Angel's Tale: A MORFS Universe Story
Originally, the plan was to make one last stop to visit relatives on the way north. But the delays and the detour caused them to miss the time for that visit. Those relatives were, themselves, out of the area.
They drove up I 25, past a lot of scenery. Just north of Colorado Springs, they saw the home of the Aerospace Force Academy. Normally, John didn't really care about his family's lack of high powered political influence. But these days, it took such influence to get a tour of the place. So just this once, he sort of wished for that kind of pull.
They continued on up the freeway, past a variety of other places that sounded interesting, and finally got to their destination: a suburb of Denver called Greenwood Village. It was a professional class suburb on the southeast side of the city. The houses were nice, if a little on the old side, and the one his father had found seemed to be a good one. It was close to the local pool - a factor Angel would have appreciated more before the change - and within walking distance of the high school.
Angel was a little startled at his own reaction to seeing his father after so long. He literally jumped into his arms for a hug. He felt himself on the verge of tears, another novel experience. After all the greetings were finished, they sat down to a dinner of supermarket fried chicken and side dishes. They talked about their experiences over the last few weeks, touching on things they hadn't gotten to on the phone. Angel said little about his powers, other than the fact that he had family help with practicing his recognition skills.
After dinner, they watched the news on tv. There was a brief report on the new threat of the MORFS variant which affected adults, dubbed AMORFS. It was creating a major stir among the group most affected - ironically (according to the newscasters) those most critical of MORFS transformees and of transformee rights.
When the news was over, they decided to get to bed. His father had work in the morning, and he and his mother would start unpacking.
His room was on the second floor. The boxes with their things had arrived some time before, probably while he was changing, Angel thought. His bed was not set up, but there was an air mattress with sheets, a pillow, and a blanket piled on it.
He hung up and otherwise put away his new clothes, made his bed, and headed across the hall for a bath. His parents had their own bathroom en suite, so this one would be all his. Once he was ready, he changed his mind. A hot, relaxing bath would probably be too relaxing. He decided on a quick shower, instead.
He had to laugh at that thought. A "quick" shower now took longer for him than the longer ones he used to take. He tucked his hair into a shower cap to keep it dry, which would save some time. Then he got down to business. He took a little more time than was strictly necessary while cleaning his more sensitive areas, but he was too tired to really get into it.
After drying off, he went back to his room (and after all that visiting, this really was his room). He made his temporary bed, slipped into the required nightgown, and went to wish his parents good night.
"She still doesn't think of herself as a girl," his mother was quietly saying, "Not really. She still sees herself as a boy in a girl's body."
"Well, he was a boy for years. Then suddenly he..."
"She, dear. If we can't even change the way we talk about her, how can we expect him... dammit! her to?"
"Alright, she. After a young lifetime as a boy, suddenly she wakes up as a girl. She was strong as a boy, and she's strong as a girl. But I think that's working against us. She's walking the walk, talking the talk, and dressing the part, but her inner boy is doing what he always did. He's doing what has to be done, because that is a big part of who he is. But it's him doing it, not her. It hasn't changed who he is, it's reinforced it."
Angel slipped back into his room, his head reeling. It was true, every word. He kept his silence, but couldn't keep the tears from his eyes. That reminder of his new hormones just made it worse. He clamped his mouth tight against the response, and vented a mental scream.
*Hey! Knock it off!* an unfamiliar voice echoed in his mind. *Some of us need our rest!*
The touch of the telepathy reminded him of Miranda, but the "voice" was different. Someone he didn't know.
*Oh... sorry.* The voice responded, having apparently read his thoughts. *You must be my new neighbor. Sorry neighbor boy. I got a sunburn today, and I'm kinda cranky.*
*Neighbor girl, thank you.* He thought back. *Sorry I disturbed you.*
*Girl? Are you sure? You sound like a boy*
*I was a boy. Now I'm a girl. Damn MORFS.*
*That explains it. I'm Helena. Lena to my friends. Get some sleep, and we'll talk in the morning.*
The unexpected exchange startled Angel out of his funk. He went back out to wish his parents a good night, making sure he made some noise on the way. They wished him goodnight, with no indication of their earlier conversation.
