By Eric Kern (a.k.a. Kathris)
Windrider and Firecloud had spent the past few hours unpacking in Firecloud's old room, and they had just finished their work. The two planned to go down to the town, and tour some of their old haunts. Although they were both looking forward to it and happy about the idea, Windrider, a.k.a. Terry, was still nervous about running into some of his old friends who might not quite understand his decision to change his species. Not too long ago, such an idea was unfathomable. Now, thanks to a totally random accident, he was able to achieve the ideal life he wanted.
Now shi had to rethink all of hir pronouns when thinking about hirself, and sometimes it got a bit confusing. One way or the other, shi'd get used to it. Another thing shi was getting used to was not wearing pants. After all, hir current body wasn't suited for them, but shi still missed the sensation a little. Shi shook off the odd sensations and followed hir mate down to the first floor of the house. The two of them walked quickly as they rushed out the front door, but they weren't fast enough to avoid hearing Firecloud's parents telling them to be home in time for dinner.
The first stop they made was to a small café that they used to frequent. Windrider rested hir body in a comfortable position on the ground, and for a second seemed to wonder if shi would miss sitting in standard chairs. Firecloud picked up on all of this, and leaned over to talk to hir. "Are you okay?"
"I think so. It's just all starting to sink in right now. I'm just... Things feel a bit different now. I'm spotting all the changes I missed the first time around." Windrider commented. Chakat Firecloud nodded, as shi thought she understood what Terry was saying. A chakat waiter came over and took their orders, and Windrider ordered what shi used to get, and Firecloud ordered a simple soda.
"Some things never change. You still like that vitamin water?" Firecloud inquired. Windrider shrugged, and figured this was as good a time to find out as any. Shi was pretty hungry and thirsty, but would everything taste the same? Would it all be the way shi remembered it?
The two drinks were deposited in front of them, and they looked at both of their drinks before picking them up and sipping the beverages. Windrider shook hir head, and then swallowed the entire thing in one long gulp. Hir mate gave hir a look with one eye while drinking hir own, and then shi chuckled.
"I didn't think you could do that..." Shi jested. Hir companion nodded and looked at the empty glass.
"I didn't think so either, but apparently now I can..." The minutes seemed to take forever as the rest of the day slowly started to pass by. After they had finished their tryst at the café, they moved on to the next haunt that they knew and loved. It was just a small shopping centre, but it was a place where a lot of people and chakats and every other life form you could think of would pop up and market their wares.
Chakat Firecloud took the lead, and led Windrider to the first shop she wanted to go in. It was just a clothing shop with shirts and anklets designed for quadrupeds, specifically skunktaurs and chakats. "Do you want to buy something here?" Shi asked. After a timid shrug, shi dragged hir mate inside and pulled an item off the shelf. "What do you think of this one? Do you want something plain, or something with a decoration or whatever?"
"I don't know. I've never really..." Windrider started.
"You've shopped for clothes before. It's no different this time. You're just not looking for pants." Shi held back a chuckle, and slipped a blue shirt on hir companion. "I think that this one would probably suit you pretty well... Maybe you'd like this in green?"
"I think that if I'm going to wear anything, I'd want to wear something with a v-neck if we can find it. This kind of neckline is going to make me feel like I'm choking." Windrider started looking for hir own clothes, and Firecloud took this as a good sign. Shi was actually starting to be cheerful for the first time this afternoon. Firecloud moved to the side as Chakat Windrider kept picking outfits out and showing them off. "How's this one?"
"Don't you think that's a bit revealing?" Firecloud commented. Chakats weren't particularly prudish, but while shi could tease Windrider, shi figured shi would.
"What, you don't like me showing off? You never minded before. I happen to know you liked to look." Windrider moved closer and looked hir in the eyes. Having been caught in the act, Firecloud shrugged and confessed.
"Okay, I admit it. I was just trying to tease you. It was the first opportunity I've had all day to pick on you, you know." Shi chuckled and smiled as Windrider pulled out another possible outfit. "That one looks just perfect on you. I think we should buy that one."
