Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi, mpreg
After a bath that left Gregor’s fingers and toes pruney, but had given him a chance for a solitary cry, he didn’t know what he was supposed to do next. He paced around his suite and tried to wipe the memory of Psycher Tobin from his mind, but it was impossible. The man had looked at him and known him in a way that wouldn’t let him hide. He felt scraped raw from the experience.
When he was able to push Tobin away, it was only to have his mind draw forth memories of his mother, painful and bittersweet.
Tobin had suggested that he didn’t want to be like his mom, and it hurt to realize that it was true. She’d had her great mission to save humanity, and because of it she’d left him behind. There had never been a single time when he’d been certain that he came first in her consideration, because her mission had always been the most important thing.
She had died and left him behind. Tobin had dug up all that old pain with just a few words, and now Gregor couldn’t put those emotions back in the box. He’d been cracked open and left raw.
Gregor glanced at his mother’s book where it sat on the table. He’d used a red strip of paper to mark his place. It made him think of blood now. Her blood, his blood, the blood of the baby he’d never wanted but that was even now forming inside him. A few scraps of cells that would become a living breathing person.
“I can’t stand it,” he said, then flinched at his own voice ringing through the silence.
He snatched his ePad from the bedroom and went to the bookcase. He’d been sure there wasn’t anything he wanted to read on the shelves, but sometime while he hadn’t been paying attention the books had been replaced by others that were more to his taste.
He should have been creeped out by the invasion of privacy, but at the moment he could only be grateful. He needed something to distract him.
Gregor perused the shelves, drawing out the occasional book to read the blurbs on the plasticene cases. He finally chose a book entitled The Adventures of Mad Jack the Mountain King.
He touched his ePad to the book and waited for the chirrup sound that signified the book had finished loading.
He curled up on the couch to read, forcing himself to focus on the words of the strange tale of Mad Jack, who lived in a mountain hideaway and traveled with his friends to other worlds through a portal they called a Gate. They went to those worlds and traded with the natives where they could, and even when their own laws said it was wrong, they took what they wanted if they couldn’t come to an agreement with the natives. And Mad Jack went from being an explorer to being a king and his quest for power grew and grew.
Gregor had never had a fondness for fairy tales, but The Adventures of Mad Jack were strangely fascinating and the book didn’t take him long to finish. And when he was done, his mind had quieted a little and he felt less like he was going to spin off into pieces.
The door chime sounded and Gregor’s voice was calm when he said, “Come in.”
Park held a covered dish and actually looked relieved to see him sitting on the couch. It made Gregor wonder how bad he had looked earlier.
“I brought you some dinner.” Park carried the dish to the table and sat down on the couch next to Gregor. He pulled napkin-wrapped silverware out of his jacket pocket. “It’s still hot if you’re ready to eat.”
Gregor looked at him quietly, tracing his eyes over the man’s face. Park wasn’t traditionally handsome, but he had a definite presence and there was something in his cast of features that spoke of trust and honesty. He was terrifying to Law breakers, but someone that could be counted on.
Neatly trimmed black hair, almond-shaped dark brown eyes, and smooth bronze skin. His mother must have been of Asian descent, as Zero looked fully Caucasian. Gregor had to wonder what the baby was going to look like.
He shut down that line of wondering quickly. He wasn’t ready to go there. Not yet.
“Were you reading?” Park asked. He uncovered the plate as he spoke, revealing a grilled vat chicken breast, asparagus spears wrapped in sim-bacon, fresh cut tomato wedges, and a buttermilk roll. There were perfect pats of butter in a small cup, gold limned under the light.
Gregor’s stomach rumbled in unexpected hunger and he reached for the silverware Park offered. “I just finished a sort of funny fairy tale book, I guess. Someone replaced all the books in here. No more unhappy war stories and dry memoirs.”
“I had the Librarian pick out some new titles for you. I’m glad you were able to find something you liked.”
“Thank you.” Gregor cut into the chicken and took a bite. It was as juicy and delicious as it looked. He wondered if this was what real chicken tasted like, though he couldn’t imagine killing an animal just to find out. “This is good.”
Park looked pleased. “If you finish it all, you can have some ice cream for dessert.”
“This baby is going to be so spoiled,” Gregor laughed, then froze. It took him a few seconds, but he began to eat again, quieter and thoughtful.
Psycher Tobin may have been right about pregnancy affecting the way he thought. Things were shifting and changing on a subconscious level and he couldn’t even be terrified about it. Unnatural calm was settling around him like a shroud. A sense that things were happening outside of his control so why bother worrying.
Gregor licked his lips and hunched closer to his plate. He should be terrified. Instead he was calmly accepting.
How much of me is going to be left? Will I recognize myself at all?
He ate every bite of his dinner.