He was tired enough that he barely stretched out on the bed before he fell asleep.
It was not a peaceful night. His exhausted slumber was filled with strange and disturbing dreams. Luckily for him, he only remembered bits and pieces. And those quickly faded, replaced by images of waffles and bacon. Images coupled with the realization that he was really smelling waffles and bacon.
With mixed feelings, he threw on a bathrobe and made his way down to the kitchen.
"Mmmm. Smells good." He looked at his parents, both having breakfast at the kitchen table. "Ok, what's the bad news this time?"
At their confused looks, he explained. "Last time I came down to breakfast and found the two of you like this, I found out we were moving. The suspense would only spoil the meal. So what's the bad news?"
"No bad news. Just a welcome to our new home, glad we're back together breakfast. Besides," she smiled at her new daughter. "I wanted to make sure the waffle iron survived the trip."
"Apparently," Angel replied wryly, "it did." He helped himself to a plateful of breakfast, and sat down.
"I'll have to get to work pretty soon," his father added. "The integration is a lot more painful than we expected. I've been working late most days, and most weekends. Now that you're here, I have an excuse to scale back a little. But you probably won't see me that much for the next couple of weeks."
He finished his breakfast, kissed his wife, hugged his new daughter, and dashed out to his car.
"You may as well just throw on one of your old shirts and some pants. We're going to be unpacking most of the day." his mother conceded.
Much as he liked the idea of dressing completely the old way, he decided to wear some of his new underwear. He figured he might need to make a quick change, and he was still not all that quick with a bra.
The first thing they did was bring the rest of the things in from the car. The bags of dirty and well traveled clothes went down to the basement for cleaning. Other things went to their appropriate rooms.
Angel had just finished taking his last load of travel stuff up to his new room, when he "heard" a cheerful and familiar voice in his head. *Hey, neighbor boy. You've got company!*
His mother gave him a funny look when he came back down stairs and went right to the front door. He opened it, finding a girl about his age. She was carrying a red tipped white cane, and a tray of home baked goodies. Here eyes were an uninterrupted white. Her average figure was somewhat covered in shorts and a short top, and she was wearing Cloud Shoes with no socks.
"In the flesh. Now you can put a face to the nightmare." she grinned.
"Mama! One of the neighbors is here."
"Hello, Mrs. O'Connor," Lena chirped. "My mom thought you might like these after your trip."
"How thoughtful. Did I hear Angel say your name was Lena?"
"Yes, ma'am. I kinda introduced myself to him last night."
"You remember Miranda?" Angel prompted.
"Only by reputation. You're a telepath?"
"And a few other things. I'm not really powerful or anything, but it's useful."
"How do you get around?"
"It's all right, Angel. My eyes would be largely superfluous if they did work. I can 'see' with my powers, more than I could with my eyes."
"I figured it was something like that. We had a couple of kids like you in the district."
"Yes, they probably read you this easily. On the other hand, we learn very quickly to keep everyone's secrets. Otherwise, we wouldn't live a week. It's nice to meet another Lena, though."
"Must be hell trying to put together a surprise party for you." Angel quipped.
"There are ways around it." She smiled.
*What's it like?* Angel thought, wondering whether he was coming across all wrong.
*Don't worry about it.* Lena thought back. *We can swap details later.*
"So, neighbor boy," she said out loud. "What are your plans for the day?"
"Hey! I told you I'm a girl. Now."
"Uh huh. Let's see... A boy's shirt, boy's pants, and a boy's mental voice. Girl, huh?" she teased.
"Well, two of the three are my doing, I'm afraid. We haven't gotten around to buying things for working around the house, so I told her to throw on some of her old clothes."
"I'm just yankin' your chain. You already knew that I could see through her clothes."
Angel started feeling awkward at that.
"Hey, don't worry about it. It's just the way this stuff works. Frankly, I usually ignore it. One more set of secrets I don't need to know."
