Part 2. Are you sure this skirt isn’t too short?

 

“And where do you think you have been, young lady.”

I had just walked through the door carrying the 5 bags from my shopping trip; the girls had dropped me off before driving off. I kicked off my trainers and started towards the stairs when my father came out of the living room. “Your mother and I have been worried sick.”

“Dad? Its only 8.30.” I turned to look at him, his eyes went wide.

“Sara, Living room.”

“But…”

“Now!” he turned and walked back into the living room beckoning no other argument.

 

“Oh darling…you look wonderful.” Mum was curled up against one arm of the sofa

“Damn Jace, makeup?” My little sister, sorry, brother, was curled up next to Mum, who was looking up from her book.

Dad resumed his armchair and was looking at me expectantly.

“What?”

“Where have you been?”

“Shopping like you told me to. Why?”

“It’s been nearly 7 hours since we last saw you, and shopping for you, always consisted of as short a time as possible.”

I collapsed into the other arm chair, subtly aware that it now completely swallowed me where before, it had been a tight but comfortable fit. “I met some friends from school at the testing centre and they took me shopping.”

“And the makeup?” Dad asked.

“Which looks very nice by the way, suits you.”

“Thanks, Mum…I think. The woman in the cosmetics shop did it and showed me how to repeat it …I think I’ll go and wash it off…”

“Nope, it looks good. Did you get a nice dress while you were out?” That’s when I noticed that both Mum and Dad were dressed up, Dad in a suit and Mum in one of her nice evening gowns, Kat…no sorry, James, was dressed up as well, but only to the extent he was in a shirt and trousers.

“Errm …well I do…but…”

“Let me see.” Mum got up and pushed me out the door. “Don’t mind your Dad, we’ve been waiting for you to get home and he is feeling pretty hungry.”

 

****

 

I stepped out of the bathroom wearing the little black dress, that Mel, with the backing of the others, had insisted was ‘totally me’ and they’d insisted I get it or they would ditch me in the middle of the mall. While I didn’t think for a moment they would actually ditch me, I caved and got it anyway. It was black silk halter top which flowed into a flared skirt which stop mid thigh. The bodice curved around just below my breasts and was slightly boned to produce a corseting effect. I had put on the black tights that I had been told went with it, opaque nylon with a Celtic pattern of thinner see through lines. I looked at mum who was going through my bags.

“Your friends really put you on a tight rein didn’t they? There is not a single piece of un-girly clothing in here. Even the shorts have flowers and hearts on them.”

“Tell me about it. To their dismay, I drew the line at pink, but I think they snuck at least one thing in when I wasn’t looking.” She nodded and pulled out a packet of pink panties, then turned to look at me.

“Oh my …I’m not sure who is going to throw the biggest gasket…”

“Huh?”

“Your Dad’s taking it a little hard, that his son is now his daughter and his daughter is now his son. He’s not sure how to treat you both.”

“’Dad's’ taking it hard? How do you think ‘I’ feel? I’m not sure how I want to be treated. It would be easier if I was Kat…James’ age … To tell you the truth, he doesn’t look much different than how he was before…but…wait who is the other person?”

“Your sibling, I told Kat that under no circumstances would I let her wear a dress similar to this a couple of days before you both went through….your changes.” Mum pulled out one of the shoe boxes and passed it to me. “I take it these are for that dress?”

I nodded. Opening the box I took out the 2 inch high heeled shoes with the ankle strap and sat on the bed to put them on.

“What happened to you earlier?” I asked

“There was an incident in the training facility. Two of the students started a fight over a young man. Both were convinced he was being faithful to them, and he was claiming he’d never lied to either, which was true, he hadn’t Well now they are together and he’s single and no one else will touch him.”

“How does that work? Not lying to both, but still leading them on?”

“Oh, he was telling his girlfriend, that she was the only women for him and his boyfriend that he was the only man for him.”

“I didn’t think the base was fully operational yet.” I stood up and straightened myself out.

“It isn’t, but we have had the first intake of students and are doing a rolling take up. I don’t think anyone realised how much work would be involved combining so many facilities into one location.”

“This is too revealing isn’t it? You’re going to make me take it off and wear something more suitable aren’t you?” there was an almost begging tone in my voice.

“You look wonderful; perfect in fact. Your friends are right, that dress does suit you…” I sighed; I was beginning to wish I had put my foot down earlier. “Are you sure it’s not too revealing? It feels like I’m barely dressed. See?” I turned around to show how my shoulders were completely bare. “And look, isn’t this hem way too short?” I indicated the mid thigh length hem, knowing full well these were things they had picked up with Kat.

“Nope. It’s perfect and it looks good on you.”

“You wouldn’t let Kat wear something like this.”

“Kat wasn’t 16.”

“It’s much too revealing, Mum, I understand you are trying to be supportive, but it’s OK. I’ll wear something much more conservative.”

“You’re doing no such thing. Besides, we don’t have time for you to get changed again.”

“It will only take a second, you won’t …”

“Nope. We don’t have time. Sit down and I’ll redo your makeup.”

 “Where are we going, anyway?”

“We have a table booked for half nine. A restaurant on main. And don’t start the moody teenager bit, I can tell when you’re putting it on. You’ve had your hair cut? I’m surprised.” I sighed, I should have known Mum would have realised, even though I had got it tied back. “I didn’t notice before because of the way it’s tied, but all the black tips are gone. Where did you go?”

“Bento’s….”

“WHAT?” her eyes widened.

“The place in the shopping centre. A little further up from the supermarket.”

“There’s a 1 month waiting list….”

“Yeah, the girls said something about that, and how it was worth it if I could get on their books.”

“It is, the owner is a genius, and his trained assistants are brilliant. While I redo your makeup for the evening, you can tell me all about it.” I sighed, and started to tell her.

 

****

“In here.” Mel said as we were walking down towards another shop.

“Wha?” I’d protested as she grabbed my arm and suddenly dragged me sideways into a large hair salon. Our path was blocked by a skinny bald man with a single lock of bright pink hair in the center of his forehead. Dressed in a bright yellow tight t shirt and matching hot pants, he’d stood with a hand on his hip, the other on the front counter and asked, “Can I help you ladies?”

“I’d like to make an appointment for my friend to get an introduction …” he nodded, leant over the counter and grabbed an appointment book.

“Let me see here…hmmm” he began to turn pages, “Nope, nope, nope, nope…we might be able to fit her in next month…”

“A month for an appointment?” I asked. I was used to just walking in and waiting my turn with the barber.

“Normally, its 6, but we had a cancellation…”

“6 months? That’s crazy.”

“Oh my.” A new voice said from the door way behind me, “such a vibrant colour…so…so…” he growled. I turned to look at the man who was talking; he was wearing a pair of slinky sun glasses and had a flat top hair style. Bare chested, he wore only Leather trousers and several gold necklaces. “That face…that beautiful hair doesn’t compliment that face. It must compliment! Young lady, Sit.”

“Excuse me?”

“An English rose? You wanted an appointment? You have one, its now, Sit!.”

 

****

“You’re trying to tell me Roberto Bento had to order you to sit to get your hair cut? He has professional models begging, top actresses going to him, rather then him to them, and he had to order you?” Mum asked.

“What? Some strange guy you have never seen or heard of before, points to a chair and says sit.  You would do it?”

“Well no …”

“Well, neither did I.”

 

****

 

“No thanks.” I started towards the door, but I was intercepted by the pink haired man.

“Do you have any idea who you just said no to?” I looked at the man, past him to the guy who had just told me to sit, past him into the rest of the salon, which bar none had stopped whatever they were doing, looking at me, some with open mouths. I looked back at the man with the pink hair.

“No I don’t. Have a nice day.” I stepped round him and moved towards the door again.

“Young lady, if you let me mould your hair into a masterpiece, I will do it free of charge. So please sit.” Flat top said from where he was still stood.

“Sara, if you don’t sit down and let that man work his miracle on you, I shall never speak to you again,” Mel hissed, I looked at Jen and Karen who both, wide-eyed, indicated I should. With a sigh of the defeated and outvoted, I moved over and sat down in the chair.

 

****

“Ok, are you trying to tell me, the hair maestro himself told you to sit down to get your hair cut, and you tried to leave?”

