Morpheus’s Legacy Universe – Part 4
The Praxis Crossing
I leaned back in my chair and yawned, once again looking over the three dozen TV screens that filled the room. I'd been watching them for more time than I cared to, and not a thing had changed in any of them. And though that might be boring, I had to admit that it was better than the alternative.
"With all of these TV's," I commented casually, "shouldn't we be able to pick up some porn channels?"
Next to me, my older and heavyset partner Bill chuckled, "I wish kid."
I frowned, wishing that he wouldn't call me kid. After all, I was 26 years old. However, I didn't let it get to me as I knew that Bill didn't really mean it. He was just one of those old timers that called everyone more than 20 years younger than him a kid.
My name was T.J., or at least that's what everyone called me. My full name was Thomas Jeremiah Sawyer, but I'd more than had my fill of Tom Sawyer jokes when I was a kid and didn't like the name Jeremiah. So, I just used my initials instead.
With a sigh, I took another look at the screens, then told Bill, "I'm going to do a walk around."
"OK," Bill responded, "Just check out camera 23. It's been bouncing a bit."
I gave a nod, "Sure," just as I left the monitor room.
At the moment, and for the last several months, I'd been working as a security guard for a research facility. It hadn't been for any specific security expertise that I'd been hired, but because I knew how to fix the surveillance cameras. And a few other things. I more or less doubled as security guard and maintenance technician because my employers were pretty cheap.
While I was working, I couldn't help wondering for at least the thousandth time exactly what it was that they did in secure areas. I'd overheard a few things, including mention of some kind of quantum shift reactor, but that still didn't tell me to much. Just that it was probably stuff that was over my head.
"Damn cameras," I muttered after I'd taken care of the camera that Bill had reminded me about. "These things really need replacing." In fact, there were quite a few things that could probably use replacing or proper fixing, but again my employers were pretty cheap...and it showed.
I shrugged though, knowing that I shouldn't worry about how little money was actually spent on security or much of anything else since that was the reason I'd gotten the job. Then again, job security had never really been one of my big worries. I'd worked enough different jobs and picked up enough stuff that I'd sort of become a jack of all trades, and as I frequently joked, a master of none.
Just then, I heard a series of gun shots, followed by an explosion. I snapped around, noticing a pillar of smoke coming from the main gate. And at the same time, I saw people coming down in parachutes, all of them wearing some kind of blue and gold uniforms, or more accurately...body armor. All of them were also armed, as and as I quickly realized...women.
"Death to the male oppressors!" on woman screamed as she hit the ground, then opened fire with what seemed to be some sort of ray gun.
"Oh shit," I gasped in shock, staring in horror at all of the attackers. There had to be several dozen women, and they were all shooting like crazy. However, most of them didn't seem to be giving much effort to aiming...just blasting at everything in sight. "I'm gonna die..."
It was only then that I realized that I was standing pretty much in the open, which I suspected was NOT a good idea. Then I ran and even dove behind a dumpster, hoping like hell that they didn't see me. Whoever 'they' were.
A woman's voice cried out, "Hurry. Get inside."
Another woman's voice quickly followed, "Now those male fascists will HAVE to take the Sisterhood seriously."
"Enough talking!" a third woman's voice growled from closer to me, "There'll be enough time for that once we finish taking this building."
At this, I finally peaked around the corner of the dumpster, relieved to see most of the woman heading away from me. Unfortunately, they were heading for the main doors of the building. That was definitely not good news. With a grimace, I debated going for my gun, knowing that it was part of my job as a security guard but afraid to put myself in more danger than I was already in.
Without warning, another one of the security guards stepped out of the front doors and opened fire at the women. However, that had little effect as the bullets seemed to bounce off of their armor with little to no damage. All it did was make them angry...and fire back. A second later, where the other security guard had been, there was nothing but a smoking corpse.
"Carl!" I gasped, then quickly shut my mouth, afraid to make a sound and give myself away. Though I barely knew the guy, I couldn't help but feeling bad about his getting killed. And after seeing that, there was no way that I was going to try playing hero too.
I crouched down behind the dumpster, still looking out at the armored women who were taking over the facility. Then I looked around for a way out, glaring at the tall chain link fence that was supposed to keep people out. Now it was just serving to keep me trapped in.
"Damn," I spat, filling that one word with fear, anger and frustration.
Some of the attacking women had gone into the building, while others were setting up something of a parimiter. They'd even rounded up a few prisoners and were holding them in a corner...probably to use as hostages. Fortunately, none had noticed me where I was hiding, at least not yet.
Just then, I was shocked by the sight of a woman dropping right out of the sky, and landing on the ground a short distance from the women with the prisoners. My eyes nearly popped out at the sight, and the almost immediate realization that she was one of those developed. One of those who developed powers of some sort and played out the roles of super heroes...and villains.
In an instant, I took in the woman. She was tall, probably around 6 foot or so, quite possibly an inch or two taller. Her body was statuesque, which was about the only word I could think to describe her. She was extremely well built, both athletic and voluptuous at the same time, with well defined muscles. And she had black hair, cut fairly short but still in a feminine manner.
The mystery woman was wearing a costume of red and white spandex that covered everything below her neck. There was a red cape that swung behind her, attached to her shoulders. And around her waist, there was a red belt, with large round buckle that looked to be made of some sort of gold metal, with a reddish gem or something in the center.
It had only been a moment after the woman landed before she charged forward, grabbing the gun out of one of the attacker's hands and bending it in half as though it was nothing. She threw the gun, and then the woman both to the side with equal ease, turning her attention to the other armored women with the hostages.
"Who are you?" one of the armored women demanded, her voice filled with both confusion and awe.
The costumed woman just answered, "I'm Praxis," then demanded, "Drop your weapons."
Though I didn't really recognize the woman, I thought that she looked a tiny bit familiar and thought that I'd heard the name before. Then it came to me. I'd heard something about her pretty recently, that she was fairly new super hero but was getting a bit of attention. I think that I even remembered seeing something on TV where she was fighting alongside the Protectorate, but I didn't think that she was a member. Then again, I was no expert and didn't usually pay a lot of attention to either TV or all of those costumed weirdos.
When the armored women didn't drop their guns immediately, Praxis jumped forward and tore them from their hands, then sent the women both flying into a wall. An in an instant later, she'd turned her back to the prisoners and flew back into the air, managing to avoid a blast from some other armored woman who was shooting at her.
"No way," I just gasped, unable to believe that I was seeing a real developed...a super hero in action.
Praxis landed again and was almost immediately surrounded by a group of the terrorists. "You're one of us!" one of the women cried out, "Join the Sisterhood and help fight the oppressive male tyranny."
With an almost arrogant laugh, Praxis charged towards the closest of the armored women, punching her and sending her flying over 20 feet.
One of the women screamed out "Traitoress!", just as she fired her energy blaster at Praxis. But to my surprise, the blast went straight through her as though she wasn't there and hit another one of the Sisterhood instead.
For the next minute, I watched from my hiding place as Praxis took care of all of the terrorist attackers outside of the facility. However, I couldn't help remembering that some of them had gone inside as well.
Suddenly some sirens started sounding, ones that sent a chill down my spine as I heard them. "Oh shit," I squeaked out, recognizing the alarm for an immediate building evacuation.
I stood up and stepped out from the cover of the dumpster, knowing that this Praxis woman had already taken care of all of the terrorists outside the main building. And as I watched, people started running out of the building, going straight for the main gate.
"Run!" a woman in a lab coat screamed out.
"What's going on?" I demanded, grabbing hold of the woman who looked in a panic. "She's stopped those terrorists."
The woman, whom I remembered was a researcher in one of the secure areas gasped, "They shot at the reactor containment..." Her eyes were wide with fear and near panic, "It's going to explode. We've got to get out of range...maybe a mile..." And with that, she tore herself away from me and continued running towards the exit.
Praxis seemed to have heard that as she started helping the people evacuate, even grabbing at the Sisterhood members and pulling them to a safe distance. She even snatched up the ones who'd been inside as they tried to escape.
I just gulped and started towards the exit myself, hoping that we had time to get away from whatever was happening. I was more than halfway there when I realized that I hadn't seen Bill leaving the building. Then I stopped, taking a look back and feeling worried.
"Fuck," I spat out.
My partner was getting close to retirement age and tended to walk pretty slowly. So even if he hadn't been hurt by those terrorist bitches, he was probably still trying to make his way out. And I didn't think that he'd be able to make it in time. Not with the way that woman made it sound so urgent.
With another, "Fuck," I turned and ran as fast as I could back towards the building, knowing that I had to get Bill out before that reactor she'd mentioned blew.
I tore down the halls of the building, seeing no sign of another person still being within. Then I burst into the monitor room, calling Bill's name. It took me a second to realize that he wasn't in there. The room was empty.
My eyes quickly scanned the room, seeing that several of the screens were dead. A few others were just messed up. Not surprising though considering the attack. I looked over the screens, trying to find Bill...and then finally seeing him. On the screen that showed the back gate. He'd gotten out.
With an, "Oh shit," I turned and started running back out as fast as I could, wondering what the hell I'd been thinking. It was my ass that was about to get fried.
Half a minute later, I was outside the building again but still had a ways to go to get to the main gate and then to a safe distance. Or at least behind the hills that the evacuees were probably using for cover. I just tried picking up my speed, but it didn't do much good as I was already running as fast as I could and quickly getting too tired.
Then suddenly something grabbed hold of me and pulled me right off of the ground. Not something, I quickly realized as I looked, but someone. It was Praxis. She was trying to carry me to safety.
Just as I was beginning to feel hope, I heard a massive explosion from the building and snapped my head around, only to see the building vanish as what looked like a massive burst of energy erupted from the center. Everything seemed to disintegrate and a shimmering wave of air rushed out in all directions. Including towards us.
"Look out!" I cried, clutching Praxis tightly, just as the wave hit us.
My whole being was suddenly filled a thousand sensations as once. In an instant, conscious thought ceased and all that remained was an overwhelming feeling of infinity, followed by a tearing at my very existence. Then, even that was gone into nothingness.
I had no idea how long I was out, or even if I was truly out or something else entirely. My first thought though as consciousness returned was that I was dead, followed with a consideration that I might be in a hospital somewhere. These both flashed through my mind as I clearly remembered the explosion...that shimmering wave.
Then another thought ran through my mind, one of mixed confusion and relief as I realized that I didn't feel hurt or injured. In fact, I felt good. Very good. That was quickly followed by the realization that I also felt extremely strange, though it wasn't quite anything that I could put my finger on yet.
With that, I opened my eyes and got to my feet, taking a look around me and gasping in surprise. The whole building was gone, leaving little more than a crater which extended just short of the fence...and over it in just a few places. Well short of the mile distance that was predicted. But even though the building was gone...it was still there. Sort of. I could still see it where it had been, or at least a ghostly image of it.
"What the hell?" I gasped out in confusion, not only by the strange thing with the building, but by the fact that I was still alive.
Suddenly I froze, that feeling of strangeness even more augmented by the fact that my voice sounded wrong to my ears. That shook me out of the amazement from my surroundings and reminded me that there was something weird going on with me as well. It was only then that I looked down at myself to check of what could be wrong...and nearly choked at the sight.
My eyes bulged at the obvious pair of women's breasts on my chest, and perhaps even more so by the fact that I was wearing a red and white spandex costume. A costume that I instantly recognized as belonging to Praxis...as did the breasts. Not to mention the rest of my body for that matter.
I was in complete shock as I realized just why I felt so strange, but that only left a million more questions than it answered. My hands went to the breasts, verifying that they weren't just figments of my imagination, nor was the rest of my drastically altered body. Somehow...somehow I was in the body of that Praxis woman. It didn't seem possible, but I wasn't about to deny my own senses. But if I was in her body...then where was mine...?
Just then, I heard a woman's voice in my head demanding, "What's going on?"
I snapped around, but not seeing anyone. "Who's there?" With everything that was going on, I was really beginning to get freaked out, and this was only making it worse.
There was a moment of silence before the voice responded with another demand, "Who are you? What are you doing with my body?"
This time it was my turn to be silent as I gulped, "Your body?" I took a deep breath, "Praxis?"
"Of course!" she snapped back viciously, though I still couldn't see any sign of anyone. "Now give me back control of my body, or so help me God..."
I nervously looked around again, "Where are you?"
"I'm right here you idiot!" Praxis half screamed in my head.
It was only then that it really dawned on me that I was hearing her voice in my head. Suddenly two and two added up and I hesitantly asked, "You're in here...with me?"
"YES!" she screamed at me, making me wince, "Get out NOW!" There was no doubt that she was absolutely furious.
"Tell me how," I snapped back, beginning to get annoyed myself. It was a little more comforting than being scared and confused. "I sure as hell didn't ask to be in here!"
She responded with a simultaneously confused and angry, "What?"
"It was the explosion," I gasped in realization, "the wave from that quantum reactor thing blowing up." I turned and looked around out of habit, though there was no one there, "I'm the guy you were carrying when it hit. That's what did this to us."
"You're a guy?" she blurted out in surprise, losing some of the anger in her voice, though it quickly came back. "What the hell did that do to me?"
"What about to me?" I spat back, grabbing at her breasts and getting immediately yelled at not to touch them. "If we're both in your body...then where the fuck is mine?" And of course, the question we both wanted an answer to the most was how did we get back to normal.
I looked around, seeing no sign of myself, though I did notice that the ghostly image of the facility looked even fainter. Even less real. And there seemed to be a faint shimmer to it as well, though I wasn't about to give that too much attention when I had more important things to deal with.
Just then, I noticed that there were people watching me...watching us. They were beginning to gather around the edge of the blast area, though I could tell that none of them seemed willing to cross over into it. It was all of the people who'd been evacuated from the facility, obviously trying to get a good look at the ghost building.
Praxis was saying something when I interrupted, "Um...maybe we should talk about this someplace else." I took a nervous look at the audience, feeling pretty uncomfortable with the situation.
"That might be a good idea," she agreed reluctantly.
However, I grimaced, "But I think my car was in the blast..."
The voice in my head just snorted in irritation. "Since you're controlling my body, you probably control my powers too."
I was a bit startled at that since it was something that I hadn't considered. Me, with powers? There was no way...but then again, there was absolutely no way that I could be in the body of a hot super chick either.
"So...um...," I started, "how do you fly?"
"I just...do," Praxis responded in my head. That wasn't much help though and she seemed to realize this as after a few seconds, she continued, "The best way to describe it is that I will myself into the air." I could sort of feel a mental shrug at that.
"That's a lot of good," I muttered.
Then with a shrug, I decided that I might as well try it. It wasn't easy concentrating with the people outside of the blast area, but I did my best. I focused on willing myself into the air, finding that it did little good. There was a faint snicker inside of my head which made me grimace and try again.
I tried it again, this time sort of willing myself away from the ground. And just as I was exclaiming, "Damn. It's not wor...," I suddenly realized that my feet were several feet above the ground. "Wow!"
"Good," Praxis commented reluctantly, "Now let's get the hell out of here." I was in full agreement.
With that, I pushed myself higher and higher into the air while Praxis gave me further instructions on how to fly. And within a minute, I was truly flying, seeing the ground pass by some distance below. It was as amazing as it was unbelievable.
After flying for about a minute, Praxis asked, "You're not afraid of heights?" It was really more statement than question, and she sounded almost disappointed.
I just shook my head, or was that hers? "Not really," I told her, then added, "I used to work on a high rise construction and had to get over it pretty quickly."
Then, in a softer tone than I'd heard her using before, Praxis said, "I was the first time I flew." I wasn't sure whether she was really talking to me this time or to herself. Probably a bit of both.
I tried keeping my mind on the flying, but it wasn't easy with my whole body feeling so different, and with Praxis talking inside my head. She kept giving me advice on flying, much of it seeming to be unnecessary as I was quickly getting the hang of it. I was even beginning to suspect that this was her way of dealing with the situation.
Since I was flying, it didn't take nearly as long as usual before I got home, or at least close to it. I stopped and hovered in the air just a short distance from the house I lived in, staring down at it, still in complete awe that I was able to do so.
"Where are you taking us?" Praxis demanded.
"My place," I answered, pointing down at it, "Or I was." I frowned. "I just realized that it might not be the greatest idea to go there looking like this." I gestured down at myself with a scowl.
"Oh?" Praxis responded.
