“Coffee is fine,” Adrian said, hushed, watching the long, elegant lines of Jason’s body as he poured. “What did Vanderhoven mean …you’re supposed to ‘take care’ of me?” He swallowed on a dry throat. “In this system, that expression’s come to mean anything up to and including premeditated murder.”
The younger man gave him an odd look as he returned from the serving machines, and placed a mug into Adrian’s hand. “I won’t lie to you. Dirk isn’t completely convinced you’re on the level. You could think you are, because you’re operating under a blanket of conditioning, ten layers thick.” With his own mug, he gestured at the nearest couch. “Sit. Relax. All Dirk wants me to do is make sure about you, so we can trust you, stop worrying that we could have a government agent aboard who’ll take the first opportunity to destroy us.”
A muscle in Adrian’s gut began to relax, and he sat back into the couch. The cushions sank beneath Jason’s considerable weight, and Adrian’s nostrils flared as he caught a hint of cologne, like nothing he had ever smelt before. Something from Eidolon? Something like cedar, like spruce, but infinitely exotic, hinting of the alien.
And Jason was warm. His body heat enveloped Adrian, made him want to touch, and he turned to him the way a plant turns to the light. The fabric he wore was skin-soft, and skin thin, and beneath it he was hard, with the physique of one who was designed, crafted, and then born to be an athlete. Adrian’s breath snagged in his throat, and he choked off a groan.
“What’s wrong?” Jason’s voice was deep, quiet.
“Nothing,” Adrian lied as every nerve came alive. And he knew he could not lie, not to Jason.
“I know you want me, if that’s what’s worrying you,” Jason said with gentle humor. “Where I come from, it’s nothing to hide or fret about. What’s spooking you Adrian? You worried I’m going to mock you for wanting me?”
“I – yes, maybe,” Adrian admitted, and squeezed his eyes shut. “It’s been a long time since I had anything you’d think of as ‘civilized’ sex. Out here, nobody wants to get intimate with the government goon, and back on Earth, it’s no secret I’m a twenty. People don’t want anything to do with me, because they know the government has to be watching me, and I’ll just drag them under the same lens. In the end, no one’s going to get involved with me.”
“Damn.” Jason drank a little tea. “So, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you do? For sex, I mean?”
The heat flushed back into Adrian’s cheeks, infuriating him. “Now and then I pick up spacers.” He gestured vaguely. “They’re not choosy, and nobody asks for a name, much less an ID. You go down to the clubs by the docking ports where the Belters come in, the freighter crews, and the prospectors from the Jovian system. You throw a lot of money around, buy a lot of booze, see who wants to talk to you, who sizes you up and likes what he sees.”
“You don’t take the spacers home?” Jason hazarded.
“Good gods, no!” Adrian did not have to feign a shudder. “My place is under surveillance – because I’m a government goon, and a twenty, and because the Civil Representatives are often targeted when people have a case to make against The Pure Light. Somebody’s partner or sibling or workmate gets picked up and vanishes, like my cousin Max. Someone gets steamed, the anger has to go somewhere, and people like me get trashed.” He shrugged. “It happens too often. The surveillance is supposed to be for my own security, but…”
“But it makes you wonder,” Jason finished, “if it’s also a way for the bastards to keep an eye on you. See who you’re talking to. Sleeping with.”
“Fucking,” Adrian corrected. “I haven’t gone to sleep beside a warm, familiar body in a very long time.”
“Damn,” Jason repeated. “And I know, I already said that.” His brows arched at Adrian in speculation, and disbelief. “You really go down to a club on the docks, and pick up some guy, and … and you do it, right there in the club? Really?” His voice rose in something like disbelief.
“Uh … they don’t do it on Eidolon?” Adrian was embarrassed, and angry with himself for the reaction.
But Jason’s blond head was shaking. “If I want someone, I just come right out and tell them, and I expect to offer them dinner, some very good wine, and breakfast. It’s only good manners, when you’re asking someone to be intimate with you. At least, that’s what we think back home.”
“And you’d be right to think it,” Adrian said miserably. “It doesn’t work that way here – not for the likes of me, anyway.”
“You’re only a twenty.”
“Yes.” Adrian slapped his legs.
“They’re fantastic legs,” Jason told him. “I saw them the moment you walked into the lounge. I’d say they were your best feature, but then I saw these eyes of yours. And your mouth. You’re very beautiful.”
Sheer disbelief stole the words out of Adrian’s mind for a long moment, and he knew he was gaping stupidly at Jason, until the younger man laughed with the same gentleness.
