Masks VII: Part Three
The next morning was another "smack yourself on the head" moment. This time John and I were face to face, both his arms around me. The sensation was a bit claustrophobic. I was larger this time, but again female and still small compared to John. As I tried to free myself from his hug, he opened his eyes, smiled, and kissed me.
"It's almost time to get up," I pointed out. "You're in my room. You need to get to yours."
"I'm in no hurry," he said, nuzzling my neck.
I pushed free and stood. Remembering something, I looked down at the ring, and imagined myself dressed appropriately for this form. Nothing. I thought for a moment. Then I put on my boxers and repeated the experiment. Instead of a full outfit I got panties.
"It can't work miracles," said John, watching me from the bed, hands behind his head to get a good viewing angle. "I figured out why you caught on to that ring so quickly. You're a shapeshifter. You're used to visualizing and changing things."
I nodded, only half listening. I put on the rest of my clothes from the night before and soon was wearing a knockout red dress with matching red heels.
"Wow," said John, rising to attention.
I smirked, then shifted to male. The clothes became a Las Vegas lounge lizard outfit.
"Ugh," I said, willing my clothes to their original form.
I sniffed, and made a face.
"Okay, it looks clean, but I still smell like a cheap whore," I said. "You scram. I'm going to shower and change."
"Into what?" said John, standing slowly, smiling at his pun.
"The usual," I said, firmly. "Out!"
* * *
"Why are we driving, again?" said Tulio, obviously a bit impatient.
"John hates to fly," I supplied.
"I don't hate to fly. I just don't trust airplanes. They aren't natural. Anyway, it's not that long a trip."
"Sure, if you're immortal," said Simon, muttering loudly enough for us to hear.
"I'm not immortal. I just age well."
"I think that covers most of us in this car," I said, laughing. "We're a bunch of old fogies who look - and feel - young enough to still get into trouble."
"God help anyone who thinks we really are just a bunch of old men out on a lark," said Simon, joining my laugh, "and thinking we'd be easy victims."
We all laughed at that image, a cheerful beginning to the day's trip together. We spent the time mostly in pleasant conversation, regaling each other with "Do you remember when?" and "Did you know?" tales. I was actually surprised when John slowed and exited the Interstate.
Unfortunately, some of us had memories in common which were less than pleasant. As we were trying to decipher the instructions for getting to our destination through the maze of streets one of those came up, for some reason.
"Any of the rest of you remember the Amber Waifs of Pain?" said Tulio.
"Oh, God, those nutcases," said Simon, groaning. "They're all in their sixties, by now, but none the saner."
"They were all named after flowers," said Tulio. "Violet. Lilly. Crocus. She was the dangerous one..."
"I remember Stu Phelps tried to get her professional help, but she escaped from the institution. Putting several caregivers and patients in the emergency room in the process."
"He was the third Guardsman, right?" said Tulio. "Stu, I mean."
"Yes. He retired for a while and let the fourth take over, but Hiram got badly injured after just three years and had to retire. Phil took the job back for another five years. That's when we knew him."
"Listen, can we talk about something besides superheroes and supervillains?" I asked.
"How about the fact that we're here?" said John.
Indeed we were.
* * *
"I appreciate your offer to help us fight this slander, Mr. Love, but I'm not sure why you're here," said Marcia, Jett's oldest child and current head of the family. "We scoured Dad's notes after he vanished and never found a clue. Even if you thought you could find something we missed, his papers are all in a museum, now."
"Actually, what I need is something we can use to, well, identify him if we find him," said John, for once looking a bit awkward. "Tulio's grandson helped me obtain this."
He pulled a device about the size and shape of an old-fashioned transistor radio out of his coat pocket.
"It's a field DNA analyzer. All I need is a sample from you or one of his other direct descendants."
"What sort of sample?"
John opened his mouth... and froze.
I glanced over at Simon - as a mastermind he was better than most people with technology, though not in the gadgeteer or mad scientist class. He just smirked.
"You didn't listen when they explained this, did you?" I asked, looking back at John and raising an eyebrow. "Where's the manual?"
"Oh! It's right here."
He pulled the booklet out of another oversized pocket and handed it to me. I skimmed through it, and after a few minutes nodded.
"Okay. It can work through a blood sample, a saliva sample or a hair follicle. What they call a tag. Those are sometimes on the ends of hairs which have been pulled out."
"I saw that on TV," said little Jenny, just nine years old.
"I have still have Dad's old hair brush and comb!" said Marcia, excitedly.
"Well, it it's not too much trouble..." said John.
"Will it work with something that old?" said Gregory Fronckowiak, one of Jett's grandsons, as his aunt rose and left the room.
"According to the instructions, if this gadget can't get a good reading for Jett himself, we can use something from one of you," I said. I was still leafing through the manual, and noticed something. "Actually, if Jett's DNA can't be read directly, we can take samples from several of you, and 'it will integrate to find the common alleles.' Whatever those are."
There were certainly enough of them there to take samples from. The den of this modest but well-kept home was almost overflowing with people. All three of Jett's children were here, and their spouses. Half his grandchildren - five, currently - were also here, and two great-grandchildren. Simon was actually sitting with the family members, arrayed in a rough arc focused on John, Tulio and me.
"I just thought of something," said Tulio, looking around the room. "Do any of Jett's descendants have powers?"
"Not a one of us," said Jeff, Jett's son and middle child. "We kept thinking some ought to show up, but none ever have."
"Here it is!" said Marcia, hurrying back into the room. She handed me an old hair brush. "Dad was the only one who ever used this."