"How do you stand it?"
"I learned to ignore most of it. After I got a quick education in the realities of human nature." She shook her head. "You don't get to keep many illusions like this."
Then she made an obvious effort to change the subject. "Hey, I never got any answer to my question, neighbor boy. What are you doing today?"
"Mostly unpacking. Our stuff got here while I was wasting all that time sleeping and... other stuff."
"Would you like some help?"
"With the unpacking, or the other stuff?" Angel was half kidding.
"Both. But the unpacking will be faster. Besides, I need to keep this sunburn out of the sun for a while."
"How can you help with my changes?"
"Out of self defense, I learned how to help people with some things. It was either that, or endless months buried under their whining. I sympathize with their problems, but I need the occasional night's sleep to deal with my own life."
"You're that powerful?"
"Power has nothing to do with it. It's mostly some visualizations and sh... stuff. I have an advantage with a little more direct feedback, but anybody can learn it."
"Ok... Well, you wanna help me put my room together?"
"Sure. We can talk while we do it. Just a second." She had a look of quiet concentration. "Ok. I let my Mom know where I will be."
Magdalena looked a bit wistful, and Angel rolled his eyes. Lena heard their mental comments loud and clear.
When they went upstairs, the first thing he unpacked and set up was his music system. Since he didn't know the area, he let her choose the station. She chose one that specialized in music for girls and young women. Chick music, as he thought of it.
"I suppose you could call it that. They also have good news reports and shit like that. Think of it as an aid to help you find your new self." She grinned.
The first thing they did was assemble the bed. It was definitely a two (or more) person job, but they got it done. Angel found that Lena's "vision" was good for things like finding dropped bolts and nuts, among other things. Once the frame was together, and everything else added, they made quick work of making the bed.
As they sorted through his things, he realized that a lot of his things would have no real place in his new life. That thought depressed him. He could use most of his t-shirts, and a few other bits and pieces of his clothes, but most had to go. And his decorations, souvenirs, and even his old toys were mostly out of place in a girl's room. It hurt to realize it, and he couldn't bring himself to get rid of them. Yet.
"You know, down at the old mall there's one of those swap shops. You know, the places where people like you can take the stuff from your old body and trade it in for stuff for your new one. Well, there are small charges and stuff, but it's still good."
"I'll check it out."
Lena looked at one box, and commented "This one is all slacks and dress shirts. You can probably just take it as is."
That got them on the subject of Lena's powers, and what they were like. "Part of it is like hearing. I can listen, and pick things out, or I can ignore some things. But sometimes, something is too loud to ignore."
"Yeah, well... I was just sensitive because of the sunburn and all. Sorry I snapped at you last night."
They agreed to forgive each other, then continued with the conversation. Of course, that lead to his powers, and what it was like to use them.
When she heard about the minor healing ability, she asked if he could cure her sunburn. He wasn't sure, but offered to try. They agreed to have him try a small area with his finger before trying to fix the whole thing. It worked, but was limited to the same small area as his other effects. He mentioned the exercises with his grandma, and his later practice.
Once the finger test worked, he tried his entire hand. That worked, with the same space limits as the finger. He suggested that he could do much of her at once, if they pressed their naked bodies together. But she saw the leftover male take on the possibility, and decided it was too soon for that. While he worked on her, two hands worth at a time, they continued to talk.
"Now that ability to see what MORFS will be doing to someone, that's pretty cool. Can you do anything about it?"
"I haven't tried. Seemed kinda dangerous to be messing around with it."
"I see your point, but that could be pretty powerful, and help a lot of people."
Almost on queue, the radio announced a report on the wave of MORFS hitting the radical Pures groups, including the variant hitting the adults. They went on to talk about the range of responses the victims had. Some turned around and became supporters of other MORFS survivors. Some kept to the party line, even to the point of giving up their positions and authority. Some tore their families apart over the issues.
Some killed themselves.
When Angel heard that, he collapsed. His guilt over those deaths overwhelmed him, and all but shouted the details of the rally and his actions to Lena. She was shocked, but quickly recovered. She had seen people with much more to be guilty about.
