Fine Print

FINE PRINT

by Grover
 
Why was I surprised?
At least it wasn’t Herself.
When She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed got involved, things got, well, complicated doesn’t even begin to describe it.

 © 2010 by Grover
 

Disclaimer: This is fiction! It's not real. No specific person, place or thing is meant to representative here and if I did, it was completely by accident. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! I the author reserve all rights! Thanks to Cathy for looking at this for me. I know this is still more than a little raw but time constraints have rushed me. So please don't freak out about the grammar errors! Enjoy! Grover

Fine Print
By
Grover

“Wow!,” I exclaimed staring at the sizable number of zeroes on the check.

The three attorneys who’d represented me smiled, pleased at my reaction. Well, considering who their ultimate patron was that I was borrowing them from, that made perfect sense. She wasn’t known for taking failure likely.

I’d nicknamed them Larry, Moe, and Curly, because all three was cut from the same mold. Dark with vaguely Asian-like good looks they all dressed the same in black suits cut to show off their trim fitness. Besides, I didn’t have a chance in hell of pronouncing their real names.

“Just sign here, acknowledging you’ve received what you desired, and it’s all yours.” Moe said, handing me a pen that cost more than I made in a year even adding in this check. Hell, who am I kidding? Several years added together with a lot of fudging was more like it.

Hey, so what? For me, this little windfall meant a lot. Not only would it help me with my new roomies, but it would get my car out of hock from the repair shop. It might even put me in the green for once. Taking the pen, I pulled the paper over.

Excited, I looked up and froze. My three stooges might have the best professional poker faces I’d ever seen, but I saw something in their eyes. For them this was chump change so why were they so eager for me to sign?

To paraphrase, a certain Corellian spice smuggler, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

Could just be the desire to get rid of me and the hot potato I represented, or it could be something else. Suspiciously, I eyed the legal looking document. Then I turned it over. The back was covered in extremely fine print.

“What is this?,” I asked, pointing to the additions I knew nothing about and almost certainly wouldn’t agree to.

All three stooges gave me really pained expressions.

Larry wincing explained, “Our patron insisted it be added.”

I sighed. “Junior or Senior?” I asked politely. Knowing the situation, I knew they had no choice in the matter.”

Curly answered, “If by Junior you mean the Prince, yes.”

By a powerful act of will, I kept from rolling my eyes. Why was I surprised? At least it wasn’t Herself. When She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed got involved, things got, well, complicated doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I dug out my cell, “Hey Gil, it’s Stew. Yeah, I’m at the lawyer’s office now. No, I’ve got a problem. That’s right, it’s your brother.”

No sooner than I snapped my phone shut, Gil came walking though the doors. Damn neat trick, and one he didn’t often use. The fact he did so now meant he was just a little peeved, but not mad. If he’d been angry the doors wouldn’t still be there.

Wordlessly, I pointed at the document the three stooges tried to pawn off on me.

Or should I say the three cringing guys stinking of fear sweat?

I actually felt bad for them. It must really suck to be at the mercy of beings so damn powerful, that just one wrong careless move, and Poof!

Hell, it was bad enough from my friend’s and my position. You know what they say about not being able to chose family, but you can chose your friends? I’m here to tell you, that has it’s own dangers.

Thinking about it, the whole thing kinda sneaked up on us. Once upon a time there were three gamers. We played just about anything and everything; computer games, pen and paper role-playing games, as well as board games.

I’m Stew, and my two buds were Smitty and Big John. Since the other John departed our group after graduating college, I guess we should’ve dropped the Big, but by that time it’d become his nickname. Like our recently departed gaming buddy, we were college students.

You see we had a problem. Three guys doesn’t a gaming group make. We needed at least a fourth.

That’s when we found Gil. Maybe it was the other way around. One thing was for sure, he certainly changed our lives.

While the rest of us were your usual motley assortment of older students working their way though school, Gil was the good looking rich kid. He’d those dark intense handsome features that, although androgynous, the girls ate up. We’d run across him at the Cosmic Forge, our favorite gaming and comic book shop. He’d been just browsing when he saw us gaming in the open table area in the back. Curious, Gil asked us what we were doing.

We kinda laughed at his expense when he didn’t seem to know anything about role-playing or the gaming scene. The poor kid had wandered in because of all the colorful posters in the shop’s windows. Once we explained, he wanted to try.

There is just something about the fun someone new to the hobby has that’s enjoyable to share. Hey, the three of us were looking for another body anyways. Becoming friends was a great bonus.

Gil explained his ignorance at first as being an exchange student. He wouldn’t say where, except that it was far, far away and that we wouldn’t have heard of it. Then he changed his story to living a very strict childhood where he didn’t get exposed to pop culture. Like Paris Hilton and her thinking that Wal-Mart sold walls.

Then the holidays rolled around and we got talking about families. All Gil would say is we really, really didn’t want to ever meet them. At the time we just laughed it off. We all had some family member we were embarrassed about, right?

Slowly we wormed out of him that his mother, never his mom, but Mother, was involved in making rules and laws. Foolish us were thinking, okay, in the government or maybe a judge, right?

Fate just had to stick her big fat foot in. I got into some legal trouble that wasn’t my fault. Not going into details, I needed some legal advice. Now I learned a long time ago that if you had an inside line with a profession it was always a good policy to make us of it. In this case, I thought that Gil’s Mother might be able to help. If not the area of law she specialized in, she might know a reputable lawyer in the field I needed. What would it hurt to ask?

That weekend we had special plans. It was a four day holiday and we were meeting at Gil’s place. A few weeks back, there’d been a freak electrical fire at the Cosmic Forge and the place had burned down. That’d been during finals week so none of us were involved, but still scary since a few guys we knew had gotten hurt and one had even died.

Needing a place to meet, Gil volunteered his place since it had room to spare. Besides, it had some of the strangest furnishings that were great for setting the mood. Tables with the legs carved like dragons, and he even had real tankards.

I thought at the time he had some kind of Goth or Emo thing going. I’d been to his place before, but this time it seemed creepier somehow.

So we started setting up our game books and getting comfortable. Wanting to get this out the way before we got into the game, I asked, “Hey Gil. I’m in need of some legal advice.”

I didn’t get to the second sentence before, panicked, he started motioning me to be quiet.

Not getting it I went on. Why shouldn’t I you know? “Do you think your Mother could help?”

Poor Gil closed his eyes as if in pain. The rest of us took longer to stop blinking. We were in a humongous throne room. Jeweled chandeliers hung from the frescoed high ceilings and gilded fluted columns lined the walls. The polished marble floor showed like glass and throngs of richly dressed courtiers stared at us.

Having an interest in history and clothes, I thought the styles looked somewhat like European 16th or 17th century. However only somewhat, because they lacked the white powdered wigs that was so popular. I saw waistcoats among the men and women, and lace and ruffles were everywhere.

What even a blind man couldn’t miss was the woman sitting on the throne at the end of room. The amateur historian in me again could only compare her to the reproduction of Athena Parthenos in the replicated Parthenon in Nashville Tn. Not only was the woman regal as any Greek Goddess, but she was also alive, along with being 40 feet tall! Did I say goddess?

Gil sighed complaining, “Mother!”

Okay, we’re in trouble.

Her voice vibrated in a tone that went right though you. Sultry and commanding all at once, I think it could melt stainless steel. “Aren’t you going to introduce your friends?”

I guess I could give a blow by blow account of what happened, but I can’t. Don’t remember most of it, because I was freaked the hell out, let me tell you. Smitty and Big John were as badly out of it as I was. John’s arms were bright red from his pinching himself in a vain attempt to wake up from this waking dream. Smitty simply stood there in a comatose daze.

All kinds of legends of what happened to foolish people who asked unwise questions of the high and mighty ran amok in my overactive imagination. Goddesses, Sidhe and Old Ones weren’t known to be friends of man.

As we stood there like fools, She-who-Must-Be-Obeyed ordered three guys to go into our world and learn the in and outs of our legal system. Then right there, I suppose you’d call it a door appeared and proof they were gone!

We learned right then that regardless, Gil was our friend. He gave the courtiers this glare that I have a feeling saved us from being exploited beyond our worst nightmare. Just starting to function again I began noticing other details.

Back on Earth, Gil was a little under average in height being about the same as me, five eight. Smitty was around six feet, but Big John were the tallest of us all at six four.

