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Skin Deep II foreward chapter 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 epilogue

Skin Deep -- Chapter Eight: And in the End, by Mark McDonald

Portrait of Neve Campbell -- A Work in Progress # 21 of 21 by Earle Wood

Chapter Four:
A Change of Scene

by Mark McDonald
©2001 Mark McDonald -- all rights reserved

Journal> Journal Date 12/22/2081: 12:18 pm.
Journal>Voice dictation journal editor, open. Proceed!

After breakfast, Gary and I settled in and waited. We waited for the day to end, for the other to break the silence, for the police to come, for our time in our flesh prisons to end. We waited for an idea!

As I remember it, the day pressed on with very little incident, if you don't count the way my brain treated me all day. I got dressed, choosing to dress in some of my male clothes at first; not because I had forgotten but rather I was hopeful that I could. Still, nothing felt good, or should I say right.

My tee shirts were also too small in the chest and hung off me strangely. I didn't like the sensation at all, so with a bit of visible resentment I snatched my skirt and sweater off the dresser and put them on. I was not a happy Girl Scout.

I remember needing some of my routine and pleaded with Gary to get newspaper. Oh, I could have downloaded a copy on the Vid, but I like the feel of the paper and the smell of the cheap ink. I can move the paper where I want it. I can lie down to read it if I want. I can't do that with the Vid screen. In the end Gary won, as he nearly always did, saying that it would be just too risky having strangers being seen wandering in and out of my dorm room. The demo session was today, soon Mike would be missed and we would have to come up with some kind of plan before then. For now, it was best to stay out of sight.

Outside, life was going on all around us. On Saturday, crowds of people were in the streets, wandering about. My street had little mechanized traffic and on the weekend was taken over by throngs of young people that had made this part of town the place to be at the end of a work week. They all made their way up and down the tiny tree lined street, choking the road sidewalks and the shops that lined the avenues and alleyways, the morning sun shining down on all of them. I could hear their conversations fading in and out of my earshot as they walked. I could hear girls laughing and gossiping, men symbolically thumping their chests with their buddies as they tried to make time with those same girls. I heard the conversations of lovers, friends and people that didn't even know one another, but soon might be close friends. I could see them in my mind. The idea has always reminded me of a 1940s Saturday Evening Post cover. With the exception of the clothing, very little had changed since then -- or so it would have appeared to the causal observer.

It wasn't until you looked closer and saw nuclear hydroponics chambers in the windows for growing small vegetable plants, or Crystal Resonators sticking out of nearly everyone's ears for playing your personal music selections at the local broadcast center that the image faltered, but what really destroyed the image were the hover cars cruising silently above everyone's heads. Norman Rockwell, rest in peace pal.

As I noted, I could hear the ghosts of conversations drifting in through my open kitchen window as small parties of people walked beneath it. I could also hear the residents of the dorm moving in and out of the hall outside my door. Partial conversations, shouts of excitement at the arrival of the weekend could be heard fading in and out as the participants in said weekend's festivities drifted in and out of the building or up and down the avenue.

I remember wanting to be back in that life. Down the street, a baseball game was underway, a game I was supposed to play third base in. This weekend was turning out to be the weekend I lost a little part of my life. I should have been OK with that. I know that some people lose much larger chunks of their lives in a state of complete unconsciousness. Coma patients, traffic accident victims people who's surgeries have gone terribly wrong all lose much larger portions of their lives than I was loosing and they get on with the business of living without looking back. I wasn't even losing this piece of my life as one might think of losing time. I was still conscious of the passage of time. I was conscious of things going on around me. I had just convinced myself that I couldn't participate in life as I was.

But as I listened to the world outside my window that day, I couldn't help from time to time envisioning myself as part of the scenery, joining in and having fun, but each time I did, it was as this girl. I would shake my head each time, drive the vision off and go back to reading my book or watching the piped in Vid shows. But as the noises from outside filtered in, I was inserted back into the landscape and each time as the person I had become. Twice I tried to force Mike Vello into the picture and I couldn't remember what he/I had looked like.