Windrider put it on, and modelled hirself in front of the mirror. Shi looked at the way hir entire body moved and how shi looked in the mirror with the outfit. Shi nodded, satisfied that this was the outfit shi would want to wear. "Okay, then. This will be my first official new outfit. Maybe one day I'll trade it in for a Star Corps uniform."
"You'd want to join the Star Corps? I didn't think you really were the space travel type. Aside from tourism, I mean. I know that you and I liked travelling, but do you think we'd really be okay out in space?" Firecloud looked at hir a bit nervously and shrugged.
Shi moved around hir, and then stopped when shi was alongside. "I think that it might be something we could do in a few years, when we're doing touring. After all, think of the sights we could see when we were gallivanting around the galaxy? I mean, we could see just about anything out there..." Windrider waved hir tail in excitement, and pointed up at the sky. There were no stars out yet, but shi didn't need to see them to know what could be out in space somewhere.
"You know, space is pretty big. You and I could get lost." Firecloud half meant that as a joke, and half as an honest concern. "You'd really want to do it?"
"I don't know. It's just an idea, anyway. One way or the other, how about we pay for my new outfit, and then see if we can find Rory." Firecloud nodded. Windrider paid for the outfit at the register, and decided to wear it for the rest of the day. After all, shi was determined to get good use out of it, if nothing else. At this point, the two planned on looking for Rory. Rory was an old friend of Terry's, and she was a human about Terry's age. Windrider knew she would be surprised when she saw the new Terry, but would she accept Terry as Windrider? There was only one way to know, and shi had to find out. Rory and shi had once dated a long time ago, but it never got beyond the kissing stage with her. Firecloud led the way to her house, and they stopped at the sidewalk.
"Do you want to knock on the door, or should I?", Firecloud asked. Windrider thought about it for a minute, and then gave in.
"I'll knock. I want Rory to get used to the new me, so we might as well start at the beginning and just tell her. Do you think she'll understand?" Windrider looked to hir mate for help or advice. Chakat Firecloud shrugged and figured that she would either understand or she wouldn't. Shi knocked on the door, and stepped back to let Windrider be the first at the door.
A young brown haired girl stepped up to the door, and held it open. "Hi... Hey, Firecloud! I haven't seen you guys since you went to Earth. What have you been up to? Who's your friend, anyway?" Rory smiled, and stood out on the porch. She liked chakats, and Firecloud was particularly close to her.
"Oh, it's me... Terry." Windrider smiled. Rory did a double take, and then peered into her eyes, looking very closely as if it was written on the eyebrows or something. After a moment, she stood up and nodded.
"You're kidding me... Terry?! But how? And why? And... Why don't you start at the beginning. Go slow, mind you. My brain can only process things so fast." Rory looked at them both, and then smacked her head. "What am I thinking? Come on in, first. There's a big spot in the living room where you two can rest a while." The young human girl led the way, being followed by her chakat friends. After they got settled, Rory came back in with a few small snacks.
Windrider waited until the opportunity presented itself, and then opened hir mouth. "Well, let's start at the beginning. When we got to Chakona, by working on the transport that took us here... I eventually got the idea into my head that I wanted to be a chakat when Firecloud and I went to a club to hang out. We did some research, and found a lab that was testing physical transformations from the use of biomatter, transporters, and other such things. Anyway, I ran myself through it and became what you see before you now. We headed back to our home town, saw Firecloud's mother, and then we just came here. What do you think?" Shi hoped that it made sense, and that hir statement wasn't too much of a shock.
Rory waited for a moment, and took a few seconds to formulate how she wanted to respond. "You know something... I have a few questions... I'd like to talk to you alone, if Firecloud would be so kind." Firecloud nodded, and even though shi felt a bit left out, understood. Shi waited in the next room for the two of them to sort things out. Shi knew that Windrider was hir mate, but old girlfriends made hir a bit nervous. "Terry... Windrider... Whatever you're calling yourself... I just don't think I quite understand why you went ahead and did this. I mean, what was so important that you had to change your very being? I mean... You know that humans and chakats fall in love all the time without going through such a major change... What made you feel you had to become one?"