"I rent the top floor," I explained uncomfortably, "and my landlords are a little nosey...as are a few of the neighbors." After taking a deep breath, I continued, "Someone will have to see me going in, and looking like this..." I shook my head, "I don't think that either of us wants to deal with those questions."
"You're right," Praxis agreed, sounding a little more tired than angry this time.
I certainly didn't blame her as I was starting to feel tired myself. Everything that had happened was starting to really catch up to me and I was beginning to feel drained. All I wanted was to just collapse into my recliner and relax, maybe even take a nap. However, at the moment, it wouldn't really be a good idea to do either at home.
I thought for a moment but couldn't really think of anywhere else to go. "Do you have like a secret hideout or someplace we could go to?" I asked her, more halfhearted than hopeful.
Praxis was silent for a moment before she finally surprised me with, "Yes...I know where we can go."
A minute later, I was flying through the air again, this time having Praxis give me directions rather than advice. And as we flew, I was burning with curiosity as to where she was having me go. I was unable to help but think of some high tech headquarters which I'd heard a lot of those costumed super heroes had.
We flew for some distance further than we had the last time, with Praxis giving me directions rather than advice. I stayed low enough to see the roads and landmarks pretty clearly, but high enough so that no one would really see me. Praxis was the one who suggested it, though the word suggest might be a little inaccurate.
Eventually, we arrived at a nearby city and Praxis announced, "We're almost there."
All I did was nodded faintly and muttered, "Good." I was even more tired than before, though Praxis said that it was probably a side effect of our...accident catching up to us.
After a few more minutes, I followed her directions to go down behind several buildings, and then down a few alleys. We ended up in one empty alley that was brick wall on both sides, without a single window in sight.
"Make sure no one's watching," Praxis ordered, her tone firm.
I carefully looked down at the alley floor, and then everywhere else, seeing no sign of anyone. "Coast is clear," I told her, wondering what she was up to.
"One of my powers is to turn intangible for a few seconds," Praxis told me.
With a nod, I slowly responded, "OK...," wondering where this was leading.
Then she told me how to use that power, though the explanation wasn't really any different than the one she'd given me for flying. "Just will it," she'd said.
A minute later, Praxis told me to look for a specific spot on one of the walls...and to go through it. I was more than a little skeptical, but she urged me on, sounding pretty annoyed. The fact was, I was getting annoyed with her annoyance. It wasn't like I was enjoying being stuck in her body as it was.
"Here goes nothing," I muttered, just before 'willing' myself intangible and flying towards the wall where Praxis had told me to go.
And to my surprise, I actually went through the wall as if it wasn't even there. As soon as I was on the other side, I turned solid again and settled down into a room. However, it didn't look anything like the high tech secret headquarters that I'd been expecting. Instead...it looked like someone's living room.
"What?" I blinked in surprise as I looked around, "Where are we?"
There was only a brief pause before Praxis answered, "My apartment."
I just gasped, "Huh?"
"If you ever tell anyone," Praxis threatened with a harsh edge in her voice, "ANYONE about this...about me or anything you see here, I will hunt you down and hurt you. Badly."
For a moment, I just stood there, feeling even more surprised. It was certainly strange being threatened by a voice in my own head. However, it just didn't seem all that threatening when there was no one around me doing the threatening.
"I have no intention of telling anyone about this," I exclaimed in annoyance. "I'd die of embarrassment."
Just then, I was hit by a wave of dizziness and staggered slightly. My exhaustion had just gotten twice as bad and I could barely even remain standing.
"Is there a bed I can use?" I asked groggily, fighting to remain up.
"In there," Praxis said, though that didn't do me much good as she couldn't point at anything. A moment later, this was followed with a, "The door on the right..."
I staggered into the bedroom, catching myself on the door frame to keep from falling. Then I managed to make it the final few steps to the bed before I collapsed onto it and lost consciousness again.
It was a strange experience to wake up, not only in someone else's bedroom but in their body as well. I was instantly assaulted by the sensations from my alien body, as well as the memories of what had happened to put me there. For a moment, I just continued to lay there, letting the reality soak in.
As I sat up, I was in awe at just how unbelievably good I felt. I'd never felt so good...so alive in my entire life, not even right after I'd ended up in Praxis' body. This was even better. And of course, I was completely wide awake and ready to go, which was strange since it normally took me a cup of coffee before I was fully awake.
"Weird," I muttered, looking down at myself with a scowl and then carefully grabbing at my new breasts.
Suddenly Praxis snapped, "Watch it!"
I yanked my hands back and grimaced, feeling more than a little embarrassed. It was strange, not to mention completely unnerving to remember that there was someone else in my body with me. In a way, it was like there was someone constantly looking over my shoulder and watching everything that I did. That was not a comforting feeling. Not in the least.
After taking a deep breath, I stood up and looked around, a little startled by the bedroom I was in. It looked so...normal. Nothing like I would have imagined a super hero like Praxis having.
"Like what you see?" Praxis demanded sarcastically.
"Just...not what I expected," I told her honestly.
Then, I looked down at myself with a scowl, still unable to believe that I was seeing the body of a woman. The body of a super hero at that. I shuddered faintly, unbelievably tempted to feel myself up or at least to strip naked for a better look. However, I didn't dare do anything, knowing that I was being watched...constantly.
After a few more seconds, I realized that I felt something very familiar. And it made me very uncomfortable, or at least embarrassed.
"Um...," I started, not sure exactly how to say what I wanted to, "I think I need to use your bathroom."
Praxis sighed, "I know." Then she grumbled, "I can feel it."
"You can feel it?" I repeated curiously.
She just snorted bitterly, "I can see, feel and hear everything...just like normal. I just can't move or control anything."
I just nodded at that as I made my way to the bathroom. A minute later, I was inside with the door closed, feeling a bit self conscious with Praxis looking over my shoulder. Then I caught sight of my reflection in the bathroom mirror and gasped.
"Weird," I whispered as I took a step closer and stared at myself in amazement.
For several seconds, I just stared at myself with my mouth open. I'd already known that I was inside the body of Praxis, but it was still extremely disconcerting to see her face staring back from me in the mirror after all of that time seeing my own.
With a little effort, and remembering that I was being watched, I stepped back from the mirror, remembering why I was in the bathroom in the first place. Then I looked down at myself, trying to find a zipper, to no success.
"How the hell do you go to the bathroom in this thing?" I demanded in annoyance.
"My costume wasn't really designed for quick bathroom breaks," Praxis admitted, sounding a bit embarrassed.
After Praxis told me how to get out of the costume, I followed her directions and removed both the cape and belt, dropping them unceremoniously to the floor. Then I reached to the back of my neck and found the hidden catch that unzipped the costume down to my lower back. And from there, it was easy to climb out of the one piece spandex suit.
"I can't believe you have to get undressed, just to go the bathroom," I grumbled.
"This body doesn't have to go very often," Praxis grumbled back, sounding even more embarrassed. Then she snapped, "Just get this over with and don't go getting any ideas."
I just grimaced as I sat down and went about my business, though it was hard to actually do so since Praxis was there with me. It was horribly embarrassing for me and I hated the fact that I had absolutely no privacy whatsoever. Not even for something as private as going to the bathroom.
Once I was finished though, I stood up, feeling relieved. And at the same time, I took a quick look at my body, trying to make it look like that wasn't what I was doing. I was curious as hell but didn't want to deal with Praxis at the moment. I had to admit though, she was a definite hottie. A little taller and more muscular than I usually preferred, but still a hottie. Then again, at the moment I guessed that I was the hottie.
"Shit," Praxis grumbled in my head. A moment later, she announced, "I'm filthy. I might not be happy with it, but I...we need a shower."
With another, longer look down at myself, I muttered, "I guess I'm already dressed for it." At least a shower wasn't as personal as going to the bathroom, and on the brighter side, I'd finally be able to satisfy some more of my curiosity and check out my body a little more.
The shower was definitely interesting, though hardly sensual like I would have imagined. Not with Praxis being such a pain in the ass and giving me contradictory instructions the whole time. Telling to be sure to scrub well, yet simultaneously warning me not to touch her. As annoying as being stuck in her body was, having her stuck in my head was MUCH worse.
When the shower was over, Praxis directed me to a spare costume that was hidden in the back of her linen closet. It was something of a relief to get dressed again, since it at least removed some of the temptation. However, there was no spare belt so I had to take it from the dirty costume.
Before I put the belt back on, I stared at the disk that made up the buckle. A gold circle on the outside, though in the very middle there was the rounded red glass center...though I quickly realized that it wasn't really glass. It seemed to shimmer and sparkle in an odd manner, so what it really was, I had no idea.
"So," I asked hesitantly when I was fully dressed again, "What now?"
"I'm...I'm not sure," she answered, her voice a little softer than before.
I frowned thoughtfully, knowing that we had to find out what the hell had actually happened to us, not to mention how to get back to normal. I didn't want to be stuck in her body, powers or not, and especially not with her in my head spying on my every movement. And I knew that she wasn't thrilled about our situation either.
"I mean, what are we going to do about this?" I frowned even more, "Maybe we should go see doctor...a scientist...a specialist or something to help us get back to normal."
"NO!," Praxis quickly burst out. "I don't want to have to explain this to anyone. I don't want anyone to know about this. We can get this straightened out ourselves."
I was a little startled by her vehemence, but I certainly understood what she meant. After all, I didn't want anyone to know about what had happened to us either. I'd probably die of embarrassment if anyone did find out. Still, I wasn't completely convinced that we could get this straightened out on our own...but I was definitely going to try.
"All right," I agreed with a sigh.
A few minutes later, Praxis and I decided that we might be able to find some kind of clue back at the facility, though I also thought that it would be a good idea to talk to one of the scientists who'd been working on that quantum reactor thing. If anyone knew what was going on and how to fix it, it would be one of them. However, Praxis didn't like that idea for some reason so I let it drop...for the moment.
"I'll cross my fingers," I muttered to myself as I turned intangible again and left through the same wall I'd went in through.
Within moments, I was flying again, this time even higher and faster than the time before. This time, it wasn't completely new to me, nor was I in shock from the sudden transformation. This time, I was able to really enjoy the thrill of being able to fly.
Soon, I arrived within sight of the facility and just stopped, floating in the air above it. Or at least above the crater where it had been just the day before. This time, there wasn't even a trace of that ghostly image of the facility left.
As I descended, I could feel a faint tingling across my skin, sort of like static electricity causing arm hairs to rise or just getting goose bumps. It wasn't unpleasant, nor even really uncomfortable, but it was rather odd and making me very nervous.
"Careful," Praxis told me, sounding rather nervous herself. It wasn't like I needed that warning though.
I landed on the ground and was almost surprised when nothing happened. It was almost anticlimactic as I had been sort of expecting something. I wasn't really sure why, but I had been. Praxis and I let out almost simultaneous sighs of relief.
Over the next hour or so, Praxis and I moved around the crater area and the land surrounding it, finding nothing that would help us. There weren't even any people around there anymore, which almost surprised me when I thought about it as I figured the scientists would want to check it out or something.
Finally, I sighed, "There goes nothing."
"We tried," Praxis told me, sounding more disappointed than irritated, though there was definitely some of that in there as well.
With that, I took back to the air, quickly deciding that since we didn't have any particular destination in mind other than that apartment, I might as well take my time and see what I could do. I had no idea how long I was going to be stuck in Praxis' body, but I at least wanted to know what it was capable of while I was.
First, I flew as fast as I could, amazing myself with my speed, then as I got more confident, I started getting a bit more daring. I flew in a loop, while Praxis screamed at me to stop.
"What?" I asked her, barely paying attention as I dove straight at the ground. And just as I was about to hit it, I swooped back up into the air, impressing myself..
Praxis half yelled at me, "Stop that..."
I did a double loop in the air before I finally asked, "What's wrong?" I'd gotten a bit carried away and was feeling a bit embarrassed with myself.
"So I'm not particularly fond of flying," Praxis spat out, her voice filled with embarrassment, though in a more controlled voice she added, "At least not when I'm not in control."
All I could think to say was, "Oh." Her admission was something of a surprise considering that she was a super hero and I'd seen her fly. I guessed doing it yourself and doing it as a passenger were two different things.
Then she added in a more annoyed voice, "I do NOT like roller coasters." That nearly made me burst out laughing, though I managed to keep from doing so.
The rest of the flight back was a bit more subdued, and since I had already satisfied my curiosity, I didn't mind taking it easy again. A short while later, I arrived back at the city where we'd left from several hours earlier, though I knew that I'd need Praxis' help to find her apartment again since I wasn't too familiar with the area.
However, I wasn't in too much of a hurry to get back to the apartment and landed on top of one particularly tall building. For several minutes, I just stood there, looking at the scenery. It was definitely an interesting perk of being able to fly.
After I'd been there for several minutes, I suddenly noticed some movement from the corner of my eye. I quickly turned for a better look and was startled to see that I was no longer alone on the building. Or at least not quite on the building as there was man...floating several feet above the roof just a short distance away.
He was tall, about the same height as Praxis...as me, and very athletic looking. Very...confident looking. He had blonde hair and rugged good looks, but what really drew my attention was his costume. It was blue and white spandex, with chromed metal shoulder pads and wrist bands, as well as with a long white cape that hung behind him.
Though I knew that I'd seen pictures of this man before, I couldn't remember where from. At least not until Praxis exclaimed, "Force!"
I blinked in surprise, now recognizing him as the famous hero Force. I'd seen him on TV and on posters, though I'd never imagined that I'd be seeing him in person.
"Hello Praxis," Force greeted as he settled the rest of the way onto the roof, staring at me intently.
My fists clenched almost instinctively, though I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't sure whether to be impressed by meeting such a famous person, or afraid that he might know that I was a fake. That he might blame ME for what had happened to Praxis and myself.
"Force," I responded, giving him a slight nod of the head but not taking my eyes off of him. Then I hesitantly asked, "Is this Protectorate business?"
With a slight frown, Force responded, "No. The Protectorate and I have...gone our separate ways." Then he gave me a thoughtful look, "And in a way, that is why I'm here.
I blinked, responding with an, "Oh...," not sure exactly where this was going.
"I could have told you that he wasn't with the Protectorate anymore," Praxis commented in my head, sounding a little annoyed.
"Then why didn't you?" I responded, making no outward sound.
Force gave me an intense look, then said, "I am forming a new group of my own. A cadre if you will, which will be composed of the elite. Of heroes who are both willing and capable of stopping developed threats." He then paused for a moment before finishing, "And I want you on my team."
I was startled by his statement, as well as felt a bit honored, even as I knew it was ridiculous to feel so. After all, it was meant for Praxis...the real Praxis. Not for me who just happened to be stuck in her body.
"I can't join anything like this," Praxis growled inside my head.
"I know," I responded to her silently.
Then Praxis went on, "You can't let him know..."
"I'm sorry," I told Force, trying to tune out Praxis and think about how to phrase this. "But certain...personal problems and prior commitments prevent me from accepting."
"I see," Force responded, sounding slightly disappointed. "Are you sure?"
With a faint nod, I told him, "Yes...I am. At least for now."
There was a moment of silence before Force frowned and responded, "I see." He didn't look too happy and even started to float off of the roof a few inches. "Thanks for your time," he told me, a hint of irritation in his voice. And with that, he suddenly flew off, leaving me and Praxis alone on the roof again.
"That was...interesting," I commented, not sure whether I was talking more to myself or her.
"But bad timing," Praxis sighed. Then she added, "I am kind of impressed at how nicely you turned him down." She sounded impressed as well.
I blushed faintly, telling her, "I once worked in public relations."
Praxis didn't say anything to that and we remained on the roof top for a few more minutes before deciding to go the rest of the way to her place. I still wasn't in any hurry about it so took my time heading in that direction.
I was just several blocks away from the roof when I suddenly heard a bunch of noise coming from below me. Yells, screams and gunshots. More curious than afraid, I changed position and moved in for a better look, gasping in surprise once I had.
"Oh shit," I gasped.
My eyes were immediately drawn to the nearly half dozen men with ski masks and guns who were gathered in front of the bank. From the bags that they were holding, it was obvious that they were on their way out. There were a number of other people as well, frightened from the robbers shooting wildly.
"I have to stop them!" Praxis screamed in my head. Then she corrected herself, "YOU have to stop them!"
"What?" I gasped in surprise, "But I'm no hero..."
However even as I stared down at the gunmen and the hostages, my stomach churned as my conscience kicked me. I sure as hell wasn't any kind of hero, as my time behind the dumpster had proven. But at the moment, I had the power to do something about that, and as much as I disliked it, I didn't think that my conscience would let me just walk away when I could do something.
