Bonded Ch. 03

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This is the final chapter of a story I started several months ago. Reading the earlier chapters will help, but I hope you enjoy this piece regardless. Many thanks to pebo, a wonderful editor and friend, for her help.

***

“Rise and shine, baby.”

“Mmngh.”

“Sorry, that excuse doesn’t cut it.” Click. The lights came on. Wyl Leyton moaned an unintelligible curse under his breath and rolled over to face the pillows, pulling the blanket over his head. A strong hand caressed his shoulder through the fabric, gentle and coaxing. “C’mon, sleepyhead. T’s restaurant is opening today, you said you’d help him finish setting up.”

“Why did I do that?” Wyl groaned.

“Because you’re a nice person, maybe.”

“Me? Nah. Confusing me with someone else.” He pulled the blanket tighter over his head. “You go, tell him I’m dying and can’t make it.”

The voice erupted in a low, reverberating laugh. Wyl could feel the vibrations as his lover leaned across his back. “Are you going to make me beat you with a pillow?”

“You won’t challenge me to a pillow fight, I always win.”

“Maybe,” his lover agreed. “But since I need to get up and go to work, I’ll have to leave you alone here while I get ready. I’ll fill the tub with hot, soothing water. I’ll rub soap into a lather all over my body. I’ll slowly rinse it down the drain, making sure I’ve gotten every last bit off my skin. I’ll dry off, and dress, and get breakfast. All alone. What a waste.” His tone brightened from sultry to cheeky. “Sleep well!” Then he got up out of the bed and walked into the bathroom, leaving the door open.

Wyl listened in silence for a few moments as Robbie turned on the water. He was humming faintly, and seemed in a ridiculously good mood. But then, he was like this almost every morning. Just my luck to fall in love with an early riser. Especially considering how late some of their nights had been running…

Wyl smiled into his pillow. Robbie Sinclair was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and he knew it. He was handsome, honest and loving. He gave everyone he met the benefit of a doubt, a rare quality in a marshal. He was a fantastic lover, a fierce friend and a good cook. And for some reason, he had found something to love in Wyl. All of those excellent traits meant Wyl could forgive certain things, like his predilection for waking up early and actually enjoying it. Wyl had been forced to get up early for years, but not once had he ever relished the experience.

Robbie’s humming turned to singing, something French probably, that was his latest kick. Wyl could hear inviting splashing sounds. “Fuuuuuck,” he sighed, then reluctantly threw off the covers, staggered to his feet and made his way into the bathroom. “Are you done being cute?” he growled, pushing back long, tangled strands of black hair.

“I can’t fathom what you mean,” Robbie replied with a broad smile. He was sitting in the large, circular tub, leaning back against the rim. “But I prefer the word ‘enticing’. Cute seems more like a word someone would use to describe you.” He waved a hand. “Get in.”

Wyl walked over and slid into the hot water, wincing slightly. “You like your men boiled, I see.”

“Cute and grumpy this morning.” Robbie shifted around until he was beside Wyl and pulled him into an embrace. “Didn’t get enough sleep last night, huh?”

“Because you’re insatiable,” Wyl replied with a genuine grin.

“You love it. Scoot forward.” Wyl did so, and Robbie slid in behind him, rubbed some soap onto his shoulders and began to massage in long, smooth strokes. “Do you still have tomorrow off?”

“Yeah. The shop is letting me count today as a labor day, since I’ll still be working on the station.” Wyl was a bonder, paying off his legal and monetary debts to society by working where his skills as a spaceship mechanic were needed. His bond had been transferred to the station six months ago, and he was paying it off fast.

“Then it’s a good thing you got up, huh.” Robbie nuzzled the back of Wyl’s head.

“Not for that reason,” Wyl countered. “T works me harder than the shop ever does, and I’m an incompetent cook, as you know.” It was sad but true. Wyl’s few previous attempts at making an edible meal had ended in blackened crustiness, excruciating spiciness and, on one memorable occasion, the oven erupting into flames. Since then he’d used some of the money he held back from paying the bond to order food for them whenever it was his turn.

Robbie ran his hands down Wyl’s back and around to his abdomen. “But don’t you appreciate the variety?”

