tagSci-Fi & FantasyUnity and Destiny Pt. 01

Unity and Destiny Pt. 01


Author's note: This story is a direct sequel to 'The Strangeness Within,' which I placed in Novels & Novellas, though it could also have been in this category. This tale won't make complete sense without reading the first book.

The setting is (almost) our world, during the mid 1990s. The stories are probably best described as somewhere between fantasy and science fiction. Even the characters with unusual abilities disagree about the mechanism. There is certainly sex, but more irregularly than some stories.

The story is complete, and I will upload sections regularly until the end. It is somewhat longer than the first book, and I hope you enjoy it!

Our tale resumes about nine months after the end of 'The Strangeness Within.' Javier and Esther have just finished their first year of college, and all seems quiet. We all know how deceiving appearances can be.


Esther buzzed around the dining room, straightening place settings that didn't seem to need it. "I wish I'd found matching chairs."

Javier shook his head. "It's fine. Everything looks great, and Kat and Grace don't care about any of that."

It was the first time Esther had invited people to her new place, a rambling old farmhouse in the hills above Stanford. It'd cost a fortune, but Esther didn't worry about spending money once she'd decided on something. As she said, what else was it for? Javier was faintly annoyed at her easy adjustment to being rich, the result of inheriting her former teacher's estate.

She deserved it, of course, and Javier knew she'd spend it wisely and generously. But it also meant more responsibilities on her shoulders, the last thing she needed. Before spring break, he'd suggested they go blow a few grand in Vegas, and she hadn't realized he'd been at least half serious. She'd just smiled and brushed it off, and then she'd worked right through their vacation week.

The doorbell rang, and when he opened the door, Kat mauled him with a bear hug. Grace followed her in, and though her hug was a lot quicker, Javier was as uncomfortable as always. Grace could probably tell, but she'd never make anything of it. He supposed if someone was going to monopolize Kat's time, he was lucky it was someone so unfailingly nice. But it would've been easier if Grace wasn't so hot.

The two women hugged Esther in turn, and she smiled.

"So, you're finally done!" Kat said. "Bet you aced your finals."

"I don't know. I ran out of time on my essay about Turgenev—"

Kat shared a knowing look with Javier. Esther had done fine. Not everything came as easily to her as mathematics, but she'd still been getting straight A's on her papers in Russian literature.

San Jose State had earlier exams than Stanford, so for the last week Javier had been hanging out a lot more with Kat and Grace. He'd never felt like such a third wheel. Those two deserved each other. But then, things were just fine with Esther. Or, they would be now that she was done with the stress of her first semester of classes.

They'd left the big windows open to the early summer breeze, and as they ate dinner Javier felt himself relaxing in a way he couldn't remember for a long time. Esther smiled, even laughing sometimes. Grace had this habit of quietly intoning oddball jokes when they'd all been silent too long.

Javier knew why Esther had bought this place. Close enough to Stanford to be convenient, but as wild as you could get nearby. Oak and eucalyptus lined the far edge of the field, blocking off the views of the city below. But he knew she itched to get back to the camp in the Sierras. Her true home. Javier didn't care so much where they were, as long as he was with her. If he'd had the choice he would have spent every night with her in her previous apartment, or in the farmhouse now. But Esther—

He sighed. All that would be better now. Esther wouldn't feel so cramped for mental space when they were away from the Bay and the throngs of people. But first they had to go back to southern California and visit Mamá.

The sun was setting, and it was getting chilly. Esther wouldn't notice, with her subconscious ability to regulate her temperature.

"Anyone mind if I close the windows?" Javier asked.

"No, I was just thinking that," said Grace, and he couldn't help but smile at her. Shorter than Kat, Chinese-American, with a medium build and a serious face that hid a rebellious streak. She never wore makeup, and he wasn't sure how often she wore a bra. She definitely wasn't wearing one now, and Javier tore his eyes away from the nipples pressing through her shirt. Yes, it was cold. When he sat down he made himself think instead about Esther's beautiful, blue nipples, until he could feel less embarrassed about his erection.

They retired to the living room and gathered around the immense old fireplace. Esther expertly got a fire going and they all watched the flames contentedly.

"Were you a Girl Scout or something? I've never learned to make a fire like that," said Grace.