Once, as I set off on one of these daydreams, I found myself arm in arm with Gary. Not Gary/Tonto mind you, but my best friend Gary. I could feel myself smiling at the idea just as I could feel the warm sunshine on my face. I could smell his scent as the sun warmed him and made him perspire a little. Shaking out my long hair, I let it spill over my shoulders and over the upper portion of my back. In my mind's eye I gave Gary's hand a tight squeeze and saw him turn to me and mouth the words, "I love you."

WHOA! That had snapped me out of my trance. I glanced around the room and saw Gary staring at me from the recliner on the other side of the room. His eyes were glassy and he seemed lost in his own daydream.

Just then, a mischievous thought occurred to me. I consciously softened my eyes and offered a demure smile. "Are you liking what you're seeing?" I asked in the most seductive voice I could manage. I was surprised at how naturally it just seemed to flow out of my mouth.

"I sure do," he replied in a dreamy voice.

When it came to him that I was now cognitive of his staring he blushed, shook his head, cleared his throat and sat up in the chair.

"Uh, sorry... sorry about that. I don't know what the hell got into me." His voice, already deepened by his new persona was now forcibly deeper. I guessed that Gary was trying to illustrate his masculinity after being caught fantasizing about his best friend.

I got up, walked over to him and put my hand on his shoulder. I looked at that small hand on his dark gray shirt with its delicate fingers and perfect but unpainted nails. It looked so small, nothing like I was used to seeing attached to my wrist.

"It's Ok Gary. I was just pulling your cha..." I started and broke down, collapsing to my knees on the floor next to Gary and wept. I hated this. I just hated it. I was scared. My brain was all messed up. I was having a hard time convincing myself that I was not feeling the things I was clearly feeling and thinking. I was a man, male anyway if not completely mature, and now I couldn't even inject my former self into one of my own daydreams. God help me, I was having emotional fantasies about my best friend.

The longer I remained female the less emotional I became. I can only attribute my initial unstable emotional state to hormonal confusion. As I recall though, the first twenty-four hours were very bad for me emotionally.

So, I sat there at Gary's feet and cried. That just made things worse. As I sobbed, my breasts jogged up and down as my chest heaved with the sobbing. That just made me more painfully aware of my condition just as I had been getting used to it. It only caused me to sob harder.

Gary got down on the floor before me, put his huge arms around me and tried to comfort me -- and for a minute, I let them stay. I shuddered in his arms and slowly I began to calm down.

"Hormones," I spat out. "Give me good old testosterone any day. This estrogen crap is for the birds."

I looked up at Gary and he was smiling. Good, that helped! I thought to myself that I was sure lucky to have such a wonderful friend as Gary. The thought brought me great warmth and, as our lips met, I allowed my tongue to slither out of my mouth and into his. He didn't resist. I pulled him closer until I thought we would soon start occupying the same body.

We stayed that way until -- I shoved myself back away from him, horrified at what I had just done -- and oh yes indeed, I had done it. I could remember after looking up, hooking an arm around his waist. He was face-to-face with me for the first time since he and I had been transformed. It seemed so natural. I could smell him so strongly. I was attracted to him. I hadn't admitted that until then, but now I had to or I would go crazy thinking about the alternative. And holy shit, I HAD KISSED HIM! I had put my tongue in his mouth. YUCK! YUCK! And double fucking YUCK!

"I'm sorry that happened Gary. God DAMN it! Don't tell anyone, please! I'm so embarrassed! Man, that was awful. I'm sorry as hell Gary, please don't hate me. I'm not myself." I was babbling, trying to take back that element I had snuck into the equation.

"It's OK," he was saying calmly, softly.

"No it's not OK! Guys do not kiss other guys. That's gross and it's wrong. I'm not gay. Please God; don't let me be gay now. Aw, GOD!" I was starting to get upset again.

"You're not a guy any more, remember?" he said, taking my face in his hands. "Look, most of us have a real hard time resisting the signals our bodies send out to us. These things, our bodies, make up who we are in large part and control our urges, not the other way around. If we were really just what we perceive ourselves to be, then we wouldn't react when our bodies dump huge amounts of chemicals into our systems to get us to do something. Our bodies are not the mindless machines we make them out to be. I think they control our actions to a much greater extent than we, as humans, want to admit. But if we admit that to ourselves, then we would be saying that we are not as much in control of our lives as we would have ourselves believe. We are, in more ways than one, prisoners of these bodies. When you're back in your male persona you'll see, all your normal desires will be back and all in their right place."

