November 5th, 2007
Amanda pushed her buggy through the store mentally going over her grocery list. As usual her son Ron wanted meat, any type of meat. She passed over the pork products, she loved the stuff but since the only way she could move around in public without terrifying the norms was by wearing a burqa, getting some nice juicy pork chops would definitely spoil the look. Fortunately she'd just finished a movie the week before so she could afford a couple of roasts, cheap steaks and chicken.
Lifting a case of soda into the cart was a challenge, her arms shook and threatened to bend just not at the elbows like most people. She bit back an unladylike curse of frustration, she'd used up a lot of energy doing the movie and it would take her at least a few more days of healthy eating, relaxing and lying in the sun to recover. By then her jaw would be feeling better to, it still hurt from being open for so long.
Looking at her full cart she quickly calculated the prices and realized that with all the deals she had a bit of money left over. Taking out her phone she sent a message to her son asking what type of treat he wanted, he was at school but since it was lunchtime he should answer pretty quickly. While she waited, she browsed through the magazines, going to the bridal ones with a bit of wistful sadness trying to picture herself wearing one of the beautiful white dresses. She'd never had the chance to wear a wedding dress, and likely never would. If that did change, she certainly wouldn't be wearing white. Still, daydreaming wasn't a crime.
As she read ten tips on having a stress free wedding, Amanda realized that it had been over fifteen minutes and Ron still hadn't responded. Smiling to herself she figured he was talking with his friends about sports or girls, nice normal things. Putting the magazine back she went to get some chips for both of them.
Staring at the bathroom mirror, Ron wondered if he should have told his Mom he needed to see a doctor earlier. Jabbing his ribs again, he didn't feel the thick layer of fat that was usually there, he was still fat, but if he pressed firmly enough he felt something hard and smooth under it. It didn't hurt but it was really, really strange. Reaching down, he felt his knees for the fifth time in two minutes. They worked properly but they felt soft, more like cartilage then bone. He'd noticed strange things like that for the last month, but with his Mom being gone for two weeks for her job and prepping for it at least a week before, along with normal teenage bravado that nothing could hurt him he hadn't said anything. Now he was realizing that that might have been a mistake.
“Hey Ron! Stop worrying about your makeup and look at this,” his friend Peter said, dragging Ron out of the bathroom and into an empty classroom next door. .
“It's lunch and I'm hungry, this had better be important,” Ron said, giving his rather large stomach a pat letting it know he'd fill it soon. He was even hungrier than normal and didn't know why.
His friend pulled a magazine out of his book bag. “Believe me, it's worth it. My Dad forgot to put away his stash and I got some really freaky stuff.”
Being a fourteen year old boy who lived with his nice but boring, single mother, who was good enough with computers to know when he'd gone to a porn site, Ron was always willing to check out these types of things. Pulling out his math book in case a teacher came along, they went to the corner of the room and opened the forbidden book.
“Check it. I didn't know my old man had a thing for mutants, but this is better than Hustler,” Peter said flipping it straight to a picture of a cat girl going at it with a dog boy.
“Sweet,” Ron whispered.
“There's a snake girl in here who can dislocate her jaw, and, oh man, you wouldn't believe what she does.” Peter wiped away some drool and flipped the page which revealed just how agile the cat girl could be. “But the best is a woman who looks like a plant.”
Despite how hot he was feeling, Ron's blood turned cold like it always did when someone mentioned a plant like mutant. Shaking the feeling away he forced himself to grin again, “Stop holding back, show me.”
His friend turned to the middle of the magazine, the extreme tightness in his pants instantly died. He knew the four armed willowy woman, whose vine like arms and legs were wrapped around a giant of a man that was deep within her. He stared at the weeping willow branches for hair spread around the woman like a halo, the light sapling green skin, the amber coloured eyes, flowers in place of rings on her fingers, the dark green lips that were opened in a moan. He knew her, he kissed her cheek goodnight and hugged her in the morning.
He had to bite his tongue until it bled. Finally he could speak. “Can I borrow it for the night?”
“Man it's my Dads! He'll kill me if he knew I'd taken it.”
“You owe me for helping you kick Neal's ass last month, my Mom grounded me for two weeks. And this is from last year, your dad won't miss it. If he does, he'll think your mom threw it out like she did when he left his stash out last time.”
Reluctantly Peter handed it over. “Don't mess up the pages. I don't want to touch it or explain what happened to it to Dad if it's all sticky and shit.”
“Yeah, no problem,” Ron said. Jerking off to it was the VERY last thing he had on his mind. What kid wanted to even think about their mother naked, much less what she was doing?
“Hey Amanda, how was the computer conference?” the cashier asked.
“It was boring, but I got some good contracts out of it at least,” Amanda lied. It was easier to lie than to talk about her real job, it was almost as hard for some people to accept as being a mutant. She had almost no friends in the city, but she had a lot of friendly acquaintances and most of them would be shocked to hear that she'd done a porn movie with over ten men and two other women.
“I don't know how you can handle all that computer stuff, I have to get my daughter to help me if my computer does anything out of the ordinary.”
She smiled, which couldn't be seen through the black fabric. “It's not that hard, you just have to get a good teacher and put in the time to learn. If you want I could come over and give you some help for the more common stuff.”
The cashier patted her arm, not noticing that the arm was extremely thin and delicate under the dark fabric. “That won't help. At my age it would just go in one ear and out the other. But if my daughter can't help me over the phone the next time something goes wrong, I'll give you call.”
“Sure thing,” Amanda said with a wave goodbye.
On the ride home, she sang to Avril Lavigne, No Doubt, Weezer and others hits from the 90's she had on her burned CD, planning supper and figuring out what she and Ron could do to catch up on things now that she was back home and not completely exhausted anymore.
In her nice apartment in the centre of the city Amanda happily took off her burqa, scratching her green skin with all four of her arms, put away the groceries, began marinating two large steaks that would do a family of four, and put on a string bikini that she wouldn't dream of wearing around her son. Going to the big balcony that she had artfully concealed in plants, so sunlight could come in but it was very hard for anyone to see anything or anyone on the balcony itself she got ready for some healthy R&R.
Sitting down on a comfortable beach chair, a cool glass of water beside her and the radio playing softly Amanda let the sun feed her skin. Flowers burst from her flesh while the thin leaves in her hair expanded, twisting to catch the sun. She could feel her tiredness falling away under the warm light. It was a greater physical feeling than anything she'd ever felt before, except for the drugs she'd taken as a teenager and this didn't leave her feeling dead inside after the high wore off.
Her body got to work turning the sunlight and the large lunch she'd had into muscle, the vines that made up her legs and arms thicken visibly. She could put on mass quickly but it disappeared quickly as well, which was why she worked in bursts taking a month or two off between movies and photo shoots to recover. Twelve hour days doing pretty intense physical activity took a lot out of a person, even a mutant.
The front door clicked and opened suddenly.
Amanda didn't bother shouting or demanding to know who was in her house. Ron wouldn't be home for a few more hours and no one except her best friend Janet, who was busy writing a new book and wouldn't leave it except for an emergency, had a key. That meant an intruder and which was going to prove very messy for both of them.
Grabbing a handful of seeds from the bowl that was beside the balcony window, similar bowls were all over the house for just such an occasion, she moved quickly to face whoever it was. Leaves and vines, glistening with irritating hairs, poisonous oils and nasty thorns, slipped between her fingers as the seeds burst open, ready to give any thief, rapist or mutant bigot a bad day.
Amanda stopped in her tracks, suddenly conscious of the tiny patches of cloth that barely concealed her nipples, and the thong that hugged her curves and lines hiding nothing. Draping the poison ivy, stinging nettles, bristly greenbriar, and others plants across her shoulders being immune to their poisons, she created herself a type of dress that would at least make her decent in front of her son.
“What are you doing home Ron?” she asked, trying to hide her embarrassment.
He didn't answer her, just looked at her with hard eyes that seemed full of disgust. Reaching into his book bag he took out a magazine and threw it at her.
She was so shocked at his actions she didn't even try to catch the thing, letting it slap against the vines covering her body. Looking down, she saw her face on the cover, smiling, white cream dripped from her face, she was naked and showing everything to the world.
Her hands covered her face, and she could feel the tears overflowing, running down her long fingers. “I-I-I...” What could she say. She couldn't even yell at him for having it.
“That's what your job is? Being a whore!” Ron shouted.
She couldn't go with her first instinct to hug him, not unless she wanted to send him to the hospital. “Let me get dressed. We'll talk after I'm dressed.”
“And tell me what, that my best friend was jacking off to you? Is this why you don't have any pictures of my dad, you don't even know who he is?”
“Let me get dressed! Then we can talk,” she shouted running for her room.
When she came out a minute later in a track suit, her skin having absorbed the poisons, and the plants shrivelled up and dead in the garbage, Ron was gone. He'd left the magazine on the coffee table open to a picture of her making love to a man made of rock.
She remembered that photo shoot and movie, they'd made jokes about fertilizing the flowers. It had been a fun job, Hard Driver had been friendly and ordered in a really nice meal for them after the first day of shooting. They hadn't been able to see the sights in Houston, too many anti-mutant H1'ers, but they'd talked, gotten to know each other as friends and they'd set up joint projects twice more since then. If he hadn't been married, she'd be tempted to date him.
Picking up her phone, she started calling around, leaving messages with the parents of Ron's friends, asking them to tell her if Ron came by, but not to make him to go home until he was ready. She'd wait a few hours before calling the police. As an obvious mutant, even though she'd never been charged with any crime she tried to avoid the police as much as possible. If they started digging they'd find out about her job, and there were assholes who would use both facts against her as blackmail material, threatening to call in the MCO over trumped up prostitution charges, getting child services involved, and worse. The last time that happened it had gotten so out of control that after a week of hell she'd been forced to leave town quickly, taking Ron out of school in the middle of class with her dignity in tatters.
Then she called the only person in the city she could call a real friend. “Janet,” she sobbed, “can you come over.”
“What's wrong, honey?” the former porn star who had been used hard and barely survived a bad heroin addiction asked.
“Ron, he... he found out,” she cried, collapsing on the couch, hugging herself with all four arms.
“I'll be right over. Just hold the fort and don't do anything stupid,” Janet said, understanding immediately. “Do you have any booze?”
“Just some wine,” Amanda answered, not understanding what she was talking about for a second. Then it clicked. “I won't drink it. I don't do that anymore.”
“Good. I'll be there in twenty minutes. Call me if you need to.”
She hung up the phone and hugged her knees. She should have told Ron the truth earlier, not let him find out on his own.
Afraid that she'd lose her family for a second time, Amanda cried harder than she had in years.
Ron walked through the city streets not sure what to do or where to go.
He couldn't believe what he'd seen. He had thought his mom was a small time crook working for the Syndicate, doing things behind the scenes that she refused to talk about. That was why he had to be so quiet about what she did, lying about her job and her past, saying she was a computer programmer who did freelance work. She'd told him that it was impossible for mutants like her to get jobs and while she wished she could be more open about it, it was the only way to make ends meet and make sure he had a good future.
He'd rather have her being a criminal than a prostitute who spread her legs for anyone with cash.
He'd seen hundreds of photo's of naked women why did he have to find her in them? Why did his best friend have to show him?
His Mom was already a freak of nature did she want to make it even harder on him?
Was his father one of the guys she'd fucked on camera? Was he the gene freak that had been using her in the magazine?
Ron was so lost in his own world of pain and shame he never noticed the car as he crossed the road. He only had time to hear the squeal of breaks before everything lit up, he felt himself flying through the air, followed a second or two later by pain and the sound of glass cracking. His last sensation before blackness overcame him was feeling bitterly cold.
Amanda let Janet hold her like a baby. The old looking woman had been by her mentor when she'd made the jump from being a teen prostitute to a mutant porn star a week after turning eighteen, and they'd been nearly inseparable ever since. Janet had even pulled up stakes in Reno when Amanda moved to California to get away from the blackmailing police.
“Thanks for coming,” she whispered.
“Wasn't any trouble, I was just staring at an empty page wondering how to get the hero to realize the heroine wants to jump his bones. I've still got a few weeks before my publisher starts giving me angry phone calls, so I'm here for you,” Janet said, stroking Amanda's back with a bony, blotchy hand.