Kat and Javier exchanged uncomfortable glances. Grace didn't know anything about the camp in the Sierras, or any of that aspect of Esther and Javier's life. And Esther was terrible at lying.

"No, not Girl Scouts," said Esther. "But I've always liked the outdoors. It's not really so hard to learn. See how I placed the logs? You want to start with the finest kindling..."

Terrible at lying, but she was getting even better at avoiding talking about things. And she'd always been good at that.

Grace nodded happily as Esther switched into teacher mode. She was really good at it, in truth. Javier thought she would make a great teacher one day. Whatever it was she decided to teach.

Soon Esther settled back against Javier on the love seat, while Grace rejoined Kat on the couch.

"This is a beautiful place," said Grace. "Thanks so much for inviting us. I wish you guys were around for the summer. I barely feel like I'm getting to know you. You're leaving in the morning, then?"

Javier nodded. "Too long without seeing Mamá. Maybe by the end of the summer she'll be sick of us."

"I doubt that," said Grace with a smile.

In truth it would only be two weeks before they left again to join Nicola and Mark up at the Sierra camp. He felt bad about the lie, but Kat had suggested it.

After a while of quiet, Grace broke the silence. "Is your little brother Samuel coming up to visit after all? I'd love to meet him."

"Maybe," said Kat after a long pause. "I don't know if I'm ready—"

Something unpleasant flashed in Grace's eyes, and Kat looked ashamed. Javier looked away to avoid whatever relationship issue he'd glimpsed. Though he could guess well enough: Kat wasn't out to her family yet. Javier had known Samuel a little back in high school, and he was sure her brother would take it just fine, but he wasn't about to tell Kat how to handle things. As it happened, she didn't need his advice anyway.

"You know," Kat said, "I'll give him a call tomorrow. I know Samuel would love to meet you."

Javier looked back in time to see Grace give a Kat a deep kiss on the lips. Christ, they were hot.

Kat broke the moment by tickling Grace's side.

"Kat!" Grace giggled, but Kat didn't relent. Soon the two were wrestling on the couch, which finished exactly the way Javier expected, with Kat pinning down the smaller woman. And she kept tickling Grace, who started to shriek with laughter and discomfort.

It being Kat, of course it didn't end there. Using one hand to pin both of Grace's hands above her head, Kat leaned down to Grace's stomach, where her shirt had already ridden up slightly to expose a line of skin. Kat extended her tongue and slowly began to lick higher, passing to the side of Grace's belly button and using her lips to raise the shirt as she went.

Grace gasped with something else entirely and struggled slightly, though it was only for show. Her breath was coming faster, and with a heave she got one hand free. But rather than stop Kat, she grabbed her girlfriend's round ass.

Javier swallowed, wishing he wasn't getting so excited by all this. He thought he'd gotten used to the strange not-quite-sexual closeness he had with Kat, but the truth was he still fantasized about her sometimes. And Grace—

Kat pressed her side into Grace's crotch and slipped her hand up underneath her girlfriend's shirt. But by the time Kat reached one perfectly rounded breast, Grace seemed to come to her senses, struggling back and pulling her shirt fully down. She whispered something to Kat and kissed her on the forehead.

"Sorry, guys," said Grace. "You didn't need to see that."

"Oh, c'mon, Grace, everyone likes seeing girls get it on."

Grace shook her head, trying not to smile. "I can't take you anywhere, can I?"

"Well, maybe you should take me home, then. Hint, hint."

There were hugs all around when they left, and this time Kat kissed him softly on the cheek. "We'll miss you. Have a great summer, you two!"

There wasn't much left to clean up. In a half hour, Javier found himself pulling Esther towards the bedroom.

"I have to pee," Esther said. But she looked happy, and more relaxed than he'd seen in months.

She spent a long time in the bathroom, and Javier sat on the bed nervously, not quite sure what he should be expecting.

It wasn't as though they didn't have sex. But something wasn't quite right. Esther insisted it was nothing, that she was just preoccupied. She had every reason to be, of course: a full course load, serious research with Raj and Anatoly, and the mental strain he knew it took to keep up a watch on him and all of her friends.

In the end he compromised, getting under the covers in just his underwear. And when Esther emerged, she was utterly naked.

