Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi, mpreg
The pregnancy was an open secret. His scent had changed and there was no hiding it. But until the Announcement, everyone had to pretend that nothing was different about him. Which didn’t stop the extra smiles and cooing or the gooey fond looks that made him want to flee every room he was in.
Gregor constantly had to fight the sense of being overwhelmed. If he let them, they would cover him up and he would disappear into their expectations of a perfect pregnant Third. It was nothing he’d ever planned on being.
Park seemed to sense when he was about to lose control, because he would shift Gregor away from the masses of people or take him back to their rooms or for a walk through the gardens. Gregor should have hated being handled like that, but mostly he found himself grateful.
He’d never had someone look out for him before. He’d always handled things alone. It was a different kind of experience to have someone care for him, one that he wasn’t sure he enjoyed, but that he couldn’t help being grateful for when all those eyes were focused on him and he wanted to get away.
Then there was the Bonding Ceremony. The event was being arranged even without his assistance and he knew it was going to happen and everyone would *know*. The ceremony would be the first proof that he was pregnant. That he was a Third. That all of this was real.
Gregor sat on the bench in front of the koi pond and watched the decorative fish swim to and fro. He occasionally tossed a couple of food pellets from the small jar next to him. The gobbly mouths of the fish broke the surface, tiny bubbles bursting against the surface as they swallowed.
It was early enough that most of the household was still asleep. He hadn’t been able to stay in bed a moment longer and had slipped away. Not even the Morning Prayer had been enough to still his restless spirit. Which was why he was here, wrapped in a red jacket against the chill, watching the frost drip from the trees and feeding the fish.
Is this really my life? he wondered. He’d spent his whole life working, striving and straining to better his situation, to make his life worth something.
To have everything he’d dreamed of handed to him felt wrong. Because he hadn’t earned this life of leisure. He’d had it dropped on him because he’d given in to his nature and was breeding another heir for an already powerful Family.
He felt like he was betraying everything his mother had fought and died for.
There was the crunch of shoes on the still frosty ground. “I thought I’d find you out here.”
“Oh really?” Gregor hunched his shoulders and tossed a whole handful of pellets across the water. Greedy mouths opened and gulped hungrily, just as frantic as they’d been with the first bites.
He wondered if that was how babies were. Always hungry for something, whether milk or love or learning about the world.
“I can’t do this,” he blurted. “I’m scared.