Pandora Posts

I figured it was time to get with the program and put all of the Pandora posts in one location, so people who are interested don't have to scroll and hunt and back click and all that crap.  Well, you'll still be scrolling and hunting but at least it's all on the same page.

Title: Pandora

Part One: Trouble In Paradise

Notes: This is a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica called Bonded (as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. If you do want to and you like it, throw me a comment, make me eager to continue :)

It was a special evening. An important evening. The inauguration of the first governor of the newly-inducted, ironically-named Federation planet Paradise was the sort of event that attention-starved socialites and wealthy provincials longed for. Any distraction from day to day life on a rock that consisted mostly of empty desert, especially from those aspects concerning the reconstruction after the war, was pathetically welcome. Every dignitary, notable and local politician who could wrangle an invitation did, and the brand-new Governor’s Mansion was packed with people wanting to see, be seen and to work out their place in the new social pecking order.

Naturally most of this sucking up was directed at the new governor, but there was plenty to go around for his family members. General Miles Caractacus didn’t have much family, just a new young wife and a son from his first marriage. Claudia, the wife, was attached to her husband’s side, a vision in a shining pearl-white dress, sleek, beautiful and attentive. Garrett, the son, was just as beautiful as his new stepmother, but unlike her he was nowhere to be seen at the moment. He had slipped outside to the veranda, and was staring out across the capitol city of Rapture at bunker-like government buildings glowing under two orange moons. He was alone, and currently wondering why.

Garrett could only assume that it was because he wanted it that way, and that was what was fucking with him. He never wanted to be alone. He was the quintessential social butterfly, an intrinsically gregarious creature who had to be the center of attention. He gloried in it; he craved it. Tonight was an evening he was made for. But for some reason he wasn’t comfortable working the crowd right now. It didn’t thrill him like it should. People flocked to him at any time: he was gorgeous, successful and known for being generous with his company (others might call him a man-whore, but they were usually the bitter ones he didn’t want to sleep with). This sort of event should have been his playground.

Mood swings weren’t unusual for Garrett. He was as attuned to his blood chemistry as any doctor could be, but this time around was different. This felt like it had been building for a while. Weeks, maybe months. He was getting tired of playing. It was…bizarre. Probably the result of all the unwholesomely vanilla influences in his life lately. His father getting married to a pretty, adoring woman that Garrett actually liked. His ex and his ex’s lover turning into his closest friends, which was more than a little screwy considering they never let him play with them. Not even when he asked nicely. Garrett sighed.

“Big sigh.”

Think of the devil…Garrett glanced over his shoulder. “Wyl. Don’t you have a big, strong marine you should be dancing with?”

“Please,” Wyl scoffed, moving up to stand beside Garrett at the railing. “Robbie has two left feet. He doesn’t dance if it’s not barefoot in the kitchen.”

“He’d do anything for you.”

“I can’t dance either.” Wyl passed him a glass filled with a white, milky liquid. “Drink up, it’s on your dad.”

Garrett stared into the glass. “What is this?”

“Not what you’d like best,” Wyl replied with a crooked smile. He was an inch or so shorter than Garrett, with jet black hair tied into a short ponytail and a sharp, attractive face. He was a ship mechanic from a working-class background, and the only thing he and Garrett had in common on the surface was their interest in Robbie. “But it’s still creamy and delicious.” Inside they had a similar filthy sense of humor, though.

“So thoughtful.” Garrett took one sip, then another more appreciatively. “Nice. He imported all sorts of good stuff for this.”

“Your dad wants to get off on the right foot.”

“The politically correct and very pricey foot,” Garrett corrected. “No state funds used, the party’s coming from his personal accounts. He might as well get us all drunk and happy tonight, because tomorrow the work really gets going. Governing a recently divided, even more recently united planet with no profitable infrastructure in place apart from smuggling and a thousand different parasites waiting to descend and sink their claws into the planning is no one’s idea of a good time.”

“Your dad isn’t the type to let himself get pushed into anything. He’ll do fine.”

“I know. He’s got a good staff, he’s got Claudia. You and Robbie, and Jane. He can handle anything that comes up.”

“He’s got you, too.” Wyl grinned at him. “You might be mostly eye candy but you’ve got some skills, plus you’re his only son.”

“There isn’t much call for terraforming here; the big companies have given Paradise up as a lost cause. Apart from the greenhouses needed for food security there won’t be much to design.”

“Well there must be something else for a biochemical climawhatthefuckever to do here. People, if nothing else.”

Garrett had to force a smile, which was another weird thing. He usually reveled in his sexual freedoms, but he hadn’t slept with anyone for nearly two weeks now, and he wasn’t really interested in starting anything up with anyone. “Yes, I suppose I can always fall back on personal entertainment.”

Wyl frowned. “When’s the last time you went on a date, anyway? A real date, not a booty call?”

“Oh, sometime around that semi-suicidal mission of Robbie’s. He really has healed up fine, hasn’t he? I never know if he’s telling the truth about personal injury.”

“He’s fine now, the new leg works great, but Gare—that was six months ago.” Wyl clearly was not willing to be distracted. “You went out almost every night the first year I was here. You had boyfriends, boy toys…what’s up?”

“Nothing.” Which was technically true, his social calendar was dead except for big, unavoidable group events like this.

“Your heart rate says you’re lying.”

“Oh, fuck you and your super senses,” Garrett groused.


“Wyl, if I knew what to tell you, I would,” he said. That was true enough too. Garrett believed in being honest, especially with people he cared about. The problem was that he didn’t know what was going on with him.

“Will you tell me once you do know? Or Robbie, or your dad, or someone?”

Garrett smiled, more naturally now. It was nice to have someone worry about him. “Of course.”

“Good.” Wyl pointed at the drink. “Finish it before it gets warm, they’re gross that way.”

“Thanks, that’s incentive.” Garrett spun the glass in his fingertips, then put it down on the railing. “I’ll get a fresh one inside. I need to go back in anyway.”

“Nah, stay. The music sucks.”

Garrett rolled his eyes. “It’s a waltz. What’s not to like about a waltz?”

“Apart from the fact that listening to it makes me want to fall asleep?”

“Sounds like a fascinating conversation,” a new voice commented from the door. They both turned to look at Robbie, who came over and slipped an arm around Wyl’s waist. Garrett barely even felt a pang any more when that happened, for which he was pretty proud of himself. Robbie Sinclair was a modern day white knight, tall, good looking, the kind of guy that made going gray at the temples look sexy instead of distinguished. Garrett had long ago resigned himself to the fact that Robbie was a thing of his past, at least carnally, but that didn’t mean he had to keep his hands completely to himself.

“It was,” he said breezily, twining one of his arms with Robbie’s free one. “We were discussing who was going to get to dance with you next, and since Wyl is fighting off a bout of narcolepsy, it looks like I win.”

“I don’t dance,” Robbie said instantly, his blue eyes going a little desperate at the idea of it.

“Perfect time to learn,” Garrett coaxed, putting his cute face on. “Waltzes are easy.”

“You think global climate modeling is easy too.”

“You have the hand-eye coordination to be a sharpshooter in the Marines and yet you don’t have the foot-eye coordination to learn to waltz?” Garrett was tempted to keep up the banter, it was kind of standard operating procedure for the three of them, but he just didn’t have the energy. “Whatever. Stay out, enjoy the night air. It’s the coolest it gets on this damn planet anyway.” He turned and walked back inside, leaving his warm drink behind. He thought he heard Wyl mutter something to Robbie, but it was lost in the sudden flood of sound as the door slid open for him. Garrett squared his shoulders, dredged another smile up from somewhere and proceeded to work the room.

Title: Pandora

Part Two: Happy Mask

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. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people.

There were live musicians playing the waltz, their instruments perfect replicas of the archaic wood and metal that was the standard for old Earth. Garrett enjoyed the sound of the instruments, the richness that their close, physical reality lent to the performance. He let that enjoyment have free reign in his mind, driving his social ability for the evening. If it gave his comments a more detached air than his usual witty lasciviousness, most people were too drunk or distracted to notice.

There was no shortage of individuals who did know how to waltz, and no shortage of dance partners either. Garrett had his pick of among the glittering constellation of guests, and he passed from one pair of arms to the next, always smiling, charming and attentive. He chatted up the gossips, conversed with the philosophers, and listened to the folks who needed an outlet. He made people feel special, noticed, at ease. Garrett wielded his attractiveness like the weapon it was designed to be, toeing the line between uncomfortably beautiful and approachably handsome. He avoided Wyl and Robbie when they came back into the ballroom, and steered clear of his father and Claudia as well. He wasn’t feeling like having any more introspection pushed on him that evening. Unfortunately, he couldn’t anticipate everyone.

“Senator Dowd,” he greeted one of his father’s former contemporaries from the inner colonies, “it’s lovely to see you. You’ve come a long way.” He took the small, rounded woman’s hand in his own and inclined his head briefly, a familiar salutation between natives on her home planet of Olympus.

“How could I pass up the opportunity to break my journey in your excellent company?” the senator replied, a small smile on her face as she tilted her head in the traditional response.

“So you didn’t come just for me?” Garrett pressed one hand to his chest. “I’m crushed.”

“You’ll weather the disappointment somehow,” she said, tightening her grip a little before releasing him. “I was more than happy to accept the invitation. I’ve got a lot to do before I get to Pandora.”

“Why would you go to Pandora?” It was a fair question. Why would anyone go to Pandora? It was on the outskirts of the fringe, the edge of the inhabited planets. Most of those planets were “inhabited” only because the inner colonies had vastly overrated the speed at which they would need more space, and so had staked their claims centuries earlier. Huge amounts of money and resources were spent preparing planets for colonization that likely wouldn’t be needed for a dozen generations, even with the prolonging therapies that extended people’s lives by so many years. Olympus had begun transforming the harsh, uninhabitable landscape of its extension colony Pandora over three centuries ago. Garrett had no idea how far along it was, but he did know that their population wasn’t large enough to merit shipping people out there yet.

“I’m conducting a review for Olympus’ ruling council,” Senator Dowd replied. “Pandora is finally approaching livable conditions, and while we don’t have any immediate need to colonize, there are plenty of special interest groups who’re looking for a place to put down roots.”

Garrett raised an eyebrow. “You’re considering selling space to zealots?” ‘Special interest’ was almost always synonymous with ‘the fundamentally faithful’ these days, and they tended not to make for the best tenants. These were people who lived by faith, any faith, but let that faith dictate their actions to the impediment of living a regular life in regular society. Although, Garrett allowed, ‘regular’ was a loaded term. But what the hell; he wasn’t a sociologist or a psychologist, he didn’t really care about the nomenclature. Garrett dismissed the thought and turned his attention back to the senator as she answered.

“Not all special interest groups are zealots,” she said mildly, her expression imperturbable. “Living in the fringe is comparatively hard work, but there are advantages. Independence with the assurance of home-colony support as long as connections are properly maintained, fewer restrictions on social or medical issues…as long as they’re not reverting to savagery or illegal activities the benefits outweigh the difficulties, at least at first glance. That’s one of the reasons I’m going, to assess whether or not we can safely and stably initiate a real, productive colony on Pandora. If we can, the first expedition will be largely scientific, getting the facilities in place for larger groups. We’ll need a good climatologist,” she added, that same little smile glinting on and off in her face.

Garrett arched an eyebrow in genuine disdain. “Jezria, do I look like the kind of person who would enjoy a stint on the stormy ball of ice water that is Pandora? Who named it, by the way? It was either someone with a feeble sense of humor or a vicious sense of irony.”

“That would be my great-grandfather,” she replied.

“I see. I’m going with irony, then.”

“What are you doing here on Paradise these days, Garrett?” Jezria Dowd asked, sipping briefly from a glass of what might have been champagne, but was the color of a starry sky.

“I’m consulting with the Terrestrials Corporation.” Or he had been three months ago. That contract was over and while he’d been approached with numerous offers, he hadn’t accepted any.

“Well, if you go freelance in the near future, you should consider a tour on the fringe. You look like you could use a bit of a shakeup.” The senator leaned in slightly, confidentially. “It’s hard to mask the eyes, my dear. You do a flawless job with the rest of yourself, though.” She restored the space between them, her expression as contentedly placid and bovine as ever. “Now, do you think you could help me elbow my way through the crowd so I can go and congratulate your father?”

“My pleasure.” Which was only a very small lie, because Garrett usually enjoyed watching Jezria and his father go at each other in the politely vicious fashion of two respectful opponents, but he was already feeling a little shaken tonight. There was nothing for it, though. He held his arm out to Jezria and slid back into the throng.

Title: Pandora

Part Three: Easy Company

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. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. If you do want to and you like it, throw me a comment, make me eager to continue :)

Garrett led the senator over to his father and promptly abandoned both of them, stealing away his new stepmother with a breezy “You two enjoy yourselves.” His father frowned at him but turned his attention to Jezria, which suited Garrett perfectly. Two birds distracted with one stone. Claudia would be easy company for him, and he needed to be ensconced with someone in order to be left alone by everyone else.

Claudia cast an uneasy glance over her shoulder at her husband as they walked away. “Shouldn’t I stay with him?”

“Miles is a big boy, he can handle himself with Senator Dowd for a few minutes. He’s used to her.”

“It sounds so strange to hear you call your father ‘Miles.’”

“I’d call him Dad, but then the temptation to call you Mommy out of sheer proximity might be overwhelming.”

Claudia smacked him lightly on the arm with the back of her hand. “You’ve got a decade on me, Garrett.”

“I know, the potential for kink here is profound, isn’t it?”

Claudia laughed like he’d intended, some of her tension seeping away. “Don’t you dare start calling him ‘Daddy,’ I don’t think I could take it.”

“Not tonight,” Garrett promised her. “I’d have to be drunk to do that and unfortunately, we’re on call.” They stopped in an alcove next to a sweet-smelling potted lemon tree, took two glasses of that dark champagne from the ubiquitous wait staff, and looked out at the crowd. Garrett sipped, then nodded approvingly. “This is lovely. Did you choose this?”

“Yes. I had it brought in with the last shipment of medical supplies from Clix, they have the most wonderful environment for grapes there. It’s a newer variety of champagne, a noir de noirs. It’s called Elysium.”

There was no escaping ancient mythologies tonight, it seemed.

“Do you miss the restaurant?” Claudia had been a master sommelier before marrying his father.

“Not really, no. There’s so much to do right now. Miles is working nonstop, and I’ve got my hands full sorting out things with the estate.”

“It’s a lot,” Garrett agreed. He was tempted, very badly tempted, to offer up advice. Garrett had played host for the more social aspects of his father’s career many times before, and having that mantle taken away was still something he was getting used to. Claudia probably wouldn’t have been offended if he’d offered to help, but it wasn’t a habit he wanted to let himself develop. “How does it feel living in full view of the public?”

“It’s taking some getting used to,” Claudia acknowledged, inhaling the scent of her champagne before sipping. “I thought the wedding was bad enough…I had no idea Miles was so popular with the newsfeeds.”

“Yeah, that’s Mom’s fault,” Garrett said.

“Oh, no.” Claudia looked at him apologetically, her large dark eyes going wide with apprehension. “I don’t mean to imply that I blame your mother for anything, Gare. Honestly—”

“It was a joke, Claudia,” Garrett said gently. He knew his mother was a sore spot with Claudia. Hell, she was a sore spot with everyone, a figure of extremes: passion and elegance, vanity and need. Her movies were still some of the most popular holofilms ever made, and the woman had been dead since he was three. His mother had been the archetype of celebrity, and part of her legacy was an eternal spotlight on the family she left behind.

“No one ever expected Dad to marry again,” Garrett went on. “That he found you too charming to resist isn’t your fault, but it is enough to make asshole reporters pry into your private life and crash your wedding. Dad did fire that security firm, right?”

“Yes,” she said. “We’ve got a new one working for us now, based here on Paradise. In addition to Miles’ personal security staff, of course.”

Garrett frowned. “Based here? Out of where, Rapture? How long have they been established? Were they on the losing side?”

“Gare.” Claudia looked a little exasperated now. “They aren’t assassins. Everyone was fully screened before being allowed access to our compound. Miles took care of it personally.”

Miles isn’t infallible, Garrett wanted to say, but there was no sense in getting into an argument with Claudia about his father. As far as Miles’ new bride was concerned, the suns rose and set at her husband’s command. It was, Garrett reflected, sweet. Cloyingly so. He drank some more champagne.

“Gare…” Her touch on his arm was tentative. “You’re not upset, are you?”

“Nothing about you and my father being together upsets me,” Garrett said firmly. It was true enough. He loved his father, wanted him to be happy. Claudia made him happy, and so Garrett loved her too. She was easy to love, all earnestness and patience. Claudia had a practical mind, and in many ways was the complete opposite of his mother, but that was probably part of her appeal, Garrett figured. She also wasn’t quite easy enough with him to point out that he hadn’t really answered her question, which was another point in her favor.

He took pity on her. “Looks like Dad’s finished with Jezria. I suppose I can be forced to spare you if you want to return to the lion’s den.”

“I should be with him,” Claudia immediately agreed. “Won’t you come with me, though? He hasn’t had a moment with you all night.”

“We can have a moment later,” Garrett said. “You go have one now.” He smiled brilliantly at her and nudged her away, watched her draw back to his father’s side like the attraction between them was magnetic. He glanced at his watch. It was late enough that he could escape without being missed for long. High fucking time, too, he snarked internally, then felt like hitting his forehead. What the fuck was wrong with him, anyway?

Garrett left the ballroom as unobtrusively as he could, only having to deflect a few people in his quest for solitude. The rest of the mansion was empty except for roving security, and all the lights were dimmed. There was carpet underfoot, and fresh air flowed through the hallways. So different from his father’s last residence, the battleship that had been his command center during Paradise’s civil war. That had been militantly spare, the only personal decorations coming through in his personal quarters. Here, this entire mansion was his domain, his and Claudia’s. He could already see glimpses of their personalities coming through in the decorating, the marble and slate and sculpture stemming from his father’s sensibilities and the rich, earth-toned fabrics covering chairs and draping windows speaking to Claudia’s. It was more than just a place to live for them. They were turning it into a home, their home.

As, Garrett reminded himself, they should. He wasn’t complaining so much as…noticing. Evaluating. He was welcome here, he knew that. He always had a home with his father. In fact, the only homes he’d ever had were with his father, or briefly with Robbie. He’d never made one for himself. And you’re how old now? Never mind, don’t answer that. Well, maybe he would look for a place of his own. Somewhere more stable and long-term than his personal ship, which was where he kept all his belongings currently. Hmm. It was something to consider.

Rather than stay in the mansion tonight, Garrett walked to the shuttle bay where his cruiser was docked, alongside some custom hotrod of Wyl’s. Wyl had offered to “improve” his ship, but he wasn’t ready to void every warranty on the thing in favor of artistic sensibility and ridiculously fast speeds yet. Garrett opened the hatch and walked inside, then sighed with relief as the door closed behind him. Another evening whiled away. Another night he’d be spending by himself.

And that, Garrett reflected as he moved toward his bedroom to change, was actually all right with him. Huh. Voluntary celibacy. Who would have guessed that keeping his own company would be so effortless?

Title: Pandora

Part Four: Family Groups

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. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. If you do, enjoy!

In a universe where medicine had advanced to the point of near-immortality and genetic manipulation was routine, suicide was a rarity. Deaths occurred, of course. People would be killing people wherever they existed, and accidents certainly happened. In places where there weren’t reputable medical facilities, people’s natural tendencies tended to come through, and in some cases that meant a cocktail of mental illnesses that would make anyone unstable. Then there were the very rare, the naturals, those people who were resistant to genetic manipulation and who couldn’t be helped with prolonging therapies or cured by autodocs. They could die of illnesses that no one even remembered existed.

So many of the old ways of helping people had been lost, drug therapies and counseling abandoned with the advent of re-creationism. The powers that be forgot that society was a bell curve, and the outliers on either side suffered for it. Things slipped through. Perfection, no matter how appealing a concept, was in reality an impossible dream. People died. People killed themselves.

The suicide of Larissa Child had shocked the public. She was a star, a diva, a legend. She was the most gorgeous woman imaginable, had shaped and sliced herself to fit the public’s image since she was a little girl. Her looks changed depending on popular perceptions of beauty, but she was always inherently Larissa Child, always somehow recognizable no matter how many changes she made. When she married a promising young military officer from one of Earth’s oldest families, it was perfectly right. When they had a son, people had sighed with satisfaction. Even stars had normal lives. How lovely. How wonderful. How perfect.

She killed herself when Garrett was three. Miles had been away; he was often away, just like she was. The two spent very little time together, and less time together with their son. Garrett was watched over by a flock of caretakers and personal assistants, and the only way he’d known something was wrong was by the sudden flood of tears from the woman pushing his swing as news of his mother’s death came over her com. Stricken, one hand over her mouth, she’d kept pushing him, her hand weak on his lower back as he swung his legs, trying to go higher, and she tried to figure out how to tell a child that his mother was dead.

Garrett remembered being unmoved. The last time he’d seen his mother she’d left behind an impression of shimmering fabric and curling dark hair and warm, too-wet lips pressed to his cheek. That was all. No sound, no smell, no feeling of love or affection. Just a brief, damp kiss and a flash of color. Her death didn’t mean anything to him, no substantial change from the way he’d been before. It did mean that he got to see his father more for the next few months, and that made him happy.

Despite the media hell that had become their lives, Miles must have continued to love his wife. He must still love her in some ways, Garrett reflected as he gazed over at the small portrait on the table just inside the sunroom. Why else would he keep her picture around? Miles joined him at the table a moment later, and Garrett pushed thoughts of his mother aside. “Coffee or bissap juice?”

Miles raised one eyebrow, a perfect imitation of his son’s gesture the night before. “You have to ask?”

“I do have to ask,” Garrett replied smoothly, pouring both of them mugs of rich, dark coffee and ignoring the carafe of purple juice. “I promised Claudia I would.”

“Contrary woman. No problem with alcohol, not in the slightest, but the sight of caffeine sends her running for the hills.”

“In her defense, you prefer coffee brewed strong enough to melt your enamel.”

“It’s still there.” Miles grinned briefly by way of proof, then picked up the mug and drank. Garrett added a little cream to his, then followed suit. They sipped in silence for a while, neither feeling pressure to speak as they watched the suns rise over the horizon in a slow flood of red and gold. Breakfast was brought out a few minutes later.

“She’s sleeping in, I take it,” Garrett said as he spread an embroidered navy linen napkin across his lap. Another of Claudia’s touches. Before they’d used utilitarian white.

“She had a big day yesterday.”

“So did you.”

“I’m used to it,” Miles replied, spreading apple butter across a piece of toast. “She’ll get there, but I’m not in any hurry to make her keep up. The work will wait. Besides, I like to watch her sleep.”

“So soft and sentimental in your old age,” Garrett teased.

“We’ll see how soft I am when I throw your ass off this balcony, kiddo.”

Garrett rolled his eyes. “My mistake. You reek of youth and testosterone. You are as unassailable as some quintessentially unassailable thing, and as far from cutely in love as you are from puppies and kittens. That better?” He cut a bite of his steak and ate, still smirking.

“Brilliant, handsome and an incurable smartass. Where did I go wrong?” Miles threw his eyes heavenward before snorting under his breath. “Shut up and eat.”

Garrett did, and they sat in easy silence for a while longer. Garrett looked at his father, really looked, and decided Claudia was having a good effect on him. Miles looked younger, the lines of his face falling into smiles more naturally, the thick gray of his hair a little longer, a little less severe than before. Despite his myriad of new responsibilities, he seemed more relaxed than he had for years. Garrett was tempted to start teasing him again, but thought better of it and looked back down at his plate, then frowned.

Teasing was standard. Teasing was rote. Garrett loved his father, but he’d long ago decided that the best way they got along was when they were picking at each other, and that pattern had worked for them since he’d been fifteen. If Miles wanted easy, uncomplicated conversation he could go his new wife. Things between father and son were supposed to be comfortably sharp, yet he found he didn’t want to needle his dad into a state of exasperation. Yet another aberration in his recent behavior. Maybe he should get checked out by an autodoc.

Miles, astute politician that he was, noticed but didn’t comment. Instead he finished his eggs, wiped his mouth, poured them both more coffee and said, “Jezria really wants you for the Pandora project.”

“No she doesn’t,” Garrett said automatically, “She just said that to perturb you. Not that I’m performing any desperately necessary tasks here.”

“She seemed pretty sincere to me.” Miles leaned back in his chair stretched out his legs and crossed his ankles, holding his mug of coffee comfortably at chest level as he looked out over his new domain. “She’ll be back in a month or so. If things go the way she thinks they will out there, she’s going to start hiring staff almost immediately.”

“Looking to get rid of me already?” Garrett asked lightly.

“No.” Miles took one hand from his mug and reached over, putting it firmly on top of his son’s where it rested on the table. The look Miles shot Garrett was serious, so serious it made Garrett uncomfortable, but he couldn’t quite make himself pull back. “Absolutely not.” Miles held his son’s eyes for a moment longer, then relinquished his gaze and his hand and returned to his comfortable slouch. “Although I’m surprised you’re not bored out of your skin here.”

“Right, and Pandora would be a noted improvement over Paradise.”

“Pandora would offer its own challenges, and you’ve never been afraid of those. There’s always the central system too, although that,” Miles grimaced, “comes with its own set of problems.”

That was true enough. More civilization meant more people, more notoriety and far less privacy. The fringe was bad enough sometimes. You had to be constantly vigilant on the central worlds, and the way Garrett was feeling off his game lately, that wasn’t a prospect that appealed to him.

“I’ll think about it,” he said at last. “I’ve got some time. I’m not relishing the idea of living with a bunch of fundamentalists, though.”

“Actually, I think Jezria mentioned that the strongest bid was coming from a group of naturals.”

“A group?” Garrett was astonished. “There are enough of them out here to form a group?” Naturals were a vanishing breed as pre-birth technology improved even more.

“Them and their families,” Miles replied.

“Huh.” Well, that would be different. Depressing, but different. Garrett could understand why they’d want to get away, someplace where naturals wouldn’t be treated like glass and kept at a distance. They were so fragile, by comparison to regular humans. So incredibly fragile. They were hard to get close to, when all you could do when you looked at them was think about when they wouldn’t be around, how long you might have, when they might go. Being a natural in a prolonged society was no picnic. “I’ll definitely consider it.”


Claudia joined them soon afterwards, slightly mussed from her slumber and frowning because Miles had let her sleep in. Garrett watched his father gentle his stepmother’s pique until both of them were glowing with affection and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. He took his leave, kissing Claudia’s cheek as he went, and headed to the barracks. Something entertaining was bound to be going on there.

He wasn’t wrong. The barracks were packed, not just with the Marines who weren’t currently on patrol but with a lot of the spare security personnel as well. Apparently there was an exhibition going on. Moving a little closer, Garrett made out the two silver-clad forms going at it on the mat and grinned to himself. Quite an exhibition. It wasn’t every day the average soldier got to watch his commanding officers beat the shit out of each other.

They both wore sparring skinsuits that were calibrated to allow just enough force in, sufficient to stagger but not concuss, enough to make a joint twinge but not break. The suits stiffened to take a joint out of play if they judged enough force had been applied, to add realism to a fight, but neither of the combatants was trying to immobilize at the moment. They were going for pure percussive power.

Garrett sat down next to Wyl on a bench at the edge of the mat, soldiers and security staff melting out of his way without him having to ask. “Robbie feeling a little stressy?” he inquired.

“No, Jane is,” Wyl replied, not taking his eyes off the pair. “She just got word that her grandmother passed away. Jane doesn’t like to let things fester. She had a good cry, then said she needed a good fight and Robbie was the closest she was going to get.”

“Closest, huh?” Garrett turned his attention back to the mat. He didn’t know Jane Freeman all that well. She’d worked with Robbie in the fringe and had a similar background, and when Robbie couldn’t immediately take the position that Miles had offered him a few years ago, Robbie had suggested Jane as a replacement. Jane Freeman was a tall, Amazonian black woman with a doctorate in psychology and decades of service as a Marine. She also had a talent for logistics and getting projects off the ground, and her service had been invaluable to then-General Caractacus as he’d readied his short, victorious war. She was a good commander and a gifted tactician, and she and Robbie split their command duties right down the center when he came on board, with her planning operations and him in charge in the field. It was a nearly-flawless partnership that proved how well they worked together. This morning was showing that they worked against each other just as well.

Jane was a few inches shorter than Robbie but more flexible in the hips, and she used her extra reach there to great effect as one of her powerful legs came whipping around at his head. He moved out of the way but she didn’t snap the kick back, just let her momentum carry her around into a spinning side kick. Robbie took her heel to his midsection but grabbed her foot, throwing it into the air as he swept her plant leg out from beneath her. Jane crashed to the mat but didn’t wait for Robbie to close, hooking his ankle and knee with her feet and levering him brutally to the floor before rolling back to her feet. She wanted to bang, not grapple, and Robbie gave her what she wanted, jamming her next kick and grabbing her behind the head as he slammed his knee repeatedly into her gut. The watchers collectively winced.

“Mother fuck,” Wyl muttered.

“Yeah,” Garrett agreed. They winced again as Jane got her feet under her and thrust up with an elbow to Robbie’s chin, followed by several hooks that send him reeling to the side. “This is supposed to be therapeutic?”

“Fucked if I know.” Wyl glanced over at Garrett. “You have combat mods, right?”

“A present for my sweet sixteen,” Garrett said. “The civilian model, of course, Dad wasn’t about to push me to join up. Can you imagine me in the military?”

“Nah, not enough room for your toiletries in the standard kit.”

“Not even close.” They watched silently as Jane and Robbie beat each other across the floor, occasionally tossing in a joint lock or throw that was too good to pass up, but for the most part just kicking the crap out of each other. The suits were absorbing a lot of the damage, but both of them were slowing down. “How long have they been at this?”

“About thirty minutes.”

Garrett blinked. “Thirty minutes non-stop?” He glanced down at Wyl’s lap and grinned. “Have you had that for thirty minutes as well?”

“I can’t help it,” Wyl grumbled. “He does this to me all the fucking time; it’s not just the sparring. And I’m not the only one in here sporting wood either, this is better than porn for some of these jarheads.”

“Down, boy.”

“Shut the hell up.”

Five minutes later the match ended when Jane got enough distance to scythe a crescent kick up into Robbie’s temple, hitting him hard enough to make the suit flash red, indicating a solid knock-out blow. Robbie was down on one knee, shaking his head a little. He let Jane help him to his feet and they deactivated their suits, then grinned at each other. The audience enthusiastically applauded.

“I’ve gotta get out of here,” Wyl said. “He’s not done, this was just the warm-up before they put the Marines through their paces. If I stay here I’m gonna be hard all fucking day.”

“Come with me,” Garrett suggested. “We can come up with a plan for my ship.”

Wyl looked at him, surprised. “You’re actually going to let me fix her up?”

“Cosmetic improvements only, for starters,” Garrett warned. “The rest is still in the air.”

“Give it time,” Wyl grinned as he stood up. “Once you see what I can do to her outsides, you’re going to beg me to go to work on her plumbing.”

“We’ll see,” Garrett replied, mentally resigning himself to handing tools to Wyl for the rest of the day. There were worse ways to spend his time.

Title: Pandora

Part Five: Subtle and Overt

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 part does have graphic depictions of sex, making it an NC-17 rating, I suppose. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. See the above rating! If you do read though, enjoy!

Garrett Caractacus didn’t believe in making decisions in a vacuum. He might habitually radiate inconstancy and caprice, but when it came to the important things he was entirely a scientist, putting far more stock in rationality and research than he did in gut impulses. Garrett weighed facts, tested hypotheses and explored all the available avenues before deciding on one. It was a method that had only failed him once in the past, and that had been less of an abject failure and more of a lose/lose situation.

One the one hand, there was the prospect of going to Pandora. Garrett had prevaricated with his father out loud, but internally he agreed with Miles. Odds were good that he’d be offered the position as the expedition’s climatologist again. Pandora meant a lot of new challenges, which would keep his brain from careening into self-indulgent atrophy. It meant travel, probably not in style but you couldn’t have everything. It meant another nice tag for his résumé, and another chance for him to demonstrate that he was more than a parasite clinging to his father’s career. It meant a good, objective opportunity to assess his life and figure out what had propelled him into his interminable brown study.

On the other hand, he could decline the offer. That opened up a lot of different options, from staying here on Paradise doing nothing to heading back to the central worlds, to finding an exciting lover and cruising for a while, to…Garrett ran out of things. Those things he’d listed were big things, but they didn’t seem very enticing at the moment. After all, he’d had the opportunity to pursue those options for months, and he’d fallen into the first one by dint of sheer ennui. The others just weren’t motivational enough, not even the prospect of new and interesting sex.

Experimentations followed, subtle and overt tests of the malaise that had settled over his life. Garrett spent a lot of time with Wyl, working on his ship. The designs Wyl was engraving into the engine casing, surprisingly fanciful ones for a man who made his living as a mechanic, were beautiful. They were of strange, elegant spires and masques and faces hiding in the patterns. Wyl talked a lot, often about nothing and more often about Robbie, and Garrett listened and responded appropriately and enjoyed the cheerful, often lewd flow of words as the friendly distraction it was. He spent time with Robbie and Wyl together, cooking dinner for the couple and listening to them bicker and play. He occasionally spent time with Robbie alone, not often because the man had almost as much to do as Garrett’s father, but it was always good.

Robbie, who was always honest about what he saw, was nevertheless a little hesitant to bring it up with Garrett, who had politely stonewalled Wyl with general reassurances multiple times. Garrett saw his ex’s hesitation and gave in over a shared slice of cheesecake one night as they watched Wyl work, so deep into his creative space that he wouldn’t stop to sleep if someone wasn’t there to make him.

“I’m working some things out,” Garrett offered abruptly, licking the creamy cake off his fork.

“And how’s that going for you?”

Garrett started to shrug, then sat back and sighed. “I’m afraid I’m growing up. Or growing old. Something like that.”

“The fallback pleasures are really starting to pall, huh.”

“Yeah. Which is quite sad, because if you can’t take refuge in hedonism and live a happy life, what hope is there for the universe?”

“Happy and fulfilled aren’t necessarily the same,” Robbie pointed out, stealing the strawberry off the top of the cake slice.

“Well, they’ve always been synonymous before.”

“Then are you going to take the job on Pandora, and see if you can find a new way to be happy?”

“Maybe,” Garrett replied. “Probably. But first I need to get laid.”

Robbie rolled his eyes. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Seriously. Maybe my angst is part of a vicious, celibate circle. Maybe finding some pretty young thing to fuck is just what I need.” Garrett grinned at Robbie. “I don’t suppose you and Wyl…”


“Of course not. Stick, meet mud. Square peg, here’s your square hole.”

“At least we fit together.” Robbie’s voice was mildly reproving.

“I know you do,” Garrett agreed. “I know you’re good for each other. You’re so disgustingly good for each other that you give Miles and Claudia a run for their money. Do you think you guys will settle here eventually, once the military doesn’t own you body and soul?”

“We’ll see,” Robbie said. “I’ve dragged Wyl around for the past three years; I figure when this tour is over we’ll go wherever he wants.”


The moment stretched with a strange discomfort, until Robbie reached over and laid his hand across Garrett’s. “You’re going to be all right,” he said seriously. “You’re gifted, Garrett, and you’ve got a lot to give. You’re going to find a place that deserves everything you’ve got and everything you are. I know it.”

Garrett turned his hand over and held on to his former lover’s for a moment, unable to find words but unpressured to come up with any. Robbie, like Miles, was good with silences. After a moment they let each other go and finished the cake. Wyl joined them a few minutes later, having finally hit an acceptable stopping point.

“You ate it all?” he exclaimed. “I’m slaving over your damn ship and you can’t even save me a bite of cheesecake? That stuff came all the way from T’s restaurant!”

“There’s more in the apartment,” Robbie reminded him.

“Will you feed it to me?” Wyl asked with a suggestive grin.

“I might be persuaded,” Robbie agreed.

“God damn you both to hell,” Garrett moaned, visions of cheesecake and naked men swimming in front of his eyes. It was a welcome kick to his libido. “Go have your two-man cheesecake orgy, and then please never tell me any of the details, ever. Not even if I beg.” He stood up. “I’m going out.”

“Happy hunting,” Wyl said, grabbing Robbie by the hand and pulling him away from the table. Garrett walked back into his ship alone, but determined not to stay that way. Not tonight.

Sex was another test of his mood, another experiment to analyze. Garrett dressed in skin-tight, dramatically cut clothes of different shades of sapphire and took himself out onto the town. There were a few decent nightclubs in Rapture and Garrett breezed into one of his old haunts like he’d never left, dazzling the bouncer and attendants with smiles as he went inside.

He wasn’t hunting yet; Garrett just wanted to move and be moved against, to be adored and admired like he was accustomed to. The club was filled with people, men and women and others, and the rapid-paced music was simple and primal and easy to dance to. No intimidating waltzes here to put off his plebian friends. Garrett simply melted into the crowd and let go.

More than a few people knew who he was, and more than that saw him and wanted to know him. For the next few hours Garrett drank his fill of the heated press of flesh on flesh, subconsciously assessing each new dance partner before turning to the next. There were those people who came onto him hard, who promised without words control, domination and mindless ecstasy. Garrett had had that before, and it wasn’t what he was looking for now. There were people who begged for domination as well, needy, sultry, sensuous as they ground against him and swayed lower and lower, offering him a tantalizing preview of what they’d look like on their knees. They were fun to play with, but not what he wanted either. Garrett wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he knew he’d recognize it when he found it.

After a couple hours Garrett went over to the bar, and surprisingly there he found the elusive “it,” because the bartender was possibly the cutest thing he’d seen in months. The young man had very few of the decorations that most of the crowd did, and no visible external enhancements, another thing a lot of people were sporting these days. Personally Garrett considered advertising ones’ preferences like that a little too light on the subtle, but it did make certain hookups easier. This boy didn’t have any buttons or wings or protrusions to stroke, just simple silver makeup on a cute, average face and typical darkly-minded dress sense, all imitation leather and netting. His skin was dusky and his eyes were black, with small silver insets to make them glow in the dim light. Right now those eyes were wide with desire and more than a little astonishment as Garrett singled him out.

He didn’t even have to speak. He just lifted one pale, winged eyebrow in appraisal and smiled, and the young man melted like sugar in a storm. “You…haven’t been in for a long time,” the boy said, a little haltingly.

“Busy times,” Garrett lied easily. “I don’t remember you being back there before.”

“I just got the job a few days ago.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Garrett mimed a pout. “Then you haven’t worked enough to build up leave. And here I was going to ask you to leave with me.”

The young man’s expression turned a little desperate, and openly longing. “I get off shift in less than an hour…or I could ask Philemon to cover me, he’d say yes—”

“No, no,” Garrett said airily, watching the bartender’s face fall and immediately feeling guilty, another thing that so wasn’t him. He liked playing people’s emotions…didn’t he? “I’m happy to wait. One hour?”

“Yes.” Desperation gave way to amazement. “Really? You’ll wait?”

“I said so. What’s your name?”

“Isidore Cain.”

“Isidore. Lovely. I’m Garrett.”

“Oh, I know,” the young man breathed.

Ah, the joys of a reputation. “I’ll be back in one hour, Isidore. I’m going to dance.”

“But…you haven’t ordered a drink yet.”

Garrett smiled charmingly. “I didn’t come over here to order a drink, I came over to talk to you. I’ll be back in an hour.” He swanned back onto the dance floor, pleased with his choice of take-out even though shy Isidore wasn’t normally the sort of guy he went for. Garrett didn’t do shy, he did bold, he did someone who could match him move for move. Isidore, comparatively, seemed too easy.

When Garrett did a one night stand, though, he did it right. As soon as Isidore’s shift ended he was there, and instead of inviting the young man to his ship or inquiring about what was no doubt a less-than-spacious situation on the boy’s end, Garrett got them a room at the best hotel in Rapture, the Carousel. He held Isidore’s hand all the way up the lift, amused at the battle within his date between uncertainty and need. Usually if Garrett hadn’t made a move, at this point his date would be all over him. Isidore clearly wanted it, but just as clearly he didn’t want to do something Garrett might conceive of as wrong. He was so…innocent, and it was completely enchanting.

Garrett thought about that for a moment, considered his game plan and then as soon as their room’s door was shut, he took the young man into his arms and began to kiss him. These were slow, languorous kisses, kisses that fueled the need and the desire without forcing it into explosion. For some reason, that was enough for Garrett tonight. It seemed to surprise Isidore but he got into it, the tension in his shoulders relaxing as he melted into the touch.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked finally, breathlessly, after they’d been standing there kissing for several minutes.

“I want you to enjoy,” Garrett said, flicking his tongue across the hollow of Isidore’s throat, feeling his moan reverberate there. “Tell me what you like.”

“I like everything about you,” Isidore replied with complete honesty. “You’re so…”

Garrett stopped Isidore’s mouth with a kiss. He knew what he was: so…beautiful, gorgeous, sexy, brilliant, selfish, conceited, shallow, shameless. He didn’t want to hear any of that tonight. Garrett was sick of himself. He was sick of people like himself. He wanted to focus on someone nice, someone who he could drive so out of his mind that he’d have to respond honestly to what they did together, rather than putting on a show. He pulled back and pulled his new man with him, over to the large, softly-cushioned bed. He turned the density setting up a little so it wouldn’t fold like feathers beneath them, then moved back to Isidore.

“Tell me what you like,” Garrett husked in the young man’s ear, nipping briefly at his earlobe. “Do you want me to touch you here…” He let his fingers drift over the tight seat of Isidore’s smooth black pants. “Do you want my mouth here…” He brushed Isidore’s cock this time, which was pressed so hard against the confining material of his pants that Garrett almost worried. “Or under here…” He slipped his hand between Isidore’s legs, and captured his lover’s groan with a sudden kiss. “Here, then.”

Garrett took his time undressing his new man, ignoring the blush that flooded his cheeks when some imperfection was exposed. A little bit of a tummy. A scar on his abdomen. Pants that literally needed to be peeled off, which had them both laughing. Garrett pulled himself off of his newly-naked date and went to remove his own clothes, but Isidore stopped him. “Can I?”

“If you want to.” Garrett didn’t want this to be about himself, but after a few moments he realized that getting to undress Garrett was a thrill for his companion. Every golden inch he revealed had the young man captivated, and for the first time in a while Garrett remembered to be grateful he was so beautiful, because it was making someone else happy.

Eventually they were naked and lying down facing each other on the bed, and Garrett took some more time to bring his lover down from the edge, stroking and kissing him without aggression before working him back up. By the time Isidore was trembling with need, Garrett’s own libido was making heat rise in his chest. They hadn’t been at it long, but Isidore didn’t have any implants to shut off an impending orgasm and Garrett didn’t have any toys with him, so he just decided that they’d have a few more rounds that evening and slid his sweat-slick fingertips down Isidore’s cock, past his balls and onto the smooth, tender skin that was his perineum.

“Oh, f—” Isidore’s hands clenched on Garrett’s shoulders, and he threw his top leg over Garrett’s hip, to give his hand more space. “That’s really---god---I like that…”

“Good,” Garrett murmured around a kiss. “Just wait…” He pushed his middle finger gently against Isidore’s hole, reassured when it accepted him easily. He pressed one finger, then two inside the velvety, clinging channel, not to thrust but with just enough reach to massage Isidore’s prostate, and then rubbed his thumb firmly across his lover’s perineum, as though he were trying to join his fingertips together.

“Fuck!” Isidore came apart at the seams, bucking forward and bearing down all at once, his limbs clinging desperately to Garrett as he came all over them both. Garrett pulsed his fingertips against the tiny gland, milking it for every ounce of sensation. Just before Isidore’s moans turned painful Garrett eased off, removing his hand once his lover’s grip on him relaxed. Garrett rolled the young man onto his back and kept kissing him, easing Isidore back into the world with a sigh and a smile.

“Oh my god…”

“I’m listening,” Garrett teased.

“You haven’t…you can do anything you want,” Isidore offered earnestly. “I swear I won’t freak out.”

“I did do what I wanted to do,” Garrett replied. “I plan to continue doing what I want to do. As long as you keep wanting it.”

“I can’t imagine not wanting anything you do.”

Either Isidore was very naive or he had an extremely high tolerance for the bizarre. “Don’t say that before you get to know me,” Garrett advised before settling in between the young man’s legs. “Speaking of which…” He rubbed the snub, slick head of his cock against Isidore’s entrance, asking for permission to fuck him.

“God, yes…”

Isidore came two more times before the night was over. Garrett only came once, but it was a long, sweet orgasm, sucked out of his body into Isidore’s tightness and heat to the accompaniment of his name, cried over and over in pleasure before diminishing to breathy whispers.

They had room service sent up breakfast in bed, and when Garrett decided to use Isidore as his plate and suck him off once he was done eating, the young man just laughed and agreed. They showered, dressed and walked back down into the world. Garrett looked fairly normal if flashy in his clinging blue suit, but Isidore’s clubbing clothes seemed a little garish in the light of day. “Next time pack a change of clothes,” Garrett advised with a smile.

“Will there be a next time?” Isidore asked hopefully.

“I’m not going to be here much longer,” Garrett replied honestly, knowing as soon as he said it that it was true. Last night had been wonderful and Isidore was a sweetheart, but he still felt that soul-deep ache that left him unsettled. “I’m taking a contract in the Fringe. But I may come by again before I leave.” Jezria was due back in five more days. Things would get resolved then one way or another,

“Oh.” Garrett watched disappointment and a little hurt flitter over Isidore’s face before it settled into expected resignation. “Well, if you come in I’d love to…see you.”

