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Live Long and Prosper             by: Brandy Dewinter           2000, All rights reserved

 

Chapter 11 - "Sympathy Pains"

Ethan came back on deck about sundown, bearing a nice mug of hot chocolate (from a mix, but what the heck? the nearest cow was probably a thousand miles away) and a sheepish smile. The Breeze was rockin’ and rollin’ pretty good by then, the seas at about 6 feet as forecast, with whitecaps on most of them. I don’t know what it is, but when the ocean looks like that, dark gray waves accented with whitecaps, under light gray skies full of racing clouds, hot chocolate just seems right even if the temperature is in the 80’s.

"Here ya’ go, honey," he said as he handed me a steaming mug.

"That is just perfect. Thank you," I said with a bright smile of my own.

Such a nicely domestic scene, right? But it was brittle. Both of us felt it, that sense that things weren’t right. I had tried to brush my hair a little while Ethan was below, and in my mind’s eye I could see it streaming in the wind while I stood at the wheel, only it took a conscious effort to ‘see’ Anya and not Adam.

"I checked our track," Ethan said, "and we’re doing pretty well as far as direction."

"But . . ?"

"Well, the speed made good is down to about 2 knots. At this rate, it will take a week to get back there."

I nodded, sighing. Ethan busied himself with his vest and lifeline, something we like to do even when both of us are on deck if the weather is at all rough. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say we ‘like’ to do it, but we do it anyway because, well, because I’m a very conservative old fuddy-duddy. ‘Cuz I’m the Captain, that’s why.’

We sat there for a while, riding the weather rail more than sitting in the seat since we needed our legs to adjust for the roll and surge as the Breeze surfed one wave after another. It wasn’t too loud to talk, but it was too active for more than talk, and right then we didn’t seem to have much to say to each other. Neither of us were angry. Like I said, it was ‘brittle’. We were so afraid of upsetting the other that we couldn’t do anything at all.

Finally it bothered me enough that I had to say something anyway, despite the risk. "What do you want?"

He knew what I meant. I wasn’t asking about supper.

Ethan’s handsome face lifted in a rueful little grin, his deep blue eyes saying he didn’t know where to begin, but after a moment he said, "I want you to be happy. That’s what I wished for, and that still seems like the most precious thing in my world."

Damn, I started crying again. Or, at least tearing up. I blinked a lot and hoped he’d think it was seaspray in my eyes. When I could speak, I said, "Okay, assume that’s a given. What do you want for yourself?"

"I don’t know," he answered slowly, thoughtfully. "I know I love you, no matter what you look like, and no matter what I look like. And I always will."

"Me, too," I promised, reaching out my hand to his. We held hands for a while, but after a few waves it was too hard for me to hold the wheel with one hand and I didn’t trust the autopilot in this sort of sea, so I started to pull my hand back.

He came with it. Then it was his hand on the wheel, with the other still holding mine. We shuffled around a little so that he had a good position behind the wheel while I was still near the weather rail, and in the course of that his arm ended up around my waist with both of mine holding the hand that held me.

One of the nice things about beating to windward (sometimes they’re hard to find) is that your hair streams downwind and clear of your face. That used to be a problem, because when I, the Adam ‘I’, had held Lainey like this, her hair had usually streamed right into my face. Ethan was enough taller than me that mine was curling around his shoulder instead, and apparently didn’t bother him. The image of Lainey’s thick, white hair in my face - she never did remember to stand where it wouldn’t bother me - made me chuckle even as I felt like crying for what we had lost.

"What’s so funny?" asked Ethan, softly, trying not to pry.

"Oh, I was just thinking of all the times I had Lainey’s hair in my face when we stood together."

I felt him nod, but that thought was tickling at my mind, and I felt stupid all over again when I realized what was bothering me. It was so obvious.

"We’ve changed in lots of ways that don’t have anything to do with plumbing," I observed.

I felt him nod behind me, letting me have the space to think out loud if I wanted.

After a long minute, he asked, "Do you like the other changes?"

"Like being younger?" I asked, smiling. He couldn’t see my smile any more than I could see his nod, but we both knew what the other had done.

"That’s a start."

"I don’t much care for being shorter," I said, but this time I turned to look up at him so he could see for sure that I was smiling.