Wyl stifled a groan. “I love variety…just not cooking.” His pulse sped up as Robbie reached forward and cupped him in his hands. He began to harden instantly. “Oh god…” He pushed his ass back against Robbie’s cock so it was wedged between his cheeks. Robbie paused a moment to pour some of the bath oil over his hand before reaching down again and stroking Wyl’s cock under the hot water. The motions were long and slow, and so much better than a shoulder massage. It was ridiculous how giresun escort quickly Robbie’s touch could reduce him to a quivering, whimpering, need-driven pile of flesh. Wyl leaned his head back until it rested on his lover’s shoulder, turning his face to kiss Robbie’s neck. He loved feeling those hands engulf him, moving against his cock, so hot and slick. Robbie stroked faster, fisting him harder. “Wait…you…”

“Later,” Robbie promised in a husky voice. “I want to feel you come in my hand.” He moved his thumb up onto the head, rolling the pad around in a circle. His other arm held Wyl’s body tight against him, crushing them together as his mouth found Wyl’s ear. He sucked the earlobe into his mouth, then lightly bit down on it.

“Oh, fuck.” Wyl wrapped a hand around the back of his lover’s neck and pulled him even closer as he felt his orgasm start. “Robbie, now, yes…”

“Baby.” The sound of that deep, sultry purring in his ear sent Wyl over the edge and he came with a gasp, the heat and pressure driving the air from his body until he was spent and lying boneless in the water, only upright thanks to Robbie’s hold on him. He caught his breath after a few minutes, just relaxing, closing his eyes and enjoying the rise and fall of Robbie’s chest beneath him, and the feel of his cock tight against his ass. “Don’t fall asleep again,” Robbie murmured, sounding amused.

“How could I sleep with you poking me like that?” Wyl countered, forcing his eyes open. “You should let me take care of you, before you accidentally impale someone in the hallway or something.”

“I’ll be careful, but we both have to get going. Today’s my conduct review.”

Wyl’s ardor began to fade immediately. “Are you serious? I thought it wasn’t until next week.”

“Things got moved forward. I would have mentioned it last night, but I got distracted early on.” He was smiling, but Wyl could tell he was tense. He moved forward out of Robbie’s embrace and turned to face him.

“Who did they get to be the presiding officer?”

Robbie shrugged. “I don’t know yet. Everything was adjusted. My lawyer says it shouldn’t be an issue who the officer is, since the evidence of wrongdoing on Danica’s part is fairly overwhelming and we had Leesie’s message to go on, but I could get a reprimand for not passing the information along the proper channels. And I probably shouldn’t have hijacked that ship, in retrospect.”

“If you hadn’t, I’d be dead.” Wyl still felt cold at the memory of T being shot and the two of them nearly freezing to death before help arrived. When Danica Jessom was imprisoned and her mining operation was seized, Wyl’s bond had been transferred to the station. He had just half a year left to go to finish it.

All of that was a wonderful conclusion to a shitty situation for Wyl, but it meant that Robbie was in hot water. There were interrogations, mental and physical examinations, a few counseling sessions. People weren’t supposed to display such a blatant disregard for the chain of command, and despite being the ranking marshal on the station, regulations stated he had officially fucked up by not informing his regional commander first. Fortunately it was his first official fuckup, so instead of waiting for his trial in the brig he was allowed to continue working while the case was investigated. Today was the day he would get his official review, and whatever merit or punishment he was getting would be handed out.

Wyl must have looked nervous, because Robbie leaned in and kissed him softly. “Don’t worry about it. I doubt anything serious will come of it. Besides,” he looked Wyl up and down, “I’d say you’re worth it.”

“I love you.”

Robbie smiled, that special, kind of silly smile that came to his face whenever Wyl said those words. “I love you too. Now soap, rinse, out. I’ll try to find you for lunch.”

Ten minutes later Wyl was dry, dressed and heading for the fifteenth level of the station, where T’s restaurant was located. He was also starving, since they hadn’t had time to eat. Residual pleasure and hunger battled in his brain but at least when he got to T’s, he managed to say “Good morning,” before following it with “I need food.”

“I knew it.” T shook his head mock-disparagingly, handing over a pre-made plate and a fork followed by a cup of the thickest, blackest coffee he could brew. “You cost me more in supplies than you earn by helping.”

“Be happy you can afford me,” Wyl shot back around a mouthful, washing it down with the coffee. “At least I can stand your winning personality. Tell me Leesie will be your hostess, you need someone up front who won’t scare the customers away.”

“Are you kidding? You think I can pry her away from her work now that she’s official again?” He tried to sound annoyed, but the expression on his face was more satisfied than anything else. “She loves it, wouldn’t give it up for anything. Plus she’s thick as thieves with Jane.” Jane Freeman was Robbie’s second in command.

“Damn. You’re screwed.”

“Yeah. Got a good staff lined up, giresun escort bayan but the opening isn’t until five, so none of them are in yet. What I need you to do is get things prepped in the kitchen.”