The tallest of those around us came to maybe my chin and that was with the heels they were all wearing. That was something else that was confusing. With the different styles and the lack of facial hair it was damn hard to determine, pardon the expression, is that a man or a woman? Many of the clues I was accustomed to using were useless given the different clothing styles.

Meanwhile, Gil introduced us and, in a quick explanation, he warned against asking for favors or anything that could indebt us to his Mother. She was the Queen, and we were on a world called Gaia. Trying not to freak out, I heard someone refer to him as Prince Gilmarian, the Patron of Travelers and Scholars.

My head still spinning, I observed that everyone shared Prince Gil's, godling or whoever the hell he was, general good looks. Slim, a little on the short side, with somewhat Asian-like features, but with more of a golden complexion.

Smitty and Big John both were Caucasians, but had brown hair and eyes. They really blended into the crowd more or less with the exception of their size. While they were virtual giants with the exception of Mother over there, I was really the oddball with my Celtic freckles and long red hair. The usual starving student, I had other things to spend my money on instead of haircuts. That was about to get yours truly into even more trouble.

At first I thought an incredibly attractive woman was daring Gil’s ire. Roughly Smitty’s height with a deep blue gold embroidered jacket and wearing hose, I changed my mind realizing the ruffles weren’t being filled out by breasts. That caused my poor gray matter to short out since his perfect golden complexion, long straight gleaming midnight black hair and large dark eyes cried out woman to me.

Even more than Gil, he was way too pretty to be a guy.

“Prince Treysorian Patron of Spies, the Theater, and Gamblers.

I think Gil introduced us, but I was too busy kicking myself in the butt for being attracted to my friend’s brother. I kept reminding myself this was “Prince” and not the attractive girl my senses kept telling me. Somewhere along the way, Mother stepped down from her three story gilded throne. As she came towards us, she gradually shrunk until she was only taller than anyone in the room rather than rivaling some buildings I’d been in.

She, like her sons, had that perfect golden complexion. If they had finer features than most women I’d ever seen, hers were a distilled beauty that, while breathtaking, had a chill about them. While Gil’s dark eyes had a warm depth to them, hers were wells to the void. Perhaps she’d seen too much or simply saw more than any mortal could stand.

That mysterious voice again announced her as The Queen of the Universe.

All three of us sputtered, smirking, taken unawares.

Can you spell trouble? The temperature dropped to the subzero, the court shifted to move away from the fools who’d brought Herself’s displeasure upon them.

Praying I was as smart as I thought I was, I said, “Please your Majesty forgive us. We are strangers to this land and are ignorant of your customs and ways. In our own land that title means something else. Our reaction weren't intended to be rude, only surprise by the unexpected.”

Gil was giving us the silent urge to continue so I guessed we hadn’t shot ourselves in the foot yet.

Smitty, in the same vein asked, “Your Highness, I’m guessing that our languages are being translated in some fashion, since I’ve observed that our mouth movements don’t match up with the sounds. Since it is trying to put unfamiliar terms into ones that we can understand, perhaps the difficulty in communicating in different tongues is the true problem.”

Thank you Smitty! However I was getting distracted again. Prince Trey had gotten a little too close. He’d invaded my personal space, and it was making me real uncomfortable in more ways than one.

There was this scent he was wearing that added to my confusion about his gender. Between my body sending me conflicting signals on one side, and The Queen, who I was pretty sure was very powerful, wielding powers that, no matter their origin was like magic to us poor hijacked gamers from planet Earth, I was utterly frazzled.

She gave us an imperious stare, “We are willing to make allowances, given you have newly arrived. Welcome to Gaia.”

Then she looked at me. No, I mean really looked. You’ve heard of a deer in the headlights? Not even close, let me tell you! “We have decided to grant your petition for assistance.”

I glanced over at Gil and he got this pained expression in his eyes that I didn’t think was good. Praying that all the times we’d talked our way out of difficult situations with Genies, Fey, and other powerful beings applied to this situation, I gave it my best shot. Okay, maybe it was only in simulation, but just remember, Savik did get the damn thing out of space dock without a scratch.

Not even sure if I was addressing her correctly I politely replied, “Your Majesty I was unaware that anyone, but my friends and I were present at the time of the request. No acquiring or any discharge of debt was intended. It was meant only as an inquiry between friends, nothing more.”

Gil’s Mother smiled. I got a good lesson why he’d never referred to her as his Mom. I very firmly kept all my thoughts on why that was so out of my mind. Being frightened half to death, like the quote about hanging in a fortnight said, it concentrated my mind wonderfully. For all I knew she could read my mind and, for some reason, she simply didn’t strike me as the understanding sort.

“Then, my assistance is freely given to my son’s friends without the acquiring or discharge of any debt,” she said quoting my own words.

Hazarding another glance at Gil, he shook his head so very slightly.

I had no idea what to do. Turning down a gift could be just as bad as any insult. Thanking her could also be a bad thing. Pulling from my years as a compulsive reader as well as a gamer, I tried, “Your generosity knows no bounds.”

She seemed pleased with that answer and Gil visibly relaxed. Okay, that’s good! However, Prince of Thieves over here seemed impressed too and that wasn’t so good. He was like one of those damn pictures that, depending how you looked at it, was both male and female.

Of course while I was distracted again, we somehow got invited to dinner. It was another of those offers that we couldn’t refuse. Now remember, we were all dressed down for a comfortable afternoon of gaming, not for hobnobbing with Queens and Princes of the Universe. That led to us being prepared. From the complaints as we were scrubbed, perfumed, and laced into appropriate clothes, Smitty and Big John didn’t enjoy the attention. Well, I manfully complained along with them, but secretly enjoyed every moment.

Men and women’s fashions change over time. What were male clothes 30 years ago are women’s fashions today. I understood that, although these clothes looked feminine to us, in this culture they weren’t. So yeah, I indulged in my private vice with the silky fabrics and fine materials. While all this was going on, Gil sneaked in to finally inform me what was really going on.

I sat in a small swimming pool sized bathtub, being soaped down by two of the sweetest, loveliest girls I’d ever been bathed by, while doing my best to hide my ‘periscope’ peeking though the foaming bubbles.

He explained, “Well Stew, in this Universe she is the Queen, or one of them anyways. Like the Greek Gods, as well as other mythos, we have different 'areas' I guess you would call them, of responsibility. Mother is kind of what you would call the Goddess of accounting, details and rules. She keeps track of everything. That’s why I warned you about debts.

“Mine is learning and seeking. Once I found your world, I couldn’t stay away. It is so different from home, here. Because of Mother and all my relatives, we’re as static as any tradition or caste bound culture. Mind you, that’s not altogether a bad thing, but it does make your world very exciting to the scholar in me.” He said, as the girls rinsed me down.

I had to ask. “So why were you hanging out with a bunch of losers like us? With your powers you could go and do anything you wanted. Let’s be honest here. Guys like us are the ones everyone tells to go get a life.”

Gil smiled. “Do you remember way back when we first met? I saw the three of you with all your books out, moving your miniature figures about. What got me hooked was what Big John said. “We create.”

“All of you are so damn creative and imaginative. Do you have any idea of how rare that truly is?” He asked.

Trying to think past my pair of pretty distractions, I objected, “Don’t give us too much credit, Gil. Most of that stuff comes from the rule books and don‘t forget, none of us are shy about borrowing ideas from anywhere and everywhere we can.”

He grinned at me. “That’s part of the fun. Perhaps, like that writer said, nothing original has been written in years, but it’s the way all of you put those ideas together that makes it different. Additionally, where could I possibly be exposed to so much concentrated pop culture other than hanging and gaming with you guys?”

I had to score him a point there. However there were other things I had to know. “Gil just how much trouble did my big mouth get us into?”

He ran his hand though his hair. “More than you really want to know. I shouldn’t have offered my place, but I really didn’t think Mother would interfere so blatantly. Then again, I also didn’t take into account one of you would say something she could twist into a direct request of her.

Gil stared at my feminine helpers. “Let me put it this way. These girls are yours. Mother has given them to each of you.”

Despite being male, I had strong problems with slavery, but before I could object he continued. “Before you entered these chambers both of these ‘girls’ were captured soldiers from one of my more unlikable Uncles’ latest infringement on her lands. She transported them instantly from a stockade hundreds of miles from here, and transformed them. They have no memories of their past lives and regard themselves as yours just as like pets on Earth, but more intelligent and able to serve. That is how much trouble you are all in.”

Shaken I stared at the smiling attractive girls. Suddenly I wasn’t having any problem at all keeping my periscope submerged. That portion of my anatomy retracted looking for a nice safe place to hide, run silent, run deep.

