tagSci-Fi & FantasyShards Ch. 02

Shards Ch. 02


In the end, our first day of work together turned out to be a mix of relief and frustration. The relief came when Nancy was able to interact with my coworkers without any embarrassing flubs. I was able to prompt her with bits of knowledge about each person but none of the conversations were very deep. If anyone noticed anything out of the ordinary, they didn't say anything.

The frustration came from trying to do my programming work, where Nancy was unfamiliar with the existing project I had been working on. My not being able to type or use the mouse was the worst part. For hour after hour, I knew exactly what needed to be done next, but relaying that verbally was excruciatingly slow for both of us. Even to the point of having to tell her what to type, character by character, because keywords and APIs were not spelled or capitalized in ways she expected if I simply pronounced them in my head.

You know that saying, "two heads are better than one?" Total crap, when one head holds the knowledge and the other head holds the keyboard.

Meanwhile, between the day off I had taken for our anniversary and the two days lost to the coma, I was behind due dates on several tasks that the project manager had not been able to reassign. So, I was feeling pressure to get a lot of code written, precisely when the working method between Nancy and me made everything slower. I admit I was letting that pressure overflow into impatience with Nancy. She was doing her best but it didn't feel good enough.

As a result, we were a bit cranky with each other when we finally stopped at the end of the afternoon and headed to the restaurant to meet up with Cathy, Zack and Paige.

As we drove there, Nancy thought, 'That could have been better, could have been worse. I'll try to do better on Monday.'

I answered, 'I'm sorry, Nancy. That's on me, not you. It's frustrating, being inside my own body and not having the control I want over it. In some ways, I suppose it's like being a paraplegic, except I can still feel all my body parts, can feel you move them, can feel the keyboard under my hands. But I can't type and can't relay information at the speed you can type, either. I know it's not fair to you, getting upset with typos that I would correct myself without a second thought and not even remember I made them. I hope that as you learn more about this project, we can collaborate more instead of just having you be my typist."

'Otherwise, it's going to be a long nine months or more until Cathy switches us back, right?' Nancy asked. 'I don't know if I would be handling this as well as you are. But for a first day, I think we were as productive as possible. We did manage to check off two tasks, even though Sam wanted three. Everything has been in such turmoil since we woke up, that you never had time to orient me on the project. Maybe we can fix that this weekend and be better prepared on Monday?'

'Maybe,' I thought. 'Although, with your body due to ovulate in a few more days, we might be busy... getting busy with Cathy.'

Nancy shrugged. 'We aren't going to be having sex with her every minute of every day, for Pete's sake. Although, we should start trying tonight, if we're still going to try this cycle.'

'Why wouldn't we?' I asked.

'To be honest, I'm feeling some performance anxiety. I'm still weirded out by just the idea of it. Get your cock hard and fuck my own pussy with it until I ejaculate. It's insane, just thinking it out loud. Then add the pressure that if I fail, I'll never get my body back?'

'Not even trying isn't the answer, though,' I said.

'I'm not saying we never try. But, maybe waiting a cycle would be better, so I can get more confident.'

'Or more nervous,' I thought. 'Look, I get it. It's not just that you're having to lose my virginity all over again, you have to do it while you identify as female and you're attracted to men instead of women. And all I can do is either be encouraging or silent. My voice in your head isn't going to make you attracted to Cathy, if my body isn't already making you feel that way. Although, maybe the fact that you're making love to your own body, instead of another woman, is the key. If you can think of my body as a remote controlled sex toy that you're using to masturbate and accept the pleasure my nerve endings are sensing as equivalent to hers, we can work both bodies towards orgasm at the same time.'

'Back up. What did you mean about this body making me attracted to Cathy?' Nancy asked.

I replied, 'Testosterone should be having some effect on you, don't you think? As well as any reaction my body has to female pheromones. Or maybe your memories, your sense of self, are simply overriding both of those. It's not like we can predict how a female consciousness is going to react to being put into a male brain. The Teclewtans wouldn't have needed to deal with it, when they developed the technology.'

'And then there's the question of whether having two consciousnesses in the same brain is having further effect on us. Are you feeling just as attracted to Cathy as you were to me?'

I answered, 'It's impossible to ignore the fact that she's possessed your body. I don't feel for her emotionally what I feel for you and that affects every response.'

