Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi, mpreg
Zero was following him around, close enough that he could reach out and press his palm right in the man’s face and shove. He was tempted, to push Zero far away just so he could hope for some peace in his own skin.
But Zero lingered close and the scent of him was winding through Gregor’s brain, sapping away at his self-control. Until he couldn’t help wondering what would be so bad about letting Zero fuck him over and over again until the Heat ended.
And then what? That was the question.
To let Zero fuck him would solve one problem–the hungry ache between his legs that wanted to be filled, pleasured, taken again and again until he was worn raw enough to say “No more. Enough”–but would give him another. He’d have a baby to worry about and Zero would be the father and his life would be tied to Zero’s and something inside him balked at the idea. Not because Zero was a bad guy–Gregor didn’t know enough about him to know–but because he’d always valued his freedom and didn’t want to give it up.
The glittering avarice in Zero’s eyes may have been desire, but that’s not what Gregor saw. He saw a hungry maw that wanted to swallow him whole, to consume him until Gregor Tierney was gone and all that was left was some baby breeding machine.
“Excuse me,” Gregor said, and escaped to the bathroom. It took everything he had not to look as though he was running away even as he fled.
The large bathroom was empty and he was glad. He washed his face at one of the sinks and refused to meet his own eyes in the mirror as all of his pretty cosmetics ran down the drain. He didn’t care.
He’d always hated feeling helpless. Some stubborn part of him balked at being told what to do and wanted to fight back, to run away, something. But there was nothing he could do and nowhere he could go.
He was on file as a Third. The State was never going to let him go, not until he did his duty.
The trapped feeling was the worst part. He hated feeling trapped and without options, as though everything he did was completely futile. To strive and strain and still end up locked in a cage…
It made him feel helpless. His life was not his own and never would be again. He was a resource of the state.
It hit him suddenly. That “Oh no!” sense and he barely managed to scramble into a stall before he was vomiting. He was glad it all went into the bowl, otherwise he’d be explaining to the cleaning staff. As it was, he heaved until he was lightheaded and trembling, his face cold with sweat.
He leaned against the side of the stall to keep from slipping down to his knees as the world took a few slow turns around him.
After awhile he was able to flush the toilet and stumble back to the sink–his sink–to rinse out his mouth and wash his face. His reflection looked sick and gray in the mirror, brown eyes fever bright.
“You look terrible,” he whispered, then cracked a rather ghoulish looking smile. He felt terrible.
He saw the door swing open behind him in the mirror and wiped his expression clear. He grabbed a towel and dried his face. He wasn’t surprised to open his eyes to find Park looking at him.
“Are you all right?” Park asked.
“Peachy keen.” Gregor tugged his sleeves straight and smoothed down his hair. He still looked pale and shaky, but he thought he could pull off going back out.
He closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. In through his mouth, out through his nose until he was able to stand up straight without his knees folding.
“You’re not well,” Park said. “I’m taking you back to your room and calling Medical.”
Gregor cracked one eye open enough to see him. “Don’t you think that’s a little presumptuous? I’m fine. I can go back out there.”
“You won’t though. You will be going to your room where you will rest.”
Gregor thought he should resent being told what to do, but he really didn’t feel well and he wanted to be in his room, curled up in his bed. Plus there was something about the firm yet warm tone of Park’s voice that made him want to listen, to believe that he could relax and everything would be all right.
“Fine,” he said. He followed Park out of the bathroom, and it was a relief to have those strong shoulders to hide behind as members of the Family looked at him in the hallway. It made him feel less exposed to have Park on his side.
“What is going on here?” Zero asked when they were nearly to Gregor’s room.
Park pushed Gregor in front of him and spoke over his shoulder to his brother. He did not stop walking. “He’s not feeling well and I’m taking him back to his room.”
“Mother will be upset if he’s not there tonight. Maybe he should return to the ballroom once he’s cleaned himself up.” It didn’t sound like a request.
Gregor kept walking toward his room and Zero had to follow to keep talking to Park. Gregor wasn’t sure he liked being ignored while being talked about. It made him wonder if he’d stopped being a person without noticing.
“He’s not well. Even if he wanted to go tonight, I think I might stop him.”
“Mother will be furious. You know how she gets if she even thinks that she’s been slighted.”
There was enough warning in Zero’s voice that Gregor stopped and turned. “Maybe I should…”
Park held up his hand. “You are not well and you should take the opportunity to rest. There is no reason that your health should be put at risk.”
Zero made sounds like he was about to object, but Park turned away and strode to Gregor’s side. “Come on.”
Park put his arm around Gregor’s shoulders and took him back to his room.
They left Zero standing there and something lightened in Gregor’s chest. It was nice to have someone show some care for him.
He couldn’t remember the last time that he’d felt as if someone gave a damn for him.