"I don't really know. I can't explain why I felt the way I did. I just knew I loved Firecloud, and I wanted to be just like hir. It wasn't a foolish decision either. I thought about it, and knew that was what I wanted." Windrider replied. Rory turned this comment over and over in her head for a second, and then stood up a little higher.
"I still don't understand. What was so wrong with you? I liked you. I don't think I really know who Windrider is. What made you pick that name anyway? I mean, I'm grasping at straws trying to see what was running through your head." Rory sat down and slumped back, seemingly exhausted and confused at the same time.
Windrider tried to put what shi felt into words, and make sure that what shi said would make sense. The chakat stood, and then looked down at hir handpaws, which could serve as a crude set of hands if shi needed them. "I don't know... Let me start with the first question. Nothing was wrong with me at all. I liked who I was, but I wanted to be something else. It's like the sex changes they used to do on Earth way back when. And as for who Windrider is, shi's me. The person inside here hasn't changed at all. Just what's physically me is a bit different. And what made me pick the name? To be honest, it just sounded good, and I liked it." Shi hoped this would make some sense to Rory, and that the girl would accept Windrider as her friend.
After a short silence, she looked up and frowned. "I don't know if I like it, but I guess it makes a little sense. I guess it caught me a little by surprise. I suppose that one of these days I'll get used to it... So how long are you going to be staying in this part of Chakona?" Rory seemed a bit calmer now, and also generally more accepting of Windrider. She did seem a bit wary, but it wasn't as bad as it was when she first got hir alone.
"We haven't made any definite plans yet. This is our first stop, but we're going to tour Chakona the same way we did on Earth, and accumulate tons of pictures to add to our collection." Windrider smiled, and shi beamed to show that they'd been doing quite a lot of travelling. Shi called out to Firecloud, and the spotted chakat returned to the room to join them.
"Windrider here is telling me about what you two have been up to." Rory giggled and looked at them. "Why don't you tell me what you two are planning to do?"
Firecloud ran off the list that was floating at the top of hir head. "I think most of what we're doing is sightseeing, and then Windrider was tossing out the idea of the two of us joining the Star Corps. What would you think of that? Maybe you'd like to come with us?" After a funny look from Rory, Firecloud continued. "It wasn't a serious idea, I don't think. We were just tossing around ideas while we were clothes shopping. Maybe you'd like to suggest something we can do?"
Rory threw up her hands in mock surrender, and shrugged. "I don't really know. I spend most of my time around here, trying to make ends meet. I just do my job, and that's pretty much it. Aside from suggesting you hang out with me, I don't know what else I can do for you." She did a bit of thinking, and tried to find something else to toss out, but there was nothing that came.
"Hey, it's okay. We figured maybe you'd be able to help us stave away boredom for a little bit." Firecloud walked around the room, and then peered out of the window, and then turned around. "There are countless wonders in the universe, and nothing really stands out to us right now." Shi seemed a bit annoyed at not knowing what to do next, and shi tried to hide it, but a bit of that frustration was still showing.
"So, have the two of you formalised your relationship?" Rory inquired. She was curious to know exactly how far their bond had gone.
"You mean are we engaged? I guess we're as close to it as we're going to get... We've... Had some relations, but... I don't think we should really get into that..." Firecloud stuttered.
"You know something? It'll be hir fault if I'm pregnant." Windrider chuckled.
Firecloud buried hir face in hir hands and blushed big time. Shi tried to avoid the direct gaze of her friend, and then smiled. "Yes, well... Um... That is to say..." Rory chuckled and moved close enough to Windrider to rub her underbelly.
"I can only imagine you being pregnant and having a cub... Now that might be interesting..." The young dark haired girl gave Windrider's underbelly a gentle slap, and then stood up. "What are you going to do if you are pregnant? It might make travelling a bit tough, and then you'd probably have to find your own place to live besides." Rory sat down, this time on the floor, and just laid back a bit.