I used the built-in tweezers - just like those in a Swiss Army knife, only with disposable plastic covers - to pull a few out. Three had roots. I carefully clipped those off and put them in the sampler. I pushed the buttons according to the instructions and a progress bar started. A low conversation began while it perked. In a few minutes the thing beeped and the readout lit. Just about everyone in the room leaned towards me as I read the results.
"Well, we got lucky. Better than eighty percent of the nuclear DNA was recoverable, and almost 95% of the mitochondrial."
We ended up taking samples from all three children, and then integrating to get what was likely a full set of DNA for Sonic Jett.
"I'd say our mission was a success," said John, happily.
"I'd like to go with you," said Gregory, unexpectedly.
"Sorry, but all of us have powers, and this could be dangerous," said John.
"I'm an experienced hiker and camper," said Greg, eagerly, almost anxiously. "I'm single, thanks to a recent divorce, with no kids, so it's just me."
"Gregory!" said Julia, Jett's youngest.
"You know what I mean, Mom."
"I don't know," said John, a bit surprised by this offer.
"This is my grandfather you're talking about. He died before I was born, but I've seen photos and videos and heard the family tales. I want to help clear his name."
"What if we can't?" I said, sternly. "We may find nothing. Or we may find some sign that your grandfather really was involved with something nefarious."
"Why do you always have to be such a cynic?" said John. He turned to the young man. "If you are really determined to come along, we'd be glad to have you. Just be warned that this could, indeed, be dangerous."
"I understand," said Greg, seriously.
* * *
I was talking to my attorney on my cell phone that evening, checking on things. There was a knock on my door. Distracted by the call I opened it while I continued to talk. There stood John.
"Do you have a minute?" he said.
"Hold on," I told him.
I needed more than a minute to finish my business, but it actually didn't take long. I then hung up.
"Okay," I said, from where I sat at the small desk.
"Just wanted to go over some things," he said, hitching his left butt cheek onto the desk. It groaned in protest. "We'll be pretty close to Canada, and may have to cross the border. Do you have a passport?"
"Several," I responded, dryly. "Depending on who I need to be."
He laughed at that.
"I should have guessed. I checked, and everyone else does, too. Have a passport, I mean. Though just one each for the rest of us. We also have plenty of gear and supplies, supplemented by Greg. He really is a serious hiker."
"Is that the main reason you're here?" I asked. "Because anything beyond that is out of the question."
He just smiled.
* * *
"How do you keep doing this?" I demanded, the next morning, as I rushed to get ready for breakfast with the rest of our expedition. We were currently minus the newest member. Greg was meeting us at his aunt's house, since it was close to our hotel and we already knew the way. "No. Scratch that. Why do you keep doing this?"
"It's... I enjoy the challenge," he said, actually looking a bit sheepish. "You keep declaring that you won't... getting you to change your mind, through persuasion and subtle manipulation, is fun."
"Besides, you're always entertaining in bed, no matter what form you're in. You enjoy sex so much..."
Well, he had me there. But...
"Okay, now you've given me a challenge," I said, staring at him. "Tonight, if we share a bed, you're going to be a woman. I don't care if I'm male or female, or if we even have sex. But you're going concave."
"Lots'a luck," said John, smirking.
* * *
By driving like a maniac, John covered most of the remaining distance to our search area in a surprising few hours. I'm not certain, but there was most likely power use involved. To keep us from being stopped by John Law, if nothing else. We reached the town with an actual motel closest to our destination in the late afternoon. This would be our last stay in a place with the full amenities of civilization for perhaps weeks. While John seemed confident of his vehicle's off-road capability I figured we were more likely to use it as a base and supply cache while we covered the rugged terrain on foot.
Previously, we had all had rooms of our own. This time, though, the small size of the motel and John's failure to call ahead for reservations meant we were two to a room, except for Greg, who got the sole available single. Guess who I was with.
"Well, this was fortuitous," said John, smiling at me, as he dumped his suitcase on the single bed.
I just smiled back. I'd had that whole, long trip to plan my campaign, and was already starting work. Demigod of sex he might be, but I knew him and was far from a novice myself.
* * *
When I awoke the next morning my tongue was still tired, and my face sticky, but I was smiling. I reached around and squeezed John's breast.
"Mornin' beautiful," I said, softly, into her ear.
"Bwah?!" said John, starting awake, then freezing. "Oh, right."
"You were wonderful," I said, rubbing her nipple.
"My face feels strange. Actually, all of me feels strange."
"Well, let's take a shower," I said, giving her tit another quick squeeze before throwing the covers back. I sat up and deliberately stretched, enjoying the feel of this body, and the way John still stared at my breasts despite having an impressive pair of her own.
"Why do I feel embarrassed?" said John, vaguely reaching for the covers, which were deliberately out of reach.
"You sure it's embarrassment?" I said, giving her a playful whack on the ass to get her moving. "Or are you just irritated at the circumstances?"
"How did you do this, anyway?" she said, swinging her long, shapely legs over the side of the bed.
"Welcome to my world," I said, almost drooling. She really did take after her Mother. "C'mon. I'll show you a few tricks with the shower massage."
He got revenge, of course, changing to his usual self while my back was turned and taking me from behind. I didn't care. (Actually, I greatly enjoyed it, the way I always do when I have sex with John. Just don't tell him that.)
"Tonight," I gasped, as I leaned against the shower wall, enjoying a wonderful afterglow from multiple orgasms, "you're the woman... and I'm the man."
"We'll see about that," said John, hip-bumping me playfully.
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