“If I come in you definitely will “see” me,” Garrett replied, grinning and leaning in for a quick kiss. He made his way back to the governor’s mansion in a good mood and a much more decided frame of mind, heading into his ship to change and relax for a while. Despite his inquietude, Garrett felt good, physically and mentally. Now that he’d made the decision to go, he seemed to have more energy. Of course, that could have been a byproduct of fucking around with Isidore all night, but man could not live on fucking alone. It had been good, really good, just what he needed from that part of his life, but not in and of itself enough. It was time for a total change.

Title: Pandora

Part Six: Dropping Bombs

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. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. If you do read though, enjoy! If you enjoy, please let me know:)

It was nice to have his mind finally made up. Garrett skated through the next few days, researching Pandora and updating his technical knowledge. It had been a while since he’d worked in the field, and he wanted to make sure he could do the job. Fortunately, it looked like the equipment on Pandora was very familiar, and it wasn’t likely that the mobile lab on board the ship taking the new colonists out would be any more elaborate.

Garret had exchanged a few messages with Jezria, indicating his interest in the position and her willingness to hire him. They’d gone over an initial contract too, but the deal wasn’t completely finalized until the day before her arrival on Paradise, her last stop before heading back to Olympus to pick up people and supplies for a two year stint. The morning before Jezria’s ship was set to arrive, Garrett was sitting down to breakfast with his father and Claudia when Miles said, very casually, “So, we’re expecting.”

“Expecting what?”

Claudia blushed and Miles raised one eyebrow in a very familiar expression, and Garrett’s mind suddenly put two and two together. “You’re expec…oh, fuck, you’re expecting. A baby? You two are going to have a baby?”

“Well, Claudia will be doing most of the heavy lifting,” Miles deadpanned.

“Oh my god.” Garrett just stared at them for a moment, as Claudia got redder and Miles started to frown. After a moment he figured out that his reaction probably wasn’t the one they were looking for, and pulled himself out of astonishment and into enthusiasm. “I mean, that’s great news! Congratulations!” He got up and came around the table and kissed Claudia on the cheek, then the top of her dark, smooth hair. “Let’s hope the baby is as sweet as you, huh? Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl yet?”

“It’s still a little early to be completely certain, but the preliminary scans say a girl,” Claudia said, smiling now, relaxing some as Garrett expressed his pleasure.

“A girl. Perfect, then she probably will be as sweet as you. Hopefully she’ll get your looks, too.”

“Thanks,” Miles said sarcastically. Garrett moved behind him and squeezed his shoulders briefly, then sat back down.

“Wow. Um. What brought this about?”

“Well, sex is a kind of prerequisite,” Miles began, but Claudia smacked him lightly on the arm.

“We talked about it some before we got married,” Claudia explained, “and we thought having a child together was something we wanted, but we weren’t set on it, especially not while Miles was still in the military. But now he’s out and we’re going to be settled for a while, so we decided to try.”

“Gran must be happy.” Miles’ mother, the matriarch of the Caractacus clan, had never been satisfied with her oldest son’s meager contribution to the continuance of their genes.

“She doesn’t know yet. No one else knows yet, we wanted you to be the first,” Claudia said.

“I’m honored.” And Garrett was, in a way. “Congratulations.” He was spared from having to become more repetitive by the sudden chime of his com. “Please excuse me, I need to take this.” He stood up from the table and walked away, silently blessing whoever was on the other end of the line. “This is Garrett.”

“Garrett, good morning. It’s Senator Dowd.”

“Jezria! Finally! Get me the hell out of here.”

“I was actually calling to discuss a small change to the contract terms…”

“I accept. Whatever they are. I’m ready to go.”

“You certainly sound ready,” she chuckled. “What happened to light a fire under you? And for heaven’s sake, don’t accept a contract before you’ve read it all through.”

“Nothing happened, I’m just ready to go.” Lies, lies, lies. “What’s the change?”

“The length of stay is being changed from two standard years to three, but there’s a fifteen percent increase in pay for the last year, and it turns out we will be able to make room for your personal ship.”

“Three years. Excellent, that’s even better.” Time and distance had suddenly gained a lot of priority in his mind. “When can we leave?”

“I get into Paradise tomorrow…Garrett, are you sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine. How long are you planning on staying here?”

“There are some supply issues to work out with your father, but it shouldn’t take more than a day or two. Will that be enough time for you to prepare?”

“Yes.” An hour would have been enough time, the way Garrett was feeling now. “Perfect, I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“I’m seeing Miles first thing in the morning, but if you meet me for lunch we can take care of the contract details then.”

Garrett smiled. “I’ll have the chef make ambrosia salad.”

“You remembered my favorite, how sweet. I’ll see you tomorrow, my dear.” Jezria disconnected and Garrett suddenly realized he’d walked all the way back to his ship over the course of their call, as far from Miles and Claudia and their impending new addition as he could comfortably get. He sat down in a chair, strangely affected but not exactly sure how. It was good news for them. Great news. A baby, that was big, important, life-altering stuff. Garrett was happy for Claudia, he was happy for his dad…for himself, he didn’t fucking know. Not that it mattered; it didn’t concern him except in a very peripheral way. All that should concern him right now was getting his shit ready to leave.

The fact that he could take his personal ship was saving him most of the work, actually. There would be no need to box things up, no need to choose and discard. Garrett could take as much of his old life with him as he wanted to. Funny how he suddenly wanted to get rid of all of it.

His com sounded. “This is Garrett.”

“Your coffee’s getting cold.”

“Dad! Sorry.” Garrett flushed uncomfortably. “I’m heading back right now.”

“Good.” They disconnected and Garrett sighed, then pushed his new tumble of emotions out of the way again and resigned himself to spending the morning trying to be enthusiastic over something he didn’t really understand the allure of. Parenthood…fuck, he personally had probably taken years off his father’s life by being such a shit son. Garrett hoped that no matter who his new sibling turned out to be, that they’d be a good kid, and not the royal terror he’d aspired to.

Garrett went back to the terrace and finished his breakfast without coming off too strangely, he hoped. Claudia was more than happy to talk and he was more than happy to provide appropriate noises and cheerful expressions of interest. They talked a little but about Jezria and the contract, and Claudia expressed some more-than-just-polite dismay at the prospect of Garrett being gone for so long. “You’ll miss so much.”

“I’ll get vacations,” Garrett replied. “I prefer to be able to swoop in and spoil my sister rotten anyway. That makes it so much more exciting for Dad.”

“I don’t know how much excitement from you I can handle at my age,” Miles said.

Garrett grinned. “Well saddle up, cowboy, because you’re about to start all over again. Remember to take your vitamins and do try to learn from past mistakes.”

As soon as he said it Garrett knew it was a mistake. His father wasn’t as calm and collected about Claudia’s pregnancy as he was pretending to be, and being reminded of parts of Garrett’s childhood wasn’t helping him any. Miles hid his discomfort from his wife, but Garrett had had decades of deciphering his father’s flashes of stillness. Now wasn’t the time to talk it out, however, and they finished breakfast and went their separate ways as usual.

Garrett had vaguely thought about cornering his dad that evening, but that plan was shot to hell when a bomb went off in the warehouse district of Rapture that afternoon, killing a dozen workers, injuring seventeen more and doing millions in damages. Miles dispatched security forces immediately and went to the bomb site himself to coordinate the relief and repair efforts, and he was out all night. So was Robbie, and so Garrett and Wyl and Claudia banded together and spent the night watching news reports and ignoring the reporters that seethed just beyond the gate. Claudia thought she should go and speak to them, but Garrett advised her not to.

“You aren’t on the scene, you can’t tell them anything they don’t know, and your PR person has already made a statement about how seriously you’re taking this. Dad is at the site of the explosion, he’s got this. They just want to interview you to see if they can stir something up.”

“Really?” Claudia asked, her expression torn.

“Really,” Garrett affirmed. “Stay here, let your staff do their jobs and make Miles’ and your lives easier by not saying anything he might have to refute. You don’t have an official place in his administration beyond spouse yet, but they’ll throw everything at you from ‘do you have any theories’ to ‘how do you respond to allegations of…’ whatever the fuck they want to allege. Probably something negative. Don’t go there.”

“You have a very cynical mind,” Wyl told him, bare feet dangling over the arm of his chair. Garrett had no idea how the man could be comfortable sitting sideways in a hard-backed chair, but maybe he liked the feeling of being contained.

“Cynical is synonymous with experienced,” Garrett replied. “I’m not trying to throw that in your face, Claudia…”

“No, it’s fine,” she said. Her voice was calm but her eyes were troubled. “This is the sort of situation I worry about without you, Gare. I don’t know what to do yet. I’d be out there making a mess of things right now if you weren’t here.”

“Dad’s chief of staff will advise you when I’m not here,” Garrett said soothingly. “You’re smart, you’ll learn fast, and in the meantime treat everything like a learning experience and be thankful that the bomb didn’t hit closer to home.”

“You don’t think…”

“You’re dealing with terrorists, honey. From the losing side of a civil war. They’re bound to be thinking about all sorts of targets.” Tears sprang up in Claudia’s eyes and Garrett felt like hitting himself. “I’m sorry, I‘m an idiot.” He got up and moved over to Claudia’s side, hugging her close and throwing a remorseful glance at Wyl. “Dad’s got great security. You and the baby will be completely safe.”

“What baby?” Wyl asked.

“Oops. Did I let that slip?”

Of course then Claudia had to explain to Wyl, who was very happy for her and told her as much, and after a little while the gloom was put aside and the conversation was onto lighter, happier topics, exactly like Garrett had intended. They shut the news off and made popcorn and played a non-drunk version of “Never Have I Ever…”, which Garrett lost soundly, and eventually Claudia dozed while Wyl and Garrett drank espressos and talked.

“So,” Wyl said, “when’s the goodbye party?”

“I’m not having one,” Garrett replied. “Assuming things still happen on track, there won’t really be time. I’m set to leave tomorrow.”

“No goodbye party.” One eyebrow went up. “You’re fucking weird these days, man.”


“You should let Robbie and I take you out. One last night on the town. I’ll even drag him to one of your clubs.”

Garrett grinned. “I loved doing that. He’s never understood how attractive he is. People would gravitate towards him and he’d be looking like he was plotting exactly how to take out each and every one of his admirers.”

“Yeah, he told me once he’s always looking for trouble. He’d be threat assessing in a nursery school.”

“Have you guys ever thought about…you know…”

“Having a kid?” Wyl asked with a grin. He brushed fine black hairs out of his face and threw back the last of his espresso. “No, not really.” He headed over to the machine and ordered up another one, waiting patiently while it churned and ground and steamed. Condensed espressos took a little longer. “I think Robbie would be a great father, but he says he isn’t interested and I know I’m not. Besides, I’ve got black marks on my mental health record that would make adopting or surrogacy tough.”

“There are some places that don’t care about that.”

“Yeah, and those are the places that produce fucked-up kids,” Wyl said, shaking his head. “I’ve got a friend from when I was a bonder named Leesie—”

“The undercover marshall?” Garrett broke in, remembering a little of Wyl’s story.

“Yeah, they use her for that kind of shit all the time. She’s got this way with people…anyway, she told me about an operation she took part in once infiltrating and producing evidence of wrongdoing at a baby mill. She said it was atrocious. The geneticists’ backgrounds were all forged, half of the kids they incubated didn’t make it and the other half…man, everything from deformities to mental retardation to naturals.

“And what could the parents do? The kids were biologically theirs, they’d paid for them, they had wanted them…but some people only want perfect kids, so when the place was shut down a lot of them went into Federation-run facilities instead of to their parents. If that was what the folks chose.” Wyl picked up his tiny cup and blew on it a little. “It still makes Leesie cry to talk about it.”

“That’s terrible.”

Wyl might have said more, but the faint door chime indicated that Miles was back, as he was the only other one who could get into the personal wing without having to be let in. Wyl set his fresh cup down untouched. “I’ll get out of here, Gare. Robbie’ll be back soon if Miles is in. Remember, tonight: club, dancing, party. Suck it up.” He went out the back door, and Garrett grabbed up the espresso and went out to meet his father.

Miles was setting his formal coat down on the table by the entrance, looking exhausted. “How’s Claudia?” he asked as soon as he saw Garrett.

“Fine. Sleeping.”

“Good.” Miles took the proffered cup and sipped, did a slight double-take, then sipped again. “Did you make this?”

“Wyl was here. That was going to be his third.”

“Kid knows how to brew it,” Miles said appreciatively.

“Things okay out there?”

“As okay as they can be. We’ve got a lead on the bomb’s manufacturer, the company that was targeted is increasing security and I’ve spoken to the families of the victims…” Miles sighed. “So not great, but okay. Any problems here?”

“Lots of reporters. I persuaded Claudia not to make any comments.”

“I should have mentioned that before I left.”

“You might want to get her squared away with her own publicist or media relations person, just to be safe.”

“You’re right. I sometimes forget she doesn’t have your experience,” Miles said. He looked at Garrett fondly, and Garrett felt a surge of affection for his father.

“Can we talk in your office real quick?” he asked.

“Sure.” It wasn’t far, and they were careful not to wake Claudia as they moved past the cavernous living room. Once his door was safely shut, Miles turned to his son. “What’s up?”

“I’m sorry about this morning,” Garrett said without preamble. “I didn’t mean to insinuate that you’re not a good father.”

Miles’ lips twisted a little. “I made plenty of mistakes with you, Gare. Big ones. To be perfectly frank, I’m a little unsure about becoming a parent again. Claudia will do great, of course, but my schedule hasn’t gotten any lighter over the years.”

“It isn’t your fault I was an unstable, egocentric little freak,” Garrett snapped, not wanting to hear his father putting himself down. “Some traits breed true, and that gem came from Mom, no questions there.”

“You weren’t a freak,” Miles said calmly. “You had medical issues that were being overlooked, and I wasn’t giving you the attention you needed. I barely ever saw you, Gare. Who could blame you for doing what you did?”

“I can,” he replied. “It was a stupid, completely selfish thing to do to myself, and afterwards…afterwards, you could have sent me to a nice, discreet rehab center. Instead you quit your work, put your entire career on hold to stay with me for a fucking year. That is not the act of a delinquent father. You might not have been there for every milestone, but you put me first when I needed you and you’ve been there for me ever since. You’re a great father, and any more kids you have will be lucky to get you.”

Miles’ eyes were shining suspiciously, but his voice was reassuringly gruff as he said, “You can’t say that kind of thing to me without advance warning, kiddo, it doesn’t give me time to prepare.”

“Yeah, well, I’m a bastard sometimes.”

“Nope, completely legal.” His father held out one arm and they embraced, briefly but tightly, before the embarrassment got to be too much for both of them and they separated again.

“Are you going to catch a nap before your morning officially starts?” Garrett asked.

“No time,” Miles said, happily transitioning back to safer topics. “I’m supposed to meet with Jezria in two hours and I haven’t looked over the changes she wants to make to the shipping contract yet. I can’t go into that meeting unprepared.”

“Should I let Claudia know you’re in?”

“I’ll wake her up in a moment. Go get some sleep, son, you look beat.”

“Fuck you, I’m fresh as a daisy,” Garrett replied amiably. “I’ll see you later. Dinner out, maybe?”

“It might be better to order in for now,” Miles said cautiously, “just to be safe. But I think some sort of farewell celebration is in order, since you’re leaving tomorrow. Whatever you want.”

“Dinner with you and Claudia and Robbie and Wyl.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

Miles looked at him for a long moment, then shrugged. “As you wish.”

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.

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.

Title: Pandora

Part Eight: A Bland New World

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. The saga continues. Enjoy:)

It took two standard weeks to get to Olympus from Paradise. They could have pushed the engines and gone quite a bit faster, but Jezria didn’t feel any need to rush. They’d still have nearly three weeks on Olympus getting people and equipment loaded onto the colony ship Neptune before that final momentous departure. The ship was an upgrade from the one the expedition had been planning on using, a third again as large with space for as many as ten thousand people. Garrett had read enough of his contract to know that in reality they were only looking at about half that number, but it was still mind-bogglingly huge when one considered that Pandora was to be, in essence, a colony of naturals.

Five thousand people, many of whom wouldn’t be able to use autodocs or regenerative medicine, people who could look forward to perhaps a century of life before they died…it was too fucking depressing to contemplate.

The Neptune was an impressively large ship, even sitting in dry dock in the capitol city of Athens. The control tower directed their convoy to land their personal ships in the Neptune’s private shuttle bay. They set down, disembarked and Garrett inhaled appreciatively. Yes, there was the smell of rocket fuel, but underneath that was the sweetness of hibiscus and native wanlia in a million different hybrid colors and forms. The founders of Olympus had gotten rather carried away with their landscaping, but the place did look and smell great.

Jezria clearly had her hands full with the arrival, official-looking people practically lining up to shove their information tablets in her face. One of her staffers made his way over to where Garrett was lounging against his ship and extended a hand. “If you’ll come with me, Doctor Caractacus, I’ll be happy to show you where you’ll be staying on board the ship.”

“That would be lovely,” Garrett said with a smile, enjoying the sudden flush of color in the man’s cheeks. Jezria had warned him not to tease her people, but it was hard to resist. He pushed off the hull and followed the man towards the nearest lift. “You’re Steven Miyakawa, yes?”

“Yes, sir. You can call me Steven.” They stepped into the lift and Steven pushed a series of buttons, and they began to rise. One of the walls was transparent, and Garrett examined the details of the shuttle bay with interest. Apart from the metallic hues that were expected from the amount of hardware they had in there, the color scheme was light blue and tan, bland, inoffensive colors that Garrett assumed had been chosen to engender calm in stress passengers. The journey to Pandora itself wouldn’t take more than a month, but once they were there colonists would have to construct their new homes before they could move off the ship, which would be a process of months for everyone, even with the help of machines and modular housing. Calm would be a handy thing to have, even if it was just a side-effect of boredom.

The lift kept rising. Garrett glanced over at Steven. “Which level are we headed to?”

“Thirteenth level, sir.” As he said it they pulled to a smooth stop and the door opened. “This is where most of the officers as well as senior staff will be housed.” He handed a folder over to Garrett. “This contains your keys and your ID, which is programmed with all of the access codes you’ll need to get into the labs and other secure zones you’re cleared for. Because the ship will be transporting naturals there are a number of specialized biomedical devices that require extra security with storage, so unfortunately it will take a little longer than usual to get to and from your workplace.”

“Which level is the lab on?”

“Tenth level, sir. All of B Wing.”

“Good to know.” Garrett glanced inside the folder.

“If you’d like, I can have your things sent up from your ship.”

“That would be fine.” Garrett handed over the hatch keys. “Everything is boxed and labeled.” He’d had a lot of free time on his hands over the past two weeks.

“I’ll get it taken care of, sir. Your quarters are down the hall and through the doors to C Wing.”

“Thank you, Steven.” Garrett stepped out of the lift and checked the directions on the wall, then started walking. Five minutes later he reached C Wing and apartment 1369, and he resolved that the first thing he was doing after he got settled in was memorizing where the damn lifts were and finding a closer one.

His living quarters themselves were fairly standard. A large sitting room, with a couch and an entertainment unit, connected to a kitchen with a few appliances in case he was feeling handy and a line to the mobile mess hall if he wasn’t. There was a leaflet with food choices lying on the counter. Garrett skimmed it briefly, then put it back and walked into the other half of the apartment. His bedroom at least had a big bed, but very little closet space. The bathroom had an actual tub, but it was so small he’d have to bend himself in half to get wet all at once. He stared at his less-than-impressed reflection in the mirror. “Wonderful.” And all of it in blue and beige.

Well, that much at least he could change. Garrett scouted around until he found the color controls, located behind a picture of a vase of lilies. He smirked at the attempt by whomever management was to enforce uniformity, then manipulated the controls until his walls were the color of a red sunrise and his floor was midnight blue. He glanced around, satisfied for now, then lifted his hand from the control panel. The colors shifted back to blue and beige immediately.

“Oh, come on.” It was like having a parental control on your life. Garrett modified the colors again, lifted his hand, and…blue and beige.

“Hell with this.” Reaching into his pocket, he took out a flat multi-tool, pulled up the screwdriver and in moments had the casing off of the control unit and was rewiring it to ignore its preprogrammed functions. At least the wiring was good; it was the kind you didn’t need solder for, you could just pick and stick it together how you liked. He was almost done when he heard a knock on the door.

“Security, sir.”

Garrett blinked, then laughed out loud. Fiddling with the controls had alerted security? Oh, they must be really fucking bored over there. “Come on in.”

The door opened and a young woman in a dark grey uniform entered the room. She was wearing a grey beret over short brown hair and had a slightly-apprehensive look on her cute, button-nosed face. “Sir? Your alarm was activated. Are you…what are you doing?”

“I’m saving myself from paralyzing ennui,” Garrett replied. He shifted the walls back to sunset red. “This is nicer, don’t you think?”

“Sir, the color choice is preprogrammed and cannot be changed, except with specific contract stipulation.”

Garrett dropped his hand. “Are you serious? This is actually in my contract?”

“Unless you modified that clause before signing it,” the woman said, her tone slightly apologetic, “I’m afraid it has to stay.”


“Sorry, sir.”

At least she did sound sorry. “That’s fine, Officer…”


“Officer Brady. I won’t attempt to subvert any more impressionable walls.” He looked around and sighed. “I see myself drinking a lot in this room.”

“Alcohol consumption is also restricted,” she added helpfully.

“Naturally. Of course it is. How silly of me to contemplate otherwise.” Liquor, and a lot of it, would be bought before this ship took off. And tapestries to cover the fucking walls. Maybe he could renegotiate this part of his contract with Jezria…no, knowing her she’d just laugh at him and say, “I told you so.”

“Well. I think I’m done introducing myself to home and hearth.” He screwed the casing back onto the control panel and replaced the picture. “Do you know where the nearest lift is?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Would you mind showing me? I want to find the labs without running a marathon.”

Officer Brady smiled. “I’d be happy to show you the quickest way.”

“Lead on, then.” Get me out of here.

Title: Pandora

Part Nine: Into The Fire

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. The saga continues. Enjoy:)

Working in a lab was just like working in an office in some ways. There weren’t cubicles, but there were places where people were expected to keep their things, boundaries between projects and equipment and space used depending on the scientist’s standing and the importance of their work. A person needed to be polite moving into another person’s space. You didn’t just lay your hands all over their bio-reactor; you asked politely if you could examine the slides. Even your superiors played nice before they delved into your experiment. At least, that was how things normally went.

Garrett was escorted across half the damn ship by Officer Brady, spent another five minutes going through a ludicrous number of scans before getting into the central lab, and was then treated to the shrill scream of metal on metal, highlighted by an irritated alto. A lovely red-headed woman who looked like she’d be more comfortable sunning herself on a beach somewhere was unclamping and moving a laser set up of some kind, and haranguing the poor man standing a few feet back from her as she did so.

“—far too expensive for you to screw them up by running your heat source too close to the gels! How many times do I have to tell you, Alberts?”

“Andrews,” the man offered quietly.

“Whatever. Did I or did I not tell you this yesterday?”

“I was going to wait until the experiment was done before moving the equipment. I’ll have to recalibrate everything and—”

“And what? Give me your substandard data and ruin countless other experiments in the future because you were too lazy to keep your heat source from fouling the gels? Oh yes, that makes perfect sense.” She stopped pushing the massive laser and wheeled on the man. “I want your experiment up and running with proper calibrations before you leave this lab today. No excuses! If it takes all night, good, that may teach you a lesson about disregarding the guidelines of this lab in favor of expediency.”

Garrett moved a few more feet into the room, and the woman whirled on him like a dervish. The other man, Andrews, shrank back to his equipment and kept his head down as the woman found a new target.

“How the hell did you get in here?”


She blinked at him. “What?”

“Actually I used the doors.” Obviously, his snarky tone suggested.

“Yes, but how did you get the clearance to make it through the doors?”

“By being hired as an employee and given a card.”

“What?” She looked him up and down scornfully. “Please.” She stalked over and thrust a hand out for his badge. He gave it to her calmly and glanced around, meeting a few people’s incredulous eyes and smiling.

“Garrett Carac…Cataract…whatever. You’re my climatologist?”

Garrett arched an eyebrow. “You’re my boss?”

“Doctor Martina Sims, head scientist and engineer, and yes, I am your boss,” she snapped at him. “Even though I didn’t hire you. I don’t appreciate having pretty-boy dilettantes shoe-horned into my operation just because their daddies are friends with the morons on high.”

Damn. This woman had to be a hell of an engineer for Jezria to tolerate her. Garrett wanted to tell her exactly what she could do with her operation, but his innate diplomat reminded him that he’d signed a contract, he was here for three years and he had to find a way to get along with Doctor Martina Sims. “Where will I be working?”

Doctor Sims sighed loudly and handed his badge back. “Over here.” She turned on her heel and led him down the length of the lab, past a dozen staring eyes, and over to a small table. A ridiculously small table, with a ridiculously antique climate modeling unit collecting dust on top of it. “Right there,” she stated, and folded her arms challengingly.

Clearly no one had challenged her lately. Garrett, however, was about to do just that, because there was no way in hell he was working like this. “Impossible.”


“You couldn’t accurately model an asteroid’s climate with this piece of shit, much less a system of the size and scope of Pandora. Unless you want to set me up to fail and by doing so prove to your superiors just how incompetent a manager you are, while potentially putting the entire expedition at risk, you’re going to get me a better set-up.”

“Do you have any idea how much those cost?” she yelled, gesticulating angrily. “I have to supply equipment for physicists, chemists, biologists, and the medical team is constantly stealing from our budget, and I have to deal with idiots wasting gels and issues of stockpiling and—”

“If you want accurate climate modeling that could save hundreds of lives and millions of credits, you’ll get me a better system,” Garrett interrupted. “It’s that simple. You can’t hamstring a lab that will need to operate successfully in the fringe by trying to save money at the outset.”

Doctor Sims stared at Garrett. He stared back. She tapped her foot. He politely stifled a yawn behind his hand.

“I might be able to afford an M-series. Older M-series, mind you.”

“I want a T-series, at least, with all the attachments. Soil analyzer, water analyzer, the works.”

“Ridiculous,” she scoffed. “That’s half the budget for this entire lab! P-series, with the soil analyzer.”

“S-series, with all the attachments.”

“S-series, but no attachments. You can use the geologist’s analyzers.”

“Those will have a completely different operating system and it will be a huge pain in the ass to transmit data between the two. Unless you have a programmer on board who’s fluent in both languages and a genius at making them work together…no? I didn’t think so.”

She stared. He stared. She sighed. “Fine. S-series with attachments, but you’d better be worth the money, Doctor Caratac…whatever your name is.”

“Just call me Garrett,” he encouraged. “Much easier.” Doctor Sims rolled her eyes and turned to go. “And I want a better chair.”

She spun back. “Your chair is fine!”

“It’s a stool. No back, no arms. No support.”

“Would you prefer a bench? Because I’ve got a limited budget which, thanks to your extravagance, is now even smaller, and you seem to expect me to work miracles with it.”

Garrett sighed internally. “Do you mind if I bring in my own, then?”

“Oh.” She seemed flustered for a moment. “No. Not at all. As long as you’re paying for it and you aren’t bringing in any electronics that will distort the signals of our equipment. And absolutely nothing with an entertainment unit. When you’re here I expect you to be working.”

“Not a problem,” Garrett promised her. Doctor Sims nodded, spun around again and stalked down the aisle, muttering to herself even as she scolded other scientists for being in her way.

A short, plump man sitting at the table next to Garrett leaned over and muttered, “Do you think you could wrangle me a new computer?”

The woman next to him smacked his shoulder. “Shekar! He’s not here to handle the dragon lady for all of us. Although,” she batted her eyelashes theatrically, “you are my hero.” She held out her hand. “Lila Englander. I’m the geologist whose analyzers she was offering up.”

“Shekar Pradani,” the man said. “Mathematician. I’ll help you with your modeling if you need, I have some good programs for that sort of thing.”

“Thank you,” Garrett replied. They all shook hands and then he pulled back a bit, looked around the room at the different areas, all partitioned off with glaring warnings, all apparently fair game to the wrath of Doctor Sims. “Is she always like this?”

“Doctor Sims is a little high strung,” Lila said diplomatically.

Shekar snorted. “She’s driven off three staff members in two weeks. We’ll be lucky if the lab isn’t pushed to rebellion before we get underway.”

“She’s not so bad when she’s back on Pandora,” Lila insisted. “Her husband is a geneticist with the expedition, but he stayed behind to run the home lab while she came here and organized the new arrivals. Frankly it would probably have been better if they’d switched, but she’s got seniority on him, so it’s her job to do it. He calms her down.”

“Then all we have to do is survive the trip to Pandora and we’re home free, huh?”

There was a crash at the far end of the lab, followed by a yell of, “Alberts!”

“Wonderful,” Garrett said flatly. “I’m sure that thought will be very comforting over the next two months of our lives.”

It wasn’t very comforting for the rest of the afternoon, however, and Garrett remained stubbornly uncomforted when he had dinner that night with Jezria. “You could have warned me you have a harpy for your head scientist.”

“Martina is an excellent scientist.”

“Well, she’s a shit administrator,” Garrett said, sipping at his wine. “This is good. Did Claudia give you this?”

“She did.”

“Did you bring enough to last you a while? I hear our alcohol consumption is going to be restricted.”

“Not just restricted but monitored,” Jezria said.

“What? Why?”

“Because I don’t want any of my colonists so inebriated that it affects their health or their ability to work,” she explained. “Think what you like about Pandora, Garrett, but this planet represents a new life to thousands of people. It’s a daunting undertaking for all of us, and there will be enough stresses on folk without the damage that can be done by self-medicating with copious alcohol or drugs. Especially since so many colonists are naturals. There is no rapid detox for a natural, no magic pill for them to swallow that cures a hangover. While we’re settling people into an alien environment that they’re going to have to make into a home, they’re going to obey some fairly draconian rules because they agreed to, to make the transition easier on all of us. You agreed to it as well,” she reminded him.

“I know,” he said sourly. “And may I just say how much I loathe the color tan? Beige, sand, dun, whatever you want to call it. It is possibly the most boring non-entity of a color in existence.”

“Loathe it all you like,” she said with a gracious smile. “Just learn to live with it.”

Title: Pandora

Part Ten: For Posterity

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. The saga continues. Enjoy:)

Three weeks of final preparations gave Garrett plenty of time to question his own judgment when it came to accepting Jezria’s offer, but fortunately he was too busy to consider it much. The lab was being whipped into shape and stocked with several years’ worth of supplies, and luckily for all of them transport issues kept Martina’s ire facing outward, not at her own employees.
Most of the scientists were friendly enough, but Garrett could already tell that apart from a few standouts, he wasn’t going to be socializing much with this group outside of working hours. They treated him with a wary sort of respect, not because of his qualifications, which were good but not exceptional, but because everyone had found out fairly quickly who he was related to, and that instantly diminished their ease with him. Lila didn’t seem to care, and Shekar, her lovelorn shadow, followed where she led, but apart from the two of them and Martina people were pretty reserved. Friendly nods and envious glances at his expensively ergonomic chair were the most he ever got by the time their departure was imminent
All this meant that Garrett felt more keenly the distance between himself and his family back on Paradise. He had expected to miss them. He hadn’t expected the unaccountable sense of longing he got for Paradise, however. Not the planet itself, really, but the locations he was most familiar with: the Governor’s Mansion, the barracks, Wyl and Robbie’s living room and the terrace overlooking the city. He called them more often than he thought he would, and he was always a little surprised that they could take the time to talk with him.
At least Claudia and Wyl usually could. Miles and Robbie were still in the throes of investigating the explosion at the warehouse, as well as dealing with upcoming parliamentary elections. Claudia called Garrett at least as often as he called her, and they ended up spending hours on the video comms just chatting. Claudia talked about her budding vineyard and Garrett amused her with stories of his new boss.
He and Wyl talked a few times a week, occasionally when Robbie was around but mostly when he was out in the field. Wyl tried not to worry, but Garrett was an expert at worry and he saw right through it.
“Where is he this time?”
“Maneuvers.” Wyl was lying on the couch in his living room, stomach down, head resting on his folded arms. He didn’t have a shirt on. Garrett reminded himself that Wyl wasn’t trying to look so disgustingly sexy on purpose, and refocused on what he was saying. “I don’t even fucking know what “maneuvers” means.”
“Field exercises. The rehearsal of military missions without actual combat.”
“Naturally you know.” Wyl sighed and pushed his hair out of his eyes. “They’ve been going at it gung-ho lately. Apparently they have to prepare for a zillion different types of attack during elections.”
“Better safe,” Garrett said with a shrug. “I’d rather have them fuck up someplace where no one could get hurt than out in the field. My dad was part of a unit once that lost over half its soldiers because someone gave a moron who wasn’t properly field-tested a plasma grenade launcher to use. Idiot forgot to activate the safety, then accidentally set the thing to automatic fire. It was a dumb design for him to be able to fuck it up so completely, but still, he should never have had it in the first place.”
“Holy shit. Did he off himself too?”
“No. He lived.” And was subsequently subjected to one of the most brutal court-martials in the history of the Federation. “You see Claudia much?”
“A lot more lately. She’s starting to show a bit. I think your dad is kind of freaking out.”
“I figured he would.”
“I think he misses you, Gare.”
There wasn’t much Garrett could say to that, so he changed the subject.
The night before the Neptune was set to leave with all its hopeful, harried colonists, the Senate of Olympus threw a celebratory going-away extravaganza. Garrett read it as a “Go-be-difficult-somewhere-else” party, but he got an invitation the same as everyone even tangentially associated with the Pandora Project, not just the people who were shipping out.
He convinced himself in a matter of about two seconds that he had no interest in going. There would be thousands of people packed into the docking bay of the Neptune, bland mass food and dull mass music and decorations that couldn’t make the environment any more banal but would probably try. Instead he went to his living quarters, where the walls were now covered with photo-realistic cloth, and thought about watching a movie. The cloth was projecting a picture he’d taken on a job on Dune, and his room felt very cave-like as a result, grays and blues and blacks blending into the twinkling colors of far-off crystal formations.
A light on his countertop control panel was blinking. It was a light he hadn’t seen before, and it flickered on and off with a merry insistence. Garrett leaned over and activated the alert.
Package in holding. Deliver now?
A package? He wasn’t expecting anything. Everything he’d paid for himself so far had mostly been for the lab or carted into his apartment and set up immediately. He checked the address. Paradise.
“Fine, deliver now.” Garrett thumbed the deliver button and waited. A few moments later a small box thumped into his receiver. It was the same system they used to send food from the mobile mess, and he wasted a few moments wondering just how sanitary that was before pulling out the box and undoing the clasps holding the top on. Garrett looked inside, did a double take, checked the included note and groaned. “For fuck’s sake.” He turned and marched over to his video comm and punched in Robbie and Wyl’s number, not caring what time it was there.
It rang. It rang some more. Finally Wyl activated the call, appearing sleep-rumpled and pissed off as the lights in his living room slowly brightened. “Gare, what the hell?”
“Do I look like an adolescent girl to you?”
Garrett rolled his eyes. “A diary, Wyl? Seriously?”
“It’s an interactive holographic recording journal and personal planning tool,” Wyl corrected him. Garrett’s discomposure was obviously amusing to him, and he started to smile. “Top of the line.”
“Whatever. Why did you send it to me?”
“Because who are you gonna talk to on Pandora?” Wyl asked point-blank. “Who are you going to confide in? Who’s going to be your best friend, Gare? You need to talk shit out, and once you get into the fringe the time lag will be too much for you to talk to anyone here face to face. At least this way you can get it out somehow, even if you’re the only one who ever listens to it.” He yawned, then added, “Besides, it was Robbie’s idea.”
“I do have a social life, you know.”
“Yeah, and I know most of the people you work with won’t tell you “boo” and the only person who will is gonna be too busy to cater to your needs once things get going.” Wyl sighed. “Use it or don’t use it, man, just take it for what it is, okay? A concerned attempt to keep you from getting lonely.”
Garrett really, really wanted to say he didn’t need a fucking lame recording journal to act as his goddamn sounding board and that he wasn’t lonely, not one fucking bit, but he didn’t want to lie like that to Wyl’s face. “Robbie around?”
“More maneuvers.”
“Tell him thanks for me.”
Wyl grinned at Garrett’s capitulation. “I will. Now I’m going back to sleep. G’night.”
“Yeah, good night.” The comm switched off and Garrett swiveled his head back towards the box, then huffed and went over to it. He lifted the recorder out and examined it. It was nicer than most of the ones he’d seen, a small, compact metal disk equipped with a camera, sensors to detect where he was so it could record accurately, a black-out mode, touch activation so that the only person who could access it was him…he sighed. It was a toy for a goddamn adolescent girl, and he was going to use it because his fucking ex-boyfriend was an asshole who knew him way too well. He read the note again.
Don’t think about it, just use it. Trust me. Robbie.
“Whatever.” Garrett fumed silently to himself even as he programmed the recorder to his personal specifications, finally setting it across from him on the counter and glaring as the holographic operator appeared. Following a sarcastic impulse he’d chosen a cartoon for his operator, a fluffy little creature with four long ears and goggle eyes. It wiggled its poofy little tail and tossed him a salute. “Ready to record?” it asked in a squeaky falsetto.
“Oh hell no,” Garrett muttered. “Recorder, lower vocal range to bass.”
There was a chime, the cartoon blurred for a moment and when it next spoke, the cute little creature sounded like it could have starred in a testosterone-driven action movie. “Ready to record?” it boomed.
“Better. Sure, why not. Record.”
“Journal record one, beginning.”
“Robbie, you are a piece of shit for sending this to me,” Garrett began. “I am not a child you need to hold by the hand and coddle as it takes its first fucking steps. I have plenty I could be doing apart from using a freaking holographic recorder to talk about my excruciatingly dull days, but now I’m obligated to use it because you and your damn boyfriend are double-teaming me. And not in the way I’d like.
“But fine, whatever. Dear diary, or journal, or planner. I’m peachy. We’re leaving tomorrow for Pandora, where if things continue as they’ve begun I can look forward to three years of an insane boss, meek coworkers and clean, wholesome, mind-fuckingly dull living. Half of me wants to kill Jezria and the other half makes me want to beg her to cancel my contract and let me go back to Paradise, or somewhere else. Anywhere else.

“But I won’t because I can dedicate myself to something and see it through, no matter what certain other people may think. I’ll do this and chock it up as a learning experience and use it to get sympathy fucks, not that I need sympathy fucks but god, I could really go for any kind of fuck right now.” He sighed. “I haven’t slept with another person in over a month. Wyl would ask if I was sick. There’s a thing tonight, which will probably be awful but is also likely the last chance I’m going to get to drink myself sick for a while, not to mention find a hook-up. In fact, with that in mind I should probably be getting my ass out there instead of wallowing in silence in my rooms, but it feels like doing penance. Plus I don’t have anything to wear.”

Garrett stopped, groaned and put his head in his hands. “Fuck, I am an adolescent girl.” He shut off the recorder, went back to his bathroom and started up his shower. If he was fast, he could be there in half an hour.

Title: Pandora

Part Eleven: Abrupt Departures

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 rated NC-17, long and dirty for a belated Valentine’s Day splurge. Enjoy!

The going away extravaganza was exactly what Garrett had pictured from the sanctity of his apartment. There were five thousand workers and colonists heading to Pandora, and it seemed like all of them had decided to show up. Apparently each of them could bring a guest as well, and everyone did, right down to the toddlers.

The docking bay of the Neptune seethed with people. Crowds lined all levels of the bay itself, packed the main floor and even perched on the ships that were left in there. Garrett noticed several people sitting on top of his own cruiser but didn’t bother to get worked up about it. They couldn’t get inside and they couldn’t break anything. Hell, he would have preferred to join them, but he hadn’t had anything to drink yet and he wasn’t subjecting himself to this without alcohol.

There were name tags being handed out at the doors, which Garrett steadfastly refused to wear. There were party hats and noisemakers and floating balloon animals that people could mold and then throw into the air, where they would hover and glow. Children were screaming and laughing, adults were yelling and shouting into the ferocious din, and wafting over it all was the Olympian planetary anthem, coming in tinnily over the speaker system. It was on repeat, apparently. The horns would blow, the tambourines would shiver with their final triumphant rattle, there would be one last strum on the giant lyre…and then it would all start over again. And again.

Five minutes in Garrett knew he’d made a mistake. Five minutes after that and he was beginning to wonder of he’d be able to push through to the outer edge of the pool of people, much less make it back up to his apartment. He decided discretion was the better part of valor and headed for his ship. He could take refuge there.

Apparently some other people had had the same idea. There was a group of what looked like teenagers hanging around the undercarriage of his cruiser, trying to act casual but failing miserably. They were clustered too tightly together for it to be natural, despite the press, and as he got closer Garrett could see that one of their number was lying on the floor behind them, busily rewiring the controls for his outer locks. The kid had somehow managed to get the paneling off without prying it, which would have set off the alarm. Even as Garrett watched the hatch hissed lightly and released, opening for the industrious young hacker. He was impressed more than he was pissed, which was why when he pushed the worried-faced gang out of his way and dragged the girl out, he did it by the arm instead of the hair.

“Hey!” she shrieked, falling back on defensive aggression even as her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “Get off me!”

“Get off my ship,” Garrett replied calmly, letting the girl go but not moving out of her way.

“It’s, what, no…it’s…no personal ships are allowed to go to fucking Pandora.” The way she said it left no doubt as to how she felt about their destination.

“So because it’s not supposed to be going with you it’s okay to break into it?”

“I didn’t break anything,” she muttered. White blond hair fell over her eyes, but Garrett could see enough to see that she was glaring at him. “And you’re not coming to Pandora, you’re a fucking doll.”

“Doll” was a colloquialism for people who had either had a lot of very obvious modifications done in an effort to stand out or, as Garrett had very recently learned, an epithet that naturals used to describe anyone who could tolerate regenerative medicine. Garrett had learned quite a bit about the prejudices naturals had against normal members of society, “normal” also being a very loaded term, of course. In the society he was entering into, normal would be defined by the naturals, who were the majority of people moving to Pandora.

Garrett chuckled at the girl’s insult, which seemed to make her even more upset. Her friends vanished into the crowd, their interest waning now that the opportunity for some exciting breaking and entering was denied to them. Her hands had clenched into fists, and her nails dug so deeply into her palms that Garrett thought she might be puncturing the skin. Her caramel skin was taking on a reddish tone, either from anger or shame he couldn’t tell.

“What, you think I’m funny, doll?” Hmm, that definitely sounded like anger.

“Not exactly,” Garrett replied, getting his wayward sense of humor under control. Laughing in her face was just making it worse for her. “And I’m not a doll.”

“Yeah, right. You’re not a doll like I’m not a fucking reg.” “Regs” were another term Garrett had learned recently, intimating that naturals were regular people and everyone else was abnormal.

“Honest. I’m not a doll. I am, however, the owner of that ship. And I want you to put it back together. Now.”

“Make me, doll.”

Garrett sighed. The last thing he wanted to do right now was get into a shouting match with a repetitive, angst-filled teenager. On the other hand, it would take security forever to wade through the crowd and he didn’t feel comfortable personally restraining her. Her eyes were darting back and forth, and she was clearly considering making a break for it.

“Tamara.” A new voice from behind them made them both turn to look, the girl with apprehension and Garrett with appreciation. It had been forever since he’d heard that accent, the long vowels and rolling drawl turning the girl’s name into “Taamrah.” Drifters were a rare breed, the last of the real independent traders in this part of the universe. They were born, lived and died aboard their ships, running from planet to planet and taking on the cargo that most Federation-based shipping companied refused to. Technically they weren’t smugglers, but the planets in the central system did everything they could to restrict trading to resident shipping cartels. The majority of drifters had been pushed to the Fringe planets, and even there they were becoming fewer and further between. This man wasn’t wearing a uniform, but Garrett figured he had to be involved in the colony project somehow.

“I didn’t break anything,” the girl—Tamara—said, but her voice was less angry and more nervous now.

“Didn’t say you did,” the man replied. “But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to put somethin’ back together. I’ll give you five minutes before I let your pa know.”

Her face paled almost to the shade of her hair. “You wouldn’t.”

“Those five minutes’ve already started,” he said gently.

Tamara blew an explosive breath upwards, ruffling her bangs, but she turned around and crawled back under the cruiser, swearing just loud enough to be audible but not quite loud enough so they could make out the details. It was probably better that way.

The man settled in next to Garrett and nodded companionably. “Evenin’.”

“Thanks for the assist,” Garrett replied.

“My pleasure. Tamara’s smart as a whip, but that doesn’t mean she’s got the sense God gave little apples.”

Ah, drifter slang. So deliciously quaint. “I gathered as much.”

“I reckon you did.” The look the other man gave him was amicably tolerant, a lot like the one he’d given the girl, but Garrett could see a welcoming heat behind it. He held out his hand.

“I’m Garrett.” It would take too long to explain his last name.

“Jonah.” They shook, and when Jonah’s fingertips slid against Garrett’s palm as he let go, Garrett felt the heat as well. Jonah had the slightly tense look of a man long-contained and bursting at the seams, wanting but not knowing how to get what he wanted. He was good looking, not incredibly handsome but comfortably attractive, with a lean, lanky body a few inches taller than Garrett’s and sandy brown hair tucked back behind his ears. His eyes were a warm brown, and his jaw was a little scruffy with the beginnings of a beard. Not military, then. Probably not even an expedition member; perhaps he was a consultant. The last thing an inveterate wanderer like a drifter would want was to settle on a planet in the Fringe. They carried their homes with them, they didn’t stop moving and put down roots. That actually made Garrett happy. Here was his hook-up, if he played it right.