“Pretty much, Mum, yeah.”

“I have so much work to do …and so little time….”

 

****

 

“So Darling, how often do you normally get your hair cut?” Flat top, or Roberto as he told me to call him, asked as he himself shampooed my hair.

“Once every couple of months or so…or when ever it needs doing…”

“Which salon?”

“Salon? No, I used to just do it myself …” which was true, since I had always had a pretty uniformed blade 4 cut I would just run the electric hair trimmers over , then twice a year or so, go into a barbers to have it neatened up.

“Sacrilege…” he spun the chair round so I was facing the mirror, dried his hands and took a pair of scissors from a towel.

“Aren’t you even going to ask what I want?”

“No, because I don’t judge you yourself know what you want.”

“Can you at least make it easy to manage?” I saw a raised eyebrow and decided shutting up would be a good idea at this point.

 

****

 

“So what did he do in the end?”

“Mostly, he just trimmed it. Took of the last of my old hair, my apparent split ends, I’m to throw out my old shampoo and never, ever, use it again, it is destroying my hair, apparently.”

“Anything else?” she asked with a grin

“Go back in two months for another appointment…” I sighed, “The bastard is blackmailing me with it as well…”

“What?”

“Since he insists cutting my hair properly is very important, in exchange for my only using him and not touching my own hair with a pair of scissors, as long as I keep my appointment, my friends get appointments as well.” My mother, after finishing my face, slipped a hand up and before I could stop her, released the grip holding my hair back, It fell forward and down. Shoulder length and straight, it was cut to frame my face and hang straight down, the vibrant red seeming to flow with every turn or movement of my head.

It seemed to have a life of its own, move freely and cleanly, and yet still return to the same position when my head came to a stand still.

“Did you get a jacket?”

“Jacket? Damn, I knew I forgot something,” I grinned. Opening the one bag she hadn’t had a chance to rummage through I pulled out the leather jacket. I had been wanting a leather jacket for a few years now, before, I was growing too quickly and when I wasn’t, I couldn’t afford to buy one, as they were way out of my clothing budget. While the one I wanted wasn’t quite like this one, I slipped my arms into the sleeves of the trench coat and pulled it on. This one was so much better for my new form.

“I thought I said, don’t get carried away?”

“Who got carried away? It was in a sale, 50% off; I got another 40% off due to a slight bit of damage as well.”

“Bit of damage?”

“Yep.” I turned around and showed her the convenient hole in the small of the back, it was a point where the seams had come a little loose and happened to center over my tail.

“You’re joking me? You got a discount for a tail hole?”

“Yep. I thought I would widen it slightly and reinforce it and it would be perfect.”

“Are you sure you’re my son? You’re adapting to all this a little quicker than I expected. Your father and I thought you would take this harder than your sister, and yet …”

“I thought about freaking out when I woke up …there have been a few other times as well …but I keep coming back to the same conclusion. Half the population is female and gets through everyday just as well as the male half, and say I do start freaking out and saying about how unfair it all is, what would be the point? You and Dad can’t change anything, modern science as I know it, can’t undo the effects of MORFs. So where would freaking out get me? Besides, as much as I keep trying to convince myself otherwise …today was fun.”

“Come with me, I want to show you something” Mum dragged me into her room and showed me my full length image in the mirror. The ankle length black leather jacket and my vibrant hair proved to be a startling combination. I let out a deep sigh.

“What’s up dear? You look wonderful …”

“I know …that’s the problem.” I want to get into my own panties…

 

****

“Are you going to keep that jacket on?” Mum asked before we went back into the living room.

“Only till we get to the restaurant.”

“Oh?”

“If one or both of them is going to blow a gasket, I would rather do it somewhere safe …like say a public place with lots of people.”

“When did you get so sneaky?”

 

****

 

“I want you two on your best behaviour. Under better circumstances we would have left you both at home to adjust to your new circumstances but ….”

“What your dad is trying to say is that we realise this is going to be hard on both of you, just do your best. James, this will be harder on you than on your new sister. While girls can get away with being slightly tomboyish, boys can’t be even slightly feminine. Sara, for goodness sake, keep your legs closed.” Mum said before turning to face the front, I looked down and realised I had sat down like I always did in the car and spread my legs out. Sheepishly, I closed them, then for good measure crossed one over the other. I let out a sigh and fingered the small purse that had been passed to me just before I left. It really contained everything I needed, my id, my keys, and my mobile phone. The latter of which, while not getting a signal outside of Britain, still contained contact details for my old friends back in the UK and my new ones here in the US, not to mention Dads and Mums work numbers.

“Mum, can I get a coat like Ja…Sara’s?”

“No.” came the reply, in stereo from our parents in the front of the car.

“But?”

“Were not spending that much on something that won’t fit you in a matter of weeks.”

“But...”

“No.”

“Ahh this sucks, I have no good clothes any more.”

 

****

 

 “This is an unsecured meal, no one should ask you anything you shouldn’t feel comfortable answering, but if necessary, feign ignorance on what we do…I know, I know, you two have been through this before, but well …after the changes you understand …” Mum was looking a little stressed as we got out of the car and headed for the main entrance.

“Dear, they will be OK.” Mum nodded and wrapped her arm around Dad’s waist, who in turn pulled her into a hug.

“This isn’t a family meal is it …?” I asked as I looked up at the 5 star hotel entrance.

“No…and we’re hoping your presence will stop it becoming a business one.”

“Who is it we’re eating with?” I sighed; sometimes my parents could be so infuriating.

 

****

 

The restaurant was on the ground floor of a five star hotel, and seemed to have been built based upon the old model of a dance floor with a number of tables around the outer edge. I noticed room for a full orchestra on the stage, as the Maitre D’ led us over to a large table. Some of the waiting staff following, ready to take out jackets as we removed them. As Dad removed his, and Mum removed her wrap, I went to sit down still in mine.

“Your jacket, Dear.”

“I’m a little cold, Dad. I’ll keep it on.”

“Nonsense, it’s warm enough.”

“Don’t make a scene, Sara, take off your jacket.” I flashed Mum a dirty look and just got a mischievous grin in return. I unbuttoned the jackets and slipped it off my shoulders; one of the waiters caught it and helped me to take it off.

“Whoa!! Mum! That’s so unfair!! You never let me wear anything like that! OW!”

“Don’t make a scene, James. We’ll talk about this later.” Dad then leaned into Mum and said quietly, “You could have warned me.”

“And miss the expression on your face? Not likely” she replied back equally as quietly.

 

We sat with Mum and D in the middle, James on Mum’s side and myself on the other side of Dad. “It seems weird sitting next you like this…” I commented to dad after the waiters had dropped off some glasses of water “Tell me about it. If anyone had asked me, I thought you would have a harder time adapting than your sister and yet…” he trailed off.

“And yet here I am, looking every bit the young lady, while my little brother is sitting over there in a training bra, and as light a layering of makeup as he thinks he can get away with.”

“You noticed?”

I nodded.

“I hope he can get over it before he returns to school. No matter what the school board might claim, any boy caught in a bra and makeup at his age is going to be bullied. They might forget he was once a girl, but not if he keeps showing feminine traits.”

“You’re worried about him getting beaten up?”

“No, I’m worried he might get angry and kill someone…”

“Your mum and I are dealing with that…”

“Muscle relaxants?” I asked. He nodded. “I thought he looked a little sluggish …that could be worse though, if he has no defences…”

“You could protect …”

“No, believe me. No, that would just make things worse. Think back to when you were our age, would you have been happy if Auntie Dana had come to your rescue?”

“Point taken…” Where my father had gone catlike with MORFs Aunt Dana was more like a Hippopotamus… ok, that’s unfair, she just kept gaining muscle. By the time she was 16, she was one of the strongest women in England.

“You and Mum just have to convince James that being a boy isn’t all that bad.”

“Your mum and I? Aren’t you going to help?.”

“Nope, sorry Dad, I’m busy, previous arrangements.”

“Oh?”

“Yep, the girls are taking me shopping again, and then were meeting up with the boys so we can support Kait when she gets tested.” I could feel tears welling up within me again; I closed my eyes and pushed it back in. I felt an arm go around my shoulder, pulling me into a hug.