"What is it you're trying to get me to understand here?" I asked. I was not entire clear where he was going with this, but I had some idea. I didn't like the path the conversation had taken. It sounded a bit like seduction with a philosophical slant.

"Look Mike, if our bodies make up who we are and what we do, stop being so shocked and embarrassed when you do something a woman might do. That is who you are now."

"No," I insisted and pulled my face way.

"Yes," he continued. "And even more important, everyone will understand and expect it to happen. What would be bad right about now is if you started scratching your crotch or farting all the time. That would not be expected and would most certainly raise a few eyebrows."

"Thanks," I said flatly. "I'll keep it in mind," was all I could manage to come up with. I wasn't too enthused with his theory, but maybe Gary was right. The idea of farting just didn't seem natural right at that time and the last thing I wanted to do was scratch my crotch, thank you very much.

Gary continued, "Look you didn't do anything wrong or deviant. Your body sent you a signal and you acted upon it. Your body is genetically designed, so it will probably be real hard to ignore the signals it sends to your brain. You have to remember the engineers that designed her wanted the wearer to have the full and perfect female experience. You may not be able to control yourself, which, I guess, could become a problem. Because, I guess, in a sense, the same rules apply to me too."

I didn't know whether to feel better about what Gary had told me or not. I decided to stop arguing with my body and resign myself to the idea that what ever happened, happened. As long as I could keep myself out of jail and keep from hurting myself until this thing was off, then I guess I could deal with the rest.

I got up. My skirt was rucked up over my waist. As I stood, I could imagine Gary's eyes on my ass. I didn't turn around to see if it was true. I know that I had just resolved myself to accepting what was, but it was much easier said than actually done.

"I've got to get out of here," I exclaimed suddenly. "I'm going to go crazy if I have to sit here any longer and think about this." What I really wanted was a distraction. If I stayed here with Gary, in this tiny room with nothing else to do but be close to him well, there would be trouble. If I could occupy my mind with other things for just a few more hours then we might just dodge a plasma beam here.

"I don't think that's a good idea," Gary's face was a storm of concern and worry. He made no attempt to hide it.

I had to get us out of this confined atmosphere. Gary had been right this morning about bad things happening and I was the one who was making them happen. If Gary started to loose sight of the fact that I was a man wearing a skin then this whole thing might soon get way out of hand.

"It'll be OK," I insisted, not really knowing or caring if it would be. "Do you know how many people are out there on the weekend just milling around? Thousands. And not just in the day either, it goes on all night.

"How do you intend to get out of the building?" he asked.

"The same way I got in," I said. "Guys sneak their girlfriends into the building all the time, remember? They have got get back out somehow, don't they?"

"Look, I know this is hard. It's getting harder by the moment," Gary noted. A part of me wondered just what he really meant by that. "But we would be exposing ourselves to all sorts of unknown risks out there. God I really wish we had thought to tell our folks that we were going out of town, to see a concert or go to the beach or something. That way at least, we wouldn't be missing."

"Ok, but if we're not here when the shit storm starts, we're ahead of the game, right?" I countered. I had to get us out if this room and in public where something like what had just happened was less likely to happen again.

"We don't know for sure that anything will happen," Gary agreed, but added, "I know this however, someone from the band is going to start looking for you soon. So maybe your idea has some merit. Leave it to the college girl to come up with a plan."

I puffed up a bit. "Equal credit for equal ideas," I demanded. "Women's rights damn it!" But when I looked back at Gary I could see he was thinking again.

"Ok, you're acting funny again Gary. What's up?"

"I'm just getting scared. You were right. This was a bad idea. I know that Rod, Frank and Kit are probably out some place getting in trouble and not concerned about it because they know that in just a little more that twenty-four hours from now they will be back to there old selves and in the clear. And who the hell knows where Norm is right now. But I also know that they are smart enough to not associate themselves with their real identity. We didn't do that. We came right back to your room."