“Do I have to be in some dark, smoky club, dressed like a prospector from the Belt, before you’ll let me want you?” The rainbow eyes sparkled with amusement. Mischief. “I’ve never been to any such club, and I wouldn’t know where to find them on Titan Center, even if we had the time to go there, which we don’t. But I do want you. And where I come from, we say so … and offer you breakfast.” The tip of his tongue flicked out over his lips. “What, not interested?” His nostrils flared now, as he took a long deep breath. “That’s not what your body says.”
“Of course I’m interested,” Adrian groaned. “I haven’t been able to think of anything else since I set eyes on you!”
“Good.” Jason glanced up at the chrono, which was mounted over the serving machines. “Then you’ll be sleeping with me tonight. And I do mean sleeping, not just fucking. That comes first, and then you put your head on my pillow and get some sleep.” His expression darkened. “Insofar as any of us is going to get much sleep. Dirk has a plan, but it’s not going to be easy to get out of here – and from the few hints he dropped, none of it will work without you.” He set down the cup and both his big hands cupped around Adrian’s face. “Are you game?”
Adrian could barely breathe. “To work with you? Oh, yes. To crawl under you and let you do unspeakable things to me?”
Jason’s voice was a husky chuckle. “I’m not going to hurt you, Adrian. You’ve been with enough spacers to know how to play the game. Sure, I’m from Eidolon – you could probably even say I’m an alien! But I’m just a man.”
Just? Adrian could see nothing ‘just’ about it. Jason was much bigger, stronger, warmer, and he suspected also smarter, as well as being as highly charged as any of the fifties. They were sensual creatures, all of them. It was one of the qualities that had made them so irresistible, decades ago, when augmentation was chic and Adrian wanted so badly to be like them.
He might have said all this to Jason, but before he could find the breath to speak, much less coherent words, Jason had leaned forward across the little distance that separated them, and laid his mouth on Adrian’s.
His lips were hot satin, his tongue was wet velvet, and he tasted … slightly sweet, slightly spicy, as if his body chemistry was as fractionally different as the physical form. Adrian had never tasted anything like him, and in an instant, he knew nothing else would do.
Many of the spacers he had tangled with in the dark, smoky shadows of the dockside clubs were exciting men, handsome, with hard-worked bodies, ink-black tattoos, and the irresistible hunger that came from being out in the wilderness of the Jovian moons for too long, before they made it back to port. The memories were searing, and Adrian would never forget them, but this –
This was like waking out of a dream which left him in a cold sweat, and finding that the reality was warmth, welcome, big arms in which he felt more safe than he had ever dared allow himself to feel, and desire that was as white-hot as anything he had experienced on the docks, without any need to seek the shadows, hide who he was, and what.
Reality was Jason Erickson, young and healthy and free. There was no chip in his brain, no governor controlling him. Jason was unlicensed, unregistered, he belonged to no one, and he would do exactly as he chose. The sheer notion inspired a vast shiver, and Adrian opened to the kiss.
He let it overwhelm him, and embraced the knowledge that he was in the arms of what The Pure Light termed a maverick – a fifty who was off the leash, beyond their control. Jason could be very dangerous. Adrian felt the power in his body, and knew Jason could have simply reached out and taken whatever he wanted.
Instead, he was faultlessly careful, as if he were keenly aware that Adrian was smaller, comparatively slender, oddly fragile. Minutes later, he lifted his head away from the kiss and blinked down into Adrian’s eyes, and Adrian gasped like a stranded fish. “See?” he said in the husky voice Adrian had already come to love, “I’m just a man.”
“Just?” Adrian echoed. “Not just. You’re … incredible.”
“I am what I was designed to be.” Jason released him and shrugged. “There’s hundreds like me at home. If you’re coming with us, you’ll see, soon enough.”
“I’m coming with you.” Adrian struggled to get a rein on his thoughts.
MORE THAN HUMAN is available in epub for your Nook and android here;
on Kindle, for your, uh, Kindle here,
and on PDF for your laptop or desktop here.
Read more on my website and on my wiki page...
AUTHOR: Mel Keegan, with Jayne DeMarco
Category: science fiction
Length in words: 86700
Page number: 195
Publication date: April 2012
Category: science fiction
Length in words: 86700
Page number: 195
Publication date: April 2012
art on this post is drawn from the blog of the artist -- if you'd like to see it at full-size, visit this post: A little gay romance near Saturn, circa 2170