My dry throat demanded something wet, I reached for the glass of fruity drink. Before I could one of the smiling girls beat me to it holding it to my lips. A minute ago this would’ve been so much more enjoyable I mourned.

My friend saw my distress. “Stew, you can’t do anything about their condition. They knew their old lives were over when they were captured. It is one of the unpleasant things about living in a world with your Gods far too close.

“These girls are as sweet and gentle as they act. Programmed, brainwashed or mind controlled, they are what they are. They have feelings and can be hurt just like anyone else. If you want to do right by them, please treat them with respect and care,” Gil advised.

I took a swallow. Looking at her holding the cup, I saw what he was getting at. “I understand that Gil. However the girls aren’t consenting adults as me and the guys know it. They’ve no choice, but to behave this way. That puts a way different spin on things if you know what I mean. They’re not responsible for their actions, we are. Maybe you should let Smitty and Big John know too, before they do something they’ll regret later.”

Then it hit me. “Obligations. She’s saddling us with obligations in the form of gifts instead of debts.”

My friend nodded, “Exactly. You managed to more or less wiggle out of the debt she wanted to impose, so she had to find something else.”

Dryly I said, “As if I wasn’t starving fast enough on my own, give me two more mouths to feed.”

Gil replied, “Well you could always put them to work.”

Anger rose up inside me. “Don’t even joke about that! It’s bad enough for them to be transformed like this. What you’re suggesting is just foul it’s …”

His laughter cut me off. “You’re a good man Stew. I didn’t mean that way. The girls would be great working with kids, or even as maids.”

I blushed red. Okay maybe I do have sex on the brain. The last time I dated was many months ago, so it’d been a while if you know what I mean. On the other hand maybe Gil couldn’t read minds after all. I doubted if he would’ve made that compliment knowing about my secret.

Gil laughed again as the girls gestured for me to stand so they could dry me off. “Let me check on the other guys. You seem to be in good hands!”

I shot him an evil glare. “Very funny.”

Then before he turned to leave, Gil warned, “Watch out for my brother Trey too. For some reason he’s taken an interest in you.”

Nodding, I was distracted by the girls again. I should’ve paid more attention.

It was rewarding to hear from the room next door, Big John’s baritone bellow, “They used to be men!”

If getting ready for the ‘dinner’ was an experience, the main event itself was indescribable. The dining room was another huge chamber filled with tables enough for several hundred people. Heaped upon them were endless platters of food.

What struck me as strange was the seating arrangement. In similar events on Earth, sitting near to the person presiding was a mark of favor. Often it was an opportunity for those who wanted something from said person in power to make their pitch.

Here I noticed a decided lack of enthusiasm for sitting too near She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. Thinking about my helpers, I could understand why. I’d no clue if social advancement here was very fast, but the plunge to the bottom could happen in a heartbeat, noble to servant just like that.

We were put in that rarified area within speaking distance of the Queen. Next to me was, wait for it, Gil’s brother Trey. He apparently decided to back off some, but was still determined to engage me in conversation. Turning on the charm, he wanted to know everything about Earth, life there, and me, if not in that order. Despite my determination to ignore him I found myself enjoying his company. His witty remarks and humor did much to help me enjoy this event I feared was going to turn into my last supper.

With all the courses of food, and with Herself right there, everything kinda ran together for me. Smitty, Big John and I had made sure we each knew to avoid intoxicants. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time was what had started all of this. Somehow, something got past me. Maybe I’d been slipped a mickey, or maybe one of the Princes at the table decided to take a hand. I don’t know.

I do remember clearly telling Trey, with the greatest of politeness, that I was heterosexual, in the hopes of discouraging whatever he had in mind. Silly me completely forgot what’d happened to the ‘girls.’

The last I remember I was gently put to bed. My girls crawled in with me, but it didn’t feel right. You know, like I was taking advantage of their programming. Perhaps if I’d known what was going to happen, I would’ve done the deed anyways.

Softy they told me they had no other bed but mine. Drunk half out of my mind, I politely discouraged their attentions. I just wanted to sleep. Not thinking any too clearly, I mumbled something about them keeping to their side, and I would keep to mine. The damn bed was huge anyways so I didn’t think there would be a problem. No, that happened when I woke up.

As usual for anyone drinking way too much the night before, it was my bladder that got me moving in the morning. Opening my eyes, I found myself the center in a girl sandwich. Of course that meant I was spooned against one of them.

Truth was it felt really nice. I’d always been a little touchy feely and this was like being awakened by a nice hug. The one in back had her arms around me while the girl in front had a hold on my arms that were wrapped around her. It took me a little longer to see they’d under gone some changes during the night. I could only see the back of her head after all, but her straight dark brunette hair was now a curly red very similar to mine. What I could see of her shoulder indicated her dark creamy complexion was now fair as my own.

Blinking away sleep, but with my pressing need, I got disentangled from their arms and legs stumbling to the bathroom. I’d never been a big drinker and avoided it for the most part. A little time of chemical induced happiness followed by hours of misery wasn’t worth it.

My eyes still half shut from sleep and unsteady on my feet, I stumbled, unsteadily to their version of the porcelain throne. My wake up call didn’t happen till I sat down reaching to point myself in the right direction. I didn’t find anything!

A cold bolt of fear washed over me. Frantically, my hands searched my groin looking for something that wasn’t there anymore. What I did find didn’t make me very happy. Now fully awake, the reason for my wobbling was crystal clear. Being top heavy will do that. I had breasts, and much longer locks of curly red hair spilled over my shoulders.

As much as I was freaked out, part of me was happy. Don’t you just love contradictions? However nature was going to have her way and I had to go. The relief as my bladder emptied was nearly matched by my dismay at the mess I’d made. Sure I got it all in the bowl, but I’d splattered all over myself.

While wiping myself I must’ve been making some outrageous faces. My two girls now awake were doing that cute 'hiding their giggles behind their hands thing.' Okay I admit it, I’m a neat-nick. This female thing was just … messy. Hey I had to clean up my own pee from myself! And let’s not even talk about that end of month thing. Being male was much better. Urine elimination? Just point and shoot. Cleanup was a few drops at the end easily taken care of with a dab of TP. Reproduction of the species? Plug and play. No periods with those clamps and all that smelly, messy bleeding. Being male was nice, easy, and convenient.

Sighing, I stood up as the girls hurried up to me. They seemed a little worried or maybe confused about their changes too. Should’ve done this yesterday, but my gray matter processor was too overloaded at the time.

I really looked at the two now. They weren’t identical, but did resemble each other as if they were sisters. At a guess, both looked to be in their late teens, 18 or19. They still had their almond eyes and, if anything, the slant was more pronounced. Speaking of eyes, one was the rich green of fine jade while the other's were the gold sprinkled green sometimes called hazel. Like I noticed before both of them now had red hair and fair skin. Freckles too, but unlike normal people cursed with the sun-burning problem, theirs were in a pattern somewhat like that of leopards. Almost like they’d been airbrushed, Oh shit!

Years ago in my struggling artist phase I’d tried to do a series of semi-exotic drawings with freckles in animal like arrangements. Like a lot of my art, nice idea, but I lacked the knowledge and skill to carry it out. However, both girls looked almost exactly I’d envisioned back then.

Firmly, I resisted running to the nearest mirror. There were other things to do first.

I gestured for them to come to me opening my arms. That was all the invitation they needed. Hugging them, I comforted, “It’s alright. Just someone having some fun at our expense.”

It was then it really hit me that we were all nude. Okay, maybe I was really out of it because of over indulging, but that I should’ve noticed! Time to finish this up before things got more out of control. However once again I had responsibilities.

I tilted up jade eyes’ face. “What’s your name?”

She replied, “Whatever you desire it to be mas… Mistress?”

I reassured them again with a hug. “I’m not a mistress or master.” Remembering my role-playing I tried, “My name is Stewart, or Stew for short. It pleases me for you both to address me as such, understand?”

“If you could be named anything you wished, what would it be?” I asked again taking a different tack.

Both gave me blank looks. Okay, looks like we’re down to plan C. “Okay,” I told jade eye’s, “Until you know, I’m going to call you Tara, alright?” Her innocent face bloomed into happiness as if I’d just announced a shopping trip to Tiffany’s with an unlimited credit card.