I supposed he was right. We had screwed up in the first place by letting Rod put us in this position. Then we had really screwed up by coming back here. But we really didn't have any place else to go. It's not like we had a lot of time to plan this out.

"You're right Mike, we have to get the hell out of here." And with that his eyes lit up and he suddenly shouted, "Wait!" Then he dashed over to the Vid and started dialing. When he was done dialing, the screen sprang to life. Gary ducked out of the way apparently not wanting to be seen. I tried to get out of the way as well but Gary shoved me back in front of the screen.

"What the hell? Gary? What are you doing?" I asked angrily and scowled at him. I tried to get out of the way in the other direction but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back in front of the screen.

"Gary, stop!" I cried.

Just then a woman appeared on the screen. It was Gary's mother. I was stunned. All I could say was "Oh, uh, hi Mrs. Shipley."

I waited for her typical response of "Hi Mikey, my you're looking very handsome today," but instead she said, "Can I help you young lady?"

Oh yeah, I'm a young lady. I'm not looking very handsome today.

"Ah... well... "

"Pssst," Gary signaled from behind the monitor. "Ask to speak to me," he whispered.

"What?" I whispered back looking away from the screen and over at Gary.

Gary slapped his face with is hand in frustration.

Gary's mother replied, "Can I help you with something? Who did you want to speak with?" She was beginning to look annoyed.

I looked back at the screen flustered, "Is Gary there?"

Her face seemed to lighten from its annoyed state quite a bit. "No dear, Gary was gone when we got up this morning. I don't know when he'll be back."

"Oh," I said. I was thinking how hard I was going to kick Gary in the balls for doing this to me. Why had he called his mother and then stuck me in front of the screen to have this screwy conversation? Gary's sense of humor was a real pain in the ass some times.

"Leave a message," Gary whispered, pointing at the Vid screen from behind the unit.

"What?" I whispered back and then realized he wanted me to leave a message! "Oh. Oh, Yeah."

"Can I leave a message for him please?" I asked. I didn't know what message I could possibly want to leave. I was just following orders.

"Is there someone with you, dear?" she asked.

"Errrr... ah... No! Why do you ask?"

"It sounds like someone is whispering something to you."

Gary shot me a sheepish look from behind the screen and mouthed the word, "Oops."

"Must be a bad connection," Gary's mom concluded. "Yes, you can leave a message, but Gary's father and I are leaving in a bit and will be gone for a while. I don't know when I'll see him again." Behind the large Vid screen, Gary was pumping his arm and fist back in forth in a victory salute. "I leave it here for him, but I can't guarantee he'll get it. Gary's not real attentive around the house. He may just breeze in and out. You know how boys are at his age."

"Yes, isn't that the truth," I replied. "If boys could only mature sooner, it might be a perfect world," I said, having a little fun with it.

"That and control that terrible farting in bed," she replied. Gary's eye's lit up and I giggled in spite of my surprise.

"Oh my, I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry, I don't even know you," she recanted immediately, "I don't know what got into me," but she was smiling and I could tell she felt relaxed and comfortable talking to me. "What's your message Dear?"

"My message? Oh yeah, my message, what was that pesky message." I was flustered. I thought I'd be able to come up with something but that farting comment from his mom flustered me. "Tell Gary... tell him I'd love to go out with him tonight." I looked up at Gary and his face was open in a state of complete shock. I cocked my mouth to one side and shrugged a little as if to say, Well, what the hell did you want me to say dick face?

Looking back at the screen, I could see his Mother was also looking a bit surprised.

"My son asked you out?" she asked.

"Is that alright? I mean he's not gay or anything is he?" I asked. Oh yes, revenge is sweet.

His Mom seemed not to know how to respond to that at first, and then said, "Oh no, I'm sorry it's nothing like that! At least I don't think so." Gary was giving me the index finger across the throat sign telling me to cut the conversation off now. His mother continued, "It's just, well you're such a pretty girl." I was blushing again. "I shouldn't say anything but Gary doesn't bring many of his dates home or give out his phone number much. I think he's afraid that we'll embarrass him or something. Isn't that silly?"