Then before Praxis could even say, "You have to...," I was already on my way down.
Several seconds later, I landed right on top of one of the gunmen, just as he was aiming his machine gun at some woman. With a growl, I grabbed the gun out of his hand and threw it to the side, then threw him in the other direction with an ease that completely surprised me. It wasn't until that moment that I suddenly realized how much stronger I was than normal.
I didn't have time to think about it though as Praxis yelled, "Watch your back!"
Snapping around, I saw two of the gunmen off to the side pointing their guns to me. I couldn't resist grinning faintly as I suddenly remembered the sight of Praxis in action against the Sisterhood. And with how easily I threw that guy...as if he weighed absolutely nothing, there was little doubt that I now had the power to take these guys out.
As I stared at the armed men, my instincts screamed for me to get the hell out of the way. But at the same time, I knew that I now possessed an incredible amount of power and suddenly grew more sure that they could not touch me in Praxis' powerful body. And with that, I stood there in confident defiance as the robbers opened fire with their uzis.
Suddenly Praxis yelled, "Turn intan..."
But before Praxis could finish what she had started to say, the gunfire hit me and I staggered backwards...my whole front and right side bursting with pain. I let out a howl and dropped to one knee, not sure whether to be more shocked by the fact that the bullets hadn't just bounced off, or that I wasn't dead.
"You IDIOT!" Praxis screamed inside my head, "That HURTS!"
"No shit," I grimaced in near agony.
Then I suddenly remembered the gunmen, just in time for Praxis to growl, "Get up..."
I was already on my feet though, and more than a little pissed off. It helped dull the pain enough to glance down at myself, revealing that there was no blood, and only a few holes in the uniform. Then I immediately looked ahead, staring at the surprise in the gunmen's eyes. Though whether from the fact that they'd hurt me or that they hadn't killed me, I didn't know.
Deciding not to give those bastards another chance, I charged forward, grabbing both of the shooters at once while they were struggling to reload. And without a moment's hesitation, I lightly tossed them to the side, watching as their guns were dropped before they hit.
"We've got them," a voice called out, just as a security guard from the bank came forward with a gun.
Just as I was beginning to feel a little pleased with myself, in spite of how sore I was, Praxis reminded me, "Don't forget the other two!"
I turned to see the final two gunmen tearing away in their getaway car, the passenger hanging half out of the window with a machine gun in his hand. A bigger and nastier looking one than the uzis I'd already been hit with.
"Damn," I growled as I shot to the air, wondering how the hell I'd gotten myself in that situation.
"We're strong enough to stop the car," Praxis told me fiercely.
That was enough for me and I dropped down in front of the car, grimacing as I reached out for the front and lifted. To my surprise, the car actually flipped over, then went sliding down the road with a trail of sparks until it was stopped by a parked car.
For a moment, I just stood there and stared at the upside down car, hardly able to believe that I'd done that with very little effort. Then I shook myself out of it and rushed to the car, tearing off the door with incredible ease and pulled dazed but apparently not too injured driver out, though a single glance revealed that the passenger wasn't quite as lucky.
"No seat belt," Praxis commented, sounding almost casual.
Just then, the passenger moved, revealing that he was still alive. For how long though, I had no idea. But with the sound of the cop cars and ambulances coming close, I knew that they would be a lot better suited to handle whatever else was going on. All of the gunmen had been taken care of.
With that, I flew back into the air, grimacing slightly as I did so from the injuries that the gunmen had given me. This time, I didn't take my time getting back to the apartment, though I was still careful not to be seen. That ability to go through walls certainly came in handy for that.
Almost the instant that I was safely inside, Praxis screamed, "What the hell kind of idiot are you?" Then before I could decide whether to be insulted or not, she added, "I'm not invulnerable!"
"Now you tell me," I growled back. We were both silent for a moment before said, "It might be a good idea if you told me exactly what all of your powers are then."
"You're right," Praxis admitted thoughtfully. "As you know, I'm extremely strong. I'm very tough...but NOT invulnerable."
I snorted, "Found that out the hard way." I rubbed at my side, wondering how bad it was, though it didn't hurt as much as it did at first.
"I'm tough enough that small guns can just leave bruises," she told me, "but if what they used on us was any bigger or much closer, it would have done some serious damage." Her voice was serious. "Fortunately, I also heal extremely fast. The bruises should be completely gone within an hour at most."
"Sounds useful," I commented calmly, thinking that I certainly could have used something like that in the past. "Does it help get over hangovers?"
"I don't get hangovers," she almost chuckled. "Then again, this body can't really get drunk either. Part of the healing thing is that it keeps me in excellent condition, no matter what. I don't even have to eat or...relieve myself as often as most people."
I nodded my head at that, wishing at the same time that I could see her while talking. It was kind of spooky talking to a disembodies voice, or at least one in my head. However, I was beginning to get used to it.
Praxis continued, "Of course, you know about the flying and intangibility. I can only ghost for a few seconds, but it's enough to go through walls...as well as protect me from people shooting at me." There was a bit of an edge to that last.
"Pretty impressive," I admitted. "Anything more?"
"Actually," Praxis responded slowly, almost as if she was trying to decide how much to tell me. "I can also generate blasts of energy, though it drains me a bit."
That really caught my interest and I muttered, "Wow," eager to try that out for myself. I couldn't help wondering what it would be like.
After this, I went over to sit down, grimacing slightly from all the bruises on my front and side. Somehow, I didn't think that I'd ever make that kind of mistake again. I just hoped that she was right about healing fast.
"You know," Praxis said, "There is a small ritual that I have to help me relax whenever I return home from something like that."
"Oh," I encouraged.
I could almost feel a mental shrug as Praxis stated, "I just smoke a cigarette."
"Oh," I started in slight surprise, "I wouldn't have taken you for a smoker."
She just laughed slightly at that, "I'm not a regular smoker and couldn't get hooked on them if I tried. My physiology prevents that, as well as any harmful effects from smoking. But it is something I occasionally do to relax when I'm alone. And I would like to have one now."
"Sorry," I told her with a grin, "but I don't smoke."
There was a moment of silence, then in a harder voice, she said, "I want a cigarette."
With a scowl, I muttered, "You already said that. And I said that I don't smoke."
"You can for me," she told me, though I again refused, beginning to get annoyed. Then we argued back and forth for a minute, each of us getting more and more stubborn. Finally, she said, "I can make you."
"I'd like to see that," I snorted. She'd already told me that she couldn't move anything, and if she hadn't done so in the day since our incident, I didn't see any reason why she'd be able to now.
At this point, I already knew that this wasn't really about the cigarette. She didn't want it that bad. No, this was just a way for her to prove to me...and probably herself, that she still had some control.
Just then, Praxis started to sing, "A million bottles of beer on the wall...."
I had no idea how long she continued to sing, though I tried ignoring her at first, confident in the knowledge that she couldn't make me do anything. After the first two dozen bottles, I was snapping at her to stop the annoying singing that I couldn't even block out by covering my ears. Not when it was inside my very head. And by the time she'd gone through several hundred bottles, I was ready to do almost anything to get her to stop. Even do what she wanted.
"They're in my purse," Praxis told me a big smugly. I blinked at that, not having seen a purse. "My belt buckle," she added, a hint of annoyance in her voice. "It's the access to a pocket of folded space that I use to store things in, like spare clothes, medical supplies and food. Hence, I call it my purse."
That still hadn't explained everything, but after I touched the belt buckle and followed her directions, a pack of cigarettes and a lighter appeared in my hand where I'd been touching it. I frowned and pulled out a cigarette, deciding to just get this over with so I wouldn't have to listen to her singing again.
"And I thought you were supposed to be a role model," I told her as I lit the cigarette and took a puff.
Praxis just laughed, "I never claimed to be one."
While I smoked the cigarette, Praxis seemed to be in a better mood. However, I knew that it wasn't from the cigarette but from the fact that she'd gotten what she wanted. That she still had some influence, even when she couldn't move even so much as a finger.
And once I was finished, I slowly stripped off my clothes, wincing slightly as I did so. Praxis had been right and I was covered with bruises where the bullets had hit me, which was still a complete miracle considering that I'd been shot with machine guns. Fortunately though, they already seemed to be half healed.
I just shook my head in disbelief, then closed my eyes and leaned back into Praxis' chair, wondering just what the hell I had gotten myself into. And if I would ever get out.
It was about dinner time, and fortunately, all of the bruises had already healed. There wasn't even a sign that they had ever been there, much to my intense relief. That ability to heal was something that I was sure that I'd sorely miss once I got back to normal. It sure would have been useful when I was growing up.
"Is there anything to eat around here?" I asked Praxis, realizing that not only was it dinner time, but that I hadn't eaten a thing since I'd ended up in her body. Oddly enough, I didn't really feel all that hungry. Certainly not like I would have expected after not eating anything all day. Then I remembered her comments about not needing to eat quite as often as a normal person.
"Check the kitchen," Praxis told me, "There are leftovers in the fridge if you want."
With a shrug, I went and took a look, finding that the leftovers she'd mentioned were pizza, Chinese food and what looked like Hamburger Helper...as well as a few unidentifiables. It was obvious that she wasn't real big on cooking. Within a few minutes though, I found some ingredients in the fridge and various cupboards then went to work.
After a few minutes, Praxis hesitantly asked, "What are you making?"
"Wait and see," I told her as I continued cooking my own dinner, noticing for the first time that her voice sounded a little different than it had at first. For one, it sounded softer, almost like someone else entirely.
When I was finally finished, I smiled at the appealing smell and took my first bite. "Not too shabby," I told myself.
"That's good," Praxis announced, almost sounding surprised. And after I'd eaten most of it, she said, "This is really good. Where did you learn to cook like this?"
I smiled, then gave a shrug. "Just something I picked up. It was either learn to cook or eat at Burger King every day."
Once I was finished eating, I took all of the dishes to the sink for cleaning, but quickly discovered a problem. Water sprayed out from the base of the faucet, getting me a little wet before I got it shut back off. I could hear Praxis actually laughing a little inside of my head.
"I should have warned you about that," she said. "It's needed to be fixed for about a week now." Then almost as an afterthought, she added, "I'll have to call the plumber when we get this fixed..."
For a moment, I just looked at the faucet, absently wiping the water from my face. Then I asked, "Do you have any tools around here?"
After a few seconds, she responded, "There's a box in the cupboard." She told me which one and a minute later I had it sitting in open in front of me on the counter. "I'm afraid that I don't have very many.""
"Should be what I need," I told her as I went to work on the sink. Then I grinned as I pulled out the duct tape, "This will fix anything..."
It didn't take me very long to fix the problem, and when I was finished, Praxis seemed quite impressed. I guessed that between dinner and the sink, I was making a much better impression than I had before. I was just thankful that I was able to do something I knew how to again, even if I did have to be careful of my new strength. It felt comforting.
"I used to be the handyman for an apartment complex," I told her with a smile.
For the rest of the night, we were on slightly more friendly terms, though neither of us said much. We just watched TV and argued over the shows, then I went to bed, yet again reminded of the fact that I didn't have the slightest privacy. And though I was turned on by the sight of my changed body, even beginning to feel a little wet down below, I couldn't explore that. Not with her right there, watching and feeling everything. It was a relief when sleep finally came.
There was a thrill of excitement as I flew through the air, still having a hard time believing that I was able to do so. Then again, that was nothing compared to what else had happened to me, to being in a woman's body and having those other super powers as well. Hell, I could bench press a tank now so flying shouldn't really seem that strange. Still, it was exciting as hell, giving me a strange sense of freedom from the laws of gravity.
For the first part, my morning had been about the same as the one before it, though it was still extremely strange for me. Waking up in a woman's body for a second time hadn't been nearly as much of a shock, though I didn't think I'd ever get used to it, and hoped that I'd never have to.
At the moment though, I was flying back towards the apartment, having spent the rest of the morning busy playing 'hero' on Praxis' insistence. Well, to be honest, when I saw some lady being mugged, I couldn't help but save her. My conscience wouldn't let me do anything else, even if I wasn't the hero I appeared. After that had come a store burglary and then some crazy drunk who was trying to run people over. It seemed that there was one thing after another for me to do, though fortunately they went a lot better than the bank robbery the day before. And when I'd been shot at, I even remembered to turn intangible.
"Not bad," Praxis told me almost reluctantly when her apartment was in sight, though she added, "For a beginner."
"Well I don't plan on making a career of it," I responded sharply, wishing that we'd made more progress...or even any progress on getting back to normal. However, she had been extremely insistent that we couldn't go to some scientists for help. Not that I knew of any personally whom I thought might be able to get us back to normal.
A minute later, we were back inside her apartment and I let out a sigh of relief. It was a little embarrassing to be seen out in public looking like a hot chick. The way the men looked at me... It was definitely going to take some getting used to, but then again, I had absolutely no intention of doing so.
"Have you thought of anything?" I asked Praxis, hoping that the fresh air had helped her think like she'd suggested it might when we originally went out.
There was a sigh inside my head, then an, "I'm afraid not." However, I had a hunch that there was something she wasn't saying.
"Are you sure?" I encouraged, though she quickly repeated that she was. "All right," I sighed, sitting down and wondering what I'd ever done to deserve something like my current condition.
Just then, Praxis went, "Ahem, aren't you forgetting something?"
With a sigh, I responded, "Like what?"
"A hundred bottles of beer on the wall," she started singing, sounding more amused than anything else.
I groaned at that and pulled the cigarettes out of her purse, not wanting to go through that whole thing again. I'd had more than my share of that song the night before. A moment later, I'd lit the cigarette and taken a drag, blowing the smoke out with a, "Satisfied?"
There were a few seconds of silence before Praxis responded, "I'm sorry." She sounded sincere, as well as a little embarrassed. "You don't have to. That's just my routine, and just because I like having an occasional cigarette doesn't mean I'm going to make you."
I was a little startled by her comments, pausing for a moment before asking, "Then what about yesterday?"
"That was yesterday," she told me, sounding just a little embarrassed but also a bit defiant.
Deciding to drop that line of conversation, I took another drag from the cigarette, just to please her, then snubbed the whole thing out. At least I knew that I didn't have to worry about getting cancer from the damn things while in her body.
With that, I got up and looked down at myself, shaking my head slightly at the alien sight as well as the odd balance of my new body. I couldn't believe that I'd actually had that body, with the vagina and tits for two days already. At least there were a good set of muscles that came with them.
I silently cursed to myself, being careful not to 'send' those thoughts to Praxis. Fortunately, it seemed that I had to actually say something aloud or think it specifically towards her for her to hear it. Or at least that's the way it seemed since she didn't respond to some of my more personal thoughts when I was sure she would have if she'd heard them.
As I stared at my...or was that her tits, I had to force my eyes away. They looked so amazing that I wanted to tear off my clothes and stare at them, to feel them up a bit. I was extremely curious about how they felt, as well as my changed crotch. However, I couldn't satisfy my curiosity or examine my changed body much at all with Praxis right there the whole time. It was frustrating as hell knowing that I didn't have any privacy. None in the least.
Since I didn't have anything else to do at the moment, and I sure as hell couldn't just go to the movie looking like I did, I started to wander around Praxis' apartment. It seemed so ordinary and plain for someone like her. There were even several pictures hanging on the wall, as well as sitting on one of the counters.
I picked up one picture of a cute young woman with nearly shoulder length black hair, then asked Praxis, "Is this your sister?"
"No," Praxis responded slowly. There was a few seconds pause before she quietly added, "That's me."
"You?" I gasped in surprise, taking a closer look at the woman in the picture. Other than the hair color, she didn't look anything like Praxis. She not only looked a lot shorter, but a whole lot less developed, both in curves and muscles. "But you don't look anything like that."
"Not now," she half snapped, sounding more embarrassed than anything. "I'm a skitzomorph. My powers let me change back and forth between my normal self and my Praxis self."
All I was able to say was, "Oh."
My mind was swirling though as it suddenly dawned on me for the first time that Praxis wasn't just a costumed hero...she was a real person. She had a real life and everything, which I knew nothing about but was stuck in the middle of. I suddenly felt guilty at that. For not even thinking of her as a real person.
Then I gently set her picture back where I'd found it and took another look at my transformed body, frowning as another realization came. One which filled me with embarrassment and guilt. I wasn't the only one who'd lost their privacy. So had she, and I hadn't even stopped to consider that until just then. But there I was, in the middle of her house and looking through her private things, and then some. That was nothing though, and I knew it. The truth was, I was also in her body...in her most intimate of places without her having any say so. I couldn't help but feeling a little dirty at that.
