, like he’d been reaching for something and just when he thought he’d grabbed it, it turned out to be further away than ever.

He reached his floor and his quarters, and absently let himself in. There was a message light blinking next to the door, indicating that someone had stopped by and found him gone. He ignored it and headed back into his bedroom for a long shower. He washed himself from head to foot with rich, expensive body wash and rubbed honey-scented cleanser into his hair. Luxuries…they made life worth living. Didn’t they?

He dried off, shrugged on a azure silk robe, ambled back into his kitchen and ordered a cup of coffee worthy of Wyl. It was dark enough to make him wince, and so he immediately adulterated it with milk and sugar until it was palatable. He drank it and ate a small breakfast, checked to make sure no one had tried to call him while he’d been out—and no one had—then pressed the button to receive the message that someone, probably a crew member of some sort, had left outside his door.

“Hey, Garrett.” It was Jonah, and he sounded a little sheepish. All the energy that had abandoned Garrett this morning shot like lightning back into his limbs. “Cody and I came by this mornin’ to ask if you wanted to have breakfast, but you weren’t in.” There was absolutely no inflection in his voice as he said this part. “We’re going to a movie in the big theater later on today though, and Cody wants you to know you’re invited to join us.” Garrett heard a high voice say something kind of muffled, then Jonah picked up again. “It’s Space Rangers versus the Meteor of Death, which apparently is not to be missed. The show starts at eleven. It’d be nice to see you there. I’m sorry I left things kind of…well…look, I’m just sorry. I didn’t mean to be an ass.” There was more muffled speech, and Garrett heard Jonah say, “No, you can’t say that word, it’s a grown up word. Look,” his voice was louder again, “we’ve gotta go. Hope to see you later.” The message ended.

Garrett sat completely still at the counter, letting the offer seep in. Jonah Helms, his one night stand, the father of a bouncing little natural and a man who seemed antipathetic towards relationships in general and relationships with someone like Garrett in particular, was inviting him to a movie. With his son. All together. Undoubtedly there would be zero chance for sex, but Garrett considered the offer as the olive branch that Jonah was probably intending it to be and gave in. He’d wanted something to do with his day, and now he had something. Space Rangers. Oh boy.

It was already ten-thirty, and he still had to get dressed and style his hair and get to the entertainment complex…Garrett grinned and jumped off the stool. If he hurried, he could make it.