As she was jumping up and down in joy, I turned to hazel eyes. It seemed I could see the yearning in her to also be named. Frankly it made me mad as hell. Okay this was another culture and even an whole different universe, but to do what was done to these two rubbed me the wrong way. That’s not considering the entrapment of them being given to us. If we didn’t accept, then the girls would be open to more abuse from others, but if we did it was going along with what was done, Argh!

Maybe she was programmed this way, but it just wasn’t in me to be mean to her. “You too,” I told her, “You’ll be Bridget until you find one of your own okay?”

She jumped up and down happy too. The ‘problem’ I had with that couldn’t ‘grow’ anymore, but being nude, both the newly named Tara and Bridget noticed. Twin points and moist, didn’t make me happy.

It took some gentle persuasion to guide them to getting all of us dressed. I won’t say I didn’t want more or that it didn’t feel good. I will say now was not the time. Additionally with all of us prancing around unconcerned and undressed, I was worried that more than my body might’ve been altered. Perhaps some nudist or exhibitionism tendencies added to all of us?

A quick browsing of the closet held a variety of styles all designed to highlight my considerable cleavage. Hell, I wasn’t sure where all these clothes came from, but they were certainly more daring than I was prepared for at present. However with a little mixing and matching we found a short bolero that worked, easing my discomfort at my ‘cleavage’ factor.

Since here women wore pants, we found a pair of tight dark green trousers that were almost like tights or leggings. With the lacy lighter green blouse and darker bolero, the outfit was damn revealing even if it wasn’t showing skin. Adding in the heels from the silver buckled shoes, I felt as if I was dressed as a woman. That was both good and bad.

Steeling myself I went to face my hardest critic, the mirror. They giggled at my opened mouth. Compared to them, they were just the rough sketch and I was the master’s finished piece. My eyes were like bright emeralds and were very visibly slanted. Rather than a smattering of freckles where I’d gotten some sun, they were in a pattern much like the girls. Mine started about my thin arched eyebrows highlighting them and running about my eyes. It gave a natural looking mascara look, but also heighten the feline appearance with the mask like markings some cats have.

I’d already guessed at the hourglass figure. The green clothing set off my crowning glory, my hair. It wasn’t just red now. It glowed with golds and were deepened with browns in perfect layering. My auburn curls came half way down my back in a brilliant fall of colors.

The woman looking back at was absolutely gorgeous. I think I was in love. Well, if not for the little problem that she was me. Just maybe if I knew that this was merely temporary, I would’ve enjoyed this more. Part of me was relishing this anyways. But knowing I was a innie underneath all of this stole a lot of the pleasure.

Sighing I asked Tara and Bridget, “So what do you think?”

Tara said still unsure about how to address me, “Stewart? You’re beautiful.”

Bridget, more shy, just nodded, sending her red curls bouncing.

Giving that critic in the mirror their just due, I replied, “All three of us are beautiful.”

It was true. Someone definitely had been peeking into my mind. They’d taken this old idea and given it life using us as their living canvas. It was also true that we were a matched set. I hadn’t lost any of my height and still had more than half a foot on the girls. They were there to accent me as the center piece.

I had to compliment the artist, right before I tore their head off. Prince, Demi-god or whatever, I wasn’t asked, and even if I had, I certainly would’ve said Hell No. I might have a thing for feminine things, but that was my business as well as my burden thank you very much.

Thinking about my temper that came along with the red hair, I wondered how to find Gil. If the old Stew was going to reappear it would have to be with his help.

Just then the door opened and one of the many servants entered. She announced that breakfast was being served for the friends of Prince Gilmarion.

As jaded as everyone who worked here had to be, even she gave a double take at our appearance.

Smiling because I really wanted to have the pleasure of hurting the person responsible, I gestured for Tara and Bridget to come with me. “Please lead on.”

As we walked the short way to a veranda, the girls and I continued to turn heads. When everyone is dark, petite, busty red heads tend to stand out. A pair of servants opened the French style doors for myself and my entourage.

Big John had his back to me, but Smitty’s mouth dropped open as he saw us. I didn’t see Gil, so I took a seat with the girls standing behind me.

“Good morning guys,” I greeted. “Have you seen Gil? There’s something I need to talk to him about.” I said failing to hide the venom in my voice.

Poor John had a mouthful of something that he promptly spit out, choking.

Smitty stared before asking incredulously, “Stew?”

I nodded.

On the table were bowls of fresh fruit of some type, cheeses, and rolls. I helped myself to some of each. “Girls, are you permitted to eat with us?” I asked.

“No, Stewart,” Tara answered still being the more adventurous.

I wanted them with me to make a point that I hoped held some weight, but not at their expense. “Please the both of you go and eat. After you finish, I need you two to attend me today.”

His eyes watering, Big John asked, “What the hell happened to you?”

I paused chewing something that tasted like apple but more juicy. “That’s what I want to know. Someone slipped me something really strong last night at dinner. I only half remember being put to bed. When I got up this morning imagine my surprise,” I said with my voice dripping sarcasm.

Smitty and he looked at each other. “We didn’t get drunk last night and you seemed okay. The last we saw, Gil’s brother was walking with you back to your room.”

In disgust I dropped the bun I’d picked up. “Well that explains who’s probably responsible for this makeover, but not why.”

I got my answer as a voice behind explained. “It’s your hair of course. I’ve never seen such a glorious color before nor the wonderful waves and curls as it fell over your shoulders. Your fair complexion and those ’spots’ of yours are so different from the people here. Adding to the whole are your eyes which I don’t exaggerate when I say they bewitched me.”

My nails dug into the table, as felt the energy from my anger start to fill me. “Oh really?” I replied smiling baring my teeth.

Big John and Smitty’s eyes widened. They’d seen me lose my temper before. Generally speaking I’m a peaceable person. On the rare occasions I do lose it, I try to direct it away from harming anyone. This time I wanted very much to hurt someone.

Smitty as gingerly as if handling dynamite whispered, “Stew. Princes, Demi-gods, and full blown Goddesses here. Think about the consequences.”

I flashed him an look that said, “To hell with the price.”

Big John had a worried expression, but I could tell in a moment of crystal clarity that he was ready to tackle me.

Prince Treysorian stepped into sight. His dark eyes shone with approval at my appearance. “Oh yes. When I saw in your memories this delightful vision of yourself, I couldn’t resist bringing it to reality.”

My feral smile transformed into a snarl. “And what makes you think this is anything that I desired?”

Even mad as hell, this damn Prince’s appearance was telling me he was a beautiful woman. Crap, even his voice was enough in the tenor range to fool me. Dressed in much the same as last night in hose, a waistcoat that gave him a very slim profile and with his long hair in a ponytail, he still confused the hell out of my libido. Damn cultural differences.

Trey raised an eyebrow as if surprised, “You’re angry?”

Smitty ready to dodge the fireworks muttered, “More like pissed the hell off furious.”

Feeling like I was about to explode, I said sarcastically, “Why don’t you tell me since you’re the one who’s been messing around inside my head.”

He shook his head, “No I don’t need that to see that you’re upset. What I don’t understand is why? I clearly saw memories of enjoyment of the feminine and of wearing their attire. You are attracted to me and you said you had no desire to share a same sex relationship. I remedied those problems. Should you not be joyous?” Trey asked my friends whose eyes were bulging out at my secrets revealed.

Why don’t you out me to my friends why don’t you? What a frakking morning? Could it get any worse? Yeah a little voice told me. I could be simpering looking into Trey’s dark eyes eagerly waiting for him to tell me what my new name would be.

Trying to hold onto my control, I spat, “Let me start. I was male. I was very happy being male. On my world, those who as you say enjoy wearing feminine attire are called cross-dressers. Like most cross-dressers, I’m sexually attracted to females.

“This vision you’ve pulled out of my head was a fantasy. While part of me does like looking like this, because it’s a fantasy I have no desire to live out my life like this. That doesn’t take into account my body currently being female. I don’t like being female and I don’t want to be female.

“The reason I’m attracted to you is because by my culture’s standards, you look very much like a slim beautiful woman. The clothing here although very different from what is commonly worn, is cut in styles that would be thought feminine on our world.

“Perhaps my perceptions are different from my companions because of my cross-dressing In any case, you are male. I consider myself male as well regardless of present circumstances. There is no way that we can have a relationship even if my confused libido finds you attractive. Now if you would simply please change me back, I would really appreciate it!”

Trey’s face was a study as I ranted. When I finished, he’d such a hurt expression I almost felt bad. I had to remind myself for about the hundredth time that this was a he and not a she.