I sighed and looked down at myself with those thoughts, staring at my awesome rack and blushing. I quickly pulled my eyes away, feeling embarrassed. Although I was still burning with curiosity to explore my changed body, now it made me feel like a voyeur. Like a damn peeping Tom.
"I wouldn't have guessed," I said, more to say something than anything else.
"Most wouldn't," she responded, sounding both a little tired and a little amused. "Which is good because it let me have my personal life too." She sighed, "I just don't have any of my powers when I'm in my real form. Only when I'm Praxis."
It was strange thinking of that cute girl in the picture as Praxis. That seemed so contrary to everything else that I'd ever heard about Praxis, though I guessed it made sense. She had to come from somewhere and why not from a normal person? Still, it wasn't going to be easy thinking of the statuesque heroine who's body I now occupied as ever having been normal.
All I could do was nod my head and say, "Sounds convenient."
She was silent for a few seconds before she said, "Since we're stuck with each other for now..." There was a pause, "You can call me Kelly." Then she rushed out, sounding a little embarrassed, "It's my real name."
That pronouncement stunned me and I blinked for a moment in surprise. "Oh," I started.
"It's not like you couldn't have read it off my mail," she mumbled, sounding a little embarrassed. "But don't you EVER tell anyone."
"I'm T.J." I blurted out, realizing that I hadn't really introduced myself to her before. "T.J. Sawyer."
Praxis...Kelly said, "It's nice to meet you...T.J."
"Likewise...Kelly," I responded, testing her name.
After taking another long look at Kelly's picture, I started to turn and walk away. A moment later though, a thought occurred me and I commented, "You said that you could change back and forth from normal to this..." I gestured down at myself.
"Yeah," Kelly responded.
"Can you show me how?" I asked her.
I had to admit, I was curious about how Kelly looked in real life and not just from the photo. However, that wasn't the reason that I asked. There was no way in hell that I could just walk to the grocery store as Praxis or go do anything normal. But as Kelly... Well, I wasn't looking forward to the idea, but it would certainly give me a little more freedom in public than being Praxis. I smiled at the realization that losing the super powers would give me freedom. It seemed rather ironic.
Again, Kelly paused for a few seconds, then she agreed for the same reason...that I'd be able to go out without attracting so much attention. "It's like a switch in my head," she explained, "I just sort of mentally flipped it and I'd change."
With a sigh, I thought that it wasn't much to go on but tried to do as she described. I quickly discovered though that it was a lot easier said than done. For one, I didn't really have much to go on, or to relate it to. However, after about a minute, I was able to focus on a mental switch and 'flip' it.
"I feel something," I gasped as a strong tingling ran through my entire body.
My whole body felt sort of warm inside and there was a flash of red light. The light seemed to last a few seconds, and the instant it was gone, I could tell that something...that everything had changed. Every sensation screamed at me that I was no longer Praxis. And to my surprise, I felt...normal.
Suddenly my voice cried out, "I can move again," though I hadn't said anything. And at the same time, my hands moved to my once again flat chest...without my willing them to. Then a moment later, I found myself looking down, staring at my old body...dressed in my security guard clothes, unable to turn my head or eyes away at all. Again without my willing it, my voice blurted out, "Holy shit!"
I struggled to move myself, to no effect. And then to stop moving myself when my body started running to the wall. However, I had no control over my movements whatsoever. It was obvious that Praxis and I had traded places, as well as forms. Now instead of me being in her body with her the helpless one inside, she was in my body with me being trapped.
"Oh shit," I gasped...or at least thought since it didn't make it to my lips. Those were no longer mine to control at the moment.
A moment later, I found myself standing in front of a mirror, staring at my familiar reflection but with my hands grabbing at my body, without my control. They lingered for more than a moment on my crotch, making me feel embarrassed, and a little violated. Was that how Kelly felt?
"T.J.?" Kelly asked, cocking my head to the side. "Are you still in there?"
"Yeah," I grumbled, not at all happy with the situation. It was kind of cool to have my body back, but not to be a helpless passenger inside of it. "I guess we traded places."
My head nodded, "It sure looks that way." It was strange hearing my voice talking to me that way, though at the same time, I could sort of hear Kelly's mental voice in it at the same time. "This was not what I expected." She sounded a little embarrassed at that, as well as excited. And it was just her mental voice as she hadn't spoken aloud.
I cursed silently, frustrated at my inability to move. Then I tried 'flipping' the mental switch again to no effect. It was for no better description...out of my reach. Obviously Kelly was the one to control that now as well. Now she was the one in control while I was helpless. I didn't like it at all, but sure as hell couldn't complain about that to her. Not after she'd been like that for two days.
"I can't believe I'm a guy," Kelly gasped, examining my body a little more closely. "But at least I can move again."
At least someone can, I thought to myself a little bitterly. Then feeling a little guilty for my selfishness, I said, "I know I felt strange being a woman."
"Oh," Kelly responded slowly, my eyes going a little bigger in the mirror's reflection. "I'm sorry that you have to be stuck like that now."
With a mental shrug, I said, "Once we get a separated, we'll both be free of this."
Kelly nodded my head, looking thoughtful. "Then I guess I had better get looking."
With that, she went into another room that had been set up as an office. There was a curve around computer desk with a lot of impressive looking equipment. As she sat down, she grunted and had to adjust the height of the chair as it was too low for my body. "I'm only 5'4," she grumbled in embarrassment, "and I never mess with this when I'm Praxis."
"Pretty nice setup," I commented, wondering exactly what she was up to.
I could feel my face muscles smiling, "Thanks. I'm a freelance programmer and get the perk of working from home." Then she gave a sigh, "Saving the world just doesn't pay the bills."
We both laughed at that, then I told her, "You must be pretty good then."
Kelly chuckled, "Oh, I am. I used to be a computer nerd back in school and even did a bit of hacking before I went professional."
That was another thing that I wouldn't have expected. Kelly quickly proved how good she was though as she was soon typing away, zooming through screens and programs that I didn't even know existed. It didn't take me long to get lost, but at least I could tell that she was doing some sort of search. And some of the stuff she was doing suggested that she might not have given up hacking quite as much as she'd suggested.
After a little while, Kelly mumbled, "Damn I'm slow. I'm not used to working with bigger hands." She certainly didn't seem slow to me though. I didn't think that my fingers had ever moved that fast.
We spent the rest of the day in front of the computer, with Kelly working so intently that I wondered if she even remembered me. I was quickly bored, though I couldn't exactly leave her there while I went and watched TV. It was frustrating to just sit there while she worked, knowing that I couldn't do anything to help, and not just because I was just a passenger.
Kelly eventually leaned back and rubbed at my...her...our eyes, with me feeling every muscle ache that she did from sitting there so long. It was obvious though that she was disappointed, as was I.
"Damn," Kelly exclaimed, "Nothing."
Even after searching for everything she could find about quantum mechanics, the quantum reactor and anything about merging, she still hadn't found anything that seemed applicable to us, or at least of any real use. And that was after searching through some places that I was pretty sure she shouldn't have been in. It seemed as though it was a complete waste of time, though Kelly assured me that it hadn't been. Not completely at any rate.
"We did learn a little bit," she told me, standing up and stretching. "Oh...as you guys say, I've got to piss like a racehorse." She sounded a little embarrassed at that, even though she was trying to be lighthearted.
A minute later, we were in the bathroom and she was taking a leak in my body, seeming fascinated by my male equipment. It was quite embarrassing for me to be in that position, with my privacy so invaded, though I knew that it was only a turnabout from what she'd experienced. At least she seemed a bit self conscious about it while taking care of business.
The rest of the night, what little there was left of it, passed by pretty quickly. And eventually, we went to bed. Unfortunately, I found that another problem with being unable to move was that I couldn't roll over or change positions to get more comfortable.
It was late morning, nearly noon when Kelly and I stepped through the door of my apartment. She took a look around, taking in the mess that was the trademark of a true bachelor. I couldn't help feeling a little embarrassed at that, though was at least pleased that I didn't leave clothes all over the floor of dishes piled in the sink. I might be a bachelor, but I wasn't a complete slob.
"So this is your home," Kelly said aloud as she started to look around. "Not too bad."
"Thanks," I mumbled in response, "I think."
Kelly had come to my home at my suggestion. When we'd gotten up that morning, we both realized the obvious fact that I didn't have any spare clothes and none of hers would fit my body. We both knew that it could be a bit of a problem, though the solution had been pretty obvious as well. There were plenty of clothes for my body, back at my place.
Stopping in front of a picture on the wall, Kelly asked, "Is this your family?"
"Yeah," I sighed, wondering what they'd think about my situation, "My parents."
With a nod of her head, Kelly asked, "Do they live around here?"
I shook...or at least tried to shake my head back. "No. They're on the other side of the country so I don't get to see them often."
Then, while Kelly was getting the clothes, I started telling her about my family. It was mostly small talk, but it felt a little nice to have someone to talk to. After all, she was a captive audience and I was really warming up to her. Once she'd gotten over some of her earlier attitude, she seemed to be pretty nice, as well as a good listener.
A short while later, Kelly walked out of my place with a gym bag full of my clothes and a few other personal belongings of mine that I'd asked her to grab. I would have preferred staying at my place until we got this straightened out, but she was the one driving. Both literally and figuratively.
Our drive back wasn't too unpleasant as Kelly and I talked to each other a little more openly than before. She was opening up to me a bit more as well and it was almost beginning to seem as if we were good friends rather than two strangers fused together. Then again, being friends in our condition certainly made it a little more tolerable.
Suddenly there was the loud roaring of sirens, just as a fire engine and cop car both came rushing past us. Neither of us thought much about it until another fire engine came by less than a minute later. It was only then that Kelly looked around and pointed out the pillar of smoke that was billowing into the air a short distance away.
"A fire!" Kelly cried out, moving the car close enough so that we could see a large building being consumed by flames. For a few seconds, we just stared out at the building, barely being able to see it from where we were, but it was clearly in bad condition. Then she gasped, "There are people in there..."
Kelly jumped out of the car, and then without warning, I felt a warmth flood through my body, followed by a glow of red light. A moment later, I was filled with an unbelievable feeling of health, strength and power. I had been transformed into Praxis again. And though I never would have thought it possible, I was actually thankful that I was in a woman's body again, feeling so supercharged and even more importantly, able to move again.
"We've got to help them," Kelly cried out in my mind, "Please. There are people inside..."
I was still a bit stunned by the unexpected transformation, but gulped at Kelly's plea. She was right. Though I was no hero, I couldn't just stand by and let people die when I had the power to do something about it. And before I'd even made the decision consciously, I was already in the air and rushing towards the building, realizing in amazement that Kelly hadn't even hesitated at giving control back to me.
As I got closer, I was horrified to realize that it was an apartment building that was on fire. There were people gathered around below, already pulled out by the firemen. Even more were being pulled out, though I didn't think that the firemen would be able to do much more at the rate it was it was going.
"Shit," I grimaced as I saw several people on the roof, waving for help. Help that wouldn't arrive in time unless...
Knowing what I had to do, I dove straight for the roof and grabbed two of the people, asking another woman to hold on around my neck. It was extremely uncomfortable, and though I wouldn't have managed to even lift them all in my real body, I had no problem at all in taking to the air with all three and carrying them to the safety of the ground below. And once they were dropped off, I went back for another batch.
It didn't take me long to get all of the people off of the roof, but my work still wasn't finished. I flew up to several windows and carried those people down as well until I couldn't see any more.
"There are still people inside," one fireman called out.
"You've got to...," Kelly started, her voice filled with urgency. However, that was unnecessary as I was already rushing inside, flying straight through the wall to get there.
There were flames all over the place, though enough of the floor was around for me to have no problems walking. It was hard seeing through the smoke or breathing, but I grimaced and went further in, bolstered by the knowledge that I could get out quickly if I had to.
Then I heard it. A child screaming out in panic. I followed the crying though several doors and found a little girl of about 7, hiding in her bathtub, with it half filled with water, though her clothes were all on. A single glance was enough to tell me that she'd been trying to protect herself from the fire, though I knew it wouldn't do any good against something as bad as that.
"I'm here to help you," I told her gently, holding out my arm.
The girl just looked up at me, her eyes filled with fear...and hope. "Who are you?" the girl asked, hesitating before coming out of the relative safety of the bathtub.
"I'm..." I hesitated, then said, "A friend."
"Remember," Kelly blurted into my mind, "at the moment, YOU are Praxis!"
I didn't have time for that though as I took the girl, and once I had her tightly in my arms, I took a deep breath and burst back out of the bathroom, into the living room which was halfway filled with flames. There was no time for that though as I tore out the window with ease and then carried the girl out, taking her to the safety of the ground as well.
Again, I returned to the building, cringing at the heat and wondering how the firemen could possibly stand it. They weren't nearly as tough as I now was, and even I could feel it. I couldn't help but feeling respect for any normal man or woman who could bring themselves to face something like that without the benefit of my borrowed powers.
Several minutes later, the firemen announced that everyone had been cleared from the building, except for a couple of them which I helped get out. It was a strange experience to pull two firemen out of a burning building, just before part of it collapsed where they'd been.
"Thanks lady," one of the firefighters told me once we were all safe outside, "I'm pretty sure that's everyone."
"You did it," Kelly exclaimed in relief from the inside of my head. I just smiled faintly in response, not sure what to think about that.
Then suddenly, as if to prove the fireman wrong, there was an explosion from one of the windows about 4 stories up and a human figure came flying out. Before I was fully able to absorb what I was seeing, the figure hit the ground and remained standing there, apparently unharmed. It turned slightly, giving me a good look at a man in silver and blue metallic armor.
"Oh shit," Kelly gasped. "That's Vicious. He's a criminal mercenary. Usually works as a henchman."
I gulped weakly as I whispered, "A super villain?" When Kelly gave her affirmative, I asked, "You've fought him before?"
She quickly responded with a, "No. But I have read about him." Kelly hesitated for a moment while Vicious slowly turned to look around, "If I remember right, his power armor increases his physical abilities, especially his speed. And I think he has some sort of energy blades too."
Suddenly I gasped in realization, exclaiming to the armored villain, "You started this fire!"
"What?" Vicious responded, his features unreadable through the full head helmet he wore. However, he sounded a bit pissed. "Why the hell would I burn down my own apartment? I don't know what the fuck started this."
I was a little startled by that response, never having thought that maybe a super villain might have lived in a normal apartment. Nor that they might have to go through the same things as normal people
But before I could think of what to say in response, Vicious growled, "But who cares if I lost almost everything. Once I bag you bitch, the price on your head will more than make up for it."
"What?" I started, unable to finish before Vicious made his move.
The villain came at me so fast that I barely turned intangible before he went though me. Then he paused for a moment, revealing the glowing energy blades that came out from each of his wrists, looking sort of like two glowing red katars. Long and vicious looking ones.
"Fucking bitch," Vicious spat, swinging one of his hands and cutting through a light pole with one of his blades as though it were nothing. The pole toppled to the ground with a clatter.
My heart raced at the sight and I was not at all thrilled about the idea of having this super villain in front of me. And at the same time, there were a lot of fire fighters and civilians gathered nearby as well. I definitely didn't like the situation.
Suddenly Vicious charged at me again, this time even faster than before. Again, I managed to dodge, but just barely. The villain screamed and lashed out with his blades, tearing a massive gash into the side of a fire engine. People ran to get away from him.
"If I can't get you," Vicious growled in a low, deadly tone, "I'll just have to take my frustrations out on THEM!" And with that, he charged straight at the people who were running away.
"NO!" I screamed, suddenly terrified of what he was going to do and taking to the air to go towards him.
"He's going to slow," Kelly cried in my head, "It's a tri..."
But before she could finish her warning, Vicious suddenly changed direction and jumped straight at me, his energy blades extended. I wasn't fast enough to get out of his way completely as one of the blades caught my thigh, making me scream in pain. It hurt like hell, but I didn't have time to deal with that as he immediately bounced off of the ground and came at me again.
"Damn!" Kelly and I both growled at once, wincing from the shared pain that we felt.
Vicious came at me again, jumping at much higher than any Olympic athlete could ever hope to. He ran along the ground at unbelievable speeds to gain even more momentum, bouncing off walls and jumping even more. He was moving so fast that I was having a hard time keeping up with where he was at.