At least it got him to grin, with real humor. "Actually, I was just thinking of how much I like being tall."

"Well, Duh!" I said, poking him in his taut stomach. Lordy, how long had it been since I had had a stomach like that? Ever?

I looked forward again, riding the motion of the Breeze with the welcome aid of his solid body for support. It was better, now, more comfortable to be together. Like it had before, that comfort allowed me to approach questions that made me uncomfortable.

Very uncomfortable, but I tried anyway. "Would you, um, still like these changes if . . . if I could never, ah, learn to . . . "

"Have sex in these bodies?" he finished for me.

I nodded, still staring upwind, hiding my tears. He knew anyway. His arm turned me to face him, and he leaned down to kiss me gently on each eyelid, then on my forehead. "If that’s what it takes for us to be together, we’ll have a wonderful, if celibate, life."

God, I love him. I didn’t believe him, but I loved him for saying it. I wrapped my arms around his waist and hugged him silently for a long, sweet time. That didn’t provide any more answers, but it was really, really nice. I could feel the tension draining from me as he held me. Somehow, and as God is my witness I didn’t know how, things would work out.

"Anya, sweetheart, why don’t you go take a nap for a while? It’s gonna be a long night, and a long day tomorrow."

"You’re probably right," I said, and I didn’t mind breaking the mood. Ethan just knew when it was time, as he always did. Or, well, as Lainey always did. But even that was reassuring, showing that we were still the same people under the skin where it counted the most.

I smiled, and hugged him again, then went below. It took a bit of work to build enough of a nest that the Breeze couldn’t throw me out of it, but I managed, and as a result managed to get about an hour’s sleep. A change in her motion woke me up, though. We were starting to pound a bit. The weather satellite was still showing the same picture, more or less, but I had a feeling we needed to take another reef in the sails.

When I got back on deck, it was to find Ethan with that same fierce grin on his face, the one that challenged the ocean to do its worst. Which is probably why it was a good thing that I was the Captain. Still, he did enjoy it. And this time he was the one with the wet t-shirt. Just as I suspected, a very nicely defined six-pack. And no, I hadn’t had a stomach that tight ever in my whole life. I think he grew muscles even in the hour I was below.

"Ready to take in another reef?" he asked.

"How did you know?"

"Because you’ve got your grim determination look on, though I must say, not many others would have recognized it on that gorgeous young face. It looks like you’ve never had a care in the world."

"Yeah, right. Well, one out of two is probably fair," I said. "I do think we need another reef in the sails."

"Aye, aye, Captain Bligh," he said, pointing at the wheel.

I took my position and he moved to work the sails. The smaller jib had roller furling, so that was easy. Corralling the mizzen around the boom while he tied off the second reef was not nearly so pleasant a chore, and I could see at least one place where Ethan banged his knuckle getting it done - not surprising since he was about 3 feet from me at the time. Then he had to take on the mainsail, and at one point I actually heard something that was not already in my seaman’s vocabulary. Very creative, I might add. He got it reefed without any more damage, though, and I suppose that’s why it happened. He relaxed after getting that chore done, but before he was back in the cockpit.

In fact, that was the problem. He was stepping over a coaming into the cockpit when his foot slipped. As he straddled it. Hard.

It probably took me three nanoseconds to get the Breeze on autopilot and reach him, but that was more than enough time for him to curl up into a ball that I couldn’t have unwound if I used the biggest winches on the Breeze.

"Ethan! Are you all right? Ethan!"

Dumb question. Of course he wasn’t all right. I slid down beside him and lowered him to the cockpit sole where he could stretch out. Not that he was going to any time soon, but he could have.

"Ethan!" I yelled again. "You need to let me take a look at it."

Yeah, right. But in a few minutes I could feel the tension in his muscles start to unlock and I was able to get him to about a 90-degree angle. He’d been wearing shorts (mine, of course, and not much better fitting on him than they had recently been on me), and I was able to get them out from under his tight little tush with only the first three chapters, well, a little of the fourth, from my own ‘special’ vocabulary.