Windrider did a quick bit of calculating and then nodded. "I think I've got enough money for an apartment. I guess we'd have to get a job, too, huh?" The chakat smiled and grinned. "Hey, what do you think about that? We could go on an apartment hunt."
Chakat Firecloud winced for a moment, and nodded. "Maybe that's a good idea... We can probably find a place to stay, and then we can keep travelling if you're not pregnant." Shi looked at hir mate, and then wondered if shi wasn't a bit too overeager in the two of them having relations so soon after hir transformation from Terry to Windrider. Now that would be interesting... To talk about parentage and being one. Shi wasn't sure if she'd be anything close to ready when the time came to tell her mother and father.
Windrider nodded and grinned. "Okay, then. House hunting it is." The chakat grinned at the thought of finding a house to stay at, but shi was having hir own doubts about being a parent.
"Well, if you don't mind, then... We've got to get going. You and I have to find something, and we have a bunch of things to do. Rory... We'll see you later, okay?" Firecloud stood up and waited for hir mate to rise so they could walk outside and head home first.
"Okay, then. It was nice to see the two of you. You need to stop by more often. Make sure you two let me know if you're expecting, okay? I've got to get a picture of that." Rory gave them an evil grin, and then held the door open for them as the two left the room. Their friend waved at them from the porch of her house, and they headed back to their own. Now that they had a mission, they figured the next day would be the best time to start it.
After an uneventful dinner and a quiet night's sleep, they got up early the next morning, and popped out the front door. Firecloud led the way, and the two of them started on their path. They made their first stop at a local agency that dealt with these kinds of things, and a friendly human greeted the two.
"What can I do for you?" He asked. Spreading papers all over his desk, he started working on a file he was preparing for another client.
Windrider looked up at the two of them, and nodded. "Maybe you can help us with something... We're in the market for a small house on Chakona. Just a place for two and possibly a kid."
"Planning for a family?" The man inquired. He seemed mostly cheerful, and probably had just had a good morning. The two chakats nodded in agreement, and he looked up the files he had available. Tossing a list of addresses on the table, with attached photos, he pointed out a few highlights to each one. "What do you think of these? Some of them are pretty good, with great locations and the cutest little extras... And this house, everyone likes this house. Maybe you'd like to see something a bit more country type?" He waited for either of them to point him in the right direction.
"I guess maybe we'll look at a few of them. We could start at one end of the list and go to the other... Whatever you think would work fairly well." Firecloud started. Shi didn't know much about buying a house, but shi knew enough so that they wouldn't get swindled or anything. Not that shi thought this man would be dishonest, but better to be prepared just in case.
Windrider looked through a few possible locations, and then picked out hir favourites. "I want to look at these two. You don't mind if I narrow it done a bit, do you?" The chakat grinned and showed off hir favourites to Firecloud.
"I think that'll be just fine. Why don't you and I start at the first one?" Firecloud said. "Do you mind if we take these files with us?"
"No, go ahead. Just make sure you drop them back here when you're finished." He wrote down which ones they took, and they headed off to check out the first house. Needless to say, the first picture was rather misleading. It was too small for chakat physiology, and it seemed a bit run down. Odds are this picture was taken some time ago, and neglect had taken it's toll. The house wasn't falling down or anything, but it just wasn't what the two chakats were looking for.
As they headed on to the next location, they stopped en route to speculate what they'd find. "You don't think that guy was taking us for a ride, do you?" Firecloud asked. Shi was uncertain of just about everything now, especially considering what happened with the first house.
"I don't think so. I have a good feeling about this..." Windrider grinned and showed hir teeth as shi chuckled some more, almost gleefully running along. Firecloud had to struggle to keep up with hir, and after they reached the end of the street, they stopped and caught their breaths. "Heh. Seems like we're in pretty good shape, huh? I think that trying to do that as the old me would make me pass out..."
