Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi
For days, weeks, months, *years*, there had been a frustration building under his skin. The knowledge that whatever happened, he was powerless and his choices for his own life didn’t matter. No one was going to let them matter.
Because he was a Third.
He was a viable breeder for a dying humanity, and they were never going to let him forget it. Not until he gave them the babies they demanded or grew too old. They would use him up and throw him away.
It disturbed him to know that Park was part of the otherwise faceless THEY. He’d begun to think of Park as his only friend in this alien place where he was expected to spread his legs for the good of the State.
Can you say Stockholm Syndrome? I knew you could, he thought, and snorted a reluctant laugh.
And then he was laughing and crying at the same time and he finally knew what hysteria felt like.
Not too bad.
Something had slipped loose, the world gone a little sideways, and there was an inevitability to the letting go. It was something that needed to happen; otherwise he would shatter completely and he’d never be all right. Because he was a Third, he was going into Heat, and the thought of Third sex and the children that followed terrified him.
Time moved in jerks and pauses, and he thought he was supposed to be afraid. Instead, he went with what was happening and let the world figure itself out.
Park led him back to his room, an arm around his towel covered shoulders. Then he was curled up on the couch with a cup of Calm Tea, his breath still coming in hitching gasps. His face burned where the tears trailed against his skin and his nose was running.
And somewhere in there, he leaned his face up and kissed Park.
The feel of his lips, the solidity of his body under Gregor’s hands, the *need* that wanted to throw Park down and *take him*, claim him, brand his name into the man’s skin until Park’s very blood changed to show Gregor’s ownership.
Then somehow he was in his bed alone and there was the red brand where strong hands had gripped his upper arms to push him away. And dimly he knew that he should be embarrassed, that he’d crossed a line, but he didn’t care.
He was alone — unwanted — and he had his hand down the front of his shorts. His skin was hot and needy and hopeless *wanting* sounds were escaping his throat as he panted and writhed and thrust into his own hand.
He was out of control, and he didn’t care.
He wailed when he came, and it might have been a name.
* * *
The morning after the day before. Gregor woke up sticky and unhappy.
His face felt swollen and when he stumbled into the bathroom he saw that his eyes were swollen nearly shut and his cheeks and lips were pouchy and discolored. He looked bedraggled and exactly as if he’d spent a night crying.
“You’re a mess,” he told his reflection, who just blinked at the rough sound of his voice and went back to looking miserable.
Gregor climbed into the shower and hoped the hot water would stop his face from looking so horrible. And while he was in there, he let himself panic about how he was going to deal with Park the next time he saw him.
He’d tried to jump the man. All ugly from crying, snot everywhere, and he’d desperately wanted Park to fuck him and let him forget that this was his life.
He figured he could blame it on the Heat, a precursor to the Madness, but he knew the truth. Getting upset and trying to fuck the badness out … That was classic Gregor Tierney. It was what he did, and one of the reasons why he had no close friends.
He ran them away with his inability to cope with his emotions and keep his hands to himself.
Gregor scrubbed himself thoroughly, his mind considering and discarding truths, lies, and the words he was going to have to say to keep Park from running away.
Because he needed to keep Park on his side. He needed an ally here in the belly of the beast. He needed a friend.
Or he would go mad.
It’s a little late for that, he thought, and didn’t like the jagged glass sound of his own laugh.