He wasn’t wearing any underwear. I expected he’d change that habit pretty soon. But there wasn’t any visible damage, not even bruising, and the only swelling wasn’t in his ‘nads. At least, I hoped the, um, other part was swollen. If that was the sleeping size, then . . . don’t go there.

Oops, well, some of both, I guess. My feeling around to check for damage had indeed caused a bit of swelling. And then a bit more. Dear Lord.

"I don’t think this is the time for that," Ethan said, teeth gritted.

"What? Oh, no, I was just . . . "

"Stop right there, love," he ordered. "You might have been doing a lot of things, but no way were you doing ‘just’ any one thing."

It was a poor joke, but it wasn’t really meant to be funny, just to be reassuring.

"Easy love," I said, cradling his head. "It hurts like a special little corner of hell all your own, but there’s no real damage."

He grimaced and said, "What makes you so sure?"

"Let’s just say that I’m a bit of an expert, at least by the standards of the crew of this vessel," I said with a grin I couldn’t control. So sue me. "Been there, done that."

He smiled in spite of himself, and said, "You know, you’re probably the only woman in the world who can truthfully claim to know." Then he grimaced again and said, "Lord, but I wish I still didn’t."

I guess I wasn’t showing all the sympathy he felt was appropriate or something. Anyway, he looked at me and said, "All right, Miss Smug-and-Superior. You just wait until you get your first monthly visitor. I’ll be able to say the same to you, and just as truthfully, you . . . wench."

Oh. Yeah. NOT a happy thought.

As such things do, Ethan eventually got to feeling a little better. I’m sure (boy, am I sure!) that he considered it better only in comparison, but in a few minutes he was able to stand, with a little help.

"Why don’t you go below for a while," I suggested. "With the second reef in, we’re not pounding much and you should be able to get some rest."

"Will you be okay?" he asked.

"Better than you, probably, at least for a while," I said, real sympathy back in my voice again.

He nodded and went below while I went back to the wheel. It was about time for my watch anyway, and truly, I thought the Breeze was riding easier. Of course, we might not have been making any progress toward Tirce’s Island at all under those conditions, but first things first. Stay on TOP of the water.

Actually, I could have used more of a distraction, anything to keep my mind off . . . what had happened. When I had been, um, ‘checking’ Ethan, and his . . . member had started to . . . swell, my own reaction had surprised me more than his. I had enjoyed it. My body had certainly enjoyed it. My nipples inside the sports bra had gotten painfully hard so quickly that I was afraid something was all twisted up somehow. And my body had definitely learned to produce lubrication. But what really got my attention is that I enjoyed it, too. I liked the feeling of desirability. More than that, I liked the feeling of, well, power. I could make him do . . . that.

There was, um, a feeling of, I don’t know, weakness as well. I was scared at the same time I was thrilled. He is so damn big! The idea of taking that . . . into my own body, was . . . Oh, God, it should have been horrifying, but every time I thought of it, my damn nips and my, uh, my new parts got so excited I could hardly stand it. Even right then, they were burning and itching and, Lordy I could have used a good gale right them to sweep away the storm inside me.

I had to put the Breeze on autopilot and lean against the rail. It was hard to breathe, I was so aroused with just thinking of what I had seen, what I had done. I was ‘lubricating’ again, and as much as I’d like to claim it was scientific curiosity, I knew there was more to it than that when I let my hand slip inside my shorts.

What was left of my manhood was stiff and hard, but only as big as the tip of my finger. Right behind it was a definite space, an entrance into the innermost core of my body. The lubrication was coming from, um, inside. And man-oh-man was it coming. My panties were more than damp, and there wasn’t any friction at all when I tried to, um, determine how large the opening was, or the space within. The answer was not nearly enough to handle what I had seen on Ethan. My finger alone seemed to be, um, stretching me - not painfully, but with a pressure that was too uncomfortable for . . . anything larger.

When I started to withdraw my finger, I got a shock so great I collapsed on the seat! The fluid that coated my finger drew lightly across that hard little nub on the way out, and I thought I was going to scream from the sensation. It had pinched on the way in, being dry, but there wasn’t any pinching on the way out! Dear God, I had thought my nipples were hot before, but when that shock went through me, I swear I looked down to see if they had burned twin holes in my shirt.

