Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi
Gregor kept his expression pleasant as he followed Park around the room, letting himself be introduced to even more members of the Duadenora. It had reached the point that his head spun with names and he was beginning to resent the way they were forcing their Family on
He had never been interested in a life surrounded by people. He’d always been rather secretive, and it made him feel safer if there were few people in his home. He partied at other venues. His home was the place where he could lessen his guard and relax.
The Duadenora wanted him to join them for always in their compound, but even after just a few days he felt like crawling out of his skin. Even in his apartment with the door locked, he could still *feel* them all moving around the house, a mass of unpredictable humanity.
Just the knowledge that they were out there made him uncomfortable. Being dragged around a ballroom and introduced to the entire Family didn’t make him feel better. He just ended up picturing faces on the once faceless mass of claustrophobic humanity pressing in on him.
“I think someone needs to reevaluate the profile you have on me, because something has gone very wrong here,” he said through a blinding smile.
They were occupying a corner of the ballroom, standing with their drinks and watching the room. At seemingly random intervals various Family members would approach to be introduced. It was all very civilized, much better than their earlier venture.
“And what could be wrong with the profile?” Park asked.
Gregor quirked his lip. “If anyone had thought to do an accurate assessment of me, there wouldn’t be nearly so many invites to these boring events and I wouldn’t have been assigned to the Nursery. I think nearly any Self Reader would have pointed out they’re two things I have next to zero interest in. And considering what you all want me for, I don’t think it’s fair to bore me out of my mind on top of it.”
“Touche,” Park said.
It was so completely dry that Gregor didn’t know how he was supposed to respond at first. He hadn’t expected to spout off like that, but he would have thought Park’s response would be a stronger one. Instead the man looked faintly amused, the corners of his thin lips tilting up.
Gregor hated feeling confused. “Does that mean you’re going to have them change my schedule?” he pressed.
“No,” Park said. His eyes scanned over the crowd and Gregor couldn’t resist watching every bit of his face. There didn’t seem to be anywhere else to look.
“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to say, just ‘No’?”
Park glanced at him, his attention completely focused on Gregor for a single heartbeat before his eyes turned back to their restless wandering. “I’m not going to have the schedule changed because there’s no reason to indulge you like a spoiled child. If you become a member of this Family, you *will be* a member of this Family. You won’t be able to hide away in your room all the time. It’s unhealthy.
“We will, however,” Park continued, “have some adjustments made to a few other things. Most of the socialization will stay in, but the things you will definitely hate can be worked around. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. For now, I think there are a few people you should meet.”
Gregor didn’t let his lips curl down the way they wanted. He maintained a somewhat pleasant, minorly petulant expression; it was the best that he could manage at the moment.
Heat was flaring through him again and the sound of Park’s voice was hitting some inner button. About the only thing keeping him from pressing himself against Park was his own strained sanity and the twinge of pain in his groin.
His body was still adjusting to things and even the slightest hint of Flare had his penis feeling like yellow jackets were biting him. Which so far had resulted in his arousal fading and the pain returning to manageable levels once he stopped Flaring. Except Park smelt particularly good, that deep voice was soothing and precise, and Gregor was further into his cycle.
The pain was a dull tearing that he found himself shifting to avoid, and he had to fight to keep from grimacing. He carefully set his glass on the tray of a passing server and clasped his hands together in front of him, squeezing until his fingers went white.
“I would love to keep up our bitchy banter, but I have to get out of here,” he said. He could feel sweat prickling his brow and his stomach was doing a sympathy clench.
Park looked surprised, but he took Gregor’s elbow and led him toward the door. “You should have said earlier if you weren’t feeling well.”
The heady scent of Park’s skin reached Gregor even through the expensive cologne. He could feel himself start salivating before the pinching pain made him clench his eyes shut and turn his face away. “I was fine. It just started.”
He let himself be tugged here and there and they left the cheerfully crowded room for quieter hallways. It was only when he thought they were alone that he let the pain show on his face, clenching his teeth together hard enough that his jaw ached. He refused to hunch over himself clutching his groin though; not until he was by himself. He refused to show his weakness in company.