“Nice ship,” Jonah offered. He might as well have been screaming subtext. Garrett liked discussion laced with casual innuendo, and he threw himself into it.

“Thank you. She’s been good enough for me lately.” She’s my home away from home. See how alike we are?

“No other crew members?” No wife, husband, lover, family?

“Nope. Just me.” All on my lonesome.

“You been out on her long?” Just how desperate are you?

“The last stretch was for three weeks.” Not that desperate, thanks very much, but I’m willing to consider you.

“Plenty long for most people.” I’m willing to be considered.

“Hellooo, are you done orally fucking each other yet?”

They both turned and looked at Tamara, who was rolling her eyes. “It’s finished. Can I go already?”

Garrett leaned down and looked at the panel. It was back in place, with no sign of tampering. His hatch was still open, but one push from him would reclose it. “It looks good.”

“Try not to break into any more ships tonight, Tam,” Jonah said mildly. Tamara didn’t say anything, just brushed by both of them with a scowl.

Garrett looked over at Jonah and decided to drop the innuendo. “I’m much better at orally fucking people than that, actually.”

Jonah looked startled for a moment, then laughed. “God, I bet you are. Got anything to drink in there?”

“As a matter of fact, I do.” He’d stocked all of the alcohol he’d bought for the journey into his ship, where it would be harder to monitor his consumption than if he stored it in his quarters. “Would you care to look at my selection?”

“Love to.”

Garrett opened the hatch all the way and stepped inside, gesturing for Jonah to follow him. Dim lights lit in the narrow hallway as he made his way to his kitchen. Garrett grabbed a couple of glasses from a cabinet and turned around to face Jonah. In the low light his face was shadowed, mysterious. The way he moved was languidly graceful, more relaxed than Robbie, more comfortable than Isidore. He seemed completely at home in Garrett’s space, which Garrett supposed came from a lifetime aboard ships. Jonah had never developed self-consciousness.

“What would you like?”

“What’ve you got?”

“There’s a bottle of pretty decent whiskey.” It was excellent whiskey, honestly, but Garrett didn’t expect his guest to know the difference.

Jonah nodded slightly. “Sounds fine.”

Garrett poured the amber liquid into the tumblers, a classic whiskey, using Old Earth grain varieties. He handed a glass over to Jonah and they toasted each other silently, then drank. The liquid burned on the way down, and was immediately followed by such a relaxing smoothness that Garrett sighed appreciatively.

Jonah sipped once to taste, then knocked the rest of his back. A second later he belied his languorous posture by slipping quickly in front of Garrett, his hands coming to rest lightly on the other man’s hips. Garrett followed suit and swallowed his whiskey down, then set the glass aside. The warmth welling inside of him was partially from the alcohol but mostly from being surrounded by a hot, willing partner. Someone who wanted him. He hadn’t felt wanted lately, but if the slight trembles in Jonah’s hands were anything to go by, he sure as hell was wanted now. Garrett twined his arms around Jonah’s shoulders and pulled him down into a kiss.

That was where Garrett’s direction ended. Jonah took control of the kiss, his mouth slanting hot and hard against Garrett’s lips, and the taste of whiskey backed by the insistent thrust of his tongue was more intoxicating than any alcohol. His hands moved restlessly against Garrett’s form, mapping the curves and planes of his body beneath his suit, and suddenly there were way too many clothes separating them.

“Bed,” Garrett gasped as he pulled back for a second. “Across the hall—” His voice cut off abruptly as Jonah bent quickly and threw Garrett over his shoulder, squeezing the breath out of him. He didn’t protest, just let himself be carried into his small bedroom and tossed down onto the bed. He bounced, and was filled with the sudden inexplicable urge to giggle, which would have been embarrassing. Fortunately Jonah followed him down fast and stopped his impending outburst with another kiss. Garrett heard the faint groan in the back of Jonah’s throat and realized that it however long it had been for him, it had been a lot longer for his hook-up. Jonah didn’t just want Garrett, he needed him.

“You’ve got me,” Garrett whispered, slowing the kiss down a little, smoothing his hands over Jonah’s back and shoulders. “You’ve got me, I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”

Jonah shuddered for a moment, then pulled back. His hair was loose around his face, making him look young. He gave Garrett a half-smile. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to just jump you.”

“I like jumping, jumping is good,” Garrett assured him.

Jonah somehow managed a nonchalant shrug from a prone position. “Still, not exactly polite of me. I sorta skipped ahead a few steps.” He smiled more genuinely. “I mean, you haven’t even shown me how good you are at orally fucking people.”

“Oh, I’m incredible at it,” Garrett promised him. “I’m a fantastic oral fucker. Is that what you’d like?”

“For starters,” Jonah replied. “Then I’d like to fuck you into the mattress.”

Ah. Well. It had been quite a while since Garrett had bottomed for anyone. Actually…it had been since Robbie. Years, now. Every person he’d fucked since then he’d, well, fucked them.

Jonah was watching his face closely. “You don’t care for that?”

“I do, actually. It’s just been some time since I have.”

“We’ll take it slow if you want it.”

Garrett grinned. “Slow doesn’t seem to be your forté.”

“Oh ye of little faith,” Jonah said. “I can make it so slow you beg me for it, darlin’.”

Why did Garrett shiver when he heard that silly pet name applied to himself? Maybe it was the concept of begging for it. Yes, that was it. “Maybe after some oral fucking. I do have something to prove, after all.”

“True that.” Jonah kissed him again, then sat back on his heels and pulled off his shirt. His chest was lean and broad, and dusted with dark curls of hair. He unfastened his pants and stood up just long enough to shuck them and his underwear to the floor and step out of his boots, then sprawled back down on the bed, not on top of Garrett but beside him. He took one of Garrett’s hands in his own and brought it down to his thick, hot erection. The tip was already wet.

Garrett didn’t bother to undress, he just slid over until their bodies were flush, silk cloth against silky skin. He kissed Jonah’s mouth again, then his chin, then made his way down his throat and over his chest as he slid down the bed. Garrett pumped his hand along Jonah’s cock, once, twice, and then his mouth was even with it and he couldn’t resist leaning in to taste. He flicked his tongue across the tip, catching the precome and savoring the tang of it on his tongue, before leaning in and closing his lips over the head. Jonah groaned loudly and spread his legs, and Garrett shifted to settle between them.

Jonah was large, a little longer than average and thick enough that Garrett had to work to relax his throat around him. He could do it; he’d spent many nights of his misbegotten youth practicing deep-throating anyone who was interested, but it had been a long time since he’d had someone who really made him stretch. He took Jonah’s cock deep into his mouth, until his lips brushed wiry curls, and then went back again, rising up to the head and swirling his tongue around it. Garrett pulled off and ran his wet, clinging lips down the velvety skin, breathing hot breaths against it as he wrapped his fingers around Jonah’s balls and pulled, ever so lightly. When he had Jonah squirming in his grip, seeking pressure and trying to thrust but not finding purchase, he swallowed him down again.

“Gonna come if you keep this up,” Jonah warned him with a gravelly voice.

Garrett removed his mouth with a slick, obscene pop. “I’m sure I can make you come more than once tonight.”

“Promises, promises,” Jonah muttered, spreading his legs wider. “But yeah, I reckon you can.”

“Let’s find out,” Garrett said. He got his knees underneath him and positioned himself more comfortably, and then he went to town. He licked and sucked, he hummed and tugged and stroked as he worked the heavy cock stretching his lips. Precome gushed into his mouth, just a little and then a lot, and after a few minutes Jonah’s abdomen was as hard as a board, his breaths were shallow and then his hands buried themselves in the softness of Garrett’s hair as he came in Garrett’s mouth, so hard and so much that he almost choked on it. He pulled back when the flow stopped, enjoying the quivers racing through Jonah’s body as he slowly came down from his orgasmic high. Garrett gently stroked Jonah’s thighs and stomach, content just to watch him for a while.

Garrett loved sex, but he never chased orgasms. He might have a reputation as a selfish hedonistic bastard, but in reality he was just as interested in pleasing his partners as he was in pleasing himself. More, even. He didn’t keep track or insist on tit for tat, he just gave what he could and took what was given while making it as good as possible for them both. Most people appreciated that. The few who didn’t he never bothered with a second time.

Jonah finally caught his breath and then looked down at the man laid out between his legs. “Holy shit.”

Garrett smirked and nodded immodestly. “So I’m told.”

“That was…real good.”

“Thanks.” It was kind of underwhelming praise, but Garrett didn’t need words to know how he’d made the other man feel. “Do you need some more time, or are you ready to make me beg yet?” Not to rush things, but Garrett was hard and aching after tasting Jonah.

“I can be ready,” Jonah smiled. “Come up here.” Garrett crawled up his body, slow and sinuous, and settled down on top of Jonah’s chest. They pressed their lips together, Jonah’s tongue coming out to taste the remnants of his spend while his hands got to work peeling back Garrett’s jacket. The soft blue material fell away, followed by his shirt and pants, until they were both naked and moving against each other. Jonah rolled them over so he was on top, and then his own hand was on Garrett’s cock, pulling lightly. He had the calluses of a pilot, hard edged along his fingers but with fingertips so smooth the contrast was a shocking surprise.

Jonah’s hand dipped lower, fondling and rolling Garrett’s balls, then stroking over his perineum. When his fingertips brushed Garrett’s entrance, he spread his legs wider and reached up into one of the pop-out drawers for a container of lubricant. His body and mind were buzzing, pulsing, ready. He could do this. It would be good. He handed the lube to Jonah, who thanked him and then set it aside.

“Don’t you want to…”

“Told you I’d take it slow.” Jonah smiled and ran his tongue over Garrett’s left nipple, worrying at it and biting lightly. His hand kept moving, and Garrett decided to just relax and let the man do things how he wanted to. Garrett didn’t need to direct or control right now. He just needed to let a sex-starved drifter have his way with him, which was really no hardship.

Jonah nuzzled into the hollow of Garrett’s hip, and bit a light circle around his bellybutton. His hands went lower, massaging smooth, hairless skin and long muscles. Garrett preened under the attention, delighting in being worshipped. That was what it felt like. Every touch of Jonah’s tongue on his skin was appreciative, every panting breath and kiss and caress was reverent in the manner of someone who truly longed for what he was being given. It had been a long time since Garrett had been worshipped, not with eager fumbling and more energy than refinement, but with the slow and steady movements of a man who knew exactly what he was touching and how to handle it.

When Jonah started sucking Garrett’s toes it sent actual chills up his back. He pressed up and arched towards him, trying to get more skin-on-skin contact, but Jonah just bit the ball of his foot and smiled mischievously. “Anxious?”

“Ready,” Garrett corrected breathlessly.

“Nice to know,” Jonah said. “But I’m not done with you.” He lay Garrett’s foot down on the bed. “Roll over.”

Garrett obeyed, and the sudden heavy weight of Jonah’s body on his own was delicious. He stretched his arms up over his head and smiled when the other man’s hands circled his wrists, holding him in place. Jonah slotted his body against Garrett’s, the thick curve of his cock fitting perfectly along Garrett’s ass, and he moved, slowly rutting. Garrett groaned.

“Fucking tease.”

“You gotta want it,” Jonah murmured in his ear. “Gotta want it bad.”

“I do.”

“Yeah?” He let go with one hand and fumbled for the lubricant. Garrett shut his eyes and took a deep breath, consciously relaxing. When he felt a finger against him he frowned.


“Barely have one yet, darlin’,” Jonah teased as he slipped his finger inside. “God, you’re bossy.” A second finger joined the first and they twisted, stretching and curling inside of him. Garrett firmly shut his mouth and didn’t say anything when the third finger entered him, working not to tense or moan.

“I want to hear you,” Jonah said, his voice husky and low. “Let me hear you.”

“Jonah, god, just fuck me.”

A moment later the thick, blunt head of Jonah’s cock replaced his fingers, and Garrett did moan now. “Yes, that’s it, I want it,” he whispered hoarsely. “Please, please…” It had been so long since he’d taken someone inside, and in that moment Garrett couldn’t imagine wanting anything more. Jonah braced his free arm above Garrett’s head and slid forward, and he was so much thicker than three fingers, so much thicker than he’d had in so long… Jonah pressed in until he couldn’t go any further, and they both shuddered.

“Garrett…” Jonah rocked against him, and pressed kisses into his long blond hair. “You feel so good.”

“Move,” he begged. “I’m fine, you can move, please.”

Jonah did move, slowly at first, just edging his way in and out before he felt comfortable to push it further. After a few minutes he drew back and pulled Garrett up onto his knees, and the change in angle was sharp and perfect and made Garrett groan again. Jonah thrust in harder and faster, and Garrett braced himself on his elbows and appreciatively rode the waves of pleasure edged with the stinging, familiar pain of accepting another man into his body. It had been so long, and it felt so wonderful. He was making noises, saying nothing but being understood, because Jonah reached around his hip and found his cock, grabbing it with slippery fingers and thumbing over the head until Garrett cried out and came, hard, clenching around Jonah’s cock as stars flickered across his vision. He felt the sudden wet heat flood his body, felt Jonah tremble and lean suddenly against him and then they collapsed back down against the bed.

Jonah kept moving inside of him, just short, fluttering thrusts, kissing his shoulders and neck and clutching him tight. He rolled them so they were on their sides rather than him laying on top and crushing Garrett with his weight, but he stayed inside as they both calmed down, his thrusts slowing and his cock softening until finally he slipped free with a sigh of disappointment. “God, you’re incredible,” he said.

“I think I can share the acclaim,” Garrett smiled. “You felt perfect.”

“Slow enough for ya?”

“Much more waiting and I would have gotten violent, which isn’t a good look for me,” Garrett confessed.

“Not really a good look for anyone,” Jonah said philosophically. He pulled back, just slightly, but it was enough to let cool air in between their bodies, and Garrett shivered.

“No,” he said. “Stay. Get some sleep. It’s a jungle out there; wait for the herd to thin a little.”

“Mixin’ your metaphors a little, darlin’.”

“I have coffee for the morning,” Garrett coaxed. No matter whom he fucked, Garrett wasn’t in the habit of letting them slink away in the night. It was just rude not to stare down the person you’d invited into your body, or vice versa, by the light of day.

“Real coffee?”

“One hundred percent real, and not freeze dried or reconstituted.”

“Hmm. I suppose that’s worth waiting around for.” Jonah turned Garrett’s head just far enough to kiss his lips, then scooted them both over until they were off of the wet spot. Garrett settled back into his lover’s arms, relaxed and content for the first time in weeks, and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

When Garrett woke up the next morning, Jonah was gone. There was no note, no empty cup of coffee and no goodbye, awkward or otherwise. Garrett was just alone in a small room smelling heavily of sex, flooded with delicious recent memories but only able to feel disappointment.

Title: Pandora

Part Twelve: Know Thyself

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’s short, but I’m laying groundwork here. Enjoy!

Garrett didn’t try to find out Jonah’s last name. He wasn’t the type to pine over a hookup, and if Jonah had woken up that morning and decided to get out while the getting was good, then that was his prerogative. If it stung more than a little bit, well, that came with the territory too. It had been nice. Great. Fantastic even, and that was all Garrett could rightfully ask.

He didn’t even scan peoples’ faces over the next few days, just to check for him. There was no way a drifter like Jonah was going to Pandora. Whatever the man’s business with the expedition had been, it was likely over and done with now, and he was on his way back to his huge, lumbering, hodgepodge of a ship, with more nooks and crawlspaces than most cities. That was how drifter clans lived, and that was how they liked it.

The launch of the Neptune itself Garrett missed, which he was fine with. It was an overblown event anyway, and why certain governments still found it amusing to waste perfectly good champagne on the sides of ships was just beyond him. Garrett spent the morning in his apartment instead, loading a picture of the Aurora nebula into the photorealistic cloth covering his walls and ignoring the faint shudders of the colony ship as it clawed free of Olympus’ atmosphere. He modified the picture to gently spin, then sat back on his still horribly beige couch and watched it for a while. There were worse ways to get over a sudden onset of melancholy, he figured.

After a while, he reached over and grabbed the journal off the counter. As soon as he touched the disc, the floppy-eared cartoon operator appeared. It wiggled its pink nose alluringly and said, “Ready to record?”

Garrett smiled at the buffo quality of the critter’s deep voice. “Why not? Go on.”

“Journal record two, beginning.”

“I’m hoping to start a trend with this,” Garrett said languidly, stretching his legs out on the couch. “Not a generalized ‘grown adults confessing to using children’s toys’ trend, but a personal trend. I had the best sex I’ve had in possibly years last night after the shame of pouring my heart out to an inanimate object forced me off my ass. If the same thing happens today, then you can bet I’m going to be journaling on a very regular basis. Several times a day, if I can work it. On the other hand, if last night was a fluke and I’m looking forward to another stretch of reluctant celibacy, then I want to make sure I have this to listen to later, to prove to my poor ossifying penis that I did actually have sex with this man.

“His name was Jonah, and he was the most delicious, commanding supplicant I can remember being with. It’s kind of hard to convey the feel of someone who’s both desperately appreciative and sensually demanding, but Jonah completely owned that line. He was one of my favorite types, long and lean everywhere, except his dick; that was thicker than my wrist. I’ll be feeling that inside me for several days, and I already wish the feeling would last longer. I really wish he had stayed for coffee. I wish I hadn’t met him the day before this show gets on the road, because I really would have enjoyed fucking him more regularly. I wish…”

Garrett shut the journal. The operator winked out, and he tossed the thing onto his coffee table. “Wishing, right, that’s a logical response. There’s the scientific course of action to take, you moron.” He frowned. His mood was low. Really low. Post-orgasmic letdown, or a true chemical problem? Garrett decided to visit the infirmary and find out. What the hell, it was his day off and he hadn’t been since the day he first came aboard.

The Pandora expedition was extremely well staffed medically. Because the autodocs would only work on people who could use regenerative medicine, there were doctors on board the Neptune that specialized in everything from pregnancy to the elderly, sniffles to cancer. Many of them were naturals themselves, which explained why they’d chosen to dedicate themselves to obscure branches of care. Garrett could have gone to an actual person in the infirmary, there were always several professionals staffing it, but when the nurse checking him in asked if he had a preference, he asked for a private autodoc booth.

“Are all your medical records uploaded into our system?” the nurse asked.

“Yes.” Garrett handed over his ID and let the nurse scan it. The man frowned.

“Our records show you were in here less than a month ago. You shouldn’t need a shot of Regen for another three months. May I ask why you feel you need to see a doctor?”

“Blood chemistry,” Garrett said shortly. Could this man not read?

“Oh.” The nurse scanned a little further. “Oh! Volatile metabolizer, huh? Better safe than sorry, then. Booth Two is free.”

“Thanks.” Garrett took his badge back and walked into the infirmary, rolling his eyes at having to explain his presence in a goddamn infirmary. Maybe naturals had to be more fulsome about their every ache and pain, but most of the people Garrett had ever interacted with on a medical level had been more than happy to shove him towards the nearest autodoc and let it take care of things.

Garrett stepped into the booth and was greeted by his second hologram of the day. This one was an white-clothed androgynous figure with a soothing voice. “Good morning, Doctor Caractacus. Please place your hand into the gauntlet.” He slid his hand into the oversized glove, felt the tiny, painless pricks of different probes taking readings, and then all of it was loaded into the central computer. The hologram appeared to glance down at a clipboard.

“Your serotonin levels are very high. Do you have a headache?”

“A slight one.”

“Some of your other neurotransmitter levels are either above or below your normal thresholds. Have you been stressed at work lately?”

“Not particularly.”

“Hmm. I’m going to regulate your levels now, and I recommend you come in and see me again in one week to verify that you’re back on track.” Garrett heard the faint pneumatic hiss of a medgun and felt a brief spot of coolness in the back of his hand. “Is this acceptable to you?”

“It is.”

“Good. I’ll have the system send you a reminder. Thank you for coming in today, Doctor Caractacus.” The hologram disappeared, and the green light above the gauntlet meant that Garrett could remove his hand safely. He did so, checking the skin for redness out of habit before leaving the booth. He headed straight for the exit.


Meaning…what, him? Garrett was the only other person around, so the nurse had to mean him. He turned back towards the man. “Yes?”

“Have you signed up yet for your first aid class?”

Garrett blinked. “Excuse me?”

“The mandatory first aid classes. You know, first aid for naturals? It was one of the standard clauses in the medical section of your contract. It’s just that we have an opening in our class tomorrow if you’d like to sign up now.”

He wondered if the nurse could hear his teeth grinding from across the room. First aid classes. Right, because when a natural stubbed a toe you couldn’t just stick them in the nearest autodoc, you had to kiss it better too. That was sure to be exhilarating. God damn fucking contract. “I have work tomorrow. I’ll check my schedule, though.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Garrett left the infirmary and headed for the gym. He needed to work off his pissy mood somehow, and in lieu of sparring with Robbie or yoga with Wyl, he’d gone back to running for exercise. It wasn’t difficult for him, he could do alone and on a ship this size, he could practically log it as having a practical application for his work. There was a silver lining to every cloud. See? His mood was improving already.

Yeah. Lovely.

Title: Pandora

Part Thirteen: A Trouble Shared

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. Enjoy!

“How’s the trip so far?” Claudia asked. She looked a little different at almost four months pregnant, a little softer and brighter. Her hair was down, and it fell in dark, shining waves around her face and shoulders. She looked happy, and Garrett appreciated that. He wondered how he looked to her.

“Oh, it’s a thrill a minute. Truly. I can barely contain myself, what with all the excitement around here.”

“Gare.” She sighed with a certain exasperated fondness that Garrett had seen in his father at times. And Robbie. And Wyl. Come to think of it, everyone he was close to made that noise on a semi-regular basis. “Be honest.”

“You don’t want me to be honest, Claudia.”

“Sure I do.”

“No,” he said emphatically, “you don’t. Not if you value your sanity. I can tell you that I want to kill Jezria, however.”

“She sent Miles a message that had him chuckling a few days ago. I think it was about you.”

“Yes, well, they both have sick and twisted senses of humor. Seriously, you’d better hope the baby gets the vast majority of her personality traits from you. In fact, next time, screw the sex thing, just pop off a clone. The universe could use more Claudias.”

“Garrett.” It was too easy to make his step-mother blush. “Be serious for a moment. It’s not really that bad, is it?”

“No,” he assured her. “It’s not that bad.” Because the expedition wasn’t, it was just oddly confining, restricting in a personal way that he hadn’t had to deal with since boarding school. His work was challenging but the atmosphere in the lab was brittle, and the tabs that were kept on his consumption of all things even remotely related to vice made him feel like an inmate. Plus the thing with the guy in the ship…yeah. Strange.

Jonah. Not “the guy”, Jonah. Funny how he didn’t want to forget that name.

“How did the elections go?” he asked, done talking about himself.

“Pretty smoothly. There were a few incidents but no more bombs, and no one was killed. The Federation troops are still out in force as part of a police effort as the new members of Parliament get situated, so Robbie and Wyl are working almost as much as Miles is. Oh!” Claudia smiled suddenly. “Wyl hired a friend of yours for the motor pool. I think his name is Isidore Cain?”

“Seriously?” It had been several months since Garrett had given Wyl Isidore’s information, and he’d thought that nothing had come of it.

“Oh yes. Wyl was way too busy keeping all the vehicles going since all the troops are on call and he really needed the help, and apparently it’s working out very well. I guess that getting the security clearance took longer than expected because of some of his family’s connections, but it worked out in the end.”

“He’s related to people who were against Paradise joining the Federated Colonies?”

“In a big way, but I don’t know the details. He’s here now, though, and I’ve met him. He seems very sweet.”

“’Sweet’ is the perfect word for Isidore,” Garrett said with a lascivious grin, and Claudia giggled. “Get him on his back with his legs in the air and—”

“Don’t tell me about it!” she begged. “Gentlemen aren’t supposed to tell!”

“Who did you think you were talking to, honey? Robbie?”

Claudia opened her mouth to speak, but then a chime went off in the background. “Oh. I’m sorry, Garrett, I have to go. We’re hosting a dinner for the Parliament members and their families tonight and I need to start getting things ready.”

“Better you than me,” Garrett said easily. “I should head to the infirmary anyway.”

“Infirmary, why? Are you okay?” Her pretty features creased with worry, and Garrett swore silently at himself even as he decided lying was the way to go here.

“I’m fine. I just have to take a first aid class. You know, what to do in case a natural gets his arm chopped off or something.”

“Oh, that makes sense.”

“Go get ready for dinner, Claudia. Tell Dad hi for me.”

“I will,” she promised. “Hopefully next time he’ll be able to talk.”

“When things calm down a little,” Garrett agreed. “Bye, honey.”

“Bye, Gare.” Her image winked out and Garrett shut off his screen. He hadn’t actually signed up for a first aid class yet, but he knew the nurse would bother him again about it today. He’d been receiving perky little messages to that effect all week. In fact, the number of messages he received was huge considering he didn’t have many friends on board the ship. It turned out most of the notices were for group socializing events, which Garrett had no desire to become involved with. Artificially constructed mixers where you got a flashing nametag and had to tell people Three Fun Things About Me!!! was not in the game plan, not if he wanted his brain chemistry to stay on an even keel. Thanks, but no thanks.

Garrett wasn’t a complete shut-in. He had dinner with Jezria once a week, he ate lunches with Lila and Shekar, and he ran regularly with a group of the ship’s security officers whom he knew by sight if not by name. Officer Brady turned out to be Officer Carrie Brady, and she was cute and could run like the wind, so they chatted more often than not while he worked out. The rest of the time, he worked or entertained himself. It wasn’t a wonderful life, but it wasn’t bad either.

Garrett forced himself off the couch and out the door. He wanted to get the infirmary appointment over with. Hopefully all would be well and he could give it a rest after this.

The place was surprisingly busy today. There were at least four doctors bustling around seeing to various people, and when he looked at the sign on the wall Garrett found that they were giving out vaccines today. Vaccines for what he had no idea, but he recognized several scientists who were naturals sitting down, and figured it was specific to them. The nurse was different, but the girl who’d replaced him for today indicated that Garrett should go ahead to Booth Two and let the autodoc do its thing. He went into the small room, but stopped at the door when he saw a small child sitting in the diagnostic chair.

The kid wasn’t being analyzed, he was just sitting there, his knees tucked to his chest and his face hidden in his arms. A wild mess of butter-yellow curls several shades darker than Garrett’s own hair made the boy look like he’d just come in from a windstorm. He peeked over his arms at Garrett.

“Are you a doctor?”

“No,” Garrett replied, squelching his initial impulse to call someone and have them get the kid out of the room. “Not this kind of doctor.”

“You aren’t gonna give me a shot?”


The boy sighed deeply. “Okay, then you can stay.”

“Thanks.” Feeling bemused but oddly entertained, Garrett sat down on the bed next to the autodoc chair.

“What’s your name?” the boy asked.

“Garrett.” There was no way he was throwing his last name at a toddler. “What’s yours?”

“Cody David Helms, and I’m five years old, but I’ll be six in three months, Daddy says.”

Five. Okay, so not a toddler. Garrett wasn’t comfortable with kids. He’d never had the opportunity to get to know any, but he didn’t feel the need to run out of the room screaming yet, so that was good. “Five, huh?”

“Yep.” The boy nodded firmly. “How old are you?”

Garrett cracked a smile. “A lot older. Super old. Probably as old as your daddy.”

“That’s old,” Cody agreed.

“I know.” They were silent for a moment. “Aren’t you supposed to be out there?” He gestured towards the main room.

“Yeah, but I thought they were just gonna check my ears again, ‘cause I have tubes in my ears and they have to make sure they’re okay, but then they said they hafta give me a shot too and I don’t like those, but Daddy can’t come right now and I don’t want to do it without him.” Cody looked thoroughly miserable at the prospect of getting a shot. Garrett could commiserate. It really was easier to be on Regen.

“Well, I don’t know—”

“There you are!” A white-coated doctor appeared in the door, her face set in a slightly scolding smile. “Cody, I’ve been looking for you. It’s time for your vaccination.”

“No.” He hid his face in his arms again.

“You’ll get a treat when it’s over, honey.”


“Cody…” She sounded exasperated. “Doctor Caractacus needs this room so he can use the autodoc. We don’t want to inconvenience him.”

“Who’s that?”

“It’s me,” Garrett confessed.

“You said you were Garrett.”

“I’m that too. That’s what you can call me.” He looked at the frightened boy and the annoyed doctor and made a decision. “How about we get our shots at the same time? That way we can stay here together.”

“You aren’t scheduled for a…” Garrett caught the doctor’s eye and stared until she caught on. “I mean, yes. Both your shots. I’ll just go get one more.” She turned and walked away.

“Is that okay with you?” Garrett asked Cody. “Because I know I’m not your Daddy, but honestly I don’t like getting shots either and I don’t want to do it alone.”

“Will you go first?”


“’kay.” Cody seemed resigned if not enthusiastic, and after a moment he got out of the chair and pulled himself up onto the bed next to Garrett. The boy’s warm little body pressed against his side, and Garrett found himself actually thinking that the kid was pretty cute, as kids went. His hair was all over the place, but it was a nice color, and he had brown eyes that looked too big for his face but made him look completely adorable.

And this, Garrett thought to himself, is why parents don’t go homicidally insane more often. Cute gets you out of a lot of trouble. It had worked for him, certainly.

The doctor came back, two small syringes in hand. “Who’s going first?”

“I am,” Garrett told her. She nodded and rolled up his sleeve, then wiped the skin just below his shoulder clean. “You’ll just feel a little pinch,” she told him.

All of a sudden Cody was clinging to him, holding his side tight, and Garrett was so taken aback by it that he didn’t even realize he was getting the shot until the doctor pulled back and said, “All done! That wasn’t so bad, huh?”

“Not at all,” he replied honestly.

Cody looked up at his face from under long, sandy brown lashes. “Really?”


“Are you ready for your turn, Cody?”

Cody nodded, but there were already tears in his eyes, and when the doctor touched his arm to roll his sleeve back he buried his face in Garrett’s arm. “I don’ wanna watch,” he mumbled.

“That’s okay, you don’t have to watch,” Garrett said, feeling totally out of his depth. The doctor smiled slightly at him, then gave Cody his shot. The little boy flinched but didn’t make a sound, and after a few seconds it was done. The tiny hole was bleeding, though, and Garrett watched in fascination as the doctor wiped it clean again, then put a Space Ranger band-aid over it. Having a band-aid seemed to cheer the kid up some. Huh. Weird.

“There you go,” she said cheerfully. “Good job, Cody! If you come with me now I can check your ears and Doctor Caractacus can finish his things in here.”

“’kay.” He reluctantly let go of Garrett but looked up at him. “Thank you.”

“Thank you,” Garrett replied. “I didn’t want to do that all by myself. You were a big help.”

“Oh. You’re welcome.” Cody smiled and Garrett felt himself smile back, unable to resist. “You can call my Daddy if you hafta get another shot and we can come help again. Daddy is really good at helping.”

“He can’t be as good as you,” Garrett said.

“He is. He’s the best,” Cody assured him. His insistence was very cute.


“I’m coming.” He got down off the table and walked over to the door. “Bye, Garrett.”

“Bye, Cody.”

The doctor winked at Garrett and then laid a gentle hand on the boy’s shoulder, guiding him out. Garrett watched them go, completely bemused for a few seconds, before he remembered why he’d come into the infirmary in the first place. He moved down to the chair and put his hand in the gauntlet. A few moments later he was being analyzed, and a minute later the hologram informed him that his blood chemistry was back to normal and he could go. It felt cold and impersonal after the interaction he’d just had. Garrett removed his hand, stood up and walked back out into the waiting room.

“Sir!” The perky girl at the desk waved him over before he could leave. “About the first aid class…have you signed up yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Only we’ve got just five weeks to go until we reach Pandora, and all personnel and family members have to be certified by then. We have the classes every other day.”

“Next week, then, on this day.” Maybe if he was lucky he’d see Cody again. The kid was cute, no denying it, and Garrett wouldn’t mind meeting his parents.

“Thank you!” The girl beamed at him. “I’ll make sure you get a reminder before the class.”

“I’m sure you will.”

“Have a lovely day!”

“I…will.” Actually, Garrett had no idea what he’d do with the rest of his day. After chatting with Claudia and meeting Cody, however, it was looking up. “Thank you.”


“Journal record three, beginning.”

“So, I had a minor epiphany today: children are not the devil. They might seem like it most of the time and I’m certainly happy I don’t have any, but there are moments when their sheer adorableness probably makes having them worthwhile. It’s conceivable that when my stint on Pandora is up I might go back to Paradise and do more than spoil my upcoming sibling rotten during brief trips. Cody Helms is a cute kid, and I hope his father realizes how much he idolizes him.

“I don’t remember if I idolized my father when I was that age, but…I don’t think so. I don’t think I knew him well enough to. Then I got older and I hated him, and it took a long time for us to get past that. I love him now, but I hope he gets that kind of pure idolatry from his and Claudia’s baby, because just being on the periphery of it for a few seconds made it seem like a pretty special thing. Dad deserves that. Everyone should have someone look at them like they mean the world to them…”


Title: Pandora

Part Fourteen: Skin

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. Those who know where I live know what inspired this chapter. Oh yes, you certainly do.


“Journal Record Four, beginning.”

“Ship technicians who don’t have the educational background to be engineers aren’t under the oversight of the science lab. This is a lucky thing for them, because if they were, Martina would have fired most if not all of them by now. One paragon of intellect decided that the environmental controls for the ship needed to be tweaked, and fourteen hours later we’re drenched with sweat and using power up at a disgusting rate. The self-proclaimed mastermind couldn’t fix it, none of his buddies could fix it, then the ship’s engineering department had a look and determined that the programming that controls the air and water temperature has been pretty much demolished, and it’s going to take another eight or nine hours to get something jury-rigged enough to be functional.

“What this means for me is that right now, it’s hot enough to melt in my apartment and the halls aren’t much better, but I’d boil alive if I tried to take a shower. The only bright spot so far has been that my first aid class was cancelled, although I’ll probably regret that when some natural collapses in the hall outside my door due to heat exhaustion or something. Also…I’m starting to reconsider my vanity at this point. This hair has got to go.”


Garrett wasn’t sure why he kept his hair long. He didn’t actually do very much with it, just tied it out of the way while he was working and let it hang loose the rest of the time. Women seemed to like it more than men, although his lovers had been known to use it as a handle at times, and since Garrett had no genuine desire to attract women and didn’t care to style it for himself, he never thought about it much one way or the other. Until now.

Right now he was lying in a pool of sweat, his limbs akimbo on the polyblend sheets. Cotton. First thing he was having shipped for himself: cotton sheets. Polyblend didn’t stain but it didn’t absorb either, so he was left damp and miserable. The fan just blew hot air. The water…the less said about that, the better. And then there was the mass of pale blond hair spread across his pillows was achingly hot, and heavy when he tried to tie it up.

Well, why don’t you whine about it a little more? That’s sure to help. Garrett mentally slapped his subconscious, then reached over and grabbed his communicator. He asked for Lila.

“Hmm?” her voice responded tiredly a few moments later.

“You cut your own hair, right?”

“Sometimes. Why?”

“Because I’m dying, and the gods demand a sacrifice to save my life. It’s either my sanity or my hair, and I’d rather keep my sanity. Want to come play high priestess?”

There was a long pause. “It took me a moment to work through that one. You’re seriously strange, Garrett. Are you sure you want me to cut off your hair? It’s so pretty…”

“Utterly sure. It’s just hair, it grows back.”

“But it’s so pretty.”

“Damn it, Lila, you can have it if you like it so much. Just come over here and cut me into something that doesn’t look stupid.”

“Aw honey, you don’t look stupid,” she said soothingly. Garrett caught up after a second and groaned.

“Me walking right into it is no excuse to make terrible jokes. Will you help me or not?”

“Sure. I’ll be right over.”

“Thanks.” Garrett turned off the communicator and flopped back onto the bed, then remembered that he was stark naked. Clothing would be uncomfortable, but being ogled by a coworker he wasn’t interested in fucking would be worse. He slipped on a pair of loose shorts, thankfully synthetic cotton, and forced himself to drink another glass of water. He glanced at his reflection in the mirror above his dresser and tugged mournfully on a lock of sodden blond hair. “It’s not you, it’s me,” he told his hair seriously, then went and sat down in the living room. A few minutes later the door chime sounded. “It’s open,” he called.

Lila walked in, carrying a small bag of supplies. She wore a loose, formless dress that looked comfortable rather than flattering, and her bright red hair was pulled up in a knot. “Goddamn, it’s hot,” she said as soon as the door closed behind her.

“Is it?” he asked languorously, “Really? I’d barely noticed.”

She rolled her eyes. “Don’t start with me, Mister ‘I’m Always Hot’. I know you were thinking it,” she added as she sat down beside him on the couch. “And do you own any clothes that don’t make you look like a meal? Jeez, have a care for the rest of us.”

“Why, do you want to taste me? Are you sure you wouldn’t just prefer a beer?”

“Senator Dowd probably wants to taste you, and no, I wouldn’t prefer a beer. Your beer is undoubtedly warm and undrinkable, like everything else since those morons went above and beyond,” Lila replied sarcastically. “And while I do like to look, I don’t want to taste you, because I prefer men who wouldn’t think sleeping with me was a chore.”

“Like Shekar.”

Lila pulled out an automatic clipper. “I’m not sleeping with Shekar.”

“Not for his lack of trying.”

“I won’t be sleeping with anyone I work with, Garrett; it would be too confusing. I’m going to Pandora to start over, and I don’t want to screw up my job.”

Garrett watched her take out a very shiny, very sharp pair of scissors. “You’re not a natural though.”

“Not really. One in five shots of Regen gives me an adverse reaction, but I’m on additional meds that compensate for it. If I choose to reproduce, however, thanks to some squirrely genetics from my folks, I’m almost guaranteed a natural child.” She shrugged slightly and pulled out a comb. “I want any children I have to grown up feeling comfortable, not caged.” She looked at him assessingly and changed the subject. “How short do you want to go?”

“Short enough that my hair doesn’t hang down and touch my skin.”

“That’s very short.”

“If you make me look like a marine, I’ll kill you,” he warned her. He could just picture the look of Robbie and Wyl’s faces when he spoke to them next if he had a butch haircut. Robbie would be incredulous and Wyl would choke himself laughing and…no. Just no.

“Fine, no marines, but no complaints about what you do get either,” Lila said, snapping the shears menacingly. “Now scoot over here, shut up and let me work.” He obeyed, and a moment later she made the first cut, the thick sheaf of hair separating with a smooth schick.

Immediately his head felt lighter, as if he’d had lead weights dangling from it instead of fine white-gold hairs. The next two thick snips got rid of the rest of it up to the nape of his neck, and then Lila paused.

“We need to cover you with something, so the hairs don’t get everywhere. Ordinarily I’d just say take a shower afterwards, but in this case…”

“Right.” Garrett got up and walked back into his bedroom, finally deciding on his pillowcase as a protective cloth. He had to wash the damn thing anyway. He came back in and saw Lila staring at the picture he had wrapping his room, as though she’d never seen this one before. Then again, maybe she hadn’t; he’d only had it up for five days. “It’s Taua’i.”

“Wow, in the hub of the central system.”

“I lived there for a lot of my life,” Garrett reminded her as he sat down again.

“I know, but you never really talk about it.”

“There isn’t much to say.”

She picked up the tension and changed the subject. “It looks gorgeous there.”

“Great beaches,” Garrett said. “Cool breezes, lots of protected zones. Almost as watery as Griffyn, but way better developed. It’s a resort world.”

“It sounds lovely.”

“A lot of it is.” A lot of it wasn’t, too. Taua’i was populated with the spoiled rich of the central system and the people who worked to cater to them. You could get almost anything you wanted there if you had enough money, but there was none of the oversight of a place like Ceyla City. “Everything to excess” was a fine philosophy for the hopelessly insipid, but the culture of obsequiousness there was grating to anyone with a true need for independence after a while.

Lila wrapped the pillowcase around his neck, letting it drape over his shoulders. “What really made you decide to exchange all that for Pandora?” She picked up the scissors and started snipping, using the comb with her other hand.

“I didn’t exchange it for Pandora. I went to a lot of different places for work, and when I didn’t have work I tagged along with my dad whenever he wasn’t actively pursuing a military operation. I organized his personal staff, ran some of his campaigns...”

“You and your dad sound really close.”

“We are.” Nowadays.

“So what, you just felt like you needed a change from your high society ways?”

“Something like that.” Garrett still didn’t know what he was looking for, but he did know he hadn’t found it on Paradise.

“Hmm.” Lila worked in silence for a while, focused on Garrett’s hair. After a few minutes she tilted his head up so she could see his face, hummed and made a few more cuts, then put the scissors down and unfolded a flexible wraparound mirror. “Well, what do you think?”

Garrett examined his reflection. Huh, not bad. Not having all that hair was…different. It made him look sharper. You could have cut glass with his cheekbones.

“Stop bragging.”

“Oh, sorry, did I say that part out loud?” Lila smacked him on the shoulder and he grinned, then looked again. It was long on top, comfortably non-military, but short enough on the back and sides to not fall against his sweat-soaked skin. “Could you shorten the sideburns some?”

“Sure.” She got out the clippers and cut to where he indicated, brushed up the lines on his neck, then said, “Better?”


“Are you positive you won’t regret this once the climate controls are working again?”

“I strive not to regret anything ever,” he assured her.

“Yes, I know.” She got out a soft-bristled brush and wiped away the tiny hairs left along the edge of the pillowcase, then pulled the whole thing carefully away. “We got most of the small stuff. What do you want to do with the long pieces?”

“I don’t know, incinerate them?”

Lila ran a finger down one of the sweat-soaked coils. “If they were clean they could be made into a wig.”

“Who the hell needs a wig?”

“Almost any natural with cancer. The treatment is very hard on the body.”

“Tell you what, you can have it,” Garrett said magnanimously, shooing her towards the pile of hair. “Recompense for your services.”

“How generous of you,” she snarked. “Could I vacuum your couch and floor too?”

“I have robots for that, but thanks for the offer.”

“Whatever.” Lila repacked her kit, carefully gathered the hair, then stood up. “The pool is open, you know. It was cool before the temperature started climbing, but it can’t be more than room temp now. Might be nice.”

“There will be a million people there, then.” He waved her away. “Maybe later. You go. Tell Shekar hello for me.”

Lila rolled her eyes. “I’m not going to meet Shekar.”

“Of course you aren’t,” he soothed her. “Still. When he finds you, please ask him whether he needs more specific variables for the simulation we’re modeling.”

“You. Shut it. Now!”

“Sorry. Bye, Lila. Thanks for your help.”

“Sure.” She didn’t say anything else, just opened the door and left. Briefly Garrett feared that he might have pushed too hard, then dismissed it. Lila just didn’t want to acknowledge that she had a lust-crazed stalker. If Shekar were anything other than the intelligent, sarcastic, emotionally-bumbling person that he was, Garrett might have have intervened, but watching Lila being courted by Shekar was like watching the antigrav on a speeding hoverbike cut in and out. You saw it crash and burn, then bounce and crash again, and then again, and then again…it was too guiltily intriguing not to marvel at.

Garrett lay his head back on the couch and stared at the ceiling for a moment before deciding that he needed to get out of his apartment. It was too quiet, too still. The central server had been showing a marathon of his mother’s old movies lately, nothing he wanted to watch, and he’d seen his own collection a hundred times. He got up, ran a questing hand over his head, then grinned and pulled on some loose, lightweight pants. He knew he had a clean t-shirt lying around somewhere…yes. Now to find a skinroom.

Skinrooms were small, private chambers located on the outer surface of a ship. They were basically a floor-to-ceiling viewport, a thin spot in the hull where a person could stand and be surrounded by space. They were called skinrooms because standing in them was as close as many people ever got to actual exposure, and the viewport window panes were so thin that the freezing vacuum beyond could be hinted at. It was like being a part of the ship’s skin, with no great hull to separate you, no yards of metal and foam insulation, just a slender pane of near-unbreakable glass.

The view disturbed some people, but for others the need to escape the press of walls was as essential as breathing. Federation colony ships were required to have skinrooms, since they had to cater to the mental needs of all their colonists and claustrophobia was scarcely uncommon. Garrett wasn’t claustrophobic, but he did enjoy the view and he’d enjoy the sensation of coolness he could get there even more.

He made his way from the thirteenth level to the twenty-eighth, the highest that there was on the Neptune. There were skinrooms scattered throughout the hull of the ship, but the ones on the top side were the best, since they opened above you as well as around. The twenty-eighth level was used mostly for storage, and only maintenance crews really frequented it, but his ID badge gave him access.

Garrett made his way to the closest skin room, found it happily unoccupied, and stepped into the alcove. It was only four feet wide by ten tall, but as he moved closer to the viewport, the air turned to ice on his sticky, overheated skin, and he smiled with pleasure. Garrett leaned his forehead against the window and sighed deeply, letting his eyes wander into a soft focus and watching the stars blur into a swirling spiral of dark and light. It was perfect, quiet and meditative. He felt his mind relax with his body, and leaned further into the chill.

“Daddy, here’s one—oh.”

“Hush,” a deeper, husky voice said softly. “Don’t disturb ‘im. We’ll find another room, bucko, there’s some not too far off.”


You could stay, Garrett wanted to say. He didn’t know who they were, but in that instant he was feeling so mellow that the prospect of sharing his space didn’t bother him. By the time he turned around, though, they were gone. He shrugged and turned back, eventually folding to his knees and leaning his entire upper body into the window. He knelt there silently until the environmental controls came back on five hours later.

Garrett’s knees ached as he walked back to his apartment, but it was totally worth it.