“It’s ok Sara, its OK to cry. Girls can cry, you know.”

“I may look like a girl now, but I’m not one, not yet,” I whispered back, “So dad, this feels a little uncomfortable.” As a guy I was never really a huggy sort of person, especially with my dad. We shook hands, but neither of us were really for outright signs of affection like this. “And very, very weird.”

“It’s not weird for a father to hug his daughter …”

“No …but up until a few days ago, I was your son, and I still feel that way…” I extracted myself from him, and turned to look at him. “Dad, just treat me the same as you used to.”

“I wish I could, but your mum would kill me.”

“What?”

“If I gave you a black eye in the training ring now, I reckon your mum would do more than shout at me.”

“I was 13 then, and I doubt you can move fast enough to keep up with me. … Old Man.”

“Old Man? Why you little toe rag. I’m going to enjoy showing you who is the daddy.” I stuck my tongue out at him.

“Michael Neumer.” My father looked up and immediately stood up, I followed his gaze, quickly pulled my tongue back in and saw a party of 6 approaching us, I moved to stand up as well, only to find my father’s hand on my shoulder, pushing me back down. “May I introduce to you our guests, Stephen Felms,” a man around my fathers age, dressed in a black suit, his hair slicked back, said as he indicated a greying man, about 10 years older than my father, immaculately dressed in a pin stripe suit, “his wife, Jennifer” the women next to Stephen was around his age and wearing a black evening gown with opera gloves. Her hair was in an immaculate bun with what looked like pearls sewn into the net. She was also wearing several necklaces and bracelets.

“This is their son, Peter, ” indicating a young man who  was giving me the creeps. His eyes hadn’t left me since he had approached the table, I forced myself to look at him. From his slicked back hair to his black suit, to the cocky grin on his face he screamed Wazook to me. The sort of person whom I used to take great pleasure knocking down a peg or two.

“You know my wife Dana, of course.” He indicated another woman in a blue evening gown. “And our daughter, Melanie.” I looked up to see a girl in a pale pink evening gown, similar in cut to her mothers. As she looked up, I smiled, she saw me and I could see her frown waver. Then it was replaced with a quick smile.

The man turned to Stephen and Jennifer and introduced us. “This is Michael Neumer, Head of the Banking consortium, Oldham, Tilles and Ingleson”

“Hello.” My dad offered his hand to Stephen and Jennifer in turn. “Allow me to introduce my wife, Cassandra.” My mum offered her hand, “My eldest, Sara,” he indicated me, “and my youngest, James.”

 

****

 

Peter moved to sit next to me, but Mel beat him to it, which forced him to sit on the other side of the table, at the far end, opposite my brother. “I thought you were planning on having an early night, tonight.”

“I was, but Mum and Dad had other plans. You know how I felt about this dress….”

“And yet you bought it.”

“You threatened to ditch me in the middle of the shopping centre. …”

“Mall! It’s a mall, and I wouldn’t have really, but it does look fantastic on you.”

“Yeah, I think Peter agrees with you.”

“Ugh, him …”

“I take it your date was cancelled?”

“Yep, my folks had other plans for me, as well.” She grinned at me.

“Sucks to be 16, doesn’t it?” I grinned back and took one of the menus the waiter was passing around

“Sure does. Ever been here before?”

“Nope, you?”

“Yeah. Dad likes to bring clients here. The Caesar salad is good.”

“Never been a big fan of the green stuff.”

“You two know each other?” Mel’s mum asked from across the table. She was sitting opposite Mel. Mel’s father was opposite me and the Felms were opposite my father, mother and little brother. A quick look showed that Peter trying to start a conversation with my sibling.

“We met today at the centre. Sara started at our school last week and made real good friends with Kait.”

“How are you enjoying it?” she asked me.

“The school? I’ve only really had one day, but that was a lot of fun. It’s a lot different to what I’m used to.”

“I can imagine. One day?”

“Erm … well, I went down with MORFs, came out of it this morning.”

“This morning? Mel had to wait 3 days for her appointment…”

“I think there was a cancellation or something…” I covered up, I wasn’t sure how much this women knew.

“So you looking forward to going back to school?” I looked back at Mel who was wearing a cheeky grin.

“What, in the tiny little strip of material you call a skirt?” I asked.

“Tiny? It covers just as much flesh as ours do, and I bet you wouldn’t have complained a week ago.”

“Hey! While being true, that’s unfair. Besides, then it wouldn’t have been my flesh it was exposing.”

“Hypocrite,” she teased, “This term is going to be a lot of fun, I think.”

“Oh?”

“Yep, Seems we have a space in our group for a girl, what with Kait defecting to the opposition, and you fit the bill perfectly.”

“Huh?”

“He, he, I’m just joking.” She grinned.

 

 

****

 

 

When the waiter came by to take our orders, it felt a little weird to be one of the first asked, but I was prepared, and ordered a prawn cocktail starter followed by Duck L’orange for the main.

When she leaned towards me and whispered, “I’m going to go to the bathroom,” I looked at Mel weirdly for a moment, then shrugged, “OK”.

I looked towards my father.

When a sigh from Mel caused me to look at her as she headed off, I frowned, wondering, ‘What was that about?

“I can’t believe they lost by 30 points …”

“It’s that new kid of theirs. They keep putting him in, and he is about as much use as a chocolate fire guard.” Great …sport …as much as I like sport I would rather be doing it myself rather than watching someone else do it. ‘Come to think of it, I could probably use the toilet as well.’

 

****

 

“I know you’re new to all this, but us girls never go to the toilets alone.”

“Huh?” Mel had cornered me as I stepped into the ladies. “OH!! Is that why you were telling me?”.

She rolled her eyes, “Yes it was.” I slipped into one of the stalls. “I hear you and Kait were getting on well, will you carry on? Now you have switched roles?”

There I was, underwear around my ankles, dress pulled up, and she was asking me what I intended to do with the person who I had been kissing not a week before.

When I finished what I was doing without saying a word and stepped out, she was sitting on the couch smiling at me. “So?”

 

“So?” I asked back.

“You … Kait … share!”

“What’s to share?”

“Gah, this is infuriating, trying to get juicy info from you is not easy.” I moved over and sat down next to her.

“I honestly don’t know what you mean.” I smiled at her.

“Grrr, you!! Come on!! I won’t tell!! Pinkie promise.” She had her little finger sticking out.

“There’s nothing to tell …”

“But you two were, if the reports are to be believed, and I have no reason to think them false, locked in lip lock. For quite some time.”

“It wasn’t like that.”

“Uh huh.” She looked at me, eye brows raised.

“Ok, fine. From the moment I first met Kait, I wanted to kiss her, when in that drink shop place…”

“Fraps?”

“Yeah, she kissed me, I was like wow! Maybe moving to America won’t be as bad as I thought it would be.”

“You thought it would be bad?”

“Moving away from your friends, everything you know, to go to another country which while speaking the same language, with the exception of some spelling issues, is almost a totally different culture. To be honest I was scared. It didn’t help matters when I got into that fight with James…”

“Your little brother?”

“Huh? No, some big guy at school …I thought that was it, I was screwed, destined to spend the next few years either as a punching bag for any loser who felt he was strong enough, or possibly worse, as a non person. Then I met Kait….”  When I sniffled a little and tried to hold back the tears, Mel wrapped an arm around me. “And the rest of the gang just accepted me, it was like back home, I sorta just clicked.”

“The twins told me how great you were…are…and they have very high standards…at least where other guys are involved.”.

I nodded; it didn’t stop the tears though ,“Then it happened, everything seemed to be going so well and then I turned into this.”

“It could be worse.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, you could have become ugly… ugly and fat.”

“Gah, why am I crying??”

“It’s a lot to take in …” I nodded.

“Yeah, but I’m not a crier.” I forced a smile.

“It’s OK though, it helps some times.”

“The others seemed to have fun dragging me around all the shops in the shopping centre…Mall…”

“Hey. you had fun as well. You were a little worried to start with, but I distinctly remember a big grin on your face later on. It was a new experience for us all though, one we get to do again tomorrow.”

“Oh?”

