Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi, mpreg
The sound of someone at the apartment door pulled him out of bed. He wrapped a robe around his aching body and stumbled to the door.
One look at Park’s face and Gregor knew the man could tell the Transfer was successful. But Park didn’t say anything about it so Gregor didn’t have to hit him.
“Give me a minute to shower and get dressed.” Gregor stepped back from the door so Park could come in. “What do we have scheduled today? More Farm work?”
“We can spend a few hours on the Farm if you’d like, but tonight is the rehearsal for the Bonding Ceremony.”
“Oh.” Gregor felt like he should say something, but he didn’t know what. “I’m taking a shower.” He turned on his heel and hurried away.
He wasn’t ready for all the changes happening in his life. It felt like too much.
By the time he was dressed, Gregor could pretend that he had a solid hold on himself. He wasn’t going to embarrass himself with a screaming fit and that was good.
He liked to save the histrionics for when he was alone.
Park was sitting on the couch, his right leg crossed over his left and his gloved hands resting on his knee. There was an expression of infinite patience on his face as he looked up at Gregor’s entrance.
Gregor was grateful when Park didn’t mention anything about the pregnancy and his eyes stayed steady on Gregor’s. His eyes didn’t even flick down over Gregor’s body.
“I’m ready,” Gregor said.
“I see that.” Park smoothly uncrossed his legs and stood, tugging his jacket straight. “Are you ready for a day of Farming?”
“Of course.” Gregor grabbed his jacket from the closet and pulled it on. It wasn’t particularly cold out, but he needed a bit of fabric armor to protect him from all the eyes that were sure to focus on him.
He walked with Park out to the western section and tried to push all thoughts of his pregnancy out of his mind. There were nine months ahead for all of the angst and woe. Right now he needed to concentrate on making it through the day without revealing how completely out of his depth he felt.
He needed to focus.
* * *
He should have known the rehearsal would involve fancy dress, but he’d let himself be surprised.
He’d grown used to dressing for dinner, but for the rehearsal there was actual formal wear and a quick visit from the tailor. She’d brought several outfits she’d made using the measurements she’d already taken and he had to acknowledge that the clothes were a fine fit. She hadn’t had to make any adjustments during the fitting, highlighting how well she knew his body.
“Is the rehearsal really that important?” he asked plaintively.
Park, once again watching him from the couch, nodded. “The real Bonding Ceremony will be Family only, as tradition demands. This will be the only chance for outsiders to offer their blessings.”
“So our Bonding will actually be less formal than the rehearsal?” Gregor asked.
“In effect, yes. We need to put on a show tonight, which explains the costumes.” Park stood and strode across the room to take Gregor’s hands in his own. “Once tonight is over, that’s it for the public displays. Everything else will be Family only.”
Gregor blew out his cheeks. “I suppose that must be some form of relief. I don’t think I could handle a full media circus. Though I want you to know I’m not comfortable with even this much.”
“Noted,” Park said. “Are you ready to get tonight started?”
Gregor glanced at himself in the full-length mirror hanging next to the door. He had to admit that he looked surprisingly good. At least he wouldn’t embarrass himself in the evening’s photographs.
“Let’s go,” he said.
Park offered his arm and Gregor took it with barely a pause. There was no room to be standoffish and weird; it was time to show the world that he was allied with the Duadenora. It was the safest option.
“Let’s get this party started,” he said, and caught a glimpse of Park’s smile before it slipped back into his usual implacability. It was reassuring nonetheless to know he wasn’t facing the gaping maw of Society on his own.
Park would be there for him.