Then he smiled, “Oh I can fix that! There all done.”

I looked down at my hands but they were the same feminine hands I’d woken with. Experimentally I gently nudged my breasts and found they were still all me.

Then I remembered what I said. My head hit the back of my chair, oh no.

Smitty and Big John were looking at one of us and then the other wondering what was ‘done.’

I had to see to be sure. Moving my full bosom aside, there it was. My bulge was easily visible in the snug tights. Here we are ladies and gentlemen, Stewart the she male. I closed my eyes in pain.

I stood up and saw the guys eyes widen as they saw my ‘package.’ “Trey, that did not help. I’m still very angry, but I’m going to go off by myself before I say or do something that will get me in more trouble than I’m already in. If you see your brother Gil, please tell him I want to talk to him.”

Turning I walked along the balcony.

Trey said, “Why is Stewart still mad? I fixed the problem right?”

I could only imagine my friends expressions as I put distance between us. Finally I couldn’t hear them anymore and looked out over the country side. This was my first real look at this world. I half expected we were in a flying castle or something just as ostentatious. It very nearly was. The place was outrageously huge. Just the veranda was at least ten stories up and the one we were on wasn’t the only one. The grounds were just as large with painstakingly landscaped gardens including fountains and ponds. Over all it kind of reminded of the palace at Versailles, but much, much bigger.

The countryside beyond was full of rolling green hill with a few roads leading to what looked to be a city in the distance. It was all as if from a story book so perfect and peaceful.

Yeah right I sighed. Here I was male again, but quite literally my wildest fantasy. I studied my hands with their so precise freckles on the upper parts of my arms, but leaving the undersides pale and creamy free of any blemish. My nails were polished a deep brownish red meant to compliment my dark lips and deeper shades of my hair.

“You know he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong?” Gil asked from behind me.

I took a deep breath. “Here you both are godlings. Is anything you do wrong?”

He stood beside me. “Maybe not, but all of you are my friends and guests of Mother. He should’ve been more polite and asked.”

Hanging my head, I had a hard time talking about this. “I know that you both can see what’s in my head. If you can do that, you have to know I would’ve said no.”

He shook his head. “Stew, we’re not all powerful. We can as you say ‘read’ memories but we’re limited by our cultural background of how much we understand. Our ways are strange to you, but remember yours are just as strange to us.”

A moment of silence passed, “You know that part of me really likes this don’t you?” I asked.

Gil nodded letting me speak.

Sighing, I went on. “But I can’t stay like this no matter how much I might want it. All I’ve ever wanted was to fit in, but I’m neither fish nor fowl. Regardless how good I feel, this will only make me stand out even more.

Gil looked out over the countryside. “Stew I think you’re being far too self-conscious about this. There’s those on Earth that have modified themselves far more exotically than you are right now. Look at that fellow that had himself surgically modified to look like a tiger? Or any number of people with extreme piercings and entire body tattoos.”

Grudgingly I admitted, “I know. However, I have enough trouble finding a date now. How many women are going to go for a man that looks better than they do?

“It’s just, I’m too tied up in knots over dealing with my cross-dressing. I guess Trey fixated on my feminine side he saw in my head, while my libido keeps seeing him as a she. I know it’s the style of clothing and your racial characteristics, but even though my brains knows he’s an outie it’s not helping!

Softy Gil asked, “You like him don’t you?”

Blushing red, I answered, “That’s what makes it so bad. I don’t go for guys. I’ve wondered if one of you haven’t screwed with my perceptions.”

“Well,” Gil said rubbing his ear in thought, “Some of it might be because he is Patron of some the arts and you are an artist. It could also he simply likes red heads.”

I turned from the scenic landscape sighing, “You could be right. So despite my temper tantrum when can I expect to go back to the old me?”

Gil got this look that I knew didn’t bode well. “Well…, I talked to Trey and he says when you all go back to Earth he’ll transform you back. The problem is Mother wants to keep you here a few days. I’m not sure why. I think she might be examining you guys.

“I know I complain about this place being static and stale, but Mother isn’t a fool. She knows when a problem is developing. I think she is evaluating what changes to make by studying you guys and Earth.”

He shrugged, “I'm sorry, but this means you’re going to be stuck like this for a while.”

I breathed out heavily. The longer I was like this the worse it would be going back to drab. In this case really drab, and I feared it really would hurt. “Just absolutely wonderful! You do remember that we have classes and jobs I hope?” I said not sparing the sarcasm.

Gil winkled his brow. I wasn’t fooling him for one moment. He knew what I was really worried about. If I had to guess Trey knew how hard giving this up would be for me and that’s why his conditions.

“She said she would take care of it. As for Trey, we could go to her about it, but I really wouldn’t advise it.” My friend suggested.

I shuddered. While Gil and Trey seemed mostly human, Mother was well into that inhuman category. The how and whys she did things were in the unfathomable territory. What Mama wants, Mama gets. “No, I agree. That’s just too risky. I’m just going to have to live with this.”

The next four days were very much like the Charles Dickens quote that begins with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Trey brought me flowers. When I threw them in his face, he bought chocolates. After I gave them to Tara and Bridget, he dropped by with a bottle of wine.

I have no idea where he got the idea for all of this except maybe out of my own head. Maybe he thought he’d only a few days to woo me. I do know Smitty, Big John, Gil and the whole court here were laughing their asses off at him, me, and the entire freaking situation.

I asked point blank if he was willing to transform himself into a woman. Trey blanched saying except for very temporary exceptions, Mother disapproved. “Fine,” I replied, “I’m male and happy to stay that way. Sorry but I’m not into the gay thing. Romance is out of the question, so go away.”

The next evening I got serenaded as the moons rose. Yeah, this place had three of them for goodness sakes. Pointing out that he was a godling, Prince or whatever the hell you wanted to call it, he was going to live for umpteen times longer than me. Even if I was interested, which I wasn’t, I wanted a commitment that the myths and legends of my home said those like him were lousy in keeping. Dating was for finding out if you’re compatible or not. We already know we’re not, so for the last time, go away!

Think he took the clue? Hell no, of course not!

It wasn’t a total loss. Tara and Bridget went into orbit with their first taste of chocolate. Of course they had to pass some bits around and people started coming to me asking for more. I simply closed my eyes and sent them to the Trickster responsible.

Lucky for me my relationship with the girls had changed into more of a sisters thing. Despite my asking, we still had only the one bed even if it was big enough to a sleep an entire marching band without crowding. However still I woke every morning cuddled with them.

After the third day, of Trey’s gifts my room looked liked a damn florist shop with a chocolates counter. I had more than a few bottles of wines and champagne too, but since I’d gotten sloshed at dinner that first night I wasn’t about to open any of them.

I couldn’t complain about the dressing too much either since I’d two devoted maids who loved to make me look nice. It seemed my worry about their recent makeover into red heads was groundless. They got tons of attention from the rest of the staff that they enjoyed. I made sure it was no one was taking advantage of them since I was responsible for them, but it seems that the three of us were the only red heads here, period. This palace, nation, world and the whole damn universe according to Trey. We were quite literally the only ones of our kind.

My friends when they weren’t rolling on the floor at my expense, were having a blast. Here not only were they the star attractions of the moment, but giants as well. They never suffered for female companionship and never had to turn to their ‘gifts’ for relief.

I hated it, I loved it, and damn wasn’t I even more confused than when this frakking madness had begun! With Prince Treysorian plying me with gifts no woman even if she was attracted to my feminine form would dare risk his displeasure.

By the fourth day things got serious. He began offering gifts that had strings attached, think of engagement rings and the such. Acceptance was like signing a contract. After the first near miss, I got very wary. It was clear Trey was getting desperate. By the end of the day I’d turned down all manner of jewelry, clothes and even a horse. Don’t ask! I guess I should thankful that more livestock didn’t make an appearance.

The last morning I was a mixture of curiosity and dread about what my suitor would try next. Suitor? I can’t tell you how strange that felt. I had enough femininity to enjoy the thought, but like I kept telling a certain hardheaded Prince, it was impossible.

Surprising myself, I sat down and seriously thought about it. He did seem reasonably sincere and I did enjoy his company when he wasn’t trying to trick me into accepting his terms. The problem really hadn’t changed. Despite my femininity, the idea of fully becoming a biological woman just wasn’t me. I was a cross-dresser and not a transsexual. There wasn’t a woman trapped inside my man’s body, just me who was a little of this and a bit of that, not one or the other.