She looked so delicate, even now with the bit of extra muscle. Under five feet tall, with only the most modest curves, and the odd cheekbones that made him think of an elf, or a faerie. She didn't like it when he tried to compare her to a mythical creature, and he supposed that was fair. She was real, and she was as human as he was. But with something more. Those intense eyes of different colors, the splash of colorful freckles between her tiny breasts. The brilliant blue nipples and areolae, the light fur on her torso and thighs. The strange shallow hole in place of a vagina, with the smooth blue ring of skin around it.

But that was just the outside. Her hidden gifts were unlike anything Javier could comprehend, even after all this time. The universe in her head. And the conviction she was responsible for it all. He loved her more than he could ever express.

Compared to that, sex was just sex. But it was sometimes amazing sex. And maybe tonight would be one of those nights again.

He pulled off his underwear and tossed it theatrically to the side. Esther laughed lightly and slipped into the bed with him. Under the covers, his erection began to throb, and he gasped when she gripped his shaft with a tiny, freezing hand.


"Oops," Esther giggled. In seconds, her hand warmed to something quite pleasant.

"I'll never get tired of that trick," he said, snuggling against her and kissing the side of her neck.

Esther didn't reply, and he worried he'd said something wrong. It seemed like he worried that a lot these days. But Esther would deny it if he asked, so instead he just kissed her some more. She seemed to like that well enough. When she spooned against him, he moved to rub his cock against her back, quickly finding the sensitive rough patches. Esther's breathing sped up and she helped press against him. It was one of their favorite bits of foreplay. Javier ran his fingertips lightly between her breasts. He loved her nipples, of course, but she liked the touch on her freckles even more. So he compromised as usual and touched her everywhere.

"So good," Esther whispered.

Javier had never managed to come just from this. But after the last few days of frustration, and watching Kat and Grace tonight, he was starting to think he might. Except he was starting to feel Esther's tension.

Don't ask her what's wrong. Experience suggested that would make her more tense. Just pretend everything's all right, and she might relax.

And sure enough, he felt her settling closer, her rhythms slowing and deepening. The strange beauty of her particular arousal. She shifted higher, taking hold of his cock, sliding it between her legs and sighing when the tip touched the sensitive ring around her shallow opening.

She was pretty wet. So wet that he had the sudden suspicion she'd been masturbating during that time in the bathroom. The thought was arousing, and faintly depressing. He focused on the arousing bit. She wanted this sex to work.

Back and forth, sliding across, his cock coated in her juices. He had come this way a few memorable times, and she seemed to be doing her best to help.

"Stop a minute," she whispered, grasping his cock again and shifting. Then she pressed hard against him. It took a moment to understand what she was trying.

"Esther, what—?"

"It feels good," she whispered, stroking his cock and pressing harder. "I'm still changing, Javier. It's just a little deeper. A little bigger. Maybe sometime—"

The ring surrounding her shallow vagina pressed hard against his cock. And she was right: it gave a little more. Nowhere near enough to get even the head inside. But she seemed to like it.

Or at least, she was pretending to like it. He hated that he even worried about that.

"It's OK, sweetie," Javier whispered, rubbing her freckles lightly. "You're perfect exactly the way you are. Uh, and if you change, I'll like that too." He winced. Smooth, Javier, really smooth.

"I love you," Esther said softly after a while. "Would you like to do it in the butt?"

Javier actually laughed. He never got tired of her weirdly awkward bed talk. "I'd love that, Esther."

The lube was right on the nightstand, and he rolled to get it, heart pounding. She hadn't wanted to do this for a while, and of course he'd never push her into it. But when the tip of his cock finally pressed into that tight hole, an involuntary moan started deep in his throat.

"That's it, Javier," Esther said, breathing faster. "I've been horny all evening, you know. But especially after Kat and Grace—"

She trailed off into a grunt as Javier pushed slowly deeper.

"Tell me about it," he said. "They are so sexy together. I keep thinking about what they're doing now."

"She's licking Grace between the legs," Esther said distantly, and Javier froze.

"Oh no," Esther said softly. "Oh no, I shouldn't have spied on them again. And I should've kept my mouth shut."