"Definitely silly," I confirmed.

"Frank, come here, there's a simply gorgeous young lady on the Vid that wants to go out with your son." She turned back to the Vid screen and said to me, "Just wait here. I want you to meet Gary's Father."

"Ah, I really have to go Mrs. Shipley," I said trying to duck out of this now as fast as I could. I really didn't want many people seeing me like this, for obvious and personal reasons.

"This won't take just another second dear. By the way, I didn't catch your name."

Careful now, "It's Michelle," I said, using the name I first heard in the warehouse last night.

"That's a pretty name. A pretty name for a pretty girl."

"Please, that really isn't necessary. I must look horrible, I haven't done anything with myself today." OK, it was cliché, but it's all I knew to say.

"Nonsense, you shouldn't be self-conscious about your looks. You really are quite a beautiful young lady. Oh, there you are Frank. Come here and meet Michelle, Gary's date for tonight."

"Hello, Michelle I'm -- Wow! She's going out with Gary?" Gary's Dad looked over at his mother in honest confusion while his mother smiled back proudly. "I'm very pleased to meet you! Wow, Gary huh? Wow! Are you sure you mean Gary Shipley?" His wife jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow. "Ow. I'm kidding! I'm kidding!"

"Listen, I really have to go," I said trying to hurry along the conversation. "I've got a -- hair appointment in about ten minutes. If you could just give Gary the message I would really appreciate it."

"I will. I'll try to page him and if that doesn't work he has virtual mail." And she added, " Do you want his address?" I told her that it would be more appropriate if he gave it to me and she agreed and then said, "It was nice to meet you Michelle, I hope we get a chance to talk in person."

As I started to disconnect the Vid, I could hear Gary's Dad say "Wow!" again and then his Mother saying, "Stop with the 'Wow's already, you'll embarrass Gary."

I shot an angry glance over at Gary, "What the hell did you do that for?"

Gary shot one right back at me, "A date? What were you thinking? My God, I'm never going to hear the end of this! I've never had a date with a girl like you."

"You haven't answered my question, Gary. What was that all about? And what the hell do you mean 'A girl like me'?"

"I wanted to see if my parents were still going up to the lake for the week. They were supposed to be leaving tonight. I thought I would give us a different place to stay. A better place with more than one room, but I couldn't just show up looking the way I do. I thought if a girl called. Well, it worked didn't? What am I going to do when they want to meet you?"

"Well, you could have told me. We could have planned it out a bit more. That way we could have come up with something else to say. So the way I see it you got what was coming to you." I said and crossed my arms and turned my back on him.

"Do you fart in bed?" Why the hell had I asked that?

"Why the hell did you ask me that?"

"Your Mom said..." I said pointing to the Vid with the most innocent look I could muster while trying to get out of the small hole I had dug.

"My Dad sometimes farts in his sleep. Maybe I do too, I wouldn't know. If I do it happens when I'm asleep."

I can't say why I even asked. I let the question die a strained silent death.

It was about 3:00 in the afternoon, about twenty-nine hours to go. Things were looking up. I was starting to feel better. I had handled my first semi-public appearance as a woman with my exposure to Gary's parents and I had pulled it off with flying colors. I was beginning to think that I was going to be able to pull this off without any more emotional outbursts. Gary's tender consultation had eased me into the part of a female. Like it or not that's what I had become and thanks to him I felt I was going to make it to the end without going insane.

"I'm going to take a shower Gary. I've got to get cleaned up or I'm going to start to stink soon." Gary crinkled up his nose at the idea. "After that we'll go, Ok?"

"Yeah, some space and a change of scenery will do us both good. Go get cleaned up. I'll make us a late lunch."

"None for me, I have to watch my girlish figure." At that, Gary seemed to give up on the idea of eating.

I sashayed into the bathroom swinging my hips widely from side to side in an exaggerated fashion. I didn't bother to look back to see if I had given Gary a rise. I was able to joke about it, now, and that felt good.