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 already knew, but he wanted to hear it from Jonah’s own 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.

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.

Title: Pandora

Part Seventeen: A Special Night

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. I know, it’s been forever waiting on this one. May has been a hell of a month. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it.


For Garrett, talking with Robbie for any stretch of time these days was almost as rare as getting a moment with his father, and he was trying his best not to squander it. Wyl was working while Robbie was home for once, and Garrett was doing his best to maintain his half of the conversation despite the fatigue that had set into him over the past week.

Unfortunately, Robbie wasn’t like Wyl. Wyl could practically carry a conversation by himself, and he knew how to interpret murmurs and grunts with the best of them. Robbie wasn’t as much of a talker, and he was surprisingly good at reading people for someone who worked in a concrete, military, hierarchical world. Of course, he also had a lot of experience at reading Garrett.

“So, why aren’t you sleeping?”

“I am!” Garrett protested. Robbie just raised an eyebrow. It was an expression that seemed contemptuous if you didn’t know better, and even then it could still be annoying. Like right now. “At least four hours a night.”

“That’s not enough for you.”

“Don’t I know it,” Garrett sighed. “This is the problem with having regular working hours. There’s no time for catnaps. Not that my working hours have been at all regular lately.”

“What’s Martina up to?”

“Well, we’ve finally entered Pandora’s system. We land today, actually, and so Martina’s been going crazy getting instruments recalibrated, prepping for the power transfer, compiling data for the science team she left on the planet…we’ve been working sixteen hour days. Something she’s apparently allowed by contract to require us to do, if circumstances can be justified as ‘extraordinary’. This fucking contract,” he groaned, rubbing a hand over his eyes. “If I never sign another goddamn employment contract again it’ll be too soon.”

Robbie graciously let that go without teasing Garrett the way Wyl would have. “And how about Jonah?”

Garrett frowned. “When did I tell you about Jonah?”

“Wyl told me.”

“Oh. Right. It’s going okay. It’s…frustrating,” Garrett admitted. “He’s hard to get a read on because of Cody. I’m usually really good at figuring out what people want and giving it to them, at least for a while. I know what Jonah wants, on one level at least, but he won’t do what he wants with me. Did Wyl tell you about the movie?”

“Yeah.” Robbie actually cracked a smile. “I have to say I have trouble picturing you sitting through a kid’s film.”

“I know. Especially one about evil sentient meteors.” Garrett stared down at his hands, hoping his frustration didn’t show in his face. “Since then we’ve done dinner once, all three of us in a restaurant, not either of our apartments. It was nice, but hardly intimate. And then Cody’s class came to the lab and I did a presentation on Pandora’s climate with my simulator.”

Thinking about that brought a reluctant smile to his face. It wasn’t that it was an opportunity to be alone with Jonah; Garrett was beginning to think that that wasn’t going to happen again. It was that it was actually pretty fun for a while, insofar as fifteen five-year-olds had the capacity to be anything other than terrifying. Martina had kicked up a fuss when she found out he had invited them to visit, but the freedom to conduct educational seminars was a nice surprise he’d dug up in his own contract, and it helped that Cody’s teacher, Mr. Hugelin, was Lila’s elusive new love interest. Lila was pleasantly surprised to see him, and Shekar was a masochistic mix of curious and jealous, so he also encouraged the interlopers. Jonah and another parent, a short black woman with twin girls in the class, rounded out the motley crew.

The presentation had gotten a mixed result. Garrett had darkened the back of the lab and set his simulator up to project across the walls, and without really considering it he ran the last simulation he’d plotted, the one that ended with the world subsumed by the sea. The kids were interested enough in the beginning, but by the time the tidal wave washed over them half of them were screaming, several were crying and Cody had actually covered his eyes with his hands.

It then became a matter of damage control to turn the lights back on, reassure frightened children that that wasn’t going to really happen to them (although technically it was, at least once a year, but Garrett didn’t feel like it was the right time to point that out), and show them something far more pleasant and innocuous to soothe childish nerves and adult indignation. The only good thing to come out of it, as far as Garrett could see, was the fact that Jonah seemed to find the whole thing more amusing than anything else. He’d stared at Garrett over the top of Cody’s head with a smile on his face, that same calm, relaxed smile he’d shown when he’d pushed Tamara into fixing Garrett’s ship. Then he’d winked, and Garrett managed to let go of his sudden surge of anxiety, herded the children around a microscope and showed them something blobby with flagella that they all found wonderfully disgusting.

Robbie was actually laughing by the end of Garrett’s retelling. “I would have paid to see that.”

“I bet you would have, you sick fuck,” Garrett muttered, but his heart wasn’t in it. “Be kind to me when you tell Wyl about it, I can’t take his particular brand of teasing when I’m this unsettled.” And he was, and it was ridiculous, but he couldn’t help it. The few hours of sleep he got every night now were filled with dreams that revolved around Jonah and Cody, and in none of those dreams did Garrett manage to do anything right.

“Relax,” Robbie said, in that tone of voice that commanded and soothed all at once. Miles had that tone as well; maybe it was a military thing. “I’m sure they both like you. It’s not as though you can’t be a nice person.”

“Being likeable isn’t enough. Anyone can be a friendly Mr. Joe Blow. I need to be more than that. It would be different if he and I were sleeping together,” Garrett said tiredly. “I can make myself indispensable when I’m sleeping with someone if I really try. If you hadn’t been gone so much when we were together I would have managed to keep you.” Whoops, did that actually slip out?

Robbie frowned. “We both fucked up with our relationship, Gare. It wasn’t a matter of you not being good enough for me.”

“Oh, I know that,” Garrett said airily, essaying a smile. It wasn’t convincing Robbie, but before his ex could say anything else Garrett changed the subject. “I talked with Claudia yesterday. She’s looking pregnant, huh?”

“Very. Although I hope you didn’t phrase it like that to her.”

“No, I told her she glowed with a motherly radiance,” Garrett grinned. “She still looked like she wanted to smack me.”

“She smacked Wyl this morning when he ate the last of her stash of mint chocolates,” Robbie said. “She didn’t hit him hard, of course, this is Claudia, and she apologized afterwards, but I think your dad being away so much is hard on her.”

“I actually talked to him for a while too. He looks exhausted.” Miles had looked far too exhausted to deal with any of his son’s personal issues, and so Garrett had stuck to the basics and let his father have the comfort, however minimal, of Garrett’s virtual presence without any fuss.

“Paradise is a very unstable place right now,” Robbie confessed. “The new parliament is in place but there are accusations of voter fraud, and some of the outlying states are threatening to secede again. If they do that the entire planet’s Federated status could be jeopardized, which your father wants to avoid if at all possible. Plus, there are the personal threats…”

“Yeah, Claudia told me about them. Not so much against her but definitely against Dad.”

“We’re taking every precaution we can.” Robbie shrugged his shoulders. “It’ll work out, I think, once the parliament gets settled and a few laws get passed.”

“I’m sure it will,” Garrett murmured. “Make Wyl take care of you when he gets off work. You look as tired as I feel.”

“Wyl’s working long hours these days too. Isidore’s been a real help to him, though.”

“Glad to hear it,” Garrett said. He glanced at his watch and sighed. “I’ve got to go. We’re docking in an hour and I’ve been invited to watch from the observation deck.” The private observation deck was one level below the captain’s cabin, and you had to have an invitation to be admitted. That had been Jonah’s doing, and Garrett appreciated it even though he knew they wouldn’t be alone.

“Have fun.” They exchanged their goodbyes and Robbie signed off. Wyl glanced down at what he was wearing, a pair of loose, comfortable drawstring pants and a t-shirt, and decided something dressier was called for. He got up to rummage through his closet, finally deciding on a suit in jade green that struck a nice balance between professional and elegant. He paired it with a high-necked black silk shirt that brought out his eyes, smudged a little liner around them to bring them out even more, and decided his hair was as artfully mussed as it was going to get at this length. He’d have to get Lila to cut it again soon.

The private observation deck was busy with people, all of them key players among the new colonists. Jezria was there, with Stephen beside her. The captain of the ship was there as well, and standing beside him was a familiar petulant face: Tamara. He had a hand on her shoulder, and the resemblance between the two of them was strong enough that Garrett was sure she was his daughter. No wonder she knew so much about ships. And no wonder Jonah’s threat of telling her dad was so potent. Next to Jezria, Captain Carson was the most influential person on this expedition. He certainly wouldn’t like hearing that his kid was breaking in to other peoples ships.

Garrett looked around for Jonah, but he didn’t see his broad shoulders and sandy brown hair standing out in the crowd. After a moment of searching, he felt a tug on his hand. Garrett looked down and saw Cody standing next to him, holding onto his sleeve for all he was worth. “Hey, Cody.”

“Hi,” the boy said quietly, then held out his arms. Garrett had seen him do this with Jonah and knew that it meant pick me up. He complied, a little surprised at how light the child was. Cody wrapped his arms around tightly Garrett’s neck, almost choking him.

“Hey, now.” Garrett gently pulled until the stranglehold relaxed a little. “Where’s your dad?”

“He was here, but he had to go help do something with the controls and he told me to stay in my chair until he got back, but I wanted to look around and then I got lost until I saw you.” His big brown eyes, the same eyes as his father, gazed happily at Garrett, as though the child was actually comforted by his presence. Which was somewhere between funny and ludicrous to Garrett’s mind, but he wasn’t about to complain.

“Want to go look at the planet?” Garrett asked.

“I wanted to before, but I couldn’t see as high as the windows.”

“I’ll keep holding you up.”

“’kay,” Cody said, and Garrett maneuvered them through the crowd and over to the observation part of the deck as smoothly as he could. He nodded to Jezria and ignored Martina’s glare on the way, and then they were at the windows, and the perfect, cloud-covered sphere that was Pandora was clearly visible against the black background of space.

“It’s very small,” Cody said disappointedly.

“We’re still pretty far away. It’ll get bigger fast,” Garrett promised him.

“As big as Olympus?”

“Pandora is about as big as Olympus,” he agreed.

“As big as Earth?”

“Pretty close,” Garrett said. “I think it’s a little smaller than Earth.”

“Why don’t we all still live there?”

“Because there are too many of us for one planet,” Garrett told Cody, picking the easiest answer. “There are too many of us for a dozen planets. That’s why we keep having to find new ones.”

“I’d like to have my very own planet,” Cody said dreamily. “If I had a planet, I’d name it Kiko.”

“After the monkey?”

“Yeah. And it would be red and there would be lot of fun animals, and Daddy and you could live there with me and all my friends, and Daddy would be happy there.”

“Isn’t he happy here?”

“No.” That was all Cody would say, and the two of them watched in silence for a while as Pandora loomed larger and larger. Shades of purple and violet began to mix with the navy blue, and teal and satiny gray as well. It was beautiful, at this distance.

“It’s stormy down there,” Jonah commented from over their shoulders. Garrett whirled around and Cody reached out happily towards his father, who took him with a kiss. “The landing’s gonna be a little rough. We should strap in for it.” He pointed towards the seats, which were already filling with people. The official announcement that they were preparing to land came over the intercom a moment later, and Captain Carson left the room after sitting his daughter down in a chair. There were three empty seats next to her, and Garrett took the one beside her while Jonah occupied himself with getting Cody strapped in.

Tamara looked at him and flushed, but didn’t say anything. Her lips were pursed in a tight line, and she was trembling slightly, like she was about to break down into tears.

Garrett didn’t say anything to draw attention to her, something she clearly didn’t want. Instead he sat down and fastened himself in silently, letting his arm brush hers but carefully not looking at her. She didn’t move away, but she didn’t look up either.

Pandora filled the observation deck, the slow-swirling clouds getting closer and closer. Familiar small fingers tightened over Garrett’s own, and they all watched in silence as the Neptune began to enter the atmosphere. The ride became bumpy, the inertial dampeners working overtime to control the shock of their descent. The ship plunged through a thick layer of white, which got darker and grayer by the moment, and after a seemingly-eternal instant they emerged into a dark, rain-soaked sky. Garrett glanced over at Cody and saw that his eyes were squeezed shut again; he stroked the child’s hand reassuringly.

The faint lights of Pandora City swam into sight, and the pilot expertly maneuvered the Neptune into position to dock. The environmental shields retracted to let the massive colony ship in, and after a surprisingly brief amount of time, they were on the ground. The captain gave the go-ahead to move around again and the observation deck erupted into excited chatter, people freeing themselves and milling around and hurrying to get a spot in line to leave the ship. Most people wouldn’t be leaving the ship yet, actually; in fact no one would be living off of the ship until the permanent housing was built, which would take at least four months, but Jezria and the captain and a few other people were going to greet Pandora’s stay-at-home colonists tonight, and everyone wanted to be there. Almost everyone.

After Garrett got up he glanced over at Tamara. He was shocked to see her crying, and struggling angrily with the latch on one of her shoulder straps. Moving quickly, he unfastened the strap and helped her to her feet. She glared at him, shoving white-blond hair out of her eyes, but her heart wasn’t really in it.

“Are you all right?” he asked quietly.

“Do I look all right, you stupid doll?” she muttered at him. “I’m fine, just leave me alone.” She turned and walked quickly out of the room, almost stumbling on the step at the door before making it out.

Garrett considered going after her, but she seemed to want some privacy, and suddenly Cody was up and chattering in an excited voice, running over to the window and tracing the trails of raindrops with his fingertips, leaving smudgy marks behind.

“Thanks for takin’ care of him,” Jonah said softly as he watched his son.

“He actually found me, just after I arrived here,” Garrett demurred.

“So he said. Didn’t want t’leave him alone, but they needed a hand in control.” The two men stared silently out into the darkness for a moment, a thicker, richer darkness than anything they saw in space.

“So this is Pandora,” Jonah commented awkwardly after a moment.

“This is indeed Pandora. Lovely, wet, cold, stormy Pandora. Welcome home,” Garrett added, a trifle sarcastically. “I hope you find what you want here.”

“What I want…” The sudden desire in Jonah’s voice was almost palpable. He caught Garrett’s eyes, and the look that passed between them was so shockingly heated that Garrett felt himself respond almost instantly. Jonah’s pupils were blown wide open, his nostrils were flared and his mouth was firmly compressed over what seemed like rapid breaths. Garrett swayed towards him, like a moth captured by a fickle flame, but before they could make contact Cody was running back over to them. Jonah shuddered and broke their gaze to look down at his son. “What is it, bucko?”

“Can Garrett come to dinner tonight?” the little boy begged. “’Cause it’s a special night?”

Jonah hesitated for a long moment, and then surprised both of them when he said, “Sure.”

“Really?” Garrett couldn’t help asking.

“Yeah, really,” Jonah said, smiling at his incredulous look. “It is a special night and all. Gotta celebrate it somehow. If you want to, that is.”

“Well.” Garrett insinuated himself closer and grinned with pleasure as he watched Jonah’s eyes widen with lust again. “Then I guess I can come to dinner…since it’s a special night.” It could be a very special night, he thought to himself. He just had to keep himself from blowing it.

Title: Pandora

Part Eighteen: Looking Forward

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 rated R for Raunchy. Don’t read if you dislike the subject matter and so on and so forth. Do read if you like sexy science fiction with handsome men or, y’know, if someone’s holding a gun to your head. I totally support your act of self-preservation.


“So, what’s on the menu?” Garrett asked curiously as they headed for Jonah’s apartment.

“What’s always on the menu on special nights,” Jonah said with a smile. “Mac and cheese.”

“Daddy makes the best,” Cody promised Garrett as he swung between them, using their arms like ropes. “It’s sooo good. Even better than Gran’s.”

“Who’s Gran?” Garrett asked before the grimace on Jonah’s face tipped him off that it was a bad subject to pursue.

“My Gran,” Cody said simply, looking at Garrett like he was supposed to know what that was. “Daddy’s mom.”

“Oh.” Short for Grandmother, naturally. Garrett had thought it was just a name. He’d certainly never been encouraged to call his grandmother anything other than Grandmother Caractacus, which when he was a child had been an enormous mouthful. “And this stuff is your favorite?” he asked, trying to ease past the uncomfortable moment.

“Yes,” Cody affirmed, and went on to describe how melty and cheesy and wonderful it was. Garrett kept his head down, listened politely and occasionally checked to see if Jonah still looked like he’d swallowed something distasteful. His expression got lighter the further they went, and by the time they had reached Jonah and Cody’s apartment he looked pretty much normal again.

Jonah and Cody’s apartment was larger than Garrett’s, with a second bedroom and bathroom and an actual space to sit down to eat that wasn’t countertop or living room. It was still a drab mélange of tan and beige and blue, but it was brightened in spots by color drawings, almost certainly all done by Cody. Mostly they featured Space Rangers.

Cody ran off to grab some of his toys while Jonah got busy in the kitchen. “So domestic,” Garrett teased him from across the counter, enjoying watching Jonah move in the small space.

“When needs must,” Jonah replied. “Usually we order somethin’ up from the mess, but I like to keep my hand in. Never know when you’ll be stuck cooking for yourself.” He glanced over at Garrett. “Do you cook?”

“Only if cooking means cutting things into bite-sized pieces,” he shrugged. “Honestly, it’s not a skill I’ve ever taken the time to master. I’ve generally always had access to a staffed kitchen, and as seduction techniques go I think cooking looks far better on you than it does on me.”

Jonah blushed slightly, barely enough for Garrett to notice, but then he was watching the man like a hawk. “Staffed kitchens, huh? I figured you were well off when I first saw your ship. That’s a nice cruiser for one person to have.”

“I liked it when I saw it. If you’re going to spend weeks on end in space you might as well be comfortable.”

“I hear that. I’ve never really gotten used to how small most ships feel to me. The Neptune’s the first one I’ve been on since I stopped drifting that doesn’t make me a little claustrophobic.” Jonah got out a casserole dish and started putting things together.

“How many family groups were there in your ship?”

Jonah hesitated, then gave a slight shrug, as if convincing himself that it didn’t really mean anything to talk about it. “Five, including ours. We were more n’a hundred all told. The central ship was my family’s, though.”

“How long did you stay with them?”

“Practically all my life.”

Garrett thought over everything he knew about Jonah and his son for a moment. Jonah wasn’t the type to run from something he thought was a good situation, and he certainly wouldn’t have taken Cody away from a supportive extended family if there hadn’t been extenuating circumstances. There was the health factor to take in, but Garrett really couldn’t see a place like Pandora being gentler on Cody’s immune system. Something or someone had forced Jonah to give up the life he’d always known in exchange for this. Judging by the tense set of Jonah’s shoulders, however, now wasn’t the time to push.

Garrett was saved from finding a graceful segue into a new topic by the reappearance of Cody, who had an arm full of Space Rangers and their accessories. He dropped them all in the middle of the living room rug and sat down. “You wanna play?” he asked Garrett.

“Sure,” Garrett said, leaving the counter and settling onto the floor.

“Okay. Here.” He handed Garrett a doll shaped like the red Space Ranger. “You can be Nala. She’s cool, see, she comes with Kiko.” He pointed at the monkey clinging to the doll’s shoulder. “And I’ll be Marco. We can make them fight if you want.”

“I thought Marco and Nala liked each other,” Garrett said.

“They don’t have to,” Cody assured him. “And they have the best super moves.”

“The best what?”

Cody rolled his eyes. “Super moves. I’ll show you.” He turned the green Space Ranger onto his face on the floor and opened a panel in his back. “Right now they’re set to be soft, but when you turn the batteries on you can change it and make them hard. Then they move and talk and you can make them do their tricks.” The doll’s floppy legs stiffened, and when Cody put him back on his feet he brought his heels together and saluted with his laser pistol.

“Ready for action, sir!”

“Do the lightning kick!” Cody told the doll, which immediately leapt into a front flip and came down hard on one leg, driving its little heel into the carpet. “That’s my favorite,” Cody said gleefully.

“What can Nala do?”

Cody took Garrett through the list of Nala’s flashy fighting moves. After twenty minutes of training they had a battle royale, with Cody shouting for lightning kicks and Garrett countering with monkey torpedoes. They both sat well away from the action. It would be incredibly embarrassing to be knocked out by a toy, no matter how badass it was.

Dinner was ready pretty fast, and after convincing a reluctant Cody that the toys weren’t going anywhere, they all sat down to eat. There was Jonah’s lauded mac and cheese, a helping of almond greens that Garrett knew came from the mess, and mineral water for the adults. Cody had milk.

The food was heavier than what he usually ate, but Garrett had to confess that Jonah’s signature dish was actually very good. “What else can you make?”

“I do a mean omelet.”

“And pancakes too,” Cody said. “You should stay until tomorrow so you can have breakfast.”

Garrett stayed silent and raised one eyebrow in Jonah’s direction.

“Not this time, bucko. We’ve got an early morning.”

“Next time?” Cody begged.

“We’ll see,” was all Jonah would say.

Garrett hated those words. Prevarication was all well and good when it was a part of the seduction, but there was no need for it here. Jonah knew Garrett was interested, he knew that he wanted it himself, and he knew that his son had no problem with seeing the two of them together. Jonah was either being deliberately cruel to himself or to Garrett, and Garrett had the feeling that good, honest, self-loathing masochism was much more Jonah’s style.

They finished dinner in near silence, with Cody yawning by the end of it. After Cody said goodnight to Garrett, Jonah took him to get ready for bed, leaving their guest to put the dishes into the autoclave. Garrett listened to it whirr for a moment, strategizing in his head. When Jonah reappeared, a slightly sheepish expression on his face, Garrett was ready for him.

“I know I’m not staying the night,” he said bluntly, taking Jonah by the hand and leading him around the island that separated the kitchen from the rest of the room. Standing behind that, only their torsos and heads were visible from the hallway leading to the bedrooms. “I know you can’t leave. I know we’re not going to do anything in your room, but I’ll be damned if I go another night without having something of you.” Garrett pressed Jonah’s back against his refrigerator and leaned in, nipping delicately along his jaw. Throat muscles worked silently beneath his lips, and Garrett smiled to himself.

“Tell me to stop and I will,” he said in a whisper. “I’ll go home and I’ll strip off my clothes and I’ll lie back on my bed and touch myself. I’ll stroke my cock and think about you, and wish that your body was on top of mine, and your mouth was swallowing my moans, and your hands were touching me and stretching me and getting me so hard and so ready for you that when you finally fucked me I came without even touching myself.”

“Garrett,” Jonah murmured against his temple, linking his hands behind Garrett’s back and pulling him close enough to put delicious pressure against both of their groins. Garrett smirked and ground in a little bit, eliciting a wordless gasp from the other man.

“That’s what will happen if you tell me to stop,” Garrett told Jonah. “But I’d rather get off right now, however I can, with you. You can have my mouth…” He trailed his lips teasingly down Jonah’s neck and across to his shoulder. “Or my hand.” He stroked Jonah through the fabric of his pants. “Or my ass.” He pulled back and looked into his dazed lover’s eyes. “Although honestly I’d rather wait for a bed or a couch where we can actually get comfortable before doing that one.”

“Gimme your hand,” Jonah muttered after a moment, his voice low and guttural and needy. “And I’ll give you mine.” He fumbled through the fastening to Garrett’s pants and pulled him out, and when that hot, hard hand closed around his length, Garrett had to bite his teeth to keep from groaning.

“You like me takin’ care of you, darlin’?” Jonah asked, taking his turn to tease. “Like my hand on you, touching you like this?”

“Yes,” Garrett whispered. God, it felt so good, so much better than with Steven. That had been all technique with no real emotion. This was very basic technique, but for some reason it charged every nerve in Garrett’s body, made him feel so much so strongly, and so fast. He was dripping wet with precome, and so absorbed by Jonah’s touch that it took two tries to free his lover’s own cock. “Fuck, how do you do this to me? No one does this to me.”

“No one wants you like me,” Jonah told him, and it rang like a confession in Garrett’s ears. “God, I want you. Moment I saw you I wanted you so much, it hurt. There, just like that…fuck, Garrett.” They leaned into each other hard, leaving just enough space for their hands to work as they devoured each other’s mouths. Garrett felt every shiver that worked its way down his lover’s frame, felt them intensify, and he drank in the gasping sigh of completion that Jonah breathed as he came, hard and long, into Garrett’s hand. Garrett came a moment later, and he melted against Jonah’s body and trembled with stifled satisfaction, unable to let loose the cries that hammered at his throat.

They stood in silence for a few minutes, trading slow, gentle kisses before Jonah reached over and grabbed a dishtowel. He tenderly wiped up the come patterning Garrett’s hand and clothes before perfunctorily cleaning himself off. “‘m just goin’ straight to the shower anyway,” he said, his accent thicker than ever.

“I wish I could join you.”

“Me too,” Jonah said, and Garrett could see that he meant it.

“We’ll get there,” Garrett told him seriously.

“I hope we do.” Jonah leaned in and kissed Garrett one more time, then lifted himself off the wall. “I’ll call you tomorrow once I get my new work schedule. Everything’s changin’ now that we’re dirt side.”

“For me too,” Garrett sighed, “but honestly my schedule can only get better.”

“You do look a little worse for wear.”

Garrett punched Jonah lightly on the arm. “Wrong response.”

“But still incredibly sexy and so gorgeous it hurts.”

“Better.” Garrett refastened his clothes and walked over to the door. “Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” Jonah promised. “Sleep well, darlin’.”

“I’ll do my best.” Garrett left the Helms’ apartment, shutting the door behind him. He shivered for a second, adjusting to the chill of the hallway as compared to the warmth he’d just left behind. “Damn it.”


“Journal Record Eighteen, beginning.”

“I hate indecisiveness. I hate gray zones, I hate wishy-washy, here today and gone tomorrow type bullshit from people. I’m a scientist, I like data and facts and hypotheses that can be tested. I’ve never put up with uncertainty for long in my personal life. If someone wants me and I want them, it’s done. If they want me and I don’t want them, also done. I don’t pine for people I can’t have, and when it’s over it’s over. If I’ve screwed up, I have to live with that.

“Jonah is becoming the kind of personal gray zone I’ve tried to avoid my whole life. I don’t need to work this fucking hard to be with someone. Usually all I have to do is ask and someone’s willing to fuck around with me; look at Steven. I don’t have to play these games if I don’t want to, so what makes Jonah-fucking-Helms so special that I’m willing to do it? Is it his kid? I don’t really think so, it’s not like I’ve ever wanted to be a father, so I’m probably not yearning for that role subconsciously. Is it just that he’s Jonah? Is it the two of them put together? I don’t fucking know, but now I’m trading furtive hand jobs and playing phone tag, and I fucking like it. I look forward to it.

“Then again…what else do I have to look forward to?”


Title: Pandora

Part Nineteen: Gray Zone

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. Forgive me in advance for the cliffhanger, that’s just how this chapter worked out. I’m getting the next part up soon.


Pandora was interminably cloudy. Despite the long term residents gleefully assuring them all that it was actually the mild season, it rained every day, sometimes for hours. Occasionally it was a light, pattering rain that was actually kind of soothing, but more often than not it was a driving rain that slashed through the sky like tiny knives, pounding soft flesh into submission. The environmental shields erected over the city required a lot of power to run, and so unless a typhoon or tsunami was heading towards The Box, the city council preferred to leave the shields down. The city buildings had been constructed with function in mind, not form, and very few of them were over a story tall. The roofs sloped to allow water to run off easily, and the drains beside the streets were deep and wide. Pandora City was a tight jumble of every shade between slate gray and cobalt blue, and looking down at it from the skin rooms on the Neptune, Garrett thought that it strongly resembled a bruise.

It was a strange time for everyone. The established residents of The Box were having to adjust to a vast increase in the number of people using their facilities, and not all of them were happy about that. New citizens were applying for housing and business permits in facilities that hadn’t even been built yet, and Jezria was very annoyed about that particular delay. She lit into the construction company who had the contract to build and they buckled down to work, but it would be at least six months before everyone who was staying on Pandora would get a home. Jonah could have moved to the front of the list since he had a child, but he opted to stay for longer on board, something that undeniably pleased Garrett. The less he had to go out into the city, the better.

It wasn’t like there was much there. The entertainment complex was smaller than what was available on the Neptune, Garrett didn’t need to look at the schools or educational centers, and the small greenhouses that provided fresh food for the city’s populace could be seen in less than a day. Apart from that it was government buildings, row houses and a few small parks. The Box was so small that you didn’t need a vehicle to get around in it, and in fact they weren’t encouraged. It was a hamlet, a burg, an atavistic throwback to a time so far out of modern mankind’s memory that it was bemusing just to be there.

Some of the new faces were more than passing interesting to Garrett. Meeting Martina’s husband Lawrence was surprising, although given her attitude towards making every minute count Garrett supposed it shouldn’t have been. The man was several inches shorter than his wife, with sloped shoulders and a pronounced curve to his upper back. He had gray hair neatly trimmed, wore actual antique bifocals of all things, and walked with a cane. His face was deeply lined through his forehead and beside his mouth, and the contrast between him and his wife couldn’t have been starker. For all that, though, they seemed surprisingly compatible. Martina very clearly loved her husband, and his calm personality brought out a side to her that was almost gentle. He helped to oversee the transfer of the most crucial scientific equipment from the ship to the lab in the city, and the interaction between them was fascinating to watch.

“I know, it’s like she has a doppelganger,” Lila commented to Garrett in soft tones as they watched the exodus from their part of the lab. Their particular experiments and areas of expertise were far from crucial for the time being, so they were left alone while the botanists, biologists and engineers struggled to pack up and safely move their tons of equipment. “I didn’t believe it at first either, but then, they’ve been married a long time. I guess in fifty years you either learn to handle someone or you get a divorce.”

“Fifty years?” Shekar asked in surprise. He had forgiven Lila for the sin of dating someone other than himself, at least enough to talk to her again. “That long?”

“Or fifty-one. They got married pretty young. They have some kids who live back in the Central System somewhere, I think. The kids aren’t naturals, though. It’s just Lawrence.”

“How old is he?”

“Late seventies, I think.”

Seeing the long-term difference than Regen made was almost like a punch in the gut for Garrett. In seventy years, Garrett expected to look like his father: older, a little more weathered, maybe his hair beginning to go gray, but still straight and strong and vital. In seventy years Cody would be like this, already an old man when he should have been entering his prime. And Jonah…God, Jonah would be devastated. Garrett was beginning to understand why Jezria had mandated psychological counseling for all permanent residents of Pandora, whether they were naturals or not. This kind of rapid aging would be very hard to see in your loved ones, and especially in your child.

Garrett broached the topic, in a roundabout way, to Jonah that evening. Cody was eating at a friend’s apartment and the two of them had Jonah’s place to themselves, at least for a while. They ordered food from the mess and ate together, nice, quiet and casual. The thing between them, whatever it was, had developed to the point where they sought each other out whenever their bizarre schedules intersected, but after three weeks on Pandora they still weren’t actually sleeping together. What sexual encounters they had were furtive and rushed, not in either of their beds.

Garrett was starting to think that Jonah would never take him to bed, and he was doing his damndest to be okay with that. What they had was something he could live with. It wasn’t everything he wanted, not remotely, but it was enough that he didn’t feel that strange, wrenching melancholy that had dogged him during the trip here, and wasn’t quite enough to make him fall in love.

It would be so easy to fall in love with Jonah and Cody, but Jonah kept holding back and after some consideration, Garrett decided he was right to. Garrett had no intention of spending the rest of his life in a backwater colony in the Fringe, and he knew with equal certainty that Jonah would stay here either until Cody wanted to leave, or until his son died. The thought of such a bright, happy little boy growing old and dying in less than a century, or of some kind of disease or in a stupid accident, was incredibly painful for Garrett to contemplate. If it was that bad for him it had to be ten times worse for Jonah, and that was why Garrett wanted to make sure he was getting counseling.

“Have you met the male half of the Doctors Sims?” he asked, rubbing his thumbs into the arch of Jonah’s foot. Jonah, Garrett had found, loved to have his feet touched, and Garrett was more than happy to have any chance to touch the man, intimately or not.

“Seen him from a distance,” Jonah grunted, relaxed nearly to the point of unconsciousness. “Shuttled some equipment for him a few times.” The shuttle pilots were working constantly these days, either taking things into town or out to the evacuation site fifty miles further inland. It mostly served as storage these days, but was a necessary measure in case the environmental shields failed. “He seems nice.”

“He is,” Garrett agreed. “I can see now why Martina is a raving bitch when she’s not with him. Not that I’m excusing her behavior, but I understand how not being with him might send her off kilter. They’ve been together for a really long time, and he’s not in the best of health.”

Jonah opened his eyes and peered over at Garrett. “That so?”

“Yeah. He’s got some chronic issues that Martina has been badgering the geneticists and doctors about. Apparently that’s not going too well for her, or them.”

“I’ve never really gotten it,” Jonah confessed, one hand weaving over and over again through his hair. It was a gesture that Garrett had come to realize meant he was disturbed. “Why none of the treatments work on naturals. It seems impossible. We can build people practically from the ground up, don’t see why we can’t rebuild them to work proper.”

“We might be able to, but not with the current anti-cloning laws in effect,” Garrett replied. “And I have to admit that I think they make sense. The capacity for abuse is just too high.”

“Nah, I get that,” Jonah sighed. “I know I wouldn’t want any Cody but the one I got, but still…” His voice trailed off, and his eyes became distant.

“Have you talked to Glinda lately?”

Glinda “The Good Witch” MacArthur was the Neptune’s head psychiatrist, and had made it a point to talk to each and every one of the passengers at some point on the journey to Pandora. She specialized in family psychiatrics, and had tried to set up an appointment with the Helmses several times, only to be politely rebuffed by Jonah. Cody was still too young to be required to get therapy for his condition and Jonah was almost as good as Garrett at avoiding doing things he didn’t want to do.

“No. I will, though.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

Jonah sat up suddenly, tugging his feet out of Garrett’s hands. His usually open, handsome face was totally closed off, and his warm brown eyes were flinty. “I don’t need you fallin’ into line and tellin’ me what to do too, Garrett. I’ve been dealing with this on my own every since I got Cody and I can deal with it a while longer without gettin’ my head shrunk by some damn know-it-all who wants to talk to me about the stages of fuckin’ grief, like I should be thinking about puttin’ my son in the ground already—” He stopped abruptly, his lips pressed into a tight line, then got up and began pulling on his socks. “I have to go and get Cody.”

Garrett wisely didn’t mention that Cody wasn’t due to be picked up for another hour. “I’ll be going, then.” Garrett had never made his lover really upset before and he didn’t like that he had now, but at the same time he knew he was right about Jonah seeing a counselor, and if he stayed he and Jonah would just keep arguing about it.

“Probably smart,” Jonah agreed tersely.

“Are you going to hold a grudge over this?”

Jonah blew out a harsh breath. “I doubt it,” he said honestly, “but I also really just want to see my boy right now.”

His boy. Which of course Cody was, while Garrett was just Cody’s occasional playmate/babysitter when his dad’s schedule allowed for them to be together. Garrett didn’t want to be a father figure, but he didn’t like the idea that he was nothing better than a glorified toy either.

Now he was the one being unfair. Yeah, their evening was very definitely over. “Fine. I’ll see you later.” Garrett got off the couch and walked over to the door, where he had left his shoes. Simple, easy, no fuss and he was back together and leaving, with no sign of his ever having been there apart from a second plate on the counter.

“Garrett.” A gentle hand on his arm stopped him with the door half open, and Garrett turned to look at Jonah. “Tomorrow night?” Jonah asked hopefully. “I’m off all day, we could go somewhere as soon as you’re out of the lab. Maybe one of the restaurants in town?”

Jonah had been trying to persuade Garrett to see more of The Box since they’d first arrived, with little success so far. He didn’t want to get to know Pandora City. He didn’t care about Pandora City. He was here to work and he was trying to play, and getting to know the nooks and crannies of all human civilization on this planet wasn’t high on his list of things to accomplish.

But Jonah was trying, and Garrett had to give a little too. “Sure. You can pick, you know what Cody will like best.”

“Thank you.” Jonah leaned in and brushed their lips together, and it was hard, so hard for Garrett not to deepen the kiss, not to lean in and take more of what he wanted, to demand it from Jonah as though it was his right to claim it. Hell, he didn’t even know what “it” really was, he just knew that he wanted it and was being denied.

For the best, for the best, for the best.

Oh well. At least if his evening was ending early he could get some more work done. That would increase the chances that he’d be off shift on time tomorrow. Garrett’s work schedule had improved some since arriving on Pandora, but it was still very irregular, and prone to change based on Martina’s latest whim.

The lab was, to put it succinctly, a fucking mess. There were still crates upon crates of equipment waiting to go to the new lab, and two of the biologists were having a fit about misplaced slides and inconsistent data as Garrett signed in. Naturally, there were still people up and about. And yes—there was Martina, all sound and fury in the center of it. Lawrence was nowhere to be seen, which was a shame. Garrett liked talking to the other man, and he had a way of making difficult situations clearer that his wife simply didn’t share.

One of the biologists, the hapless Andrews of old that Martina had been breaking down on Garrett’s first day, was vehemently defending himself against an older scientist who Garrett thought was named Ruxin—whether it was a first or last name he wasn’t sure—and Martina was yelling at them both, but looked up when Garrett walked in.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded.

“Getting some work done,” he replied, stepping past her and heading back towards his section of the lab.

“Oh no, you aren’t.”

That pulled him up short. “I never thought I’d hear those words come out of your lips.”

“The lab is transitioning to Pandora City’s power grid tonight,” Martina explained. “Just the lab, none of the rest of the ship yet, because we have special protocols. No one can have any of their equipment turned on during the process. I assume you’ve backed up all your data?”

“My data logs are pristine.”

“Good.” Her eyes narrowed. “As long as you’re here, you can help us move some things around. We’re looking for the case of hydrogen fuel cells.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“It’s not. Get to work.”

Technically Garrett didn’t have to do this kind of grunt work, it wasn’t in his contract, but he honestly didn’t have anything better going for him. He joined in shifting and searching through hard, heavy shipping crates and plastic containers filled with everything from test tubes to live worms. After perhaps a half an hour of joyless searching and repositioning, the lights suddenly went out.

“Damn it,” Martina swore. “The engineering bay was supposed to let me know before they turned things off.”

“How dare they,” Garrett chimed in companionably. He could feel Martina’s glare even though he couldn’t see it.

They sat and waited in the dark for one minute, then two, then three…Martina was on her com and shouting into it when the power came back on.

The power didn’t come on slowly, the room didn’t gradually light up; it wasn’t even merely bright. The new grid’s power surged through the lab like a firestorm, far too much current for the local transistors to handle. The embedded electronics blew out of the walls like a row of firecrackers going off, scattering debris and raining sparks into the room. The surfaces were all fire-resistant, but the intensity of the explosions was such that some of them started to burn anyway.

“Grab the crates and move them into the hall!” Martina shouted.

“This isn't the time to be worried about stuff!” Garrett shouted back at her. The other two scientists seemed to agree, and as smoke began to fill the room and alarms started to sound, Andrews and Ruxin fled through the doors into the relative safety of the secured hall beyond. Garrett watched them leave, then turned back to his boss.

“Martina,” Garrett began, but she wasn’t there anymore. The smoke was starting to obscure his vision but he thought he saw the edge of her lab coat moving a few meters away. “Martina!”

“I have to save the fuel cells,” she insisted stridently, fear and fury warring for control in her voice. “We desperately need them for the hospital in case of blackouts and they’re the only ones we’ll have until the next transport ship, and that’s not for—”

Another explosion rocked the lab as the fire spread into a crate that contained things that were decidedly flammable.

“We have to leave, now!” Stumbling forward and reaching blindly, Garrett grabbed for Martina and finally found her arm. “Right now!”


Yes!” Garrett turned, and saw a sudden bright white chemical fire flare into life inside one of the nearby crates. He had just enough time to throw himself back into Martina and begin to turn his head before the crate exploded.

A second later there was a sharp, slicing impact followed by utter darkness, and the very beginnings of excruciating pain. Garrett’s body quickly decided that it was unbearable, and after only a moment of agony he lost consciousness.

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty: Bombs Away

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. Forewarned is forearmed, although this chapter is of a necessity PG-rated.


Something was going on. Something was disturbing the darkness that he was surrounded by, that he slept in. It was waking him up, and he didn’t want to be awake.

“Garrett? Can you hear me?” The sounds were strange, a little echoey, and he felt like he should understand what the words meant, but he really didn’t.

“He’s definitely coming to, just keep talking to him,” another voice said.

“Come on,” the first voice said, a little clearer now. “Come on, it’s time to wake up.”

“There, his fingers twitched. He’s almost there. Would you like me to stay and explain the situation to him?”

“No, I think that’s better coming from me. If he needs clarification on anything I’ll call for you.” There was a sliding sound, and then for one beautiful moment, stillness, before the voice started in again.

“Garrett?” Cool fingers stroked soothingly over his shoulder, and a low, feminine voice murmured close to his ear. “I know it’s hard to come up, but you have to now. You’ve got some decisions to make.”

“Sleeping,” Garrett mumbled almost incoherently. God, his head felt like it was filled with sand, ears to eye sockets, and his throat was terribly sore. A moment later a straw pressed against his lips, and he sipped briefly, then opened his eyes.

At least, he tried to open his eyes. After a few seconds of straining he realized he couldn’t, because there was nothing to open. No eyes, and perhaps no eyelids either. It didn’t hurt, nothing hurt, actually, but he had good enough proprioception to know that he hadn’t just had the optic nerves blocked. His eyes were gone. “The fuck?” He tried to sit up and hissed with sudden pain as the movement jarred IV lines that were attached to his neck and wrist. “What the hell is going on?”

“Garrett,” the feminine voice said again, and now he could tell that it was Jezria, from the sound of her voice and the firm pressure of her fingers. “You were in an accident. Do you remember that?”

“Yes…” he said hesitantly. “Some.” Sparks cascading through the lab, hot and blinding. Blinding…something blew up right in front of him. Them. “Shit, Martina?”

“Fully recovered. She’s currently on administrative leave pending your statement. When you’re recovered enough to—”

“Why am I in the infirmary?” Garrett demanded.

“Because,” Jezria said very clearly and carefully, “You were badly injured. You lost your sight. Your face and upper torso were covered in second and third degree burns.”

“Then why am I waking up blind?” Garrett moved his free hand over his face. The skin felt the same as normal, maybe a little smoother. “You’ve got my medical power of attorney that authorizes all grafts and transplants, I should be waking up with new eyes. Shouldn’t I?”

“Yes, you should.” Jezria’s voice didn’t change, even as Garrett’s sharpened with accusation. “You would be if the transplant templates had survived the fire. As it was, those slides were all destroyed.” She gripped his hand a little harder, obviously reacting to some expression of his that he couldn’t see, that he could barely imagine. “Your will get new eyes, of course, Garrett. The doctors just have to do it the old fashioned way, and that means giving the tissue the time to grow. In ten to fourteen days, they should be ready for transplant. Apart from that, you’re fine. All the skin damage was successfully repaired.”

Holy. Shit. It wasn’t the first time Garrett had been in an infirmary, far from it. It wasn’t even the first time he’d been in an infirmary due to a severe injury. It was, however, the first time he’d entirely lost one of his senses. And his sight…how the hell would he take care of himself for ten to fourteen days?

He zoned back in to what Jezria was saying when he heard, “—course, now that you’re awake we can arrange to contact your father, and—”


He heard Jezria shift in her chair, the only sign he could discern of discomfort. “Garrett, you should tell your family.”

“I don’t want them to know.”

“Why not?”

“What would it accomplish?” he parried, ignoring the curling, churning acidity starting to flare in his gut. “Miles is a busy man. It’s not as if he or Claudia could get here in time to sit and pat my hand before the transplant. He’s got enough to worry about on Paradise right now without distracting him with my latest fiasco.”

“Miles is your father,” Jezria said softly. “Of course he’d worry, but he’d still want to know. Claudia too.”

“Claudia’s getting ready to have a baby, she doesn’t need to be fretting about this either. They can’t help me, Jezria, they can’t change anything. But I can help them.”

“By lying to them?”

“I don’t plan on mentioning it at all, actually.”

“Lying by omission is still lying.”

“Don’t tell them, Jezria.” His fingers found her wrist and he grabbed her, as hard as he could, which wasn’t very hard given the drugs and the fact that he’d just woken up. “Don’t.”

She didn’t say anything for a long moment, and when she did speak, her tone was acrid. “Fine. But I think you’re making a mistake. Your family loves you and deserves to know when you’re injured badly enough to be hospitalized.”

“I’m not arguing with you about this,” he told her.

“Well then. Enjoy spending the next two weeks on your back in the infirmary.”

Garrett frowned. It felt strange to furrow eyebrows that were no longer there. “What do you mean by that?”

“Since you live alone, you’ll be spending your convalescence right here. It isn’t safe to let you try to care for yourself in your apartment, and you’re not authorized to get sight implants.”

“Why not?” he demanded. “I was authorized for them on Paradise.”

“Paradise had ready access to significantly more advanced medical facilities than Pandora. You know how implants, particularly brain implants, can have a negative effect on someone’s mental and emotional equilibrium. We’re simply not equipped to handle the possible health ramifications of that right now.”

“You think I’ll go off the deep end.” His voice was flat and cold.

“It’s a possibility we have to take into account, especially given your history,” Jezria replied. She reached out and touched his shoulder again. “I’m so sorry, Garrett. I know this must feel like some sort of punishment, but I swear I don’t mean for it to be. I’m concerned for your wellbeing, and even if you had consented to inform your family, I would have asked that you remain in the infirmary while you wait for the transplants. I would invite you to stay with me, but people are always coming in and out of my apartments, and I know how much you value your privacy. Here you can get help without making things awkward.”


“Garrett…” Jezria blew out a sigh, then changed the subject. “How do you feel about some visitors?”