Wyl scooped the last bite of his cayenne-flavored eggs and sausage into his mouth and swallowed fast. “You want me working in the kitchen? Red light, red light, big mistake.”

“All I need is for things to be taken out of fridges to thaw, vegetables washed, counters cleaned. There’s a list in the back.” T reached into his back pocket and pulled out a small round package. “And you need to wear this.”

Wyl took the small thing, shook it out, and then groaned. “A hairnet? C’mon, T.”

“You’re working with food, you’re working in my kitchen, you’re wearing this.” He was inexorable. “I don’t want to have to explain to a customer how a long black hair got into their jambalaya. And wash your hands.”

“Anything else, mommy?”

“Yes.” He pointed at Wyl’s plate. “Wash that too.”

“You have an industrial capacity autoclave, and you want me to wash one dish in it?”

T rolled his eyes. “By hand, pretty boy. I want to keep the kitchen clear. Damn, you’ve gotten spoiled since you’ve been living here. I remember when you thought it was a holiday if you only worked sixteen hours.”

“Yeah.” A faint tightness came to Wyl’s throat, and he looked away. “Bad times.”

“Yeah.” T shook his head. “Sorry I mentioned it.”

“Never mind.” Wyl sighed and put on the hairnet, tucking in the loose strands. “To work, I guess.”

Actually, Wyl enjoyed working with Taylor that morning. He and T had always gotten along well, and despite his bitching it was kind of nice to be doing something besides welding. He’d finished washing about a million stalks of celery and was starting in on carrots when T joined him back at the counter. “Keep going, I’ll cut, you wash.” They worked in comfortable silence for a few minutes before T asked, “So, things still good with you and Robbie?”

From anyone other than Taylor or Leesie it would have been an invasive question. Wyl didn’t open up very often, but he was all smiles now. “Perfect, thanks.”

“Perfect? Well, now.” T sliced a celery stick with small, rapid strokes of his knife. “That’s good.”

“It is…”

“Uh-huh. I knew it.”

“Knew what?”

“Knew there was a caveat coming.”

“You don’t even know what that means,” Wyl protested, but he knew T was right. There was something inside of him that couldn’t help but feel anxious, a small but constant strain.

“So, what’s not perfect about Mr. Perfect?” T kept his eyes down, concentrating on chopping vegetables to keep Wyl more comfortable.

“It’s not that anything’s wrong. It’s that it’s so right.” It was hard for Wyl to articulate what he was worried about. Even as he said it, it didn’t make sense to him. “It’s scarily perfect. Part of me keeps waiting for things to fail, you know? It’s like everything is going way too well for it to possibly continue. I want to be ready for the letdown, but I can’t make myself stop needing him.”

“Nor should you.” T moved a pile of chopped carrots into an oxygen-tight container and swept them off to the side. “Why borrow trouble when there’s plenty for free? Nothing is perfect all the time, not even the best relationship. There are times Leesie makes me want to chew glass, just so I feel a different kind of pain. Those times are rare, though, and I know I give her a hell of a lot more trouble than she gives me.” He shrugged and reached for another stack of veggies. “You stay with them through the good and the bad, because you could never think of being with anyone else. You sacrifice for them, because you know they’d do the same for you. You forgive them because you need their forgiveness. That kind of like how you feel?”

“I…don’t know, yet.”

“You will eventually. Everyone gets there. You either get over it, or you end it.”

“Have you been drinking?”

“Why?”

“Because I’ve never heard you wax poetic before.” Wyl tried to pass it off as lighthearted, and T took pity on him.

“I have the soul of a poet, I’ll have you know.”

“And a mind like a dumpster.”

“Watch it, boy, or I’ll keep you on vegetables all day,” T warned.

“What could possibly be more fun than this?”

“Folding napkins.”

Wyl blinked. “What?”

“Into the shape of swans.”

“You’re fucking kidding me.”

“Not at all.” T smiled evilly. “It should only take a couple dozen to get the folds right. Then you can do the next few hundred no problem. In fact, maybe you should get started now.”

“Right. Great.” Fuck.

***

Robbie walked briskly down the hall to his office, making up for lost time with long strides. He should still have a couple of hours to kill before his review, and it wouldn’t help to go over things with the lawyer again, so he could take the time to relax a little. Maybe Wyl had been right, maybe he had needed some attention this morning. He felt a little on escort giresun edge now. Maybe it was the review.