“He wasn't suppose to learn like this. Why didn't I tell him?”
“Ron is a big boy, he just needs to calm down and he'll come back to talk things out. Then you just tell him the truth, he's old enough now to understand.”
Out of old habit Janet's hand slid towards her breasts. Amanda clutched it tightly in her own, not wanting to fall back into the mutually self destructive mess that always seemed to come up when they got together as anything more than friends. “I don't think he will understand. I've always been there for him, giving him the idea that I'm a fairly innocent mother. He doesn't know a quarter of the things I've done just trying to survive. If he found out about all of it he'll never be able to look at me in the eye. If he can now,” she whispered.
“Enough with the self pity,” Janet said. “You've got nothing to be embarrassed about, and you've done a damn fine job raising your son. A lot better than many women who don't have a quarter of your baggage. You're good at your job, you make people happy and you don't force it on anyone, you're already doing better than half the people out there. You tell him that everything he has comes from your work and it's a lot more respectable than being a criminal like he thought you were.”
“But he saw-”
“Yeah, he saw you at work, so what? At least he was embarrassed and not turned on. Like all men he expects the women in his life to be perfect angels, he just got shocked out of that a little sooner than most. Let him get over his embarrassment, and remember it's his embarrassment, not yours, and then talk to him. Don't go into the nitty gritty details, he doesn't have any business knowing that but your regular work sure.”
She sighed, hugging her friend with her second set of arms. “I hope it's that easy.”
That got a harsh laugh. “I never said it was easy. If life was easy I'd still be a ravishing beauty doing 'The Buxom Avenger #20' and hosting the AVN award show, instead of being a middling romance writer, suffering from writers block. But you'll survive, you always do and you drag those around you up from the muck at the same time. Ron won't be much different, just a little closer to home.”
She hoped her friend was right. They made small talk about Janet's newest book, and she offered suggestions on how to get past the scene that was giving her friend so much trouble. The steaks sat forgotten on the counter as evening came on, Amanda was too nervous and worried to do any cooking. Instead they ordered in a couple of pizza's, enough for the two of them, with a couple of pieces to spare when Ron came home. She was so flustered, she almost forgot her burqa when she answered the door for the pizza delivery guy. That would have been interesting.
“I'm calling the police,” Amanda said when eight o'clock rolled around.
Janet frowned, knowing how poorly things went for Amanda when police got involved. “Here let me call, you're too wound up to do it properly.”
She didn't object, but leaned in so close to the older woman they looked almost like Siamese twins.
“Hello, I'd like to report a potential runaway,” Janet said. “No he's not my child, I'm calling for a friend, Amanda Rozic. She and her son had an argument, no violence but he was pretty angry.”
“They're putting me through to a detective,” she told Amanda.
After a wait that seemed to go on for an eternity, Janet began speaking again. “Hello. Yes, that's right. His name is Ron Rozic. The fight was about two pm this afternoon. She contacted all of his known friends, asking them to pass on the word if he showed up.” She frowned and rolled her eyes. “How is she to contact any friends she doesn't know about?”
Janet covered the mouth piece of the phone. “He's looking some things up.” The wait was only a minute or two, and then Janet's face lost all colour. “You're sure. Yes, Ron Rozic, fourteen years old, on the large side, wearing... What was he wearing?” she asked.
Amanda's heart was beating so fast she was sure it would burst. All of the things she'd thought could happen to her child throughout the horrible day came back worse then ever. “A blue windbreaker, faded blue jeans, a black shirt, and black sunglasses.”
She passed the information on. “Oh god. What hospital? All right, we'll be there as fast as we can.”
Janet grabbed Amanda's arm and dragged her to the door, showing a surprising amount of strength for a woman who looked like a sixty year old. “Ron is alive but he was hit by a car. He's still in surgery.”
Amanda threw on her burqa and it was a race down the stairs rather than taking the slower elevator. Instead of taking her second hand mini, Janet pushed her towards an older but well cared for sports car. “You're in no condition to drive. You'll just end up in the hospital beside him, I'll drive. And my car is faster.”
The usual ten minute drive was done in five with the engine roaring and the horn blaring, warning people to get out of the way.
Running into the hospital, Amanda grabbed a nurse demanding to know about her son. She was pointed to the ER and raced down the hall. When she got there, she went to the nurse on duty giving the name of her son.
The nurse didn't have to look at the computer to tell her the bad news. “There are complications, the doctor has never seen anything like your son before. Is he a...” she leaned in and whispered, “mutant?”
“He wasn't this morning, but I thought he might manifest soon,” she said. “Will he be OK?”
“We don't get many,” she hesitated looking around nervously, “people like that here. You'll have to wait until the doctor is done.”
“When can I see him?” she demanded.
“I'm not sure. Are you a- one of them to?”
“What difference does it make?”
The nurse leaned away from her as if she were a dangerous animal. “We have a room for you to wait in until your son is out. If you'll just follow the men, we'll let you know what's happening as soon as possible.”
Turning, Amanda saw four security guards watching her closely resting their hands on their tasers. Grinding her teeth she and Janet followed them.
“Would you care to go over what you were arguing about, Ms. Rozic,” the police officer asked for the fourth time.
Amanda gritted her teeth, “I told you, he was skipping school thinking I was out. He walked in on me, and when I demanded to know what he was doing at home, we got into an argument and he stormed out. He was hit by a car while angry and two blocks away from our home, why are you questioning me? I should be at his side.”
He ignored her, pointing at the driver license size piece of ID on the table. “And this is your MID?”
“Again yes. What's the point of all of this? Should I have a lawyer?”
“You're pretty defensive for a worried mother,” he said.
“I want to be at my son's side when he gets out of surgery. You've had me here for over two hours, and I still don't know why.” She glared at him, trying to keep a snarl out of her voice, “How would you feel in my situation?”
“I'm just curious about things. You're son was badly injured after an argument with you, it does raise some concerns.”
“I would never hurt my son!” she snapped, actually slapping the table with her upper hand.
The officer jerked back and reached for his gun. She leaned back, holding all her hands up. “I want a lawyer.”
The officer kept his hand resting on the weapon. “You haven't been accused of anything, why do you want a lawyer? Maybe I should call the MCO.”
“Fine. Do it. Maybe they'll act like professionals.” She really didn't want the MCO involved, but if she backed down things would definitely get worse.
He scowled as his gambit at terrifying her didn't work. “Where were you when your son was injured?”
“At my home, my friend Ms. Ricardo had just come over. We were talking about things.”
“What were you talking about, Poon?” he asked.
If she could have killed him on the spot she would have. “I told you before, do not call me by that codename. The MCO agent gave me that name, I did NOT choose it. You will call me Ms. Rozic.”
He smirked. “Sorry, I forgot. What were you talking about Ms. Rozic?”
“How I could reach my son, the stupid argument, her latest book. Things like that. I'm sorry we didn't record it for you it slipped my mind.” She briefly considered offering to take a video the next time she took a dump, but he'd probably like that. “I'm going to have to insist now that I either have a lawyer present, or you let me go back to wait for my son.”
“You can go. But I'll be in touch.” The officer who still hadn't said what his name was, slid her MID across the desk, making sure to cover everything except her code name.
Shoving the hateful thing into her purse, she looked around for her burqa, it wasn't in sight. “Where's my burqa?”
“I don't know. Did you have it when you came in here?” he asked.
“Yes I did. If I go out there without it, I'll have people panicking when they see me. Where did you put it?”
“Are you accusing me of stealing?” he asked, giving her a very nasty smile. “That's a serious accusation and could land you in a lot of trouble.”
She couldn't win, he'd love to arrest her and there was no way she'd get a fair hearing. “Fine, keep the damn thing,” she said, storming out of the impromptu interrogation room. As expected, people stared at her, jumping out of her way, snapping away with cameras, cowering in fear and other overreactions. With her lower arms wrapped around her stomach, her body looked almost normal, but everything else was inhuman. Her legs moved in a flowing pattern, that was noticeably inhuman even in her baggy, white cargo pants, thanks to having no knees, her waist length hair, that was more like weeping willow branches, was wilting and a few of the older leaves fell out from stress. The sleeveless, sky blue blouse she wore was definitely a mistake, revealing her vine like arms to everyone. At least her lower, smaller arms were somewhat hidden in the baggy material. She walked with her head up, refusing to hide since there was absolutely no point in trying, but as soon as she was in the relative privacy of the room set aside for her and Ron she closed the door and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Anything?” she asked Janet, who was sitting off to the side writing away in a notebook.
“He should be coming in soon, the nurse sounded scared,” Janet said, her husky voice full of anger at the stupid prejudice her friend was experiencing. Then she looked up and her eyes widened. “What the hell are you doing without your cover?”
“Chief Wiggum, decided I shouldn't hide my beautiful smile,” she said dryly. “I hope H1 likes giving people a sporting chance and phones ahead when they come around to use me to help light their H.”
Janet smirked. “Maybe I'll have time to get my Buxom Avenger costume. I think I can still fit into it with just a few safety pins.”
Sitting on the bed Amanda realized there was one good thing about being a mutant, no one had dared come in to tell her that Janet had to leave. Since she was a mutant she just might be a rager waiting to strike, so the staff at least was treating her with kids gloves.
“You can go home if you want, Janet. I can wait after Ron by myself.”
“No way. You're too much of a pushover, I'll be the cranky old bitch if they try anything and you can be the voice of sweetness and reason. Just like old times.”
For the first time since her son walked in on her with that magazine, she gave a real smile. “Thanks. I can always count on you can't I?”
“Till the end of the world,” her friend told her smiling back.
The door opened and security guards came in while two muscular orderlies pushed the stretcher inside. She rushed over needing to see her son, only to jerk back in shock. An unconscious girl rested on the clean white sheet, her face was like glass, so clear Amanda could see the pillow beneath her. Reaching out she stroked the smooth, hard skin, it was warm to the touch, flexing ever so slightly under her touch. It wasn't Ron, but she could see a resemblance to her own face, the oddly shaped eyes, the button nose, the nearly waist length hair that was far thicker than normal hair only to taper down to a near point.
Her mind went blank, and the world tilted madly as she fainted.
Ron woke up to the antiseptic smell of a hospital and an unfamiliar bed. He felt terrible, stiff, a killer headache, his mouth totally dry and really needing to go to the bathroom.
He tried to remember what had happened. He'd been angry, he knew that much. He had left the house, he'd skipped school, why? His mothers face appeared, moaning, not in pain but pleasure. His mother was a whore, that was it. He'd gotten the magazine from his friend, who had been slobbering over his Mom. How could she do that?
Struggling to sit up, throwing back a scratchy blanket he realized he was in a hospital. Why?
A tube ran along his leg, going beneath the blue gown up to his crotch. Squinting in the dim light of the machines, he saw yellow liquid running through it. Ugh, he thought, realizing that it was whatever they called a piss tube. He scratched his belly, stopping as his fingers touched something hard.
He had always been on the heavy side, actually fat if he was honest, he was used to having a soft belly. This was not soft, it felt more like warm, flexible glass. His eyes went wide, taking it all in. His legs were see through. He could actually see the sheet under them, as if he were looking through a window. Reaching out to touch them, not believing what he was seeing, Ron saw his arms were the same way.
Moaning in fear, he tried to scream. Only a high pitched squeal came out.
“Whoa, Ron, it's alright. Everything is fine, you're alive and that's all that matters,” his aunt Janet said, grabbing hold of his hands.
“What? How? What?” he stammered.
“Here drink this, the docs couldn't get an IV in you, so you must be thirsty,” she said holding a cup and straw up to his lips.
Draining the cup, he almost immediately felt better. That wasn't really saying much though, he was still on the edge of a panic attack and only the sympathetic muttering from Janet was keeping him from screaming like a little girl.
“All right, you're with me?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he squeaked, blinking in confusion at his high pitched voice.
“Good. You were in a car accident and got hit pretty bad. It seems like you manifested, the changes were probably happening for a while now, but the accident pushed you towards the final change. Do you understand?” she asked.
He nodded, not trusting his voice. He'd read up on mutants since his Mom was one of them, and there was a good chance he would be to.