Honestly what he really wanted to do was hit something until it broke, or he did, but that would hardly reassure the medical staff about his state of mind. Besides, he was already pretty broken. “Who wants to visit?” he asked.

“Who doesn’t want to?’ Jezria replied rhetorically. “Martina and Lawrence have asked, of course, but I thought that that should wait, all things considered.”

“Good call.” Garrett’s mind was spinning out of control, and he didn’t know if he could be polite with Martina now when he was barely civil to one of his oldest acquaintances.

“There are several of your coworkers who’d like to see you as well. Ms Englander wanted me to assure you that she saved enough of your hair to make a temporary replacement for what you lost, which due to heat damage ended up being everything.”

Everything? He was bald? Garrett rubbed his free hand over his head and groaned. “Shit.”

“She said the wig would be ready sometime tomorrow.”

“How long was I unconscious?” Garrett asked.

“Three days.”

Long time. His thoughts must have shown on his face, or maybe Jezria was just taking the conversation to the logical next step. “The damage was extensive, and the skin grafts took some time to set. It was easier for the doctors to keep you down while they worked.”

“Oh. Right.”

“The most fervent visit requests have come from the Helmses, Jonah and his son Cody. I didn’t know you and Mr. Helms were seeing each other.”

“We’re…well, it’s kind of complicated.”

“Apparently,” she chuckled. “But they’re actually here now, if you feel like company. I have to get back to the office, but I’ll be by again later this evening to see how you’re doing.”

“Wait.” He reached out for her, his hand stretching into space. After a second she took it. “What do I look like?”

“What, as far as scars and the like?”

“As in am I going to scare a five year old kid?”

“Ah.” Her palm touched his face briefly, her thumb smoothing over his cheekbone. “You look fine, Garrett. Your eyes are sealed right now, but it simply looks as though they’re closed, not like there’s a problem with the eyes themselves. You are hairless at the moment, but it will all start to grow back in a few days. Your skin is beautiful.” She pressed her lips to his temple. “You’re beautiful.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Garrett said, and if he sounded a little hoarse it was just because his throat was still sore.

“Shall I let them in?”

“Can we get this IV out of my neck first?”

“Let me get the doctor back.” The was the near-silent click of a button being depressed, and then a few seconds later the door slid open again.

“Doctor Caractacus, it’s good to see you awake!”

Her voice sounded familiar. “Thanks.”

“My favorite patient and his daddy are waiting outside to see you.”

“About that…can we take the IVs out? At least this one?” Garrett fingered the line irritably.

“Sure we can. The lower one was just giving you nutrients while you were out, you shouldn’t have any trouble switching back to real food.” Her hands worked briskly as she spoke, freeing his hand and removing the shunt. “This other one is a direct blocker for your eyes. If you want to get rid of it you’ll need to let me give you a shot for the pain, and I’ll need to renew it on a daily basis until we’re ready to do the transplant.”

“That’s fine.”

“It will make you drowsy,” she warned.

“Then let’s wait on the shot until after they leave, but take the IV out now, please. Needles freak Cody out and I don’t want him to see me like this.”

“Of course,” she said. He felt the line withdraw, and a warm trickle of blood slid down his neck. A moment later it was wiped away, and something sticky was laid on top of the hole. “It’s a Green Space Ranger band aid,” she told him with a smile in her voice. “I’m thinking Cody will like that.”

“What’s not to like?” Garrett deadpanned. “Thanks, Doctor…”

“Reynaud. Rickie Reynaud. Like the fox.”

“The cartoon fox?”

“The cartoon was actually named for me,” she confided. “My dad was the lead animator.”

Garrett smiled, and it felt strange on the new, tight skin of his face. “No wonder you’re up to speed on all the latest kid fads.”

“Yeah, I’m good that way. I’ll let them know you’re ready for them.”

“And on that note,” Jezria added, “I’ll be off. I’ll be back this evening, Garrett.”

“Thanks.” He heard the two women walk away, their heels clicking in a way that men’s never seemed to, not even when they wore stilettos. Maybe it was something in the hips…

His admittedly inane train of thought was derailed by the entrance of someone else with noisy feet, but noisy in an entirely different way. “Garrett!” The rapid feet stopped next to his bed. “Your hair is gone!”

“I know,” Garrett said, trying to point his face in Cody’s direction. “I’ll grow some more soon though.”

“You look weird,” Cody said uncertainly. “And your eyes aren’t open.”


“He’s not gonna be able to see for awhile, bucko, I already told you that,” Jonah admonished as he sat down on the edge of Garrett’s bed. Garrett felt the mattress move a little, felt the warmth of Jonah’s body and caught the scent of him, so ephemeral he couldn’t even name it as anything other than Jonah. He took in everything he could, and when Jonah laid a hand on his leg, for the first time since he woke up Garrett felt the low-level panic he’d been feeling recede.

“How ya feelin?” Jonah asked softly.

“Not too terrible. All things considered.”

“You missed dinner,” Cody said indignantly.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Cody…” his father began warningly.

“We missed you,” the child continued. One of his small hands found its way into Garrett’s. “It’s been sad without you.”

“Oh.” Garrett really didn’t know how to take that. Part of him wanted to be annoyed, but most of him was aching, with loneliness and stupid sense of hope that he would never, ever admit to. “I missed you too. Both of you.”

“They said you were sleeping.”

“I was. I missed you even in my sleep.”

“Me too,” Cody confided.

Jonah cleared his throat. “What’s the word, Garrett?”

“My transplants won’t be ready for another two standard weeks,” he said, not quite as matter-of-factly as he would have liked. “Since I live alone, that means I get to spend the next few weeks in here. I’m hoping they’ll send someone for my own clothes though, because these,” he plucked at the scrubs, “never make anyone look good.”

“You’d make a paper bag look good, darlin’,” Jonah told him, and he squeezed Garrett’s knee. “And we were thinkin’…maybe you’d like to shack up with us. Until you’re better.”

Garrett froze for a moment, then shook his head. “I’m sorry, I think the drugs must be affecting my hearing. Did you just say you want me to live with you?”

“Better n’staying in here, isn’t it?” Jonah asked defensively.

“But you—” Garrett tried to keep his voice from rising, but he was tired, and the panic was coming back. Jonah seemed to notice.

“Hey, bucko, could you go chat up the Doc for a minute? Ask what we’ll need to do to take Garrett home with us?”

“Sure!” Noisy feet scampered off again, and then it was just Garrett and Jonah, and Garrett exploded.

“What the fuck do you mean, move in with you? Where do you get off telling me it’s all right for me to stay at your place if I’m something useless you can put wherever you want, like some kind of goddamn decoration, when you won’t even give me the courtesy of sleeping with you in your bedroom—just sleeping!—when I’m fully functional?”


“How does my being blind make it easy for you to open the door, so to speak? Do you get off on helplessness? Do you like having people be utterly dependent on you?”

“You’re not helpless,” Jonah snapped. “And neither is Cody, so take that line of thinkin’ and shut it the hell down right now. You won’t be totally dependent on us; ‘n fact you’ll have more independence once you get used to things there than you’d have here, and God knows how you love your independence.” There was a bitter note to his voice that Garrett had never heard before, or at least never noticed.

“I’m offerin’ this now because you need it, Garrett, and we need it too. Not because I want you to feel indebted to me, not because I’m tryin’ to make up for being an ass earlier about you stayin’ over, but because Cody and I have missed you like crazy for the past three days and I don’t wanna keep missing you when I don’t have to. I want you with us. With me.”

“But…” Garrett felt the flames of his anger flicker out almost as quickly as they’d fanned up. “I can’t really follow all this right now,” he confessed, his voice small and tired. “I’m scared, and I’m still exhausted, and my fucking head is starting to hurt.” It was, too, burning as though a needle was heating up right behind his eyes.

Jonah gently clasped Garrett’s face between his hands. “I’ll get the doc to give you somethin’. We can figure all this out tomorrow.”

“No.” Garrett laid his hands over’s Jonah’s, only fumbling a little. “Please. I do want to stay with you.” Even though it frightens the hell out of me. “I really do.”

Soft, dry lips briefly touched his. “Then I’ll get to doc to give you somethin’, and then we’ll take you home.”

“Thank you.”

“Pleasure’s all ours, darlin’.” Garrett was kissed again, a little slower, a little more thoroughly. “It’s all ours.”

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-One: Revelations

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 part is rated R for yummy man-sex. Perhaps one day I’ll rate something R for another reason, but it hasn’t happened yet. This will be the last post for at least a week, maybe two, because we start heading down country for the last time tomorrow. This part is correspondingly longer and hopefully more satisfying, to keep you sated and content while I wrestle my life into a bush taxi and hope for the best. Readers, you are awesome to stick with me, tease that I am. We’re over halfway done at this point, I think.


The next time Garrett woke up, he was just as disconcerted as the time before. Only this time he was lying on his side, curled against a tall, lean body on a firm bed, covered with a sheet. It felt like a dream. It felt like a beautiful, excellent, latently lascivious dream, and he felt warm and happy and content, and so rather than open his eyes he snuggled further into his bedmate’s side and reached a questing hand beneath the sheet.

A low chuckle interrupted him. “Don’t think you’re quite awake enough for that, darlin’.”

Oh. Oh. Holy shit, it wasn’t a dream, Garrett never got turned down in his dreams. That either made this a nightmare or…he tried to open his eyes and couldn’t. No, still a nightmare, just a waking one. Although the fringe benefits of his current situation were pretty damn pleasant.

Recent memories crept back into his mind. They’d left the infirmary and gone to Garrett’s apartment just long enough to grab his toiletries and clothes and, after a moment’s pause, his journal. Garrett had never even gotten out of the wheelchair, although he figured he could find his way inside of his own place easily enough. He’d heard voices in the halls, murmurs, quiet exchanges of question and answer, and it bothered him more than he could say. Garrett liked to be in control of his surroundings. If something or someone rubbed him the wrong way he changed it, either by manipulating it or modifying his own actions. Now there was nothing he could do, no way to change himself to diminish the attention because he tacitly wasn’t in control of himself. He had to rely on Jonah, Cody, Rickie and Jezria, and he both wanted their care and despised himself for wanting it.

Jezria had been very approving of the plan for him to stay with Jonah, even giving the pilot a week off from work to help care for Garrett. She came to meet them at his apartment, and together she and Jonah picked out clothes they knew Garrett liked, things they knew he needed and asked him enough questions to distract Garrett from himself. Cody had ridden along on Garrett’s lap, begging the whole time to go faster, faster, and Garrett had been relieved when Jonah firmly said no.

Rickie then met them at Jonah’s apartment and talked at length about the importance of counting steps, of keeping clothes and toys off of the floor (which was met with a brief flurry of activity) and especially of being patient all around.

“I’ll keep monitoring your brain chemistry,” she added quietly to Garrett at the end of her visit. “But if you start to feel depressed—really depressed, Doctor Caractacus, not just out of sorts or unhappy or impatient—let me know immediately, and keep talking to Jonah, okay? He wants to help you.”

“I know,” Garrett had replied. The doctor squeezed his shoulder briefly and then departed, letting him know that she’d be back tomorrow to give him another shot for the pain. Shortly afterwards Jezria left as well, and the brief rush of adrenaline that had come as he learned the new walkways of his temporary home had deserted him. Just then Garrett had wanted nothing more than to lie down.

Jonah must have read it in his face, because he called a friend to come over and take care of Cody for a while, then took Garrett back into his bedroom. He’d helped him get out of the scrubs, into a soft pair of sleep pants and led him to the bed, then lay down beside him. One of his arms went around Garrett’s shoulders, and his mouth pressed a gentle kiss to Garrett’s forehead, then his lips.

“This isn’t how I pictured my first time in your bed,” Garrett said ruefully, not quite managing the teasing tone he was going for.

“Me neither,” Jonah agreed. “But I’m glad you’re here.”

“So am I.” He was warm and comfortable and so tired, and after a few minutes Garrett had fallen into a deep, unmoving sleep.

Now he was awake and plastered to Jonah’s side, and after a moment’s consideration Garrett decided he was completely okay with that, and if Jonah’s possessive embrace was anything to go by, so was he.

“How d’you feel?” Jonah asked.

“All right,” Garrett said cautiously. “Not in any pain, at least.”

“That’s good.”

“Do you really have the week off, or did I just dream that?”

“Nope.” Jonah’s voice was smug with satisfaction. “I’ve got the time approved and everything. It’s good, this way I won’t be worryin’ about you all day long. Cody’s still got school all this next week, so maybe he won’t tire you out too much.”

“He won’t.”

“I hope not,” Jonah said. “You’ve been down for about ten hours. Care for something to eat?”

Garrett wrinkled his brow. “What time is it?”

“Eight in the mornin’. Cody’s already at class.”

“Huh. I must have been tired.”

“You’ve got reason to be.” Jonah’s hand stroked along the side of Garrett’s face. The suddenness of it made him jerk back, and the hand withdrew. “Sorry, I wasn’t thinkin’.”

“It’s okay.” Garrett fumbled until he found his lover’s retracted hand and pulled it back to his face. “I don’t want you to be afraid to touch me. I like it when you touch me.” It grounds me, it comforts me, it makes me feel…I don’t even know, but I don’t want you to stop.

“You sure?”

“Positive. You can touch whenever you want. Other people, not so much,” Garrett amended, because he really didn’t want to deal with grabby hands and overly-helpful tugs on his arms.

“Got it.” Jonah’s thumb smoothed over Garrett’s cheekbone and down the shell of his ear before he drew his hand back a second time. “You want breakfast?”

His stomach rumbled uncomfortably. “Yes, but I need to use the bathroom and get changed first.”

“You remember how to find it?”

Garrett wracked his brain for a moment. “Ten feet to the left of the bed, the door is beside the dresser so I should mind the corners?”

“Good memory.”

“I do try.”

“I’ll put some clothes out on the bed for you if you want. Casual?”

“Semi-casual,” Garrett said. “I have the feeling I’m going to be getting a lot of visitors today, and I want to look like I’m taking them seriously.”

“You’re right about the visitors,” Jonah agreed. “I’ve already turned away three people, told them I’d let them know when you were feelin’ up to guests.”

“After breakfast.”

“What would you like to eat?”

“Cereal,” Garrett said after a moment. “Not that I don’t love your pancakes but I don’t want to spend half the morning fumbling with a fork and trying to hunt down bits of food. Cereal I can do without too much mess.”

“Whatever you want.” Jonah brushed his lips lightly over Garrett’s, then got out of bed. “Your stuff’s on the right hand side of the sink.”

“Thank you.”

Getting out of bed was easy. Walking to the bathroom without feeling like a moron with his arms stretched out like that? Not so easy. Remembering where all of the fixtures were was even harder, and Garrett was incredibly grateful that no one was around to watch him stumble against the edge of the sink, or grope around for his sonic cleanser. He finally accomplished everything he needed to, but it took ten minutes longer than usual even though he had no hair to style and no makeup to apply.

“First order of business,” Garrett told himself, resolutely looking forward towards the mirror he knew was there even though he couldn’t see it. “Hair.” Short enough he didn’t need to style it was fine, but going without completely made him feel like he was back in the mental institution again, with doctors trying, and only partially succeeding, to remedy his condition with invasive brain surgery. Garrett was never sure how much of his gray matter had been replaced during that operation, but he did know that his temperament was markedly different once he recovered. He still had the mood swings, absolutely, and he was continually monitored, but a fundamental part of himself had been changed. Garrett barely recalled how he’d felt and thought before the surgery, but he remembered plenty of instances afterwards of his father staring at him, lost in contemplation with a look Garrett couldn’t really describe on his face, but that seemed edged with sadness.

He didn’t want to think about Miles right now. That would only make him feel guilty. Instead Garrett worked his way back into the bedroom and felt around for clothes on the bed. There was a set laid out, smooth fabric that matched top to bottom, felt thicker around the collar and hems, slim-fitting…Garrett knew this outfit. It was a perfect fit for semi-casual. Garrett pulled the clothes on, smoothing the creases into place, then slowly walked towards where he knew the door was. Slowly, slowly, the last thing he needed was a black eye or split lip from banging into the doorframe…there. Now five steps straight down the hall, past Cody’s room on the right, up to the main living area. The dining room was straight ahead, with an open floor plan into the living room on the left and the kitchen on the right. Three steps and a right turn, six more steps and he should feel—

“Aha!” Garrett laid his hands on the counter.

“Nice job.”

“Why thank you,” he smiled. There was a barstool to his left and he levered himself up into it, then started slowly creeping his fingers across the countertop.

“Sorry, hang on a sec.” A moment later there was a ceramic clink right in front of him. “Had the bowl over here.”

“That’s all right.” Bowl, yep, there it was, and a spoon, and resistance that told Garrett that there was plenty of cereal in it. Now he just had to eat without spilling all over himself. “Do you mind not watching? This is likely to be awkward.”

“I’m here to help you, Garrett,” Jonah replied, his voice unruffled. “Can’t do that if I can’t see you. I don’t care if you spill.”

“I do.”

“Darlin’…” Jonah sounded like he was trying to work out the best way to say something in his mind before trying it out loud. Finally he sighed. “Nothing you do’s gonna make me think less of you. I don’t care if you hold the bowl up to your lips and slurp out of it. I won’t watch if it really makes you uncomfortable, but this is just day one of maybe two weeks, and you can’t live on cereal for all of it.”

Personally Garrett felt like there were a lot of things he could do that would make Jonah think less of him, but upon reflection he decided that watching Garrett mess himself up eating was minor by comparison. “Just don’t laugh.”

“I’d never.” And he didn’t, not when Garrett held the spoon upside down, not when he took nearly-empty bites, and not when he stopped after eating less than half of it with a sound of disgust. Jonah just cleared the bowl away, handed Garrett a napkin and said, “Care to talk to Lila? She said she brought you something.”

Hair, excellent. “Yes, I’d love to see her.”

“Let’s get you set up in the living room, then.”

“I’ve got this,” Garrett assured Jonah. He got off the stool, moved through the dining room without banging his shins on any of the chairs, and remembered enough of the layout of the other room that he found the couch with no problem, and sank down onto it gratefully. “Ta-da.”

“Nice work,” Jonah agreed. “I’ll call her, let her know she can come around now.”

“Thank you.” Garrett sat and listened to Jonah move around, the faint shuffle of his feet on the carpeting, the low and steady sound of his voice as he opened his comm. Garrett was a visual learner, he always had been, and even now he couldn’t listen to those sounds without immediately painting a picture in his mind to accompany them. Jonah with his hair tied back, t-shirt, jeans, bare feet…or maybe not. “Come here,” he said when Jonah was done with his call.

“What’s up?”

“Just sit next to me,” Garrett requested. Jonah sat down, close, and Garrett reached searching hands toward him. Jonah’s own hands rose up to meet Garrett’s. “No, just let me look for a minute.”

Garrett could almost hear Jonah nod his head. “Sure.” He felt along Jonah’s shoulders, broad and strong, in a button-down shirt, a little nicer than Garrett had expected. The warm, strong line of his neck flexed beneath Garrett’s fingertips, and it turned out Jonah’s hair was loose, and feathered backwards away from his face. Garrett traced his lover’s features, from the top of his head and across his face, down his chest, over his abdomen and lower. He reached down and felt Jonah’s feet, smiling when he found them bare.

“Missed a spot,” Jonah said hoarsely.

“No, I didn’t,” Garrett replied, his hands finally ghosting over the bulge that he knew was pressing against Jonah’s jeans.

“Oh, hell…we don’t have the time, darlin’, your friend’s gonna be here any minute.”

“Then you’ll just have to save it for me,” Garrett said saucily, feeling more in control with every stroke of his lover’s body.

“I can do that,” Jonah promised just as a knock sounded on the door. “Shit, you see? Goddammit.”

“Think unsexy thoughts,” Garrett advised. “Think of childbirth, that usually does it for me.”

“That’s cold, man.”

“Hey, old fashioned human childbirth is not sexy. Miraculous and joyful maybe, but sexy? Try messy and agonizing instead. I’m so glad I’m missing my little sister’s birth.”

“Your parents are havin’ another kid?”

“Not exactly…”

The knock came again, louder this time. “Okay, I can do this now,” Jonah sighed. The couch creaked slightly as he got up and walked over to the door. Lila’s worried voice greeted him, and a moment later she was beside Garrett on the couch, her hands clasping his tightly.

“I was so worried about you! When we heard what happened we all knew it had to be bad, and to lose your vision…Garrett, I’m so sorry.”

“My eyes will grow back,” he quipped.

“But not for two weeks.”

Garrett was in no mood to have a pity party. “You’re just jealous of all my sudden paid vacation time. I’m told you come bearing gifts. What did you bring me?”

Some of the fun came back into her tone. “Aren’t you glad now that you let me take your hair? I was going to give the wig to Lawrence, but after we heard what happened he figured you’d rather wear your own hair if given the chance. It’s backed to adhere and looks pretty nice, if I do say so myself.”

“Because modesty is your middle name.”

“Look who’s talking. You want to try it on?”

“Don’t make me look stupid,” Garrett warned, but he bent his head forward accommodatingly. A moment later a smooth, slightly sticky skullcap settled over his skin. Lila tugged the sides down a bit, touched up the edges and then pressed her hand firmly over the short and, Garrett presumed, blond wig until it was firmly adhered.

“Very nice. Kind of macho.”

“What did I tell you about giving me a marine haircut, woman?”

“It’s not butch,” she protested with a giggle. “Just, y’know…manly. And you are a man, so it fits.”

“If my boyfriend laughs at me I will definitely hit you upside the head the next time I see you,” Garrett threatened. “Where is Jonah, actually?”

“He went into the back. I think I hear the shower.” Now that she mentioned it, Garrett did too. “So…he got over the kindergartener fiasco enough that he’s letting you live with him during your leave. Niiiice.”

“Jealousy is an ugly emotion,” Garrett said.

“Oh shut up, I’m not jealous.” Lila paused. “Well, maybe a little. He is a pretty hot guy, and his kid is just adorable.”

“Yeah, I know.”

For the next half an hour the two of them talked about their lovers, their work and went down dozens of nearly-inconsequential little tangents. It was the sort of light, careless conversation that Garrett enjoyed and excelled at. He would have felt totally normal if it weren’t for the fact that he couldn’t see. Nevertheless, by the time Lila left he was in a much more balanced mood, feeling like he could face the rest of his onslaught of guests with equanimity.

Jonah kept things from being too overwhelming, but there were a lot of people who wanted to poke their heads in. Shekar visited, and Andrews and Ruxin, the scientists who had wisely fled at the first sign of danger. Ruxin, full name Leonard Ruxin, seemed upset by what he deemed his “desertion” of Garrett and Martina, but Garrett told him not to be an idiot and after a few minutes of banter they were okay.

At noon Rickie came to give him another shot, and then Jezria visited with Captain Carson, followed by a few more official types who gave him their sincerest apologies for the surge that led to the explosion. Garrett accepted their rote concerns with rote gratitude and waited impatiently for them to leave.

His last guest of the afternoon was Lawrence Sims. Garrett was more than a little surprised that it wasn’t Martina coming to visit him, and it must have showed on his face.

“She wants to come, but I felt she needed a little more time to pull herself together,” Lawrence said as he slowly, carefully sat down on the couch. He sighed as he settled back, seeming to creak. It was so hard for Garrett to picture this man as a contemporary instead of an elder, even when he was blind. Blind Garrett could hear the wear and tear that steeped every one of Lawrence’s movements in caution, the sighs and groans of pain and relief. It hurt to hear him shift in place.

They got through the initial, familiar question and answer phase in short order, and then Lawrence paused. When he spoke again, his voice was soft. “My wife acted rashly and foolishly, but she didn’t do it to secure her image as a martinet. When she gets an idea in her head Tina gets driven, to the point where she can’t see the forest for the trees. She was so focused on getting the backup generators for the hospital that she didn’t realize the potential cost of her actions.”

“Why are the generators so important?” Garrett asked.

“Because some of them are going to be supporting the cellular genetics lab in the hospital, whose power generators have already quit twice. She’s got one of her pet projects under construction there, and it means a lot to her.” Lawrence sighed. “I’m dying, Doctor Caractacus. It started as bone marrow cancer and has since spread to my lymph system.”

Garrett was actually speechless. He fumbled fruitlessly for something to say, and after a few seconds Lawrence kindly ended the awkward silence. “Cancer is how most naturals end up dying. I’ve already beaten three different types, but they just keep coming. The vaccines don’t work on me, of course, and surgery is difficult. Every recovery takes longer than the one before. Tina is trying to synthesize a marrow transplant that my body won’t reject, making recovery easier, but it’s not going well. I’m not telling you this to excuse her actions,” he added firmly. “If one of our employees had acted in such a manner, Tina would be the first to talk about disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of contract. However, she’s got a terrible blind spot when it comes to me, and you were the unfortunate victim of her persistence. I’m sorry about that, Garrett. She is as well, and she’ll tell you herself soon.”

“I had no idea,” Garrett finally managed. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s all right. I’ve had years to get used to the idea,” Lawrence said easily. “I might not be that much older than you, but I feel old. I’ve never been under any delusions about how long I’d be around, and frankly this is longer than I had figured on. If you stay here, Garrett, you’ll come to realize that taking care of the caretakers is just as important as making sure naturals live a full, healthy life. For us the end comes fairly fast. For our loved ones, like you and Mr. Helms, our end lingers for many years.”

Years. Decades of life without Cody, decades of Jonah mourning the loss of his beautiful son, mourning the loss of his family and friends. Mourning the long life that he was able to live that Cody simply hadn’t been born with the capacity for.

“I should go,” Lawrence said. “Thank you for letting me ramble a bit. I hope your recovery is fast.” He pushed slowly to his feet and set his cane down on the rug. “Martina will be by later this week.”

“Thank you,” Garrett said, a little numbly.

“You’re welcome.” Soft footsteps, the nearly-silent creak of the door and he was gone. A few moments later Jonah reentered the room.

“All done for now?” he asked.


“You want lunch?”

“No.” Garrett stood up and headed carefully for the sound of Jonah’s voice. His lover’s hands touched his arms after a few steps, sweeping upwards to his shoulders gently. “What I’d really like is for you to take me to bed. I need you.”


“I need you,” he insisted. “It’s not taking advantage and it won’t be weird unless you make it that way, but I really need you right now.” Around me, inside of me, all over me. I need you to fuck the future right out of my head.

“I can do that,” Jonah said after a moment, and his voice was suddenly lower, and darker, and then his lips were on Garrett’s and it wasn’t gentle this time, it was hard and desperate. “Fuck, Garrett…”

“That’s it exactly,” he said. “That’s what I need.”

They made it into the bed without falling by sheer chance, because Jonah couldn’t have been looking where he was going much more than Garrett was; their mouths never separated. Then they were on the bed and somehow Garrett was on top, and he ground his hips down ruthlessly onto Jonah’s, rutting against him before sliding his lover’s denim-covered cock between his ass cheeks. “Fuck me.”

Suddenly Garrett was flipped over, and his suit was torn away from his body as Jonah went a little bit insane, kicking and biting and kissing every new inch of exposed flesh. “Want you,” Jonah groaned, his words barely a rumble in the back of his throat. “You…now.”

“Take me,” Garrett insisted, his own voice far breathier than usual, all the force gone from his lungs as he struggled to breathe through the pleasure. “Please.” He didn’t want to be the aggressor, didn’t want to manage or handle or conduct. All Garrett wanted was Jonah, all of his care and attention and the pleasure/pain of his body and soul. This wasn’t an easy man, but Garrett had to have him anyway. “Jonah.”

“Fuck, darlin’, look at you.” A hand smoothed through Garrett’s new, short hair, tickling his scalp and adding another layer of sensation. “So amazing.”

“Are you going to make me beg?” Garrett demanded.

“Need you too much,” Jonah confessed, and he pulled away for a second, just long enough for Garrett to make out the hasty rustle of falling clothes before Jonah was back on top of him, hard and naked and incredibly hot. His lips moved down to tease Garrett’s nipples as one of his hands, already slick, slid across his perineum and over his hole. He pressed one in slowly and Garrett sighed and relaxed, letting him in. Jonah’s touches seemed to linger now in a way they hadn’t when Garrett could see. He felt the fire of his lover’s body caressing his long after a particular moment was over, and it wasn’t long before he was burning too.


“Soon,” Jonah murmured, pressing back inside with three of his fingers and pumping, first slowly, then faster.

Garrett wanted to make more demands but he couldn’t, his voice had crumbled to ash. He spread his legs wider and welcomed all of Jonah’s attention, almost sobbing with relief when he felt his lover adjust his position. A lift, a push and then Jonah was sliding smoothly into Garrett, and both of them moaned with contentment.

The last time Jonah had fucked him, it had been a slow thing, only briefly quickening at the end before they both had come. This time is was fast and hard from the start, the strain of weeks of avoidance and frustration and sheer wanting wearing away at their patience until all Garrett could do was grip his lover’s forearms and take him, deeply, reveling in every thrust and glancing strike to his prostate while he fisted himself. Garrett came first, sooner than he’d expected to, with an almost surprised half-gasp, half-sob as he coated his chest with his cum. Jonah followed a minute later, slamming into his body as deep as possible before releasing into Garrett.

There followed a strange, warm, swimmy kind of time, dizzy and lethargic, where Garrett just lay there and let Jonah collapse against him, slowly recover his breath, withdraw and clean both of them up. Garrett just let him do it all, smiling slightly to himself, and when Jonah reached over and enfolded him in a hug he simply shrugged an arm over Jonah’s waist, not willing to exert himself to grab yet. He felt utterly in the present, and he loved it. God, he loved it. He loved…

Oh, shit.

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Two: The First “R”

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. Lots of satisfactory plot furthering in this one, I hope!


“So, what exactly is wrong with the vidscreen?”

“Power issues,” Garrett told Wyl casually. “There was a surge here that blew a lot of things out. Repairs are going pretty slowly.”

“Is everyone okay?”

Garrett smiled wryly to himself. “As far as I know.”

“Who’s place are you at? The call address that came up on my screen was different from usual.”

“I’m at Jonah’s.”

“Oh, really?” Garrett could hear Wyl’s eyebrows raise. “’At’ as in staying there on a semi-regular or even more permanent basis, or ‘at’ as in your own screen just isn’t working?”

“Living with him…for the moment.”

“Sounds special. And serious. It sounds especially serious.”

“It’s just for the time being.”

“Hey, whatever works for you. Just don’t do the Prince Charming thing, Gare,” Wyl warned.

“What’s that?”

“That thing where you’re perfect and awesome and then take off without so much as a glass slipper for a keepsake.”

“I think you have me confused with Cinderella.”

“Is it true confusion?” Wyl mused in a pompous tone of voice. “Or is it simply a more accurate retelling of the fairy tale?”

Garrett frowned. “I think your Symbolism in Ancient Literature class is rotting your brain. Why literature, anyway? Why not study engineering?”

“Because I can already do all the engineering I need to,” Wyl replied. “Why should I get a degree that will just give me a piece of paper saying I can do what I already know I can do? It’s useless. Whereas I’ve got a lot to learn about Ancient Literature and I like it. Robbie likes it too. There’s some amazing stuff that was written thousands of years ago.”

“If you say so,” Garrett said, with just the right amount of snide condescension in his voice, he thought. He waited for a second.

“You are such a dick.”

“I know,” Garrett grinned.

“I’m flipping you off right now, Gare, I hope you realize that.”

“I’d be disappointed if you weren’t.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Save the snark for when you can give it to me face to face. When the fuck are you coming back to visit, anyway? It’s been over six months. You could come for when the baby is born, Miles and Claudia would love that. You’d have to get here pretty fast, though.” Wyl’s tone shifted to sly. “You could bring Jonah and Cody with you. Everybody here wants to meet them. Claudia’s beside herself about it, but I’m sure you know that.”

“Yeah.” Garrett had talked to Claudia just a few hours earlier. It was mostly him listening, but she’d been very excited about the prospect of meeting Garrett’s significant other, complete with kid. “It sounds like things are less intense over there right now.”

“Yeah, they are. It’s kind of creepy, honestly,” Wyl confessed. “There was fighting, there were terrorist attacks, there were kidnappings and then, about a week ago, it all stopped. Everything. We’ve barely had an armed robbery since then. Something’s going on and it’s driving Robbie and Jane kinda nuts trying to figure out what it is.”

“That’s…very disturbing,” Garrett agreed, his mind racing through scenarios.

“The bad guys could just feel like the risks aren’t worth it anymore,” Wyl offered hopefully.

“Terrorists thrive on risky situations. They simply make the risk reciprocal and far more damaging to the other side. Miles and Robbie have to worry about a large civilian population in addition to Federation troops. The terrorists have the advantage as long as they’re at large.”

“You sound like Robbie,” Wyl sighed. “Seriously, where’s the optimist in you?”

“The realist in me killed him a long time ago.”

“Damn. I’d hate to meet your inner pessimist.”

“Yeah, he’s a real bastar—” The door chimed as it suddenly swung open, and then Cody was in the room and Garrett was revising his vocabulary to something more age appropriate. “A very bad man, I mean.”

“Garrett!” Five fast footsteps were all it took for Cody to launch himself from the door to the couch. A small body impacted Garrett’s side and his breath left him with a sudden whoosh as arms tightened around his neck. “I got done with school early because Mr. Hugelin wasn’t feeling well today and the substitute teacher was in another class, so they had to let us go but they weren’t going to let me go because Daddy wasn’t home, but I told them you were here so they let me come home after all!”

“Oh.” The first week of Garrett’s convalescence had been a long, delightful stretch of near-solitude with Jonah, who sent Cody to stay with friends most afternoons once he was out of school until dinnertime. With Jonah’s help Garrett had weathered visits from all and sundry, including an awkward half hour with an utterly ashamed Martina that he’d been glad to get over with. In the end new safety protocols were designed for the lab and Martina had a reprimand put into her file, which Garrett thought was a little excessive but didn’t argue over. Jonah had fed him, comforted him, made him feel desirable and wanted and appreciated…and then the week had come to an end, and Garrett still had five days to go before his new eyes were ready to implant. And now Cody was home, and Cody didn’t know that Garrett was lying to Wyl about the vidscreen. Garrett needed to end this call, now.


“Family time, I get it,” Wyl said smilingly. “I’ll call you again soon. Sometime when Robbie can talk too.”

“Sounds good.”

“Bye, Cody,” Wyl added.

“Bye, mister!”

“Leyton,” Garrett elaborated. “Mr. Leyton.”

“Bye, Mr. Leyton.”

“Way to make me sound like my dad, Gare,” Wyl muttered. “So yeah, bye. Hope the screen works next time.” Wyl ended the connection and Garrett breathed a sigh of relief that lasted until Cody turned in his arms to face him.

“Why does he think our screen is broken?”

Truth or lie, truth or lie…Garrett decided on something in between. “Because I told him the screen didn’t work so he wouldn’t get upset about seeing me injured.”

“Oh,” Cody said, a little more subdued. Warm fingers splayed gently against Garrett’s cheek. “Is he your family?”

“He’s in my extended family,” Garrett said. “Kind of like a brother, but we’re not actually related.”

“But you love him?”

“I care about him very much.”

“As much as my daddy?” There was no masking the hint of jealousy in Cody’s voice.

“No,” Garrett chuckled, “not nearly as much as your dad.”

“As much as me?”

“Not as much as you either,” Garrett said, and he was surprised to find that it was true. He loved Wyl and Robbie like brothers, but it felt different with Jonah and Cody. Everything felt different with them. Garrett was resigned to the fact that he’d fallen in love, he’d figured that out a little while back, but he was staunchly avoiding thinking about it right now. There would be time to sort all that out later.

“Good,” Cody said firmly. “Cause I like you a lot better than Jack even though Daddy said Jack’s my other real dad, but I don’t think he really liked me ‘cause he never came to see us except for a few times and after the last time Grandma said what the hell did Daddy expect after such a fuck-up, and then Daddy got really mad and that’s when we left the other place and went to Olympus.”

“Oh.” Never underestimate the capacity of children. Garrett reminded himself to be extra careful about what he said in front of Cody in the future. “That’s too bad.”

“But I like it more here anyway,” Cody finished. “Want to watch Space Rangers until Daddy comes home?”

“Do you have any homework?” Garrett asked.

“No…yeah. Just stupid reading practice,” the little boy muttered. “I hate reading.”


“Cause it’s too hard and I never get the words right, and I’m the only one in my class who hasn’t finished stupid See Spot Fly and I can’t, ‘cause it’s too hard.”

See Spot Fly is one of my favorite stories,” Garrett confided. “But I can’t read it now because of my eyes. It would be really, really great if you could read it to me.”

“But I’ll mess it up!” Cody protested.

“You know, I think I remember some of it. I’ll help you with the hard parts.”

Cody sighed. “I really don’t like reading.”

“I know, but you’d make me really happy if you tried, just for me.”

Cody sat still and sullen for a moment, then slowly reached down towards the floor and the backpack that he’d left there. Moments later Garrett heard the boy’s tablet power up, and then Cody settled against Garrett’s side again and began, haltingly, to read the story. Garrett actually did remember enough about the children’s classic to help out, and by the time Jonah got home they’d read through it twice, and then Cody read it again for his pleasantly surprised father.

“Never thought I’d see the day,” Jonah commented as he got ready for bed that night. Cody was asleep and Garrett was already ensconced in what he was beginning to think of as his side of the bed. “Books have never really been Cody’s speed. He’s always preferred watching a movie or show to being read to.”

“Yes, well, I take full credit,” Garrett said with mock smugness. “Throw a little blind cachet in there and anyone will read to you, even a kid who moves at the speed of light.”

“Thanks.” Soft lips pressed a sudden kiss to the side of Garrett’s mouth. Garrett turned to get more, but Jonah had already withdrawn to finish getting undressed. “You’re good with him.”

“Well, better than Jack, at least.”

The sounds of rustling cloth stopped. “Cody mentioned Jack?”

“Briefly,” Garrett said.

“What’d he say?” Jonah’s voice was guarded, and Garrett was torn between saying nothing and relieving his lover or using the opportunity to dig for more information. Curiosity won out over discretion.

“He said that Jack didn’t really seem to like him, and it was after one of his visits that you and your mother had it out and you decided to leave.”

“Huh,” Jonah grunted after a minute. Garrett waited for explanation but it didn’t come. Jonah finished undressing silently, slid into bed and turned on his side away from Garrett. The silence couldn’t have been more deafening, and Garrett wasn’t going to put up with it.

He spooned in close to Jonah’s back and wrapped an arm around his lover’s stiff shoulders. “You don’t have to tell me anything about it, but don’t do this either,” Garrett said. “Don’t make this place uncomfortable for us.”

Jonah blew out a resigned sigh and relaxed fractionally in Garrett’s arms. “Didn’t think Cody even remembered that,” he said after a moment. “I’d hoped he didn’t. Cody and Jack only met a few times once he grew out of bein’ a toddler…Jack never knew how to handle ‘im.” Jonah laughed a little bitterly. “Not that I really gave him the chance to figure it out. We were together for close on to ten years when we decided to have Cody. Not a lot of facilities out there that will cater to Drifters, but we thought the one we’d found was pretty good. Before he was born we’d been told there’d be some issues, but we thought we could handle it. Then when he was all ready, and the doctors handed over our baby, and they told us he was a natural…” Jonah’s voice drifted off. Garrett moved even closer, plastering himself to Jonah’s back and rubbing a soothing hand over his arm.

“Jack lost it when we found out. Didn’t know what to do, didn’t know which way was up and which was down. The next thing I know he’s telling me we can’t take the baby, and I went a little crazy. Blew up and said he was an asshole and selfish and that he didn’t love either of us, and didn’t deserve to have a kid. I ended it between us, that very day, Cody’s first day. Didn’t give Jack a chance to apologize or come to terms with it. Didn’t give him a chance to get used to havin’ a kid at all, much less one with serious health issues. I was basically total shit at being supportive. It’s my fault Cody doesn’t know his other father, and it’s my fault Jack never learned to love our son.”

Garrett didn’t think he’d ever heard Jonah sound so brutally, bitterly frank. “You were in a state of shock,” Garrett said eventually. “Both of you were. You handled the situation much more responsibly, even if you were a little severe with Jack. You can’t blame yourself for that.”

“Can blame myself for a lot more than that,” Jonah replied, and now his voice was so soft Garrett almost couldn’t hear it. “I always wondered what would have happened if we’d waited for a more reputable clinic, for better doctors. Naturals don’t run in my family. Cody could have been born normal if I hadn’t been so goddamned impatient for him. My mama made sure I never forgot that. She didn’t really approve of two men havin’ a baby anyway, so this was like a sign from God for her.”

“Well, that makes your mother a bitch,” Garrett said firmly. Jonah stiffened in his arms but Garrett just held on and hoped he wasn’t committing a terrible faux-pas.

Jonah started to shake, and Garrett was becoming truly worried that he’d fucked up this night beyond repair. Then Jonah drew in a shaky breath, and after a second Garrett realized it was laughter, and not tears, that were making his lover tremble.

“Hell, Garrett…you can’t say things like that about a boy’s mama, even if they’re true.”

“Consider me duly chastised.” He kissed the back of Jonah’s neck, burrowing his lips through silky hair to the even silkier skin beneath it. “You’re a good man and an even better father. Cody is damn lucky to have you.”

Jonah’s responding chuckle sounded a little resigned. “Glad you think so, Garrett. Thanks for reading with him.”

“I was happy to do it,” Garrett told him. “I really was.”

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Three: Planning for Future Use

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. Dirty yummy R-rated sci-fi in this one. Plot wise we’re getting really close to some major ups ‘n downs. I’ll work my tail off in September to keep you satisfied:)


“You’ll just feel a little pinch…”

“That is not a little pinch,” Garrett said through gritted teeth. “That’s a big fucking pinch inside of my skull.”

“I offered to put you out,” Dr. Reynaud reminded him as she attached the optic nerve to his new left eye. “We could stop with this one for today, you know. You could do the other one tomorrow, Garrett.”

“Once is enough,” he groaned, “just finish it fast.”

“One more minute,” Dr. Reynaud promised. Garrett felt the forceps move to his right socket, heard the scrape of metal on metal and then felt the cool dampness of his new eye being inserted into his head. There was another sharp pinch, the slithering sensation of tubes withdrawing and then a damp cloth was wiping at his cheeks.

“A little seepage,” Dr. Reynaud murmured, “but overall I think it went really well.” Once she was done she put a mask over Garrett’s eyes. “No using these until I’m sure the transfer has settled. You have to stay here in recovery for six hours. Once the mask comes off you should expect light sensitivity to be a problem for a few days, and remember that the color of the irises will change a bit.”

“Six hours?”

“Six hours,” Dr. Reynaud affirmed before walking away.

“Lovely.” Garrett kept his face neutral until Rickie was gone, then sighed. Six hours. It wasn’t that he hadn’t expected that, but Jonah was still at work and Cody was playing at a friend’s new house “outside”, so Garrett was alone. Which meant he’d be bored. Yeah, he had holos and books he could listen to, but nothing was so entertaining these days as his guys.

Ah, well. Time for some preemptive personal psychotherapy. Garrett opened up his journal, which he’d grabbed off of the bedside table before being brought to the infirmary.

“Ready to record?” the cartoon voice boomed.


“Journal record number forty-four, recording.”

“So, I now have the attention span of a six year old,” Garrett told his journal. “I blame Jonah completely. Two weeks of living with him and Cody and anyone would be ready for the next great thing after fifteen minutes. Cody is exhausting and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. He’s also great, don’t get me wrong, but I have no idea how Jonah is raising him on his own. Then again, when the village rejects you, what can you do but go on?” He stopped for a second, considering how he wanted to record the next part. Pissy and annoyed was definitely an option, but that wasn’t how Garrett wanted to immortalize himself. “It’s finally their turn to get a house Outside. Cody’s really excited about it; they went looking at their options on Jonah’s last day off. I didn’t go with them. It’s not like I could offer an opinion on wherever they’re going to be living, I was blind at the time. They both wanted me to go anyway, though…

“They want me, and I love them, but I can’t stay here,” Garrett murmured, feeling the bone-deep ache of melancholy settle into him. “I just can’t. This place isn’t me. The entertainment is minimal and insipid, the luxuries are practically nonexistent and there aren’t very many options for enlightening personal discourse outside of holo films. There’s no university here, there are very few options for continuing education, there’s no real way to travel except by leaving the fucking planet, and that’s not advised more than twice a year due to ‘potential health risks’ for naturals. And it’s not like Jonah and I could go anywhere without Cody.

“Actually, you know what I really want? I just want to freeze things right now. With all of us living together on the ship, no pressure to integrate into Pandoran society, all of us healthy—you know, mostly—and my family safe. Now is great. Now is…it’s almost perfect.” It’s so close to perfect.

Garrett rubbed his shoulder absently. He had a vague suspicion that if Wyl was here he would be punching Garrett’s arm right now and giving him advice that he didn’t want to hear but that still had value. Fuck, but Garrett missed him. Wyl and Robbie and his dad and Claudia. Everyone.

“Hey, doll.”

Garrett immediately shut off the recorder, turning towards the source of the voice. “Who’s that?”

“Who do you think, doll?”

Garrett smiled despite himself. Nothing lifted you out of the blues like a snarky teenager. “Tamara Carson, I presume.”

“Yeah.” Her tone was swollen with the sullenness of someone who had no desire to be doing what she was doing, but did it nonetheless.

“And you’re here to…what, insult me into feeling better?”

The girl blew out an exasperated sigh. “No. I have to do mandatory community service and I could either do it on ship in the infirmary or at the kindergarten out in the Box. And I hate it out there.”

“In the city?”

“It’s not a city,” Tamara scoffed, “it’s a fucking block. And Pandora City is a stupid name for a capitol anyway.”