In the bathroom, I stripped off my skirt and sweater, removed my underwear and started the water. Yet again, I was struck by the reflection I cast in the bathroom mirror. It was like seeing someone else in the room with you, behind you. Someone you hadn't noticed when you first walked in the room. Then the recognition comes. It doesn't take long it just catches you off guard

Again, I felt that twang of pain at the idea of permanently eliminating this person I was seeing in the mirror. In a way, because I could see her, it seemed a bit like murder to consider wiping her out. I no longer felt as attracted to her as I had when I had first seen her back in the warehouse the night before. I supposed that, as the influences of this body's chemistry established itself I would feel less and less attracted to women and more attracted to men. Hell, it would be pretty hard to try to deny that at this point after trying to play tonsil hockey with Gary earlier. That thought sent a shudder coursing through me. Still enough male left in me at this point to be disturbed at that idea.

She/I was beautiful; even most women would have admitted that -- and that was what made it so sad. It is perhaps one of the greatest deficiencies in human nature that we tend to grieve over the loss of the beautiful more than that of the less attractive. True, the families of both feel equally as pained in their time of loss and grief. But the real evidence does not exist with those who knew the departed but in those who only knew of the deceased or were only acquainted on a casual basis. The truth can be heard in the statements they make to others. She was so pretty and had so much to live for. He was so good looking, with such a bright future ahead. It's really no wonder these skins had been invented. Unlike any other need before it, medical, nutritional or shelter from the elements, the need not to be lonely, to be accepted, loved and desired was perhaps the most needful thing of all. In a society where physical attractiveness is so highly coveted that we see less potential for those with diminished appearances, skins offered these pitiful groups of people a chance to join the true human race.

And I guess it was that idea, that concept of the human condition that brought pain at the idea that this young lady would not survive to see three days of life.

Well, I thought; if you're that upset by the idea, let her live. You could do that you know. Just don't show up when the guys activate that transmitter. When it's done, Michelle will be alive and well, so will you. But, that means when you get married you'll have to wear a gown instead of a tux.

"Fuck that!" I said out loud, "Sorry babe, you've got go. Nothing personal, I just don't want to be you anymore."

I stepped into the shower and shampooed my hair. I wasn't used to washing this much hair and took me a minute to figure out I had to pile it all up on top of my head and lather it that way. With that done, I began to lather the soap over my body. I was amazed at how soft and hairless my skin was. I took extra care not to get any soap into my genitals. The lesson from last night was still fresh in my memory. My breasts were still sensitive from the blow they had received against the wall of the dorm building when we snuck in last night. Not painful just sensitive, as I soaped them they reacted to the touch. I could feel the nipples tightening. It was a wonderfully sensuous feeling. It was clear that these things were connected to other parts of my body. I could feel warmth spreading in my groin. Weakness seemed to be taking over my legs and knees. I started to tremble. It felt so good. I kept slowly lathering them. I really didn't want or intend for this to happen, but there were times when, as a male, I hadn't wanted that unexpected hard on either but seemed powerless to stop it. The major difference here was that this body seemed to need physical stimulation to excite it. I wasn't ready to let those wonder waves of heat and electricity to stop. As a male, I had never experienced anything like it before.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

I jumped and uttered a squeak of surprise as I was jerked out of my trance. Someone was knocking on the door. At first, I thought I must have been the door to my room. But it turned out to be Gary knocking on the bathroom door.

"What the hell are you doing in there? I gotta piss. Come on for Christ's sake! Hurry up!"

"Alright, I'm coming," I shouted back, and thought to myself; Or rather I had been until you spoiled it for me! Part of me was glad though. I was about two seconds from true masturbation. But a deeper part of me had wanted to see what kind of prize was waiting for me at the end of the tunnel so to speak. I was surprisingly disappointed. And I was sure I wouldn't get another chance for that again.

I stepped out of the shower and toweled off. Looking in the mirror, there was that disconnected feeling again, that someone else was in the room with me. "Sorry girl friend," I said to the mirror, "I tried to give you something to remember me by. It just wasn't meant to be." I reached out and touched the glass where my chin was reflected and smiled. The girl in the mirror smiled back as if to say, That's ok, there's always next time. My mind answered back, She couldn't know there wouldn't be a next time.