“Yep, we are taking Kait out to buy a new wardrobe. And by 'we', I include and insist upon you coming as well.”

“Me?”

“I saw how you were looking at Kait, and her at you, once she realised who you were.”

“But…I don’t want to be gay…I can’t fancy another man.”

“Oh? I can prove you are not gay right now.”

“You can?” she nodded, turned my head and kissed me on the lips, I was shocked at first, too shocked to move till I felt her tongue invade my mouth, that’s when I pushed her away. “What are you doing?”

“Proving you’re not gay, or apparently, bi-sexual, either.”

“What?”

“How did you feel when I started to make out with you? Now, I know I’m not as pretty as Kait was and you are. But I’m still considered pretty attractive. A guy or a gay girl would be really turned on by what I did, or at the very least, she would have responded.”

“But…”

“Sara, look in that mirror!” She pointed at the big mirror opposite the couch. “Do you see a boy and a girl on the couch?”

“No…I see two girls.”

“Two girls, who both happen to fancy two boys. You know what that means, don’t you?”

“Huh?”

“Yep, we’ll have to double date, of course.”

“Double date?”

“Oh look at the time, we had better be getting back to the table …but first, we need to reapply your makeup.”

“Double date?”

 

****

 

 

The starters were already on the table when we got back. We apologised and got stuck in. When I saw mine, my first instinct was to ask for the rest of the portion, but I held my tongue and decided that the mains were probably going to be bigger. I’m glad I didn’t complain, as even though it only seemed to contain 2 prawns and a bit of lettuce, it was still enough to make me feel half full. There had been a slight rearrangement in the seating while we had been away, Jennifer had swapped seats with Mel’s father, who I realised hadn’t been introduced to me.

“I understand you girls go to the same school?” We both nodded at Jennifer’s question.

“Mel’s been going there since we moved into the area a year ago and I believe Sara, you started last week?” Dana offered.

“I had my first day last Monday, and probably get my second on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

“Oh? How come?”

“I went down with MORFS Monday evening, and since I’m now over it, I’ll probably have another few days of ability testing.”

“Oh…I had forgotten about those. I was looking forward to seeing everyone again as well. What are they like?” Mel asked.

“Boring mostly, most of the tests are impossibly big and open ended …”

“Open ended? Why would they be that?” I looked at Jennifer, and was about to answer when Jennifer did for me.

“For the students who are way above the curve.”

“One of the post MORFS boys has a photographic memory and an IQ over 250. He stopped taking classes, because he could learn more from reading a book for half an hour then the teachers could teach him in a month. As I understand it, he’s doing a few degrees at Harvard now.” Added Mel.

“There are kids like that out there? Are they dangerous?”

“Mostly to themselves. You get the occasional megalomaniac, which is why we have the testing centres; they try and screen as many as possible, then keep tabs on the dangerous ones.”

“How do you control them?”

“By letting them control themselves, is the easiest way.” Mel’s mum then proceeded to talk about various methods of subtly controlling the children so they could grow up to be productive and safe members of society.

I listened for a few minutes then nodded to Mel and whispered into her ear “Is your mum usually like this?”

“Pretty much, she’s a MORFs rights activist.”

 

****

 

I was contemplating going to the toilet again when the main courses arrived. Again, they were tiny. … I mean, really, really small. It was damn nice though, even if it was barely enough for a small dog to be satisfied with.  As we began on the main course, the band, which until this point had been playing quiet background music, was joined by a singer. She had a beautiful voice, not loud but it added to the background music in such a way as to bring it forward in my ears, yet leave it far enough back that I could ignore it if I wanted.

Mel and I were discussing the various merits of rock musicians we both liked, when a voice behind me, with a touch of an accent I couldn’t place, politely asked, “Would you care to dance?” I turned to look, and saw Peter standing there, arm extended.

I was about to say,  “No. thank you.” and turn away, when Mum said,. “She would love to…wouldn’t you Sara.”

I looked sharply at my mother smiling politely at me as if to say. ‘Do it and Don’t make a scene.’ Hopefully she got my return smile of, ‘I’ll get you for this.’ There are times when I love my parents and feel I would do anything for them, there are other times when I hate them so much it hurts. This night was becoming one of the latter times.

“Enjoy yourselves,” Dad said as I got up from my chair. If looks could kill Mum and Dad would both have been mince meat at this point, Suppressing my emotions, I turned and smiled tightly at Peter as I walked past him towards the dance floor, ignoring his offered arm.

 

****

 

“You are very charming,” he said as he took hold of me to lead me through the steps. I stumbled, not use to being led, “though not very graceful, but don’t worry I find that refreshing.”

Worry? Why would I worry, but I was ‘Ungraceful’ again, though this time bringing the heel of my shoe down onto his foot, purely ‘accidentally’, of course. The dance had a good pace, which fortunately meant he wasn’t holding me to closely. Sadly, this didn’t last. As the music changed to a slow number, he pulled me close before I could extract myself from the dance floor.

“I was watching you during the meal. You fascinate me. You are like a angel.”

I rolled my eyes, ‘Sheesh does he think this sort of thing works on anyone?’ I felt a wondering hand, and deftly moved it up before he could go any lower. It was bad enough I had to dance with this guy, I wasn’t about to let him do something I would have hit a man for doing before. In fact, I would probably still hit a man for doing it.

“You are like a rose, a beautiful red rose.” His hand began sliding down again. ‘Jeez my parents are less then 100 yards away and this guy is trying to cop a feel!’ Then I realised that with his back to them,  they wouldn’t see anything untoward. I stopped his hand’s downward exploration again, and looked in the direction of the table. Everyone but Mel and James were ignoring us, and they were smirking. James had moved over to my chair, probably to speak to Mel while Peter tried to pull me.

“A thousand stars do not match your beauty.”

I stopped the wandering hand again and pulled back to stare him in the eyes. “If that hand goes south again, I will break the wrist it’s attached to. Understand?”

“Understand? I understand how beautiful you are and how I want to worship your body.”

I scowled into his face, ‘I cant make a scene… How would a real girl handle this situation …What am I talking about? I am a real girl now, I have the plumbing to prove it apparently, but how would someone who has always been one handle it?’

“If you two want to live you will come off the dance floor quietly.”

I turned to look at a man in a black suit holding a gun aimed at us, hidden between himself and us. “I wouldn’t do that.” Peter had been reaching for his back when he stopped and moved his arms back into sight of the man in black.

I saw something in the corner of my eye and turned to look as another man pistol whipped James. My head shot round to look in the direction of our table, James was on the floor, a man over him with a pistol aimed at him and a sneer on his face and two men in black were holding pistols to the heads of the Felmer's. A fourth was covering the rest with a pair of pistols.

 

“You don’t want to do this. You’re not a bad man.” Peter said.

“Don’t bother trying that, I have protection from your psionics.”

“We had better do as he says.”

I wasn’t really listening, I was looking over at James, wondering, ‘Is he OK?’ He wasn’t moving.

‘NO ONE SCREWS WITH MY FAMILY!' I saw red. My tail unwrapped from around my waist and started twitching in the air. I was told later my eyes changed, mostly turning totally black, except the pupils, which became silver. All I remember was the world turning grey, all the colour running out of it, and everything seemed to slow right down.

The first to go down was the guy in front of us. I ripped the gun from his hand, breaking 3 of his fingers in the process, and then snapped his forearms, before kicking his legs out from under him. I caught the gun in mid fall. Taking careful aim, I fired off two shots towards the two holding guns on the Felmers. This took longer then I expected it to, as the first bullet left the barrel, it seemed to slow down. Though still moving visibly, I could see the round as it spun through the air. I aimed the second shot and let it go. Then I threw the gun away and headed towards the other men. I round house kicked the first guy I came up to, the one who was covering the others with the two pistols. There was a look of shock as my foot came into contact with his head and he spun around. What shocked me more though, was that the speed he spun through the air dropped as soon as my body broke contact with his. As he seemed to float through the air, I twisted my body and ripped the guns from his hands.

As I turned to look at the one aiming a gun at my little brother, I saw a bullet leaving the barrel of the gun. Grabbing his shirt, I dragged James out of the way, the bullet just missing him. I ran back to the guy, kicked the gun down, spun inside his guard and had just swung my hand, the flat aimed to hit the guy in the windpipe when suddenly, everything went really bright.