Maybe being a man had problems, but they were problems I knew. I just couldn’t make the leap into womanhood. That’s besides the other little problems like his being a godling. Staying here just was not a good idea. My big mouth would certainly get me in trouble. On the other hand he was a Prince here. He unlike Gil wasn’t a Prince of Travelers and Scholars. His job if you will was on Gaia. Nope, I was right the first time this couldn’t work. So why was I so depressed?

The girls did that cute little giggling thing again as they announced, “Prince Treysorian.”

Elegant as always but this time there was something different. Trey had played up his feminine features this time. His clothes were cut to narrow his waist while his dark hair was left unbound from its usual ribboned ponytail.

Kissing my hand, he looked into my eyes, “Please do me the honor of having breakfast with you this morning,” he asked.

Knowing I should say no, I nodded anyways.

Taking my arm he escorted me to the same veranda as before. I half expected some ridiculous display, but instead it was relatively simple. The Waffle House it wasn’t with the fine china and real silver silverware.

The tension was such I don’t think a knife would’ve cut it. It was more like steel cables that entangled both of us in some weird and very strange ways. Finally he asked, “Stewart please don’t go. You and I know you’re much happier in this form. I accept that we have difficulties to overcome, but you’re like a light in the darkness. Give us a chance to overcome these problems.”

I found myself looking into his eyes and thinking how beautiful they were. “I’m sorry Trey, but you’re a Prince, and I’m a mortal. I don’t belong here and need to go home before I open my big mouth and get into more trouble.”

Standing up, I held back my tears. Prince or not he looked as if he was doing the same. Using a strength I didn’t feel I said, “Goodbye Trey.”

The rest of the morning passed in a blur. Tara and Bridget were with me trying to comfort me. Something in me wouldn’t let me break down with them present. I guess I was trying to be strong for them. We ended up in the throne room again. Smitty and Big John had a throng of well wishers, but I was a little surprised to find I had some as well. My treating everyone I met as people made me more than a few friends among the staff.

It took an act of will not to look for him. I’d said my goodbyes.

Getting this show underway, that damn voice announced, “Smitty, Big John, and Stew, the honored friends and companions of Prince Gilmarion.”

Geez! The use of our nicknames in such a formal environment made me feel like we were in a cheap comedy film.

Mother, sitting on her three story throne, stood. Instantly, everyone's attention was riveted on her. She once more gradually shrank as she walked towards us. Okay, a comedy film with a really big special effects budget.

Approaching us I saw her smiling at Big John, and the idiot grinned back in a way that could only mean one thing.

I stared at him, not wanting to know what I think he might’ve done with our friend’s Mother. Shocked, I glanced at Smitty, but he seemed as stunned as I. Gil however rolled his eyes. Alright, maybe I had a better idea at why she’d kept us here all weekend now.

She, still nearly foot taller than my six four friend, kissed him on the cheek as she whispered something in his ear making him turn very red.

Then she did the same to Smitty, despite his obvious discomfort. Whispering in his ear, he glanced at his group of twittering well wishers, causing them to giggle even more.

Mother turned to me. Oh boy, my turn. Being kissed on the cheek by a seven feet plus woman gave me flashbacks to back when I was eight with my Mom.

She said softy in my ear, “You’re a fool.”

What could I possibly say to that? “I know.”

Mother looked into my eyes. Once more I saw the dark void of everything and yet nothing. Unlike my friends, she gently hugged me.

Stepping back, she said to all, “Today we bid goodbye to my son’s guests. They have entertained and educated us. No one acquired any debts, for all were enriched.”

Mother raised her hand and one of those doors appeared in midair. “Farewell, be happy.”

Just like SG-1, we stepped though the gate. We were in Gil’s living room with our gaming stuff still on the table. The only proof that anything remarkable had occurred were the six girls with us. Tara and Bridget’s green staff dresses were replaced with blouses of about the same color and jeans. With their cross-trainers, they were just another pair of co-eds.

Big John’s two could also pass although their Daisy Dukes and bare midriff halter tops were pushing it. We all stared at Smitty. If you've ever seen a fantasy version of the classic French maid uniform, you know why.

He gave us an innocent uncomprehending expression. “What? They’re supposed to be maids right? They’re just dressed the part.”

Smitty seeing our disbelieve, changed the subject. He grinned at me. “Hey man! You’re back.”

Looking down, I was flat male chested Stew again. A bottomless pit of loss opened up inside my heart. Fighting the haze threatening to overcome me, I found the bathroom mirror. My critic within crackled with evil glee. The me that wasn’t me was back. I mean there I was, but that couldn’t be right.

I threw up in the sink. Holding onto its edge for dear life, eyes in so much pain stared back into my own. Blackness danced on the edges of my vision.

One of the guys asked, “Hey, are you alright?”

I tried to answer, but the world was drifting away.

Gil, I think, said from beside me, “It’s alright. I’ve got it.”

Consciousness came because it hurt to much to hide in sleep any longer. I expected it to hurt, but nothing prepared me for that. It reminded of a blog I read about a transsexual who’d attempted to re-transition back into her male identity. It’d nearly killed her.

My Gawd, had that been what I’d done? Had I transitioned so completely in only a week? I hugged my pillow ferociously, as a drowning man would a life preserver. Burning tears ran down cheeks, until my ’pillow’ hugged me back. Startled, I found Bridget’s green eyes full of compassion as she smoothed my masculine thinning hair.

I tried to push her away. Shame, guilt and I are old companions. I wanted to wallow in my misery alone. Tara joined her sister and, together, they held me. At last I gave up fighting them, letting myself cry.

Looking around, I was back in my apartment. However, now it was clean and the usual clutter of books and art supplies neatly put away. Adding to my surprise were the pizza boxes.

Before I could ask how, Tara bought in a paper plate with a slice. “You need to eat Stew. It’s late evening and your stomach is empty from being sick.”

Bridget hadn’t left my side. Her jade eyes promised that I was going to be babied whether I liked it or not.

Between bites I asked, “Who ordered the pizza?”

Tara answered, “Prince Gilmarion showed us how. He also demonstrated many of the wondrous appliances in your kitchen. During your stay at the palace we learned how to speak, as well as read and write your language so we could better serve you. Along with that were many of your customs.”

I tried to reply, but Bridget insisted on me eating.

The glance they exchanged however said they knew what I was going to say. Bridget said, “Stew, we know what happened to us. Our fate was to be made into servants. Who we were is lost forever. Who we are now is limited by what our owners want us to be. It’s something we can’t, and don’t, want to fight. Being obedient gives us a sense of happiness and purpose.

“Very few open their hearts and families, making us a part of their lives like you have. You call us your sisters and you look after us, but you don’t command. From the very beginning you’ve encouraged us to become all that we can be. Perhaps we have no choice except to obey, but we also have love. That is ours and we give it to you. Now shut up and eat!” She demanded with a smirk.

Hugging them, I did as I was told.

The next few days were interesting. For one thing we’d gained a day somehow. We had a four day holiday. We met on a Friday, and spent that night, plus four others, as guests of Mother. That makes five total, so how come today was Monday?

Time travel or different rates of passage between universes was the answer. I still had to go to work tomorrow morning if I wanted holiday pay for Friday and Monday. You always had to work the very next day after to get paid. That meant, no matter how bad I felt, I had to go. Not fun.

The good was having dinner and welcoming arms when I got home. More strangeness was finding out Gil gave Tara and Bridget credit cards. The Visa logo gold cards even had their holo pictures in the corners. Hell, I couldn’t afford having a credit card. Too damn much temptation when things get bad.

Calling Gil, he assured me they were for the girls to better serve me. Neither they nor me would be surprised by the end of the month statements. I really didn’t like the idea, but truthfully I couldn’t support them. I liked the idea of having sisters, but I reasoned as long as they didn’t go crazy with spending it was okay.

He also gave me the number to the Talmarris Law firm, which took care of the girl’s cards, as well as handling my legal case. Doing a internet search showed they handled primarily corporate and financial cases. The firm’s website showed the same three guys Mother sent though four days ago, but according to the site, the firm was formed ten years ago!

Did she somehow retroactively simply make the company appear, or did she send those guys all those years into the past to set all of this up, just to handle my simple settlement case? From what I could read they had a good reputation and were solidly in the money. No wonder Gil warned us about being careful with what we said. On the other hand it also gave her agents here a base of operations in our world. I wondered if I should be afraid?

I was really glad the girls were so protective, given my fragility. I don’t think I would’ve done something stupid, but I was happy not to have it put to the test.