"It's not your fault. You didn't know, not really. And you did not kill any of those people. They died from their own poisons, the same ones they used to drive other MORFS survivors to their deaths. They made their own decisions, not you." Lena alternated between talking and thinking at him, using her best soothing tones for both.
"But nothing. Your mother is on her way up. She heard your reaction to the story." She switched to mind mode. *What have you told her?*
*Only that I went to part of that rally, as a test of my ability to pass.* he thought back.
*You should tell her.*
*Not yet. It would be too much.*
*You might be right. But at least tell her you saw it spreading there, and that you feel bad that you didn't do anything to stop it. She needs to help.*
Just then, his mother came through the door, looking concerned. "What happened?"
"She heard something on the radio that upset her. Something about that rally just after she changed."
"It's horrible!" he cried. "Some of them killed themselves. And it's my fault!"
"It's not your fault. Even if you had created the variant, and infected them..."
Lena quickly thought at him, *She doesn't know. She doesn't even guess. Hear her out.*
"... it wouldn't be your fault." she continued, unaware of the brief mental exchange. "That was a choice they made. It was an unfortunate choice, but it was theirs to make." She hugged her daughter, doing her best to radiate reassurance and unconditional love. Lena helped a little, letting him feel those emotions from her. After a while, he calmed back down. They talked a little about his new emotional responses, and both Lena and his mother reminded him that it was part and parcel of being a girl. Finally, he convinced his mother to go back down, and let him talk with Lena "girl to girl."
*Why not tell her?* Lena asked. *She would have accepted it, and understood.*
*I know that,* he thought back. *But she really needs to think I'm pretty much harmless. Especially if she gets screened for a job in the school district or as part of my going to school.*
Lena conceded the point, but called it weak. To give him something else to focus on, she got him to finish healing her sunburn. And since she had been wearing a thong bikini, he got to see all of her. A little at a time. By the time he was done, she was completely naked and he couldn't remember being upset.
She was a little amused, and a little sad about what had been going through his mind. He was clearly a good person, but until recently had been a teenage boy. He was excited at the idea of seeing and touching her, but it didn't have the charge he expected. He was disappointed about that, but he kept trying to keep his focus on the healing. The occasional fantasy slipped through, especially when he was working near her butt and boobs, but it was more reflex than anything.
"Poor guy," she thought. "He's going to be mostly straight. And to him, that will seem gay."
Once he was done, she decided on another experiment. "Do you think you could give me a tan? It would be a shame to have had all that pain with nothing to show for it."
He agreed to try. Starting with a small spot again, he thought about what his skin did when it tanned. Something clicked in his mind, and she had a small, round, dark tan. He worked on adjusting the level, and soon had a color she liked. Wanting to keep him distracted, she declared that she did not want a tan line. That became another session of him running his hands all over her body again.
She set her mind to the feeling of completely non-erotic contact, pleasant in the way of a hug from a friend. She let that feeling seep through to Angel as well. After a while, he relaxed and made better progress.
Lena was pleased with her new tan, but needed to keep him distracted. The next logical step was obvious. As she admired her tan, she declared "I have got to show this off. Let's get over to the pool."
"Like that?" his mind was again on her nudity, but more in a locker room way than a boy seeing naked girl way.
"Of course... not. I'll get dressed and clear it with your mother. You get into that old fashioned excuse for a suit you put away."
As Lena dressed, Angel suddenly got shy about undressing in front of her. Lena caught that, and sent him wisps of the image and feeling of changing in the locker room. By the time she was ready to go talk to his mother, he was already topless and pulling out the swimsuit top.
"Call me Lena or Magdalena. Is she all right now?"
"For the moment. I have her distracted, and want to keep it that way a little longer. I talked her into coming over to the pool with me, so she can meet some other people from around here. Any problems with her doing that?"
"I suppose not. But can you keep in touch?"
*Of course.* came the voice in her head.
"Yaa! I forgot about that."
"Sorry about that," Lena replied verbally, then *It would be useful to discuss some things with you in a way that can't be overheard.*.
