11th Sun: Chapter 8: [XXX] Marcus

I stand for a long time in front of Paint. They must do a lot of business, they have a fancy sign that changes color and font. This is what you want. Go in there.

I don’t move.

Go in there, Eleven!

I move. Put my hand on the door handle. Open it. Step inside.

The smell in here is overwhelming. A hundred different kinds of perfume. There are vials on the wall. Lotions, soap, scrubby things, all in pastel.

I have entered the Temple of Woman.

Browse? My feet move to the counter instead. There’s a strikingly beautiful woman sitting behind it, doing her nails. She stands as soon as she sees me. her makeup is… elaborate. Maybe I should says “advanced.” I’ve never seen anything like it. Do you take classes to get like that?

I don’t say anything, just sit in a chair in front of the counter, and take deep breaths. Watch my face in the dozens of mirrors pilled in front of me.

“You just got your butterfly!” She says.

Deep breaths.

“Lets make you look nice, baby.”

Okay. “I… don’t really know anything about makeup.” Get up and leave now.

My ass stays sitting in the chair.

“Kind of a tomboy?”

You have no idea.

“It’s good you’re stepping out of your shell, hon. Why don’t you come back here, I’ll fix you right up. When I’m done, you won’t even recognize yourself.”

Fight the panic.

She motions me over to a barber’s chair off to the side of the displays. It looks like there’s an advanced chemistry set sitting next to it.

Her name tag says “Leshayah,” and she scares me to death. Way too nice. Way too pretty.

Leshayah opens up a refrigerator and starts pulling out bottles. She has a pipette and she starts something that looks like chemistry.

Then she sits me back in the chair, and says, “This is gonna be pretty cold,” and starts brushing stuff from a petri dish onto my face.

She misreads the alarm in my eyes (mostly) and starts explaining. “They’re just chromatophores, little color changing microbes. They sit on your face and eat dead skin and food. Their poop is oil that keeps you moisturized.” She brushes some more onto my face, over my cheek bones, and she’s right, it’s chilly. “They change color with electricity. Any color you want, I have.”

I swallow, and I think I nod too this time.

I slowly get comfortable over the next three hours. Mostly by keeping my eyes closed while she brushes a bacteria wash over my face.

There’s several layers to set up different colors, and they have to dry before the next can be applied. In the meantime Leshayah tells me all about what’s new in makeup. I didn’t know anything was new in makeup. I assumed you put colors on your face.

But no. There’s new colors and new techniques all the time. She tells me that the haut couture look involves “burning” where it looks like you’ve been made up with streaks of ash and charcoal over your face. She shows me pictures of the models while the fourth or fifth application dries. “I keep trying to get it right, but it always looks like I just stepped out of a burning building.” I don’t know what the difference is. These women all look like a propane tank exploded in their faces.

She tells me more about colors. She talks about highlighting. She talks about contouring. She talks about blending.

She finishes the last batch and while it dries she says, “Now, honey, you wanna do you’re lips and your eyelashes too? Butterfly lashes are nice, but they could be nicer.”

“What does that?”

“It’s just a haizor, like you use on your legs, and lets you change the color some. It’s more permanent, because your eyelashes are brittle and grow slower. It’ll give them a little extra curl, too.”

I hadn’t thought of this but, “I need a haizor too.”

“Ya’ growing some down, down there? I always leave a little. It’s softer now than it was on your old body. Feels like fluff. But bare is back in fashion again,” she shrugs. “If you want to get rid of it, for now, I say go for it.”

I haven’t noticed any pubic hair, I think I want to shave it anyway, but she mentioned my legs. Best cut that out before it starts. I’ll have to rip it out.

I think my eyes are more sensitive, because I have to fight my eyelids while she adjust the follicle thickness of my lashes. It’s nothing like the first time I shaved.

She pulls out a little thing that looks like a tiny pencil sharpener with a finger sized hole. It’s a nailbox. I’m freaked out only a little less by this.

Leshayah explains that we’re going to do teardrop, in red, to match my dress. She puts the end of the cap up to a rose on my dress, and then clicks a button and does my first nail. It matches the color exactly.

This is way to girly for me. I’m not in a safe place here. But I hold still while she does my nails, and look at the hands it’s taken months to get used to. It’s actually quite thrilling, in a way I don’t think I’ve felt before.

“So how do I use the electricity? To change it?”