All I wanted was to forget about those four days and get back to normal. My evil critic in every mirror I passed, refused to let that happen. Each glance rubbed in just how much I didn’t like what I saw. If that wasn’t enough, Trey sent a huge package by way of Gil, of flowers and chocolates. At least he left out the horse this time. The note asked, begged, for me to give him a chance of finding a solution to our insolvable dilemma.

Hah! I already figured that one out. All I had to do was murder part of myself. Here, just zap the gray cells that say I’m heterosexual. See? No more problem! However I just couldn’t do it. Maybe the inside of my head is a mess, but that is what made me who I am. I really did think about it, but the more I did, the more it seemed like a kind of suicide.

I sent a note back, saying I was touched that he still cared, but it was still impossible, so please stop. That was another bad night, with Tara and Bridget cuddling me till I finally cried myself out.

The next week, the Talmarris Agency called, saying they’d resolved my case and my settlement check was ready for pickup. I had met with my Three Stooges prior to this to discuss the case. Smiling, they assured me it was a piece of cake. Actually they thanked me. With their trip into the past to go to law school here and build up their agency, they’d had much more freedom than back home. Without my little legal problem they never would’ve gotten the opportunity.

That brings us up to now, with Gil walking though the doors. His dark eyes were stormy, and the three guys were trying to sink into the wood work.

We were all surprised when he marched right up to me! “Alright! This stops now. The two of you are dragging others into this romantic tragedy of yours. The Talmarris Brothers here had my brother strong arming them into sneaking in clauses that seriously compromised their professional ethics, and your servants are frantic you’re going to step in front of a bus.

“Why Mother hasn’t already taken a hand, I have no clue. You’re my friend and it hurts to see you tear yourself up like this. He’s my brother, and despite our differences, is also dear to me. This has gone on long enough. You hear me?” Gil asked.

It was as if the inner walls of my very sense of self were under siege. Tears flowed, as I fell ever nearer a breakdown. The fragile dam of my male persona threatened to collapse. “I’ve tried to tell him it’s impossible. There’re things I can’t give up and still remain me.” I sobbed, embarrassed at my lack of control.

He held me. “Then compromise. It doesn’t have to all from you. I’m the first to admit that Princes have some strange romantic arrangements on occasion. Look at some of your own myths and legends.”

“You need to stop worrying about what others think, and live your life. Do what is right for you. The world is a vast place full of possibilities and wonders. Don’t let those so afraid of their own shadows that they have to simplify everything like children scared of the dark, rule your life.” my friend told me.

Moe passed me a box of tissues. I felt ashamed by the way I’d made fun of them, even if only in my thoughts. They, after all, had been caught in the middle of this through no fault of their own.

Then, the thought smacked me in the head! Compromise in the middle!

Gil looked at me. “You’ve an idea don’t you?”

I nodded, “Yes I do, but I warn you it’s a really weird one.”

He smiled, “I don’t care if it can get both of you out of this funk. Talk to the brothers here. They’re familiar with Earth and Gaia, as well as knowing the legal precedents of both. Work it out.”

“Now, if you will excuse me, I have to get back to my studies.” With that, he was gone.

Guiltily, I looked at the three. “I’m sorry about all of this, I really am.”

Straightening their expensive suits, they all took deep breaths. Larry said, “We’re still indebted to you for our positions here. Dealing directly with patrons are always stressful events. It comes with the territory. Now what is this idea of yours?”

A week later I was back in their offices. This time however I was a nervous as a girl about to tell the love of her life a very difficult thing. Well, I was in part a girl, and this was very difficult.

One of Mother’s doors to Gaia opened, and out stepped Trey. It might have been my imagination, but he seemed as worn at heart as I felt. Still, my heart jumped at the sight of him.

His smile gave me warm flutters. That reassured me that there really was something between us besides your garden variety lust. Maybe, just maybe, this could work.

He looked around, but his cultured eyebrows rose when he saw we were alone.

I stood, and despite being in my male persona, I hugged him.

Trey gave me more reason to think this wasn’t a waste as he said, “I’ve missed you.”

Dragging myself from his dark eyes, I explained, “I wanted to talk to you first about what I had in mind. If you think it’ll work, then we’ll call the brothers in to help work out the details and lay out concerns from their point of view. Okay?,” I asked.

Forcing my hand to not shake, I slid the paper with my proposal to him. I didn’t trust my voice to tell him myself.

Taking it, his brows rose again, as he began to read. I think they rose even more as he got to the bottom.

I was holding my breath as he looked up. “Are you sure about this?” He asked still thinking about the ramifications.

Sighing I replied, “I’ve heard a definition of compromise being as two people giving up something they want and only getting part of it back. The three brothers think, since the tradition of cross-gender roles are as important in Gaia's theater as they are here, Mother will let you get away with it. For that matter, the spy and trickster things go along with that. It shouldn’t affect your Prince’s aspect, like changing your gender and sex would, which was Mother’s real objection, right?”

Trey grimaced, “I really wasn’t all that thrilled with the notion either, but you drive me so crazy I was ready to consider it. I can’t say it made me unhappy to have Mother flat out deny it.”

Forcing my voice to stay level, I pressed him, “And this?”

It was his turn to sigh, “It’s exactly what you called it, a compromise. You have the more obvious and startling transformation, but I’m perhaps pushed out of my comfort zone a little more, despite my bi-sexuality.”

I acknowledged that. “Yes, I do have a feminine side and you don’t. However, your changes will be almost completely hidden, mine won’t be. Plus there’s the matter of living arrangements. I fully intend on completing my degree. Being practical, I’ll have to accept your offer of support since I’ll need an entirely new wardrobe. Also, if I’m crossing worlds as often as it looks like I will be, to spend time with you, I’ll have to quit work in order to keep up my studies. That does not mean that after I graduate, I won’t go looking for work. The question is, can you deal with my independence?”

Trey took my hand. “Yes, as long as you can deal with being spoiled when we’re together.”

Feeling my own arousal, I pointed out. “You know this may not work. We will be quite literally made for each other, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to make this work. Speaking of which, do the suggested alterations meet more or less with your approval?”

Still holding my hand, he smiled. “I’m rather surprised you’re willing to use your artistic vision that I saw, so completely. You did have some serious issues with standing out. However, since you asked, your suggestions are well reasoned. The only major change I would suggest would be your height.”

I returned his smile, “It’s only the freckles that stand out in those paintings. The girls’ skills with makeup and concealer can hide those. As for fitting in, if we can make this work, I don’t need anyone else. My height? I might be a bit tall for a woman, but not extremely so. I’m not about to become petite for you!”

His eyes twinkled, “I love how beautifully your eyes flash when you’re angry. If I might explain. Your proposed changes in our relationship outwardly cast me in the traditional male role and you in the woman’s. You don’t appear to have a problem with that, correct?”

I grudgingly admitted that. “Okay, I think that sounds right. I’m a far cry from being submissive, or you from a dominant, but yeah. More like equals, leaning towards the traditional roles.”

He stood, pulling me to my feet. “Using your scale of measurement I’m six feet tall and you’re five eight. You like to wear much higher heels, so that puts us at roughly the same height. I’m suggesting you become an inch or two shorter, so I’m taller in social situations. Perhaps, since we’re compromising, I grow an inch and you shrink an inch to make it fair. That way our social roles are more clearly defined.”

I gave him a suspicious glare. “Is that your only reason? Just so you can lord it over me by being taller?”

With me still as the same old guy, Stewart, in flat tennis shoes, he was taller than I anyway.

Trey said, “No. I like holding you, and being taller lets me get more of you in my arms.”

Okay, maybe I needed to reevaluate that submissive thing, shivering deliciously at the thought. I said, “Good answer. Ready to call in the lawyers, and start our first, or maybe it’s our second, fight?”

He shook his head, grinning. “No, not a fight at all. I was, as they say on this world, asking you to date and you kept saying no. I’m looking forward to our first.”

I waggled a finger at him. “Hold on Mister. The lawyers don’t normally get called until the romance is dead, not for pre-date agreements. If there’s any chance at a we, there’re mountains of problems to overcome. Even if my compromise works, we have your godhood, me being mortal, this being a long distance relationship, and the fact that none of your aspects are particularly known for doing well in the long haul with romance. Spies, theater people, not to mention tricksters, may be dashing, but are, let’s say, ‘domestically challenged.’ Let‘s not forget my own hang-ups that I’m going to end up flashing at the whole world.”