'We're here,' Nancy said, as she pulled my car into the restaurant parking lot. Cathy, Zack and Paige were already standing next to the awning over the entrance. Paige waved, when she spotted us.

Nancy focused on Paige as we approached them and I asked, 'Using Paige as an experiment, hon?'

Nancy asked, 'Who better? She hasn't been changed by this, so my emotional feelings about her shouldn't be different. That should make my physical reaction clearer. Hush, now.' Aloud, she said, "Hi, guys! You put our names in?"

Zack held up one of those square restaurant pagers and said, "Should be another five minutes or so. You back to normal, buddy?"

"As close as can be, after making up for two missed days at work," Nancy replied, stepping close to give Cathy a quick peck on the lips. She then said, "Hi, Paige," and gave her a brief kiss to the cheek. I felt Nancy inhale and smelled Paige's usual perfume was absent.

"Hi, Dan," Paige said, smiling at me as Nancy stepped back. "So, you've got to tell us the whole story of this meteor strike."

"Over dinner and a glass of wine, okay?" Nancy answered. I spotted small reactions to that from both Paige and Cathy that didn't immediately click.

The pager buzzed and the four of us went back inside and were seated. As we were looking over the menus, Nancy asked, "A bottle of red to share?"

Paige looked our way and said, "None for me. I wasn't entirely ready to reveal this, since I'm only about six weeks along and they always say to wait until you're through the first trimester, but I'm pregnant."

"Congrats, you two!" Nancy said, just before Cathy echoed her. "Is that why you're not wearing perfume tonight? Your sense of smell is already that sensitive?"

"You noticed?" Paige asked.

Nancy said, "Yeah, I've come to associate that scent with you, like I associate Nancy's with her, although usually only if I'm close enough to hug you or kiss your cheek. So, I noticed its absence outside. Nancy and I were talking the other day about early signs of pregnancy and she mentioned that a heightened sense of smell can contribute to morning sickness and she wondered if she'd have to stop using her perfume, too."

Zack asked, "Should the three of us still get a bottle? If not, I think I'd prefer an ale."

"How about you, Dan?" Cathy asked. "Beer or wine?"

I thought, 'Wine's fine, babe.'

Nancy answered, "The Pinot's available in a split. Still less expensive than two glasses."

The waitress came back and we put in our drink orders, Paige opting for the raspberry iced tea. As we considered our dinner orders, Nancy kept stealing glances at Paige, until Cathy broadcast, 'Zack is starting to notice you looking at Paige. I know why you are doing it, but he thinks you are flirting.'

I thought back, 'Did you know Paige was pregnant before she said it? I noticed a reaction outside when I brought up having wine.'

Cathy answered, 'I reacted to Paige's thinking about being pregnant and having to reveal it earlier than she wanted, I suppose. I am still adjusting to having to keep telepathy a secret, although neither Paige or Zack noticed a thing.'

The waitress returned with the drinks and took our dinner orders. We toasted Paige's pregnancy and took sips of our beverages.

Zack said, "So, you promised more information about the meteor and how you survived it. You didn't think you were going to get away with saying it was a miracle, did you? There's got to be more to it than that, from the television reports."

Nancy thought to me, 'How much can we really share, Dan? This is a huge secret.'

I answered back, 'I trust Zack implicitly and I'm pretty sure we can trust Paige, too. Cathy, are you hearing anything different from them?'

Cathy said, 'They're both curious, but I sense no threat from either of them.'

Nancy answered Zack, "Okay, but this is just between us for now, okay?"

"Sure, Dan," he said.

"I'm not Dan. I'm Nancy in Dan's body," she said. "He's still in here, but I'm in control."

"Run that by me again?" Zack asked. "If you're in Dan's body, who's in yours?"

Nancy spent fifteen minutes quietly revealing everything that we had learned since waking up in the hospital, pausing only when our dinners arrived. Cathy dropped her impersonation of Nancy when she talked about Teclewt and Zack and Paige both marveled at the subtle differences that were revealed in Cathy's persona as her facial expressions and voice changed.

As we wrapped up the explanation, Zack asked, "So, besides trying to get... Cathy pregnant, you've got to figure out whether to allow this transformation into hermaphrodites to go forward?"

