General Fiction posted September 1, 2017


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Time to learn, time to empathize.

Reflection

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Brock pushed past the group of college students near the entrance to the bar and took a whiff of the familiar scent of beer, roofie-curdled booze, and leather jackets.

It was Friday, and while he came every Saturday, he also came in on increasingly more Fridays.

He spotted his usual spot at the bar, right at the end of the side farthest from the bathroom, and thus, the awful stench. Not only was his spot taken, but almost half of the seats were taken up by a group of brown-haired women.

Never had his spot been taken before.

He went to sit one spot away from the groups on either side of him, and the hot bartender he liked came to ask for his order with a genuine, kind smile.

"Sup, Brock?" Ashton asked him, leaning on the bar to get a little closer to where Brock was sitting ramrod-straight on the bar stool.

"The usual, Ash," Brock responded, tired from his long day at work.

Ash smiled and went to find the brandy. Brock may or may not have given the other man's jean-clad ass a look before redirecting his attention at his hands.

Apparently, he wasn't the only one who could appreciate a good-looking man when he saw one, because as he looked back at his usual spot, the woman sitting there called for Ash, who came over with wide eyes.

As the woman got up and left with one of the other girls, Brock noticed Ash was blushing at the napkin the woman had left on the bar.

Brock stood up and walked to his usual spot, noticing the giggling girls beside him, who were all watching Ash as he poured Brock's brandy. He looked at the napkin, the cash for the drink in a neat pile on one half, and the other containing a phone number.

Of course the woman liked Ash. Who wouldn't? The man was kind, caring, and damn if he wasn't something to look at too. He had black hair that Brock dreamed of messing up with his fingers, he had dark green eyes that put every other shade of the color to shame, and he was always wearing a tie, white shirt, and waistcoat despite how the bartenders could wear whatever they wanted while on the clock. Today's tie was Brock's favorite, the solid blue one.

Ash put down Brock's drink in front of him, scooped up the cash, and after a moment of hesitation, pocketed the napkin. Brock would never admit, even in a century, the crushing disappointment he felt in that moment.

He chugged his drink in ten seconds before asking for another. Ash gave him a concerned look before pouring out another one and then quickly moving down the bar to help someone else.

Brock drank that one in record time, too. He felt rage bubble in his gut.

Ash came back as soon as the other order was finished. "Are you okay, honey?" he asked, and Brock gave him a small, reassuring smile before nodding.

"Yeah. Just a hard day," he sighed, resting his elbows on the edge of the wooden bar.

The girl two stools to Brock's right stood up, put down the change for her drink, and wrote, in blue ink, her name and phone number before calling Ash over. He blushed even harder at the second napkin, and the remaining girls giggled again.

If Brock had been angry or saddened before, he was furious now. He stood up and made a show of looking at the seat where the woman had sat.

"'M surprised there isn't blood all over that bar stool," he said, and the girl beside him turned to look at him, a look of disgust on her face.

"What?" she asked, anger shining in her bright blue eyes.

"Disgusting chicks bleeding all over the place, making a mess," Brock continued, and while he felt remorse at the looks on the girls' faces, he didn't feel enough to apologize.

"Sexist pig!" the girl next to him hissed, and Ash came over, his brow furrowed.

"What's going on?" he asked to no one in particular.

"Nothin', Ash, just good-for-nothing girls gettin' on my case," Brock said, and as opposed to how he felt almost no remorse at his comments before, when Ash looked at him with that look, he wished he could crawl into himself and die.

A moment passed. "Don't say that, Brock," Ash said, and while he sounded like he was talking to a friend, Brock also knew he was being talked to as a customer, and whether they had good conversations once in a while or not, he was going to be treated like a customer too.

"What? It's true. They're just on my case cause they're PMSing," he continued, but he didn't feel the rage he had felt before. Now he just felt empty.

Ash went from sad and dismayed to authoritative, and on any other night the look in his eyes would make Brock think he looked even more sexy, but now all he could see was how he had caused this in his friend.

"Brock, get out," he said calmly, and Brock felt his cheeks turn red. He didn't want to admit what he was doing was wrong, even though he knew it was, and he sure as hell wasn't getting evicted from his spot at the bar for the second time.

"No," Brock said. Ash sighed, looked at the other bartender, and gave her a signal before he was suddenly right behind Brock.

"Come on, Brock," Ash said, and Brock grunted as he stood up. He didn't want to cause a scene, and he wanted to come back to the bar, so he decided to let this one go.

He allowed Ash to take him through the door, out into the back parking lot, and as the door closed and the loud sounds of the bar were muffled by the door, he felt the sobering cold of the wind and his eyes tried to adjust to the drastically darker night.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Ash asked.

"Nothing, what the hell is wrong with you?" Brock yelled, slapping away Ash's steadying hand on his shoulder.

Ash silently called five on speed dial.

"Hey, Joe," he said, not allowing emotion into his voice. "I got another one," he sighed. Not a moment later, he hung up the phone, and after almost ten minutes in uncomfortable silence, a taxi pulled up to the side of the bar.