"The bastard's playing with us," I hissed to Kelly.
"No," she responded bitterly, "He's trying to confuse us....to distract us." I didn't have much to say about that though as it was working.
I made several attempts to chase after and catch him, to little effect. Vicious was just too fast and in spite of what Kelly said, I thought that he was just playing with us. Sooner or later, he was going to jump back and cut us right in half. Kelly and I both wanted to get separated, but not like that.
Just then, I had an idea and started to back off a bit, gaining a bit more height and hoping that it would work. "You said that you have some sort of energy blasts," I said to Kelly. "What do you do? Shoot them out of your eyes?"
Kelly seemed confused at first, then gasped, "Oh. It's hard to explain..." However, she quickly started to do just that while I listened intently.
"Oh bitch," Vicious called out, "I'm through playing with you now..."
"Told you so," I mumbled.
But with that, I concentrated on feeling the power in my body, shifting it as I held out my hands until blasts of red energy shot out of each of them. Two blasts of energy hit the ground somewhere in front of Vicious, startling him as he tripped over the ruined road and nearly fell onto his face.
"Damn," I cursed, realizing that aiming wasn't quite as easy as I thought.
I tried another blast of energy, hitting the ground beside Vicious just as he was regaining his balance. The ground melted where the blast had hit and he jumped to the side, still a bit off balance. I grinned, realizing that this might work in spite of my bad aim.
However, before I realized it, Vicious had not only regained his balance, but jumped straight up at me again. He couldn't quite reach me, though he came extremely close. Too close. And after he ran up the wall of a building and jumped from there, he went straight through my body...Kelly warned me in time to turn intangible.
Seeming to be tired of coming after me, Vicious charged straight at more civilians again, and this time I had the impression that he really was going to tear into them. Just to spite me if nothing else.
"NO!" Kelly screamed inside my head.
"Shut up!" I growled, not needing the distraction as I concentrated as hard as I could, letting loose another pair of blasts.
This time, my blasts hit Vicious, stopping him before he could reach any of the fleeing people. He collapsed to the ground, his armor badly charred and melted. All I could do was stare at him as I came to the ground, dreadfully afraid that I'd killed him. I didn't want to do that.
"Oh shit," I gasped as I hurried to Vicious, staring at the badly damaged armor, then turning him over. I couldn't tell how bad he was with the helmet on so started to take it off.
Vicious let out a gasp of "Fucking bitch," proving that he was still alive. However, he was in no condition to keep fighting, or at least his armor wasn't. I made sure of that by tearing most of the rest of it off of him, leaving him with little but his boxers when the cops came over to take him.
"You did good," Kelly told me, sounding a bit embarrassed. "Thanks."
I just grunted, feeling a bit tired. Those energy blasts had taken a little bit out of me. Still, I still had plenty to do what had to and took back to the air, eager to get away now that I wasn't needed.
Once in the air though, I found that I had a small problem. I could easily fly back to Kelly's apartment and was going to do so at first, though unfortunately her car was still on the side of the street a short distance away. I couldn't just leave it there, but it wouldn't look right for anyone to see Praxis driving a car either. The solution was obvious, but I didn't want to give up being in control again. I didn't want to go back to being just a passenger in my own body. However, the memory of Kelly giving up control without hesitation made me feel guilty, and a minute later, I landed by the car and 'flipped' the mental switch in my head to give her control again.
When Kelly and I arrived back at her apartment, the first thing that she did was toss my gym bag off to the corner, then toss herself onto the couch with a loud sigh. She remained motionless for several minutes before one hand moved to my crotch and rested there.
"It's so weird being a guy," she sighed, closing her eyes for a moment.
I snorted at that, responding, "It's not quite normal for me to be a girl either."
"I know," she answered. "I know."
As she sat back up, I said, "Let me guess...you're going to have a smoke." After all, she'd been quite clear about it being one of her traditions after something like that crazed super villain we'd run into.
"What?" Kelly responded, sounding a little surprised. Then she added, "No. I don't smoke in my own body and I'm not going to do it in yours."
That startled me a little and I responded with a repeat of her, "What?"
Kelly giggled slightly, sounding strange coming from my throat. "I guess that would sound a bit odd after..." She paused for a moment, then continued, "Oddly enough, I've always been a bit of an anti-smoker, with all of the health problems and all. But when I became Praxis..." There was another pause, this time just a little longer and seeming more thoughtful. "Well, when I became Praxis, it was like I was suddenly a whole new person. I could be things...do things I could never do before. So, I sort of took on a whole new persona, becoming what I wanted to be. The occasional cigarette is just a part of that since I don't have to worry about any of the health problems as Praxis."
For a moment, I just remained silent, absorbing what she'd just told me. I guessed that it did make sense in a strange sort of way. And I had noticed that 'Kelly' was a bit nicer and more relaxed than her 'Praxis' persona. In fact, I rather preferred the real her to the super heroine version.
"Wow," I finally responded, not sure what to say to such a personal revelation."
There was a long minute of silence before Kelly got up and exclaimed, "Since I've got some clothes that will fit now... I think it's time for a bath."
Kelly took her time cleaning up and I couldn't help noticing the way her eyes kept lingering on my naked body, obviously just as curious about mine as I was about hers. I certainly couldn't blame her, though it was a bit embarrassing. It was yet another example of the lack of privacy on both of our sides, though I could tell that she was trying to keep from intruding on mine too much.
A short while after the bath was through and we were dressed up in clean clothes, Kelly went and sat down in front of her computer again. At first I thought that she was going to do some more searching for us online, but she made no move towards that. Instead, she started clicking through several icons and typing something in. A moment later, I was staring at a picture of Vicious on the computer screen, along with a bunch of writing.
"Whoa," I exclaimed in surprise. "What's that doing on your computer?"
"Well," Kelly responded slowly, her hands typing onto the file, "I put it there."
"Ha ha," was my sarcastic response. "No, really."
She paused at that, leaning back in the chair. I could feel our shared mouth frown slightly. "I've always been interested in those with developed powers," she said slowly, almost thoughtfully, "even before I became Praxis. One of my hobbies was keeping track of most heroes and villains. And once I developed powers of my own..." She smiled at that, "It became a whole lot more practical."
With a mental nod, I said, "I can see how that would be useful. That way you know what to expect..."
"Exactly." Kelly did something more and saved the file before saying, "I've started keeping detailed records on a number of people and their abilities. My old hobby has saved my ass more than a few times."
"Cool," I responded for lack of anything else to really say.
I had to admit though, I was rather curious about some of those files and wouldn't mind looking through them myself. I'd never been any more interested in any of those developed people than anyone else, but having files on some of them right in front of me could be rather fascinating. However, there was one person who's file I really would have liked to have looked at. The one who's body I was currently merged with.
That just reminded me about our lack of progress in finding a solution. I couldn't help wondering why we didn't just go to some professional. Of course I didn't want to deal with the embarrassment of revealing what had happened to someone else any more than Kelly did, but I didn't want to be stuck that way for the rest of my life either. Surely there had to be someone who could help us.
"Maybe we should try to find some outside help," I suggested reluctantly. Nothing else seemed to be working. "Some kind of scientist..."
Kelly responded with an emphatic, "NO!" which surprised me.
I was silent for a moment, feeling the strong emotion that was coming from Kelly. There was obviously something wrong.
"What's wrong?" I asked gently. Then on an inspiration, I asked, "Why don't you want to talk to a scientist?"
There was no response for several seconds, then Kelly sighed. "The last time that I let myself get...involved with a scientist...was very unpleasant." She cringed at that and I could feel the shaking in her voice. It had obviously been pretty bad. "The only good thing that came out of it were my powers."
"Oh," I responded, feeling a little stunned.
"And most of the scientists I've run into have been the mad type," she sighed, "Trying to take over the world and all."
I had to admit that I was beginning to see her point of view. However, I knew that there had to be someone out there who could help us get our bodies uncrossed. "How about that Dr. Power?" I asked on sudden inspiration.
Kelly shook our head thoughtfully, "No. I've never met him and certainly don't know him well enough to trust with something like this."
I let out a sigh at that, feeling rather defeated. "There has to be somebody...," I gasped in frustration.
"No...," Kelly half sighed and half snapped. Then she froze and let out a weak, "Oh...maybe..."
"Maybe what?" I demanded, bursting with hope and curiosity.
She was silent for a moment and I could feel my fists both clenched tightly. Finally, Kelly stood up and moved to the center of her living room, still not saying a word.
"There might be someone," she admitted reluctantly, and I could hear the faint tremors in her voice. "I'm not sure..."
"Do we have much choice?" I asked her gently.
Kelly nodded again and weakly answered, "You're right."
At that, I felt the mental switch being thrown and the changes beginning to burn through my body. I gasped as the red glow hit and a feeling of power suddenly washed through me. It was incredible, even with the fact that I changed gender at the same time.
"Wow," I whispered, stretching myself and glorying in the fact that I was free to move again.
I couldn't resist moving over and taking another look in the mirror. The sight of such a beautiful woman staring back was still startling, though I had to admit that I enjoyed looking at her. I just wished that she wasn't me.
"OK," I said slowly, getting back to business, "Where too?"
A minute later, I was in the sky and flying, with no idea where we were going. Kelly didn't seem willing to tell me where that was, only how to get there. I just followed her directions, hoping that she knew what she was doing. She had me fly further than I had any of the other times, and faster. Faster than I'd even realized I was capable of until she pushed me to keep increasing my speed.
As we flew, I couldn't help thinking about where we were going, about wondering what I would find. Or who. I grew increasingly nervous as we got closer, wondering if I'd made the right decision in pressuring Kelly. And I was growing increasingly nervous about the idea of quite probably revealing our embarrassing problem to someone else. However, I didn't let that slow me down.
Finally, Kelly announced, "Down there." Her mental voice shook a bit with nervousness at those two words.
I looked down at the top of a three story building that didn't fit in with the surrounding area. It was relatively new, whereas everything else looked old and worn down. From a single glance, there was little doubt that most...if not all of the other buildings were condemned. They were probably fit only for homeless people to occupy, for those who were desperate for shelter. However, I didn't see any people around there.
"It's the original Protectorate base," Kelly explained, "Though they only have it as a secondary backup now."
I just stared at the building for a few seconds, a bit in awe of seeing the headquarters of the Protectorate. Or at least their old headquarters. Still, I was wondering why Kelly had brought me there. However, I knew that I certainly wouldn't find out just by staying there, so I landed on the roof.
On the far end of the roof was a large structure with a pair of wide doors, the entry from the main building. Just as I started towards it, the doors slid open, revealing massive crouched figure inside. A moment later, it stepped out and straightened up, revealing itself as a 10 foot tall robot, which looked less than pleasant.
"Oh shit," I whispered to Kelly, feeling intimidated by the sight and momentarily forgetting all of the powers at my disposal.
The metal colossus took another step forward, and I instinctively clenched my fists in readiness to fight. However, it stopped and to my surprise the chest started to open up, revealing something inside. A human something.
A moment later, a girl who looked no older than 10 years old hopped out of the robot, a grin on her lightly freckled face. She had light brown hair done up in pig tails, and she wore a pair of goggles on her forehead. There was a tool belt around her waist.
"Her name's Genius," Kelly blurted inside my head. "She's REALLY smart and can build anything." There was the slightest pause before she added, "She's the one who gave me my belt purse."
"Praxis!" Genius called out with a cheerful grin.
"She was with the Protectorate," Kelly explained with a faint chuckle, "until the child protection people got her kicked out for being underage. Lawyers and beaurocrats are worse than villains. Not that she doesn't still help them from the sidelines."
Just then, someone else stepped out of the open doors. It was a man in his late thirties, with dark brown hair that was sprinkled with gray. The man was wearing a blue cloak with the hood thrown back, revealing that he was wearing all black underneath it. All except for a white square at his neck.
"That's Father Time," Kelly continued, "her legal guardian." She paused for a moment before adding in an almost lecturing voice, "He's a Catholic priest and has developed abilities of limited temporal manipulation. He can speed up or slow down the personal time of himself and others."
Father Time nodded towards me with a faint smile, asking, "What brings you here Praxis?"
Kelly quickly assured me, "We can trust them." Still, she sounded a little nervous.
I nodded slowly at that, deciding that I might as well get it over with quickly. "I'm not Praxis," I blurted out, trying to hide my extreme discomfort.
"What?" Genius asked, looking at me curiously while Father Time looked confused.
With a groan, I flipped the mental switch and changed back to my real body, losing control over it at the same time. Something like that could really make me dislike becoming a guy again.
"I am," Kelly stated firmly in my voice. Her mental voice had changed slightly as well as she slipped into her Praxis persona.
Genius took a step back, absently reaching for a small metal band around her wrist. Somehow, I had a feeling that it was more than just a wrist watch. And probably a whole lot more dangerous.
"In spite of my current appearance," Kelly told her, "I am Praxis. I had an unfortunate accident and need your help."
There was a moment where Genius looked up at us with a blank look, then it turned thoughtful. She glanced over at Father Time and then back at us with a grin, apparently having decided that we weren't a threat. After all, her hand left the metal band on her wrist, letting me give a mental sigh of relief.
"What happened?" Father Time asked, looking at us in concern.
Kelly frowned, looking around quickly. "Do you mind if we come inside before I explain? This is a little...embarrassing." That was putting it mildly.
"We?" Father Time asked with a raised eyebrow.
Genius just grinned, "Come on," waving for us to follow as she literally ran for the door.
Once we were inside and the doors were closed, Kelly began to explain what had happened to us, though she didn't go into much detail. "Now we're fused together," Kelly told them, "but in each other's forms."
"I see," Father Time responded slowly.
However, Genius just gasped, "Can I see?" She came even closer and stared at us closely, "Can you change again?" She almost seemed excited.
"Only if you two promise to keep this quiet," Kelly said, staring at each of them firmly until they'd promised. Then she nodded.
There was a momentary pause, then I felt the changes begin. Kelly had switched control over again. In a flash of red light, I was once again female, and in control. It was of course a relief to move again, though I couldn't help but feeling a bit uncomfortable being around those two at the same time.
"Is that what you wanted?" I asked, feeling odd talking to a little girl who according to Kelly, was a lot smarter than both of us put together.
"And you're really not Praxis?" Genius asked, staring at me with a gleam in her eye. "At least not mentally as you appear to be physiologically."
After I'd agreed that I wasn't really Praxis, Genius made us switch back and forth several more times, while she watched in fascination. When she finally seemed satisfied, she exclaimed, "Tight."
"What we wanted to know though," Kelly said, once again in control as it seemed simpler for her to deal with them, "is can you get us back to normal?"
Genius frowned slightly, then gave a shrug. "I don't think so. I'm good with physics and engineering...not biology." She shrugged again, this time a little more apologetic. "I wouldn't even know where to start with mixed up bodies..."
I groaned at that, as did Kelly. That was NOT what I wanted to hear. And since Genius was about the only scientist that Kelly trusted at all, I wasn't sure that there would be another chance.
Then I had a sudden idea and gasped, "Kelly, tell her that it was caused by a quantum reactor explosion." Kelly frowned, but relayed my message.
"Quantum?" Genius gasped, her eyes gleaming again. "That I know."
Without another word, Genius tore off running down a corridor, leaving me and Kelly to both just stand there wondering what was going on.
Father Time just chuckled, "I believe that means she will try and help you." He started walking in the direction Genius had gone, saying, "I'll show you the way."
A minute later, we stepped into a huge room that was obviously a laboratory of some sort. There were lots of machines everywhere, a large number of them obviously not finished. Bits and pieces covered work benches, as well as hung on walls and shelves. Other parts of it though looked finished, though still no less recognizable.
"You know what this reminds me of?" I asked Kelly as I took a look around the work shop and then the little kid who ran it.
"What's that?" she responded.
"Dexter's Laboratory," I said.
Kelly laughed at that, "You're right..."
Then we looked at Genius again, watching as she ran from one thing to another with an energy that only a child could posses. However, there was obvious method to movement and it quickly became obvious that she was throwing a few final parts into a large machine.
Once she was finished, Genius gestured to a metal platform and some machines, proudly announcing, "This is just like the one I made for Dr. Power." Then she shrugged, "Well, almost."
"She tends to think of machines as pieces of art," Father Time whispered to us with a chuckle. "She doesn't like to repeat her work."
"It's a scanner," Genius explained, her expression turning serious. "I made it as a backup in case something happened to his and don't really use it myself. Hop on."