“Yeah, I hear you,” Garrett said noncommittally. “Why do you have mandatory community service? Did you break into another ship?”

The silence provided its own answer. “What, again? Really?”

“It’s only the second time I’ve ever been caught!” Tamara replied hotly, coming a little closer. Garrett heard the sound of a chair scraping across the floor. “I’ve broken into dozens of ships without anyone knowing. You just got lucky that one time.”

“Lucky?” Garrett arched a pale, barely-there eyebrow. “You were breaking into my ship in the middle of a room filled with thousands of people. And I don’t care how good your friends are at spotting, which by the way they weren’t, nobody is going to ignore a large group of loitering teenagers who are trying to look innocent.”

“Yeah, well…maybe. I was in a bad mood that night.”

“I could tell,” Garrett said, “but being in a mood is no excuse for doing sloppy work. I take it that you got caught this last time?”

“Yeah.” The words seemed to pour out of her suddenly. Garrett wondered if it was easier to speak to him because he was still technically blind and couldn’t meet her eyes, or if it was just because he was taking the time to listen. “I would never mess with one of the regular runners because I know the pilots need those to be solid all the time, but I’m so fucking bored in school here and my dad is always busy anyway and I already knew I could break into your ship, so the only other private vessel I could find was Senator Dowd’s. I got past her first couple layers of security and made it all the way into the ship but then her thermal sensor ratted me out. She and my dad had been having dinner over some kind of planning meeting and the security officers brought me right to them and I thought my dad was going to lose it. They’re thinking about expanding into a new area,” Tamara added casually. “I bet my dad wants to name it Carsonville, because then he’d have left something behind that would last. He wants Pandora to be his legacy.”

Garrett couldn’t help snorting a little.

“I know, some legacy, right? I told him he should have another kid if he wants someone to carry his name for a couple centuries, and then he told me that I was enough and why would I think that and blah blah blah, but it’s true! He always wanted his kid to go into the military. Know what a natural can’t do? Go into the military.” Garrett heard a low thump, like something being kicked. “We also can’t become exploratory scientists, medical doctors, government pilots or even colonists for any place other than this rock. We can’t become professional athletes because our bodies can’t take the training and competition. We can’t learn deepwater diving or mining or spend too much time in a weightless atmosphere. We can’t do anything cool. Everything about us sucks.”

Well, that was a low pronouncement if ever he’d heard one. “When I was a kid I was put into a mental hospital for a while,” Garrett said casually. “One of the other kids there was a natural. He hadn’t done anything stupid to himself like I had, he was just depressed, and we got to know each other while I was there. He was incredibly smart, a lot smarter than me, which I say with all due modesty makes him a genius.

“I kept up with him afterwards. He ended up getting hired by the government to be a covert operative in the central system, searching out slavers who were selling and transporting people to the Fringe. Slavers like targeting naturals, even though they don’t live as long under rough working conditions, because naturals kind of slip through the cracks, you know? A lot of them are ashamed of their condition so they tend to be reclusive, or work out of their homes. A lot of them don’t have families. It makes them much easier targets than the average Federation citizen. They’re much less likely to be missed, and less likely to be searched for once they are missed. The last time Rory and I spoke he was retiring after a very long and satisfying career helping thousands of people.”

“So he was like a Federation spy?” There was a note of interest in Tamara’s voice.

“Yep. He was totally innocuous looking, you know? Usually he played up the “poor little me” natural thing so he could lure people in, and then once they fell for it, they never got away. Rory was an amazing guy. He could break into almost anywhere, he was a master of disguise, he was a trained pilot and a sniper and he could make explosives out of anything—”

“They taught him how to do all that?” Tamara broke in.

“Most of it. Some of it he picked up living on the Fringe for over a decade. Pandora,” Garrett waved one hand around as though to encompass their current situation, “is on the Fringe but not really in the Fringe, if you take my meaning. Only one small colony with a highly specialized population? Not a good place to set up a smuggler’s den, not when the weather is so damn bad all the time. But there are other places out here that are crawling with pirates and smugglers and body snatchers and slavers and a whole host of perversions that I’m sure you’d rather not hear about.”

“No, you can tell me!”

“No, seriously, you don’t want to know, you won’t sleep for a week,” Garrett promised her. “How about I tell you how to beat a thermal sensor instead?”

“I already know about reflective blankets,” Tamara sighed. “It was a tight fit getting into her ship as it was, I would just have torn a blanket up.”

“Next time use thermal paint.”

“Isn’t that toxic?”

“It isn’t when applied over a bodysuit,” Garrett replied. “You won’t be able to make a proper reflective suit out here, but I know for a fact that the science lab has gallons of that paint stored away. Spray it on over some tight-fitting gear and add a facemask once you get on board. As long as you’re in and out in less than five minutes, most thermal systems won’t pick up the heat of your breath.”

“Cool.” The chair scootched forward a little more. “What else?”

They kept talking until Jonah showed up hours later. He was apparently just in time to hear Garrett detailing to Tamara how to jury-rig a personal antigrav unit out of an old ship’s compressor and a plastic sheet.

“That’s more’n a little dangerous though, isn’t it?” Jonah commented as Garrett stopped for breath. He and Tamara both made faint noises of surprise.

“Homemade antigrav units are always dangerous,” Garrett said after a moment, “but that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful sometimes. I made this one when I was fifteen. I threw it off of a building and it hovered for more than three minutes before the motor gave out.”

“Were you shootin’ for a three minute trial?”

“Five,” Garrett confessed with a smile.

“Lucky you weren’t wearing it, then,” Jonah said, coming over and sitting down on Garrett’s bed. “I got permission from Rickie to spring you a little early, if you want to head home now.”

Garrett paused, hearing Tamara sigh. “Yes, I do want to head home. Tamara, let me know when you have your next shift here, okay? I’ll tell you five different ways to build a flamethrower.”

“Cool. Um, so, bye.” Overly tall boots clomped away quickly.

Jonah chuckled and ran his hands down Garrett’s arms. “You’re kinda a bad influence on her, you know.”

“I’m a creative influence,” Garrett corrected, standing up and leaning into Jonah’s embrace. “She needs an outlet for her intelligence and creativity or she’s going to go crazy cooped up here.”

“Sensin’ a kindred spirit?” Jonah suggested lightly, but Garrett could feel him tense up. Garrett chose to change the subject.

“How long before I can rejoin the ranks of the sighted?”

“’Nother half an hour or so,” Jonah said. “It’ll be just us tonight, though. Cody’s stayin’ over at a friend’s house. Our new neighbors have a kid in his class.”

Garrett suddenly felt chilled. “You found a place you want to take, then.”

“It’s a nice little berth. Three bedroom, two bathrooms, all hooked into Pandora’s grid…it’s really close to the park, and the playground.”

“Oh, the playground.” That was one place that Garrett had visited, although he’d been blind for all of it. He’d pushed Cody on the swing for a while before Jonah had convinced him to take a turn. It was old fashioned equipment, deliberately squeaky and quaint. “I’m sure Cody loves that.” Shit, shit, shit.

“Yeah.” After a moment Jonah placed a kiss on Garrett’s temple, then backed away. “C’mon, let’s make our way back home. I’ll make you dinner.”

“I’ll be able to see in half an hour, I might make you dinner instead.”

“After all the warnin’s you’ve given me about your cookin’? Thanks but no thanks, darlin’, I’d rather do the honors tonight.”

“Probably smart,” Garrett agreed.

They walked slowly back to Jonah’s apartment. It was nice not having to use the wheelchair in public, and Garrett never felt insecure when he was holding on to Jonah’s arm. Once they were in the apartment Garrett took over their motion and started pulling Jonah towards the bedroom.

“I thought you were hungry,” his lover protested with a laugh.

“I am, but not for food. How long until the bandage comes off?” Garrett asked eagerly.

“Twenty minutes.”

“I can make twenty minutes fly by if I’m giving you a blowjob.”

Fuck, Garrett,” Jonah muttered, grabbing him and pulling him back so that their chests were flush. “You…”

“Don’t you want me not to fret?’ Garrett offered, running one of his agile hands down Jonah’s chest and over the crotch of his jeans, cupping the growing hardness there. “Don’t you want me nice and relaxed?”

“More likely to be relaxin’ for me than for you, darlin’.”

“I can come from blowing you,” Garrett promised him. “I want to come that way. I want you to lie down and let me play with you and jerk you and suck you and make you feel perfect.”

“It’s always perfect with you,” Jonah confessed. “Never felt anything like it.”

Garrett pulled his mind away from the obvious love in Jonah’s voice, from the dangerous commitment it hinted of, and back to sex. “We haven’t christened this hall yet, have we…”

“Not in the hall,” Jonah replied firmly, keeping Garrett from going to his knees. “With my luck I’ll fall over and hit my head, or Cody will suddenly come home or somethin’.”

“How about the couch, then?” Garrett said. For some reason he wasn’t anxious to go back to the intimacy that was Jonah’s—their—bed, not yet.

“It is closer,” Jonah mused.

“A valid consideration, so the couch wins.” A few seconds later he had Jonah sitting, and a second after that he was sinking down, sliding his body over his lover’s as he dropped to his knees. Jonah moved restlessly, his fingers working their way again and again through Garrett’s short hair as Garrett pushed Jonah’s legs apart. He undid Jonah’s fly and freed his erection, leaned forward and hovered over the tip for a long moment, unmoving, just breathing moist, hot breaths over the head. God, Jonah smelled so good, like musk and sweat and warmth. Pursing his lips, Garrett placed a gentle kiss on the head, then trailed his mouth down the shaft until his lips brushed Jonah’s sac.

“You have no idea what lookin’ at you like this does to me,” Jonah husked. “Garrett, you look…” He trailed off into a groan of frustration as Garrett took him in one warm hand and stroked him, softly at first, gradually quickening. “Take me in,” he whispered.

Garrett didn’t reply, just smiled and flicked his tongue out, tasting his lover, lapping up the wetness that gathered at the tip of Jonah’s cock. Just before Jonah started to beg Garrett opened his mouth and inched down Jonah’s length, cataloguing every millimeter of it with lips and tongue. When he couldn’t see what he was doing, he relied on every other sense so much. Garrett had played around with sensory deprivation, of course, but it was different knowing that you couldn’t look. Knowing that he had no recourse was an incredible turn on, even though technically he probably could use his new eyes now.

Garrett sucked Jonah slowly, opening his throat on the down strokes to take him all the way in and licking his way back up before his lips crested at the head. He fondled Jonah’s balls, rolling and tugging and pulling them down when Jonah got too close, and the whole time he didn’t lay a hand on himself. The only touch Garrett got was Jonah’s knees pressed against his shoulders and his hands, his big, warm hands, tracing over the curves of Garrett’s head, moving with him, not forcing him down or deeper or faster but just taking everything he had to offer and cherishing it. It felt amazing, being held like that, and that was why when Garrett felt Jonah’s breathing really pick up the pace and felt the fluttering that meant his lover was coming start in his abdomen, he let his own iron control go and tightened his abdomen and groin and came, without touching himself, right into the scrubs he’d been forced to put on in the infirmary. A second later Jonah followed, filling Garrett’s mouth with his seed. Garrett heard his name as a long, drawn-out groan, and he swallowed and smiled and pulled away just far enough to lay his head against Jonah’s thigh.

“Holy shit.”

“I like being able to provoke that reaction,” Garrett informed Jonah a little muzzily.

“Did you—”



Garrett shrugged. “Practice. Motivation. You being you. Take your pick.”

“You’re a man of many talents.”

“I am,” Garrett agreed with a smile. “Hey, has it been twenty minutes?”

“Nearly,” Jonah replied after a moment. “Get up here.” He pulled Garrett up onto his lap and it didn’t matter that he was sticky and probably smelly and soon to be uncomfortable, at the moment it was absolutely perfect.

The video com beeped. “New message,” Jonah commented as he stroked up and down Garrett’s back.

“For you or for me?” They had started routing all of Garrett’s incoming calls over here a week ago.

“Looks like it’s for you. From Paradise.”

Garrett snuggled closer. “Does it say from who?”

“From Miles.”

“From my dad?” Garrett pulled back a little. “That’s strange. He never sends me messages. They either come through Claudia or we talk directly.”

“Want me to play it?”

“Sure.” Jonah shifted, and a moment later the message began.

“Hey, Gare.” It was Miles, and he sounded tired but also really, really…god, what was that? “I want to get back to Claudia before she wakes up so I only have time for a short message. Claudia went into labor last night, and an hour ago we delivered your new little sister. This is Renee,” and there was that tone again, and now Garrett recognized it. It was the tone that meant love. “Renee Emmanuelle. She’s seven pounds two ounces, eighteen inches long and cries fit to wake the dead, and she’s the newest member of our family that can’t wait to see you in person. We’re looking forward to your return, son. Claudia sends her love. I’ll call again once I can get all the family together.” The beep indicated that the message was over.

“Oh,” Garrett whispered. “Oh.” He turned towards Jonah. “Is she beautiful?”

“You can look for yourself,” Jonah said, and his voice was very soft. “It’s been twenty minutes.” He reached behind Garrett’s head and pull the mask’s adhesions loose, then slowly withdrew it away from Garrett’s face. The lights were low but Garrett was still cautious opening his eyes all the way. Blurriness slowly resolved as he blinked. The first face Garrett sought out was Jonah’s, seeking reassurance even though he wasn’t sure why.

“Do they look all right?”

“They’re violet,” Jonah murmured, framing Garrett’s face with his hands. “Like a newborn’s eyes.” He kissed Garrett gently. “You’re perfect. Incredible.”

“I missed seeing you,” Garrett confessed.

“Missed seein’ you too, darlin’.” Jonah kissed him again, then turned towards the vid screen. “Go on and take a look at your family.”

Garrett turned and saw the final still frame of his father’s message. Miles looked tired, but he was smiling down at the baby cradled in his arms. The baby’s eyes were turned towards the camera though, and Garrett could see that they were violet too, wide open and staring in that blankly curious way that babies had. Renee had black hair that stuck up in every direction, and apart from that she was pink and chubby and very much an infant. His little sister.

“She is beautiful,” Garrett said. He stared a little longer at the still. “He looks happy, doesn’t he?”

“Your dad? Yeah, darlin’. Why wouldn’t he be?”

“Were you happy?” Garrett asked, turning to look at his lover. “When you got to hold Cody, despite everything?”

“The first time I picked him up changed me,” Jonah said seriously. “I knew what he was, knew the problems, but holdin’ him…there’s no better feeling in the world than holding your child for the first time, knowin’ they’re yours. It’s scary as hell, but it’s amazing too.”

“It must be,” Garrett said, glancing back at the picture. There was so much possibility in a baby, all future and hope and nothing to look back on with regret. He shuddered, suddenly getting a taste of that fear Jonah had mentioned, and that his father had to be feeling even now. So much opportunity that could go in so many different ways…amazing, but scary as hell.

“It must be.”

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Four: Tipping Point

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. I know, I know…how can I leave it like this? Don’t worry, I can’t, not for long.


The day started with a fight. Not the kind of fight that Garrett preferred if one was inevitable, full of angry declarations, wild claims and drama that was resolved either with brutal makeup sex or a badly needed break from each other. It wasn’t the kind Robbie preferred either, which was purely physical, any interpersonal conflict resolved with fists and feet, knees and elbows, and perhaps a shock baton if you were feeling vindictive. No, this kind of fight was the kind that Jonah seemed to lean towards, which was to say that it wasn’t really a fight at all, more like a mass of unresolved feelings that tainted everything you did and said but maintained deniability.

Garrett had been expecting a fight. Truth be told, he would have welcomed a fight at this point, in the way that a child welcomes the sting of a needle because it means the shot will be over soon. It was time to stop living in a fantasy world where he could stay with Jonah and Cody without having to stay here, on Pandora, forever. Yes, he’d finish out the contract here, and if things went the best way Garrett thought they possibly could, Jonah would accept his lover’s decision and decide that they could still be together for the remainder of Garrett’s time here. If things didn’t work out, well, at least then they both would know and could move on, instead of being trapped in the limbo that was “maybe”.

Garrett had had his new eyes for close to a week, and in two days Jonah and Cody were moving into their new house. Cody talked on and on about how great it was and how much Garrett was going to like it, and both of the adults had been indulging his fantasy, but the issue remained, well, an issue between them. Jonah wanted Garrett to move with them; Garrett wanted to keep his apartment on board. Garrett had suggested splitting his time in an effort to compromise, but Jonah had been pretty adamant that he wanted Cody to be able to depend on Garrett. “We’re not part-time people,” Jonah had said, almost angrily as they went to bed last night. “I told you that from the start. Cody doesn’t need you around some of the time, he needs you to be there for him all the time. So do I.”

Garrett had rounded on that, ready to argue his side, but by then Jonah had sighed, apologized and gone to shower. By the time he came out he was mostly silent, not angry, and he clearly didn’t want to talk about it. “Not my place to tell you what to do,” he’d said before kissing Garrett firmly on the mouth.

It honestly wasn’t surprising that Jonah was a passive-aggressive arguer. He’d been raised a Drifter, and Drifters had to be charming as hell if they were going to make berth at any place in the central system, but once they docked they had to be prepared to bargain hard for the best deals they could in the time they had. Also, most likely the last time Jonah had had a huge fight with a lover was when he’d split with Jack, and that had resulted in a tacit exile from his family. No wonder he was cautious now with Garrett.

Especially because he loves you. Garrett knew Jonah loved him. They hadn’t exchanged those words but it was there in his movements, in the way he touched Garrett when they were together, the way he held him at night, the way he smiled. He hadn’t said it yet because Garrett hadn’t, and Garrett wasn’t going to, either. It was bad enough that he’d already admitted it privately to himself.

Which means you’re giving up on any possible future with the man you love, and his wonderful child, because you’re a selfish bastard. Yeah,well, of course it sounded bad when he put it like that.

The day didn’t improve with work. Garrett’s climate modeling unit crashed during the first hour, and the technical support staff were all busy out in Pandora City doing custom power and appliance installations for new homeowners. That left Garrett with trying to repair it himself, and while he was an excellent climatologist, he was a terrible mechanical engineer.


“That’s the fifth fuck this hour,” Lila commented from her workstation. “Don’t you want to just leave this for a professional.”

“I am a—fuck it—a professional. I can do this. I just don’t have the right tools, I had to jury rig the right soldering tip and the welds aren’t sticking.”

“You can’t use a soldering iron in one of those,” Shekar objected. “The backing is a non-conductive alloy, it won’t bond with typical solders. Let me see the module.” He wiggled his fingers imperiously.

“Fine.” Garrett gave the piece up reluctantly and watched sullenly as Shekar immediately discarded the soldering iron and began rummaging through his station for tools of his own.

“Someone’s being Mister Grumpy,” Lila said quietly.

“You’ve been spending too much time with your kindergarten teacher lately,” Garrett replied. “And how is Mr. Hugelin-Padin?”

“He’s fine, and don’t change the subject. What’s the problem?”

“Not one I want to share in any form or flavor, thanks.”

“Is it about Jonah?” she asked. “Did you guys have a fight?”

“What part of ‘not going to share’ don’t you comprehend?”

“Oh, you did,” she cooed sympathetically. “You know, it might help to talk about it.”

Garrett shut his eyes for a moment. “Lila…you are not Glinda the Good Psychiatrist. You don’t get to psychoanalyze me or encourage me to talk about my feelings, not if you want to maintain a decent working relationship with me.”

“I thought we were friends as well,” she said with a frown. “Friends share things that are bothering them with each other.”

“I have nothing to share. I’m not bothered, Lila, this isn’t my bothered face.”

“You shouldn’t lie to yourself like this, Garrett.”

It was becoming perilously easy for Garrett to picture himself bopping Lila upside the head with the soil sample she was currently analyzing. The sounding of his com saved him from too much temptation. “Yes?”

“Sir, you have an message coming through marked urgent.”

“Where is it from?”

“Planet designation Paradise.”

An urgent message from Paradise could only be bad. Garrett hadn’t heard from anyone there since his father introduced him to Renee. “I’ll take audio now.”

“Connecting you, one moment please.”

A second later Garrett heard Claudia, and a second after that he was glad he was sitting down.

“Gare, it’s me.” Her voice was nothing like he was used to hearing, husky with exhaustion and something else. It sounded like…pain. “There’s been an attack—well, there were a couple really, but they all happened at the same time. Terrorists launched rockets at your father’s motorcade yesterday while he was heading to the Parliament building and two of the vehicles were destroyed. Six people were killed…not Miles, thank god, but he was very badly wounded. He’s in an artificial coma for the Regen work and probably will be for weeks.” Her voice hitched and he could almost see her passing her hand in front of her eyes, trying to keep it together. She went on after a moment. “A bomb went off in the motorcade next to the barracks and blew up most of our troop transports, too. Wyl was injured, and Jane Freeman is dead. Robbie was out on patrol though, and he’s fine, he’s just fine.” Claudia sounded like she was reassuring herself as much as Garrett.

“Gare…I need you to come home, please. Just come home, for now, please. I need you here, Miles needs you, and Robbie is…Gare, come home to us. We’re your family, and we need you.” A pause, then she said, “I have to go. Come as fast as you can.” The message ended.

Vaguely Garrett could hear other people’s voices, a hand on his shoulder, overtones and gestures of concern, but for a few moments none of it really registered. Every fuse in his mind had blown, and it took several seconds for reality to seep back in through the haze of anxiety that Claudia’s voice had left him with.

“I have to go.”

“What?” He could hear Lila clearly now, and see her beside him, looking at him inquisitively.

“Never mind.” Garrett stood up, relieved his legs were steady, and headed out of the lab without another word. He ignored the shouted questions and forwarded the message to Jezria, walking fast along the hallway towards the nearest lift. By the time he reached her office, she was ready for him. Steven opened the door at Garrett’s first knock and got quickly out of the way.

Jezria was standing in the foyer, her face serious and sympathetic. Her voice, fortunately, was nothing but professional. Garrett couldn’t deal with comfort at the moment.

“When do you want to leave?” she asked.

“As soon as possible,” he replied.

“I’ll tell the control tower to be ready to open the environmental shield on your signal. Does your ship need fuel?”

“I’m not sure. Probably.” Garrett hadn’t been on his ship in months, he barely remembered the last diagnostics he’d run.

“I’ll have the technicians see to it. It will take as much as an hour for them to remove the locks and ensure it’s ready to fly, though.”

“That’s all right, I have to pack.” Reality flooded back into his brain and he groaned under his breath. “And I have to tell Jonah and Cody I’m leaving.”

“And a little more, maybe.”

“Yes,” Garrett sighed. “And a little more.”

“You’ve never shared very much with him about your family, have you?”

“He’s talked to them,” Garrett said defensively. “He knows where they live, he knows my dad is a politician, he knows I have a little sister.”

“That’s it?”

“What else does he need to know?”

“Oh, Garrett.” Jezria sounded disappointed. “Well, now’s not the time to be worrying about those sorts of things. Go and pack up, I’ll make sure everything is ready with your ship and call you when it’s done. Do you want to send a message to Claudia from here? I can give it priority.”

“No, I’ll call her once I’m underway.” Garrett began to turn, but then Jezria opened her arms and gently pulled him into a hug. He tensed, stiff in her grasp, until she sighed with exasperation and let him go.

“Get there safely,” she told him. “No pushing the engines too hard, because the last thing you need is to break down in the middle of nowhere without anyone there to help you.”

“Yes, Mother,” he said sarcastically.

“I wish I was, sometimes,” Jezria replied. “Give your family my love, please.”

Garrett flushed, feeling inexplicably embarrassed. “I will.” This time when he turned to leave she didn’t do anything to stop him.

Garrett had been planning on calling Jonah and Cody once he was all packed and ready to go, but someone had beaten him to the punch and they were waiting for him when he got home. Cody launched off the stool by the counter as soon as Garrett walked through the door and latched around his waist. “Garrett! Where are you going? Why are you leaving?”

Oh, wonderful. Garrett could have killed Jezria. The urge to snap and snarl was almost overwhelming, but he knew he couldn’t afford to give into that temptation, not with Cody. Once he was thinking straight he’d never forgive himself, and neither would Jonah.

“I have to leave,” Garrett said, and he thought his voice sounded pretty calm, all things considered. “My family was in an accident, and they need me.”

“Are you going back to Olympus?”

“No…my family lives on a planet called Paradise. It’s a little closer than Olympus.” Garrett slowly detached Cody and pushed him back a few steps. “I have to get ready to go, okay?”

Cody looked distressed, but he nodded and didn’t try to cling again. Finally Garrett raised his eyes to Jonah, and the flat, expressionless look on his lover’s face made his chest ache sharply. “I’ll help you pack.”

There was going to be no avoiding this. “Fine.”

“Stay here, bucko, we’ll be out soon,” Jonah told his son, ruffling his curls before heading back into the master bedroom. Garrett followed him, feet dragging a little, not looking forward to what was coming, not wanting to talk, or think, or do anything but fly into the black of space and leave everyone and everything behind for a while.

Jonah had stopped next to the bed but Garrett continued to the closet, pulling out a storage kit and laying it open, then turning to contemplate his clothes. Funny…they took up nearly two-thirds of the space in there, smooth and shining next to Jonah’s simpler things. Had it always been this way? The closet would be practically empty once his stuff came out, and that would just be…odd. What to bring…Garrett reached for his favorite blue suit.

“So. Your dad’s a governor.”

“Yes.” The blue suit went into the kit, followed by a dark gray pinstripe that looked fabulous on Garrett but that he hadn’t worn for months.

“The governor of an entire planet.”

“He had to do something after his military career.” Purple suit…no, kind of ostentatious, not the image he wanted to project when he got to Paradise, which would be…what, grieving son, stalwart friend, support staff? All of the above?

“Is all your family that illustrious?”

“Or infamous, take your pick.” The white, definitely, both of them.

“So you were never even considering staying here,” Jonah said, his voice hard in a way Garrett had never heard before. “Why stay here when you’ve got all that wealth and power waiting for you back there?”

“Yeah, and look at what that wealth and power is getting me right now!” Garrett rounded on Jonah furiously. “My father almost died, he’s in a coma. My stepmother is taking care of an infant and an insurrection on her own. One of my friends is in all likelihood running the entire military operation on that planet, another is injured and a third is dead. I get that you’re upset at me, but the last thing I’m going to do right now is let my family down because I’m wasting time trying to soothe your hurt feelings.”

There was a long moment of complete silence, with the two of them just staring at each other. “Got it,” Jonah said at last. “I’ll clear your things outta the bathroom.” He disappeared into the small side room and Garrett pressed a hand to his eyes, trying to control the sudden burning feeling. He couldn’t cry now, he couldn’t, this was not fucking happening…

“Hey, no, I’m sorry.” Arms came around him a second later and Garrett tensed like he had before, but it felt too good. He turned into Jonah’s chest and squeezed his eyes shut. “Don’t do that, I’m sorry, darlin’.” Jonah rubbed Garrett’s back slowly and rhythmically.

“My father gave up everything for me…” That was all Garrett managed before his throat closed off.

“I understand. He’s your dad, of course you’ve gotta go. I didn’t mean to start a fight.” Jonah kissed Garrett’s temple. “Better finish packin’.” He drew back from Garrett and squeezed his shoulders briefly before letting go. “Y’all right?”

Garrett cleared his throat, with some difficulty. “Close enough.”

“Good.” Jonah glanced over at the storage kit. “You want help in here?”


They packed the rest of Garrett’s things in silence, exchanging brief touches here and there, but they were friendly touches, not particularly warm ones. They were comforting but not really loving. Garrett felt the distance but there wasn’t anything he could do to bridge it, not when this was Jonah’s chosen way of dealing with Garrett leaving. Almost immediately after they were done packing Garrett’s com signaled him.

“Your ship is prepped and ready, sir.”

“Thank you.” He took the communicator off and set it on the bedside table. “I won’t need that until I get back. Will you hold onto it for me?”

“Sure.” Jonah glanced down at it, then back at Garrett. “Until then.”


“Hope your family pulls through this okay, darlin’.”

“Me too.”

“Let us know how you are, all right?”

“I will,” Garrett promised, his arms shaking with the urge to pull Jonah into his grasp and never let him go. He didn’t want to face this alone, he really didn’t, but there was no way he could ask Jonah and Cody to come with him. He filled his arms with his belongings instead and walked out into the living room.

The goodbye with Cody was long and loud, and by the time Garrett got to his ship his shirt was damp with a child’s tears and he felt so low that the autodoc on his ship insisted on giving him a mood enhancer before allowing him to pilot it. It was raining as he pulled out of the Neptune’s hangar, pouring down in hard sheets, and outside of the environmental shields the rain fell twice as hard. Garrett accelerated into the upper atmosphere and watched the water peel away, the final few droplets freezing against the hull as he emerged into space. The dark blue and purple of Pandora drew back, and as he accelerated away Garrett numbly mused that the planet was actually quite beautiful, much more so than he remembered it being when he first arrived.

Very beautiful. But gone in minutes.

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Five: First Separate, Then Recombine

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. But where’s the good stuff?!? It’s coming back soon, promise.


In the three weeks his trip took, Garrett almost burned his engines out pushing them to get to Paradise. It was easier not to sleep and have to deal with the dreams that inevitably came with it, so he stuffed himself with all the stimulants the autodoc would give him and spaced forty-hour periods of wakefulness with five hour stretches of sleep, over and over until he finally got the proximity alert for Paradise. An extremely thorough check with the tower got him access to the private landing pad for the governor’s mansion, and Garrett didn’t care that his ship’s landing probably looked like a drunkard slumping to the ground, he was just ready to be out of there.

He raced out of his ship and into the safe zone, where Claudia was waiting for him. A second later they were in each other’s arms, and Garrett couldn’t tell who was clutching who harder. She smelled different than she used to, warm and somehow fresh, but overlaying that was the slightly sour scent of fatigue, and she was trembling just a little bit. They didn’t speak for a long time, didn’t even move until one of the marines on protective detail cleared her throat and gently touched Claudia’s shoulder. “Ma’am, we should move back indoors.”

Claudia pulled back a little bit and wiped her eyes with the edge of the long white shawl wrapped around her shoulders and neck, then nodded wearily. “I know, Therese.” She kept her arm around Garrett’s waist and he kept her tucked close to his side, and they walked into the mansion flanked by eight wary, gun-toting marines.

The marines left them alone once they were in the private family wing, except for the woman, who after a nod from Claudia set down her rifle and moved softly into one of the back rooms. Garrett kissed his stepmother’s dark hair and gave her a squeeze. “Are you okay, honey?”

“No,” she whispered, her breath hitching in her chest. “But I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Is Renee okay?”

“Oh, God, yes,” Claudia replied, actually managing a chuckle, “Renee’s fine. She’s in perfect health, she’s noisy, she’s so beautiful…Renee is the one good thing I’ve got right now.”

“I take it Miles is still being difficult, then?” Garrett teased her.

“Don’t make jokes,” Claudia begged. “Not about Miles. I’m going out of my mind worrying about him, and the doctors still don’t have a good idea of when he’ll come out of the coma.”

Garrett couldn’t say he was sorry because he wasn’t, really. Jokes were how he dealt with his father. Thinking serious thoughts right now, when he was sleep deprived and skirting the edge of overdose on stimulants, wasn’t something he could handle yet. “He’ll come out of it sooner than anyone thinks. Miles is impossible to keep down.”

“That rocket did a pretty good job of keeping him down,” Claudia said bitterly, moving out of Garrett’s arms and towards the kitchen. She started making tea, the old-fashioned way, with a kettle and everything. Garrett sat on a bar stool and watched her move. Claudia had changed a little with her pregnancy, become a little softer, a little more curvaceous. To him she looked absolutely gorgeous, and he could only imagine how his father had looked at her. Claudia had gone from an environment of love, comfort and security to pain and panic overnight, and she wasn’t dealing well with the changes. Not that anyone could really deal well with something like this, Garrett allowed, but he was suddenly extremely glad he’d come, because Claudia looked like she was headed for a breakdown, and he needed to help her release some of that pressure.

“The doctors didn’t think Miles was going to survive at first. He was badly burned over most of his body, and then there was a lot of shrapnel.” Claudia’s hands shook a little as she poured the hot water into small white cups. “His head was mostly uninjured, but there was significant swelling in his brain before the doctors managed to get everything stabilized. He’s not healing as quickly as they thought he would. They don’t know when he’ll wake up, and even when he does they aren’t sure what he’ll remember.” Or if he’ll remember anything, her body language screamed.

“He’s in the barracks medical bay, in a separate room from the others who are being treated. Wyl’s there too—did I mention that?”

“You did,” Garrett said quietly. “Why is Wyl in a coma?”

“It’s just until the Regen is done working. You remember what a hard time he had watching Robbie go through the regrowth process on his leg…Wyl couldn’t handle watching it happen to himself, he was having panic attacks. He asked to go under until the process was finished.” Claudia glanced over at Garrett. “Do you want milk? Sugar?”

“Sure.” Not that he ever drank tea, or really cared what went into it, but she needed something to do right now. “So Miles is in a separate room?”

“Yes, it’s more secure, there’s a DNA scan to get you in. It’s only keyed to allow the doctors, Robbie, and Renee and I in so far. And you,” she added. “I put you on the list even though you weren’t here, because I knew you’d come as soon as you could.” She came over to Garrett and handed him the steaming cup of tea. “He’s locked in a Regen chamber, of course, but the doctors set it up with a microphone system that lets out voices get transmitted through the walls so that Miles can hear us if we want. They thought it might be good for him to be able to listen to the sound of our voices.”

“Right.” More likely they thought it would be good therapy for Claudia. “What’s Robbie up to?”

“Oh, poor man,” Claudia sighed, sitting down on a stool next to Garrett but not touching her tea. “Well, the parliament never got around to electing a lieutenant governor, so after the attacks a de facto martial law went into place, and Robbie is the highest-ranked military official, so he’s taken over almost all of Miles’ responsibilities. Of course the parliament is taking up a lot of his time, and he’s still running all of the security operations.” She shut her eyes for a moment. “If only Jane was still here, this would be a lot easier on him.”

“How did she die?” Garrett asked gently, taking one of Claudia’s cold hands in his.

“Jane was close to the epicenter of the blast in the barracks. Doctors determined that she died instantly, but it took a while to find the body.” Tears slipped down Claudia’s cheeks. “Robbie was frantic, you know, because Jane and Wyl were both missing and we didn’t have enough emergency responders who had security clearance to get survivors out quickly. Robbie found Jane first, and with her being the way she was when he found her, he got kind of…he was…”

“It’s okay.” Garrett put his tea down and pulled her in for another hug. “It’s okay, I get it. I know how Robbie can be.”

“Would you talk to him when he gets in?” Claudia sniffed. “I think he needs help, but he said he doesn’t have time for anything but working right now and that I shouldn’t worry, but you know me, I always worry.”

“I’ll talk to him,” Garrett promised. He knew what was probably going on with Robbie, and the answer right now wasn’t going to be pity or commiseration. Tough love could wait, though.

Just then the marine came into the kitchen. She’d taken off her armor and was carrying a squirming bundle in her arms. “She’s getting a little fussy, I thought you might want to feed her.”

“Renee’s always fussy after naps,” Claudia sighed, but a genuine pleasure seemed to light up her eyes. “Thank you, Therese.” She held out her arms and the other woman carefully handed the baby over.

“You’re a bodyguard and a nanny?” Garrett asked curiously.

Therese blushed slightly. “Bodyguard first, but I have three younger brothers that I helped bring up, and Claudia needed the help.”

“Therese is from Kalmia, like me. The same city, even,” Claudia said as she lifted the infant to her breast. The baby latched on quickly and began to nurse, and Claudia sighed.

“You should go lie down,” Garrett told her. “Get some rest. You look exhausted.”

“I’m fine,” she assured him. “I can stay up with you.” She tilted her head suddenly and stared at him with curiosity. “Did you change your hair again?”

If only you knew. “Not since I cut it short. And you don’t have to play hostess with me, Claudia, we’re family.” He reached out and stroked his little sister’s forehead, his fingers lingering on the tips of the downy-soft fuzz covering her head. “I want to go look in on Miles anyway.”

“If you’re sure…” she wavered, glancing longingly towards her bedroom.

“Completely sure.”

“Well, at least let Therese show you the way,” Claudia insisted. “And let me know as soon as you need something. I’m happy to get up and keep you company.”

Clearly she was determined to be helpful. Garrett decided trickery was the best way to go. “I’ll do that,” he lied courteously. “Go on, go lie down. Snuggle your baby for a while. Get her ready to deal with me.”

“Oh, she’s going to love you.”

“How could she not?” Garrett agreed. “Now get.”

Once Claudia was gone, Garrett turned to Therese. He could see a marked resemblance between the two women: both slender and fine boned, both dark haired and pretty. Probably distantly related, like everyone on the tiny moon of Kalmia was. The original settlers had been insular but very prolific. “I have no intention of waking her, just so you know.”

“Good,” Therese replied bluntly. “I’m glad I won’t have to lock her door to keep you out, then.”

“Ouch,” Garrett said, but he was smiling. “Feeling a little protective, are we?”

“Claudia has been through a lot. I was a little worried that you coming here would sap her resources further, but I’m pleasantly surprised to find you reasonable.” She motioned towards the door. “The infirmary is this way.”

They left the family wing and headed towards the barracks. “How did you pull guard detail?”

“It was left in Governor Caractacus’ instructions to staff in case of emergency,” Therese said, opening another door. “He wanted to make sure Claudia was looked after. He left instructions about you as well, but they were a moot point after you left.”

“You sound almost accusatory,” Garrett noted as they entered the infirmary.

“I don’t mean to be accusatory, sir.” Her tone was perfectly even and formal.

“It’s all right if you do, I don’t mind.” Honestly, Garrett didn’t mind; it was actually kind of funny to him. He couldn’t seem to do the right thing whether he chose to go or stay, on either Paradise or Pandora. Story of his life, and right now he was too wired to feel either affronted by the marine’s presumption or self-pitying over her insight.

They walked in silence through the infirmary, pausing only so that Therese could point out Wyl’s Regen chamber. His was the third in four rows of fourteen, almost all of them occupied. “Mr. Leyton is enclosed right over there.”

“Good to know.”

At the end of the main hall was a small, securely sealed door marked PRIVATE. To the right of the handle was a medical gauntlet. “Just let that take your reading and you’ll be let in.”

“Thank you.” Garrett watched Therese walk briskly away, then put his hand into the gauntlet. A tiny prick and a few seconds of whirring, and then the security system acknowledged him and let him in. Garrett shut the door behind him and walked slowly into his father’s private room.

It was cold in there, the faint light emanating from the walls and ceiling hardly enough to illuminate the chair beside the Regen chamber. Garrett walked over to the cylindrical healing unit and inspected the top. There was no window to look in at the patient, but there was a readout showing the current state of regeneration. Fuck, Claudia hadn’t been kidding when she’d said Miles had lost a lot of skin…he was only at sixty percent across his legs, eighty percent on his chest and back.

The chair next to the chamber was hard. It felt quite fitting, considering the mausoleum-like atmosphere in this damn place. Garrett sighed, then flicked the microphone on.

“So.” He felt like his voice should be echoing in such an empty place, but the room was too small for that. “Here I am. And there you are. You know, I really prefer being the one in the box. It’s a lot less work, none of the emotional baggage that comes with waiting for the other person to wake up. You could drown in the sentiment floating around here, and I’ve only spoken with two women and a baby so far. Not that Renee had much to say, but I’m sure she’ll be a stunning conversationalist given time.

“Claudia’s holding it together. This is probably more difficult than anything she’s ever gone through before, and she’s been doing pretty well from what I can see, but the cracks are there, and they’re getting wider and wider. I’m going to do my best for her, but my best isn’t you. She needs you, Dad, as fast as possible. If you could come back with your memory completely intact so we don’t have to go through any awkward explanations and additional emotional anguish, that would be infinitely preferable.

“Speaking of angsty subjects, thought, I’m perfectly fine with appealing to the lesser parts of your nature to get you to wake the hell up,” Garrett continued, letting a little of the anger and worry he felt creep into his voice. “You are an incredibly lucky son of a bitch, you know that? You have a gorgeous wife and a beautiful baby girl and, last but not least, me. You’re loved and respected by everyone on this planet who isn’t a terrorist. You’re in a position of power on a world in chaos. These aren’t the kind of responsibilities that benefit from time away from you while you mosey your way back to health. You’re fucking all kinds of shit up by taking your goddamn time in this fucking chamber, so get your mojo going and speed up your goddamn engine already!”

Garrett rubbed a hand through his hair tiredly. “I have to get some sleep, I’ve been up for a few days…maybe a week. I’ve lost track. I’ll be back later, though. Don’t think you’re getting out of this by ignoring me.” After a moment’s hesitation, Garrett laid one hand on the chamber, let the feel of its quiet thrumming soothe him. “I love you, Dad.” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually said those words out loud to his father. It made him a little uncomfortable, even though he was sure that Miles couldn’t actually hear him. “Wake up soon.”

It was somehow both a relief and wrenching for Garrett to leave Miles, but that was characteristic for them. There were other people who needed his attention right now, though. With that in mind, Garrett went to look for Robbie.

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Six: An Insomniac’s R&R

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. And this chapter is R, semi-superfluous R all the way. Did this chapter really need to be? I say yes, and to hell with furthering the plot


It was some crazy combination of luck, overall good or bad Garrett couldn’t tell, when he found out that Robbie was in the city and wouldn’t be back until the next day. He left a note on Robbie’s door, a message on his com and instructions for his adjutant to let Robbie know the instant he was back that Garrett wanted to talk to him.

His main plan sidelined, Garrett considered going and visiting Wyl, but Wyl probably didn’t have a microphone in the side of his Regen chamber. Besides, the thought of even pretending to converse with Wyl when he couldn’t talk back was just…wrong, somehow. Wyl never wanted for words, and Garrett didn’t want to sit there and stew in silence about how close his friend had come to losing his life entirely. Garrett would have checked in on Claudia again, but Therese very firmly told him that both Claudia and Renee were sleeping, and wouldn’t he like to get some sleep himself?

“Claudia had the guest room readied for you,” Therese added, trying to look conciliatory and failing miserably while wearing fatigues and fingering the hilt of a long-bladed shedskin knife. It was the kind of specialty close-combat knife that left a thin layer of the blade itself behind in a wound when you stuck someone with it so the wound didn’t close, and it looked completely incongruous on a woman with a cup of china cup of bright pink tea in her other hand.

“Is there anyone around for you to use that thing on?” Garrett asked, gesturing towards the weapon.

“You never know,” Therese replied with all seriousness.

“Right…” Garrett decided that a retreat was called for and made his way back into the guest room. Miles and Claudia would have given it to him when he was living on Paradise before, but Garrett had always preferred sleeping on his ship. That wasn’t going to be an option for a while, though, and he took a few minutes to get the room, more of a suite really, the way he liked it. The walls became a kaleidoscope of color, the corners darkening to an indigo that spread out across the ceiling and floor. The bed was soft and incredibly inviting, and once Garrett lay down he found that it was impossible to even contemplate getting up. He stared up at the indigo ceiling, unmoving, for a long moment before exerting himself enough to reach over to the computer terminal next to the bed and switch it to voice activation.

“Yes, sir?”

“Project a star chart of the Castellus region of the Fringe on the ceiling.”

A moment later the star chart popped up, Pandora and a dozen other planets springing into view as they circled a red giant sun. Only two of the other planets were remotely hospitable to humans, and neither had been settled yet. Neither of them were Garrett’s concern.

“Zoom in.”

The chart obediently became larger.

“Zoom in.”

It bloomed larger still.

“Center on Pandora.”

The swirling blue planet came to life, the clouds moving across it as though it was a true picture of Pandora itself and not just a representation. Garrett stared for a long time at the picture before he whispered, “Zoom in.”

The planet loomed larger above the bed, taking up more than half of his ceiling. It was a holographic projection, and from this angle Garrett felt like he could almost reach out and brush his fingers through the trailing clouds. He almost tried it, just to imagine the coolness, but he stopped himself at the last second.

He shouldn’t do this. He shouldn’t think about them. This dry desert planet was his world right now, fucking Paradise and the heap of trouble it had made for his family. That other world, a world of rain and cold and the most addictive comfort Garrett had ever known, was in his past, at least for now. He really, really shouldn’t think about them.

He shouldn’t because it was shameful. Every second he had slept on his way back to his family, his father and stepmother and brand new baby sister, Garrett had dreamed not of the people he was heading towards, but of the ones he was leaving behind. Jonah, tall, drawling, handsome when you first met him and captivating when you studied him, fearfully protective and welcoming all at once. And Cody, Jonah’s son, his beautiful damaged child. Born to die young. Bright eyes, bright hair, open heart…Cody had never been afraid to tell Garrett what he thought, even when it meant saying that he loved him. That was the last think Cody had said to Garrett before he left Pandora, that he loved him. The kid was braver than both his father or his father’s lover, that was for sure.

Fuck, Garrett didn’t want to think about them, but he couldn’t not think about them when he didn’t have control of his own mind, when he let himself sleep. It felt like a betrayal to his family here that he couldn’t give his all to them when they needed him. He could give his body and his will, but his mind and heart were hopelessly divided. Hopelessly. Hopeless. Kind of like how he felt right now.

Don’t say that, darlin’.

Garrett groaned and rolled over on the bed, resolutely shutting his eyes. “Don’t tell me what to think, jerk,” he muttered. “I want to wallow.”

Too bad. You’re tired, Garrett. Go to sleep.

“No. You’re always there when I sleep.”

Hate to break it to you like this, darlin’, but I’m always there anyway. Awake, asleep…love doesn’t let go. You can’t let it go either.