*I understand* she thought back. *But I'm not really used to talking this way.*
*That's ok. Ask me out loud about my tan.*
"Did you have that tan when you got here?"
"Nope!" she grinned. "We found another use for your daughter's powers."
"My daughter, the tanning chamber?" Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Angel coming toward them.
"Even better. She healed my sunburn completely, then did the tan."
"If I'm right," Angel said, with a hint of pride, "I even fixed the skin damage underneath the burn."
"A gem," Lena exclaimed, in exaggerated fashion "That's what your daughter is. Come on. Let's go show my mom!" She all but dragged Angel out the door.
"Now, I have to warn you, she gets a little... enthusiastic at times." Lena said, rolling her eyes.
"Hiiii! You must be Angel! Oh, I've been looking forward to meeting you for so long! Your poor father has been missing you so much. He must be over the moon now that you and your mom are here." While she wrapped him in a hug.
Neither had noticed Lena slipping away and running upstairs. While her mother was busy assuring Angel that he could come to her if he needed anything at all, Lena slipped into her suit and grabbed her towel. She was downstairs again before the speech ended.
"Oh my God, Helena! What happened to your sunburn? Where did you get that tan?"
"Our new neighbor has very talented hands," Lena added a sultry note, giving her body a little shake.
"Helena Marie, are you seducing the neighbor girl already? Give her a chance to catch her breath, for heaven's sake!"
While he was blushing from head to foot, Angel was amused to see that Lena's mother could give as good as she got. And started to understand where Lena got some of her sense of humor from. Lena steered her outside and toward the pool entrance.
"Wow. Your mom is really... something."
"I did try to warn you. Yeah, she's pretty ok for a parent. But her other side can be pretty extravagant, too. What can I say? She's a parent."
The both laughed their way to the pool.
There was a brief delay at the entrance, while they checked in. Angel discovered that his father had registered the family, but the desk needed her thumbprint. That done, they went in and looked around.
Lena guided him up to a small knot of people, and introduced him. "Angel, this is Otter..."
"Or Sherry, most of the time. Hi, Angel."
"...and David, Robin, and Star Dawn. Guys, this is my new neighbor, Angel."
They exchanged greetings, and moved to some shade to sit and talk. Angel noticed that Sherry and Star Dawn were morfs, and David and Robin weren't - yet. Sherry showed some overt signs of her difference. The tall, sleek blonde had webbed hands and feet, with heavy nails.
"So... Otter?" Angel began.
"Yes? Oh, the name? Well, other than the webs - or partly because of them - I can swim really well. I'm fast and strong, both in the water and out. My lungs grew bigger and stronger, as well. And Radar can tell you that I've always liked a bit of fun." She chuckled.
"Radar?" Angel asked.
*That's me.* Lena smiled.
Startled, he looked at her. She just smiled, a little too innocently.
"Ah, ok. How about you, Star Dawn?"
She looked startled. "How did you... oh, the name? My folks were into some mystic trip when I was born, so it's my real name. In the end, it fit better than they anticipated." She cupped her hands, as though she was holding a ball, and formed a ball of light. It wavered, then vanished with a flash.
"Damn! Almost had it that time." Looking an apology to Angel, she continued, "I'm still working on control."
David had a look of friendly suspicion. "Why the focus on them? Are you like Radar, there?"
"No such luck," Angel replied.
*They're ok,* Lena assured him. *You can tell them the "public" version or the whole thing.*
Angel went on, as though he had only been finding the words. "I'm a low level bio elemental. I can sense some things, and can do some superficial healing and stuff at the cellular level."
"Don't let her modesty fool you," Lena jumped in. "Look what she did for me!" She indicated her skin.
"Nice tan." David commented. "That's right, you had that bad sun burn yesterday. We didn't expect to see you here today." He turned to Angel. "You did that?"
"Yeah. Didn't know I could, until Lena talked me into trying. My power only extends about a quarter inch from my body, so I can only do superficial cuts or skin damage."