“While the doctors were working on you, they found your new body underneath your skin and fat. You're smaller than you used to be.” She kept a hold of him, her eyes judging how well he was taking the news. “I'm going to turn on the light and let you see your hand nice and clear. Take it easy and don't worry, I've seen worse.”
The little reading light beside the bed turned on, focused just on his hand. Ron realized his first glimpse of himself had been right, his hand was glass. He could see the light shining through it, tapping it with a finger gave a glassy little ting. It was warm to the touch and he could move it as easily as his normal flesh and blood hand.
“Why is it so small?” he asked. His hands had been big with stubby fingers, and flat knuckles that his gym coach said were boxer hands. These were small with long, delicate fingers and feminine nails.
“I shouldn't be the one doing this,” Janet sighed, “but no one else is around. Your Mom fainted when she saw you, she's sleeping it off in the bed beside yours. And the staff is afraid of mutants.”
“What are you talking about?” Ron demanded, taking a quick look to see that his mother really was in the room. She was and sleeping like a baby.
“I'm going to turn on the overhead light, but before I do I want you to know that your Mom has done everything she can to give you the best life possible. She isn't about to stop now. You understand?”
He nodded, biting the inside of his lip which still felt like flesh, wishing that the last twenty-four hours was just a nightmare.
“All right.” Janet turned on the overhead light, her wrinkled, age ravaged face was set in a stern, gargoyle like visage, but her brilliant blue eyes showed just how worried she was.
In the light he looked down at his body and screamed.
Janet had her hand over his mouth before he could get any real volume. “Ron, look at me. Look at me,” she demanded, forcing his eyes to connect with hers. “You're alive. You're mother loves you. Focus on that. Now I'm going to let you slowly look at your body. Don't freak out.”
Moving her hand to his shoulder, she gave him what was probably suppose to be an encouraging smile. He looked down at his body again. Where he'd had flab before, he now had two seemingly enormous mounds of flesh. His hands were shaking as he pulled the hospital gown away from his body. He now had tits, real tits, not the bitch tits he'd hated before, with large nipples, and they looked like they were glass just like his hands and legs.
Flicking them didn't hurt, just made another strange tinging sound. They moved rapidly up and down in time with his panicked breathing. Not believing what he was seeing, he grabbed his right breast and gave it a shake. It jiggled a little, not as much as a real breast at least from what he'd seen on the net, but it did move, worse he could feel it moving.
“I'm a girl,” he said in his oddly pitched voice that sounded almost like wind chimes.
“Yeah,” Janet said, stroking his long, flexible hair which hung over his chest and back, making them chime as the strands hit each other. “They haven't checked everywhere, but you're smaller than you used to be, and on the surface 100% female, with similar plumbing judging from the catheter. Welcome to the sorority.”
“I'm going to be sick.”
She held up a garbage can for him, not even flinching as the water he'd drank a few minutes before splashed onto her hand. When he was done she gave him some tissue to wipe his face, and only then did she wipe her own hand.
As he cleaned off his face, he noticed his chin was smaller, daintier, and his lips were plump, he blushed as he realized he and his friends had made fun of girls with lips like his. His nose, which had been rather flat and broad was now a tiny thing, it felt fragile. Plump cheeks had changed into something sleek with well defined bones. From how his face felt, he guessed that he looked like his Mom.
“What now?” he asked.
“We get the doc's to run a few tests on you in the morning and then we take you home. You're Mom and I have had some experience with this kind of thing. We'll help you through it.”
“I can't go to school like this.” He had heard stories from his Mom when she was depressed, talking about how she'd been forced out of her school after being beaten by her classmates several times. He didn't know what would happen if he got hit, would his body shatter, crack, explode, could it heal? He didn't want to learn.
“Don't worry about that right now. You've got options your Mom didn't. I just have to remember some names I thought were well in the past for me.” She patted his shoulder again. “You're going to need an MID. For that you need a code name. Let's start brainstorming, it will help keep you distracted. I'm thinking Glass.”
“How about Fragile? Or Broken?” Ron said.
He pulled the blanket over his head, wishing that the world would just end.
Amanda waited outside the door of the examination room, covered in a burqa again so only the people who knew what she was were staring. Janet had left a while ago after running some errands for her, despite all the excitement her friend still had a book to write. She'd woken up that morning feeling better especially when she'd seen that Ron was alive, changed beyond anything she had expected but alive, and that was all that mattered to her.
They hadn't talked during breakfast. Ron had seemed to be in a state of shock, just going through the motions. She couldn't fault him for that, she'd spent a few weeks doing the same when her body had started to change.
She'd had to call the school to explain that Ron wouldn't be in class for a while. She wasn't quite sure how to explain that he'd never go to school again, at least not that one. Her thoughts went unwillingly back to her own high school. Even with her skin turning green her parents had forced her to go everyday. It was not a good memory, the time spent at the hospital getting broken bones set, pain medicine that didn't work and regrowing her hair after it had been ripped out in chunks put a damper on the nostalgia factor. When the beatings had started at home after she became truly inhuman, she realized she had to run if she wanted to survive to her next birthday.
There was no way her child would go through that.
The doctor stepped out. “Ms. Rozic, can you come in please?”
“What's wrong doctor?” she asked hurrying inside.
Ron was on the exam table, dressed in a hospital gown, clutching his knee's trying to hide behind them. Because his body was see through, only really gaining definition at the natural lines and curves of the body, he didn't seem to realize he was giving them a perfect view of his new private parts.
It truly hit her at that moment that her son was now a girl.
“We need to do a pelvic exam, and, er... Ron... is rather nervous, we're hoping you can calm her down,” the doctor explained.
“Ok, can you give me a few minutes?” she asked.
“Yes, perfect,” he said immediately. “I'll come back in five minutes, I have a few files to read about your daught- son's condition.”
Ron looked up at her, with oversized, see through eyes. “Mom, he, he wants to put something up... there.”
“I know honey,” she said, taking off her burqa and sitting down beside her child. Her blouse was lifted up a little so she could pull out her lower arms and wrap him in an enormous hug. She was so used to him being soft and pudgy, like an oversized teddy bear, the new body didn't feel or smell like her son. The delicate, chiming voice couldn't be more different than his old one either. She still put as much warmth and love into her hug as possible, looking him in the eyes so he knew she wouldn't leave him.
“Ron, you need to do this. We need to know all kinds of things about your changes, and this will let us know what we need to warn you about. We don't want any more surprises, do we?” she asked.
“Like, periods? And if I could get pregnant?” he squeaked.
“Yes,” she said slowly and carefully. He began trembling, his long, transparent hair chimed beautifully.
“Don't leave me,” he said, clutching her.
“Never. I'll never leave you,” she said. “If I'm here, will you let the doctor look you over?”
“Do I have to?”
“We need to know what happened to you. So yes. Don't worry it's only a little uncomfortable, it doesn't hurt.”
She felt her sons' breasts rise and fall as he took a few deep breathes. “OK, I can do this.”
They held each other until the doctor and nurse came back. Ron didn't let go of her hand as he very reluctantly assumed the position in the stirrups.
When the doctor touched Ron's new body part, Amanda gasped and the nurse gave a little scream, Ron had vanished. She could still feel his hand, but her son and the hospital gown were completely invisible.
While the doctor and nurse gaped like fish, she stroked his head. “Ron, you turned invisible. We can't do the exam unless you let us see.”
“I don't know how!” Ron cried.
“Relax. I'm here, would I let anything bad happen to you?” she asked.
“No,” he whispered.
“Right, so relax, just breath and think about good things.”
Very slowly Ron reappeared.
“Uh, right, let's, let's continue,” the doctor said to the nurse.
Amanda watched quietly, holding Ron's hand as the exam went on. When the speculum was used, her eyes widened, but she tried to hide it from him. She could actually see the device through Ron's skin. Having been in the porn industry for so long she thought that she'd seen it all, but this was just bizarre.
“They're almost done Ron,” she said.
A few minutes later, the doctor declared himself satisfied. “Ron is 100% female, Ms. Rozic. We'll send the pap smear off to the lab to be checked out, but she is one of the healthiest teenage girls I've ever met.”
“That's it. Nothing else?” Amanda asked,
“Well we're putting a note in her medical files that when administering shots, taking samples and other things, to do it orally, vaginally or rectally, as those parts are softer then her skin and can be pierced by a needle safely. Also from looking at various reports, male to female changes sometimes occur during manifestations. But beyond that, we aren't set up to examine her unique physiology. I will however look for possible referrals that can handle Ron,” he said, his words perfectly professional, but his body language, voice and eyes saying he was glad that he wouldn't have to deal with them for much longer.
It was easier to accept what help they could get than get into an argument she'd lose. “Thank you, I hope you can give me the referrals quickly.” When the doctor left, she pulled a track suit and some underwear out of her bag. “Come on, Ron, Janet got you some clothes that should fit.”
Ron picked up the pair of basic cotton panties. “They're girls clothes.”
“Be happy she didn't go with a pink, lacy thong, and a mini-skirt” she muttered. “Believe me, mens underwear wouldn't feel very comfortable. They won't fit well around your waist, bunch up, and aren't very soft on your ski-” she stopped herself. Ron probably had the least sensitive skin in the world at this point. Well at least he wouldn't have to worry about acne or dry skin again, she thought. “Just put them on, and I'll take you shopping. We can find some clothes you'll like then.”
Reluctantly Ron pulled on the underwear, while Amanda turned away. When he was finally done, she turned and saw what she had figured would cause the most trouble lying on the table.
“Ron can you jump for me?” she asked.
“Just do it, please.”
With his glassy lips set in a frown Ron jumped, and quickly grabbed his breasts which weren't that large, probably only a B cup, but still bounced pretty well. His cheeks seemed to get a reddish tinge and then he vanished.
“Ron,” she said, reaching out to touch his shoulder, “you can't be invisible all your life. And if you want to run or do stuff, a bra makes it a lot more comfortable. Come on it's just a sports bra.”
“I don't want it,” he said. “I can handle the underwear, but I've never had to worry about my chest.”
“Ron Parker Rozic, put your bra on this minute! I will not have you flashing your nipples around,” she snapped in her sternest voice.
The shirt appeared on the bed, and the bra vanished, the shirt vanished as well two minutes later. She assumed he was wearing both of them, and threw on her burqa. “Ok, you can stay invisible until we're in the car. Then I want to see your face. And if I can't see you, you have to hold my hand, so I know you're still there.”
“Fine,” he groaned, taking her hand.
With Ron trailing behind, Amanda signed him out and headed for the parking lot. As they walked, she realized that she couldn't hear his hair chiming or even his footsteps it was eerie.
“Can I turn back into a boy?” Ron asked quietly once they were in the privacy of the car.
Pursing her lips Amanda tried to think of the best way to answer. “I don't know of any way. But I know that lots of people are trying to fix things like this. A bunch of people I work with aren't happy with their looks and follow the research, but I've never looked at it too closely.”
“Why not? Wouldn't you like to look normal?”
“I've had a lot of promises in my life, most of them haven't panned out,” she admitted. “I don't see any point in wasting time, money and energy on things that probably won't happen, I'd rather spend it with the best thing in my life, you. I can't do that if I'm moaning and groaning all the time.”
“But, if you looked normal, you could, you know, get a regular job. Not a, a...”
“A porn star,” she finished for him. “Maybe. I definitely wouldn't have started out as one. I was raised thinking it was a horrible thing, but when I first started it was better than the alternatives. Then I discovered I liked it.”
Ron stared at her in shock, his delicate features reflecting the light making rainbows dance around the car interior. “You like having sex with all those guys?”
“The sex isn't bad. The work is long and I get worn out, and I get bruises and cramps in places you wouldn't believe, but most of the other actors and the crew are nice. I'm respected for my work, and no one I work with treats me badly or insult me because I'm a mutant.” That was a bit of a lie, but she wasn't about to tell Ron that dirty secret. “And I'm paid a lot more than minimum wage, which is about the best I could get since I only got my GED when I turned thirty and wanted to show people I wasn't an uneducated bimbo.”
Ron looked down at his new body, pulling his shirt tight to show off his breasts. “I guess I won't be finishing school either.”