I put my towel around my body, above my breasts instead of around my waist. Things like this were becoming very natural to me, almost second nature. I didn't like it. I was getting too comfortable in this body.

I stepped out of the bathroom just as Gary bullied past to get in muttering some kind of obscenity at me for taking too much time in the damn bath like all women. "It's gotta be genetic," he shouted as I heard his bladder release.

"Don't piss on the floor," I shouted back. It was a lame retort.

I got one of the extra pairs of panties off my dresser and slipped them on under the towel. I was going to put on my bra and was undoing my towel to do just that when I stopped. Better wait, I'll do that in the bathroom. After what happened earlier, I don't need to start something else by traipsing around half nude.

Gary came out zipping up his pants. "You're not dressed yet? Come on girl, let's get on with it. Like the old joke says -- use a roller, the night is calling."

"I would like to get back in there and finish," I said curtly.

"By all means m'lady," he said and bowed at he waist with one hand outstretched. I walked past and patted him on the back of the head before I closed the door on him. I finished dressing and stepped back out into my little room. I slid my small feet into the sandals from the night before and walked over to the window.

"Ok Gary. This time, don't drop me." I looked sternly at him.

"Drop you? You're going out head first," he declared and swooped down tucked his shoulder into my stomach and lifted me up in one deft motion. I was dangling about six feet over the floor with Gary's hand on my ass holding me on his shoulder. My hands were propped on his back to steady myself.

"GAAARRRRY!" it came out as a surprised squeal. He marched toward the window.

"Put me down," I insisted, but I was laughing and couldn't seem to muster a serious tone to save my life.

"Hey! You want to at least get your hand off my ass please?" I asked.

"Sure. Like this?" and Gary removed his hand. I started sliding head first toward the floor.

"GAAARRRRYYYY!" I squealed again, but this time in stark panic. He put his hand back on my butt and stopped the fall.

I took my fist and slammed it into his back with each syllable to accent my anger. "Don't-do-that-a-gain!" I demanded, deepening my voice and making it as rough as I could.

"You wanted my hand off your ass. I took it off. You want back that's all you have to say, and presto its back."

"Put me down right NOW," I demanded, and softly added "But nicely, please."

He slid me down his front easily. As I was lowered to the ground, I got a whiff of that smell again. It made my head feel light. I really didn't want to feel this way about my best friend. It seemed perverted to me. All my memories were of being a guy. All of the rules I had learned were those that boys and men learn growing up. Now my body was sending me very different signals.

As I came down, the hem of my skirt caught on his belt buckle. My toes hit the floor and I started away before I noticed.

"Oh," was all I could say.

"Uh oh," Gary replied and started fumbling with the buckle trying to get my skirt undone. I was trying desperately to cover myself. This should have been no big deal, but I was standing, facing him with a skirt pulled up over my waist.

"What's wrong? Can't you get it?"

"I'm trying, hold still. Shit. It's tangled on the inside of the buckle," he said as he worked the buckle and the skirt. "You're too short. I need some slack here."

He stopped and looked around. "What are you looking for? Just undo it."

"There, over this way, and he gestured with is left hand toward the bed."

"WHAT! Oh no. What happened earlier, that was a mistake Gary. I can't do that." I started to back away from him pulling on my skirt as I did, putting tension on my clothes.

"Wait! You're going to tear your dress. All I meant was for you to stand on the bed and put some slack in the fabric. What the hell is wrong with you?" He looked genuinely annoyed at me. For the first time since this whole thing started, he was losing his temper with me. He fiddled with the skirt's hem and undid the snag. "There."

I was ashamed of myself. Gary had, after all, been a perfect gentleman, with the exception, of course, of the hand on my ass thing. Once again, I let my unfounded worries interfere with my trust in Gary. This time he was getting tired of being accused of stirring the muddied waters. All his jokes and playfulness had been meant to calm me. And it had done just that. He had been wonderful and I was fucking it all up again.

Not to mention, anything sexual that had happened between us had all been started by me!