After Genius scanned us with the machine, she had us trade places and then scanned us again. She even scanned us in the middle of changing back and forth several times. Still, she wasn't satisfied and made some changes to the machine before having us go through the whole thing again. It was quickly getting old, but when Genius finally seemed satisfied with the scans, I was the one left in control.
"So," I asked the little girl, trying to keep the excitement out of my voice, "What did you find?"
"Just a minute," she mumbled, staring intently at a computer screen, "I'm still looking."
"I hate waiting," Kelly mumbled, and I had to agree completely.
I looked around, realizing for the first time that Father Time was gone. He'd apparently slipped out of there while Genius was doing the testing. Not that I blamed him since I wished we could have slipped out of there too. It was pretty embarrassing, though hopefully it would solve our problem.
Eventually, Genius turned away from the computer screen, a deep frown on her young face. She rubbed at her eyes and then looked at us with a frown. "Sorry," she said apologetically.
"Sorry?" I gasped, not liking the sound of that at all. "What exactly does 'sorry' mean?"
Genius gave me an innocent look before responding, "It means feeling apologetic or contrite, though is also used to express sympathy." This time I gave her an annoyed look, and she responded, "Sorry," again, nearly making me want to strangle her.
After glancing back at the screen for a moment, Genus frowned and slowly said, "You guys were mixed up at a quantum level, in a way that I've certainly never seen before." She paused for another moment before looking me in the eye and saying, "You're fused at the deepest level and I have no idea where to start in separating you. If I had records of your individual quantum patterns from before the accident, I might be able to do something. At least I'd have something to work with."
"Shit," Kelly gasped inside my head.
"But for now," Genius shrugged, "I'm afraid that there's not much I can do." She looked embarrassed as well as a bit apologetic, "I'll keep looking into it, but I can't promise anything."
For nearly a minute, we all stood there in silence. I was too shocked at her announcement to think clearly, and I could tell that Kelly was in a similar state of mind. Up until then, we'd been operating under the assumption that it was temporary, that we'd be changed back to normal soon enough. But now...now we were told that we couldn't be. At least not in the foreseeable future.
"She said that she'll keep looking," Kelly said, thought was half hearted. More to try comforting herself than anything else.
Suddenly Genius brightened, a childish grin across her face as she asked, "You guys want some cookies?" She ran to one of her workbenches, calling out, "I've even got some really good root beer too..."
Just as the little girl started grabbing at one of the tools on the bench, she bumped something and what looked like a glass ball rolled off of the other end. But suddenly it froze in midair, with a hand holding it. A hand that had appeared out of nowhere, and belonged to Father Time.
"I saw you dropping it as I came in," Father Time commented as he gently set the ball back on the desk. "You should be more careful with toys."
"Toys?" Genius gasped in horror. "That's a crystal oscillation sphere I was gonna use for my..." Then she paused, looking apologetic. "Thank you. It's kinda fragile."
Father Time just smiled gently, then looked up at Kelly and myself. "I believe that she offered some refreshments..."
"Why not," Kelly mumbled, so I nodded my acceptance.
A few minutes later, we were sitting in a kitchen with a plate of chocolate chip cookies in front of us, as well as several bottles of root beer. Genius seemed oddly happy as she munched down on the cookies, acting no different than any other little girl. It was a strange thing to consider when I thought about the fact that she'd built all of those machines we'd seen before.
"I baked them myself," Father Time commented on the cookies, looking rather proud when I told them they were good. However, my thoughts were not on the cookies. Not by a long shot.
"Is there someone else?" I silently asked Kelly, thinking that Genius might be smart, but she was just a little girl. She could be wrong.
Kelly was silent for a moment and I had to repeat the question before she answered, "No. If she can't do anything...I don't know anyone who could."
I let out a sigh at that, muttering, "Just great."
Father Time looked at me with a sympathetic expression. "I fear that life is not always easy." He frowned, "But the Lord provides solutions as well as challenges. I am sure that he has his reason's for this...though we understand them not."
I frowned at that, not in any mood to hear a lecture about this being God's will. I'd never really been religious before and wasn't about to start now. Rather ironic I thought since I'd long since read the Bible as well as the Koran and other things.
"I know that this must be difficult for you two," Father Time continued gently, putting one hand on mine. "But you must have faith. If not in God, then in Genius." He glanced at the girl who was still snacking, seemingly oblivious to the conversation, "And in yourselves. In your abilities to deal with this challenge."
Without looking too closely at Father Time, I nodded. His words actually did make me feel a little better, though probably not as much as he'd hoped. My...our problems weren't going to be solved with just a few words.
A minute later, I stood up and said, "I think we'd better be going now." There was no disagreement from Kelly, or any other comments.
Father Time stood up as well and held out his hand for me to shake. As I did so, he said, "It was nice meeting you, though I wish it were under other circumstances. I hope that things work out for you two."
"Thank you," I told him, then turned to Genius.
She hoped to her feet, revealing a bit of chocolate smeared on her face. "Good bye," she told me, adding in a quiet voice, "I'll keep looking..."
I nodded at that, giving her a faint smile before leaving. Kelly was silent throughout the whole thing, barely having said a word to me since Genius had told us the problem. Of course, I knew that if she was the one in control, I'd probably be doing about the same thing.
The flight back to the apartment was a long and silent one, with neither me nor Kelly saying much of anything to each other. She didn't even help me with the directions any more than absolutely necessary, which caused me to get lost more than once.
Eventually though, we returned to the apartment and I let out a sigh, shaking my head in disbelief when clenching my fists in frustration. Without a word, I sat down on Kelly's couch, closing my eyes and trying to get a grip on things.
"I think we need something a little stronger than root beer," Kelly finally said. "There's a bottle in my kitchen..."
A minute later, I'd pulled out the bottle of Jim Beam that was in the cupboard, noticing that it had barely been touched. Without a word, I opened it up and took a long drink from the bottle, wincing as it burned a bit going down. I just drank more of it though, and when I finally put the bottle down, I noticed that it was halfway empty. I was slightly startled at that since I didn't feel the least bit drunk, at least until I remembered what Kelly had told me about her power preventing that. Still, that didn't keep me from sitting down in the living room and slowly finishing off the rest of the bottle.
Some time later, the whole bottle was empty and I felt nothing from it. Of course, I knew that I could have shifted over to Kelly and we could have gotten good and drunk that way, but I didn't. The motions were enough for the moment.
Then the time finally came for bed. I stripped off the spandex costume, which I was oddly starting to get used to. Then I paused as I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror, gulping at the sheer magnificence of the woman I saw. She...I was gorgeous. I quickly tore my eyes from the reflection in embarrassment, knowing that Kelly was watching. That was a bit of a mistake as I looked down and found myself staring at the creamy breasts on my chest instead, which wasn't any better.
"Damn," I thought to myself, being careful neither to say it aloud or to project it Kelly.
I flushed in embarrassment, tearing my eyes away from my perfect looking tits, fighting the urge to continue staring at them. To actually touch them and feel their weight in my hands. It was quite a temptation, though one I couldn't give into with Kelly right there...watching everything. Having absolutely no privacy was extremely frustrating.
After crawling in bed, my thoughts continued to be of how hot my body looked. Of the temptation to explore it more. And with those thoughts, I found myself starting to feel...turned on. My nipples hardened and stuck out like tiny erections, while my crotch felt all warm and gooey. I was really getting wet.
God, my body's responses felt so good...but even more tempting. A temptation that I was too embarrassed to deal with. I closed my eyes and clenched my fists, wanting more than anything to start playing with my nipples and fingering myself. I couldn't help wondering how that would feel, nor feeling almost desperate to find out.
Then to my surprise, Kelly gasped, "Do it."
"What?" I squeaked faintly, not sure I believed what I heard.
"I...I feel everything you do," Kelly gasped out in reminder, sounding somewhat embarrassed. "Go ahead...," her voice was husky with desire.
For a moment, I remained froze, a little surprised at what Kelly had just suggested I do. However, before I'd even consciously realized it, my hands had started to act on the approval. One of them moved to my breasts and started cupping one of them firmly, while the other one went between my legs.
"Oh my," I gasped at how sensitive I felt down there. But it felt...good. Very good.
My fingers were rubbing at my lower lips, making me moan slightly at the sensation. A sensation that I never would have imagined possible before. God, I really was wet, soaking my fingers with my new vaginal fluids. And then, one of my fingers slipped inside, making me gasp.
"Wow," I gasped aloud.
"It gets better," Kelly whispered inside my mind.
I barely paid attention to Kelly though as I was too caught up in the new sensations that were running through my body. My hands continued their work and I even pushed my finger further inside of me, amazed at how strange...but nice it felt to have something inside of me like that. I continued to go at myself, feeling it build more and more inside.
Suddenly it erupted from inside of me and I nearly screamed from the explosive orgasm that shook my entire body. It filled every bit of me with a glorious pleasure, greater than any I'd ever received as a man. A thought quickly ran through my mind, wondering whether this was normal for women, or possibly a side effect of that body's developed powers.
Kelly gasped, "Oooh, that was nice."
"Nice," I agreed in a daze.
Still, I continued to masturbate, losing nearly all inhibitions about doing so in my new body. The fact that Kelly was there was no longer a hindrance, but in a strange way...a turn on. It felt a bit more like having sex with someone rather than just playing with myself. I ended up bringing myself to several more orgasms before I finally let myself drift off to sleep...a huge smile of satisfaction on my lips.
Morning was a rather awkward time between Kelly and myself. Then again, that wasn't too surprising considering what had happened the night before. I couldn't help feeling embarrassed and self conscious, and it was pretty obvious that she felt the same as neither of us really said a word to each other. I supposed it was quite similar to the 'morning after' that you heard so much about.
After eating a late breakfast, I started for the bathroom, blushing again at the thought of having masturbated in her body. Of course, I had enjoyed it immensely, but that wasn't the point. The point was the lack of privacy, the way we both intruded on each other's most private moments, whether we wanted to or not.
Just as I turned the water on in the tub, Kelly's voice hesitantly asked, "T.J.?"
"Yeah?" I responded quietly.
There was a moment of silence before Kelly said, "About last night..."
I grimaced faintly, then gave a faint nod. "I'm sorry," I whispered, "We can pretend that it didn't happen."
"But it did happen," she said with a little more force, though no bitterness or anger in her voice. "And I wanted it to happen to." Kelly let out a sigh, then continued a little more quietly, "We can't continue like we have been."
"I know," I responded just as quietly.
After several seconds of more silence between us, Kelly said, "We're together now, whether we like it or not. And it looks like we're going to be this way for the foreseeable future."
All I could do was nod at that since it was perfectly true. But it was a little strange to finally hear it put into words.
"So we have to get past this discomfort," she blurted out in obvious embarrassment. "This isn't just my body anymore," she told me firmly, sounding almost as if she was telling herself that at the same time, "It's yours. And...and you have ever right to treat it as your body."
I took a deep breath, staring thoughtfully at the bath water as I responded, "What's yours is mine...and what's mine is yours."
With out current situation, that was probably truer than with anyone else alive. I'd certainly never heard of two people who had to share their bodies and lives like we did. And there was no way that we really could be selfish and remain sane. The only way that we could deal with our problem was by doing so together.
"Share and share alike," Kelly chuckled in agreement, "That's what I always say."
"At least until we get separated again," I reminded her with a grin. Still, I wasn't quite as hopeful about that eventuality as I had been, though I wasn't about to give up on it either.
"Right," Kelly agreed, apparently of a similar mindset.
Several seconds later, I climbed into the tub and started my bath. However, it was probably the longest bath of my life as I took my time and slowly examined nearly every inch of my gorgeous new body. I was still a little hesitant to do so, though Kelly had not only just given me her blanket permission, but she urged me on while I was doing it.
"Unbelievable," I whispered to myself as I finished running my hands over nearly every inch of my body. It was so smooth...so firm...so...sexy. And of course, I could still feel the power that resided within my body as well, which was just as unbelievable as the body itself.
"Yeah," Kelly slowly told me, "I did pretty much the same thing after I first got turned into Praxis. It was pretty weird going from short and blah to...to THIS."
"Blah?" I responded as I remembered her picture, "I think you looked pretty cute." Then I suddenly blushed in embarrassment, having said it without really thinking.
Kelly seemed embarrassed too, though she responded with a hesitant, "Really?"
I just nodded, taking a breath before half blurting out, "Yeah."
There was another moment of silence before she gave a weak, "Thank you."
Neither of us said a word as I got out of the tub and slowly dried myself off, taking my sweet time and gently caressing every one of my delectable new curves. God, I couldn't believe how unbelievably hot I now was. It was a whole lot easier to ignore before I'd gotten such a good examination of it. Now that I had, I was having a hard time tearing my eyes away.
With the towel wrapped around my midsection as I'd seen women do, I strolled back to the bedroom, beginning to feel just a little turned on again. The examination of my body and the thoughts which accompanied that were definitely having an effect. An effect similar to the one from the night before.
Once in the bedroom, I turned to face the mirror, then stared intently into it for several seconds before dropping the towel to the floor. I remained motionless as my eyes examined the reflection, trying to absorb every detail...as I admired every curve. Somehow, even though I'd been in that body for several days, it still didn't seem possible for that to really be me.
I carefully sat down on the bed and looked down at myself again, feeling even wetter than before...and I didn't mean from the bath. Feeling curious, I slowly lowered my fingers to my crotch and pulled them away, rubbing the wetness between them. It was definitely a different sensation that my old hard-on, though as I remembered the night before with a slight blush, I knew that it certainly wasn't a bad one either.
Just then, I heard Kelly whisper my name to get my attention. Then to my surprise, she gently added, "Make love to me."
"Kelly?" I gasped faintly, feeling a little confused as not only did I currently lack the equipment for it, but she lacked the entire body.
"Make love to...," she repeated a little more firmly, then corrected herself, "with me." There was a silent 'please' that I could sort of sense on the end.
Then I understood what she meant and licked my lips in response. Several emotions swirled through me at once, including embarrassment, excitement and arousal. And I felt sort of...honored that she wanted me to have sex with her. It made me smile with a delight that surprised me.
"I'd love to," I whispered in response, my hand reaching between my legs.
"No," Kelly responded, then in a sort of purr, she instructed me, "I'm moving my left hand to my breast..."
I smiled at that, then moved my hand as she directed, following her words even more as I started to slowly pinch and play with both of my nipples. Kelly continued to guide my movements as I...we played with ourselves. It was a very strange sort of masturbation because of that, yet oddly enough, extremely erotic.
"Oh yes..." I gasped after several minutes, amazed at how much better it was than the night before.
My whole body tingled with excitement and ached with arousal. It felt incredible...and I...we hadn't even orgasmed yet. This was just the buildup...the foreplay. There was no doubt that Kelly really knew that body and how best to work it. That thought just made me suddenly realize why it was so much better than my fingering myself the night before.
"Us," I whispered in realization.
The night before had been just me masturbating. But this...this wasn't me. This was US. It was both of us giving pleasure to ourselves and each other...together. No, it wasn't just masturbation, not anymore. This was something far more. It was as close as we could possibly get to actually making real love to each other considering our current situation.
Of course, I rather would have been making love to that body than in it, but I sure couldn't complain about the feelings. I would have loved to have sex...to make love to Kelly in that body. Perhaps once we separated. Then there was a quick thought that flashed through my mind, a realization that it wasn't just Kelly's body that I admired. It was her. I would have been quite pleased to make love to the real her as well.
However, I didn't have time to think about those things though as we finally came. The orgasm was incredible, made even better from the buildup that Kelly had ensured. It was no wonder that women loved foreplay.
"Oh God," I gasped in delight.
Kelly just laughed, "I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did."
"I'm sure I did," I responded honestly, savoring the afterglow.
"But it's not over yet," she told me mischieviously.
I raised my eyebrow at that, "Oh?"
"Check the bottom drawer of my night stand," Kelly instructed.
After I'd done as she asked, I was slightly startled, though not too much so to find myself staring at several...toys. Or at least there were several dildos of difference sizes and a vibrator.
"Oh no," I protested as soon as I saw them, "You're not getting me to..."
"Trust me," Kelly insisted, sounding slightly embarrassed, "you'll enjoy it..." Apparently, she might have the toys, but she wasn't used to showing them to other people. I certainly didn't blame her since you couldn't get too much more private. Then again, our situation already was.
