Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi
Stepping into the Nursery was a jarring experience. The youngest child there was ten years old, a towheaded boy with guileless blue eyes and bitten red lips. He was the pampered baby of the Family.
Gregor remembered a time when there had been children everywhere. People had walked around with babies cradled in their arms with no trace of fear. Now children grew up in armored prisons and those born since the Plague were as precious as any Third but rarer.
He remembered the first time it really sunk into his mind that the world was different. It had been a trip to the mall and he was walking through the food court with a tray in his hands.
He had casually glanced around, then it was like something had slotted into place. There were no young children. The youngest kid he’d seen had been at least ten years old. And he’d realized that he hadn’t seen any really young children for a long time, and then only toddlers. No babies.
And the world had gone on from that. People had gotten on with their lives and scientists were scrambling to save things. Babies became a miracle, pictures of them passed around to the sound of wistful sighs.
It would be years before the human race fully recovered from the losses suffered. First from the desolation of the zombie virus, then from the sterilization effect of the Plague. There was a whole generation of people missing from the world.
Even now, Gregor still felt like an alien when he came across children. They made him uncomfortable and he didn’t know why. It just felt as though he was in the wrong place.
There seemed to be some misapprehension in the Family that had him sent to the Nursery. Someone must think that he needed to bond with the children and maybe kickstart his instinct to breed.
Honestly, he felt rather insulted. It wasn’t his fault that he wasn’t very paternal. He’d just never had that drive, and his reproductive organs didn’t change that.
Spending the day with the children didn’t make him feel more inclined to squeeze out a little person. And by the twelfth time he forgot to watch his language he was actively beginning to think that children should be kept far away from him.
“I’m terrible at this,” he complained to Park. They were standing away from the children who were eating their afternoon snack.
“You are,” Park said.
Gregor nudged him with his elbow. It was like trying to move a boulder. “You’re not supposed to agree with me.”
“I simply didn’t want to lie to you. We need to form a good working relationship, especially if you join the Family. As such, you should always expect the truth from me.”
Gregor noticed the hint of a smile. “You’re impossible to deal with.”
“I have heard that before,” Park said. “My evaluations during Training always said that. Impossible, fantastic, amazing … My life has been a hard one full of persecution.”
Gregor rolled his eyes. “Whatever.”
The room was feeling incredibly warm and he kept having to stop his legs from rubbing together. He was half-hard in his shorts and there was a coiling low in his belly that he didn’t know how to deal with.
He’d never been off the suppressants. Not since he hit puberty and realized what was going to happen to him. The idea of losing control had terrified him.
So he hadn’t let it happen.