“Like hell you won't!” she snapped.
“How can I go to class looking like this?!”
Taking her eyes of the road briefly, she said, “I'll home school you if I have to. But it shouldn't come to that, I've heard about a school for mutants from Janet and a few actors I work with.”
“Yeah. I wish I'd known about it when I was fifteen, but there's a private school for mutants where you won't be singled out. Janet is calling them up today.”
“Janet's a mutant?” Ron asked in wonder. “I thought most mutants were either really beautiful or different, not, well...”
Time to impart an important life lesson. “Don't do drugs. She's not an exemplar, but a manifestor. And in her prime she was beautiful, if she used her powers again she could probably look just as hot as she did fifteen years ago, but she hasn't used them in years. When she was younger she got into heroin, cocaine, and a whole cocktail of others when they were available at parties or from her boyfriend of the second. They weren't kind to her.”
They drove for a block in silence, and then Ron asked the question she was afraid of. “Do you know who my father is?”
“No,” she admitted with only the briefest hesitation. She'd been practising what to say since Ron had shown her the magazine. “When I got pregnant with you, I was... I was an alcoholic, and when I went to a party I'd take any drugs they offered me and do anything that seemed like it was fun. I didn't care about much except having fun, because healers are always kept around by the agencies to deal with STD's and other things. Then I found out I was pregnant, and realized that my life was a disaster. I took time off from work, grabbed Janet at the same time, and we went into detox. From about a month after I learned you were coming until five years ago, I didn't touch alcohol.”
“You don't even have a clue who it could be?”
She did, but she wasn't about to tell him. “No. That time of my life was one mistake after another. The only good thing to come out of it was you, and you're the one thing in my life that makes me feel proudest.”
They rode in silence, Ron vanished again, the last thing she saw was him staring sullenly out the window.
As they came close to their destination, Amanda took a risk. “I'm sorry for not telling you what I did sooner. At first I was waiting for you to be older and then it was just easier to keep it a secret. Even for baselines, the adult industry isn't exactly a job that gets a lot of respect, and the mutant side of it is seen as even sleezier.” She sighed, wishing that this was easier. “I was hoping you would never find out, and just keep thinking of me as your boring, old Mom.”
Ron didn't say anything. Amanda slid down in the driver seat, wondering if she could do anything right anymore. Or would he just see her as a well paid whore?
They came to a stop at a small womens clothing store. “Come on Ron. Let's get you clothes that will fit,” she said without much enthusiasm.
“I'm sorry for yesterday,” Ron said suddenly. Turning visible, he hopped out of the car and ran into the store. She'd taken him there a few times when they'd been out shopping and she'd needed to get something quick.
Smiling a little under her all concealing hood, she followed her son inside.
The owner of the store, a statuesque dark skinned woman who towered over Amanda's own average five foot six inches, was just coming over to Ron a pleasant smile in place. “Joanne, we desperately need your help,” Amanda said, taking her burqa off.
“Of course, Amanda. I'm assuming your companion needs a new wardrobe,” Joanne said.
Ron ducked his head, looking even more uncomfortable at being in a womans clothing store than usual. “Yes, this is...” she hesitated, not sure if she should explain that the girl was really her son.
“I'm Rona,” Ron said quickly.
“She's the daughter of a friend of mine,” she said, thankful that Ron had solved that problem. “She just manifested and as you can see she's changed a lot.”
“I see,” Joanne said, stroking Ron's jawline. “What style did you use to wear, and what are you interested in?”
“Boys stuff!” Ron said.
“She's always been a bit of a tomboy, we're actually all amazed that she looks like this and not some muscle bound Amazonian warrior,” Amanda said quickly, covering for her son.
“It's a shame to cover a body as beautiful as this in jeans and t-shirts or simple sports wear, but the customer is always right,” Joanne said, shaking her head sadly. “If you want to make a poor saleswoman happy, we can try a few different things that will really highlight your beauty, just in case you have hot date, or really want to get the boys drooling.”
“Maybe,” Ron said looking at Amanda with pleading eyes.
The next hour was almost like a fashion show. The underwear was actually the easiest, Ron saw some boy-shorts that looked a little like boxer briefs and picked up six of them. He wasn't happy about the pastel colours, but quietly told Amanda that at least none of them were lacy or flowery. Basic bra's along with a few sports bras were next Ron was on the small side at 36A, but he was definitely still filling out and would probably need to buy some larger ones in a few months. Again Ron didn't pick anything frilly or pretty, going for plain white and black cotton bras. When Joanne tried to get him into fancier ones, Amanda nixed it as politely as possible.
With the underwear out of the way Joanne led them to the small jeans section. That was not as successful as the underwear.
“How can women move in these?” Ron exclaimed, hobbling out of the change room wearing a pair of skinny jeans.
“It takes a bit of practice,” Amanda told him. “You want something looser?”
“Yeah about five times looser.”
With a sigh at the unfashionable young lady, Joanne grabbed some jeans from the shelf and handed them over. After some loud cursing from the change room trying to get the tight jeans off, Ron came out wearing a pair of bell bottoms, they hugged his hips, but the legs and crotch weren't just painted on.
“How's that, Rona?” Joanne asked.
“Better,” he said, looking at his hips and butt with a critical eye.
Amanda made sure the other jeans were a bit looser in the hips.
“You're hiding a great figure!” Joanne groaned shaking her head in disgust.
“Good!” Ron responded, looking much happier with the clothes.
Scallop necked shirts, a few t-shirts and even a couple of baby tee's, which gently emphasized Ron's new bust, along with two blouses and some wide legged slacks and Capri's filled out the rest of Ron's new wardrobe. Joanne jokingly cried that they were committing sacrilege, but made sure to avoid crop tops, and shirts with a lot of cleavage. They also got Ron a long baby blue felt jacket with a deep hood to hide his face. Black gloves and a pair of black ankle boots with a very low and wide heel completed the mix. He complained about the outfit a little, saying it was too tight, the pockets weren't very good, it was hot, and so on, but he quieted down when he looked at himself in the bell bottoms, a black baby tee and the jacket, running his hands along his body and really seeing how pretty he was for the first time.
Looking at Ron, or should she call him Rona now, Amanda was struck by the image and still didn't know how to react. Her fourteen year old son had turned into a beautiful young woman who could pass for a twenty year old. It was almost eye watering seeing her outline and the things behind her, but with the clothes giving her definition and highlighting the glass like skin, she could start seeing some features in the smooth glassy features. When Ron smiled, his cheeks dimpled even more than before, his long,the flexible hair that looked like braids, acted like prisms in the sunlight turning into a shifting rainbow of colours, and he moved with a graceful motion she'd never seen in him before. Even with his centre of balance totally shifted, it didn't bother him neither did losing height so that they were now eye to eye, rather than eye to nose like they had been before. There had to be some exemplar in there.
Paying Joanne a small fortune, and blowing the budget for the rest of the month, they loaded their things into the car and headed for home.
“So... Ron, should I call you Rona now? Or only in public?” she asked.
“I don't know. Does Rona sound stupid?”
“I think it sounds nice. Better than the name I was going to give you if you were a girl, Lucille,” she told him.
Ron somehow rolled his eyes, even without having visible pupils or irises. “Lucille? You really wanted me to get teased at school didn't you?”
“What?” she demanded. “I loved Lucille by Kenny Rogers back then. And it's not a bad name.”
“Yeah sure.” His snort sounded like a glass bell ringing.
“We need to get you an MID. So we have to think of a code name.”
He looked out the window, for a moment she thought he was going to ignore her. “Cracked,” he finally said.
“I think Cracked comics might have a problem with that. And from a woman's perspective, crack as a code name would be only a little better than calling yourself slit.”
“Janet said the same thing. What's your code name?”
“Embarrassing, and I can't seem to change it to Blossom or anything else. What about Jewel?”
That earned a look of disgust.
“I was just suggesting. You don't want to get stuck with a bad name, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to change it.”
“I'll think about it,” Ron said fading from view.
That night Ron went to bed early, after eating a whole steak, two baked potatoes and a large chicken salad. After the day he'd had, Amanda was more than happy to let him go. Maybe sleep would help get his mind in order. It might help her to, how was she to help her son get adjusted to being not only an obvious mutant, but a beautiful exotic girl as well?
Turning on the TV and her laptop she went to the fridge reaching for the bottle of red wine, she needed it after everything. Sighing she put it back, drinking right now would definitely be a bad thing, instead she grabbed some non-alcoholic apple cider.
While a reality show played in the background she checked her email and groaned. A friend was asking what the hell she was doing with links to a couple of social media sites. Closing her eyes she clicked on them, and as expected her face and Ron's new body were shown clear as day in the hospital. There was the usual anti-mutant stuff below it, and it would only take a bit of time before someone pointed out that she was a porn star.
“Well, I was getting bored here anyways,” she muttered to the empty room. New York or Seattle would probably be nice places to live, they were about as mutant friendly as you could get in the country. Or there was Canada, she'd heard lots of good stuff about that place if only she could handle the winter without wilting.
There was knock on the door. Looking at the clock she wondered who it could be at that hour. Picking up a handful of seeds, she went to the door and looked through the peephole.
“Fucking fuck, fuckity hell,” she said, putting the seeds back in their bowl.
She opened the door, and glared at the man who was her agent, her former pimp, her one time lover when she'd been a stupid teenager, and the man who had picked out her code name. “John, what the fuck are you doing here?! We only do business together, you have no right to come to my home.”
He pushed her out of the way letting himself in. “Blossom, you're my number one star, when I saw you had a bit of trouble of course I came over to help out,” the tall, handsome blond man said, seating himself on the couch. “Who's the new girl? Someone interested in the biz?”
“No one important and she's not interested. Things are OK for now, the worst that might happen is I have to take a few weeks off to move. I just finished a movie, so I've got a month or two before going back to work. It's not a problem,” she insisted crossing all her arms and biting her lip.
“I could help you. I have a nice place in Seattle, lots of space, you and our son could live there for free, just pay me back in services. And I have a lot of old clients who would love to have a piece of your ass again. Good money, you can even keep 70% of it this time.”
“I'm an actress now, not a whore.”
He gave her a perfect smile that had made her weak in the knees when she was a love struck sixteen year old. “Your whatever I say you are.”
“You get your cut for getting me jobs, nothing else. Now get the hell out of here, I've had a long day and I need to get some sleep!” she said pointing at the door.
John got up, swept her into his arms and sat back down with her firmly on his lap. She struggled a little, but he was too strong and she'd learned over the years that fighting too hard just made him angry, which was was something she never wanted to experience again. He placed a hand on her breasts. “I let you change your career and I've regretted it ever since. Remember all those pictures and videos I have of you? All the things I've made you do for me. If I say you get back in the biz and you come live with me, you'll do it. I saved your life when you were a starving little monster without a friend in the whole world. You owe me everything.”
“Mom, what's going on?” Ron asked, standing in his doorway in only a very baggy pair of boxers and a t-shirt, both of which were threatening to slide off of his now small and smooth body.
“Go back to bed, I'm dealing with this,” Amanda said.
“Mom?” John asked, giving Ron an intense look. “My darling, handsome boy manifested into a gorgeous girl? You've been holding out on me Blossom, she has your eyes and hair. Ron, how about you give your old man a hug?”
“Is this my dad?” Ron asked backing away.
“No,” she said.
“Probably,” John said. “You're Mom really got around back so we can't be sure. She still gets around now, but that's only for work not pleasure. When did you change?”
“Ron, go back to your room,” she ordered. “John you will not lay a finger on her.”
The blond man gave her a very pleasant smile. “Of course not, that would be incest and I don't do that. Knowingly. Ron go back to your room. I'm just your mother's agent right now, and we have business to discuss.”
Her son stood there, the light from his room shining through his body, making the indecision of learning more about his possible father, protecting his Mom who was definitely not happy, and obeying his Mom and the very large, strong looking man all too clear. Finally he backed into his room and closed the door.
“Well now that junior is out of the way, I've made this long trip to see if you're all right. I think it's only good manners that I be rewarded,” John said kissing her lips.
“My son is right next door!”
“And?” he asked.
“Get out of my house already. I don't owe you anything. I don't even want you here!” she insisted, trying to get out of his grasp.