"Night, Brock," Ash said tiredly before opening the door with his employee key and going back into the bar.

Brock got in the back of the taxi without protest or question. This was the second time he'd had to go home without his car, and considering how he had been slacking on some of his reports at work, it would not be the last.

When they arrived at his home, he pulled two twenties out of his wallet, not even checking to see how much it had actually cost, and gave them to the driver before getting out and walking unsteadily up to the front door of his house. He wondered, as he re-pocketed his wallet, what Ash had done about the cost of his drinks. He didn't have a tab, and always paid with cash.

He disregarded the idea as he collapsed, still wearing his clothes besides his shoes, on his bed.

He woke up the next morning, his head hurting like a bitch, and an unsteady feeling on his feet as he attempted to walk to the kitchen to ease his grumbling stomach.

Thank god it was Saturday, he thought.

Even as he ate some toast and the close-to-expiring yogurt from his fridge, the churning feeling in his gut didn't stop or slow. He realized with a shock that the feeling wasn't only hunger, but also guilt.

He refused to acknowledge it past that, and he worked on his computer for the rest of the day. As he added something to his calendar, he noticed the symbol that meant there would be a full moon on that very Saturday.

He remembered that he had a dinner with a potential hire his boss had asked him to interview.

He checked his watch, noting the time was 5:12 p.m. already.

He sighed loudly, his gut twisting as he was not-so-thankfully reminded by his brain that he couldn't go back to the bar like he normally would on a Saturday. He knew he had to wait at least a week before showing up after what he'd done.

He only noticed how much time had passed when he looked out of the window beside his desk absentmindedly and saw the sunset.

He got up and went to his room, looking for his cleanest pair of dress pants. He chose his least favorite, the grey ones his sister had bought for him for his birthday the year before.

As he put the pants on, he suddenly felt an odd tingling starting in his legs, and after pausing in confusion, it spread, and suddenly his whole body was tingling. He put the heel of his hand to the back of his head, and he began to pull in his breaths and let them out quicker and quicker.

Soon he felt his legs constrict until he was screaming from the pain, and he fell to the ground, then it spread up into his private area, and the pain that came after it reached that1 point made him shriek even louder, and he continued to cry and scream until the feeling was so horrible he thought he was dying. He was in too much pain to be confused or even to think outside of the mantra of curses and screams in his head and in his mouth.

He passed out.

As he woke up, he struggled to remember why he was on the floor of his bedroom, why he was only wearing his boxers and his grey pants, why he felt so different, and why his chest was suddenly heavier.

He looked at his chest, which was a mistake. Instead of seeing his not-impressive chest and slightly-chubby stomach, he saw a very large pair of breasts and an even tubbier stomach than he had had before. He yelped and closed his eyes, trying to calm himself and convince himself that this is just a really bad dream.

He slapped himself, and it only made the situation worse. He felt the tighter skin on his cheeks, the softer tips of his fingers, and he knew that this was real.

His eyes got very wide as he stilled in his motions, and then, slowly, he, looking away, reached to where his groin should be seen through his pants, but when he felt nothing there, he bit his lip.

In shocked silence, he got up and walked into his bathroom, looking at himself in the mirror. Now, he couldn't ignore or deny the reality of the situation. His heart rate picked up.

His strong chin was replaced with one without stubble, his short hair was replaced with long, dark brown strands that twisted behind his back. His eyebrows and eyelashes were more noticeable, his lips were slightly plumper and a more bold shade of pink, his shoulders were narrower, his arms were less hairy, as were his legs, and his feet and hands were smaller and softer.

He was taken out of his confused, wide-eyed stare at himself in the mirror by his phone ringing.

He absentmindedly answered the phone call, not noticing that there was no caller ID.

"Hello?" he asked, and he heard his own voice, and he gasped. He sounded so much like his sister.

"You can have your penis back when you man up and respect women," a female voice said on the other end, and then the call was over.

He stared at the phone in his hand. His softer, smaller, hand. He turned over his hand and recoiled in disgust at the zebra-print nails.

His phone buzzed again.

[From: Asshole] 8:02 p.m.
Don't forget the dinner.

His boss. Dammit, he was supposed to be at dinner with the possible hire in less than half an hour!

He didn't stop thinking about what the woman on the other side of the phone call had said, even as he was searching through the box of his sister's clothes that she had left when she had last come to visit. He pulled on a bra that was too small for his large bust, and a long purple dress with little orange flowers. It was the only one he'd ever thought looked good on his sister, and as he looked at himself in the mirror, he arranged his hair like she would.

He decided to keep his socks and boxers. It would feel too creepy wearing his sister's panties, and no one would care about the socks. For his boxers to fit around his waist, he had to double over a part of the fabric and then pin it in place with a clothespin.

On the way to the door, his phone, his keys and his wallet in his late mother's blue purse, he realized he didn't have any shoes. Even his sneakers wouldn't fit. He looked through his sister's clothes and found a pair of brown leather boots, so he reluctantly put them on before running out of the front door. He realized with a sudden shock that his car was still at the bar. He called a taxi, and ten minutes later, he got in, and was taken to the restaurant where he was supposed to meet the new hire.