“I can get over you eventually,” Garrett insisted to himself, but the words were literally painful to force out of his mouth. “Fuck,” he hissed into the pillow. “Fuuuuck.”

Garrett knew that his Shoulder-Jonah, whether modeled after an angel or a devil, was right either way. He couldn’t just make himself stop thinking about them. It was too soon, he was too raw, and he was so tired right now, so incredibly tired…but now that he was in bed and thinking about Jonah he couldn’t stop, and surprisingly his libido didn’t seem to be nearly as tired as the rest of him. Garrett kept his face turned resolutely against the cool fabric of the pillow, but his hips pressed closer to the bed when he thought about the last time he and Jonah were together. Intimately together, at least.

Jonah was, and had always been, a top. His ex husband must have loved getting fucked because Jack had never even broached the subject with Jonah, if the man’s nervous reaction when Garrett first asked was anything to go by. Garrett had dropped it for the time being, happy just to be getting laid by Jonah as often as he was, which wasn’t nearly often enough with Cody around, but that was the way it had to be. After he lost his eyes Garrett took comfort in letting Jonah into him, in letting himself be touched and loved and cared for so intimately. He didn’t even think about asking for things to go the other way. Once he was whole again though, and once the tension started to rise as Jonah and Cody got ready to move, the idea came back to him. Garrett wanted to be the giver for once, not the taker. He wanted to make Jonah fall apart beneath him instead of falling for the other man. He wanted to fuck him.

Garrett hadn’t planned on bringing it up, though. Doing so would have smacked too much of resentful, last hurrah sex, of angry-ending sex, for him to broach it while things were so awkward between them. He didn’t want things to end, damn it, he didn’t want them to change at all, but Jonah and his son were moving on and moving out just like they’d always intended, and Garrett felt like all he could do was scramble to keep pace and try not to trip. So he left everything else the way it was as much as he could, despite wanting more. Funny enough, it was just when he was at his most accepting, just a few nights before Claudia called about the accident, that Jonah decided he wanted it.

In retrospect, Garrett should have known that something more was bothering his lover than this final aspect of his virginity. Garrett probably had known, subconsciously, but he hadn’t wanted to think about what Jonah was trying to tell him with subtext while they were lying naked in bed and all of a sudden Jonah was handing over the lube.

Garrett had raised one eyebrow. “Really?” he asked, delight edging his words.

“Been thinkin’ about it for a while,” Jonah replied. The lights were low but Garrett could feel the heat in his lover’s face, and the increasingly rapid beat of his heart. “I think I want it. With you.”

“Jonah…” Garrett straddled his lover’s hips and devoured his mouth, whispering in between kisses how good he was going to make it, how wonderful it would feel. He stroked over Jonah’s chest and arms and rubbed against the heat of his groin until all the nervous tension was gone, and only the needy tension, the kind that drew muscles so taut until they trembled for release, was left.

Garrett started with a finger. With other lovers he would have turned them onto their stomachs and lifted their hips, rimmed them until they were screaming for his cock, but Jonah needed different handling. You didn’t start with exotic with him, you didn’t leap for the new. The more they made love, the more Jonah wanted a connection to Garrett, until he almost never took him from behind unless Garrett specifically asked, because Jonah always wanted to see his face, wanted to kiss him and watch him and own every inch of him as they moved together. It was a desire that Garrett never got tired of, this feeling that if they had the time Jonah would be happy just being there with him, holding him and looking at him and delighting in the fact that they were together. It was a desire so frightening that Garrett had to try not to think about it, for fear that he’d start wanting it too.

One finger, one slippery finger moved in slow circles around Jonah’s hole, not penetrating, just stroking. Garrett stopped kissing him and just focused on his lover’s reactions, timing every movement of his hand to Jonah’s breathing and the minute quivers that rocked him. “Do you like this?” he asked. Garrett never had to ask to know, but he wanted to share that control with Jonah.

“I like it,” Jonah whispered, and Garrett eased his finger inside, pausing to savor the so-tight heat and watch thoughts flutter across Jonah’s face. They weren’t all comfortable ones. Garrett could have distracted his lover with a blowjob and stretched him on the sly, but for some reason he wanted them both to be completely present for this. He moved his finger gently, feeling the ring of muscle cling stubbornly, and he kissed Jonah’s cheek. “Relax, sweetheart.”

A few deep breaths later and Jonah did, prompting a grin from Garrett. He worked his single finger in and out, in, out, penetrating over and over until it was easy before adding a second one. Jonah’s hole clenched again, tugging him inside, and Garrett had to bite his lip and moan through his teeth at the feel of it. Slowly Jonah relaxed, slowly Garrett began to move and then he asked, “Do you like this?”

“I like it,” Jonah replied, a little breathless but more genuine now, almost eager for it. “Don’t stop.”

“I couldn’t stop,” Garrett told him honestly. He worked his two fingers with shallow thrusts, curling just enough to touch Jonah’s prostate and smiling when Jonah’s eyes went wide, and his breath stuttered in his chest.

“Holy shit,” Jonah muttered.

“Glad to hear it,” Garrett said. He added more lubricant and then a third finger, and this time Jonah didn’t wince, didn’t even hesitate as he began to move, tentatively, against Garrett’s hand. His eyes fluttered closed as Garrett stroked over and over that sweet spot inside of him, and once he started moaning Garrett’s patience was just about gone. He pulled his fingers out one at a time, watching as startlement flashed to regret and then understanding. Garrett slicked his cock, then asked, “How do you want it? It can be easier if you’re on your knees.”

Jonah laughed a little. “What do you think?”

“I think you want it just like this, you little attention slut” Garrett teased him. “So you can watch me make you go insane.”

“Might be nice too,” Jonah admitted, and then his grin went slack as Garrett eased his legs up and open and pressed in close against him. Close, but not penetrating him. Not yet. Garrett rubbed the head of his cock against Jonah’s crease, coming so close to slipping inside but not letting himself. God, he could come just like this, shoot all over Jonah’s ass and embarrass the hell out of himself, and it was so tempting because he knew it would feel so good. Being inside Jonah, though…that would feel incredible.

“C’mon, darlin’,” Jonah urged, rocking up against him. That was all the extra incentive he needed and Garrett pushed forward, slowly, past clinging muscles and into the pulsing reality that was being inside of Jonah. Fuck, he could feel Jonah’s heartbeat, feel it match the pulse point jumping in his neck. Garrett laid one of his hands against that pulse point, cupping Jonah’s face while supporting them with the other one, so he wouldn’t bend his lover in half.

“Garrett,” Jonah said, but it was all he managed before Garrett moved and his voice broke into pieces. A few thrusts and Jonah was reduced to mere syllables, simple sounds like “ah” and “mmm” and Garrett’s favorite, a wondrous, shocked kind of “ohh” that reassured Garrett with the pure pleasure it represented.

Garrett thrust deeper into Jonah’s heat, harder and faster as he realized just how close to the edge he was. Jonah would come the second Garrett touched him, he knew it, he just had to draw it out a little more, a little more…but he felt his own climax coming on fast. Leaning forward, he kissed Jonah’s swollen lips, then whispered, “Do you like this?”

“Love it,” Jonah groaned, “Fuck, I love it, Garrett, please, ohh…” He lost his words and Garrett lost his control. He slid his hand from Jonah’s face to his cock and stroked it once just before he thrust one last time and came, his orgasm streaming out of him and into his lover, pouring all of his hidden love and want and need with it. He barely noticed when Jonah came as well, gasping and saying his name. They hung there for a long, slow moment, both of them aching with the shared onslaught of pleasure, before Garrett finally came down and pulled out.

He curled up next to Jonah and buried his face in his lover’s neck, his throat suddenly stopped up with the intensity of too many unspoken words. So good and perfect and more and the leviathan, I love you, beat at Garrett’s vocal cords, trying to force their way past his stubborn tongue. He beat them all back, breathing slowly and deeply, soothing himself with the scent of his lover until he was back under control. Garrett cleared his throat.

“So. Do you think you’ll want that again?”

Jonah laughed weakly. “Only about as often as I’m layin’ down, darlin’.”

This bed smelled nothing like Jonah. It didn’t feel like their bed, it didn’t carry Jonah’s heat or imprint, and the room didn’t echo with his voice. But the memory of a bed that did, and everything they had done in it, sent Garrett’s reeling mind into a tailspin, and he came with a gasp and a shudder into the soft coldness beneath him. He would have moved, he might have screamed, but sly exhaustion finally won and before Garrett could do anything else, he was unconscious.

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Seven, 1 of 2: Reactionary

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. I know this is a short post, but I had to get something up before Thanksgiving or feel like a total bum. The second half of this part is almost done and will be up shortly. Longer too, I’m thinkin’.

PS-Happy Thanksgiving! Wait…what will I do without turkey cooked in a dutch oven?


Garrett tended to take most things in stride following his lengthy stay in a rehabilitation clinic as a teenager. The part of him that responded with the strongest emotions, the part that was responsible for real outrage and unspeakable joy, that part had been dulled to calm his brain and level his mood. Garrett still enjoyed a good fight and recent events had shown that he could still be depressed when the tragic or the unexpected hit, but for the most part he considered himself remarkably even-keeled. So experiencing real shock and surprise wasn’t something that happened very often, and after the last few weeks he’d had he didn’t expect to experience any more unless something miraculous happened.

It didn’t end up being miraculous, but what Garrett found out was a hell of a surprise.

He was eating breakfast with Claudia when he got the news. Therese was cutting up fresh fruit at the counter, Claudia was sipping tea and watching with amused eyes as Garrett tried to feed Renee from a bottle.

“She’s squirmy,” he muttered, trying to get the nipple to her mouth but missing and hitting her cheek instead as she wiggled in the cradle of his arm.

“She’s hungry,” Claudia corrected with a grin. “She feeds from a bottle all the time, Gare, you can do this.”

“It’s not the feeding, it’s the holding and feeding simultaneously,” Garrett said, trying and missing Renee’s mouth again. She wailed and waved her arms. “You’ve either got to hold still for this, honey, or we’ve got to get some tie-downs.” Finally he got the nipple to her mouth and relaxed as Renee started to suck voraciously. “Damn, you are an eating machine, aren’t you?”

“Garrett,” Claudia chided him gently. “Come on, it can’t be that surprising. Don’t you feed Cody?”

“Cody is six. I can call up a meal for him and sit by and watch him eat it and yeah, he too is an eating machine but I don’t have to do the feeding. Except for cutting things up into bites, sometimes.”

“He sounds like a good kid.”

“He’s a great kid,” Garrett agreed. The last time he and Cody had had breakfast it had been just the two of them; Jonah had been on shift, flying shuttles inland. They’d eaten waffles delivered from the ship’s kitchen and tried to balance their forks together over the top of a bottle. Things had been strained between the adults but Cody was happily oblivious, and the ease that Garrett had interacting with him was a palpable relief. Cody was so easy. So happy.

“You miss him? You could call them,” Claudia offered.

“Not right now,” Garrett said. “Later.” Later.

“Are you sure? I bet it would do you good to see a friendly face.”

“It would,” Garrett said. Then, just to be an ass, he continued, “Like Isidore. Does he still work here? I haven’t heard any mention of him for a few months.”

When he looked up from Renee, Garrett was surprised to see Claudia’s complexion draining to a pallid white. “Oh…oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you…I thought you knew, but I shouldn’t have assumed that.”

“Tell me what?” Garrett’s stomach twisted uncomfortably. He wasn’t in love with Isidore, but he did like him. “Is he dead?”

“No…no, Gare, he…Isidore is a suspect.”

This time Garrett’s stomach dropped clean out of his body with shock. Isidore Cain was a suspect in a terrorist attack? Adorable, gentle, ridiculously appealing Isidore? Whom Garrett had recommended to Wyl as a mechanic? No fucking way. Apart from all the other reasons, Garrett’s ability to judge people could not possibly be that bad. “He’s a suspect? Claudia, Isidore is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. He is not the kind of person to smuggle explosives into the governor’s military base and blow up his fucking motor pool!”

“Language,” Therese said severely, and came over and took Renee and the bottle out of his arms. She left the kitchen and left Claudia shifting in her seat, not really meeting Garrett’s eyes.

“No, it’s not that he did the blowing-up himself, but he let the person in who did,” she continued. “The cameras showed that it was his cousin. Isidore let him into the compound because he said he was delivering parts for a custom bike that Isidore and Wyl were putting together in their spare time. But instead he had a bomb, concealed in the machinery so the surface scans at the gate didn’t see it, and he set it next to the generator. He was killed in the explosion.”

“I do remember that.” Claudia had left him a message detailing that part while Garrett was engaged in his mad dash back to Paradise. “But that doesn’t mean that Isidore had anything to do with his cousin’s insanity. I can’t believe it.”

“I know.” Well, huh. Garrett had been expecting a bit of a fight about that. “I mean, I know Isidore, Gare, and I don’t think he had any involvement other than letting his cousin inside. But his father’s half of the family has a lot of ties to the resistance, it was one of the things that bothered Jane about hiring him in the first place but Wyl talked her into it.

“Once Robbie made the connection, he put Isidore into a holding cell. I know that he’s talked to him several times, but Isidore hadn’t been released yet. Robbie wanted to hold him as an enemy combatant.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Garrett pushed to his feet, anger surging through him. “If Robbie questioned him, then he’s already gotten everything he possibly can out of him. Robbie’s interrogations could make a robot beg for its maker and Isidore isn’t a criminal, he wouldn’t try to lie. He wouldn’t want to. He should be let go. He should at least be given legal counsel.” Garrett paced back and forth for a moment, then whirled to look at Claudia again. “I need to speak to him.”

“The guards won’t let you in, Gare,” Claudia said with a sigh. “They’re under orders not to.”

“Then I need to talk to Robbie. He gets back in today, right?”

“Garrett…” Claudia sighed, stood up and came over to him, placing a hand on his arm. “It was chaos. Robbie had to take control and fast, and Wyl had been injured and he was put almost immediately into a Regen chamber, you know how much harder he experiences everything and he just couldn’t take it. They barely had a chance to speak before Wyl went under, and everything was just…it was very hard, Gare, and it’s still so hard for Robbie.”

“I get that, Claudia, but that isn’t an excuse for him being an idiot.”

“You have to be kind, Garrett.”

“I plan on being kind, honey.” Garrett squeezed her shoulder gently before turning and heading towards his room. With Robbie, though, kind could mean giving him a swift kick in the ass, literally. To get away with that, Garrett had to be prepared.

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Seven, 2 of 2: Action

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 part is especially for my readerwife, who informed me that my lack of posting punctuality resulted in her battling the plague. Poor darling! Have some story and a nice hot cup of tea.


Garrett got Therese to help him find the parts and pieces he needed to get the maximum effect out of his upcoming confrontation. Putting body armor on felt strange—Garrett hadn’t worn it since he’d worked a job in a war zone almost twenty years earlier, and before that he hadn’t touched the stuff since his teens. But Miles had insisted that his son get combat mods and learn how to use them right, and that had meant practicing with the unsympathetic marine drill instructor that his father ordered to teach him and surviving several months’ worth of daily private lessons. By the end of it Garrett was screwing his instructor after every class, which made learning much more fun, but he wasn’t sad to say goodbye once the class’ tenure was over.

Learning how to fight as a kid didn’t mean that Garrett had any chance of lasting very long against Robbie, but he didn’t really have to last; that was the beauty of the armor. He just had to be there and moving around long enough to get the other man to open up. If he could have fucked the sadness and guilt right out of him Garrett would have considered it, but both of them had other commitments now and he knew that Robbie would never be with anyone but Wyl as long as Wyl was his, whether he was in Regen or not. It was just the way the man was wired.

Therese passed the word that Robbie was back just as Garrett got the last piece of armor locked into place. He put his cheat code into the programming, felt the locks between the joints strengthen and then looked over at her. “Thanks. Don’t let him leave, okay?”

“He said he would be in for several hours,” Therese replied.

“Even better.” Garrett twisted from side to side, testing the fit and flexibility of the armor before heading out of his father’s home and into the rest of the compound, the military section. The place was crawling with marines, and he got more than a few confused or disdainful looks as he walked along, but Garrett calmly ignored them. Just outside of Robbie’s office he was stopped by two guards.

“Commander Sinclair isn’t seeing civilians right now, sir.”

“That’s nice, but I’m not a civilian,” Garrett explained with a languid smile. “I’m the new political liaison for the governor’s wife, and there have been a few concerns raised over the legality of some of the action that Commander Sinclair is taking in his laudable and never-ending quest for the truth. My questions won’t take more than a few minutes of his time.”

“Your name, sir?”

The second marine rolled his eyes. “It’s Governor Caractacus’ son.” Moron, he added unspoken, but Garrett could read it in his body language. “Sir, I’m sure he’d be happy to meet with you at any other time, but Commander Sinclair specifically ordered that he remain undisturbed right now.”

“I appreciate that, but this matter really can’t wait for your commander’s next free minute, which I have the feeling won’t be until sometime next week,” Garrett replied. “He won’t be mad at you for letting me in, Corporal. I guarantee your safety.”

“I don’t think you can do that, sir.”

“Try me,” Garrett suggested winsomely. “If I’m wrong I’ll owe you a bottle of whiskey. The real stuff.”

“Great,” the corporal deadpanned. “That would give me something to drink when I get stuck with KP duty.”

“It’ll certainly make the time go faster,” Garrett promised him. The marine sighed and cast his eyes towards the sky, but he went ahead and opened the door. His fellow guard looked shocked and anxious, but Garrett just ignored them both and strode inside of Robbie’s office.

Well, what was now his office. It used to be Jane’s, and Garrett could tell. The walls were fuschia and the ceiling was cornflower blue, and neither of them were the sort of personal touches that Robbie had ever felt compelled to put into his work or living spaces. It was a big office, with a circular table surrounded by chairs, a desk and a large operational command projection laid out on one of the walls. Robbie was behind the desk, and when he looked up from his files and saw Garrett, his neutral expression didn’t change at all.

Well, it didn’t change to someone who wasn’t a connoisseur of everything Robbie, but Garrett had spent years learning to read the man. That tightening of the mouth meant anger, the barely-discernable squinch of the eyebrows was guilt, and the sudden relaxation of his fingers signified happiness, which Garrett was gratified to see. It didn’t show up in Robbie’s voice, however.

“Shouldn’t you be with Claudia?”

“She can live without me for a little while,” Garrett replied, sitting down in the chair across from his ex. Fuck, but Robbie looked tired. He even looked a little grayer through the temples, and that wasn’t supposed to happen with Regen charging your battery. “I thought I’d come by and say hello to you instead, since you seem to be avoiding the world.”

“I have work to do, Gare.”

“I know. I’m sorry about Jane,” Garrett said sincerely. “She was a brilliant person.”

“Yeah, she was,” Robbie agreed. He let his shoulders sag for a moment, showcasing how tired he really was. Robbie never let his guard down with people he didn’t implicitly trust, but even then it was rare.

“When’s the last time you slept?”

“I catch cat-naps,” Robbie said with a shrug.

“You should catch a real rest, in your own bed.”

Robbie’s jaw clenched for a moment. “I’d rather not.”

Garrett could see why he wouldn’t want to play shack up in his own place if it meant being alone. It was the same reason Garrett was reluctant to go back to his own apartment on board the Neptune. “Maybe when Wyl is up and running again.”

“Whenever that is,” Robbie said tonelessly, as though he didn’t know down to the minute when Wyl was expected to wake up. Liar. “What do you want, Gare? Because you’re not doing as good a job of mothering me as Claudia would, so if that was the purpose of this visit then she would be here instead of you.”

“I can’t just want to see you?” Garrett protested.

“Not under the circumstances.”

There was no beating around the bush with Robbie. “I want to talk about Isidore Cain.”

It wasn’t at all surprising that Robbie immediately sat back and shut down, the friend evaporating in the face of the military persona. “There’s nothing to discuss. Mr. Cain is being held as a matter of national security.”


“He has proven links to a terrorist organization, Garrett.”

“So what? I have proven links to suicidal psychopaths too, but that doesn’t make me one of them.”

“We’re still actively investigating all leads concerning the series of attacks on our forces,” Robbie continued as though Garrett hadn’t said anything. “Mr. Cain might not be a terrorist, but his connection to them is undeniable. He could be in danger from those connections if we were to release him into the general populace, or even into the larger prison system.”

Garrett gritted his teeth. “I get the protective custody idea, but Isidore shouldn’t be in prison at all. You know he had nothing to do with what happened here, or you’d have drawn and quartered him by now. He at least should have access to legal counsel.”

“No.” Robbie’s voice was implacable. “He stays where he is.”

“You’re being a real dick about this.”

“You can go now,” Robbie said calmly. “Give Claudia my regards.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No I’m not.”

Robbie’s eyes narrowed. “Yes. You. Are.”

Garrett pretended to consider it. “Ah, no. I really don’t think I am.”

“This is why you wore the armor, isn’t it.”

“I had been hoping it wouldn’t come to this,” Garrett said honestly. “But I’m not going to just let it go, either.”

“You’re asking to get hurt.”

“Oh, please,” Garrett scoffed. “You won’t really hurt me.”

“I could put you in the brig instead.”

“Good! Then I could talk to Isidore.”

Robbie sighed audibly. “You’re being a child.”

“No, you.” The cheat code that Garrett had put into his armor had given it more-than-human strength and resilience, and when he kicked the edge of Robbie’s desk, it slid back two feet and pinned Robbie to the wall. Wow. Garrett wondered for a second whether he should have turned the power down some, but after a second he didn’t have any time to consider it because Robbie was shoving the desk away, and his neutral expression had become furious. He was on Garrett in a second, picked him up and slammed him against the circular table a few feet away. Garrett heard the joints around his chest plate whine a little at the force, but they held. Good.

Garrett grabbed a chair off the ground beside the table and smashed it into Robbie’s back. Robbie barely even shivered, but it was enough space for Garrett to wrangle a little more distance for himself and to get a knee up between them. He used it to shove Robbie back and sprung up to his feet, then directed a fast thrusting kick towards Robbie’s midsection.

Robbie caught the kick and used it to throw Garrett onto the ground again. His hands automatically moved to break the ankle, and Garrett was glad he hadn’t neglected to attach any of the pieces of armor when he heard the ankle joint fixture snap into its furthest allowable configuration. Garrett grabbed one of Robbie’s feet and yanked, pulling him down to the floor. He punched him in the stomach and kicked towards his face, and when Robbie dropped his leg Garrett rolled off his back and didn’t hesitate, he just piledrove Robbie back into the table. Robbie managed to reverse them mid-throw and this time when Garrett hit the table, it broke beneath the force of his impact.

They beat on each other hard—not with abandon, because neither of them really wanted the other person to get hurt, but with intent. The chairs surrounding the table were splintered after a couple of minutes, but even when the two of them hit the door the guards didn’t come in. Garrett really did owe the one a bottle of good whiskey for going along with this.

It was hard, though. Robbie didn’t have on any armor but that just made him tougher to fight, because Garrett had to be careful while still not letting Robbie beat the ever-living fuck out of him. He had to push him just hard enough to start to break, but not to break entirely. He couldn’t let Robbie just work him over, though; if he did Garrett would just get thrown out and he’d be further than ever from reaching Robbie or talking to Isidore.

It was a fine line to walk, and Garrett was struggling to maintain it as the pair of them proceeded to trash Robbie’s office. The only thing they managed to stay away from was the tactical projection, and by the time Robbie was breathing hard Garrett was almost willing to take that out too, if it meant he’d survive another couple of seconds.

But then as fast as it had started, it stopped. One second Robbie’s hand was poised above Garrett’s face, ready to provide him with another black eye to match the one Garrett had already collected. The next second he was kind of collapsing, trying to fall in on himself and not being allowed to. Garrett fell down with him and a few seconds later they settled against the wall, Robbie with his eyes shut and Garrett sitting next to him, holding Robbie’s head against his chest. Robbie wasn’t the type of man who even knew how to cry, but Garrett could feel the tension releasing jerkily inside of him, resulting in sudden twitches and hitched breath.

“I only saw him once before he went under,” Robbie said after a moment. “I found Wyl in the motorcade and he was bleeding, there was blood everywhere and I had already seen what had happened to Jane. I went crazy looking for Wyl. I ignored people that I should have helped trying to find him and when I did, he wasn’t awake. And I had work to do, your father had been attacked and there were civilian casualties piling up out in the city… By the time I got back Wyl was in Regen. He didn’t wait for me.”

“It must have been really bad,” Garrett murmured, stroking back Robbie’s short hair.

“Bad enough. And I know Wyl didn’t mean it personally, I know that he can’t handle that kind of sensory stimulation without freaking out, but…well. You know.” Garrett just nodded, still stroking. “No Jane, no Miles, no Wyl. No one.”

“I’m here,” Garrett told him.

“For now,” Robbie sighed. “And it helps. Thanks, Gare. I think I needed this.”

“I’d say so,” Garrett agreed wryly, but he didn’t stop petting Robbie until Robbie finally pulled away, leaning his head back against the wall.

“I wasn’t joking about the protective custody thing,” Robbie said after a second. “People know who Isidore is and what his connections are. He’s gotten threats from both sides, Garrett. I’ve got a lot of marines here who are feeling vengeful, and none of his family members will come forward and claim him because they’re afraid of being targeted in the city, either by their neighbors or by the terrorists themselves. If I let him go he’ll end up dead, and if I let him into the legal system the first thing they’re going to do is get his status changed and have him transferred. I have a lot of things to deal with right now, but I’m not going to send this kid to his grave just because I don’t have time to work out a solution.”

“Then give him to me,” Garrett suggested. “Let me have him, as a pet project. I’ll get him taken care of and you won’t have to worry.”

“I always worry when you’re involved, Gare.”

“Well, you shouldn’t,” he retorted, “because I’m always perfect.”

“Liar. Why haven’t you talked to Jonah and Cody yet?”

Garrett scowled at the pointed non-sequiter. “Have you been gossiping with my stepmother?”

Robbie chuckled. “I know it’s hard to remember when she’s changing diapers, but Therese is still a marine, which means she debriefs me on what’s happening.” He turned calm if tired eyes on Garrett. “So what’s going on?”

“I just can’t talk to them right now,” Garrett said.

“That’s a dick move, Gare.”

“I’m not doing it to hurt them,” he insisted. “I’m doing it to keep myself from hurting, Robbie, which is exactly what will happen to me if I talk to Jonah and Cody right now. I need to be here, not there.”

It wasn’t the total truth, and the way Robbie was looking at him right now, Garrett knew that he knew that. Stupid ex-lovers and their stupid ability to read his stupid thoughts. But Robbie didn’t call him on it; he just shrugged after a second. “I’ll get you keyed in to see Isidore.”

“Thank you,” Garrett said earnestly. He kissed Robbie’s forehead, eliciting a smile from his friend.

“Whatever. Get out of here, Gare, and tell my marines they’re going to be on KP duty for the next week because of this.”

“Don’t be so mean,” Garrett scolded him. He groaned as he got to his feet, then reached down and helped Robbie up. “Go get some sleep, then come have dinner with us. Claudia is worried about you.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“be careful, don’t strain yourself with that.”

A final smack on the shoulder propelled Garrett towards the door with a smile on his face, even though it stung.

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Eight: Comes Around

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. Still not quite dirty, but very plotty. We’re tying up loose ends, people!


Therese had become Garrett’s unofficial escort around the base, and she was the one who walked him to Isidore’s cell. The marines guarding the brig didn’t look happy to see either of them, but they opened the door without question.

“Do people around here really want him dead?” Garrett asked sotto-voice as he and Therese walked down the hall toward Isidore’s cell.

“Enough do that Robbie won’t let anyone back here unaccompanied. You’re the only one other than him and the staff cook who’s keyed to get through the door.” She glanced sideways at him. “A lot of marines died in the explosion, and Commander Freeman was very popular. The marines guard in pairs to help prevent any accidents.”

“Accidents,” Garrett repeated with a small, bitter smile on his face. “This man is innocent.”

“So you say.”

“So I know. But you certainly don’t have to take my word for it,” he allowed. He looked more closely at Therese. “Are you looking for revenge too?”

“It’s not my place, sir.”

“That was a very nice and almost reassuring non-answer.”

Therese stopped outside of an opaque white door and turned to face Garrett. “I’m not going to do anything to harm the prisoner, sir.” She indicated the security pad. “He’s in here. I’ll be back for you in an hour.”

“Thanks.” Garrett watched Therese walk away, then turned back to the door. He was actually a little nervous. It was one thing to proclaim to all and sundry that Isidore was innocent, but when it came right down to it, Garrett didn’t really know the man all that well. He had been a lover, a fling, a few pleasurable moments in the timeline of Garrett’s life. But Garrett had always been a good judge of character, and he didn’t think he was wrong about Isidore.

“One way to find out,” he muttered to himself, then pressed his hand to the pad. After a moment it blinked an affirmative and opened, and Garrett stepped inside.

The cell was fairly typical, bare floor and bare walls, recessed lighting in the ceiling, a sink, a toilet and a cot. There were also a few atypical touches: a bedside table, and a tablet on it that probably held a lot of books, knowing Robbie. The cot had a blanket and a pillow, both of them mussed, and lying on his side but on top of the blanket was Isidore. As soon as Garrett saw him his heart clenched.

Isidore had changed. Not just an “oh, has it really been so long?” kind of changing, but truly physically altered. Isidore had been slim before, but he was pathetically skinny now, no more sweet, kissable tummy or rounded cheeks. He was even skinnier than Wyl, and Wyl had the highest metabolism Garrett had ever seen. Isidore’s dark hair fell lank across his face, way too long for him, and the silver insets were gone from his eyes, leaving them simple black pools of misery. His lips looked dry and chapped, and he barely seemed to register it when Garrett walked in.

“Oh, sweetheart,” Garrett breathed softly.

Those sad dark eyes suddenly seemed to revive, and Garrett could tell after a second that Isidore was really looking at him now. Instead of being happy though, he looked pained, and made a whimpering noise deep in his throat. Garrett moved forward but Isidore scrambled back, tucking his knees to his chest.

“Please, no,” he whispered, and his voice was broken. “Nonono, I can’t…you can’t…you can’t be here.”

Garrett knew better than to run on in, but he took a small step forward. “Why can’t I be here?”

“Because you must hate me,” Isidore replied earnestly, his lips stumbling over the words, “and I can’t take it if you hate me, I can’t hear you say that because…please, just don’t be here.”

“I don’t hate you,” Garrett promised him, scooting forward another few inches. “I know this wasn’t your fault.”

Isidore was already shaking his head. “It was, though, it is, because I let Jayce in. He’s my cousin and I vouched for him, it wasn’t the first time he had dropped off a part for us, but I should have been more careful. I knew he thought…I knew how he thought.” Isidore shrugged helplessly. “I just didn’t think he would do that. Who would do that?”

“You can’t predict insanity,” Garrett said with a sigh. “Not even the most highly trained doctors can always predict insanity, so how could you expect to? I don’t blame you for what happened, sweetheart.” He got close enough to the bed to gesture to it. “May I sit? I’ll stay on this side if you want.”

Isidore looked at Garrett for a long moment before shaking his head despairingly. “This can’t be real. You can’t really be saying this. I must…I must finally be crazy too. I’ve gone mad.”

Garrett snorted and sat down. “No you haven’t. You’re just being selectively deaf. Isidore, your cousin was definitely to blame for the damage he caused, but all you were to this whole situation was an avenue of attack. You were a way in. You’re a victim, not a violator. Now for fuck’s sake, stop cringing and give me a hug before I develop a complex.” He held out his arms towards the younger man.

Isidore stared at him blankly, like it was too much to take in, and Garrett thought for a second that he had pushed too hard, been too blunt, but then Isidore was hurling himself across the cot, jamming his head beneath Garrett’s chin and digging into his chest with his sharp chin. He couldn’t hold on very tight but Garrett took care of the holding for him, ignoring the discomfort of bony edges and enfolding Isidore in the hug he’d been dying to give him from the moment he saw him. For the second time in under twenty-four hours he had his arms full of traumatized ex, and even though the men couldn’t have been more different, the situation was similar enough that Garrett had to smile a little, just to himself. He felt like a fucking shrink.

The nice thing about Isidore as compared to Robbie, though, was he welcomed the affection. Not that Garrett could blame him, the kid was clearly starved of touch and attention, although he didn’t believe for a moment that Robbie would mistreat him. Still… “Have you been eating anything at all? Seriously, sweetheart, a few more missed meals and you’re going to be nothing but skin and bones.”

“I can’t keep anything down,” Isidore confessed in a small voice.

“Are you sick?” Garrett asked seriously.

“No, I just…”

Feel so guilty you can’t keep yourself fed. For fuck’s sake. Garrett sighed, part exasperation and part resignation. “You know, Robbie’s going to put in a feeding tube if you keep this up.”

“He already said that was a possibility.”

“Good. You know he doesn’t think you’re guilty either, right?”

Isidore actually laughed, but it was a dark, choked sound. “But he can’t let me go, because everyone wants to kill me.” His hands clenched unconsciously in Garrett’s shirt, and Garrett stroked a hand through his hair and down his neck. “My mother came to see me, but it was just to tell me that she couldn’t have me back in her home. My cousin’s family is threatening her; they told her to get me out, but she told them she couldn’t. She’s just trying to protect me too, but she can’t. Eventually they’ll have to let me go or charge me with a crime, and Commander Sinclair doesn’t want to do that. So he keeps me here, but the marines…” He sniffed wetly into Garrett’s shoulder. “I knew a lot of them. Some of them were my friends, the ones in the motor pool, but most of them died in the blast. The ones who bring me my meals, sometimes they talk to me. It’s usually not good.”

“That’s just them being assholes,” Garrett said hotly. “If you can identify them we can go to Robbie and bring them up on charges of misconduct.”

Isidore was shaking his head before Garrett even finished the sentence. “No, that would just make things worse. Besides, it’s not like I blame them. They have a right to be angry.” He lifted his face and stared into Garrett’s eyes. “So do you. Why aren’t you? I carry some of the blame for this, I do. I let him in, I helped kill Commander Freeman and put Wyl into Regen and hurt so many other people, and your father was hurt by the same people, fuck, Garrett…why aren’t you angry?”

Garrett framed Isidore’s face in his hands. “Because I’m not,” he said softly. “Not at you. I’m not angry at you. I don’t blame you. I’m not angry. It’s okay.”

He didn’t have a chance to say anything else, because a second later Isidore’s mouth was attached to his, heads tilted and their lips locked like lovers. Isidore moaned into Garrett, clutched at him with heat and desperation and Garrett…

It felt good. God, it felt so good, the sudden need and passion, this feeling that the man he was kissing would suddenly die without him. It felt like something Garrett wanted, or that he should have wanted, but as good as it felt…it just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like Jonah, and that was what would have made it right.

Fuck me, I am fucking ruined for life. He was ruined for anyone other than Jonah, he actually was. Garrett was more than in love, he was living in a state of voluntary monogamy. Motherfucker.

There was no way that Garrett could push Isidore away, but he didn’t let himself go with him either. He waited for the kiss to end, holding Isidore but not really responding, and after a few more seconds Isidore fell back. His eyes were wet, but there was a wobbly, self-deprecating smile on his face. “Too little, too late, huh?”

“It’s not you,” Garrett assured him.

“Sure it isn’t.”

Isidore’s tear-damp eyes went wide a second later when Garrett smacked the back of his head.

“I understand the compulsion to wallow, sweetheart, but you’ve done more than enough of that. Seriously, it isn’t you. I just happened to fall for someone far far away, and as it turns out I seem to be incapable of falling, however briefly, with anyone else. It’s not you, but we do need to figure you out.”

Isidore leaned back, not quite far enough to leave Garrett’s arms but far enough to give them both some breathing space. His hands trembled slightly where they rested against Garrett’s hips, another place to stay connected. He still needed that connection, even if it couldn’t be intimate, and Garrett didn’t begrudge him that. “What is there to figure out?”

“What you’re going to do. You can’t stay here, that’s obvious.”

“Commander Sinclair looked into extradition procedures, but there are too many legal loopholes for me to be sent to another planet, and I can’t afford to send myself.”

“I’ll send you.”

Isidore blinked, somehow opening his wide eyes even wider. “You can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because…because you can’t! Interstellar travel is incredibly expensive, Garrett, and you can’t afford to…” He paused, and Garrett grinned at him.

“Yeah, actually I can,” he confirmed. “I have to admit, my first thought was just to bring you back to Pandora with me, but I don’t think that’s going to work.”

“No,” Isidore agreed with a slow, sad shake of his head. His hands tightened for a second on Garrett’s hips before he forced himself to let go, wrapping his arms tight around his own waist. “It wouldn’t. But,” he laughed a little, mostly to himself, “I really don’t have any idea…I mean, I’ve never been off of this planet. I’ve barely even been outside of this city. I have no idea how to live out there.”

“I have friends who can help you out,” Garrett promised him. He did, too. He had lots of friends from the occasionally-misbegotten days of his youth, friends with means and opportunity and who also owed him favors, and he was more than prepared to cash some of them to set Isidore up. “You’ve got skills, and there are plenty of people who would pay for them. You’d have to head to a planet in the central system because I know more people there, but the basics would be taken care of long enough for you to get on your feet. We’ll get you released, and the next step you take will be onto a freighter headed away from here.”

“Why?” Isidore whispered. “Why are you going to all this trouble? We never really spent much time together, and clearly there isn’t—I mean—” He gestured back and forth between the two of them. “So…”

Garrett shrugged. In truth he felt more than a little responsible for Isidore, seeing as he was the one who had introduced him to Wyl in the first place and set this chain of events in motion. That wasn’t what Isidore needed to hear, however. “It’s the right thing to do. And I always liked you, and Wyl likes you, and you’re a good person, so please stop looking for ways in which this isn’t going to be a good thing for you, because I’m determined that it will be.” Garrett smiled broadly, eventually coaxing an answering smile from Isidore. “You got it?”

“Yeah,” Isidore said after a moment. “I got it.”

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Nine: Goes Around

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. OMG, next to last post! I’m hoping my first post of the new year will be the final part of Pandora. This is a very talky, exposition heavy section, I know, but grin and bear it. The last part will be dirtier than you can shake a stick at, I promise.


Garrett wasn’t a naturally organized person. It was one of many differences between his own and his father’s personality, and had led to a lot of memorable arguments when he was a teenager, but eventually he’d gotten it into his head that everything and everyone he enjoyed would be a lot easier to handle if he kept things like the names of his various boyfriends straight. He went from a laissez-faire slob to a conscientious planner, and the change stuck. As he took on more responsibility with work and his father’s career, he became more and more grateful that he’d bothered to learn the skills. Garrett could network, reference and crosscheck like a pro, and all of that ability was coming in handy now, because when life got busy naturally it didn’t stop at “busy,” it tried to kick his ass.

He had scores of contacts from his solitary days in the central system, and he tossed two thirds of them immediately when it came to getting help for Isidore. He needed someone patient, compassionate and relatively wealthy to act as a sponsor, and honestly Garrett’s tastes hadn’t run that way for most of that phase of his life. In the end he talked to several different friends before deciding on Symone St. Clair, the daughter of a Federation senator who lived in New Paris on the planet Solaydor. She ran a charitable organization now, but when Garrett had known her she’d been a slutty, outcast aristocrat who could find anything for anybody, good or bad. Since then she’d reformed somewhat, but she was still willing to do a favor for the right price.

“What do I possibly have that you want?” Garrett asked as they chatted via vidscreen.

“Nothing but your company,” she pouted. “And the name of your fucking tailor. You refused to give it to me when you lived here and you always looked so fucking good, and my Jeanine is finally leaving me for New Caledon and I hate to buy without the creation fitting me like a glove.”

“You’ll find him a place to stay?” Garrett pressed. “And help him get whatever professional certifications he needs to work there? Immigration visas, health screenings—”

“I won’t let your little lamb loose on New Parisian society, Garrett, don’t be so fussy,” she sighed. “He’s that good a piece of ass, hmm?”

“No prying, Symone.”

“It’s not prying, it’s gossip!” she exclaimed. “That’s totally different. And word has trickled down that you’re actually living on the Fringe, willingly. And that you’ve had a baby.”

Garrett burst out laughing. “I have absolutely not had a baby. Hell no. I’m dating a guy with a kid.”

“But do you want to have a baby?” She batted her long, violet eyelashes at him. “I bet you’d look super hot all knocked up. Some men really enjoy the experience, and you know, you could just have the uterus and it’s accessories put in without going for the entire changeover to female. Although either way you could always change back afterwards.”

“Thanks for the thought, but I don’t have any desire for swollen feet or awkward cravings,” Garrett replied, remembering some of his conversations with Claudia.

Solaydor was one of the most gender-fluid planets in the central system, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to swap sexes or create their own entirely. Garrett had slept with Symone several times when she went through her Symon phase, and might have stayed for longer if she hadn’t abruptly decided to switch back when she met a straight guy that she wanted to go after. As a result of their mental and physical flexibility, Solaydors had some of the most open immigration policies in the central systems. Incoming immigrants were judged more on their mental fitness and ability to accept other cultures than they were on their health or job set, and Garrett was sure that Isidore could pass the psych exam.

“When’s he going to arrive?” Symone asked, letting go of the pregnancy issue for now.

“In a month. He’s got a few transfers to make, but I’ll give you his Federation ID number and schedule. I’m giving him a com too, so expect him to call you once the distances get a little more manageable.”

“Gotcha. I can’t wait to meet him.”

Garrett hoped Isidore would survive meeting Symone, but she could provide the quickest avenue to an exit for Isidore. The sooner he left Paradise, the better.

The plan was made in one week, getting the equipment and documents Isidore needed took a second week, but the delay was all right since it took that long for Isidore to regain most of the weight he’d lost and learn the basics of interstellar travel. Garrett lent his ship to Thérèse to drop Isidore off at the nearest space station that ran regular trips back to the central system, because even if Thérèse wasn’t crazy about him, she wasn’t going to screw him over either.

“I don’t know how to thank you,” Isidore told Garrett as they said goodbye, his mouth muffled against Garrett’s shoulder.

“Don’t thank me. Just go and don’t look back.” Garrett kissed his cheek and then let Isidore go. “And keep in touch with me, all right? I’ve paid for service on your com for six standard months, so don’t let it go to waste.”

“I won’t, I promise.”

Seeing Isidore leave was satisfying and more than a little bit of a relief. One thing down, a seeming thousand others to go. Wyl had regenerated to the point that the doctors had decided to wake him up, and Garrett wanted to be there for that, but he had to deal with some family troubles first. Not with his father, who was still comatose, and not with Claudia or Renee, but with his grandmother, who had decided that she needed to take a larger role in her son’s life now that he could no longer fight her about it. Claudia was afraid of defying Dame Mildred Caractacus, but Garrett, who was more than accustomed to pissing off his grandmother, took point on the issue.

He let his grandmother’s call come through on the video, then muted it before she had a chance to say anything. “Hi, Millie.” He watched her carefully sculpted mouth make a moue of vicious disdain. Mildred Caractacus had seen more surgery than a ward of cardiac patients in her lifetime, and these days she looked like the most brittle twenty-five year old that Garrett had ever seen. After a few centuries not even grafts and Regen could hide the passage of time, and Garrett had the feeling that Mildred was growing herself a transplant shell in some hidden underground bunker. He watched her mouth move for a few seconds, then said, “Oh, sorry, we’ve lost sound capacity. I actually can’t hear a word you’re saying.”

Well, get it back! she mouthed. Garrett tilted his head and frowned like he didn’t know how to read lips. “Wait, is this about your trip? Because there’s really no room for you here, Millie, the mansion is completely full right now and anyway, I can’t approve your temporary visa.” He saw her say something about Claudia but feigned ignorance. “Bother? Oh, it’s no bother for me to pass the information along. Maybe you can come next year, once Dad is up and running again. No change recently with him, by the way, but thanks for asking.”

I wasn’t asking that! he saw her say.

Garrett’s face lost all expression and he leaned in toward the vidscreen. “No, but you should have been,” he said grimly before canceling their link. The com beeped again a few moments later, and Garrett went on to block Mildred’s com signature from getting through.

Claudia covered her mouth with one hand from where she sat off screen. “She’s going to be furious.”

“Furious at me.”

“And at me, Garrett.”

“Yeah, and at Dad, but it’s going to be okay. He’ll be awake soon and he can take care of her from there. I’m just running interference.”

“She’s your family,” Claudia reprimanded him gently. “I don’t know why you and Miles have always been so upset with her.”

“Millie’s something of a perfectionist,” Garrett replied with a twisty little smile. “She hated the bad publicity my mother’s death brought on her family, and she recommended that my father disown me when I went through my own difficult period. Dad disagreed, obviously, and they haven’t been civil to each other ever since.” He held out his arms. “Gimme baby, I need oblivious cuddling.”

Claudia rolled her eyes but moved over to sit next to him and handed him Renee. “She looks bigger,” Garrett said, shifting the sleeping baby in his arms so that she rested more horizontal. “I haven’t even been back a month, but she looks bigger to me.”

“Little babies grow so fast,” Claudia agreed. “Miles is missing it. I feel so bad, like I should be filming her, capturing every moment so that he can relive it later and see what he didn’t get to, but I just don’t have the energy.”

“He’ll see plenty,” Garrett predicted. “I mean, she’s not even crawling or talking yet. All he’s missed is watching her eat and make messes in her diapers, which isn’t exactly compelling.” Claudia smacked the top of his head. “Although she’s so cute that everything she does is special,” he added with a grin.

“Nice try, mister. Have you talked to Jonah and Cody?”

