Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi
Gregor slowly read every page in the book, ignoring the heat building in his lower belly.
He’d forgotten what it felt like, that liquid heat burbling just under his skin. A potent cocktail of hormones was flooding through his veins, canceling out some of the pain of the changes happening to his body.
He was glad the pain in his groin was being pushed aside by other happenings. It wasn’t comfortable by any means–the dull ache had him shifting frequently–but he could let himself be distracted by the itching sensation under his shirt as his stomach pouch separated from his skin.
He thought about taking a peek at his body’s metamorphosis, but he refrained. He’d seen pictures in the sex-ed pamphlets and that had been enough for him. He didn’t need anymore nightmare material, especially based on his own body.
There was the sound of the door opening and the near-whisper of footsteps. “I should have known you’d take yourself into the sunlight. You look like you’re glowing.”
Gregor turned to look at Park. “You purposely make your footsteps heavy when you’re around me.”
Park quirked his lips. “I wouldn’t want you to beat me up if I manage to surprise you.”
“I’m sure you’re shaking in your boots,” Gregor said. He closed the book and hugged it to his chest as he began to stand up.
Park waved his hand to keep Gregor where he was. “You don’t have to get up. I don’t want to take you away from what you’re doing.”
Gregor shook his head. “It’s about time I apply some medication. If I wait too long I’ll be writhing on the floor and you’ll have to carry me back.”
“Well, we wouldn’t want that,” Park said. His expression didn’t change, but Gregor had the sense that he was being laughed at.
Leaving the solarium came with a heavy sense of regret. Gregor had been feeling comforted and safe, and now he had to get back to facing reality. Where he was Third, the world was a harsh place, and uncomfortable Heat made him want to climb into a cool bath and never come out.
They reached his room, and after Park had prowled around before settling on the couch, Gregor took his tube of medicated cream into the bathroom.
Applying the cream had become routine. He tried to ignore the changes overtaking his body while he rubbed cream onto his genitals.
Meeting his own gaze in the mirror was an accident, but he was startled by the weary shadows in his eyes. He looked like he was melting away.
“‘Like a candle consuming itself from both ends,'” he whispered, thinking of The Dawning Tree. His mother had described the individual as a plain white candle, and society was the flame burning with expectation.
Gregor looked down at the flesh he held in his hands and it didn’t feel like a part of him. This alien penis, with skin peeling as though with sunburn, and strange shapes pressing out from the shaft and over the delicate head.
It didn’t look like a part of him, this bit of skin, bone, and oversensitive nerve endings. Coming from his body as naturally as if it had always been there, he felt sour regret for what he had lost, what he was becoming, and for how his skin had begun to burn under his hands as he stroked.
A shudder went through his whole body and Gregor had to lean his hip against the counter. Desire was pooling through his belly and he felt this gaping sense of emptiness.
He wanted to fill. He wanted to be filled. He wanted to fuck and be fucked until he didn’t know where his nerves ended and another’s began. He wanted, and it was different from anything he was used to.
It was liquid sliding heat, visceral in a way he’d never experienced before. Desire that started deep and moved slower to become more powerful than anything he’d known.
He thought of Park sitting on the couch just beyond the closed bathroom door. He thought of the man’s hands, so strong and sure, and his lips and eyes and the faint scent of his skin that Gregor had begun to search out with his nose. He thought about rubbing himself all over that strong body, locking them together with this alien bit of flesh as he let Park inside him, and he clenched his teeth on the cry that wanted to escape as he suddenly came.
And it was different from anything he’d known, while familiar at the same time. A gush of faintly milky fluid that kept coming, pulsing out of him as he shuddered and shook, his eyes rolling back at how good it felt.
But he wanted more, and he wasn’t thinking correctly, and it felt natural to press two fingers inside. To stroke over the sensitive flesh, what he imagined as pulsing and pink, to give himself the friction he needed. To let himself be caught up in the sensation, his nipples prickling beneath his shirt, as he thrust his fingers in and out of himself, not quite able to reach what he was searching for, but so close that it was nearly good enough.
He came again, his flesh tightening around his fingers, hungry and grasping. And he couldn’t help the want, the raw desire to have someone else fill him up. First with semen, then with a baby, a new life that would live beneath his skin and metamorphosis into a butterfly, safe in the cocoon of his body.
And he was kneeling on the floor and there were tears streaming down his face, and he pulled his hand away too roughly and it hurt and he thought “Good” as he pressed his face into his arm to muffle his sobs.
He was disgusting. He was a monster. He was wrong.
Gregor could feel himself slipping away, losing bits and pieces of Gregor Tierney until he didn’t know who or what he was becoming. But he was afraid and he hated it and more than anything he wanted to go back to being safe in his own skin.
He sobbed and shook and bit his arm to stay quiet. Hating himself for crying, for being weak, for having biology he couldn’t control.
He forced himself to his feet and turned on the water, watching it gush into the sink. Cold water, icy and burning against his skin as he plunged his face beneath the surface.
He opened his mouth and let the water run over his tongue and teeth. He screamed, a muffled rush of sound and bubbles. He scrubbed his hands and face, punishing himself with harsh treatment.
Then he dried his hands and face on the soft towel, straightened his clothes, and the left the bathroom. Returned to pretending everything was all right and he didn’t want to peel out of his skin. Didn’t want to claw and bite until blood ran out of every bit of him until he disappeared.
Because he was all right. He was holding on. He wasn’t a mess of failing nerves and hatred for a body that kept changing with him in it.
He was all right. He wouldn’t let himself be anything else.