Learning Curve 14

“I heard,” Ben said, “that if someone is resisting enough, on a deep level, then it’s hard or impossible for a morph witch to change them, or undo a change.”

“That was disproven,” Tavi said. “It would make unwilling changes impossible, and traumatic morph shock would become incredibly rare—you’d have to trick someone into going along with it. It’s basically just wishful thinking. I can understand why. The fact that consent isn’t required for something that can mess you up in a big way is a scary thing.”

I brought a tray into the living room, with two cups of tea, their respective favourites, and a plate with two blueberry muffins and several chocolate chip cookies. Each took their cup, and Tavi set the plate on the couch between them; I set the tray on the end table and sat at Ben’s feet, leaning against his legs with my head on his thigh. He reached down to stroke my hair affectionately. That felt good. I closed my eyes and just let myself relax.

“Not intrinsically necessary, anyway. It is required ethically and morally and legally. There are always lots of things people can do to mess each other up without consent being intrinsically necessary. People just don’t tend to think about them. And they aren’t really comfortable with witches yet. We can hope that gets better. Because an awful lot of things with the power to mess people up also include the power to do a lot of good.”

“Is that why you aren’t scared of me?”

“Why haven’t you been scared I’d take advantage of your best friend the past couple of days?”

“There’s that. Why did you bring up consent, anyway? That’s a pretty heavy subject for this hour of the morning.”

Ben chuckled. “Because Sky’s having an awful lot of fun not having to be responsible for anything except following orders right now, and I think she’d probably resist if she could.”

Tavi laughed outright. “Yeah, possibly, even if it does run counter to defining herself for years as more dom than anything. But it’s been over a week. It’s about time for this roller coaster to wrap up. So once I’m entirely awake, we’ll see if I can actually just undo everything, and we can have a bit of time with normal life before I have to start learning how to do controlled deliberate changes at will. Otherwise Sky and I are both going to end up unemployed, and while neither is the greatest career in the world, they’re both decent steady jobs with decent co-workers and reasonable expectations and some good moments, y’know?”

“Which matters. I have relatives doing everything from environmental engineering to pumping gas. Any job that you like and that pays the bills is worth keeping. For however long you need it.”

“Yeah. I don’t know if I want to be a career witch and go public. I might be happier keeping quiet and sticking with friends.”

“That’s a major choice to make, for sure.”

“Not just for me. Anyone who’s known to be close to a witch is at risk of some public disapproval.”

“Ask Sky, at a time it’ll be less biased, but I bet she won’t care.”

“Mm. What about you? We’re friends, right?”

“I’d certainly like us to be. As for public disapproval…” That was halfway a laugh, but not exactly humour. “Fuck it. I’ve had to deal with racists, homophobes, queer panphobes, and occasional assholes with warped ideas about nurses versus doctors involving gender and relative skills. What makes you think I give a crap about who approves of what?”

“I’m not sure I’m that strong. Well.” She took a deep breath. “For the moment… yo, Sky. I know you’re enjoying an incredibly adorable extended bout of sorta-subspace blissiness. I told you that you were switch, not just dom. We’ll aim for an extended bout of sorta-domspace blissiness sometime soon when there’s nothing else to worry about like neoarcane and intrusive exes, ‘kay? Or anything else that either of you can dream up, you know I’ll do my best. But for right now, let’s see if I can get you back to your normal self, finally.”

She was mostly right. I did feel wonderfully relaxed and content. The urge to serve them both in any way that came up was still there, and going along with that was rather satisfying—but that was, I was sure, at least partly because I loved seeing my boyfriend and best friend happy. I was a bit tired, because Ben, given permission and Tavi’s efforts at space, had no hesitation about making full use of the situation and me, but that was just fun. And I was very much present and listening and following everything. I just didn’t really care whether they wanted to talk about me like I wasn’t.

On the other hand, while I didn’t actually mind my current form at all, it would be good to get back to being regular human male Sky. No fur, no metal, no scales, precisely two feet and no tail, no corset or heels, no USB cords or diet extremes. None of Tavi’s behavioural projections, either. Just me.

So I shrugged, got up—I was getting pretty agile at working around the corset and heels—and moved to the middle of the floor. “Okay. Go to it.”

“Ben?” Tavi said. “I don’t think I’d catch you, but just in case…”

“Gotcha.” He took his tea and a cookie and relocated to the computer chair.