Maybe? It was definitely the review. Robbie knew he had done the right thing, the only thing, but it was disconcerting after so many years with a flawless record to be before a review board now. He needed quiet, he needed relaxation…he opened the door to his office and walked inside. Damn. Well, there went that idea.

“Boss man!” Jane threw him a relaxed salute from her chair, flipping aside one of her dreadlocks with her index finger. “I was wondering if we’d have to hunt you down.” She smiled slyly at Leesie Paulsen, the station’s newest marshal and Jane’s new best friend. “Could have been fun, actually.”

“Not enough of a challenge, we knew where he’d be,” Leesie retorted, but her attitude was a little more subdued. “Are you okay, sir?”

“Fine. Didn’t I assign both of you duty shifts today?” He shut the door and walked around the slender, transparent desk to his chair.

“Yes, but we were both excused by the visiting brass, in case he needs to ask us any questions.”

“Do you have a name yet?” Robbie asked.

“General…oh what the fuck is it, something unpronounceable…I can’t remember it.”

“Go and find out, please.”

Jane heaved a sigh and glided out of her slouched position with the grace of a dancer. “Yes, sir.” She left the room, shutting the door quietly behind her.

Leesie turned slightly nervous eyes towards Robbie, but masked her discomfort by asking brightly, “So I suppose Wyl is with T now?”

“Once I persuaded him to get out of bed.”

“Oh, lord.” Leesie shook her head and grinned, relaxing a little. “He’s always been terrible about that. Whenever he got a rest day back on Hazard, the only thing that could get him out of bed was food. After he ate, he went right back to sleep. He was working a lot more then, though, and I know he needed the rest.” She arched one eyebrow. “What’s his reason now?”

Robbie felt himself begin to blush and silently cursed. He’d always been a terrible liar, completely unable to conceal his emotions. Leesie just smiled. “Never mind, it isn’t any of my business. I’m just glad he’s happy. He really needed to find someone like you.”

“Even though it almost got him killed?”

“Everything turned out all right,” Leesie replied. “That’s the most important thing.” Wispy strands of pale blonde hair had drifted out of her bun and floated around her face. She looked as slender and fragile as Wyl, Robbie thought. In both cases that fragility was an illusion. She smiled again, and Robbie had to smile back.

Jane burst back through the door, waving a small piece of paper. “Caractacus! Miles Caractacus. Say that five times fast.”

Robbie stopped moving, completely. He knew he was gaping, but he couldn’t help it. “General Miles Caractacus?”

“Yeah.” Jane looked at Robbie quizzically. “You know him?”

“Yes.”

Jane and Leesie glanced at each other. “Where from?”

“He’s my ex’s father.”

Jane eventually broke the ensuing silence. “So…is that a good or a bad thing?”

“I have no clue.” Garrett had mentioned that his father still thought well of Robbie when they had last spoken, but that was six months ago now. A lot of perceptions could change in six months. And what was he doing out here anyway? General Caractacus was also a federation senator, and he wasn’t in Robbie’s direct chain of command anymore.

“We’ll give you some time to think,” Leesie said quietly, standing up. Jane looked like she wanted to stay, but Leesie’s hand was gentle and insistent on her arm, and she allowed herself to be turned. They left, and Robbie dropped his face into his hands, massaging his temples and resisting the urge to groan. It figured. Even thinking about Garrett wasn’t something he wanted to do anymore, and coming face to face with his father over his actions was even further down the list.

Now that Robbie thought about it, this was probably a bad thing. Miles, as he’d grown accustomed to calling him after he and Garrett got together, had been the one to give him authorization to investigate Danica and started extradition proceedings for Wyl. And what had he done? Gone haring off like a vigilante after his lover without so much as a “with your permission”. That couldn’t reflect well on Miles’ decision, no matter how well-founded Robbie’s reasons had been. And to top it all off, there was his relationship with Garrett…or his lack thereof.

Miles had actually introduced them, back when he had been a colonel and Robbie was still entrenched in the marines. Robbie was doing classroom time during officer training, and his instructor, Colonel Caractacus, had invited the graduating class to dinner at his house. Garrett, who worked as a biophysicist for a terraforming company, was there as well. They met, sparks flew, and it didn’t take long for them to become lovers. Hardly an hour, actually.

In the end, though, it hadn’t worked out. Robbie was at the front fighting for months at a time, and Garrett, who was accustomed to a certain amount of worship, felt neglected. After Robbie’s tour was over, Garrett had encouraged him to find work closer to home. He had signed on as a federation marshal instead. That strained things to the breaking point, and after a number of hurtful interactions, they had called things quits.

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