Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: sci-fi, mm
Summary: The world is a very different place. The Firsts and the Twos all dream of possessing one of the rare Thirds.
The state was instituting mandatory blood tests. He'd known it was going to happen sooner or later, but he'd let himself believe it was going to be more later.
Dread pooled in his belly. There wasn't a single doubt in his mind that he was going to be busted.
After twenty-eight years of playing Two, he was about to be outed as a Third. The very idea horrified him.
"Whatcha staring at?"
Gregor nearly jumped out of his skin at the sudden hand on his shoulder. "Geez Marcus, way to give me a heart attack."
Marcus chuckled. "Way to be dramatic. Seriously, what are you looking at?"
Gregor pointed at the notice on his ePad screen. "They're forcing everyone to go to the Public Health Stations and give blood. They want to find any unregistered Thirds."
"Good," Marcus said. "They shouldn't be out on the loose because what if something happens? We could be facing extinction; there's no room for them to be obstinate. We need them too much."
"You don't think it's wrong to force them to breed?" Gregor could feel a cold sweat breaking over his body. He would have thought Marcus would understand, but it was looking as though he was wrong. "They're not being given any choice."
"It does feel a bit exploitive," Marcus said, "but we need them or we could be looming at the end of the human race. They are the only ones able to bear young. And it's not like they're being tortured or anything. They are allowed to pick the First they're going to breed with."
"It's awful. They're being made to have sex whether they want to or not. It's sick." Gregor's hands had curled into fists so he tucked them in his jacket pockets.
"It's unfortunate that in vitro fertilization doesn't work with Thirds. I wish things could be different." Marcus sounded genuinely sympathetic. "But as it is right now, our species must do everything to survive."
Gregor felt sick to his stomach. He couldn't face what was going to happen to him without a little fortification. If he was going to lose his freedom, he might as well have something to miss.
"Come on." He grabbed Marcus' surprisingly muscular arm. "Let's go get cleaned up. We're going out tonight."
Marcus' grin was a little weak, but Gregor wasn't in the mood for weakness. "Come on," he pleaded, even going so far as to flutter his lashes and make himself as cute as possible."
It seemed oddly easy to hustle Marcus to his own apartment. Maybe it was the rebellious part of him looking for one last hurrah! before he was locked away in a bower somewhere.
* * *
A lifetime of secrets ending, he didn't know how to deal with himself. But he was afraid, very very afraid.
Gregor held his coat tight around himself as he stood in line with all the other T-Vs waiting for their blood tests. It was a quiet crowd, one that had been waiting long hours in the cold and most everyone just wanted to get it over with and head home.
He was probably the only one hoping his turn would never happen. He would happily stay in line until he died if it meant never being discovered.
"Ooh, coffee," the woman ahead of him murmured to her companion. "I'm freezing."
Gregor craned to see, and sure enough there were people moving through the lines with carts steaming with coffee. No one wanted a potential Third unhappy, and until it was proven otherwise, everyone here was being treated as though they could be the holiest of holies.
When one of the carts reached his position, Gregor took a disposable cup with a heartfelt, "Thank you."