 

****

 

The bright light receded, and returned to looking somewhat normal, my hand shot out finishing its path and only hit air.

“She’s coming back around.” Mel voice said. I blinked and looked around. I had been moved, and was no longer over in the dining room, I was standing in the ladies

“What happened? Where is the bastard who was going to kill Kat?!” I demanded.  “And why am I in the ladies?” I added as an afterthought.

“I moved you after you stopped moving, which is fortunate, as none of the others are in a fit state to talk, but are all still alive. If that move had landed, that man would have been killed. As to what happened, I was hoping you could tell us, but not here. We need to get the pair of you to the OTI.”

“We came in Mel’s car so George and I could drink,” said Mel’s mother Dana. “If we could get a lift there with you, she could take the kids.”

Mum nodded then turned to me. “Lock down; you’re to speak to no one about what happened until both your father and I are with you. Understand?”

I nodded.

“Would it be acceptable for Peter to go with them? I don’t really want him here any more then necessary.” Jennifer asked.

My mum nodded. “That was going to be my next suggestion. Until we can confirm your rooms are safe, it is better to get you somewhere we control. Do you need to contact your Consulate?”

 

“I’ll leave that to Stephen. How are we going to get the kids out?”

“We recommended you stay at this hotel, as we have control over all of the staff and management personnel.”

 

****

 

We pulled out of the hotel dressed as maids. Well, Mel and I were dressed as maids and Peter in the back seat, looking rather solemn, was dressed as a porter. James, would have looked too young to be a porter, and mum refused his suggestion he wear lots of makeup and a padded bra and be a maid, was in the boot of the car.

As expected the paparazzi were all over the outside of the hotel. Cameras were trained on us, so as instructed, we started to pose for the pictures, giggling like a pair of schoolgirls, …which we were. But they were supposed to think we were a pair of maids having done their shift. Since neither of us thought for a moment Peter could pull it off, he was trying to look like he was dozing on the back seat. Needless to say. they took one look at us and didn’t even bother to waste any digital film. Still, one reporter tried to ask us some questions, to which I smiled and told him the lie about us having just come off shift and being told to go home and not talk to the press, and no I didn’t see anything, and sorry, the floor we were on was too far to hear anything, and no, the porter didn’t know anything or he would have told us. Once out of sight, Peter opened the port hole and James clambered out.

“Next time, you travel in the boot, and I’ll be the maid,” he said as he pulled on his seatbelt.

“If next time you have the body …what am I talking about? There won’t be a next time. Agg! how can anyone wear these things? It’s touching me in all the wrong places.”

“It looks like it’s touching you in all the right places, to me.”

“Kat, hit him for me, would you?”

“Oh, with pleasure.” My little sibling clenched a fist and turned to look Peter in the eye.

“Oh? What are you going to do? Look kid, I’m easily twice your size.” Peter smirked.

“Peter, Can you bench ½ a tonne?” I asked from the front, looking back with a big grin on my face.

“What?”

“My little sibling there can lift ½ a tonne without any difficulty. So unless you can do more, then that I wouldn’t bait him,” I finished with a smirk of my own, and turned to face the front. A moment later I heard a thud, followed by someone gasping for breath. Looking back, I saw Peter was bent over clutching his stomach.

“Kat, I didn’t mean for you to really hit him.”

“Aghhh say what you mean in future.”

“Where….pant…are we going?”

“Your folks didn’t tell you?” Mel asked, using her rear view mirror to look at him.

“No, just said to put this on and go with you.” He pulled at the nylon uniform with disgust. Mel and I looked at each other, and then she shrugged, and I sighed.

“We can’t tell you.”

“Look, don’t be a bitch. Tell me or I’m getting out right now.”

“Bitch? We can’t tell you. it’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that we can’t.”

“That makes no sense,.” he moaned.

“How far is it?”

“Just around the corner. Hopefully, someone has rung ahead, or we won’t be able to get in.”

“Get in where? I demand you answer my questions.”

“Demand?” Mel asked me.

“I don’t know about you Mel, but I make a specific point of ignoring demands.”

“Yep, me too.” We ignored him for the remaining 5 minutes it took to get to the OTI.

 

 

****

 

“Did you have to have him tranqued?”

“We weren’t sure how much he was allowed to see,” I replied in earnest to Dr Shelly Darkwater. She rolled her eyes, then crossed her arms and stared at me.

I sighed, “And he was being an annoying prick.”

“That may be so, but the guard wasn’t happy with having his weapon taken from his hand.”

“It’s non-lethal.”

“That’s not the point.”

“He was trying to feel me up.”

“Still not the point. He could have been allergic to the trank.”

“Did I mention he was annoying the hell out of me?”

“That aside, how are you feeling?”

“Fine, why?”

“You look very pale. Sit.” She had me sit on one of the beds while she took my blood pressure and did a quick check on me.

“Now you come to mention it, I do feel a little weird …” I looked at Shelly’s face only to find it a blur.

 

****

 

I opened my eyes and blinked a few times, my head was throbbing and I felt really tired.

“Arrr, Sara, you’re awake. Feeling any better?” I was laying flat on my back with what felt like an intravenous drip in my arm.

“What happened?”

“Sugar Crash. Drink this.” She passed me a cup and I took a sip.

“Tea?”

“Yes, I thought you would prefer it over coffee or a soft drink.”

“How long was I out?”

“Half an hour. You parents are on the way here, and if you feel up for it, James and Mel wish to come in and see you.”

“That would be nice. How is Peter?”

“He came around about 10 minutes ago, no problems, though as ordered he is in one of the guest rooms with a guard watching his door.”

I tried to sit up. “No you don’t young lady, you’re going to lie there at least until your parents get here.” She took the intravenous needle out and bandaged my arm.

 

****

 

“Hey Girl, feeling better?” Mel had sat on the end of the bed I was lying on.

“A bit, ain’t got a clue what happened though.”

“Doc said Sugar Crash, and that it was nothing to worry about …”

“Still, I would like to know what caused it.”

“I can’t believe you shot Peter, though.”

“It was only a trank gun, and he had it coming.”

“The expression on the guard’s face though, as you relieved him of his firearm.” She was starting to giggle, “He was mortified.”

“He should have passed it to me when I asked for it.”

“Then, there was Peter’s face when he realised you had shot him.”

“I did warn him.”

“Warn? You told him if he didn’t shut up you were going to shoot him.”

“Did he shut up?”

“No. he didn’t.”

“So he got shot.”

“He was asking where you were going to get a gun.”

“You said it you’re your-self, he was an annoying prick.”

“Remind me to never piss you off or get between you and your guy.”

“What?”

“I’d hate to see what you’re like when you’re pissed off with someone.”

“Don’t worry, I would never hurt my friends.” She stopped grinning and looked at me seriously

“You consider me a friend?”

“What else would I consider you?”

“Oh Sara!” she jumped forward and hugged me. “This is going to be so much fun, and I won’t feel bad for holding back a real big secret.”

“Huh?”

“Everyone else I know and consider a friend, even Jimmy, I have to lie to them about what Dad does, even what Mum does at times when she is helping out. I have to lie when I go with them on missions and stuff. It hurts, but …”

“But with me, I know what you’re going through.”

“Yeah. Till we moved here I never really had any friends, then Kait adopted me and I met Jimmy and I got in with them. Dad was working here all the time, so I didn’t have to lie where I was going.” I grinned at her. “Sorry, I’m not normally like this.” She pulled back, “but I feel like I can open up more with you, you know?”

I nodded, it was weird, I wanted to open up to this girl, and I had never felt like this with anyone before.

“Can you tell me what happened? One minute you were dancing with Peter, the next you were mm’s away from a kill hit.”

“I can’t talk about it …I want to …”

“You’ve been mentally programmed haven’t you?”

I nodded. “To stop me talking about things I shouldn’t when I shouldn’t.”

 

“Me too. Sometimes I wonder how far it goes …”

“Mine’s mostly aversion. If I’m about to say something about this place to someone not in my family, or in an unsecured location, I start thinking about something else. Though I can, if needs be, say some keywords to let my parents know it’s important and about here, so they can get me somewhere quiet and secure.”