I wasn't really sure how, but Kelly did manage to talk me into using her little toys. Perhaps it was because I was already in such a good mood, though I'm sure my curiosity played a part as well, whether I wanted to admit it or not. What I did know though was that even though they were extremely strange, making highly uncomfortable at first, I had to admit that they made me feel very good. Kelly truly did know how to get the best response from that body, much to my delight.
When I...we were finally through, I'd lost count of how many times I'd come. It was unbelievable and all I wanted to do was lean back with a dazed smile on my face, enjoying the sensations that continued to fill my body. Neither Kelly or I said much...nor did we really need to. Our shared body said everything that needed saying.
Then as I lay there, on an impulse I lit a cigarette and started smoking. After all, that was the stereotype of what you were supposed to do after sex. But more than that, it wasn't that I really wanted a cigarette since I wasn't a smoker, but that I wanted to give Kelly a treat since she enjoyed it. And for the first time, I began to get an idea why. Since I wasn't a smoker...it made me feel sort of naughty. Like I was doing something that I really wasn't supposed to. I had to admit that it was a strange sort of thrill that went rather well with what we'd just done. Still, I had absolutely no intention of making it any sort of regular habit.
A short while later, I finally got off the bed and once again stood facing the mirror. I smiled at the woman who was reflected back, and without a word, 'flipped' the mental switch to change back to my real form. Kelly seemed slightly startled at that, though I thought it was only fair.
Kelly didn't say a word, though she did smile back in the mirror, a faint look of gratitude on her...my face. This time with Kelly in control, I once again found myself going through the motions of inspecting my body, though it was also a body I was more than a little familiar with. Afterwards though, we didn't repeat the masturbation part. At least not this time.
During the next several days, Kelly and I continued to explore our new bodies, growing a little more comfortable at being in them, and in the fact that we were sharing them. Of course, we both wanted to get separated and back to normal, but we also had to face facts and deal with our current situation...even try to make the best of it.
Kelly and I spent quite a bit of time talking about ourselves, telling each other things that we'd never really told anyone before. It was amazing how easily it had become to open up to her. And she felt the same, even telling me the full story of how she became Praxis. Afterwards, I could really understand her hesitancy about scientists.
At the same time, Kelly had talked me into going out several times and stopping some criminals and saving lives. It hadn't taken too much talking though as I knew that I couldn't live with myself if I'd just sat by while others died when I could have done something. Of course, it also made me feel useful since I couldn't go out in public anymore unless it was as Praxis, and it made Kelly happy. Still, I knew that I was no hero and felt like a fraud when I did go out.
We had also talked a bit about our living conditions. Specifically, about my place which was currently unoccupied but filled with all of my things. There was little question that things would be a bit less complicated if we moved in together that way as well since we were bound together anyway. And of course, it would save a bit on rent. However, there was still the problem that all of my stuff wouldn't fit into Kelly's apartment, but we'd still need a place that had a quiet back way out for our excursions as Praxis. That was a problem though that we would continue to think about.
At the moment, Kelly and I were sitting in front of her computer as she typed away, doing some research on several new developed criminals. It amazed me just how many of them there seemed to be. I couldn't help wondering if that Mount Prometheus prison was big enough to hold all of them. Somehow, I rather doubted it.
While Kelly worked, I just silently watched. Oddly enough though, I didn't really feel that frustrated or helpless being unable to control anything. Perhaps it was because I had started to get used to it. Perhaps it was because I knew that she would give me control again whenever I needed or even really wanted out. Though most of all, I thought that it was just a measure of how much we had both come to understand and trust one another.
"I just thought of something," Kelly announced out of nowhere.
"What's that?" I asked.
She turned away from the computer for a moment and said, "Our jobs." She paused for a just a moment before saying, "I shouldn't have much problem since I can still work on my software from home like I always do. And it shouldn't be difficult to arrange things so that I don't have to make any face to face meetings."
"That could be awkward," I admitted thoughtfully, imagining how anyone she'd worked with before would react to seeing my body walk into some office instead of the girl they'd expect from Kelly.
"No duh," she laughed in amusement. "But what about your job?"
This was the first time that I'd really given it any consideration since the accident had happened. After all, I did have a lot on my mind. However, it did make me think of something else. Since I hadn't evacuated with everyone else, they might even believe that I'd died.
"I don't think that we have the time for me to go do your job," Kelly said, "as well as my programming and whatever else." By 'whatever else', I knew that she meant the whole Praxis thing.
"Forget about my job," I told her.
Kelly seemed a little surprised at that, "I don't want to get you fired..."
"Then quit," I chuckled. I quickly added, "It's just a job and I can always find another one whenever we get separated." Of course, I didn't say that I'd been getting a bit bored of being a security guard and watching monitor screens. I'd been thinking about moving on anyway.
"Well...OK," Kelly responded, still seeming a little hesitant.
"But there is one thing," I thought aloud. "You'll need to call in to my work and let them know that I quit. And...," I added with a mental frown, "that I'm still alive." I paused for a moment before telling Kelly, "They might think that I'd been killed in the accident and this will let them know that I'm still alive. Maybe tell them that I evacuated out the side and was just too shaken up to come back to work there. That should take care of things."
Kelly nodded thoughtfully, "Sounds good to me."
After this, Kelly turned back to her work on the computer while I became lost in thoughts once again. My mind shifted back to the amazement I felt at being fused to someone else, for who knew how long. And though I still longed to get separated and free again, I couldn't help but thinking that there was no one I'd rather be in that condition with than Kelly.
Kelly and I were sitting back and watching TV, with her in the drivers seat at the moment. And though I'd gotten to the point where that normally didn't bother me much, the current situation was a bit different. I was filled with annoyance as she clutched the remote for the TV, making me watch the damn soap opera she'd put on. I hated soaps.
"Come on," I groaned, though Kelly called it 'whining', "Change it to Jerry Springer. I think they're doing a show on people with stupid developed powers." I wasn't a big fan of the show, but it would be a hell of a lot better than what Kelly had put on. However, I was beginning to suspect that Kelly had put it on for no other reason than to mess with me.
"Oh yeah," Kelly responded, "I think I saw that one before. There's some redneck guy with the power to make himself grow breasts and a woman who can change channels on her TV without a remote."
"I can do that too," I chuckled. "Just walk over and push the button."
"Oh," Kelly taunted with a giggle, "I'd like to see you try it."
"Ha ha," I responded, "Very funny."
She laughed, "I thought so."
Then after several more seconds, Kelly abruptly announced, "I feel like some fresh air..."
Almost the instant that she said this, I felt the mental switch being thrown and control returning to me. I sat up, once again in the Praxis form and still holding the remote in my hands. I couldn't help smiling faintly as I stood up.
"I think that's a good idea," I told Kelly, absently toying with the idea of finding some show that I knew really annoyed her and watching for awhile. However, I certainly could have used the fresh air.
Just a minute later, I was out of the apartment and flying high into the sky. I smiled at the wind rushing past me and the shear thrill of flight. It gave me such a feeling of freedom, which was a welcome relief after spending some hours unable to even move.
It was still hard to believe that it hadn't even been two full weeks since the accident. Not even two weeks since my whole life had suddenly been turned upside down. In a way, it seemed like it had been a lot longer than that. As though I had known Kelly for some time more.
After thinking about it, I realized that the day of the accident had been both the worst...and best day of my life. The accident had shaken up my entire life, leaving me trapped in an alien body and a helpless passenger within my own. Yet at the same time, if it hadn't been for that happening, I never would have met Kelly.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Kelly asked in my mind.
I was silent for a moment, blushing slightly at what I'd been thinking and wondering what to say. Finally, I gulped, then responded, "I was just thinking about how lucky I was to meet you."
Kelly was silent for a moment and I felt the uncomfortable, wishing that I hadn't said what I did. Then she responded, "I really like you too." I could feel the emotion at that, and not just in her voice. It was somewhat surprising.
Feeling a little uncertain about that line of conversation, I changed the topic with, "I wonder if that Genius girl found out anything..."
"I doubt it," Kelly sighed, going along with my change of topic, "But we can fly there and ask..."
"Sounds good to me," I agreed with an unnecessary nod.
Just then, I noticed something odd from the corner of my eye and stopped, hovering in the air as I turned to look. There was dark patch of sky some distance away, a swirling of black clouds that didn't look anything like the surrounding area. Somehow, I had a bad feeling that this wasn't an odd weather pattern.
"That doesn't look good," Kelly told me firmly, her voice going hard and changing tone slightly. She was projecting some of her Praxis persona, an indication of how serious she thought this might be.
"Really?" I muttered sarcastically, thinking that it might be a good idea to fly the other direction.
However, Kelly quickly said, "Let's go check it out."
I hesitated only for a moment before letting out a sigh. Kelly was obviously pretty intent on this so I started flying towards the mass of dark cloud, hoping that my feeling was wrong. We were supposed to just be out for fresh air, and maybe talk to Genius. Getting involved in something that could become messy was the last thing that I wanted or needed at the moment. Maybe it was nothing...
Once I was a bit closer to the cloud, I could see that it was maybe 200 yards wide at the most, though it was sort of swirling around slowly, making it seem all the more eerie and unnatural. Especially with the faint reddish glow that seemed to come from the center of the dark clouds...the eye of the storm as it was.
"I've got a bad feeling about this," I muttered.
"Me too," Kelly agreed, her voice firm and professional.
Then I tore my eyes from the storm and looked below, seeing that there was a huge church directly beneath the eye of the storm. A fairly impressive and old looking one at that.
Suddenly Kelly cried out, "Look...!"
It was then that I noticed the figure which was floating above the church, just off to the side a bit. To my surprise, it was a woman who was standing on some sort of silver metal disk just a little bigger than a garbage can lid...but a lot thinner looking. And there seemed to be absolutely nothing holding the disk up there.
The floating woman had raven black hair and was wearing some sort of costume that was a bit looser than spandex, seeming to be a little bit like leather armor in spots as well. Her clothes were mostly black, though with a decent amount of red mixed in as well. I could even make out a few very faint touches of silver, all in small buckles and claps.
"Oh shit!" Kelly gasped inside my mind, losing that professionalism for a moment as she spat out, "Blaspheme!"
"What?" I blinked in confusion, wondering what the hell Kelly was talking about. I knew that we were above a church, but I hadn't thought that she was the religious sort.
"Her name is Blaspheme," Kelly told me, regaining her composure and sounding a bit grim. "She used to be a nun, but then one day she mysteriously disappeared. She suddenly appeared again about six months later...with a whole lot of power and calling herself Blaspheme." Kelly paused for a moment before adding, "And for some reason, she absolutely hates anything to do with religion...especially the Catholic church."
"Then," I said slowly, still watching Blaspheme as she stood there nearly motionless, "she's one of the bad guys...er...girls?"
"Definitely," Kelly spat back emphatically. "She hasn't been around long, but she's fought the Protectorate twice and I've fought her once as well. I managed to stop her from destroying the Vatican...with the help of the Iron Saint."
I frowned, "Then she's probably not her for confession..."
"No," Kelly responded coldly, "I don't think she is."
With that, I flew down closer and called out, "Blaspheme!"
The woman in question turned to face me, sneering, "Praxis." She didn't sound too surprised. "Leave before I am forced do destroy you along with these disciples of folly."
I felt a chill go down my spine at that, and it wasn't because of her threatening me. There was something in the tone of her voice... Something...wrong.
Blaspheme glared down below at the church, then at me, announcing, "All such places of infection must be destroyed. The carriers.. eliminated." There was a cold harshness in her eyes as well as her voice.
"You're here to kill the priests," I gasped in realization.
However, Blaspheme just laughed in cruel amusement, "Not me..," she pointed towards the ground, "Them."
My eyes were quickly drawn to where she pointed, causing me to gasp as I noticed that there were three people heading straight for front gate of the church. And from the looks of them, there was no doubt that they weren't there to pray.
"One of them has a hostage," Kelly snapped in my head, making me realize that she was right.
It only took me an instant to realize that Blaspheme was just standing there and watching while those three below were the immediate threat. I was already on my way to the ground, landing just in front of them and getting a closer look.
One of the three was a woman who's body seemed to be made of a glowing bluish white energy. She sparked some, giving the impression that she might even be made of electricity. And she was hovering in the air, a cruel look on her face.
The second was a male figure who stood close to 8 feet tall and appeared to be made out of some sort of black stonelike material. He looked pretty nasty and his eyes glowed a sinister red. His right hand was wrapped around the neck of some man that he had just grabbed off of the street while everyone was running away.
Finally, the last of the three was a black woman in a green and black costume, who's eyes were glowing green. Her hands were clenched into fists, both of them glowing green as well.
"We've got to take them down," Kelly stated firmly, "Hard."
I shook my head faintly, almost imperceptibly. "We've got to get the hostage away first."
There was only a moment's pause before Kelly admitted, "You're right." She furiously spat, "I wish I could get at them..."
However, I didn't have time to talk with Kelly and demanded, "Let that man go!"
"Him?" the large stone man asked with a sneer. Suddenly there was a loud cracking sound of a neck breaking, just before the dead hostage dropped to the ground. "Like that?"
I was shocked at that, but Kelly snarled, "MOVE!"
There was no further hesitation as I took back to the air, having realized that not only was Kelly right, but that those bastards were already charging me. As soon as I was in the air though, they were all left behind...or at least I'd thought they were. A moment later, I noticed that the electric woman was flying after me.
A blast of electricity shot right past my shoulder, with me barely missing it. Suddenly a chunk of concrete flew straight at me as well, thrown by the huge man. That was easy to evade though as all I had to do was turn intangible. I just wasn't sure that intangibility would work against those electric blasts and wasn't eager to find out.
I flew around, avoiding the electric woman's attacks for nearly a minute before Kelly said, "The other ones..."
"What about...?" I started, then glanced back and was horrified to see the stone man literally tearing a hole through the church and making his way inside.
The black woman was going in as well, though she turned as a priest made a break from one of the smaller doors and started running for it. She gestured at him and a flash of green light shot out of her hands and hit the running clergyman. An instant later, his body crumbled into dust and she turned her attention to the building, using her power to disintegrate a large section of the wall. What she'd done that for, I had no idea since they already had a way inside.
"They want to ruin the church," Kelly told me, answering my unspoken question. "To destroy it completely."
"We can't let them..." I started, then froze as a burst of lighting shot right through my body, causing me to drop to the ground in agony.
"Ooooh," the electric woman laughed from over my head, "You can be hurt. And that was only a nick..."
"A direct hit," Kelly grunted, "Could kill us."
Or at the very least, leave us open for the others to finish us off. We couldn't afford to be hit again, nor could we afford to let these bastards succeed.
Just then, I noticed the stone man and the black woman going for the screaming people inside of the church, and not just clergy. There were a number of worshippers inside as well, and I had no doubt that these bastards would be just as willing to kill them as well.
"No," I whispered, putting a whole lot more emotion into that word than volume. I wasn't...couldn't let them murder those people...
Without another word, I shot straight into the sky, missing another blast from the electric woman. I was just about charge at her for a punch, but Kelly seemed to read what I was planning and exclaimed, "Don't touch her. We'd be electrocuted..."
I didn't doubt that Kelly knew what she was talking about. After all, she had more experienced with these developed types than I did, as well as had some research on those kinds of powers. And with the way the woman was glowing and sparking with electricity, touching her probably wouldn't be a good idea.
"Damn," I growled, my mind racing for a strategy.
"Watch out for the disintegrator," Kelly warned me. "We don't know her range. We might be out of it...but don't take any chances."
I grimaced in determination, my mind racing for ideas. Kelly suggested that we just charge in with everything blazing, even encouraging it, which seemed odd considering that she'd just warned me about both the electric woman and the disintegrator. However, she had made me pause to think...which might work out to our benefit.
Suddenly, I had an idea and let loose, firing my own energy blast...straight at the black woman...the disintegrator. The blast hit the ground beneath her, causing her to fall to the ground in a scream...part of her lower legs now missing, much to my surprise. However, I didn't particularly care...and apparently, neither did her companions.
With another idea beginning to form, I quickly landed back on the street, grinning faintly when I saw that the stone creature was leaving the church and the victims inside to come after me. A glance revealed that the injured black woman was glowing all green...just before she disintegrated herself. However, my attention was more on the approaching monster, and the electric woman who was charging down at me again.
"What the hell are you doing?" Kelly screamed in my head.