He grabbed her wrists in one hand, she felt his rock hard skin, the barely contained strength, his grip was impossible to break. “You owe me everything,” he growled. “You have two choices, willingly or unwillingly, and you know what I'll do if you fight.”
Amanda forced herself to relax, not saying a word as he carried her to her bedroom.
John sat on the balcony, pretty satisfied with life. Amanda was sleeping it off like she usually did in the bedroom. He'd heard some crying from the kids room earlier, but that wasn't his problem. If the girl didn't know what she was there for, she'd learn soon enough.
He hadn't gotten much of a look at Rona but even that short look was enough for him. She was a beauty and definitely exotic. From what he'd gotten Amanda to tell him in between sessions she was soft where it counted, and the visuals were interesting as hell. If he could get her into his stable, he knew quite a few rich guys that would pay a bundle for a chance to have her. And once she was old enough he'd get her into movies, then he could live off the profits with a lot less risk. Maybe in four years, he could get Ron and Amanda doing a movie together. Make it her big debut.
Dialing a number, he tapped his foot waiting for the guy to answer. “Hey Donny, John here. Yeah, I know it's early, but I've got a girl who is right up your alley, and get this, she's a virgin, really shy type. Just manifested. Yeah I'm telling the truth, when have I ever lied to you? I'll send you some pictures today with the details, I'm expecting at least double the usual fee. Hey I know that's a lot, but this girl is grade A flesh and no one will bother with her. All right, I'll hold off telling anyone else until you get a look at her.”
That done, he took his leave, there were things he had to do.
Amanda limped to the kitchen, even after a long hot shower and a handful of ibuprofen she ached. At least she wasn't bruised anywhere people could see. Turning on the coffee, she leaned against the counter not wanting to sit on the hard kitchen stool.
Ron must have been awake because he came out wearing the track suit he'd worn the day before within a minute or two of her turning on the coffee. He stood watching her, his arms raised to cover his breasts.
“What was that last night?” he finally asked.
“A past mistake,” Amanda answered, struggling to keep the pain and shame out of her voice.
“You screamed. Is it always like that?” he asked. She noticed that his thighs were clenched together like he was trying to protect himself. She couldn't blame him, the thought of being a girl had to be a scary new experience for him, hearing the violence last night would make any child, and especially a young girl upset.
She did not want this conversation. She didn't know what to say, why did John have to come to her home? Didn't he humiliate her enough when they had to actually meet each other? “No. Just with him,” she struggled to keep her voice steady.
“Why don't you call the police?”
“I-I can't.” If she did he'd kill her, and if she did somehow survive every sick thing he'd made her do would be sent to all of her friends and the world, letting them know just how disgusting she really was. She couldn't do it, she wasn't strong enough. Her hands started to tremble.
“DROP IT!” she shouted. “Just stay away from him, if you see him turn invisible. He'll be gone in a few days, he has too much work to do as an agent. I'll... I'll make sure he doesn't come back.”
“He hurt you!”
“I can handle it!”
He glared at her, the delicate glass hands bunched up in fists. It seemed like he wanted to yell at her, but he didn't, instead he grabbed his coat and wallet and was out the door before she could limp over to stop him.
Slumping to the floor Amanda burst into tears. Too many things were happening at once for her to handle, being discovered, her son's change, John, she let her mind sink into the blessed simpleness of despair.
Ron walked along the street, it being a school day there weren't many people around, so he just kept his hood up and most people ignored him, even with the jangling of his hair. What he wanted to do was get into a fight. Listening to his Mom getting abused last night had been agony, but he couldn't do anything. He didn't even know what would happen if he got hurt. Bruises and broken bones were one thing, but this new body would it crack and never heal? Shatter into a million pieces killing him? He had never felt so weak before.
And even if he didn't break how could he fight a guy that size, even when he had been a boy he'd have gotten his ass kicked. But now he had to worry about being raped if he did lose. His life was ruined and it was all thanks to that goddamn magazine. He wished he'd never found it, then he wouldn't have been hit by the car and he might not have manifested, he wouldn't know his mom was no better than a prostitute, he wouldn't feel like a freak that could die at any second. He wouldn't look at his new pretty face in the mirror and think about what he'd like to do to the girl who looked back at him. And he wouldn't have to listen to fucking wind chimes every time he moved his head.
He wanted to slam his fist into a wall, but he didn't know what he'd do if his hand shattered. He started running hating the heavy feeling at his chest, how his hips moved differently, how music filled his ears. He hated his whole life.
Turning a corner he ran right into a man. Before he could pull away a hand grabbed his wrist and they were somewhere else.
Ron stumbled and the man gave him a push making him fall onto a pile of pillows. He tried to get to his feet but with all the oversized pillows on the floor it wasn't easy, by the time he was on his knees the man who had brought him there was gone.
“Hey Bauble,” a woman said.
He turned around to see a skinny brunette watching him, she was leaning beside a door holding some clothes. “Where am I?” he demanded, trying not to sound scared.
“A friends place. We need some pictures of you put these on,” she said, throwing him what looked like a skimpy bikini.
“You have two choices Bauble, you can put them on willingly, or I can put it on for you,” the woman said looking bored.
Turning invisible he ran at the woman punching her as hard as he could in the jaw. It felt like he'd broken his hand, and the woman hadn't even flinched. Falling to the floor, he groaned through his teeth clutching his wrist and rolling wishing the pain would go away.
Her lips turned up in what could charitably be called a smile. “I'm a brick, dumb ass. Want to try that again, or can we just save time and you do what I tell you? I'd hate to crack your pretty little body, but it's not my fault if you want to go a round with me.”
He didn't answer quickly enough for her liking. Reaching down, she grabbed his sweatshirt and started to lift.
“I'll do it myself!” Ron shouted. “Just give me a bit of privacy.”
“Not a problem. I'll be back in two minutes you'd better be done, the photographer is waiting to take some pictures. After that we'll feed you and we can be friends. You're not dressed, then I won't be your friend, and I won't be so worried about feeding you or keeping you conscious,” she told him.
As soon as the door closed Ron started to take his clothes off, he didn't have much choice. His sobs filled the room.
When the woman came back in he was dressed in the bikini, which enhanced his body rather than hiding it. The woman looked him over, wiped away his tears and nodded. “You'll do.”
Taking him by the arm he was led down a hallway into a room that was set up like a photo studio. A man was there fiddling with a camera, he looked up at Ron and smiled, ignoring the frightened look on his face and the tears leaving streaks on his cheek.
“Sit in the chair, look relaxed and smile,” the woman said, roughly scrubbing her face with a clean cloth.
Ron sat in the beach chair which had a large picture of a sunny beach behind it. He tried to smile while the photographer took a few pictures, adjusted the lights and took a few more.
“Spread your legs,” the man said.
“No!” Ron exclaimed, clenching his legs tightly, trying to cover himself.
The woman got beside him. “Do what you're told or I'll find out if you still bleed.”
Very reluctantly Ron spread his legs. More photo's were taken.
It went on like that for over an hour, the poses getting more provocative, in different settings, and with different clothes. None were naked but that did nothing for Ron's peace of mind. When they were done, he just wanted to crawl into a dark hole and never come out. The woman and the photographer were discussing something, looking over the photo's on a computer. They were between him and the door so he couldn't turn invisible and escape, but they were ignoring him.
He looked around the room for something that could help. His eyes fell on a cell phone sitting off to the side. Keeping his chest covered, he walked over to the table, and grabbed it, willing just it to become invisible. Looking at his hand, he couldn't see the black phone clenched in his fist.
Meekly he waited for the woman to take him away from the photographer, hoping he'd have a few minutes of privacy. Five minutes later the woman was leading him back to the room with all the pillows. “You'll have lunch soon. Don't try to escape and no one will hurt you.”
Ron nodded not trusting his voice.
When the door closed he dialed 911.
“911 what is the emergency?” a man asked.
“Help me, I've been kidnapped. My name is Ron Rozic. I live in Fresno, California,” he quickly gave his address. “I don't know where I am now,” he whispered.
“Just a moment I'm going to connect you to the police. Can you get away from your kidnapper?”
“No I'm locked in a room. There are a bunch of people here, they took pictures of me. I was teleported here.”
“OK, just stay calm,” the operator said calmly. “Can you identify any of the kidnappers.”
The door slammed open. “Give me that!” the woman yelled.
“Help me!” Ron screamed into the phone, turning invisible and trying to scramble past the woman.
The last thing he saw was a knee flying at his face.
Amanda slowly tidied up the house, washing Ron's new clothes, her bed sheets, and tried to bring some order to her life. She liked a tidy home, for most of her teen years she hadn't cared, first living on the street, then going from one hotel or cheap rented apartment to another, with a night at a fancy hotel or home once or twice a week, occasionally she'd spend a couple days or even a month with someone in a really nice place. During those visits she hadn't had much chance to enjoy the finer things in life, being too busy pleasing clients for John.
Once she got into a legitimate career and could live by herself, even at her worst she had tried to keep things neat. Folding Ron's clothes, she could pretend that everything in her life was just as neat and orderly. Ron would come home soon, she'd fill out the forms for Whateley that Janet had promised to bring over that night and her son wouldn't have to see John ever again. Her life could get back on track, and her son would never have to make some of the choices she'd been forced to make. Sure he may not like being a girl at first, but he'd learn that there were good things about it. He may never like boys, but it wasn't like she was going to judge Ron if he only went with girls.
All that really mattered was that he was safe, and Janet said that Whateley could rush the application process if it was deemed necessary. She'd also said that once a student was in Whateley they were protected by a lot of the heroes and villains.
The phone rang, she was up and grabbing it without even thinking. “Hello, Ron is that you?”
“Ma'am, this is the police. Are you Amanda Rozic?” a stranger asked.
“Yes I am?” she said, nervous at talking to the police on top of everything else that had happened.
“Do you have a daughter called Ron Rozic?”
Her heart raced, “Yes.”
“Do you know if she is at home or at school?”
She started crying. “He- She didn't go to school today. She was hurt in a car accident, and we had- we had an argument. She went for a walk.”
“Ma'am, a detective is on his way to your home. I'm sorry, but the police in San Francisco received a 911 call twenty minutes ago from a girl claiming to be your daughter. We will need a recent photo of her and any information you may have on who may have kidnapped her.”
“OK, OK, I'll get them now,” she said, the tears stopping as she realized what had happened. Hanging up she phoned John.
“Amanda, how are you?” John asked.
“WHERE IS MY SON YOU ASSHOLE?!”
“Damn,” he said simply, “I was hoping she didn't tell the police much. I have her, she'll do some nice easy work for me, like you did. Don't worry I'll even give you an extra 10 percent.”
She saw red. The seeds spread around her house erupted into growth overflowing the bowls. “If you touch her, I will kill you.”
“You can't. And if you tell the police about me, I'll kill your daughter,” he made the threat with as much emotion as someone talking about killing an ant. “I have a dozen alibis swearing I haven't been anywhere near San Francisco for weeks, and videos of me being everywhere but that city. Best of all it's all true. You want your daughter and I'll give her back. I'll keep her for a month or two, break her in, get her used to the work, and then she can live with you, just doing odd jobs a few times a month. It's not a bad life, you enjoyed it.”
She shrieked, swearing at him, threatening him with a hundred painful deaths if she didn't get her child back. It took a few minutes to realize that he'd hung up.
There was a knock at the door. Amanda dragged herself to her feet and answered the door. The detective jumped back in shock at her appearance. “Are you Ms. Rozic?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said, her voice drained of all emotion. “You need pictures right? Come in.”
He asked her a few questions, she tried to answer them but she couldn't tell him the most important thing. She knew John would kill Ron if he needed to save his ass, and they'd never find the body, and there wouldn't be enough evidence to convict him of anything. The world seemed far away leaving her numb, the distant, disconnected coming surprisingly easy, like an old friend making reality easier to bear, the horror around her became a distant annoyance.
She showed the detective some photos she'd taken of Ron on her phone after he manifested. She couldn't hear what he said as he looked at them in wide eyed wonder.
An hour later, after writing down everything, probably remembering what she'd said better than she did, the detective left promising to do all he could to find Ron.