“You know that?”

“I helped with my sister’s. Mum said mine’s almost identical.”

“Ahhh, I wonder if mine is the same.”

“Just ask. Might just do that. So here is the question I’ve wanted to hear,” Mel dropped her voice to almost a whisper. “Which is better?”

“Sorry?”

“Being a guy, or being a girl?”

“So far? I can’t say…”

“What? Why not?”

“I’ve been a girl…what? Half a day, I was a boy for 16 years…but to tell you the truth, apart from the fact some of the clothes are a lot more comfortable, there’s not much change.”

“What? Not even in the…you know.”

“Huh?”  She leaned in and put her lips near my ear, then said in a normal volume. “You know, … the orgasm.”

 

“Haven’t had one.”

“Never?”

“Not in the last day.”

“Ahhh… Ok, when you do check out your body, I want to know which way is better.”

“Ok…You will be the first I tell.”

“Thanks.” She had the biggest grin on her face as she pulled a deck of cards from behind her back. . “Want to play?”

 

****

 

“You will be pleased to know, no one was killed, though you seriously injured most of them.” My dad was sitting in a large leather chair. Mum was standing to his right, and I was standing in front of his desk. I had never seen either of them looking this serious before. “Publicly, we were never at Dorchester. Your mother and I exited the building shortly after yourselves, in a different fashion. The civilians on site have all been given false memories where necessary. Also, the security tapes have been mysteriously lost. Not that they really showed anything from the moment you disappeared.”

“Why did they attack?”

“You don’t need to know.”

“But ...”

“No!” This wasn’t the normal laid back Dad I was use to.

“We are impressed though, by the way you dealt with the attackers,” Mum added. “Though your presence on the dance floor before that was disgusting.  It was embarrassing watching you dance with so little grace.”

“Since you almost killed that last one, you are grounded and will be taking extra lessons. If you hadn’t frozen like you did he would be dead.”

“But …” this was so unfair, being grounded for protecting my little brother.

“You will be grounded till 7 tomorrow morning, at which point you will be free to do as you wish, until the time for your lessons begin.”

“Wait … That makes no sense.”

“The short period of grounding?” I nodded at my father’s question.

“Sara, you did save James life, I saw the bullet holes from the rounds buried in the ground where he was laying. What you are being punished for is for letting your anger get the better of you. Even in that situation, there was no need to kill him. You already had him disarmed.”

“And your appalling show of grace when dancing with peter. I know full well I have taught you both how to dance,” Mum said.

“Mum, I know how to lead. Peter …”

“Peter’s dancing abilities are inconsequential. You should have been graceful and …”

“I’ve been a girl less then 12 friggin' hours and you expect me to be as graceful as Kat was? Or you are? That’s unfair and you know it.”

Dad turned to look at Mum and smiled, “I told you she was too smart to just let that one slip through.” He looked back at me, “Accepting you were put into a position a little out of your depth too early ...”

“A little? And against my will?”

“No one held a gun to your head…”

“Guns I can handle. Mum’s stares … Those I can’t.” Mum was now scowling at me.

“You can handle guns? That does bring up my next point …” Dad said as he changed the subject and turned the screen around, showing an image of the dance floor, the man with the gun aiming at Peter and myself.

He clicked the button and my eyes turned black, when he clicked again, I was gone, there was nothing but a black and pink blur, the gun was falling towards the ground and so was the man who had held the gun only a moment before.

He clicked again, and the scene changed to one of the Felmers.  As he clicked, I could see the effects as the bullets shot the guns out of the two gunmen’s hands. “That’s pretty impressive shooting for someone who has never handled a pistol before ….when did you learn to handle a pistol?”

My facial expression must have given me away.

“Did you know Jace had …you gave him weapons training?”

“Only pistol …I thought it might help if he ever needed to know. Besides evasive driving?” Dad sighed, then looked at me again. “OK, we can go over this as much as we like. In the end it won’t achieve anything. However, we feel you need to see a psychiatrist and make sure you’re handling this properly.”

“You’re making me see a shrink? Because I saved Kat’s life?”

“No, we want you to see a shrink because you almost killed someone.”

“I don’t have a choice in this, do I?”

“Nope,” Mum said.

“Can I go?”

“You can.”

“I’ll be out in a moment to take you and James home,” Mum added as I headed for the door. I stepped out of the door and sat down in the secretary’s chair. Noticing the intercom, I realised dad must have left it transmit, as I could see the light on. I pushed the mute button.

“… danger. She is harmless unless something happens to someone she cares about.” A man’s voice which I remotely recognised.

“I’m still uncomfortable at the facial expression she had when she was moving for the death blow.” That was dad’s voice.

“Her facial expression?”

“She didn’t care. There was no emotion on her face at all.”

“To tell you the truth, Sir, she is much like yourself. The same restrained fury.”

“Jimmy…” Mum said.

“No it’s OK, you’re right, we saw it before, and when she was Jace, I was proud. But now …”

“What’s changed?” Shelly asked.

“Jace is Sara now. Our daughter, not our son,” Dad stated.

“Are you saying that that makes her less of a person? Half the population are female.”

“It’s just we brought up Jace to be a man. He hasn’t any of the grace training I would have giving her if I had known,” Mum said.

“So you’re blaming yourselves because you brought up a son?”

“I’m sure she is blaming us, as well …”

“Why? Why do you think that? I can tell you she doesn’t blame anyone, I might not be able to read her perfectly like I can with others, but she doesn’t blame you for bringing her up the way you did  and I very much doubt she blames you for letting some people getting by your security with plastic guns.”

“But?”

“But you think you failed her? Look at this picture! That’s the image of a girl using the training her parents gave her to protect her family. ‘This’ isn’t the picture of someone who has been failed. This is the image of someone who loves her family, and is lucky enough to have been giving training so that she was able to respond, and as you say, save the life of her little brother.”

“She almost killed someone ….”

“I’ve seen the security video Slash. You almost killed that fuck yourself, and unlike your daughter, you didn’t have the excuse that you had disarmed him and were overreacting. He was handcuffed and sitting on the floor.”

“Shelly. I’m a killer. I have been for years, and it is what I do.”

“No Slash, you’re not. You kill, but you take no pleasure in it, and neither does your eldest. She is just like you.”

“I don’t want either of my children to grow up like us.”

“I don’t think we have a choice, Dear. They are both too good to leave alone.”

“I don’t think Sara is the only one who needs to see a psychiatrist,.” Jimmy added.

“Jimmy,” Mum said. “This conversation doesn’t leave this room. Understand?”

“I do, boss. But I think you might want to tell your daughter…”

“Why?”

“She is listening on the intercom outside.”

“What? Damn it!” The intercom went off. I sat back into the chair, tears streaming down my face.

 

****

 

My fist slammed into the weighted punch bag, one of the large ones hanging from the ceiling of the gym, There was a thud and it shook a little. It didn’t stop the tears, but it did make me feel a little better. I brought my leg up and kicked it. The skirt from the Maid’s mini-dress was a hindrance, but I wasn’t after power, so I just ignored it.

Sighing, I moved over to one of the training dummies. It was 6 foot in height, and shaped like a man, with its parts responding like they would if it was attacked. I slowly lifted my leg, and stopped it just short of the dummy’s head. After the intercom had gone dead I had got up and walked along one of the corridors, eventually coming to a door which wasn’t security card locked. The gymnasium was simply a large room with a number of different exercise machines dotted around, a boxing ring in the centre, punching bags in a corner, and the dummies, like the one I was standing in front of.

“It’s not a good idea to go wondering around here without a security badge, or someone escorting you.” It was Dad, from the doorway into the gym. He had removed his tie and jacket and pulled his shirt out from his trousers.

“What are they going to do? Spank me?”

“Shoot you, more likely. Then give me a mound of paper work to deal with.”

“That would be an improvement, wouldn’t it?” I jumped up and kicked the head of the dummy. It rocked slightly, and a little light flashed, telling me it would now be concussed.

“Not really.” He had walked over towards me.

“You’re ashamed of me ...” I punched the dummy in the stomach.

“Not ashamed.”

“What then?”

“Worried.”