He walked in and found the guy easily. It was the one with a pocket protector for his pocket protector.

He was able to easily convince the guy that "Mr. Milton" couldn't make it, so he sent his assistant.

Despite his new appearance and difference in confidence, the meeting was actually boring to him, or at least, that was until the guy started to hit on him.

"You don't seem like the type to work in an office. More like a model, you know?" the guy asked, and Brock had never rolled his eyes so hard in his life. "You wanna get out of here? We can do the more official stuff later," the guy said before wagging his eyebrows

"No," Brock said, straight out.

"Playing hard-to-get, hm?" the guy asked, and Brock's scowl intensified.

The guy put a hand on Brock's thigh, then pinned his hand to the table, and Brock slapped him, not feeling a bit of remorse as he looked around to see other women staring him down. He now realized that while he may have never touched a woman like this, he had certainly offended them in the same regard, not a day ago. He thought he understood.

As soon as the guy was gone out of the door and he was left in the lobby without a clue what to do, he decided to go back to the bar. He wouldn't be recognized and thrown out on sight, so he might as well enjoy a good beer.

He caught a taxi outside of the restaurant and asked to go to the bar.

He took his usual spot, and saw Ash behind the bar.

"Ash!" he called, and the man looked at him with wide eyes from where he was fiddling with his hands in wait of an order. The bartender came over.

"What'd you like?" Ash asked, and Brock easily responded.

"The usual," he said, and only realized his mistake at the look of confusion on Ash's face. "Um, I mean the craft beer with the really frilly name," he said, struggling in his own mind to remember what the beer was.

Ash nodded, still giving him an odd look. He brought back the beer not a minute later.

"Sorry but, um, do I know you?" Ash asked, biting his lip.

"No, no, it was a mistake," Brock tried to deflect the question.

Ash nodded again before leaving to get another customer's order.

The game wasn't any good, the only thing worth watching in the bar was Ash, who would look at the entrance to the bar after and before every order he filled. By the time it was just Brock, Ash, and a couple of drunk highschool girls in the corner, Brock had finished his beer.

He asked for another from Ash, his mouth downturned.

"You alright, miss?" Ash asked, a sympathetic look in his eyes.

"Eh. Guys can be pigs," Brock said. Ash nodded, withdrawing. "Not you. You're one of the good ones," he clarified and Ash seemed relieved. "And what's up with you? You've been eyeing the door all night. Got someone coming to get you?" he asked, praying that Ash didn't have someone in that sense. When he turned back (if he turned back, he thought, panic rising in his throat before he pushed it down), he wanted to make Ash his someone. He always had, he thought, but he'd never had the courage to do anything about it. Now, with Ash looking at him like a stranger, he knew that if he got to be himself again he would apologize and make sure that he never saw the look of disappointment on Ash's face when Brock had started being a sexist bastard. He had never really appreciated how Ash looked at him differently from the other customers before.

"Not really," Ash responded, his shoulders sagging a bit. "Just a regular that didn't show," he said.

Brock didn't dare hope that Ash had really noticed that he hadn't come in.

"The sexist asshole?" Brock asked, more adrenaline in his veins than when he had slapped the guy at dinner.

Ash looked taken aback. "He's not an asshole, he's just a mean drunk. I'd never seen him say anything like that before, it was just a one-time thing," he said, rambling a bit.

Brock smiled widely. "Good to hear," he said.

It was quiet for a long moment, but it wasn't uncomfortable.

The door opened, and Brock recognized the girl that came in as one that he had talked to the night before. He immediately felt guilty, and he was sure that it showed on his face, because the woman looked at him with a raised eyebrow. She came in, picked up a scarf he hadn't noticed a couple stools over, and left, but not without giving a meaningful grin to Brock.

Suddenly, he felt a tingling in his legs, and he gasped, his mind racing, and he, as quickly as he could, threw down a few bills onto the bar and ran out of the bar, Ash's questioning call following him out the doors. The tingling was spreading even as he ran to his car. He got in, and he dug his fingernails into the seat, anticipating the pain that he had felt the last time, but instead he simply closed his eyes, and between blinks, his genitals had gone from an innie to an outie, and his chest was flat again. He felt his face and his hair, and he let out a relieved chuckle.

He suddenly felt his body fill with an entirely new feeling. Determination.

He stripped out of his sister's clothes, wearing only his socks and boxers as he got out of the car. He didn't care about his appearance, he had a man to get on his arm.

He walked in through the front door, being sure to wave at the only security camera the bar had, and walked straight up to Ash, going to the other side of the bar.

"Brock?" Ash asked, both looking confused and relieved.

Instead of responding, Brock took Ash into his arms, winding one (very masculine) arm around the bartender's neck and the other around his waist, and kissed him.

And despite the relief he'd felt only minutes before as he returned to his true form, he could safely say he felt better relief in that moment as Ash, for some God-damned reason, kissed back.


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Artwork by cleo85 at FanArtReview.com

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