"I'm sorry Gary. I was just kidding. I'm sorry, I really didn't mean it. Really!" I hoped that the small lie would be enough to avoid a severe scolding or worse, abandonment.

"I'm telling you Mikey. You have to get this thing about your new body under control," he sternly told me. "I know it must be hard. And I've given you that. I've done what I can do to help. But for the duration, that's your body. My advice to you, take some time to experience it, since you have to wear it. Or you can make life miserable for everyone you come in contact with until it's over." He finished with me and walked away.

"I said I'm sorry," I said this pouting. It was all I could manage. I was starting to leak around the eyes again, but I kept my head down. I didn't want Gary to see that too.

He reached the kitchen and turned around, "You know something? You've been given an opportunity to see life from all angles, but you spend the experience pissing and moaning about what you don't want and how this isn't fair. Well, I'm scared too, Mikey.

"You need to learn from it. Take something with you when it's over. Think about how you'll be able to relate to women when you're male again. You're going to be every woman's dream man when you will get your old body back. All of us will. After that, you'll never get this chance again. If you don't have fun from this now, you'll have blown it forever. I know it's not what you expected, but shit man, when was the last time anybody you know got what they expected?"

He came back slowly toward me and lay his hand on my shoulder, "There, I feel better."

I guess Gary thought I was OK. He couldn't see I'd been crying, mostly out of shame. I guess what gave it away was when I lifted my hand to dry my eyes.

My head was still down and I heard Gary plead, "Oh man, don't cry, please don't cry." He turned me around, put his hand under my chin and tiled my head so he could see my face.

"I'm sorry," I said again.

"No," he said. "It's my fault. Aw shit, please Mikey, don't cry." He looked back down at me and smiled. "I should be the one that apologizes Mikey. I'm scared and I let it get to me.

I smiled a thin smile, I could certainly understand scared! "Yeah, I can get behind that."

There was something I'd been thinking about since the Vid call that I really wanted to bring up, but after Gary's scolding, I felt I should do anything I could to get behind the idea of really being Michelle before trying to act like Mike got me in trouble. I supposed that Gary was correct. I had to do this, or it was going to be me that got us busted. He hadn't said that but it was clear that he was thinking it. I was going to have to contribute to the team, before there wasn't one.

So I started, "Look, I'm not sure you've noticed but we almost blew it when your Mom asked me for my name. And you're calling me by my name all the time and I'm not sure that's safe."

"What? Mikey? What should I call you? Hey you!" he started gesturing about the room. "Hey you, fetch my slippers. Hey you, get me a beer. Hey you, turn on the news Vid."

I choked out a half laugh and he wiped the damp from my cheek. "How about the name I picked for myself when I talked to your Mom. It's pretty close to my own, as close as I'm gonna get until tomorrow anyway," I said.

You want me to call you Michelle?"

"No, but if we go out there" I pointed to the window, "then I'd better get used to hearing something other than Mike or Mikey. How the hell would we explain that if someone overheard?"

He considered this for a bit and then gave his head a quick jerk in agreement. "It's gonna take some getting used to -- Michelle. But I'll try anything once."

I looked back down at the ground and shuffled my feet as I said, "As for who should apologize, I'll let you do that if it makes you feel better, but you'll have to accept mine as well." I looked up at him with my head cocked sideways and flashed him my biggest smile.

That was the first time I remember seeing it. It took just a moment to pass between us, but I know what I saw. It was a softening of the eyes. His brow relaxed and his eyes seemed to light up just a bit. His whole face lit up and he blushed. I could actually see him struggling with his lips, as if he had something he wanted to say but was unsure of just what it should be.

Then it passed away into normalcy. It was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. How the smile from one person could influence so many feelings in just the blink of an eye.

"Alright! Let's go eat dinner then. Wait 'til you see what's at my folks house," he said and picked me up to lower me out the window.

"Don't drop me this time," I said looking concerned.

"I didn't drop you the last time. You're never gonna let me forget that, are you?" he said as he lowered me out the window.

"Just don't drop me."

This time I was careful not let my sandals slip off the wall as I was eased down.

Skin Deep chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Skin Deep II foreward chapter 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 epilogue
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