“Why? You and Mum brought us up to be able to protect ourselves.”

“Step into the ring. If you’re going to attack something, at least make it something that can hit back.” I nodded and moved towards the ring.

“Your mother and I led a hard life, even after we had you and Kat, we …we did some dangerous things, and we took the pair of you with us, often as part of our cover. That was often a necessity, but putting the pair of you in danger …we didn’t like it. So we gave you what we could to protect you, or at least give you better protection”

We bowed to each other as we had done so many times before, then both moved forwards.

“You think I didn’t know? Dad … I’ve known what you and Mum do for a living for years.” I made to kick him in the stomach, which he blocked easily and countered with a punch to the head, which I blocked. “You were hardly all that secretive about it. Especially after you coded us to …”

“We didn’t code you to do anything.”  He dropped and spun, slide kicking my feet from under me. “Your mother and I put in some low level hypnotic suggestion to stop you and Kat from thinking and talking about certain things when you didn’t need to, that’s all.”

I rolled away from his downward attack, spun and tried to kick his feet from under him, he jumped backwards out of the way. “There’s a difference?”

 

“Coding involves the use of drugs, and can seriously affect your personality. What we did just makes you think about something else where anything to do with our work is involved. I’m offended you would think we would code our own children.”

I jumped backwards and kicked off my shoes. The heel wasn’t hard to walk on, but it was enough difference to put me at a big disadvantage.

“You’re offended? Trying being on the receiving end!” I blocked his kick with my foot and followed through with a round house. “Try finding out your own father is ashamed of you, for something that is out of your control.”

He blocked my roundhouse, so I came in with a punch, which he blocked. So I spun and brought my trailing foot back into play. His leg came up to block it as his hand came forwards towards my stomach. The punch slowed down, the world paled and my own hand shot down and I blocked. The energy though, was enough to push me backwards away from him.

“That dress isn’t really made for fighting,” he said.

Before I looked down at the Black mini-dress, with its white trimming and nodded, I looked hard at him to make certain he wasn’t just trying to distract me. “I have nothing else to wear though.”

 

“You know your mother and I love you, and neither of us are ashamed of you. Actually, I’m pretty proud. You took out those attackers like a professional, and that’s half the problem. You’re not, you are just 16. You should be worrying about girls and school work. Or is that boys now? Either way, you shouldn’t find yourself in a life or death situation. So because of my arrogance in thinking this city safe, you were put in danger, and Kat came within milliseconds from death. Jace, the only person I’m ashamed of is me, because you saved her, and I didn’t. … I …I couldn’t.” He was near tears, or at leas the closest I had ever seen him.

“Dad…” I walked up to him and did something I haven’t done since I was 10. I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a hug. Since I seem to have lost 5 inches in height, this meant my head rested under my father’s chin. As he wrapped his arms around me. I have to admit, it felt good. Why did I stop doing this?

“Your mother and I decided…we can’t in all fairness punish you for the fight …though you still need to see the shrink.”

“Which is punishment enough.” I replied.

He chuckled to that, “Come on then, let’s get you home. There is nothing else I can do here anyway. It’s all under control.”

 

“Oh, by the way. You are grounded until your friends come to pick you up, then you must get everything on the list your mother will give you. Then, when you get home you will be grounded all day on Sunday, so don’t make any plans.”

“What?” I looked up from him. “You just said I wasn’t going to be punished.”

“I said you wouldn’t be punished for the fight in the hotel. I said nothing about the little incident here at the OTI.”

“Oh…”

“I can’t believe you took one of the guard’s weapons and shot Peter with it. His mum was fuming when she found out.”

“He deserved it.”

“What was he doing?”

“Kept looking at Mel’s and my legs and making jokes.”

“Jace!”

“Dad …Sara …you renamed me …remember? And Jace would never hug you like this.”

“OK, Sara! Boys do that. You can not go around shooting them for it. Hell, I know you stared at a fair few legs yourself.”

“True, but I didn’t do it from right behind and make audible comparisons, and ask for the opinion of one of their little siblings in the matter.”

“He didn’t …?” Dad was incredulous.

“He did.”

“He’s lucky you only shot him. Your mum would have killed him.”

“Punishment dropped?”

“Nope, it’s still in place”

“Damn!”

 

****

 

 

Funny thing is, I don’t remember much about getting home, though I did wake up with my hair a mess and my face covered in makeup. A shower, then ten minutes with a hair brush solved both issues, well, solved them at least to my standards.

I was the first one up, so I started by putting the kettle on.

I sighed then. My second day as a girl! …My first had been pretty hectic, my second seemed like it was going to be just as bad. I opened a cupboard and grabbed the Shredded Wheat box. There was a note addressed to me on the fridge as I opened it, which I took off and put on the isle counter. I poured out my bowl of cereal, added the milk and poured the hot water into a mug with a tea bag in it. I took one mouthful of the cereal then looked at the note. I swallowed hard.

 

I was still sat there 15 minutes later when my mother came down the stairs in her dressing gown.

“Please tell me this is a joke.”

“What, dear?” she looked over my shoulder at the note. “Oh … Nope, no joke. I want you to get those things while you are shopping. You can charge it to the credit card.”

“But …” I tried to complain as she started to make herself and dad a cup of tea.

“No buts! The mall should have everything you need.”

“But …”

“I said, no buts.”

“You want me to get a Tutu?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Why?”

“You are going to learn Ballet.”

“What?! Why?”

“Teach you grace. It worked for me.”

“Can’t I start in shorts and t shirt?”

“No.”

“My friends …they will think I’m some sort of freak.”

“What do you mean?”

“Girl for less then 24 hours, and I’m buying a tutu and ….dance shoes.”

“Ballet shoes actually. And white tights, and a matching scrunchey.”

“But …”

“Have fun, Dear.” She smiled at me and picked up the two mugs. “I believe I just heard a car door close, so that should be your friends come to pick you up. Oh, this is going to be so much fun.” She turned to me when she got to the door and said “Don’t forget makeup, Dear.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Mel took one look at me as I opened the door and forced me to lead her to my room.

“You can’t wear that.”

“Why not?”

She looked at me, then indicated herself. She was in a denim mini skirt and a crop top, with black knee thigh high socks and a pair of soft furry boots. She then indicated me again. I had worn one of my old rugby shirts over the top of a plain white baby t. Before MORFs, it had been a baggy fit. Now it was gigantic. The t was tight enough to show my bra straps and didn’t cover my stomach. I was also wearing a pair of loose fitting jeans which I had managed to pick up on the pretence I needed something to doss around in, even if they did have flowers embroidered on the pockets, which were covered by the Rugby shirt.  I was also wearing my black trainers.

 

****

 

15 minutes later I was sitting in front of my mirror trying to apply my makeup under the watchful eye of Mel. She had made me remove the jeans while she dug through my drawers and pulled out a black pleated mini skirt. I pulled it on and turned to look in the mirror, finding that the bottom of the skirt just poked out from under the shirt. She threw a pair of ankle socks at me, watched as I put them on, then passed me the leather boots with the 2 inch heel I had worn while shopping the day before.

“We’ll get you some knee highs while we are shopping; I knew we had forgotten to get you something yesterday.”

“We need to get me something else while we are there…” I passed her the note from my mum and she looked at it, then looked at me and then smiled. “…It’s my punishment for shooting Peter. Apparently I’m really ungraceful.”

“Oh, you are. I know where to get these as well. Your makeup looks pretty good. You need to spend some time and experiment, though. It looks good like that, but you might find something that suits you better.”

“You think I’m ungraceful as well?”

“Yep. Even though Peter was a complete klutz, you really weren’t helping matters.”

“Damn…I didn’t think I was that bad…”

“Stand up a second.” When I did, she indicated I should twirl. After I had done so, she lifted my shirt up and told me to hold it, then she started rising my skirt, pulling it up so the waistline was a good inch above where I’d put it before. “Drop the shirt. Yep, that’s better, now you can’t see the skirt; some of the boys might think all you’re wearing is that T-shirt. It needs a belt, and then it would be great.”

 

****

 

“We’re picking up Jimmy, then we’ll head over and get Kait. The others said they would meet us there.” Mel drives an old Honda Civic; the 5 door family car had been her grandparents, and had passed down to her when she could drive. “We’ll get Kait some good clothes, then take him to be tested.”