“You can use an applicator,” here Leshayah picks up something that looks like a little face mask. She give a little sniff of disdain. “Or the brushes,” and she starts to tell me about all the different expensive brushes that she’s excited to sell me.

“How does the applicator work?”

“You just load a mod, put it up to your face, and it does all the work for you.”

“Can I load anything?”

“No, of course not, honey. To get a real look… ” And she stops, and looks me in the eye for a second, and I feel a little understood.

Not much, but a little.

“… They’ll do anything you’d like them to, sweetheart.”

We do my lips, which need a special application, to make sure the bacteria don’t fall outside the lines. I let Leshayah take a fine haizor to my eyebrows. She says she’s eyebrows should be sisters, not twins.

Then she hands me one of the masks, shows me how it fold up to the size of a glasses case. She puts it over my face and it makes a whirrrrr-click noise. I don’t feel any electricity, and my face feels no different. I avoid looking in the mirror.

You can do this. I look in the mirror.

I’ve spent the last three months trying to get used to my face, and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not shocked when my old face doesn’t appear in the mirror. I recognize this face, but barely. It has class. It’s in control. It’s exotic. It is—I am…

“Sexy,” I say it aloud. Leshayah looks proud.

Leshayah shows me how to make the lipstick wand change color, and loads it with about ninety zillion shades of red. And then ninety zillion other colors. This time I feel it buzz, and try to pretend it’s chap stick, while I watch the sexy woman in the mirror put on the last of her makeup.

I think all this must show on my face, because Leshayah says, “See honey? Now you can do anything.”

She gives me a little spray bottle, and says it’ll last for a year. “One spritz, daily. Get your whole face, and don’t skip.

I pay for it all, and give her a nice tip. Then I realize I don’t have anywhere to put all this makeup stuff, and I get a bag.

Then I go across the promenade and print my first purse. The Gucci mod fell of the back of a truck, somewhere. I don’t know anything about style, but it’s my first purse, it matches my sun dress, and I like it.

Oh no. There’s another bag on the rack that I want more. It does not match my sun dress.

In a decision far more girly than I have made before; more girly than getting makeup, or wearing panties, or putting my fingers in my pussy; I resolve to buy that purse, and then buy an outfit to match it.

#

Cropped jacket.

I have always liked a girl in a cropped jacket. I didn’t know what it was called until I pulled it up on the screen, but I want one. And a crop top. And jeans. And calf-high fuck-me-boots. With chunky heels and brown leather.

And the ensemble will match my purse.

It’s printing, and I’m waiting on the little padded bench, in a boutique on level 4. I have a moment of introspection, and realize that I’ve crossed my ankles and put my legs to one side, on the bench. For the moment I appear to have lost myself in a new gender. It’s kinda cool.

Then I get hit on, and it’s not cool at all.

He has a beard. He’s wearing hunter camo. He has a bandanna in colors that probably mean something to some gang, somewhere. He stinks, in a way I’ve never smelled before.

I am way out of his league.

“Hey,” he tells me, “that butterfly body really hides your flaws.”

For a moment I’m astonished that this piece of shit space hillbilly, would have the gumption to neg me. And then all of my confidence collapses. He has a hundred pounds and foot on me. This body is strong, and as a man I could probably have—blackened his eye before he broke my nose, three teeth and a rib. I am vulnerable in a way I’ve never felt before, and my body reacts by flushing and avoiding eye contact.

“Is it true that butterfly bodies don’t start out as virgins?”

Does he mean I don’t have a hymen? Why would I? What’s the point of that? I act as aloof as I know how. Dammit Eleven. You knew better than to come her without a piece! Yeah, but where would I put a gun? I only just got this purse.

He see his advantage and presses it. “Oh, your shy? Why don’t you let me help you out of your shell? We can go down to D’Neesha’s and—”

“There you are!” Someone calls from behind me.

I can’t help it, I flinch. I don’t want to see which one of his buddies has come to join in the harassment. A hand goes over my shoulder, and I feel sweat under my hairline. I’m going to break these fingers if it’s the last thing I do. “I was looking all over for you sweety, I thought we were going to meet on level two, next to the carpet shop. I know how you wanted a carpet for the bedroom.”

I think I’m being saved. Please don’t be creepy. Please don’t be creepy.

I turn to look, and rescind my finger-breaking life goal.