“I heard from them last night,” Garrett replied. “They sent me a vid of their new house. They’re almost all moved in, apparently.” Toys were already littering the floor and getting in Jonah’s way. It hadn’t taken long for Cody to forget the time he used to spend making sure the floor was clear so that Garrett didn’t fall and trip over any of them when he was blind. Cody had held onto the portable projector and taken Garrett all around the house for the message, leaving a few rooms unopened that he described as “just full of Daddy’s stuff.”

His bedroom was pretty large for a small child, and the walls were sunshine yellow and made to look like fields stretching out into the distance. Garrett had no idea why Cody had chosen that simulation for his room, the kid had never lived anywhere with fields, but maybe it was the oddity that appealed to him.

“I got a new Space Ranger,” Cody said, and he set the projector down on the floor and picked up a foot-high doll. “The black Ranger. He’s new, his name is Dallas. He has a really cool special move.” Cody gave a command and the doll jumped into the air and kicked his legs out to the sides, then managed a front flip before landing in a crouch. “Isn’t he cool? There’s another new Ranger out that’s white too, but Daddy says I don’t get to have her until my birthday. But that’s not until forever, but he says I need to learn to be patient but I don’t want to.” Cody sighed massively. “He’s grumpy, so you should come home and we can cheer him up.”

Jonah had looked okay when he came on screen. Tired, but still absolutely gorgeous. “Hey, darlin’. I hope things are looking up for you and your family. We’d love to talk to you, Garrett. Call us when you can.”

Garrett had taken the coward’s way out and sent them a message instead, and then he had been unable to go to sleep for three hours until he finally jerked himself off, picturing Jonah the whole time. Bastard.

Still, he felt relatively alert and fresh the next day when the doctors took Wyl out of Regen. Robbie was there, not pacing but set and still in that watchful way that meant he was tenser than a taut wire.

The Regen tank was drained, Wyl was taken off the respirators and then the top of the tank was opened up. It shouldn’t have been enough to wake Wyl up; he’d been under sedation for weeks and usually it took an injection of strong stimulants to get the subject stirring, but then Wyl always had to be different. Five seconds after the tank was cracked open his eyes were fluttering, and five seconds after that they were wide open and he was speaking. His voice was hoarse, he was still covered with the viscous healing gel of Regen and beneath that he was stark naked, but he either didn’t notice or didn’t care.


Robbie stepped forward stiffly, reaching a hand in towards Wyl. Wyl got a grip and pulled himself up against his lover, holding him in a brutally tight grip. “Fuck, ‘m sorry, I’m so sorry, I knew you would be upset but I couldn’t wait but I wanted to, Rob, I swear I did but I just couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t...” After a second Robbie’s arms mirrored Wyl’s, coming around to hold him up and close and so tight that you didn’t have to be an empath to know that this was a desperately intimate moment, the kind of moment that didn’t need a lot of outside eyes intruding.

“Come on,” Garrett whispered to Claudia as he gently pulled her back towards the hall. “We’ll come by and say hi later.”

“Right…” Claudia replied, a little dazedly. They left the room but instead of heading back towards the living quarters, Claudia pulled away from him. “I think—I think I need to go see Miles. I need to talk to him for a while.”

“Okay,” Garrett replied. He watched her walk towards his father’s sealed room and gave himself one moment to feel the kind of pity he knew Claudia didn’t want, then went back to their living quarters.

Thérèse was with Renee and didn’t seem to have any intention of handing her over, and so Garrett went to his room and lay down on his bed. After a few minutes he took his journal off the table beside him and opened it up. The little cartoon hopped to brisk attention. “Journal Record Twenty-Three Recording!” it shouted. The tiny machine clicked, and Garrett knew he was supposed to start talking, but he didn’t know how to start. He couldn’t even parse it all out in his mind, how could he possibly make his thoughts intelligible enough to be spoken? Eventually though, words did start come through.

“I think…I might be…an idiot. I think it’s entirely possible that I’m too much of a fool to keep the good things that seem to come my way, which you’d think would indicate that I don’t deserve them, but…I still want them. I want them more and more every day, yet I’m awful at expressing that. But I also think that it’s past time I work through it. And I need to do that fast, because I’m starting to feel hollow and I know that when my dad wakes up it will help, but I know now that what I need most in my life isn’t something I can find here. I’m just afraid I’ve already fucked that it all beyond repair. I do that.

“Miles needs to wake up and he needs to do it fast, because we need him back and then I need to go. I really, really need to go.” He paused for a second, then shut the journal down and rolled back out of bed. Whether she needed it or not, Thérèse was going to get some help with Renee, and Garrett needed to use the house’s off-planet connection to order something anyway.


Two weeks later, Miles woke up. His awakening was much more structured than Wyl’s, more gradual and controlled. The doctors had given them a few days to get used to the idea and prepare things back at home for Miles before doing the deed, and Claudia was a nervous wreck the whole time.

“He might not remember us.”

“They can do some restoration therapy if that’s the case,” Garrett said reassuringly as he stirred a pot on the stove under Thérèse’s watchful eye. “But he’ll remember.”

“He might not.”

“He will.”

“He might have changed emotionally,” Claudia continued, her worry unabated. “That can happen sometimes coming out of a long Regen. He might remember us but not love us anymore.”

Good fucking lord, had Garrett ever been this insecure? He dropped the spoon, earning himself a smack on the shoulder from Thérèse, and went over and sat next to Claudia on the couch. “Sweetheart, of course he’s going to love you. Even if he didn’t remember you, he would love you. How could he do anything else? You’re awesome. Your baby is awesome. And hell, I’m obviously awesome, so how can he not remember and adore us?”


“You need to calm down. It’s going to be fine. Want a sedative? Maybe a drink to soothe your nerves?”

Claudia huffed an amused sigh. “I’m breastfeeding, Garrett.”

“You have packets and packets of that stuff stored up. You can afford to go out on a limb and have a glass of wine without polluting your baby.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Crass,” Thérèse muttered from the stove.

“Don’t talk about my stepmother that way!” Garrett protested, and got glares from both women for his trouble. “Fine, I see that my attempts at levity are unappreciated. I’ll just sit here quietly and brood with you.” He put a mock-tortured expression on his face. “Oh no, will he remember the color of my hair? Will he remember the time I crashed his official car when I was ten? Will he retroactively punish me for the tree incident?”

“What tree incident?”

“You don’t want to know,” Garrett assured her. “Let’s just say I barely escaped with my life after destroying some very public property and leave it at that. By the time Miles found out it was a little late to ground me, thankfully.”

“You must have been a frightening child,” Thérèse commented.

“The emotionally supportive term is ‘challenging,’” Garrett replied, and changed the topic before she could say anything else. “The doctors want us there in half an hour. Do you want to get gussied up or anything?”

Claudia’s eyes went wife, and she glanced down at herself in horror. “Oh God yes. Oh, I have to hurry.” She checked that Renee was still sleeping in her bassinet before rushing over to her bedroom and shutting the door behind her.

“You don’t need to be adding to her stress,” Thérèse chided.

“Are you kidding me? I’m making her happier. She’ll spend the next twenty-five minutes doing her hair and putting on makeup she doesn’t need instead of worrying about Miles and what he may or may not remember.”


“Still nothing. Stop talking to me and stir.” That got him a dirty look, but Thérèse did keep stirring the pot, which was beginning to smell delicious. Garrett didn’t tell her that, though. She didn’t need the encouragement.

They weren’t allowed in for the process of actually removing Miles from the Regen tank, cleaning him up and getting his first impressions like they had been with Wyl. Miles was a more medically complicated case, but after about ten minutes one of the doctors came out with a smile on his face, looked at Claudia and said, “He’s asking for you.”

“Oh,” she breathed. Her arms were shaking slightly as she held her baby, and Garrett was almost tempted to offer to take Renee, but he knew Claudia wouldn’t give her up now. She wanted them to be reintroduced as a unit, and there was no denying that her daughter was an emotional support Claudia badly needed.

“Get going,” Garrett said. He gave her a little push towards the door. She went, the doctors left and the door shut. Garrett looked around the barren hallway, figured it would be a while before he was needed, and called up Wyl. “Bring cards.”

Wyl came, looking as healthy and normal as he ever did after two weeks out of Regen, and they sat cross-legged on the floor and played poker.

“How’s Robbie?”

“Busy as hell,” Wyl replied, but the smirk on his face was very informative. Garrett groaned.

“Glad your homecoming party has been so vigorous.”

“What can I say, absence makes his heart grow fonder,” Wyl said, and the smirk spread into a grin. “And abstinence makes his—”

“Stop, I already know, and please don’t talk to me about abstinence.”

“Feeling a little pent up?” Wyl asked as he laid down a straight flush. “A little…restricted? A little unfucked?” Garrett sighed and folded.

“No. Maybe.”


“Shut up.”

“Whatever,” Wyl said. “You’re so pining for Jonah. You can’t even touch yourself, can you?”

“Of course I can.”

“Not without thinking of him,” Wyl predicted.

“Shut up.”

“You’re just so adorable.”

“Seriously Wyl, I don’t care if you’re fresh out of the tank, I will hurt you.”

“Then Robbie will seek terrible revenge on you.”

“It might just be worth it,” Garrett warned, staring at his cards. Three queens. He had to win. He laid his cards down and Wyl nodded his head for a moment, impressed, before he put down three kings.

“Son of a bitch.”

“I’m a lucky guy,” Wyl said expansively, collecting the cards again. “I’ve got Robbie, I’m alive and fully functioning, I still have a job…thanks for what you did for Izzie, by the way.”

“You call him Izzie?”

“It was that or Door.” Wyl shrugged. “And honestly it was just as much my fault that that dumbass got into the compound, because I was the fucking supervisor and I could have checked the guy out more, but I didn’t.”

“Don’t dwell on it,” Garrett advised him. They both glanced over at the closed door.

“How long do you think they’ll be at it before they remember you?”

“If I’m lucky,” Garrett said, gathering up the cards and shuffling them, “all day.”

In the end it was only about two hours, but that was long enough for Garrett’s ass to get numb and for him to lose ninety percent of the poker games he and Wyl played. Usually Garrett was pretty decent at poker, so he figured Wyl was cheating and informed him of this suspicion. Wyl just laughed, gathered up his cards and left when Claudia came out of the room, looking just disheveled enough and holding a squirming Renee.

“Are you ready to go in?” she asked him, the brilliance of her smile lighting up her entire face.

“Sure,” Garrett replied easily, getting to his feet. “I take it your reunion went well.”

“Yes,” she murmured, her hips swaying back and forth to a gentle , unconscious rhythm as she rocked her baby. “Very well. After you two talk the doctors will check Miles’ blood work again and then he’ll come back to the house. They don’t want him stressing over his duties yet, so he’s going to take another week off just to be with us.”

“Good,” Garrett said. He kissed the top of Claudia’s head, then went into the room that had formerly held his father’s Regen tank. Now there was a bed, and the lights were bright and his father was awake, sitting on the bed in loose pants and a short-sleeved shirt and looking a decade younger than he had the last time Garrett saw him. “Dad.”

Miles smiled. “Son.”

“Nice to see you up and about,” Garrett said. “You took your sweet time,” he added.

“Sorry about that.”

“Yes, well…see that it doesn’t happen again.” After another second of just looking at each other Garrett came over and sat down on the bed, and he tried not to feel too much like a kid again when his father slid an arm around Garrett’s shoulders.

“Where are your boys?”

“They stayed on Pandora, Dad.”

“You’ve been away from them for a while, then.”

Nearly two months. “I have. But I needed to be here.”

“I’m glad you came.” Miles smiled. “Claudia couldn’t praise you enough. Thanks for everything you’ve done for her.”

“I couldn’t do anything else,” Garrett replied seriously.

Miles stared at him for a long time, totally silent, doing that assessing thing that he did that Garrett had hated as a child, because his father could always read him like a book if he could get him to hold still long enough, which was one reason he’d never stopped moving. “But now you can, Gare,” Miles said at last.

“I will,” Garrett said, and it felt so good to have it out there, even if obliquely. His father knew what he meant. “As soon as I’m sure you’re okay.”

“Soon, then.”

“Yes,” he said, finally returning his father’s embrace. They held each other tight, reconnecting with flesh and bone and breath, and Garrett felt lighter than he had for months, maybe years. Soon. Soon he would leave. Soon he would be back where he was needed now, and where he needed to be. He thought maybe he was finally ready for it.

Title: Pandora

Part Thirty: Climax, Literally

Notes: Long notes section this time, guys, since this is the LAST PART OF PANDORA!!! I know, I kind of thought it would never end, but it has. The final product in it’s current state is 90k words long and took me over a year to write. I’m going to be polishing it up for posting on Literotica, but I doubt I’ll make any major changes. Thank you so much for sticking it out and waiting, through thick and thin, Togo and America, for me to finish this darn thing. I kind of love Garrett and I wish I had more to say about him, but for now his tale is HEA. Special thanks to my readerwife for commenting all the time, which is basically like feeding my brain, and to everyone else who commented and thus made me a happy, happy girl. I wuv you all.

PS, as if it isn’t apparent from the title, this section has dirty scenes. R-rated at least. Don’t go there if you can’t take the heat.

PPS, I will be begging for fic suggestions/preferences in my next post, most likely, so think about it. I already have a request for more in The Captain series, which I will do, but those stories don’t really lend themselves to being written as serials, and I’m going to need something to keep you all visiting my blog.


Nervousness, Garrett told himself firmly, was for other people. He didn’t do nervous. Nervous saw him coming and transformed immediately into cockiness, because nervous just didn’t fit Garrett. Especially not when he had almost nothing to be nervous about. Right? It wasn’t like everything wasn’t going exactly the way he wanted it to so far. No, everything was working out perfectly.

Miles had been given the gold star of approval over his health a few days after he was revived. Garrett had tried to stay on the periphery as his father got reacquainted with his younger family, with limited success. It was kind of sweet, actually, the way Miles always had to have an arm around Claudia or Renee in his arms. It was kind of annoying that Garrett was drawn into the gravitational pull of his father’s recovery instead of keeping his distance and making plans to leave, but he didn’t fight it too hard. Miles and Garrett were friends as well as father and son, and had been for most of Garrett’s life, but it had been a long time since his father had reached out to him so casually, or so often. Not since Garrett had gotten out of rehab as a teenager, still aching and confused and afraid, had Miles ruffled his hair or squeezed his shoulder or hugged him like he was now. Annoyingly, it took Wyl to explain it to Garrett.

“He’s not really doing it for you,” Wyl had sighed, saying it like it was the most obvious thing on the face of the planet. “He’s doing it for himself. The man’s been out of the loop for months, he wakes up and has to relearn his whole life, and you’re a big part of that life whether you want to be or not, Gare. Miles is just reassuring himself that you’re really there. Hand me that wrench.”

Garrett had handed over the tool with a frown. “Did you do the same thing with Robbie?”

“What, go through a clingy phase? Yeah, but that’s not all that different from how we are most of the time,” Wyl replied, and Garrett could hear the grin in his voice. “Just give your dad a little more time.”

“I have to head back, Wyl.”

“Back to Pandora?”

“Yes.” Garrett shook his head slightly. “Although I’m really not sure why I’m so eager to get there. I know I love Jonah, I know I’m in love with him, but I’ve got such a fucking miserable track record with relationships. One man has never been enough for me in the long run. How do I know this is going to turn out any different?”

Wyl had crawled out from under the ship and scowled irritably over at Garrett. “You know, you have got to be the most beautiful, most brilliant, most clueless dumbass I’ve ever met.”

Garrett blinked. “Come again?”

“Look, even if you weren’t totally ass-over-teakettle in love with Jonah, which I know you are by the not-so-subtle way you pine for him, you’re not getting one man with this relationship, Gare. You’re getting two. You’re getting a family.”

“Ah.” After that Garrett shut his mouth and just handed Wyl tools for a while.

Garrett left Paradise three days later, just before Miles was set to go back to work. “For fuck’s sake, be careful,” he muttered into his father’s shoulder as they said their goodbyes.

“You too,” Miles said as he pulled back. One hand tapped the spot right between Garrett’s eyes. “No more surgeries without telling us what’s going on.”

Garrett flushed. “How did you know?”

“Your eyes are still a little darker than they should be,” Miles replied. “I called Jezria once I noticed. You’re lucky to be alive, son.”

“I know.” There was a moment of silence, strained in a way it hadn’t been between them for a long time. They were both lucky to be alive.

“Bring your guys along the next time you visit,” Miles said at last, easily changing the subject and giving them both an out. “We all want to meet them.”

“I’d like that.” He really would, too. He wanted to join the two disparate sides of his family together.

Garrett bid the rest of them farewell, saving a kiss for his little sister and getting Therese to unbend far enough to give him a one-armed embrace. Leaving them was hard, but the prospect of returning to Pandora was rapidly overshadowing any angst or sadness he was feeling.

Garrett had finally actually talked to Jonah the night before, to let him know he was coming back. The surprise on Jonah’s face hurt a little bit, but Garrett supposed it was warranted.

“How much time do you reckon it’ll take to get here?”

“A little over three weeks,” Garrett replied. He glanced around Jonah’s living room, where the vid screen was set up. “Where’s Cody?”

“Friend’s house,” Jonah replied automatically, running his hand through his hair. “If I’d known you were gonna call I’d have gotten him, but…”

“Yeah, I know.” Neither of them wanted to raise Cody’s hopes for no reason.

“Your dad’s okay now?” Jonah asked quietly.

“Yes. He woke up healthy and with almost all of his memory intact. It was pretty amazing, honestly.”

“Good, good. Good.”

It was the most awkward conversation Garrett had ever had with Jonah. After a few more exchanges they cut the connection, and Garrett was left feeling more unsettled than ever. Nothing had been decided, no intentions or words of affection had been exchanged. Which was stupid, Garrett reflected sourly, but not incredibly unlike him.

Getting to Paradise had been one long, hyper, hopped-up blur for Garrett, one which had worn him down to nearly nothing, but at the same time at least his mind had been occupied. He’d been filled with purpose. Returning to Pandora didn’t have the same sense of excruciating urgency about it, but it was much more difficult in some ways because of that. There was nothing for Garrett to do but think about the cliff he was about to jump off, if Jonah and Cody agreed to it. Garrett was a fan of doing new things, but most of the new things he’d tried in the past had been well within his comfort zone. This was definitely not.

By the end of the trip Garrett had gotten so sick of his own whiny indecision that he could barely look at himself in a mirror. He was directed to land in the Neptune’s docking bay, which he supposed made sense since his apartment was still on the ship. The first person to meet him as he disembarked was, sadly, not Jonah. It was Jezria. As happy as he was to see her, Garrett couldn’t stop the disappointed frown that flashed across his face.

“Clearly I’m not who you were expecting,” Jezria said dryly as she enfolded him in a motherly hug. Garrett put down his duffel bag so he could hug her back.

“You know I’m glad to see you,” he told her. “Even if you did go behind my back and tell my dad about the incident in the lab.”

“You can’t expect me to lie to one of my oldest friends when’s he’s already seen through you,” she protested, letting him go. “Miles is well, I take it?”

“Very well.”

“And everyone else?”

“Fine, which you already know because I’m sure you’ve talked to them recently.” He glanced around. “Do you have any idea why Jonah isn’t here?”

“He had intended to be, but he was called out at the last minute to pick up one of the research teams that went inland for the day. Their shuttle broke down.”

“You mean they crashed it.”

“They…bumped it.”


“You could go and pick Cody up from daycare, though,” Jezria suggested with a small smile. “I know he’s looking forward to seeing you.”


“Of course, really,” she said, graciously not adding anything derisive about Garrett’s insecurities. “The daycare is right next to the primary school in Pandora City. Do you know how to find it? It’s just five blocks south of here.”

“I’m sure I can find it.”

“Good. Cody can take you home with him afterwards.”

Home. Right. “Okay.” He hefted his bag over his shoulder again, the edge of a box inside of it digging into his mid-back. “Thanks.”

“Get some rest, my dear. You have a few days to adjust before you’re expected back at the lab.”

“At least they didn’t give away my spot,” Garrett joked as he turned towards the exit.

“Of course not. You’re under contract, after all. The months you were gone have been added to your end-date, by the way.”

“Contracts make allowances for massively extraneous circumstances!” Garrett protested out of habit, even though staying on was exactly what he had in mind.

“Most contracts do. Not this one.” She shook her head and tutted slightly. “You really should have read the entire thing before you signed it, Garrett. Now go on, have a lovely afternoon.”

“Thank you,” he grumbled before leaving the Neptune.

Amazingly, it wasn’t raining outside. The sky was thick with blue-gray clouds, but they weren’t doing more than threatening. Garrett still walked fast in the direction Jezria had given him, and before long he saw the school. It was a bright building, painted in orange and yellow and red. Playground equipment dotted the lawn beside it, and next to that was a smaller building that was bustling with children. Garrett assumed that was the daycare. He looked around the playground for Cody’s curling blonde hair. Cody spotted him first, and Garrett had all of three seconds to prepare himself for the child torpedo that hit him in the midsection.


It was ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous, how relieved holding onto Cody made him feel. How stupidly happy he became when he lifted the child up into his arms and got a kiss on the cheek for his effort. Garrett held the boy close and laid a kiss of his own into his hair, and didn’t let up until Cody started pushing impatiently at his shoulders.

“Look, I lost a tooth, see?” Cody opened his mouth and showed Garrett where the gap was in his lower jaw. “And I lost another one while you were gone, it was on the top and Daddy had to pull it out and it didn’t even hurt, but it did bleed for a while and that tasted kind of nasty.”

“Did you get any money from the tooth fairy?”

Cody’s brow wrinkled. “What’s a tooth fairy?”

“It’s criminal, the things you don’t know,” Garrett sighed, but he was smiling. “I’ll tell you when you lose your next tooth.”

“Okay,” Cody agreed complacently. “Hey, wanna go see our house?”

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay and play for a while longer?” Garrett asked, eager to see their place but a little unsettled at the prospect as well.

“No, I was just playing with dumb Lacey, I wanna go home.” He wriggled until Garrett put him down, then grabbed his hand and started pulling. Garrett made sure one of the monitors saw him leaving with Cody before he followed the child’s lead.

“Why is Lacey dumb? I thought you guys were friends.”

“We were, but then Lacey’s dad told Lacey that you weren’t really coming back to this God-forsaken place, and I asked Lacey what God was but she told me she didn’t know, but she thought it was maybe a swear word, and her dad swears a lot. Then I told Lacey you were coming back but she didn’t believe me, so I kicked her and then she punched me and I got a black eye but Lacey got into big trouble, so it was okay.”

Garrett tried to follow all of that. “But now you’re friends again?”

“Kind of, but she’s still dumb.” They turned down the third street on the left and Cody broke into a jog, tugging on Garrett to make him go faster. “Ours is at the end! Come on!” They ran up to the front door of a two-story house, cute and quaint with a solid stone facing and sharply-slanted roof. Cody pressed his palm against the identification pad by the door, then opened it up and dragged Garrett inside.

The short front hall let out into an open living room, with a kitchen on one side and a small dining area on the other. One wall was taken up with a big vidscreen, there were chairs and couches and a low table, and of course there were toys scattered all over the floor.

“Come see my room,” Cody said, and Garrett set his bag down and let himself be drawn back into their home. All the furnishings were light-colored, and the whole place was comfortably warm and smelled faintly of mint. Cody’s room was the first on the right, and it looked just like it had when he’d shown it to Garrett in the video they’d sent him.

Cody went straight for his toys. “Remember I told you I got the black Space Ranger? Dallas? Remember his cool move?” Cody sat down and turned the doll on. “Here, watch.”

Garrett sat down cross-legged and watched as Cody gave the commands that made the toy jump and spin and kick. He resisted the urge to pull Cody closer and dutifully took the red Space Ranger when it was handed to him. They went through the fighting gauntlet with all of the dolls, until it was finally down to two. Garrett was so involved in the game that he didn’t even notice that Jonah was home before Cody jumped up and ran past Garrett to the door. “Daddy! Daddy look, Garrett is back!”

“I can see that,” the voice replied, amused. Garrett turned slowly and looked up at the man hugging his son in the hallway. Jonah looked like he always did, in dark worn jeans and a loose green button-up shirt that hung off of his broad shoulders. He was always kind of lanky, but that shirt made him look almost skinny. His feet were bare on the composite floor, and Garrett was seized by the urge to do naughty things to Jonah’s toes. Good thing the man was a few feet away. “Did you show him around?”

“Just to my room, ‘cause I wanted to show him Dallas and we played tournament.”

“We should show him the rest of the house,” Jonah said, and he extended a hand toward Garrett to help him up off the floor. Garrett took it, and had a moment to revel in the feeling of warm fingers and a calloused palm against his own before he was upright, and close enough to Jonah that he could smell him.


“Hey.” They were both quiet for a moment, just looking their fill. Garrett felt like he could never get enough of looking at Jonah in that moment. His warm brown eyes were wide and eager, darting all over as he kept a grip on Garrett’s hand, tugging him a little closer. “Welcome back,” Jonah said at last.

“It’s good to be here,” Garret replied, totally honest.

“Daddy, can we show him the rest of the house now?” Cody whined, bored, and Jonah started a little.

“Yeah, bucko, sure we can.”

“Cool!” Cody took Garrett’s other hand and he found himself dragged down the hall towards the stairs. “That’s my bathroom and that’s the guest room there. Daddy’s room is up here.” Cody led the way up the narrow stairs. “This is Daddy’s bathroom,” he pushed open a door on the left to reveal a large bathroom with a whirlpool tub. “It’s got a door to his bedroom, see? And this is his real door,” Garrett caught a glimpse of the room beyond it, mostly dark colors and an enormous bed that made him sigh, before Cody turned them again. “And this is the laundry room and this one is your room, Garrett.”

Garrett looked over at Jonah. “My room?”

Jonah blushed and raised a hand like he wanted to run it through his hair before he remembered it was pulled back. “Yeah. Your room.”

“It’s empty now ‘cause you haven’t put your stuff in it yet,” Cody announced, looking around the good-sized room like he was imagining it filled. “But there’s lots of space for all your clothes and stuff, ‘cause it’s not like you need your own bed.” He let go of Garrett’s hand. “So that’s the rest of the house. Daddy, I’m hungry.”

“Go on downstairs, bucko, I’ll be there in a minute to make dinner,” Jonah promised him in a kind of strangled tone.

“’kay, Daddy.” Cody left and the two men just looked at each other for a moment.

“That wasn’t how I intended on askin’ you to move in,” Jonah confessed.

“You really want me to move in with you two?”

“Yeah,” Jonah said, but Garrett could hear the edge of resignation in his voice. “If you want to, of course. I know your contract’s just for a couple more years, but even just a couple more years with you has gotta be better than missin’ you when you’re on the same damn planet as us.” He moved a little closer, his other hand coming up to stroke down Garrett’s arm. “I want whatever I can get of you, Garrett. Missed you like crazy while you were gone, and I’m so damn grateful you’re back. You have no idea.”

“I think I have some idea,” Garrett replied, strangely breathless. “And I was thinking of extending once this contract is over.”

Jonah’s hands tightened on him for a moment. “Really?”


“How long were you thinkin’ of?”

“How long do you want me here?” Garrett countered. A second later he was wrapped up in Jonah, and it was the most amazing feeling he’d ever experienced. He tightened his own arms around Jonah and absorbed the relief and joy he felt coming off the other man.

“As long as you’re livin’,” Jonah told him, his voice a little rough. “I want you here all the time, Garrett, fuck, you have to know that.”

“Because you love me?” Garrett asked, sure he was right but still a little tentative saying it out loud.

Jonah chuckled. “Yeah, and because you love me. Us. Right?”

“I’m insane for you,” Garrett sighed. “Of course I love you.”

A second later they were kissing and Garrett was thrilled because really, that had gone a lot better than it could have and he was grateful the talking was finally behind them. Also, he was holding his lover for the first time in months, months of taking care of himself and having to make do with the memory of Jonah, and now he was here and real and warm and Garrett got hard so fast that it almost hurt. He ground forward against Jonah and relished the low moan that escaped from his lover’s mouth, and the desperate way he leaned into the touch, gripping Garrett’s hips hard enough to bruise as he jerked him closer.

“Daddy, I’m hungry!”

“Oh, hell,” Jonah groaned, tearing his mouth away from Garrett’s. “We’ve gotta wait. Can’t do this the way I want to while he’s still up.”

One of the many joys of parenthood. Garrett’s hyperactive libido railed against being shut away, but he ignored it and nodded, putting a little space between himself and Jonah. “Right.”

“Even though all I wanna do is throw you down on our bed and have my way with you.”

“Oh, you son of a bitch,” Garrett muttered as he gritted his teeth while Jonah grinned.

“Dad, I’m hungry!”

“I’m coming!” Jonah yelled back. He took a few deep breaths and looked at Garrett, then said, “Take a couple minutes, darlin’, you look like you need it.” Judging from the erection tenting his pants, Garrett agreed.

“You’re going to pay for this,” he warned.

“I sure as fuck hope so,” Jonah said, his voice little more than a growl. Abruptly he turned and left, leaving Garrett alone in his empty room trying to will away a hard-on that just didn’t want to quit.


Ten minutes later Garrett joined the guys downstairs. Jonah had made mac and cheese thanks to Cody insisting it was a celebration and so they needed special food. Jonah raised one eyebrow as Garrett sank into a seat at the table.

“Took you a while, darlin’.”

“I was just looking around a little,” Garrett replied breezily. “Getting a handle on the layout, investigating our bedroom a bit. Opening a few drawers.”

Jonah’s blush spread across his cheeks and down his neck. “Yeah?”

“Yes. I think I can work with what you’ve got.”

“Garrett, eat,” Cody interrupted, pushing the dish toward him. “Before it gets cold.”

Garrett took some food and they listened to Cody talk about his day, all the while Garrett making a minor production of every bite he took. Jonah didn’t stop blushing the whole evening, and by the end of dinner he was starting to look desperate.

“What did you bring me from Paradise?” Cody asked after the plates were cleared away.

“That’s not polite,” his dad scolded him. “Garrett didn’t go travelin’ just to buy you things.”

Cody huffed and Garrett said, “Actually, I did bring you something, but I’m not sure you can have it yet. We might have to wait for your birthday, because this is a majorly incredibly good present.”

Cody looked at him with wide eyes. “Really?”

“Yes. Phenomenally good. I can’t even tell you how amazing because it might make your head explode.”

“What is it?” Cody breathed.

“Think I have an idea,” Jonah muttered, but he didn’t look upset. “You’re gonna spoil the pants off our kid, Garrett.”

Our kid. Right, because they were a family now, because Garrett was staying. Speaking about Cody in the possessive made him feel oddly soft, though.

“Please please please don’t make me wait for my birthday,” Cody whined. “That’s like forever away!”

“Less than half a year,” Jonah said implacably, but clearly Cody was the master of breaking his dad down. He opened his big brown eyes even wider than usual and poked his lower lip out just slightly, and tilted his head a little bit to the side. Then he sniffled.

“Oh, hell,” Jonah sighed. “Fine. If Garrett says it’s okay.”

Cody turned the eyes on Garrett, who was more than ready to fall prey to the sudden influx of adorability. “Sure. Let me get it out for you.”

Cody jumped up from the table and ran over to the duffel bag anyway. “Is it in here?”

“Where else could it be?” Garrett asked as he joined him. He opened the lock, unzipped the bag and pulled out the square plastic box that had been resting against his spine on the walk over. “Here you go.”

Cody took the box and put it down on the ground, then said breathlessly, “Open.” The box folded itself out, revealing a figurine dressed in white standing within, with a white falcon on her shoulder.

“You got Sharla.” Cody sounded positively worshipful. He reached around and turned the doll on, and moment later she shook out her long blonde hair and smiled.

“Command me.”

“Oh, that’s just wrong,” Jonah muttered.

“Show me your special move,” Cody demanded.

“She finds a pole to slide down and I’m taking that doll out of here,” Jonah said quietly to Garrett, who just shushed him.

“Go, Star!” The doll raised her arm and the falcon, faintly connected to her by a filament-thin line, flew out into the air, turned a sharp figure eight, then dive-bombed back toward the floor, flicking up at the last moment to land back on the white Space Ranger’s shoulder.

“Oh wow. Wow! Garrett, did you see that? Daddy, did you see? Show me again!” They sat through another five renditions of the special move before Cody was satisfied. “Now we have to make her fight!”

“Not tonight,” Jonah said, to an immediate moan of discontent from his son.


“It’s bed time, bucko.”

“But I barely got to see how she works,” he complained.

“You can see tomorrow.”

“But I have school tomorrow, I’ll have to wait all day.” He turned beseeching eyes on Garrett. “Pleeeease…”

Very conscious of both pair of eyes on him, Garrett shook his head. “Sorry, Cody. But I can come and pick you up after school tomorrow, and we can see how she does against the red Ranger then.”

“Yeah, ‘cause she’s got a monkey, so it’s more fair,” Cody immediately agreed, even though he was still frowning. “You can come and get me?”

“For a couple of days, I don’t have to go back to work yet.”

“But even when you do, you’re still going to stay with us?”

“That’s the plan,” Garrett said slowly, glancing over at Jonah for cues. Jonah’s expression was totally blank, though.

“And you’re not going to go away for so long again?”

“No,” Garrett promised. “Not without bringing you guys with me. My dad really wants to meet you, and I have a new little sister who has all sorts of things to learn. I bet you’d be a great teacher.”

“Yeah,” Cody said confidently. “I’d be the best.”

“Bed time,” Jonah reminded him, looking much more relaxed now than he had a few moments ago. “C’mon, you’ve gotta shower too.”

“I’m clean!” Cody protested even as he got out of his chair, picking up the white Space Ranger and holding her close as he walked back toward his room. “I only fell once on the playground and that’s just ‘cause dumb Lacey was chasing me, and all the dirt just got on my clothes, see?” He pointed towards the stains on his knees.

“We’ll make it a short shower,” his dad promised. “Get goin’, bucko.” Cody sighed and moped off to his room, and Jonah turned to Garrett. “I’ve gotta clean up from dinner. You want to put your stuff upstairs?”

“In my room?” Garrett asked with a smile.

“In our room,” Jonah replied. “Your room’s more for the big stuff you can’t live without that’s not clothes, though we’re probably gonna have to use the closet in there for some of it, because there won’t be near enough space for it all otherwise.”

“Well, you’ve got to have the right wardrobe to look this gorgeous all the time,” Garrett said blithely. Jonah just shook his head and turned back to the few dishes, so Garrett grabbed his duffel bag and headed up the stairs. He didn’t even stop at his room, just headed straight back to the bedroom he’d be sharing with Jonah and walked inside.

The bed was familiar and large, but now there were two bedside tables, and after pushing a few buttons Garrett found a second set of drawers extend from the wall, these ones empty. Garrett moved his clothes into the top drawer, hung up the things that needed hanging, then sat down and looked around again. The room had a warm feeling, and when he lay back on the bed he noticed that the comforter smelled like Jonah. He’d almost forgotten how amazing it felt to be surrounded by that scent.

Two pictures glowed on Jonah’s side table. One was of Cody, gap-toothed and smiling wide. A smaller frame beside it held a picture of Garrett that he didn’t even remember being taken, a profile photo. He wasn’t laughing like Cody, but there was the smallest smile playing around the corners of his mouth.

Jonah’s weight suddenly came down over him, pressing him deeper into the mattress, and Garrett exhaled his lover’s name. “Cody’s in bed?”

“Already fell asleep, or he would’ve wanted you to say goodnight,” Jonah said, bracing himself on his forearms so he didn’t completely crush Garrett into the bed.


“So…” There was a moment of awkward silence. “I can see where I might be assuming a lot thinkin’ that you’re stayin’ on here for a while, but you are, aren’t you?”

“I told you I am.”

“Yeah.” Jonah’s eyes roved over Garrett’s face, drinking in every detail. “You did say that.”

“You don’t believe me?” It hurt a little, but Garrett didn’t suppose he could blame Jonah for being cautious after he’d been a jerk for so long.

“I really, really want to believe you, darlin’.” Now Jonah was looking kind of miserable. “And I do, pretty much. I just…things weren’t goin’ this way when you left, and now you’re back and suddenly everything’s workin’ out perfect? That just doesn’t happen to me.”

“It should,” Garrett said, irritated a little at himself and a lot at Jonah’s ex and his mother. “You deserve to get what you want, whatever makes you happy. I want to be here, Jonah. I’m happy with you, I didn’t know how happy before I went away. And I love Cody, and I’m completely in love with you and in the end I just want to be where you two are, even if that’s Pandora for the foreseeable future. I’ll get used to it.”

Garrett could see the anxiety die down in Jonah’s eyes. It didn’t vanish, not completely, but that was something that would probably take years to accomplish. Years of his presence, his help and care and participation in being a part of this family. Years of love. Years of sex.

And God, speaking of sex, they were months behind on it. The pressure of Jonah’s body against his made Garrett get hard fast, and fuck it was so much better than any of his toys or his hand or his memories. He stared hungrily at his lover, and he watched with satisfaction as Jonah’s pupils rapidly blew up until they blotted out all traces of color.

“I want to taste you,” Garrett whispered, leaning in and brushing his tongue across Jonah’s mouth, opening it up for him to take control of. Jonah went with it, letting Garrett in, letting his hands roam and peel away clothes, shift their bodies until Jonah was beneath him, naked on the bed, his erection straining so hard it was almost purple. Garrett reached beneath the pillow on his side of the bed and grabbed one of the things he’d found in Jonah’s nightstand. Jonah saw it and blushed hard.

“I haven’t used it yet,” he managed around his stuttering breath.

“I didn’t think so,” Garrett purred. He kissed his lover hard on the mouth, then slowly began to work his way down Jonah’s body, relearning his hot spots with a tender kind of desperation that blew his mind. It was insane, how much he wanted this. Didn’t even want it for himself, really; he just wanted Jonah to keep making those noises, to keep going higher and higher, to keep looking at him like he was the beginning and end of Jonah’s universe right now. Like Garrett was everything, like he was a fucking god.

And he kind of was. At fucking, at least.

Garrett pulled Jonah down the bed until his hips rested at the edge of it, and Garrett himself was on his knees on the floor. He licked a line up Jonah’s cock with his tongue, smiling at the noises that precipitated, then nuzzled lower, between his balls and down the line of his perineum. When he got to his hole Garrett didn’t stop, he just flicked his tongue out and brushed it over the tight, furled muscle.

Fucking hell…” Jonah jumped reflexively, his bent legs driving him away from the edge of the bed. Garrett reached out and pulled him close again.

“Give me this,” he told Jonah, putting every ounce of longing he felt into his voice. “Let me have you however I want you, tell me I can have you anyway, anywhere. Give yourself to me. You’ll love it, I swear, you won’t know how you lived without me, just let me have you.”

“Was just surprised, darlin’,” Jonah panted, running his hand through Garrett’s short hair. “Do what you want. ‘M yours.”

Garrett grinned ferally. “Good. Don’t come yet.” Then he lowered his mouth to Jonah’s ass and went to town, licking and humming and thrusting his tongue past the slowly-loosening ring until Jonah was wet and shiny and dying for more, careful not to make too much noise for Cody’s sake but shaking with the effort it took.

When he thought Jonah was ready, Garrett grabbed the little toy, made sure it was set correctly, then slowly pushed it inside of his lover, using nothing but his spit to slick the way. The plug vibrated merrily, and after a few seconds Garrett could see it expand, just slightly.

Jonah was moaning audibly now, clenching around the plug and jerking slightly every time it got bigger. Garrett licked a circle around the end of it, then moved forward just far enough to catch Jonah’s gaze. “By the time I get you off, you’ll be ready for me.”

“Darlin’—” Whatever was going to follow the affectionate diminutive was lost to a sudden flurry of swear words as Garrett swallowed Jonah’s cock to the root, only backing off when it was clear that he had to slow things down if he wanted the plug to have time to do its work before Jonah came. Garrett gripped the base of his lover’s cock hard and pulled off, just long enough to catch a breath before sinking his lips back down.

Fuck, Jonah tasted so good. A little salty, a little bitter but still sweet somehow, and all of it surrounded by the scent of his need, hot and strong. Garrett brushed the fingers of his free hand over the base of the plug, felt Jonah jerk in his grasp, as though he didn’t know which sensation he wanted to chase. Garrett decided to give him both, licking and sucking up and down the length of Jonah’s cock as he gently twisted the plug, pulling it a little ways out before pushing it back in even deeper than it had been before, then repeating. Before long Jonah was babbling, and a few moments after that he was begging.

“Fuck, baby, please, please, Garrett, God—”

Garrett didn’t say anything, just releases his tight grip and twisted the plug again, so much bigger now inside of his lover. Jonah came with a wordless cry that was probably a lot louder than he’d meant it to be, his come gushing into Garrett’s mouth almost faster than he could swallow. Hmm. Someone had been saving up. It was the sort of thing he’d make a joke about if he wasn’t so horny he could die.

Garrett pulled off when it was clear that Jonah was spent, reached for the lubricant he’d stashed as well and quickly covered his length with it, then reached down again and slowly pulled the plug free. Jonah groaned as it came out, but the look on his face was anything but pained. “C’mon,” he breathed, and Garrett pulled his lover’s legs up over his shoulders, gripped his thighs and thrust quickly inside of him.

Holy fuck. It was so perfectly tight, just relaxed enough to keep Garrett from worrying that he was hurting Jonah, and Jonah himself looked like a hot fucking mess against the bed, his hair free from its tie and loose against his pillow, sandy brown waves that glistened with sweat, just like every inch of his golden skin. His muscles were slack with pleasure, but his eyes glittered with fervor, desperate for Garrett. “’M yours,” he said again, and everything that went unsaid was still plainly heard by Garrett. I’m yours, love me, fuck me, use me and make me feel you, make me believe that you’re staying forever. Garrett could do that.

God, could he ever do that. Garrett just let himself go, thrusting hard into Jonah, hard enough to move both of them slowly up the bed until Jonah’s outstretched hands hit the wall, stopping them. In him, he was in his lover, this man who had somehow become his family, given him a chance for something he hadn’t even recognized that he wanted, or needed. Garrett was buried inside of Jonah, fucking him like he wanted to push all the way inside of him, and he kind of did. He needed to prove to himself, and to Jonah, that this was perfect. Oh fuck, was it perfect. Jonah tightened his channel and Garrett literally saw flickering stars dart across his vision. He couldn’t look at his debauched lover sprawled across the bed, welcoming him, giving him whatever he wanted because he just wasn’t going to last a second longer if he did, and it had barely been any time at all…

“Love you,” Jonah said quietly, and Garrett immediately surrendered the fight and fell off the cliff, happily abandoning the last vestiges of his vaunted independence for the absolute, consuming love of this man. He came and it felt like dying, as he lost all his breath and his heart skipped in its rhythm. His vision went black and he finally collapsed with a grateful sigh.

When he came to Garrett was in Jonah’s arms, no longer inside of him and feeling more than a little embarrassed. Jonah grinned when he saw Garrett’s expression.

“Never had that happen during sex before.”

“I’m coming off a period of abstinence, so sue me for being a little over-enthusiastic and forgetting to breathe,” Garrett groused. “Wait, are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

“You didn’t hurt me, darlin’. You took good care of me.” There was more than a hint of devotion in Jonah’s voice, and even though Garrett was still embarrassed, he smiled.

“Good.” He kissed Jonah’s shoulder. “You’re amazing, you know that?”

“I think it’s more that we’re amazing together,” Jonah replied. “You’re really stayin’, huh.”

“Why would I leave when I can have that every instant that Cody isn’t within earshot?”

Jonah rolled his eyes. “This is about more than sex.”

“I know. I want more than sex from you, you know that.” Garrett closed his eyes and pressed himself a little closer to Jonah’s body. “I’m still figuring out what all the other things I want are, but they’re there.”

“You know I’ll give you everything I can.”

“I know that.” Garrett shifted, then grinned suddenly as his hip came into contact with a very happy erection. “And it feels like right now you want to give me this.”

Jonah shrugged. “Got hard again while you were inside of me. Now I want to be inside of you.” He kissed Garrett’s lips, his mouth earnest and urgent. “Let me have you, darlin’.”

“However you want me,” Garrett promised, already spreading his legs.

Jonah lasted a long time, but by the end he was just as desperate for it as Garrett, and when he came he shouted, only hastily muffled by Garrett’s kiss. By then Garrett was burning for a second orgasm, and it only took a few strokes of Jonah’s callused hand before he came all over both of them. They fell asleep draped across each other, exhausted and fucked out and utterly content.

The next morning, Cody woke them up. The blankets had fortunately kept them decent, but Cody was still cross.

“I slept bad,” he informed them, pouting relentlessly. “’Cause you guys wouldn’t go to sleep for forever, and now I have to go to school and I don’t wanna ‘cause I’m gonna fall asleep at my desk and my teacher will get mad at me. I think you should let me stay home today.”

“Not gonna happen,” Jonah said, a little hoarsely. “But I tell you what, bucko, give me a minute to get dressed and I’ll make you pancakes for breakfast.”

Cody looked at him speculatively. “With chocolate chips?”


“And chocolate syrup?”


“And whipped cream with sprinkles?”

Jonah frowned. “No.”

Cody shrugged and grinned. Two out of three apparently was pretty good. “Okay, hurry!” He ran out the door and Jonah groaned.

“We’re gonna have to get some sort of proximity alarm for the bedroom.” He glanced at the clock. “And shit, I’m gonna be late for my shift.”

“I can’t cook chocolate chip pancakes,” Garrett informed his lover as he watched him stumble out of bed with appreciative eyes.

“Can you run him to school after he eats, then?”

Garrett thought about it, and everything else, for just a second. “Yes,” he said, smiling wide and happy. “I can do that.”