“He got in early? I thought it was a three day wait.”

“Yeah, for us lowly mortals it is. His dad is a senator, though.”

“Ahhh, string puller?”

“Yep. Just like your dad.”

“Why didn’t yours?”

“Mum told him no. She said it was unfair.”

“So you got stuck at home watching day time telly?”

“Nah, dad had me helping out in the OTI. Mostly just shifting boxes around, but it was something to do and kept me out of trouble, plus I could use my abilities to see what was in the boxes.”

“Anything fun?”

“Nah, I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the good stuff.”

We pulled up alongside a house and Mel got out. “Be back in a second. Mind staying with the car? Jimmy’s the nicest, but he’s a little ashamed of his home and it’s a rough neighbourhood.”

“Nah I don’t mind. Want me to get in the back?” I asked.

“Thanks.” Mel smiled. “We won’t be long or he will be in trouble.”

 

****

 

“Hey, Sara,” Jimmy said as he climbed into the passenger seat. “Mel’s been telling me about how nice you are. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know you better before.”

“It’s OK, I’m the same person, just have some new equipment.” I had climbed into the back of the car and was sitting with my knees together on the middle seat.

“That’s the Leeds Rhinos new kit isn’t it?”

“Yeah. You know rugby League?”

“Not really, I’ve seen some of the games on TV. It’s a weird sport.”

“Nah, that would be American Football. I think it’s the thing I’m going to miss the most, though.”

“You should give American football a go. You might like it. More violent then Rugby.”

“He, he, I might …”

“OK, OK! Enough with the sports already,.” Mel cried out as we pulled onto the freeway. “Sara, don’t get Jimmy started on American football. He can talk you through everything you ever wanted to know, never wanted to know, and really don’t want to know, and he’ll still carry on.”

“Hey! I’m not that bad.”

“True, you were that bad, but I’ve been making headway on improving you.” She lowered the harshness of her comments by giving him a quick smile, checking the roads, then giving him a peck on the cheek.

“So, will you be joining any of the girls’ teams at school?”

“I hadn’t really thought about it. I wasn’t planning on joining any of the boy’s teams though, so I doubt that will change.”

“Just don’t join the cheerleaders, anything but the cheerleaders,” said Mel.

“What’s wrong with the cheerleaders?”

“They are all evil.”

“Mel joined the cheerleaders when she first moved here. Kait was one back then, as well,.” Jimmy said as he turned in his seat to face me.

“Biggest mistake of my life.”

“Anyway, Danielle passed the reins of power onto Chastity.”

“Your sister has met Chastity,” Mel added.

“Blonde? Dating a boy called James?”

“That’s the one …”

“You’ve met them?”

“Yeah, when I went into school to be tested the week before term start.”

“Wait? You’re the reason James has been off the last week? Rumour was he got into a fight with some college student. His friends are claiming that James won, but was badly injured …but damn…how did you do it?”

“Knock him out? The guy had a glass jaw, one punch and he was out. … You were saying Chastity came into power?”

“Yeah, Danielle was cool, she treated everyone fairly, Chastity, well she is the daughter of a Preacher. She has been brought up on the purity of the human form, and how those of us who go through MORFs and come out slightly nonhuman, or ‘Tainted’ as she puts it, are subhuman,.” snarled out Mel.

“And thus the ‘pures’ were born,” added Jimmy, as he tweaked a whisker.

“Isn’t that against the law?”

“Yep, but the school ignores it, as long as there is no violence. They have more important things to worry about.”

“Yeah, like what colour to paint the teachers lounge, the principal’s office and the staff toilets, whether or not they should have covered parking for the teachers.”

“I thought ours was a ‘good’ school.”

“It is. Most of the teachers are great, but there is a minority, mostly in the admin and security though, who, well, to put it frankly, attend Chastity’s dad’s church.”

“I’ve been dealing with people like that my whole life, but you and Kait seemed completely human, why should they hate you?”

“I’m dating Jimmy. Kait …well, Kait stuck up for me, and also never really kept it a secret how sexy she finds tails on men.”

“Our football team is the only one which doesn’t have its cheerleaders cheering for them. We have too many people with MORFs on the team for them. So they only turn up if they have been told they must do so, and then they act really weak and feeble.”

“Come on Sara, let’s go and get Kait.” Mel and I got out of the car.

 

 

****

 

 

“Ahh, come in, girls, Kail will be with you in a sec. He’s just finishing breakfast. He’s just like his father; there is no filling that boy.”

“Kail?” I asked.

“His choice, we gave him a list of names and he liked that one, close to what you kids called him when he was a girl. He’s in the kitchen, if you two want to go through.” Mel led me past Kait’s mum and into the kitchen, where the boy I had seen for the first time the night before was finishing his breakfast.

Mel started laughing. I looked at her, and then followed her stare to Kail. He was smiling at us, his short hair spiked upwards; all in all I was thinking he was looking quite cute.

“What, Mel? Is my hair bad?” He turned and rushed over to a mirror built into one of the cabinets. With his back to me, my eyes flowed up the very loose fitting combat trousers, paint splotches covered them and the old trainers he was wearing, which was all over shadowed by the…Bright Hawaiian shirt …I smirked, and tried not to laugh as well. I couldn’t when he turned back to look at us and I saw the words on the left breast. ‘Sexy Beast’

“You are ‘not’ coming shopping with us looking like that!.” Mel stated.

“What?”

“The trousers and trainers you can get away with. But that top. No, Kait, you have better taste then that, I know you do.”

“It’s all that will fit me, and mum made it very clear I am not to go topless.”

“Nonsense, young man. If you want to go topless, you can.” Kait’s mum said from behind us. I moved into the kitchen so she could get in.

“But!! Ok, it still feels weird to show off my chest. And it’s Kail now. I want to get used to responding to that, rather then Kait.”

“Well get it off. Then we can get going.”

“Could you maybe buy me something, and then I could pay you back.”

“What?”

“No. Kail, you will be getting out of this house. I know you have been looking forward to this since your friends left yesterday.”

“Here, try this on.” I grabbed the hem of my t shirt and pulled it off, Kail was looking at me now, as I stood there in the very skimpy baby-t and short skirt, feeling now very self conscious and going slowly redder and redder, ‘Why is he just staring at … OK, why is no one speaking? Ahhh, man !  This is so embarrassing!’ Kail, removed the shirt he had on and pulled my Rugby top on. It fit him well.

He moved over to me and smiled. “Thank you, it fits me well.” He leaned down and to kiss my cheek, or at least it would have been my cheek if I hadn’t turned my head to look at him and opened my mouth to say something. As it was, his lips met mine, then his eyes shot open to meet my own, equally as  widespread.

“Kait, sorry Kail. Could you spare some perfume for Sara here? We forgot to pick some up for her.”

“Huh? Oh yeah, I can. Come with me!” Kail led me down the corridor past his mum, then up the stairs.”

“Keep the door open, Kail.”

“Mom!”

“You know the rules, Kail, no girls in your room alone with the door closed.”

“Mom, that’s no boys allowed in my room unsupervised with the door closed, why do you think I’ve had that wedge holding my door open.” We carried on up the stairs,  where he said to me, “Dad and I have been having a great time teasing mum about stuff like that.”

We crossed over the landing into a room painted pink and yellow. He walked over to a dresser, picked up a perfume bottle and offered it to me. I took it and looked at him quizzically, then was about to spray some onto my hand like I would have done for aftershave.

“No, no, no, spray onto the back of your wrists and your neck, like this.” He took the bottle and sprayed it into a few choice locations on my body.

“By the way, I’ve decided I’m going to hold you to your promise.”

“My promise?”

“The message you left on my answering machine when you apologised for not being able to make our date. You said that unless something really bad had happened, you would go on our date the moment you were over MORFs and I was ready. Well, I spent all of last night thinking about it. And I’m going to hold you to your promise. Judging by your kiss earlier, you’re not going to argue too hard, either.” He wrapped his arms around me and touched his lips to mine. I just responded, my arms wrapped around his neck and my mouth opened to accept his tongue.

 

To Be Continued...


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