Tall. Muscley. Vac jacket for a bike. Hair swept forward. I don’t know if my adrenalin is hitting me harder, or winding down, but my heart rate definitely went up. Then I take his hand, and say, “I was going to meet you, honey. I must have lost track of time.” I try to make my voice sound confident, but it comes out dry and tiny.

Boyfriend guy puts his left hand on his hip and reaches out to shake Beardy’s hand, “How are ya? I’m Marcus. What are you two talking about?” His left hand brushes his jacket aside to show the Glock 90 kW peeking out of its shoulder holster.

Beardy gets the hint, fast, “You’re girlfriends a real bitch, dude. Good luck with that.” And he fucks off.

#

Marcus is in my league. He’s a real gentleman, and takes his hand off me the second Beardy is beyond line of sight. “On behalf of my gender, I’d like to apologize.”

I just stare at him. His body is close to perfect. I would have killed for his abs. His face is chiseled. Strong cheekbones. I’m not sure right now where I am on the hetro-homo scale, but at any point in my life he would be objectively attractive.

You should talk now, Eleven. “Yeah…” Say something that is more than one word. “I guess that’s what I get for… having breasts.”

God dammit.

But he laughs, almost genuinely, I’m sure of it. “Serves you right for not being a piece of meat.” He looks around at the boutique, like he’s never been in here. I don’t think he’s ever been in here. And he’s out of place enough that he really could be some hot chick’s boyfriend, waiting while she dithers in a changing room.

There’s a ding, and my clothes are done. I stand to get them, ankles trembling, suddenly not sure I can put them on at all, with my confidence shaken out of my body. Then Marcus says, “There’s always a chance he could come back to get aggressive. Especially if I’m not here. Do you want me to wait?”

Oh my god, was that a line?

But he’s right, and I’m in some kind of shock. It’s all I can do to nod at him, ducking into the changing room.

#

I break down just a little. Head in hands. Maybe a few tears. I’m confused, and I don’t know about why. I’ve got a phone. I can connect to the ship and ping Dr. Jordan.

She’d tell me to go out with him.

“Show off your new clothes,” she’d say, “and take him out to dinner to say thank you.”

Well if you know what she’d say, why not do it?

At first robotically I strip out of the dress. I look at myself in the mirror. I can be confident if I want to be.

I pick up the crop top, and then put it down. Problem. The dress had a bra in it. I have no bra for this top. Not that this body really needs a bra. I cup my breasts, and try not to feel weird about it. It doesn’t make me feel anything right now. I’m just a woman in a changing room, having an emotional crisis. After getting hit on, and crushing over guy who rescued me, I don’t know what gender I am right now.

Whatever it is, I’m sexy as hell. That thought gives me some purpose, and I start getting dressed.

Jeans on. They fit better than I expected at the waist and hips, but are tighter at the knee. The body scanner here is more precise than on the ship. They’re dark, stone washed, low cut, and make me look rugged, but stylish. And a little bit ready to fuck. They’re too short in the…ankle part. (Cuff maybe?) I think they’re supposed to be like that so you can see the boots more.

Crop top. It’s white, stretchy. Which is good, because I’m totally stretching it. Something either happened to the measurements, or it’s supposed to be like this. My breasts strain at the fabric and jack the hem up, further than I think it’s supposed to go. There’s big stretchy wrinkles from nipple to nipple. Nipples that you can definitely see thought the white cotton.

That puts into perspective that they’re pretty big. I’ve seen hookers with bigger, of course, that’s a trade thing. But they’re about the size of a dime, with areola the size of a quarter. I have to stop myself from measuring them through the fabric, realizing at the last second that making them larger and more prominent probably isn’t going to help me.

Maybe the ton of cleavage I’m showing will distract from that, I lie to myself.

Okay, lets try the jacket.

Fits really well across the shoulders. The sleeves might be the tinniest bit short. No, they must be made like that. I like the leather, it’s faded and stressed. There are buckles, old fashioned zippers, and eye holes. It’s exactly what I wanted. But I don’t know how to close it. I don’t think it’s supposed to be closed. When I test this theory I find that, existence of method or no, my chest isn’t going to let that happen.

I skooch the panels together and let them fall naturally. Okay. You mostly can’t see my nipples.

The boots printed out unlaced. I don’t know why they have so much laces, there’s a zipper on the side. The laces printed with them though, so I spend some time stringing them through.

They almost go up to my knee. Hug my calves tight. I stand up and give an experimental strut. The chunky heel is a little easier to walk in.

I cop a pose in the mirror. I can do this.



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