"Unless you stick your finger in a deeper wound," offered Robin. "You could probably close things up from the inside out that way."
Angel regarded her, briefly. "Sounds messy. I might try it in an emergency, but it's not my idea of fun." He allowed himself a brief shudder.
"Still, it might have helped." She held up her left arm, showing a jagged, diagonal scar across it.
Angel's first thought was a suicide attempt.
*No, an accident. Go ahead and ask her.*
"How'd it happen?"
"I was over at the reservoir, riding my bike. Some people distracted me,"
*Ask me later.* Lena advised.
"...and I hit a hole or something. I flipped the bike, and came down, hard. Sprained my ankle, and some broken glass did this. They just laughed, and walked on." Her face grew hard, briefly, then softened. "Luckily, some other people saw the accident, and helped me. Eighteen stitches and a long recovery later, and I was functional again. Unlike my bike."
"It was a bad sprain. I was out of school for a week, and it took a couple of weeks longer before I could walk without pain."
"I bet Angel could get rid of the scar for you." Lena suggested. "Save you more trips to the counselors."
"Since it is there, it looks like the aftermath of a suicide attempt. I've had three different well meaning people report me through channels. Each time, I had to trot out the accident report. Pain in the ass. Do you really think you could do that?"
"I can try. I'm still kinda new at this. Shouldn't do any harm, either way."
She held out her arm. Angel took it, and put his finger over the end farthest from her hand. "We'll try a little spot first. Just in case."
Robin stiffened a little at that comment. Then she looked at Lena and relaxed again. Angel suspected some mental communication. He let himself experience what he could perceive of the skin under his finger. He could feel the wrongness of the scar. As he had with Lena, he encouraged the cells to reform themselves in the "right" way. He felt them shifting and growing. Finally, it seemed right.
He pulled his finger away, and looked. The skin was pale, but there was no sign of scar any more. "How did that feel?"
"Weird. There was a moment where the skin seemed to be crawling or something. But no pain or anything."
"Want me to do the rest?"
This time, he used his hand to cover the rest of the scar. But it did not go quite as well. The wrongness was too deep in a couple of places. He could - and did - fix the parts he could "reach", but nothing he tried would let him get the rest. The exercise left him tired and frustrated.
"I'm sorry," he said, as he released her arm.
"Why? It looks fine, other than the lack of color."
"That, I can probably fix. But some of the scar is too deep for me to fix. I tried, but I just couldn't reach it." He was near tears.
Robin hugged him. "Hey, you did a great job. It is a whole lot better than it was, even if you say it isn't perfect. It's all good."
The others agreed. They took turns looking and prodding the pale flesh that had replaced the scar. Angel still felt miserable that he had been unable to reach the rest. He also felt tired and a little dizzy.
Lena got busy. She recognized the symptoms of an overextended elemental, so she silently sent David to get a hot dog and sports drink from the snack bar. When Angel offered to try to match the skin tone over the former scar, she stopped him and insisted he rest and have the snack first.
"You pushed yourself too hard, when you were trying to get the deeper parts. You need to recover before you try anything else. Now," she shifted to a motherly tone, "you are going to enjoy your snack, and then maybe a relaxing dip in the water. And remember, I'm watching you."
The others chorused "Nobody escapes Radar!" then laughed.
Lena tried to scowl at them, but couldn't quite pull it off. "Geez! One or two small incidents, and suddenly a girl has a reputation!" She tried a fake pout, which didn't fool anyone.
Angel was curious, but no more information was forthcoming. He was sure he'd hear the stories sooner or later.
After his snack, and a refreshing half hour in the water, he was feeling himself again. Well, as much as he could in that body. He checked on Robin, who was delighted with her missing scar. She told him she could barely feel it pull a little bit in the spots where it was too deep, but that was a major improvement over the way it had been. He color matched the former scar with the rest of her wrist without becoming dizzy or hungry.
David confronted him, in a friendly way. "We never did get an answer about one thing. How come you talked to Otter and Star about their morfs, but not us?"