Now holding both of my hands, Trey asked intently, “So why bother trying?”

I was all too aware of those feminine habits I picked up over those four days in that other universe. Even looking like my guy self, I found myself slipping into the feminine. “Because I can’t keep from thinking about you. Those days as my own art gave me a freedom that haunts me still.”

Softly he asked, “Is all of this because you want to return to your leopard girl identity, or is it because of me?”

I shrugged helplessly, “I truthfully don’t know. Inside my heart everything is all mixed up. That’s why, all of this will, hopefully, give both of us the opportunity to sort out exactly what we feel about each other. Then we’ll go on from there. Fair enough?” I asked.

“Fair enough,” he replied. “Lawyers?”

I nodded, “Lawyers.”

***

One year later

I refreshed my lipstick, daring my inner critic to say a word. Looking at the exotically beautiful woman in the mirror, she passed muster. My normal distinctive leopard spot-like freckles were covered, given we were out in public.

One year later, here we are again, in the Stooges office. Smiling at the memory, I’d let slip that I’d privately named them that. I’d gotten a surprise to see the normally reserved, somber lawyers break out into big grins. They loved the Stooges.

Over the past year, I’d spent a lot of time here, since this was Mother’s hidden unofficial embassy to Earth. I was happy she didn’t want to invade or anything. As far as I could see, she wanted to see how us Earthlings did things, and if she could use similar methods in her kingdom. Conservative didn’t come close to how slowly she adapted, but it did happen.

To either side of me, Tara and Bridget were nearly bouncing in excitement. I swear you'd think it was them who were about to take this life changing step. If all went well they would start classes this fall. Both girls still considered me to be their job, but I convinced them they could better serve by broadening their horizons. I guess I could’ve commanded them, but I couldn't do that. They’d become, in truth, the sisters and friends I’d first called them.

Needless to say, this came as a shock to my parents. Revealing my extreme makeover shocked them right down to their ultra conservative roots. I think the only reason I wasn’t kidnapped and taken to some cultist hangout to be de-programed, was because of my Stooges. After my parents made their views clear, restraining orders were put into the works.

I know they would never believe it, but it was for their own safety. If they’d carried out their threat, I shuddered to think what Gil, not to mention Trey, would have done. Still they were my parents, and I stubbornly loved them, even as they disowned me.

They'd provided very little scholastic financial support anyway, forcing me to work my way though school on my own. Builds character they claimed. I’ve wondered if I’m a kept woman now, since Trey, though the Stooges provided for me. However, with me jumping between worlds, educating my sisters about Earth, as well as taking a full class load, I had no time at all. I wasn’t complaining. I was exhausted sometimes, but happy summed it up.

Stepping out to get to our meeting on time, the hall was full of those waiting for us to get started. My friends, Smitty and Big John, looked uncomfortable in their suits, but showing up in their usual attire of jeans and tees didn’t fit the occasion.

They’d taken all of this much better than I thought they would. In a frank talk, they told me they had known all along that I had some kind of gender bending thing going on, since I played feminine characters whenever I could. In short, I was their friend, so shut up and roll the dice. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play as much as I used to, but life is all about change. The reason why we were all here was a prime example.

I smiled at Trey waiting for me. He was beautiful. His long, blacker than midnight hair, gleamed, but his height and slimness still confused most as to his actual sex and gender. I knew the truth of course.

He still laughed at me. Of course he was beautiful! I was the artist who’d envisioned his present form, painted him if you will. I will admit a certain amount of satisfaction with my artistic endeavors now. I wondered how much having a godling of the arts as my lover, helped.

My sisters giggled at us as Trey and I lost ourselves in each other’s eyes. Always my minders, they chivvied us into the conference room.

Eyes shining I stuck out my tongue at them, making a face, as Trey shut the doors. We were alone.

I could see the slight swell of his small breasts and other small clues. He was much more feminine than any casual observer could guess. Those changes had bothered him more at first than even the extra genital. “Here we are again. We’ve had our year. The question is, do we suit each other?”

His expression made me want to swoon. “Do you have to ask?” He said, with a devil may care smirk.

Turning a little serious, I answered, “Yes. Perhaps others can assume such things in their relationships, but we can’t. We have complications galore with gender, sex, and other things most don’t have to worry about. For instance your breasts. I know they bothered you at first, do they still?”

He dramatically put his hand over his heart. “You wound me, my lady!” Then, more wryly, he added, “You’re right. I know, compared to yours, they’re small, but they are there. Before, I never noticed them at all, but these larger feminine ones are a different story.”

He gave me an loving smile, “I think they, more than anything else, made realize just how you saw me. Knowing you found them attractive on me because they made me more feminine, was a blow to my male ego. However, my love for you more than made up for that. Besides, that very sensitivity that makes them annoying at times, has its fringe benefits,” he said huskily, causing me to blush.

Taking my hand and kissing it, Trey asked, “And you my lady?”

Feeling my own body washing itself in warmth and arousal, I replied, “For me the most stressful thing about all of this was coming out. I didn’t want to give up what I’d accomplished, even as modest as those accomplishments might be.”

He nodded, remembering those early days. Since it was the summer session anyway, I took a short leave of absence from school citing medical reasons. I reappeared in the fall, saying I’d transitioned to female. Apparently my leopard girl resembled me more I realized, since nearly everyone recognized me after having their eyes opened.

Looking into his eyes, I had to make him understand this next portion. “The next hardest was the sex. You see yourself as male, and I do have my feminine side. Having my, hmmm…, new equipment worked out so often was interesting. On the whole, I enjoyed it a lot, but it took some adjustment.”

It was his turn to blush. “That I understand. The first time you took me, I won’t claim I loved it. Even as a bisexual, the experience was very different. But I’ve grown to rather like it, from time to time. Just so you know, I still prefer taking the male role. Is that going to be a problem?” His eyes looked into mine with real concern.

Touching his face gently, I said, “I know. We do tend to use the male when we trade off on who’s the aggressor in our relationship. That may grow to be a problem, but I don’t think it is right now. As long as I get to be on top sometime, I’m content.”

Then, a little hesitantly, because I knew this could be a deal breaker, I asked, “And the femininity?”

Trey chuckled, “Believe it or not I’ve rather enjoyed it. Perhaps it’s the trickster in me. I am, like I said, mostly masculine, but letting my femininity out has proved educational.” Laughing, he added, “Mother has even commented that she likes the changes it’s had in the theater. Apparently, in my Princely aspect as patron, it has improved their performances.”

I had to agree with that. After seeing a few of Gaia’s entertainments, they seemed rather clichéd and lifeless to me. Which brought up another question. “So, this hasn’t harmed your ‘job’ performance?,” I asked making the ditto marks gesture.

“No,” he replied. “If anything, like I said it’s helped. However, don’t expect me to give up my male wardrobe anytime soon.” Grinning, he added, “You do know that there are those who are calling you the Patroness of the Arts? Princess Kala, the talented and the inspiring.”

I stuck out my tongue at him. “Yeah right. Sorry. I'm just a plain everyday mortal.” Since Stewart wasn’t much of a woman’s name, I spent some time researching a new one. Being overly clever, I decided on Kala which was Hawaiian for Lady or Princess. It wasn’t till later I found out about the other meaning, that it was Sanskrit for the goddess of fine arts.

Giving me a trying expression, Trey scolded, “Not so plain or simple. You know from your own mythology of the strange fate of gods and the mortals who love them. For example, how would you describe us?”

Sighing, I still had this thing about fitting in, but the past year helped me to get over it a little. “No terms really fit, but the closest might be, true hermaphrodites with Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. Like the Greek god, Hermaphroditus, we have the sexual organs of both sexes. We both have selective Androgen Insensitivity, allowing both of us to have varying degrees of primary and secondary female sexual characteristics, but still able to function as males.”

Taking a deep breath, I let it out slowly. Softly, I named us, “A compromise.”

He tilted my face upwards towards his, “Tell me this, Kala. Are you happy?”

I parted my lips in answer.

After our kiss, I snuggled happily in his arms asking, “Are we really ready to do this?”

Trey smoothed my hair. “I think we'd better. Otherwise, you’re about to end up ravished on the conference table!”

Eyes flashing, I grinned, “What’s keeping you?”

Ruefully, he glared at the double doors. “The dozen or so people waiting outside? So, do we call in the lawyers and get this pre-nuptial business over with?”

Playfully, I asked, “Lawyers?”

Passionately, he agreed, “Lawyers.”

The End


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