"It's all right," Javier said, trying not to laugh in surprise. Of course, she'd hinted that her control slipped sometimes. "It's kind of hot. I know you like to watch people. I don't mind."

Esther didn't say anything, and slowly they started their movement again. Javier pulled out slightly, and on his next stroke he finally pushed all the way in. For a minute he lay there, buried deep in the ass of the most beautiful, brilliant, frustrating woman in the world.

"You like watching people too," Esther said softly, stroking his arm. "Do you want to know what Grace looks like down there?"

Javier's breath caught. Esther never, ever offered anything like that.

"God, yes," he whispered in her ear, pulling slowly out.

Esther was breathing hard now, and he realized she'd started to masturbate as well.

"She has this pretty V-shape of hair in front," Esther said softly. "Black, really dense and curly. Dark lips. Oh, she's so excited. I can smell her ..."

Esther's breath came suddenly ragged, and Javier finally tipped over the edge. Esther moaned happily against him, shaking slightly as he emptied load after load deep inside her ass.

When he was finally finished, he lay still for a bit. Esther murmured happily and stroked his hand. She'd stopped masturbating, and he assumed she'd had an orgasm. She seemed sated enough, anyway.

"Can I do something for you?" he asked, and she sighed.

"No. That was the best kind of orgasm, you know. The kind where I stay in my body. This is perfect. Let's get cleaned up and go to sleep remembering it."

Javier couldn't say no to any of that.

* * *

When she was sure Javier was asleep, Esther squeezed her hands against her temples and tried to calm herself.

She hadn't lied. She would never lie to Javier. That had been a real orgasm of sorts, and it was by definition the best kind she could have. It was the only kind she could let herself have anymore.

Javier, Kat, Raj, Mark, Nicola, Jacob. And as of last week, Mrs. Sanchez. Their circumstances hung glowing in a part of her mind that never quieted, not even during the long nights. Her sleep wasn't particularly restful these days.

She'd begun to call it the Watch. Each new person was a strain, one that grew or diminished depending on distance and a host of other factors too intricate for her to understand yet. She kept waiting for it to become easier, for some kind of breakthrough. She refused to give up on any of the meager family she was holding on to.

Abuela had watched hundreds, thousands. And Esther was struggling with seven.

She knew she was doing something wrong. And she knew she was being impatient. Abuela had taken decades to build these skills. But Esther didn't have the luxury of time. Abuela had talked about the coming storm, and more and more Esther suspected that Franklin and his hideous powers of control had been only a small piece of it. The world was connecting itself, and there were other forces Esther didn't understand yet. There was little space for the Changed to hide, yet Esther still had to try. And if she couldn't learn to protect her small family, how could she hope to protect anyone else?

A few times in the past months she'd lost her concentration and let the Watch fail. Every time it had taken longer than the previous one to rebuild her discipline. Two full days, the last time, and she could never risk that again.

Each failure had been a result of attempts to explore her abilities further. Almost all of those times involved a powerful orgasm, usually with Javier. She'd finally taught herself better control. But if there was anything more painful than losing the Watch, it was hurting Javier. She couldn't hide pain and regret from him, and it was the last thing he needed from her after sex. She was a poor partner to him at the best of times.

Using orgasms to push her abilities was a kind of cheat, she was coming to think. They were a reboot to her brain, a way to shake herself hard enough that her thoughts came together in a new pattern. She needed a more controlled path to her explorations. Maybe it could be found in her mathematical research. Sometimes with Raj and Anatoly she could almost feel what she called otherspace, that realm of shapes and connections hovering beyond her reach. But she felt totally stalled.

Just like their sex life. Esther watched Javier, beautiful in his sleep as any other circumstance, his mouth half open, as though caught midway through a kiss. His smooth, hard stomach, his powerful thighs, the thatch of dark hair in between. His penis lay sideways, half-erect and growing again. It twitched, responding to some dreaming impulse. She felt another surge of guilt. Probably he dreamed about the sex they could have, if she were built like a normal woman. Or at least not so hung up about what they could do. He was utterly faithful to her, a devoted lover. She wanted to kiss those lips, wake him up again, take his penis in her mouth. Lose herself in his strength.

But if she tried, it wouldn't work out the way she imagined, and then Javier would be worrying about her again. She'd leave him be. At least one of them could sleep well.

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