She just nodded dumbly and thanked him for his time.
When he left, she went to the fridge and pulled out the bottle of wine. She drank all of it right from the bottle. It wasn't enough to truly numb her. Throwing on her burqa she made a quick trip to the store getting as much alcohol as she could afford, practically racing home.
Back in her living room, Amanda opened the first bottle in the bags, a cheap vodka. Slumped in front of the couch she began drinking it straight, her only plan was to become as drunk as possible as quickly as she could and to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Janet knocked on the door of her friends apartment, she'd had a productive day of writing and she'd been able to print out the basic Whateley application form. If they liked what they saw, they'd send a follow up that when she'd been there just over thirty years ago had been a little over forty eight pages.
There was no answer. Frowning she looked at her watch, she was on time. If Amanda was going to be out she'd have phoned. Taking out the spare key Amanda had given her years ago, Janet let herself in and immediately gagged at the smell of alcohol and vomit that permeated the air. Amanda was lying on the floor surrounded by empty bottles, her white shirt covered in vomit and the hardwood floor was wet under her.
If she'd been a baseline, Janet would assume her friend was dead from alcohol poisoning. But she'd seen her drink even more back in her youth she could just sleep it off. But what had made her jump off the wagon this hard?
“Ron?” she called, going to the boys room. There was no answer and the room was empty. Her bad feeling got worse. Going back to her comatose friend, she picked Amanda up and grimaced at the smell of cheap liquor and worse. Heading to the bathroom, she dumped her in the bathtub.
Turning on the shower she blasted the plant woman with freezing cold water. It took a few seconds for the water to cut through the alcoholic haze, then four arms feebly tried to stop the water, flailing at the stream with as much strength and grace as a newborn babe. Amanda moaned in protest.
Moving the shower to spray her friends chest rather than her face, Janet leaned in close. “Amanda, where's Ron?” she asked loudly.
There was a sob, “Gone. He's gone,” she moaned, barely intelligible.
“Where did he go?”
Amanda curled up at the bottom of the tub, covering her face, loud, wracking sobs shook her body. Grabbing her by her shirt, Janet dragged her upright. “Where's Ron?” she demanded.
The crying got worse.
She slapped the grieving woman hard on the cheek, trying to bring her back to some type of coherency. “AMANDA! Where's Ron?”
A single word could be made out in the crying. “John.”
Turning the warm water on Janet stripped Amanda, washed her up and dried her off, slipping her naked into bed to sleep off the rest of the alcohol.
Sitting in the alcohol drenched living room, she pulled out her phone and began making phone calls. She'd been out of the industry for a long time, but she still had a lot of friends and people who owed her favours, she knew even more who owed Amanda for help over the years. One of them would know where that asshole pimp was.
MCO office, Portland, Oregon
Ron tried to stay on his feet, leaning on John as he stumbled up the steps. He felt happy, smiling at the pretty clouds. He'd been told he could see Mom if he was a good girl. All he had to do was whatever the man told him to do and everything would be fine.
A faint voice was whispering that something was wrong, that he should run away, but that was too much work. And he didn't think he could run in the miniskirt and heels. He wasn't showing much skin with the stockings and the hooded jacket, and he was glad about that, he was a boy even if he did have tits and a vagina. John had told him he had to dress like a girl or they might take him away. John seemed to be really smart and he was always smiling. He remembered someone telling him that John was bad, but he couldn't remember why.
Some guy in a suit came up and shook John's hand. Ron smiled at him and waved.
“Mr. Smith, it's a pleasure to see you again. So this is the mutant?” the man asked.
“Yep. You can call her Bauble. She's not feeling that well today, so take it easy on her,” John said.
“Th't's no, my name,” Ron slurred.
John squeezed his wrist, until he could feel the glass grinding. Snarling John whispered in his ear, “Remember the deal, Bauble. Just shut up and do what you're told.”
“So Mr. Smith, how thorough should this testing be?” the man asked.
“Just skin deep. But I may need to come back in two or three weeks after she's healthy again to redo the testing, then you can really get a feel for her.”
“All right, we always like to be thorough. Come on Bauble, we have a lot of work to do,” the man said, pulling him towards a doorway.
Ron followed as best he could.
The next few hours were a blur, he had to change into a uniform and the man insisted on helping him since he had trouble with all the fasteners. He scowled as the man's hands kept rubbing his skin, but he'd been told to be good so he didn't do anything.
He lifted weights, almost dropping them on his chest when his fingers went numb. He stumbled along a treadmill falling face first when a ball hit his head. He couldn't answer a bunch of questions, they seemed easy but his head was full of cotton and he couldn't get the answers out of the tangles. When he went to look at some shiny stones, he couldn't look away they were so pretty, and the light shone through his hand making really cool rainbows. The man had to quite literally drag him away from the stones.
Then he had to do something with a bunch of machines. Ron stared at them, “I'm sorry mister. I don't know what I'm suppose to do. Don't tell John! I'm really, really trying. Please, I have to do a good job if I'm going to get home and see Mom tonight. I'm trying my best! I just want to go home! I just want to tell Mom I'm sorry! I didn't mean what I said, I was just angry! Please tell John I did a really good job!” he pleaded, crying into the man's suit.
“Bauble, don't worry, you've done a great job,” the man said stroking her back. “Here, you must be thirsty. John said you like this juice.”
Ron grabbed the bottle of juice and drank it down, terrified that if he didn't the man would call him bad. The fear and panic went away, leaving him feeling happy once more. “Thanks mister. I must have been rrrreeeeaaaallllyyyy thirsty.”
They did a few more tests, like turning invisible, and cutting his tongue, since they couldn't cut his skin. Ron lost all track of time, and barely noticed the agent dressing him again when all the tests were done.
He had to get his picture taken, and then he was given a card. He tried to read it, but everything was blurry and dancing. He showed John who was waiting for him in the lobby. “You did really well my pretty Bauble. I'll call your mother tonight and see if she can get you. Are you hungry? I have some pizza.”
“Thank you,” he said, remembering to be polite. He took a slice of pizza that John offered him and started eating. “I was really good today, right? Mom will want me to be back home soon, I just know it. I need to apologize for how I acted this morning. Or was that yesterday morning? I just need to say sorry. She's been really good to me, and I said some bad things to her. I can see her soon, right? You promised I could.”
Ron never heard the answer, his head hit the window, and the pizza crust fell from his hands.
Amanda woke up with a blinding headache, it tasted like something had vomited, shit and then died in her mouth. Reaching blindly for the bottle of water she always had by her bed, her fumbling fingers found a bottle of some kind, it didn't feel like a water bottle but she didn't care, she needed a drink.
Popping the top, she poured it into her mouth, gagging a little at the sweet taste of a sports drink. She hated the stuff, but it was liquid that was all that mattered. Draining the disgusting stuff she was finally able to open her eyes. A bottle of pills along with three more bottles of unnatural blue sports drinks were waiting for her. Popping a couple of pills, she drank each of the bottles almost as quickly as the first one.
Getting out of bed her feet got tangled in the blanket, sending her to the floor in a painful, moaning heap. Crying in pain, the horrific events of the day before came back to her. The crying got harder, shaking her whole body making it hard to breathe. She howled in great gut wrenching sobs.
Someone was grabbing her, picking her up and cradling her like a baby. She held on to the lifeline, somehow slowly getting herself under control. Eventually she realized that Janet was with her, stroking her branchlike hair, talking to her.
The words came into focus, finally making sense, “I know where he is. We'll get Ron and castrate John. But I need you to be strong. I can't do it on my own and you need to be holding the knife.”
“You know where Ron is?” Amanda asked.
“I know where John is, and knowing him he'll be with Ron. He likes to be near the girls he pimps until they're broken in,” Janet said.
Everyone knew that John wasn't just in the adult film industry, but prostitution as well. He'd made a fortune getting people in the industry to act as escorts for wealthy men and women, they also knew he liked to have a stable of young girls with the right exotic looks that he could control. At least a dozen women had started off working for him before becoming adult actresses once they were old enough. No one said anything because he picked mutants who were runaways and kept them happy with drugs, alcohol, gifts and other things. The police wanted to deal with mutants even less than they did with normal runaways, as long as John didn't do anything too obvious they gave him a pass or were bribed into turning a blind eye. When one of John's girls started objecting, if they did, he promoted her to movies and photo-shoots, using blackmail, threats and cash to keep them quiet, and letting him act as their agent. A few girls who had objected too much had been visited by H1 or the MCO, they usually didn't survive.
Amanda was one of them, and at first she'd loved the attention, the gifts, having regular meals and a roof over her head after two months living on the street. She'd finally realized that John was getting rich off of her and all she was getting was crumbs. He'd beaten her to a pulp a few times, making her know who was boss, starved her, and then on her eighteenth birthday he gave her a contract to star in a movie that he was producing. He'd also given her full access to her bank account. She'd been so grateful to be in his good graces again, she'd signed everything he'd put in front of her.
She didn't know how he would react to Ron though. Ron wasn't a runaway, he wasn't desperate. And Ron wasn't a girl, not mentally, maybe he would be one day, but she knew he wasn't attracted to boys now, his first time would be bad even if they didn't just rape him. At least with her, she had thought she was in love and was helping her saviour so that they could live together in a nice house and she would be John's loving girlfriend, maybe even his wife one day. Ron wouldn't have that fantasy to protect him.
“We can rescue him?” she asked, desperately hoping her friend would tell her yes.
“We can. But it's not going to be easy.”
The headache was receding, now that she had some hope of saving her child. “I don't care. I can't let him put Ron through that.”
“I have two plane tickets to Portland, they're separate flights so no one knows we're going together, and that's where he is. Pamela Pit Stop has a meeting with him about a photo-shoot and maybe a short film at one of his rented offices tomorrow, and rumour has it he's got some auditions lined up this week for some baseline girls.”
“But no one's seen Ron?”
“Honey, he'll be using his friend Not There to move Ron. If he has Ron actually in public, it's going to be for a minute or two at best. We'll get to the city, get a grip on one or two of his helpers, beat them until they tell use what we want to know and then get Ron,” Janet told her.
She sunk back into her chair. “I can't fight John, he's too strong.”
“Poison the bastard, shove a tree up his ass, bury him under a giant redwood. Fuck, wrap him up in vines and I'll beat his head in. I've wanted to break the bastard for years, this is just the excuse I've been looking for. You've bent over backwards for the asshole all these years, too fucking literally a lot of the time, now you need to get a backbone and show him he can't fuck you over like he always does.”
Amanda nodded. For her son she'd do it even though the thought terrified her. She couldn't let Ron down again. “I need some food, then we need to go to a greenhouse,” she said.
“That's the spirit!”
Janet came out of her closet with a costume Amanda hadn't seen in years. It was a skimpy bathing suit, barely able to cover Janet's breasts when she was in her prime, a g-string, a domino mask and a tiara, all done in brilliant red.
“The Buxom Avenger costume? It doesn't offer much protection.”
Throwing it onto the bed, Janet went back into her closet. “Oh ye of little faith. That's just the the showy part. If I was worried about H1 or some idiot I just put on the attachments.” She came out with a thick bundle of cloth. Janet took ten minutes hooking the bulky fabric to the flimsy costume and slipping metal plates into built in pockets, until she had a complete superhero costume that would cover her entire body and looked to be about two or three inches thick on the chest, back and thighs. “Now lets see if this still fits.”
Stripping out of her blouse, jeans and underwear, Janet did not look very impressive, with a sagging belly, breasts that would never be called buxom even by a blind drunkard who hadn't felt breasts for twenty years, and wrinkled blotched skin. She took a few breaths and her body seemed to swell. Her wrinkles were first covered in a layer of firm, supple skin, the saggy bags that made up her breasts expanded, rising up, becoming as large as basketballs. The bony butt could now be used to bounce quarters, sunken cheeks filled out, turning a healthy reddish shade. Her short hair stayed grey, but instead of being stringy, it was thick and luxurious, reaching her waist. Supple muscles formed on her arms and legs. In a minute she had gone from an ancient woman who could pass for an evil witch, to an older woman that looked better than most actresses.
“I've still got it,” Janet said feeling herself up. Putting on the costume she posed in front of a mirror.