I didn't respond, knowing that I didn't have the energy to waste on too many blasts with both of those villains to deal with, as well as Blaspheme. Hell, I wasn't even sure that an energy attack would work on the electric woman and the big guy looked pretty tough. Instead, I had something else in mind.
"Trust me," I told Kelly.
As soon as the electric woman had flown to where I wanted, I grinned and let loose with another...much smaller blast than before. However, I wasn't aiming at the electric woman...but the fire hydrant a short distance behind her. It suddenly exploded with a torrent of water which sprayed out at the electric woman, just as I took to the air. As the water hit her, the woman screamed...sparks flying all over the place.
"What the hell?" Kelly gasped .
I just watched for a moment as the water not only hit the electric woman, but the stone man as well. Sparks had flown everywhere and a moment later, there was no sign of the electric woman at all, while the stone man was on his knees...looking dazed.
"Electricity and water don't mix," I told Kelly with a faint smirk. Who would have thought that my experience with electronics would come in useful for fighting super villains.
"You grounded her," Kelly exclaimed in surprise, quickly adding, "And the big guy got a nice zap from it."
"But not big enough," I commented grimly as I noticed him getting to his feet and seeming to shake off the electrocution attempt. Whether he was that tough or too much of her electricity had gone to ground, I didn't know.
With a grimace, I landed back on the ground and muttered, "Two down..."
"And two to go," Kelly finished.
The stone man growled, "You will die for that bitch." He started coming at me, snarling, "I'm going to crush your spine..."
"You're welcome to try," I announced with more confidence than I felt.
When he charged straight at me, I made no move to fly out of the way or jump to the side. Kelly cried out, "Don't just stand there..." However, that didn't made me move, even as his massive fist came flying straight for my face.
"Trust me," I told Kelly, turning intangible and stepping forward, going right through the huge monster that had just tried to punch me. And without a word, I jumped up, swinging my arm backwards to catch him in the back of his head, sending him flying forward. "Gotcha," I laughed.
Kelly gasped, "Wow," sounding impressed as well as surprised.
The stone man had howled in pain as he fell onto his face, though he quickly got back to his knees, holding his hands to the back of his head and cursing furiously. I'd hurt him. That might not have been enough to take him down, but it told me that he wasn't really invulnerable. Tough as hell, yes...but not completely invulnerable.
"Damn," she growled in my head, "He's getting back up."
I nodded and braced myself, suspecting that he wasn't going to fall for the same trick again. That was all right though as I had several other tricks in my book that I hoped would work. With that, I stood there, bracing myself for his next attack as it was obvious that he wanted to charge me again.
"Come and get it big guy," I dared him.
He came towards me slower than before, more cautiously. "You got lucky woman," he snarled, "but it ain't gonna happen again."
"We'll see," I smiled sweetly, gesturing for him to come get me.
With a loud roar, he suddenly swung his arm at me, moving faster than I would have expected. He actually caught me too, or at least grazed me. It was enough to send me flying backwards with what felt like a broken jaw. I was just thankful that I'd managed to avoid most of the force from his attack.
Though I had the ground hard, I quickly scrambled back to my feet. One of my hands was reaching for my jaw, though I saw him charging at me again and knew that I wouldn't have time to baby my injuries. If he hit me like that again and actually connected... Well, he could take my head off.
"You hit like a girl," I taunted him, thinking that it might have sounded better of my jaw wasn't hurting like hell and making me slur the words a little. The irony of the statement didn't hit me until later.
I took to the air to avoid this attack, or at least tried to. He grabbed my cape and used it to slam me back to the ground. The impact was jarring, even a little painful, though I avoided most of the potential damage by rolling.
As I rolled back to my feet, I braced myself, grimacing in determination to take this bastard down. I'd underestimated how fast he was and was paying the price for it. Well, that wasn't going to happen again. I'd dealt with people who were bigger, stronger and meaner than me before, and knew how to deal with them.
"Now I get to break you, little girl," he growled as he came straight at me again.
This time, I stood my ground until he threw his punch. But instead of turning intangible or trying to get out of the way, I blocked his punch. Or more accurately, I grabbed at his wrist and twisted, using his own arm and momentum to send him flying face first into the ground. And with all of the strength of my Praxis body, I twisted his wrist again, just as I pulled on his arm. I was rewarded with a loud cracking from his wrist breaking, then a pop as I dislocated his shoulder.
The stone man howled in pain, even as he tried to get back to his feet. However, I was in no mood to be sympathetic to his pain, taking advantage of his position to send my foot straight into his face and causing him to go flying back up.
"Holy shit!" Kelly exclaimed inside my head.
Even though the stone man was injured, he quickly returned to his feet. He was trying to raise his injured arm to fight with, but without too much success. His other arm however was ready, and from the furious look on his face...even with the obviously broken nose, he was ready to kill me. Or at least to give everything he had to try.
Instead of waiting for him again, this time I charged forward. When the stone man tried swinging at me, I used my arm to block the impact, while pushing myself down and forward, throwing my fist into his solar plexus with superhuman power. He staggered backwards, bent over in pain. I followed up with another punch to his throat...then with a little help from my flying power...another kick to the face. Within seconds, the fight was over and he was laying motionless on the ground.
"Damn," I grimaced in pain, grabbing at my store jaw now that I could afford to do so.
"How the hell did you do that?" Kelly gasped in amazement, "The way you took him down..."
I blinked, still rubbing at my jaw, "I used to take martial arts..."
It had been a long time since I'd taken Aikido or been involved in kickboxing. Neither interest had lasted more than a year, with kickboxing being less than half of that. Still, what little I remembered had certainly come in handy against that guy.
"Don't forget Blaspheme," Kelly reminded me grimly.
I nodded at that. She was the real threat if what Kelly said was true. And I had little doubt that it was.
After giving another kick to the now unconscious stone man, I flew back into the air, heading towards Blaspheme. She was still hovering in the air, scowling down at me and everything else. And she looked pissed as hell.
"You stopped my followers initiation," Blaspheme hissed, "And after I invested so much power in them..."
"If you have that kind of luck in your investments," I responded coldly, fighting back the urge to just charge straight at her, "then you should really stay away from the stock market."
"I'll take that under consideration," she growled back, her hands both beginning to glow red, along with her eyes.
"Careful," Kelly warned me, "She's a sorceress or something of the sort. You never know what tricks she's capable of."
Without a word, Blaspheme held out her hands shot out red fireballs. However, she wasn't aiming at me like I'd expected...but at the church. There were several explosions...as well as holes in the roof. Blaspheme held out her hands and stared to fire more.
"There are people inside," I gasped in horror, wondering how anybody could so casually do something like that. Then I decided to see how she liked it, throwing an energy blast of my own straight at her.
Blaspheme sneered as she snapped out her hands, blocking my attack with a glowing green disk of energy. However, I couldn't help noticing that the disk flickered slightly, even as it stopped my blasts. Nor did I miss the look in her eye...a faint look of strain, though I could have been imagining it. Still, I didn't really think that I was.
I took a deep breath, trying to quickly determine my next move when she suddenly took her turn at me, throwing tangled mess of glowing blue wire at me. A single glance was enough to reveal that it seemed to be some sort of barbed wire and that it was supposed to tangle me up, but I easily turned intangible and grinned as it passed right through me.
"The next one won't be so easily avoided," Kelly told me. "She has ways of getting me...us when we're intangible. And she knows that we can't stay that way long too..."
I grunted in response to Kelly's comments, dodging to the side and avoiding a fireball which had been thrown at me. At the moment, I didn't have the energy or concentration to spare for any real conversation, especially after the beating I'd taken fighting those other three...her followers, or whatever it was that she'd called them.
After another fireball attack, I scowled, deciding that I'd had more than enough of playing target...even if she did have that force field thingee. And with that, I charged straight at Blaspheme, who seemed slightly surprised by that move, though she did manage to throw up another force field right between my fist and her face. Still, after several punches, her glowing shield looked as if it was coming close to failing and I could see the strain in her face getting worse.
"She's been stretching herself too thin," I quickly thought to Kelly, "And she's getting tired."
"Then keep hitting her," Kelly snapped back unnecessarily.
Blaspheme's shield was beginning to fail and it was all that she could do at the moment just to defend herself. She couldn't even return the attack, for which I was thankful. However, I knew that I couldn't keep up my assault for long either, not as tired as I was. Those blasts had taken a bit more energy out of me than I'd wanted to spare, but still, I tried to focus enough spare energy together for one final blast.
Suddenly, Blaspheme spat, "Enough of this!"
She glared at me with a look of anger in her eyes, then without another word, the disk she was riding on started to rise higher into the air, with her on it. Before I was able to realize exactly what she was up to, she'd shot up into the glowing red center of the clouds...vanishing out of sight.
"What the hell?" I demanded, though there was no answer forthcoming.
A moment later, the swirling dark cloud started to pull inward towards the glowing center, reminding me almost of a toilet bowl that had just been flushed. Within mere seconds, all that was left was a red glowing ball with a dark aura...just before that too imploded and was gone.
"Where'd she go?" I gasped in surprise, quickly looking around for any sign of Blaspheme.
"She's gone," Kelly responded quietly, "We won."
I blinked at that in surprise as well as relief. It seemed hard to believe that it was over all ready, especially with Blaspheme just disappearing. Then, as it began to sink it, a smile began to form.
However, Kelly added, "But she'll come back. Her kind always does."
"Just great," I grumbled, wishing that Kelly hadn't gone and taken away my satisfaction so quickly.
Then with a sigh, I settled down on top of a building to rest for a minute, glancing down at the church, seeing that most of the people had already escaped from it while I was busy dealing with Blaspheme. And fortunately, most of the people hadn't been badly hurt at all. But unfortunately...not all had escaped unharmed...or even alive.
"We did our best," Kelly told me gently, "and we saved a lot of lives. Don't dwell on what we couldn't do."
There was a tone in her voice that told me that she'd been there herself. All I could do was nod, wondering how she'd dealt with it. I understood what she meant intellectually, but knowing it in my heart was another matter. Somehow, I didn't think that I'd ever look at that hero business the same way again.
As I stood there, I looked up into the now relatively clear sky, seeing no sign of the swirling dark cloud that had been overhead such a short distance before. That at least was a relief.
Then I frowned thoughtfully as I thought of Blaspheme, wondering what could have turned her into such a monster. What could have made her hate religion so bad? I didn't even really know if she was some sort of Satanist...or some sort of fanatical, extremist atheist. Somehow, I wasn't even sure that she knew those answers herself.
"You did good," Kelly said, interrupting my thoughts, "Real good." There was a pause before she added emotionally, "I'm really proud of you."
I smiled faintly at that, feeling rather honored by her words. "Thank you," I answered honestly, "That means a lot to me."
We were both silent for a minute as we stood there, staring out into the distance, both lost in thought. Finally, Kelly asked, "T.J.?" Her voice sounded hesitant.
"Yes?" I responded quietly.
Kelly was silent for another few seconds before she finally quietly announced, "I was really worried about you back there." She sounded rather nervous.
All I could think to say was, "oh..." She had been in exactly the same danger that I was, and a lot less able to do anything about it. If she was worried about me...
Then Kelly blurted out, "I don't want to lose you." Her voice was filled with emotion, and I could feel it more directly as well. It was enough to choke me up, especially with her next words, "I've never quite felt this way about anyone..."
"Me neither," I whispered, nearly surprising myself at the same time.
With that, I wrapped my arms around myself to give myself...and Kelly a hug. It was about the closest that we could come to the real thing, though I projected a mental hug at the same time. We remained like that for several minutes before finally deciding that it was time to clear out and discuss things in a more private setting.
It was early evening, and I was leaning back in my chair relaxing, wearing nothing except for a soft silk robe. This was a luxury about being a woman that I had come to enjoy, along with a few other ones, such as a long bubble bath. Kelly seemed to take great delight in getting me to pamper myself in one way or another, not surprising since she received the same benefits that I did.
We had just finished a nice dinner and I had settled down to work on a model mustang that I'd been putting together recently. It was certainly a nice change of pace after the hectic day that I'd had fighting some weird monster made out of slime. However, my thoughts quickly passed over the incident with the creature and went to the earlier visit with Genius instead.
I remember being pretty pleased when Genius had told us that she'd made some progress in finding a way to get us separated, even feeling hopeful. I'd finally be able to hold Kelly in my own arms...to kiss her with my own lips. I could scarcely wait.
However, that hope was stifled when she continued, letting us know that there was still a lot of work to be done. Any attempt to separate us would be highly risky and with two many possible side effects and results. There was even a good chance that one of us could die in the attempt, which was not acceptable to either Kelly or myself. Neither of us wanted to put the other through that kind of risk.
As a result, our visit to Genius had been rather useless. Kelly and I were still fused with no immediate end in sight. Nothing had really changed. Not that either of us had really expected anything to either.
It had been two months since the Kelly and I had first met. Since the incident that had caused a poor security guard's life to get crossed with that of the super heroine Praxis. In some ways, it really didn't seem that long at all, while in others, it seemed much, much longer.
Life had continued, with Kelly and I making the best of our situation. She provided the finances in the form of her freelance software work, while I continued doing her work as Praxis. I had even gotten pretty good at it, though of course I wasn't a real super hero. Just a fill in until we could get separated.
And of course, Kelly and I had moved into a new, larger apartment together. One with an even more secure back way out than the one she'd lived in before. It certainly made coming and going a bit easier since we didn't have to worry about whether or not some homeless guy might be hiding out in the alley when we were coming or going.
That very night was the two month anniversary of our...meeting. It was still rather hard to believe. We'd even celebrated it...our meeting, not the accident, with a nice candle light dinner that I had prepared. However, I had to admit that my going to work on the model afterwards wasn't really all that romantic, but at least I didn't put on a ball game... Kelly didn't seem to mind, though she was being a little quiet.
"Are you all right?" I asked Kelly, realizing that she had seemed a little...off for most of the evening.
"I'm fine," Kelly responded, sending me a warm mental hug.
However, I wasn't convinced, "Are you sure?"
Kelly was silent for a moment, then in a nervous voice, she asked, "Can you let me out?" That was what we'd taken to calling it when we flipped the mental switch and changed places.
"OK," I answered, already doing as she asked.
A moment later, my whole body underwent the familiar transformation back to my real form, while I was slipped back into the passenger seat. Giving up control was no longer much of an issue for me, though it was a little uncomfortable to suddenly loose the strength, power and vitality of my Praxis body. That was rather ironic since I was only returning to my own comfortable body.
Kelly stood up in our shared body and said, "Thank you." I could feel the nervousness coming from her, and not just in her voice.
Then she moved across the room and stopped in front of the full length mirror, standing there silently for nearly a minute, an odd expression on my old face. I could feel our shared heart racing, making me even more concerned about Kelly.
"Kelly...," I started quietly.
With that, Kelly dropped down to one knee and stared straight into our reflection in the mirror. There was expectancy and nervousness in her expression as she started, "I know that it's supposed to be the guy who asks..." She gulped, "But...I mean with our situation..."
"What...?" I started to ask in confusion.
Then Kelly blurted out, "Will you marry me?" Her eyes were looking straight into the mirror so that I could look straight into them. They were filled with love, nervousness and even a fear of rejection.
I just gulped weakly, a bit surprised at what Kelly had just done. I was suddenly filled with a burst of emotions, nearly being overwhelmed by them. Somehow, I wasn't sure what to think...what to say, or even what to feel. However, as stunned as I was by hearing that question, I felt even more thrilled since it was the very same question that I'd been intending to eventually ask her.
The words, "I'd love nothing more," escaped from my lips before I'd even realized that I'd opened them. Or at least my mental lips. Every bit of my heart was behind those words though and I didn't think that I'd ever spoken anything truer.
Kelly's eyes filled with tears of delight in the mirror and she started to grin excitedly, "Really?"
"Really," I responded gently, projecting every bit of my love for her as I said it. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you..."
The wedding was held just a month later, though it was a very small and personal affair. Neither Kelly or I had invited our family or friends, still not having revealed our current condition to them and not being willing to explain it then either. In the end, the only ones present were Genius, who acted as maid of honor, and Father Time, who performed the ceremony. And a wonderful ceremony it was, though Kelly and I flipped back and forth a number of times during it.
It might have been a fairly short engagement, but it seemed like far too long of one to both Kelly and myself. As ironic as it might seem, we were eager for the commitment and the promise to spend our lives together. One way or another...whether we were ever seperated or not...Kelly and I would remain together for the rest of our lives. And neither of us would have it any other way.