It was incredibly intense, and incredibly . . . compelling. Instead of withdrawing my finger, I started rubbing more of that slick fluid all over my hard nub. Everything was so . . . urgent. The coolness of that fluid evaporating seemed like ice, next to white heat, next to . . . things I didn’t even understand. I sprawled on the seat, cursing the need to let a portion of my attention keep me from being tossed about as my fingers began to move with greater speed, greater complexity. I had to pull up my bra with the other hand and use it to caress my burning nipples - a caress that quickly became a fierce tug and twist even as my other hand was doing the same in my nether center.

And then it happened. I’d have screamed, except I would have needed air for that, and I had no idea how long it had been since I had breathed. Every muscle in my body locked in a brace so rigid it couldn’t follow the shape of the seat. I slid down until my feet reached the opposite seat and braced there, that and my neck the only places still in contact with the world I had been in just a moment before.

And then it passed. My body collapsed, bouncing off the seat on its way to the cockpit sole. As part of my awareness returned, I realized I was flopping about like a desperate fish, twitching and gasping and writhing in a fruitless attempt to return to a world that seemed infinitely more precious than a damp deck in a surging boat on a tumbling sea. Well, not entirely fruitless. Aftershocks rose and fell within me, my thrashing became both less frantic and more productive as my touches became once more caresses rather than pulls. After a duration I had no hope of assessing, I finally relaxed.

Then I sat up quickly, looking first to the closed hatch to make sure I hadn’t been seen. Pulling by bra back into place, I carefully arranged my clothes and stood back to the wheel. I couldn’t imagine what had come over me, to do that! I hadn’t been ‘ruled’ by my sensations since I was locked in the throes of puberty, and the very idea that I would lose control like that, and while I was on watch, too! It was just not me! I was way more responsible than that.

Yet even as I was reading myself the riot act, I couldn’t stop a gentle pressure between my body and the wheel, letting the continual slow surge of the Breeze on her course push against the front of my shorts.

I tried to take refuge in blaming Tirce. I just didn’t believe I had EVER been that much out of control before. It was clear we were not becoming some ‘what might have been’ sibling-equivalents of who we were before, not even younger ones. And it was just as clear this wasn’t any form of ‘swap’ between Adam and Elaine. I had been in pretty good shape for a man my age, but that had been mostly not losing what I had earlier. As a younger man, I had been no better than average, certainly not an athlete. Yet Ethan was a wonderfully fit, handsome man with corded muscles and . . . Lainey had been like Adam was, trim and attractive, but beautiful more to me than to the world at large.

It seemed that Tirce had decided to ‘improve’ us as she transformed us. As I thought about it, I could see almost a mathematical precision to our new forms. Each individual feature or characteristic was ‘reasonable’ in a probabilistic sense. Even my new bosom was only at the ample end of normal like I had recognized earlier; perhaps upper 10%, whatever that translated to in the arcane secrets of bra size. Similarly, my waist was in about the ‘best’ 10% range, only in that case it was smaller than average. The combination, though, made me pretty . . . spectacular. I didn’t think I’d have any trouble at all getting a centerfold spread - as if I wanted to. Everything else was that way, too. Instead of an average-to-dark brown hair color, I now had an unusually glossy black. It was harder for me to quantify things like nose and eye shape, but I felt the same logic would apply there, too. Each individual feature would be significantly better than average, though not unrealistically so, but the combination was, well, one in a million, or more. At least statistically.

Ethan was the same. Taut, well-defined abs. Trim, tight butt. Ruggedly handsome, with chiseled jaw and blade nose. I didn’t have the data for a meaningful assessment, but I figured he was probably ‘endowed’ at about the top 10% level, just like my bustline. Add it all up, though, and you had a one in a million man, also.

I was beginning to think she had done something similar to our minds, too - at least the subconscious personality parts of them. I knew I was more emotional now, and yet I had felt playful enough to do the wet t-shirt thing. I knew I truly liked the way I looked, and it was undeniable that my body reacted with desire to Ethan’s body, for all that part of me was still fighting the idea, too. On the other hand, I still seemed to know how to sail, and I still felt I could analyze problems if I set my mind to it. I didn’t feel to be of ‘diminished capacity’ in any way, yet it did feel strange to be so willing to do things like pluck my eyebrows. I wonder if Tirce had worked out some sort of compensating factors, where my stereotypically-masculine approach to some things that were truly core to who I was were offset by a correspondingly feminine stereotype of concern with my appearance.