“I think you really could do Buxom Avenger #20 if you wanted to,” Amanda told her.
“Not on your life. I'm done with that. Loved the work, but I hate most of the people in charge of it all.” Taking off the domino mask, Janet threw on a track suit over her costume. “You've got everything you need?”
An hours worth of shopping plus getting the most potent seeds from her house, and she had several sandwich bags full of seeds ranging from poisonous plants, irritants, thorny briars, vines, and even trees. “I'm ready. Let's go.”
The two unlikely heroes headed out the door. Ready to save the child they both loved or die trying.
John watched the girl who was crying in the corner of her room. With the pictures he'd taken of her, he already had her booked six times for the next three weeks. He figured he could double that within the next week. Now all he had to do was break her.
It was almost time for her meal, she hadn't eaten anything except a slice of pizza for the last day and a half. He'd deliver her food personally and the drugs in it made her suggestible. With hunger, drugs, fear, maybe some beatings, and in a week she'd do whatever he wanted out of fear, by the end of the month, she'd be so used to it, she'd do it out of habit.
Her mother would be a minor problem at best, she was probably drinking herself to death. She'd be so grateful to get her daughter back safe and sound, he could get her back under control with just a bit of work. That could be fun, he might even get her back into the escort business. That was something to consider, convince her that it was the best way to protect her daughter and he could get her to do anything.
He grinned, trying to guess the money he could charge for that double act.
Life was good.
Amanda and Janet were sitting together at a lesbian bar in Portland, they knew John's assistant, Roxy, was a regular, so they were hoping she would show up. Otherwise they'd have to stake out his office and hope they weren't spotted. Since neither of them had any idea how to do a real stake out, they only wanted to use that as a last resort.
They'd done up her face with some expensive makeup making her green skin black, and covered her long hair with long black braids. It wouldn't fool someone looking closely at her, but the two of them were holding hands and locking lips often enough that they were being ignored by any women on the prowl.
As they nursed their third beer, not actually drinking them but dumping them out in the washroom when their waitress started eyeing them, their target came strolling inside.
The tall, skinny brunette, who Amanda knew well, took a seat at the bar, a beer was put in her hand without even asking. They watched discretely as Roxy scanned the crowd for fresh meat. They made sure to keep sipping their beers, kissing and talking about their fake jobs. After an hour Roxy headed for the bathroom, they followed her in.
There were a few women in the restroom, but it was the best chance they had of getting Roxy. Janet walked up beside the brunette, while Amanda grabbed some poison ivy and bristly greenbriar from her pocket.
“Roxy, we need to talk,” Janet said.
Amanda saw the look of recognition as Roxy looked at Janet. She didn't have time to do anything though, the brunette gut punched her friend, sending her through the brick wall of the bathroom and into the alley.
Turning to look around the room Roxy saw her, and headed her way shoving one unlucky woman who got in her way into a wall, leaving a bloody smear as the woman slid down, dead or unconscious.
Amanda took the second of distraction and tossed the seeds at the brunette, willing them to grow with all her might, using her power to control their growth a little. The poison ivy and bristly greenbriar wound themselves around Roxy, tangling around her body and arms, reaching around her neck. On a normal person that would be enough to stop them, the combination of painful thorns and blistering oil, along with vines that most people had to cut with a knife to free themselves from had sent more than one mugger to the ground screaming. Roxy snapped them with her bare hands.
A fist punched through a stall door, barely missing Amanda who dropped to the ground, covering her head.
There was a shout and Janet was flying into Roxy's side, hammering the woman into the wall. Amanda watch her friend pound on the woman without much skill but a furious intensity, shaking the room with every hit. Roxy hunched down weathering the blows until Janet paused, shaking her fists in pain. Roxy put the respite to good use, a thunderous uppercut sent the older woman into the air, crashing through the ceiling.
“OK, whore, you've pissed me off,” Roxy said, her face a mass of bruises.
Cowering against a wall, Amanda's hand patted the wall behind her as if looking for an exit. The brick raised a fist, preparing to crush her skull with one hit. Before the blow could come, Amanda dropped her hand, and the seed she'd pressed into the soft plaster erupted. An acacia filled the room, the inch long spines on the branches actually pierced Roxy's skin and the weight of the wood slammed her into the wall, pinning her so she could barely move.
The damaged building creaked ominously. So did the acacia, as Roxy slowly inched her arms free, snapping the smaller branches even as the spines dug into her flesh.
Janet half jumped, half fell from the hole in the ceiling. Seeing Roxy's predicament, she ducked the branches, edging around the spines to get a hand on the bricks throat. “Roxy, I owe my friend my life. I will kill you if you don't tell me where Ron is.”
Letting go of the womans throat, Janet took Roxy's arm in both hands, and jerked her wrists with an explosive crack. The brick screamed, her arm hanging uselessly at her side. “Your knee is next, then I take your right eye, then your left. If you still haven't told me I rip your throat out.”
Putting action to her words, Janet placed the sole of her boot on Roxy's knee which was pinned by a three foot thick branch. “One, two, thr-”
“I'll tell you!” Roxy screamed.
Amanda pulled a pen and paper out of her purse and wrote down the address Roxy gave her.
With police sirens blaring behind them, they ran out of the hole in the wall leaving Roxy behind screaming to be let out.
Amanda pulled the rental car to a stop about half a block away from a warehouse. It didn't look like much, but apparently the upper offices were used by John for off the record photo shoots and movies. Nothing that would get him busted by the police usually, but would definitely get the tax man after him. Sometimes it was used for other purposes.
“How are we going to do this?” she asked.
“No clue, I never was suited for hero work so I didn't take any classes in it,” Janet said so deadpan, Amanda couldn't tell if she was joking or not. “ I guess I'm going to go in the front door and beat anyone I meet senseless, you guard my back.”
“I can do that.” She looked at the dark building and thought about what she might find in there. “I really want a drink.”
“And I want a male supermodel ready to obey my every whim, we're both going to be disappointed. Come on, the longer we wait the more likely Johnny boy will know we're coming for him.”
They left the car in the dark alley, hoping it would still be there when they came back but it wasn't critical. They'd gotten car using a fake ID which was almost a must have for mutants with all the crap they had to put up with.
Janet opened a side door, creating a horrible squeal as she broke the lock. They didn't hear any alarms or sounds of people, so they jogged down the hall. Going up the stairs Amanda started to feel hopeful that there wouldn't be any guards or that they were sleeping.
Someone grabbed her from behind and the world spun. She found herself in a pitch black room, a punch to her chin sent her flying backwards, stunned. Someone kicked her in the ribs hard enough to flip her over, before she came to a stop another kick connected with her shoulder stopping her, and cracking her collarbone.
Gasping in pain she grabbed her seeds.
Janet heard a cut off yell behind her, turning she didn't see Amanda. There wasn't time to wonder what happened, someone slammed into her back practically riding her down the stairs, making sure her head hit every step on the way down.
Even with her manifested flesh that hurt a lot.
“Bitch, I'm going to break your arms, your legs, take your eyes, and then I'll kill you,” a familiar voice shouted in her ear. Roxy began punching her in the back of the head.
Without any better plan, Janet pushed herself onto all fours, and launched herself forward through a wall. Roxy wasn't expect it, falling off with a shout as wood shattered around them. Getting to her feet, Janet grabbed a two by four, and ran at Roxy swinging for her head. The wood shattered for all the good it did. The brick stepped forward punching her in the chest, the blow only softened a little by the armoured costume.
Throwing themselves at each other, the two woman tore through the thin walls around them, biting, punching, ripping and gouging, not knowing how to fight and not caring, both women were in a rage. The building began to crumble around them.
Ron woke up, feeling the building shake. A woman screamed from behind a wall. He tried to look around, trying to figure out which wall it was. Crawling on his hands and knees, the floor kept shifting under his hands. The building shook again, rattling his stomach. Retching the small meal he'd eaten rose up, coating his hands. Wiping his mouth, he crawled to where he thought the door was. Everything was blurry and the door might actually be a few feet to his left,
Shaking his head he hit the door feebly. Not sure what he could do, but knowing he had to get out.
His stomach cramped up again and he spit up a long string of bile.
There was another scream. He knew that voice. “MOM!” he yelled.
Amanda threw the seeds around her, roses heavy with thorns, thick vines, poison oak and poison ivy sprang into life. Whoever was attacking her backed off. She tried to find a plant that would really help, each of her three usable hands grabbing something different. Her upper left shoulder and arm were so much dead weight, sending bolts of pain through her body with every move.
Booted feet landed on her back, knocking the wind out of her, paralyzing her with pain. She tried to scream, but nothing came out, her lungs couldn't seem to remember how to breathe. The attacker grabbed her, and threw her into a rose bush, letting the curved thorns rip into her clothes and skin.
A kick to the stomach shoved her deeper into the thorns.
With a thought Amanda made the roses shrivel and die around her. Grabbing the poison ivy and nearest vines, she formed them into a dome needing to buy time as the pain threatened to send her into the unconsciousness. The plants embraced her, and she heard a man cursing.
If she was going to survive she needed light. Pulling a large seed from her pocket, she placed it on the ground and willed it to grow. A hundred year old oak tree exploded from a seedling, tearing a hole in the roof and the floor. She wrapped her arms around the trunk, sliding down its trunk to the bottom floor as the room was ripped apart.
When her feet touched the ground, a hand grabbed her hair, yanked her head back and rammed it into the tree trunk. She screamed as her nose broke, hot blood poured down her face.
She was lifted up by her hair, she could finally see her attacker, a big man who was wearing sunglasses and grinning like the devil as he punched her in the face.
Grabbing his arm with her right hand, she tried to stop him. Her lower hands reached into her pocket, pulling out a bamboo shoot even as he punched her again, cracking her cheekbone. Placing the shoot against the oak tree she made it grow.
The bamboo grew like a spear, piercing the man's stomach and coming out his back.
He stared at the wound, dumbfounded, letting her drop to the floor. He vanished from sight, only to reappear a few feet away on his knees, screaming and clutching his stomach. She ignored him, trying to work up the energy to move.
Janet and Roxy were bruised and battered, circling each other like punch drunk fighters unwilling to surrender, barely able to throw another punch.
Spitting out a wad of blood, Janet glared at the other woman. “Amanda saved my life, what's your excuse for working with the asshole?”
“He saved mine,” she rasped through broken teeth. “You want to know my life story, go buy my fucking biography.”
As they circled, Janet saw the ear she'd bitten off starting to regrow. She edged towards a hole in a wall, one of many that they'd created in the wild, artless melee. Once in position she smiled. “Do I have to worry about becoming you? Because I've heard about what happens if you get a blood transfusion from a regenerator, and you're way too fucking ugly for me to ever want your face.”
The skinny brunette launched herself at the old porn star with a roar of hate.
Janet ripped a long nail that was hanging from a support post, in one smooth motion drove it into Roxy's chest, using their combined momentum to pierce the bricks' skin. Roxy fell, clutching the wound, a look of disbelief on her face staring at the dark red blood on her hand.
“Roxy,” Janet said, looking down at the woman, “I may not be a great actress like I wanted to be. I may not be beautiful anymore. But when someone hurts the people I care about, I'm the meanest bitch around.” Raising her foot, she made sure Roxy wouldn't be getting back up no matter how good her regeneration was.
Ron looked at the door, his mind was a little clearer now. Hitting it wouldn't do any good he wasn't strong enough to break it down. But the lock wasn't great, if he had a crowbar or something he might be able to get out.
Looking around there were only pillows. Grabbing his hair he pulled on it as if it would pull some idea out of his still fuzzy brain. Some of the thick strands came out with only a tiny pinch, hardening in seconds. Looking at it really closely for the first time since his change, he saw the arm length piece of hair tapered at the end, not exactly a knife blade but it would probably hurt to be hit by it. Slapping it against his hand it felt at least as hard as a two by four. She Jamming it into the small space between the door and the frame, he started to lever the door open. Amazingly the glass hair didn't break. The door cracked letting him push it further in, he threw all his weight against it. The lock ripped out of the cheap wooden frame.