"Because you haven't morfed yet. It's part of what I told you. I can perceive indicators that people have morfed, or are about to morf. I'm not sure yet, but I think I can tell what form the morf will take."
"Cool!" David jumped in. "Can you change it?"
"Why does everyone ask me that? I don't know. I haven't tried it, and I'm kinda afraid to try it. The consequences if I mess it up could be pretty horrible."
They all shuddered at the thought.
After a couple more hours at the pool, Lena asked who could go back and help Angel's family unpack. Only Star Dawn could go that afternoon, but all of them were free the next day. After a quick check with Angel's mother, they decided on a move in party the next day. David suggested that they ask Glen to join the party. Glen, aka "Little Bear", "Bear", or just "LB", had grown to about 6' 5" when he MORFed, and his vaguely ursine features fit in very well with his exceptional strength and thick skin. And despite the jokes about a strong back and a weak mind, he was an honor student. No sooner had David started the suggestion, when Lena made the arrangements.
Angel could tell that some of these people would be useful to have as friends.
When he got home, he changed and finished unpacking his bedroom. He got his computer set up, connected and running tests while he worked on the rest. There were a lot of boxes set aside for the swap shop Lena had told him about. And he has already been traveling light from the move.
When the computer was ready, he got online. He found some email from his friends, wondering whether he had fallen off the face of the planet. His cousins had interesting news: both of the kids he had them watching had developed MORFS, within 12 hours of each other.
While he was online, he bookmarked a number of sites dealing with the details of MORFS.
That night, he enjoyed something for the first time in his new life: a home cooked dinner with his parents. It sounded like such a small thing, but the meaning was significant to him. His family was back together again. The facts that the house was different, and that he was different, didn't matter that much. This was home, and his family. The rest was just details.
Of course, the devil is in the details.
The next morning was a busy one. His mother took him on a quick run fairly early, to get sodas and snack foods. In the half hour before the party was supposed to start, they got two calls from the school district. The first was a pointed invitation to an orientation for transfer students in two weeks, and a reminder of the paperwork that the school would need before that time. Ten minutes later, the second came: an invitation for his mother to come in for an interview that afternoon, for the position she had applied for.
Angel assured her that he could handle the unpacking party. She gave him some money for pizza for his friends, reminded him to eat like the girl he was, and made sure he knew the number of the new cell his father had gotten for her. She went upstairs to get ready for the interview.
When she came down again, the crew were hard at work. Some had special jobs. Lena "looked" inside the boxes to let Angel know what was there. Angel directed traffic and placement. Otter and LB did the heavy lifting, as needed. The others unpacked and put things away as directed. She saw that things were well in hand, and might well be finished before she got back.
After a quick round of introductions, they got back to work. She pulled Angel aside.
Since the school district shared a parking lot with the high school, she decided to take the papers in and save herself a trip. A few things needed Angel's signature or preferences, but that was quickly taken care of. That done, she was on her way.
About an hour and a half after his mother left, he had Lena do a quick poll of preferences, then ordered the pizzas.
While he was ordering, Lena narrowly avoided a big problem. A box had been mislabeled, and under some books were some distinctly male clothes. Especially underwear. And while the box was being opened for unloading, it tipped and started to spill. She saw the problem before the contents came into view. and stopped people.
"That goes up to the parents' bedroom. Her father's stuff. Just throw the books and stuff back in and close it up. I think we'll need Bear or Otter to take it up, with those books."
Angel looked a question at her.
*Some of your stuff, like underwear. You don't want them wondering.*
They had emptied all but a few boxes by the time his mother got back, including the pizza boxes. The few that were not emptied were those, like the underwear box, that needed to be left for the family to take care of. And since they were all upstairs, she was treated to the sight of a boxless living room when she arrived. As she had pretty much expected, she found the kids lounging in front of the screen, watching a video.
"Well, what do you think?" Angel asked her.
"I need to rearrange some things, but I'm impressed. Looks like you kids worked hard."
A couple of backs tensed when she said "kids", but seemed to be quelled by some thoughts from Lena. Still, she made it a point to note who reacted and try not to use the word with them. She had seen the same reaction in her old job.