Nancy asked, "I haven't experienced a full sexual encounter as a male, yet. Once I do, I'll have a better idea of what having a combined form might be like. Dan won't have a chance at experiencing being a female before choosing, though."

Paige asked, "Would that change your gender identity or sexual orientation? Would you wind up pansexual, attracted to individuals of both genders, or just attracted to other hermaphrodites?"

Cathy answered, "Without a better understanding of how the human variations in gender identity and attraction form now, that's unpredictable. My species had no variations like that. Another risk to consider."

'Along with explaining it to the public,' I thought.

"Dan just brought up another point," Nancy said. "We would need a way to explain the transformation to the public."

"Hormone therapy as part of transgender transition?" Zack asked. "To explain Dan developing breasts?"

Nancy answered, "That story falls completely apart if Dan eventually gets pregnant. Which would be part of the point of doing it, after all. We've agreed that we both do it or neither of us do."

Paige said, "Maybe you should just tell the truth, that something in the meteor is transforming you. You two winding up in the hospital from it is already public knowledge. You don't have to mention Cathy."

Nancy said, "Can you imagine the public response to that? At best, we wind up as some tabloid headline. At worst, prisoners of some government lab and they discover Cathy anyway. We need a safe path forward, before we commit to changing. We were already taking a risk, telling the two of you."

Zack suggested, "Going very public with it might be better for you. The government can't snatch you up if you make your situation known to absolutely everyone."

"We'll have to think about it some more. We're still adjusting to what's happened so far. For one thing, I'm having a hard time feeling attraction to females, even though I'm in a male body and ought to be affected by Dan's testosterone."

Cathy said, "That would be the nanites. They've been filtering out Dan's sex hormones from your shared brain, to preserve your personality."

Nancy rolled her eyes. "And low testosterone causes reduced sexual desire and other issues. That's why we've been so emotionally flat! Can that be changed? What are the risks?"

Cathy answered, "Yes, the filtering can be turned off, but I cannot predict whether your gender identity or orientation would be permanently altered, even after regaining this body."

Nancy asked, "We would face the same risk transforming into hermaphrodites, wouldn't we? We couldn't be sure whether we would actually wind up neutral in terms of both gender identity and attraction?"

Cathy said, "Again, your species doesn't fully understand the ways either gender identity or sexual attraction varies from your norms, so it's hard to predict whether the transformation will overcome a lifetime of conditioning. If you accept the full transformation, though, you'd have the ability to function sexually as either gender, whether you retain a preference afterward or not."

Nancy said, "If I can't get aroused enough to get my body pregnant, it won't matter whether I'd still feel male in a female body. So, I'll take the risk."

'Are you sure, baby?' I asked.

'Would you prefer feeling listless and dull for nine months?' Nancy responded. 'Or even longer, if this does become an obstacle to having intercourse with Cathy? I need to do this, Dan.'

"Give me your hands, then," Cathy said. "I cannot simply send commands to the nanites telepathically."

Nancy extended her hands, palms up. Cathy placed hers over them, we felt a tingling sensation for about ten seconds, then Cathy let go. "It's done. You should feel the effects within the hour."

We continued our conversation as dinner turned into dessert. As more time passed, I noticed Nancy's gaze falling more and more often on Paige and Cathy's faces and, more importantly, their chests. When I felt the beginnings of an erection from my cock, I asked, 'Feeling turned on already, hon?'

'It's like I can't stop myself from checking out and comparing their boobs,' she thought back, chuckling. 'All those times I caught you staring, now I know what you felt.'

Cathy transmitted, 'Paige is noticing and understands that it's actually Nancy who is checking her out. She's flattered and fantasizing about gender reversal herself and having sex in a male body with another woman. You would probably label her bi-curious.'

"Earth to Nancy and Dan," Zack said. "You zoned out. Are you three talking telepathically right now?"

"Yeah, Zack," Nancy responded. "Just talking about the hormones beginning to affect me. It's making me boob-obsessed, already."

"Welcome to being a horny male, Nancy," Zack said, smirking.

Finally, we parted ways, making plans to get together for another dinner the next weekend.

On the drive home, with Cathy in the other car, I asked, 'Now that Cathy's out of telepathic range, can we talk some more about transformation? Is it worth the risk to put ourselves on the government's radar?'