"You're probably right... After all, that was quite a run that we just did there. Do you have any idea how far we went?" Firecloud pointed at the previous block, and the two of them smiled at each other before they kept going. "You know, that body of yours seems to be holding up pretty well. You still feeling well enough to run to the next house?"
Windrider nodded and they posed to start running. They moved as fast as they could, trying to outsprint the other, each of them trying to beat the other. In a few more minutes, they huffed and puffed outside of the second house they spotted. It was just as pretty as the one in the file, and the address was correct. The tiger striped chakat was the first one to peer in the window and look inside. "What do you think? It looks pretty suited to chakats or skunktaurs..."
Firecloud peeked in after hir mate, and looked at them. "I think this would work out just fine. How about we return the files and get the key to check out the inside?" Hir companion nodded, and flipped through the rest of the files they'd taken. "Do you want to look through the rest, or shall we stop here?"
"I think that this house will do just fine... We can probably move in pretty quickly... Then there's the question of whether I'm... Or not." Chakat Windrider made a face when shi paused, but it didn't seem to make much difference to Firecloud, who shrugged for a moment.
"Then we've got a place to stay, and then all we have to do is talk to your mom and dad about it." Firecloud nodded and acknowledged hir.
Later that evening, they came home to Shir Cloudstar, and shi grinned at them. They'd returned the files and told him they'd want the key to the house in the second file to look at sooner or later. "What have you all been up to? I haven't seen you since you ran off this morning." Firecloud and Windrider grinned and sat down on their lounging pillows. "Are you going to tell me, or do you want me to guess?"
"Okay, mom. I'll tell you what we were up to. Windrider and I went looking for our old haunts... We ran into Rory, and then we decided to look for a house around here to call a home base." Firecloud fired off the list of the things they did that day, but of course, Shir Cloudstar could see through anything they weren't telling hir.
Shi eyed each one of them in turn, and then gave them a good look. "What are the two of you up to? I know you're not sharing everything. You have that guilty look in your eyes. Moms can tell, so just spit it out." Cloudstar smiled and then it started to fade to a quizzical look, as shi wasn't sure if this was a good secret or a bad one.
Windrider raised hir hand to draw attention hir way, and cleared hir throat as shi spoke. "Okay, so... Uh... Here's the story. After I'd been transformed.... Firecloud and I got... Close. There's no guarantees, but..."
Cloudstar finished the sentence and nodded at Windrider, having figured it out by hirself. "And let me guess... You think there's a chance the two of you are going to have a baby or something."
"Something like that... " Firecloud glumly admitted. Hir mother gave hir a hug, and scratched hir daughters chin.
"And you thought I wouldn't get it? Do you know how long I was hoping for the two of you to get it on? I thought I'd have to shove you two together! Now that you two don't seem to need my help anymore, you'd better have a cute kid or I'll have to shake you. Are you two going to try for a cub if you're not..." Shi motions with hir hand and smiles.
Firecloud was blushing pretty hard at the moment, and looked down at the floor. "I don't quite know what to say..."
"Well, you could say thanks, mom." Windrider nudged hir mate with hir elbow, and then slapped hir on the back. Firecloud gave the appropriate thanks and tried to control the blushing, but not everything managed to escape hir attempts at control. "Anyway... We wanted to share the news with your mate too, but shi's still... Wherever shi's travelling."
"Yes, well... We'll be waiting for when you two decide to come and visit... What are your plans for tomorrow?" Cloudstar asked.
"For the next few weeks we're going to be moving our stuff in and still looking around, but I suppose eventually we'll have to make our way into the doctors office to find out if we're... Or not." Firecloud said.
Windrider giggled at hir mate and smiled. "We seem to have a big problem saying the 'p' word, don't we?" The chakat patted hir back end with hir hand, and grinned. "For all we know, there's nothing there, and it's just wishful thinking, but maybe there's something in there after all."
Firecloud nodded and took a deep breath, and then let it out audibly. "Whether or not you've got something in there.... We'll make sure you do one way or the other. How does that sound to you?"
Windrider gave hir mate a kiss, and they looked at each other. "That sounds just perfect...."