The crew decided that the pool would be a good way to cool off. They all had their suits with them, just in case, so they changed and headed out. When they left, Angel told his mother about the incident with the box and the contents of the remaining boxes. They went upstairs and moved boxes into the appropriate rooms. Angel took a few minutes removing the books and stacking the half empty box with the other unusable clothes.
Then, at his mother's urging, he changed and went to the pool to join his new friends. It was bad enough to be there in a very feminine swimsuit, with all those eyes on him. But after swimming for a while, he found himself noticing things. It was mildly familiar when he reacted to a couple of visible camel toes and bare cleavage, but it felt different and was not as strong. What he really found disturbing was the way he was noticing some of the guys. Some of those very small swimsuits were very full. Especially when their owners noticed the girls he had noticed.
He could visualize every detail of what those suits barely hid. He couldn't help visualizing them. It wasn't his power, just his memory, knowledge, and new sex. He imagined he could even tell which ones were circumcised. He felt the kind of fascination that drew people's eyes to accidents and the like. He couldn't look away.
*Close your eyes. It helps.* came Lena's good advice.*Now turn your head. You don't want them to catch you staring. Girls get reputations that way.*
*What's the matter with me? Not long ago, I saw a lot more than that a few days a week. Hell, I saw better than a lot of that in the mirror every day.*
*We'll never know. I can't really compare.* There was an unmistakable note of humor in the "voice".
Angel was about to respond with an equally humorous comeback, when the loss came crashing in on him. It was true. He had lost his package, and everything that went with it. His hopes. His plans. His future. Gone. He couldn't stop the tears, as he folded down to the grass and curled up.
"It's ok. Go ahead and cry." Lena comforted. *I told the others that you are missing the people you left behind when you moved. One in particular.*
"Th...thanks." He sobbed. "I... need to go home for a while."
*I let your mother know. We'll get you there.* Lena assured him. "Otter, can you help?"
"Sure thing, Radar. C'mon girl, let's getcha home."
Even though Sherry could have carried him, they walked him home between them. Once inside, they walked him up to his room, followed closely by his worried mother. They helped him out of his swimsuit, and into some underwear, shorts, and a t-shirt.
Sherry picked up the suit, to hang it up, then stopped. "Uh, guys...? How long since he changed?"
All three of the others looked at her in shock. Lena assured the others *I didn't tell her!*
"A... a little less than a month. How? Why?" Angel could barely speak.
"I had a close friend go through it, and a few small reactions made me think about it. But now you have one more thing to deal with." She showed them the inside of the swimsuit bottoms. The evidence was unmistakable.
"Aw, shit!" Angel ground out, as he pulled his panties back off. Looking, he saw he was in time. He didn't even remember his audience as he grabbed a tampon from the drawer of his nightstand and expertly inserted it. As he was pulling his panties back up, he noticed the three of them staring at him. "What?"
"You didn't even stop to think," Lena began.
"You just did it, like you had been doing so for years." Sherry finished.
"I changed at the home of some relatives. They made me practice. A lot. They knew I would be doing it in front of girls..."
"Other girls." His mother corrected.
"Whatever. And they knew it was one of the dead giveaways. We really worked hard on all the usual slips. So what happened?"
"It was only partly you. I could tell that Radar was holding back something big, and not telling us the complete truth. It takes a lot for her to do that. Then there were the tiny behavioral cues, when you were looking around and when you broke down. Little things, but together they added up. Of course, I wasn't certain until I asked."
Angel looked at Lena. "Why didn't you...?"
"She wasn't thinking about it. I caught vague references to names, but not their relevance."
The good news was that the shock had pulled him out of his depression. The bad news was that he'd blown his cover. Again. Twice in three days. He started to worry.
"Yes, you can carry this off." Lena insisted. "But there's really nothing to carry off. Whatever you were, you are a full fledged girl now. Periods and all. Welcome to our world."
They all hugged him, and promised to help him get through the next few days - and beyond.
End Part 3
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