Tavi set her tea on the nearer end table and crossed her legs, her breathing growing slower and deeper.

“Normal,” she muttered to herself. “Normal. I want my everyday Sky back. Normal.”

The shudder that ran through her was much milder this time, and while she did let herself flop against the back of the couch, she caught her breath only a few heartbeats later.

“Right. I might have gotten it? I guess we’ll see.”

I looked at my hands.

The red was fading into a familiar tanned beige.

“That’s a good sign.” I turned my arms to show both of them.

Ben moved back to the couch. “Promising,” he agreed.

The cuffs simply melted away into nothing; so did the collar, the corset, and when the beige reached that far, the shoes. When I reached up, the horns were gone, and my kinky but rather fun tail shrank and vanished. I was pretty sure, from the way my perspective on the room changed, that I was back to my normal height.

“Tavi,” I said levelly. “Why is my hair getting longer?” It was. Quite a lot longer. It was also fading from black to, well, rather a lot of colours, rippling down in a mad soft-edged rainbow. “Plus I’m still a girl, and nothing else seems to be happening.” I looked down at myself. Smaller breasts than in my demon form, but they were certainly still there, and my hips were still wider, with a narrower waist between. Overall proportions were still feminine. And I still didn’t have my usual parts between my legs. I checked.

Tavi heaved a sigh. “I’m sorry. I thought I actually had it this time. Something else must have snuck into my head that I didn’t even notice.”

“As near as I can tell, you almost got it, anyway.”

“Almost isn’t really enough, but I guess it’s an improvement. At least you could actually go outside without a riot starting.”

“If I can find any clothes that fit me. I’m not sure mine will, and yours probably won’t.”

“Oh, that’s easy. Long loose skirt with drawstring waist, that’ll fit most people, and a stretchy t-shirt or tanktop. Or possibly one of my summer dresses that are on the loose side. You don’t look like you actually need a bra, but I could find a light sports one or something.”

“In that case, maybe you could? Having no clothes on doesn’t feel like a big deal with fur or scales or whatever. It’s feeling a bit strange right now, though.”

“Right back.” She got up and headed for the bedroom. She was steady on her feet and moved at a normal speed, which I took as a good sign for her being mostly over her neoarcane syndrome.

While she did, I joined Ben on the couch and snuggled against him, though I had to move an absurd amount of ankle-length hair forward over my shoulder so I wouldn’t sit on it; he obligingly draped an arm around my shoulders.

“You don’t look too upset,” he observed.

I shrugged. “Meh. Never could figure out the right word for what to call my gender identity. Situational, maybe? There are a million and one terms but sorting through them to find one that feels right but that no one will understand so I’d have to explain it anyway just seems like more work than it’s worth, since it normally doesn’t really matter anyway. I mean, at some point, I’d like to get back to my own regular body, but I’m not sure it makes much difference. Does it?” I looked up, suddenly worried. “Is any of that a problem?”

“It isn’t for me. I’m madly in love with you. Plumbing is irrelevant. And, apparently, a lot more variable than I was expecting.” He sounded more amused than disturbed. “I’m not sure I’m ever likely to be brave enough to volunteer to help Tavi practice, or even to ask her to change me once she’s really good at it, but I can appreciate the effects with no trouble at all.”

“That’s a huge relief.”

“You keep checking whether I’m still going to want to stay with you. You keep forgetting that it goes both ways. Maybe you’ll get bored with me. Especially once you’re rich and famous as Tavi’s assistant.”

“Huh? Who says she’s going public? Or that there’s money and fame in it? Or that I’d be her assistant?”

“My prediction for the future.”

“You might be wildly wrong. But it won’t matter. Still keeping you.”

“Good. Do you suppose it would be hopelessly self-indulgent for the three of us to actually go out somewhere for dinner tonight? Nowhere seriously fancy, just somewhere with decent food. You’ve both been pretty isolated and it might do you good, if you’re okay going out while you have some resemblance to Rapunzel.”

I laughed. “Doesn’t bother me, and sounds fun. Maybe we can even find somewhere with a dance floor, just to work off some energy. I should probably check with my manager and see if he wants me to come in, at least to work in the back—if he’s that short-handed, he can live with me being a girl right now, and I’m going to run out of vacation time eventually. That should be fun. But I can wait another day while you’re off. Picnic in the park tomorrow?” Tavi loved picnics. They gave her lots to sketch, for one thing.


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