'That's what I'm thinking, too,' Nancy answered. 'There's definitely a part of me that wants to do it, to show solidarity for our eventual child. But not if we can't keep ourselves safe from either the government or public reaction.'

'At least Cathy gave us a choice. How much angrier would we be, if we had woken up already transformed?'

Nancy said, 'With the testosterone blocked off, I bet we wouldn't have been angry at all. Now that it's returning to normal, I'm getting pretty mad at her for the things she has done. And I've got to have sex with her tonight? It's bad enough having sex with someone I'm not in love with, but actively angry? I'm not looking forward to this.'


As soon as we were through the door of our condo, Nancy took Cathy's hand and said, "Let's get started on a baby," and started to pull her towards our bedroom.

"What, no romance?" Cathy asked. I wasn't sure if she was joking.

I felt Nancy tense up before she said, "Let's not fool ourselves, Cathy. This isn't going to be some love affair. You've taken my body hostage and forced Dan and me into a situation where I have to impregnate my own body, to get it back. Part of me really wants to hurt you for that, especially as the hormone suppression is lifting and I'm feeling that anger more strongly. However, I also know the easiest path through this mess is to conceive as soon as possible."

"Are you of the same mind, Dan?" Cathy asked.

I exploded at her, 'Is that supposed to be a fucking joke?!? All I am is mind, right now. And yesterday you had the nerve to say we should be more grateful because you didn't do worse to us? I'm with Nancy. We're stuck in a situation you created, so let's take the logical next step to getting out of it.'

Nancy said, "We're going to fuck tonight. Don't confuse that with what we call making love. My one goal is to shoot Dan's sperm inside my vagina to fertilize one of my eggs. We'll repeat the next five days and hope you get pregnant this cycle. If we succeed, we'll have another nine months living together to wait for the birth and your promise to return me to my body as you occupy the baby's. Maybe we'll actually manage to become friends in that time. Maybe we'll have sex again during the pregnancy, especially if we decide to go through with the transformation and will want to test out the new equipment. But, falling in love? I'm not going to even try. Why would I want to develop romantic feelings for my future child? It's going to be weird enough that you will remember what sex with your father's body feels like."

"You hate me?" Cathy asked, her eyes wide with what I realized was her first display of strong emotion since she had revealed herself - fear of rejection.

'No, we don't hate you,' I answered. 'Love and hate are not the only two possibilities, okay? We're angry with you for causing this situation, angry at the powerlessness of it, especially my not having any control over my body. We're allowed to feel that way even while we understand the logic behind your actions. It's also not as angry as I would be if this situation were permanent or if you had replaced Nancy altogether. What's clear is that actually indulging that anger by harming you wouldn't get us what we want, which is our bodies back. So, we'll keep it in check ourselves, not by having our emotions dampened.'

Nancy added, "Look, Cathy. We understand you could have done much worse to us. This is the path you chose to mitigate that harm, for your own conscience. It's still harm, though. Expecting gratitude or romance from us is just too much. This is going to be transactional sex tonight, which goes against my own preferences. You've got my memories. You already know I've never had sex with someone I didn't get to know first and felt I loved. With Dan, we'd been dating for five weeks during college. If this were a normal dating situation, I'd wait before sex. But there's nothing normal about this and I expect to ovulate by Tuesday. I don't have the patience to wait another menstrual cycle, knowing it would mean another month before getting my body back. So, I choose to have sex tonight and I have to not freak out about you being an alien stranger who has borrowed my face and body while I have my husband's. There's no room left for me to pretend this is romantic."

Cathy sighed. "That is fair. But I need you both to understand that this is stressful for me, too. I never had sex before I left Teclewt, not that the experience would have helped me be ready for human sex."

'Why not?' I asked. "I mean, why didn't you?"

Cathy answered, "Only unmated adults were qualified to enter the lottery, so they would not be leaving children or a mate behind. While virginity was not required, it was common among the applicants and we suspected it was being favored, despite official denials. In addition to knowing that the experience would not assist in adapting to another species' sexual practices, I chose to avoid any possibility of forming an emotional attachment to a temporary partner I would be leaving behind. Why remember what I could never repeat, in either regard?"

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