Still unsteady on his feet but getting better, Ron walked invisibly down the hallway carrying the glass hair in front of him like a bat. He wasn't sure where to go, but with the way the floor was creaking and swaying, he knew staying was a bad idea.
Amanda grew another bamboo shoot to use as a staff, leaning heavily on it as she tried to find the stairs. There were big gaping holes in the walls, and the whole warehouse groaned, even though she was seeing double, she was pretty sure the walls were shifting every few seconds.
“Ron! Janet!” she shouted.
“Mom!” came a voice from upstairs.
“Ron, where are you?!”
The chime like voice of her son seemed to come from a dozen different locations. “I don't know, I'm trying to find a way down,”
“Find the stairs and get out! Don't wait for me just get out, I'll find you outside.”
“OK! You get out to,” Ron shouted.
In the dim light, she saw a figure moving towards her, hunched over and obviously in pain. “Amanda,” Janet croaked.
“Janet, you're alive! Thank god,” she said, hobbling over to her friend.
The manifested shell looked like hell, there were odd dents in the body, the nose and most of the face looked like plasticine that had been pressed flat. Blood dripped from her mouth, covering her jaw and chest. The old woman managed a tiny smile. “You look like shit, Amanda.”
“You're not much better. What happened?”
“Roxy. She's not a problem anymore,” Janet said, without a trace of satisfaction. “You?”
“The damn teleporter, Not There. I got lucky.”
It looked like her friend was about to say something, instead she groaned in pain, spitting up blood. “I think... I need... a hospital.”
“Come on. Ron is trying to find the stairs down and he'll be getting outside.”
“What about John?”
“Who gives a fuck? He lost his teleporter and his bitch, he wants to fuck with me or my child again, I'll put a redwood up his ass,” she said.
Janet chuckled. “Go-”
Amanda screeched, as her best friend dropped to the ground, a knife sticking out of her back. John wearing a tuxedo, stood far down the hall, a baseball in his hand. She turned to run. She made it five feet when something that felt like a cannonball struck her in the back.
She was out cold before she hit the floor.
Ron had found the stairs and was heading towards what he thought was the exit when he heard his mother screech. He didn't even think as he jogged towards the screams. His Mother had come to save him, he would do the same for her.
At first there was only silence, and he was afraid she was dead. Then the screaming started again so loud and high pitched, it hurt his ears. A small part of him said to run, that heading towards whatever was making his mother scream like that would kill him. He forced it down, no matter what was happening or what had happened, that was his Mom and he would not abandon her.
He rounded a corner and saw John holding his Mother in the air by her arm. From the way he was crushing it, if she'd had any bones in her arm, they would have been shattered. He punched her in the gut.
Raising his glass weapon Ron ran at John hitting him in the back. The glass shattered, not even leaving a mark.
John spun around, throwing his Mom into him. Ron tried to cushion her with his own body, cursing his hard skin as she screamed in pain.
Turning invisible, he tried to extend it to his mother, like he'd done with the phone. It didn't do much good with her groaning, and John having a good idea where they'd landed. He came right over to them, his glare threatening a painful death.
“Your mother and her friend cost me dearly, Bauble. I'll make you a deal, you help pay me back and I'll let your mother live,” John said.
“What will you do with her?” Ron asked.
“She'll work it off as well, less willingly but I don't really care what she thinks at this point. She'll still be alive and you can even visit her. But if you don't do exactly what I say she dies, and I'll make sure you watch every second of her slow death.”
Ron wanted to kill the man more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life. But there was no way he could kill John, he wasn't strong enough. He wracked his brain trying to think of something he could do. His mother pressed a seed into his palm.
“Do it,” his Mother whispered through teeth gritted in pain.
Not sure what she planned, if she had a plan, he turned visible. “Deal,” he said glaring at the monster.
“Good. Stand up,” John said.
Easing his mother off of him, Ron stood up covering his breasts from the leering man. “She needs a doctor.”
“She'll get one. But first,” he grabbed Ron by the throat lifting him in the air and slammed him into a wall. “First you learn who is the master and who is the slave!”
Not sure if it was what his Mom wanted, Ron threw the tiny seed she'd given him into John's open mouth, it went straight down his throat. John threw Ron to the ground and started pushing a finger into his throat trying to get rid of whatever the thing was.
Ron was pulled back and down by his Mom, covering his body with her own. He could just see John's body start to bulge, his gagging turned to a shriek of pain. Blood flowed from his mouth, his pants turned a dark red. Thorny branches erupted from his mouth. More branches tore their way out of his pants.
The man grabbed at his tuxedo, ripping it from his body, trying to scream. Hammering at his body, desperate to make the pain stop, John began tearing at his skin, ripping it off, trying to ease the pressure. From each bloody wound thorny branches surged out of his flesh, tearing through muscles, reaching for the air and dripping with blood. A few moment later, all that was left was a twitching body surrounded by thorny branches
Ron got down on his knees beside his Mother, looking at Janet who was barely breathing. “We have to get her to a hospital,” he said.
“We need to get her out of her costume. She'll go to prison for this,” his Mom said. She leaned over placing her mouth at the bleeding woman's ear. “Janet, Janet, can you hear me? I need to you demanifest. Lose your shell.”
Janet seemed to deflate, her pale face became bone white, the knife fell from her back. Ron helped take her costume off, and used his coat to bandage the wound. While he watched over her in the creaking, barely standing warehouse, his Mom staggered away to get the car. Two minutes later they loaded Janet into the backseat and drove to the nearest hospital.
They stopped outside the emergency room, and Ron invisibly carried the barely breathing woman into the hospital, causing screams and minor panic amongst the patients and nurses. Placing Janet on the floor as gently as he could, Ron ran outside to the waiting car.
As they drove away, he looked at the blood that coated his hands, giving depth and texture to his see through skin. “What happens now?” he asked.
“I'm taking you somewhere safe,” his mother said.
“I don't know?”
One week later
Whateley had seen students arrive in strange conditions before, but having a badly beaten mother and her daughter who wasn't even a student, pull up to the gate and ask for a meeting with the headmistress was a new one for most of the security staff.
Headmistress Carson met Amanda Rozic at Doyle, where she was being treated for numerous half healed injuries her daughter was in another room getting a real meal for the first time in days. “Usually we only allow actual students and people we have checked out to visit. How did you learn about my school?” she asked.
“A friend of mine, Buxom Avenger told me about Whateley, she even got me an application form. After everything that happened I needed to get Ron somewhere safe, and I didn't have anywhere else to go,” Amanda told her.
“And this trouble, does it involve the law?”
Amanda shook her head. “Not directly, although if they find out what I did I'll probably go to jail for a long time if they don't just execute me. Assault, murder, leaving the scene of a crime, destruction of property, stealing a rental car. I had to do it to save my son.”
Carson had looked over the woman's MID, she recalled a news story she'd read earlier that week. “Does this have to do with the murdered pornographer and his assistants in Portland?”
“Will you turn away my son?” she asked. “I don't care what you do to me, but he has to be safe.”
“Providing your story and his identity is true, he'll be accepted here.”
“I'll tell the truth,” Amanda said. “And yes, that was me and my friend in Portland. John was my pimp and my agent. He tried to bring Ron into the business against both of our wishes. I had no other way to get him back. I wish there had been. I don't even know if Janet is still alive.” Amanda broke down in tears.
“You can stay here for a short time while we confirm the details. If you are lying to us we will turn you over to the MCO, do you understand?” Carson demanded.
She nodded. “Just don't let them take Ron. He's the only thing I have left.”
Ms. Carson nodded and left, leaving the security squad to guard the door.
Four days later, Ron and his mother were talking together in the guest cottage they shared. They were constantly watched by security but after what had happened and the crazy drive across the country, they didn't mind.
There was a knock on the door and Chief Delarose came in, they'd spoken with him everyday explaining what happened, answering questions, confirming details. “Ms. Rozic, Ron, can you please come with me, Headmistress Carson would like to talk to you both.”
They grabbed their coats knowing this wasn't a request. Shivering in the bitterly cold weather, they marched to a building that was right beside an ornate crystal dome. Both of them looked around in wonder at seeing so many mutants in one place, and the number of GSD cases.
There wasn't time to gawk however, they were taken directly to a large office where Headmistress Carson waited for them behind an imposing desk. There were forms in front of the visitors chairs.
“Thank you both for coming so promptly,” Carson said. “I am happy to inform you that after a thorough investigation, your story does check out, so Ron is eligible to become a Whateley student.”
Amanda wiped tears from her eyes. “Thank you so much.”
“You're welcome. We already have most of your information, so you simply have to fill out a few forms and we can begin a proper powers testing. Now Ron I understand that your gender change has been rather sudden, however because of your physical appearance you will be placed with other girls. I am strongly suggesting that you go by a female name and don't make it widely known that you were previously a boy,” the headmistress said.
“Why?” Ron asked.
“While changelings like yourself are becoming more common, gay bashing, harassment and bullying is a problem. I will not order you to do anything you don't want to, but you will have an easier time if you appear to be what you look like.”
Ron looked down at himself, he was wearing womens trousers, a baby tee showing off his chest. Amanda watched her son wrestling over the decision. She didn't know how to help him, just reached out to touch his smooth, hard hand.
“I'll do it,” he said finally. “Call me Rona.”
Carson smiled. “You'll be entering Poe, it's a mixed dorm with some students who have changed like yourself.”
They spent a few minutes going over forms, and then Carson led them to a little meeting room to give them a short time to say goodbye, while a guide from Poe came to show Ron around the school.
“I'm going to miss you,” Amanda said hugging her son, or was it daughter now.
“I'll come home for the holidays, And we can phone everyday,” he said.
She didn't tell him that probably wasn't going to happen. She was wanted for murder, so if she went home she'd be arrested, she didn't have any skills that could help her, if she tried to work at her old job, the police would find her easily, she'd probably never see Ron again. She couldn't tell him any of that. “Yeah, we will. I don't like long goodbyes, do your best and make me proud OK?”
“I will Mom. I love you,” he said kissing her cheek.
He stepped outside where Carson was waiting with an older girl. Amanda watched Ron smile shyly, and walk to the stairs with the guide, giving her one last wave.
She refused to cry in front of him.
Carson invited her back into the office.
With some privacy Amanda allowed the tears that had been welling up for the last few minutes to finally fall. “Thank you ma'am, for doing all of this. I realize this couldn't be easy for you, thank you.”
“While I do not approve of how you dealt with the situation, none of this was your daughters fault Ms. Rozic, so I do not see any reason to deny Rona an education. Your situation however is not as fortunate,” Carson said. “You are wanted for triple homicide, and considering the extremely open use of your powers the case is very solidly against you. Now it is not the schools place to act as law enforcement, so you are free to come and go with proper notification before arriving so we can prepare things for you. When you provide us with a means of contacting you, we will send you updates on Rona's education and she will visit you or people of your choosing during school vacations. Do you understand?”
Amanda nodded, trying hard to keep from shaking. “As long as Ron is safe that's all that matters. I should, I should go now. I don't want to cause you any trouble.”
“Thank you and good luck,” Carson said.
The headmistress walked her to her car and Amanda drove away, not really caring where she went. About fifteen minutes later, she pulled over to the side of the road put her head on the steering wheel and began to cry in earnest. Her life was over, it hadn't been a great life, but for the most part she'd been happy. Now her best friend was still in the hospital clinging to life, her child was safe but she couldn't see him, all her mementos and photo's and things she had worked so hard for were gone, she was going to be hunted by the MCO and the police. Everything was so bad she didn't know what to do anymore. It might be best to just turn herself in.
There was a knock on the window
Wiping her eyes, she looked and saw a tall woman wearing wrap around sunglasses, with short brown hair, standing just outside her door. Rolling down her window she hesitantly said, “Hello?”
“Hi, are you Ms. Rozic?” the woman asked, taking off her glasses to reveal two purple patches in place of eyes.
“Yes,” she said, not understanding how the mutant could possibly know her.
“A mutual friend told me you might need some help. If you trust me and don't mind coming to Canada, I'll make sure you get somewhere safe,” she said, holding out her hand
She took it without much hesitation. “Canada sounds really good right now. Thank you.”
“Great. I'm Prairie Sun, but my friends call me Evelyn.”