She must have done something to my body awareness, too, now that I thought of it. I mean, here I was on a pitching, rolling, swooping boat, but I wasn’t having any balance problems, or, um, coordination problems. The only things that seemed ‘wrong’ were the things I thought of consciously, like the way my breasts moved when I wasn’t wearing a bra. In fact, I could remember a few things I had done, like flip my hair out of my face, that I had done in a very feminine way without thinking about it. More of that ‘subconscious changes within the same conscious mind’ sort of thing.

If so, was that good news or bad news? Assuming we couldn’t get this whole thing reversed, of course.

Like a lot of my questions lately, there wasn’t any answer to be had, at least not immediately. As my mind lifted out of it’s tight spiral of introspection, I took stock of the Breeze and realized she was still moving easily. In fact, too easily. The wind had died off and we were getting occasional waves without whitecaps. We could have shaken a reef out, but doing so would require waking Ethan up, and the poor dear needed what relief he could get.

An hour or so before dawn, it started to rain. That was good news.

Fresh water is so much nicer, if you’re going to get wet, than salt water. In fact, I took off my jacket and was seriously considering removing my soaked sports bra, when I heard the hatch slide back.

"Anya?" Ethan’s voice called. "Where are the clean sheets for the bunk?"

"I’m not sure we have any more. We didn’t get a chance to do the laundry in Taiohae."

"Ah, right. Well, were are the ones we’ve already used?"

"Oh, they’ll be all musty from being in the hamper so long. We can just use the ones on the bed until we get to Tirce’s Island. It should only be a few more days."

"No, we can’t," he said bluntly, but there was another note in his voice, too.

"Why not?" It couldn’t just be because of a few more hours of sleep on them.

"We just can’t, okay?" he snapped.

"Fine," I snapped back. Geez, we didn’t need to argue now. What was his problem?

He didn’t offer any more explanation, and I certainly wasn’t going to poke at whatever sore was involved. An hour later he came on deck, avoiding looking at me. He knew it was raining, of course, but like me, he seemed to think the warm rain was nice. He had the sheets with him, soaking wet and soapy.

"I used sea water to wash them, but we can rinse them in the rain," he explained, ducking his head like it bothered him to be talking about doing the laundry, for goodness’ sake. Well, if he thought I were going to ask any more questions, after the way he responded to my last question, he was mistaken.

"We should probably shake out a reef," I said, sticking to ship’s business.

"Sure thing," he replied. His attitude was still strange. It was more like he was embarrassed than angry, and I didn’t have a clue why he should be feeling either. But he went about his duties with the sure motions of one who understands the job and was quietly competent. That would seem to indicate he wasn’t suffering any aftereffects from his ‘injury’.

We worked in silence while he added enough sail to just about double our speed through the water, then he came back to sit in the cockpit. By this time it was dawn, or at least as much of a dawn as we were going to get. Though the wind had died down quite a bit, and the rain was beating down the waves rather than enhancing them, it was still nothing but gray, above and below the horizon.

"Would you like a break?" asked Ethan, then offered, "or I can go fix some breakfast."

"Whatever."

"Look, Anya, I’m sorry I yelled at you. I, um, well," he started, then a little-boy smile tugged at his mouth. "Could I just say that I woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning?"

"You can only get in the bunk from one side," I observed, but I was finding his smile to be as compelling as Lainey’s had been and I couldn’t help grinning a little in return.

"Let’s just say that’s close enough to the truth anyway, and I’ll go fix you something hot, now that the Breeze is pretty stable again."

Close enough to the truth? I wondered what he meant by that. Oh, well, it doesn’t really matter. The need for privacy does strange things after a long time at sea. I had things I just didn’t want to talk about, either, like, well, what had happened on my watch. Now why did I just think of that? I was glad he had turned to go below already, or he’d have seen my little arousal advertisements through my bra.

Again.

 

(continued in Part 12)

 

 



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Live Long and Prosper 2000 by Brandy Dewinter. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.