427 Evergreen Terrace
New Hebron, California
Laughter floated into the kitchen and Sapphira hovered in front of the fridge and a smile touched her lips. She sensed the mirth hanging over each of the young women in the adjacent room, and it put a smile on her face. The friendship that Awẹ́, now Ashley, and Hailey developed was unexpected at first, but now that she’d grown accustomed to it, she couldn’t believe the two had only known each other for a month. When Jenn, Hailey’s girlfriend, threw herself into the mix, like that night, they always filled the house with the sound of girlish giggles.
It reminded Sapphira of Clara’s teenage years. Her daughter always had a cadre of friends who followed her around laughing, and making silly jokes. In those days, she never understood, never been in on the joke, but now she was beginning to understand. It made her feel as if she were a part of something. After being alone for so many years, she’d forgotten what it felt long to belong.
Sapphira reached out grabbing four sodas, two in each hand out of the fridge, she’d found them at the supermarket a few weeks back and snatched them up. She didn’t even realized that they still made Bobblup or Snebitt’s, but she’d been most delighted to find Stuart’s Raspberry Cream Soda which had been one of her favorites as a boy. She kicked the refrigerator door shut with her foot and returned to the front room where the girls were waiting.
Sapphira froze upon seeing them. Hailey and Jenn had grins which stretch from ear to ear and Ashley’s face had turned beat red. She glanced up at the exemplar as she entered the room, but did not speak.
“Liv!” She grinned up at Sapphira. “You’ll never guess what Ash just told us! She’s got a date!”
Sapphira set the sodas down save for one and grinned at Ashely, plopping down on the couch opposite her. “A date, huh and what’s this girl’s name?”
“Her date’s name is Josh,” Hailey said snatching a bottle from the coffee table. “You should have seen her, she melted like butter the moment she saw him.”
“Can you blame her?” Jenn grinned, “The guy’s gorgeous, the first time I saw him I thought I’d he’d turned me straight.”
Jenn was the most outspoken of the bunch, and an avowed lipstick lesbian. Sapphira had a lot of preconceptions about the girl because of her electric blue hair and tattoos, but she was nothing like the exemplar expected. She expected someone with an abrasive and rash personality, but the girl, despite her tendency to spout off some of the most obscene statements he’d ever heard, was as sweet as they came.
Ashley reached her hands up to straighten her hair, a nervous tick she’d developed after she’d changed. She glanced at Jenn and eyed the other girl out of the corner of her eyes. She was the one person in the group who was not in on her true history. AEGIS would have frowned on it, for sure, but Ashely didn’t want her to know. She asked to be treated like one of the girls and Hailey agreed to keep it between them. The same could not be said for Sapphira. Jenn overheard them talking and puzzled it out. To her credit, she treated her no different than anyone else.
“Don’t worry,” Jenn gripped Ashley’s hands across the table. “You’ll be fine, don’t be nervous, Hailey and I will help you through it. You’re gorgeous and you’re a lot of fun to be around the dude’s gonna have a great time.”
As sweet as Jenn was, she wasn’t the best at reading people. Then again, she didn’t know a month ago Ashely had been a man so there were only so many conclusions she could make.
It was ironic that of all the girls the most masculine-minded one should be the one going on a date with a man. People couldn’t help how they were wired, but it seemed as that when her consciousness had come to reside within her new body she’d inherited some wiring from the previous owner. She still maintained a masculine mindset, but Sapphira got the sense that she was coming over to a more feminine way of thinking.
Sapphira pursed her lips and reach out to Ashley. She didn’t read her mind or attempt to determine her emotional state. It would have been a simple thing to do, but it was an invasion of her privacy. She’d resolved herself to avoid doing that save for in the most dire circumstances. Instead, she projected her thoughts into the girl’s mind in the form of a question. ‘You doing all right? I can steer conversation in another direction if they’re making you uncomfortable.’
Ashley glanced at her and tilted her head side to side. ‘It’s okay, I’m getting used to this body. I know this sounds weird, but I think I’m starting like it.’
Sapphira nodded and let the connection drop away. She was right, it was strange hearing Ashley make such a statement, but it didn’t surprise her given her recent behavior. She was happy for her.A life lived uncomfortable within your own body was not pleasant, but she wondered how if her sexuality and gender identity had shifted could other things have changed?
She may never find out, but she was glad to call her a friend. She would have never guessed that a bond would form after she’d tried to kill her father. It was ironic that she should be the one whose shoulder she’d cried on when her old man passed away, but life was strange that way.
Sapphira took a sip from her soda and smiled. She was the happiest she’d ever been. She was surrounded by friends, she’d been reunited with her granddaughter, and had fallen in love with someone who was patient and caring. Soon she would even enroll in classes at the university. What more could she ask for?
Speaking of Amy where was she? Sapphira reached out and sensed the other exemplar back in the bedroom. She tried to avoid looking into anyone’s mind, let alone Amy’s, but when it came to the woman she loved, it was difficult. Not for the reasons one might guess, but because she knew her so well, she didn’t even need to try in order to sense the other’s emotions or catch a stray thought. Amy seemed distracted, and nervous from anticipation.
She’d sensed the same from Amy more than once in recent times and every time disappointment followed it. She knew its source, but Amy refused to discuss it.
“Excuse me,” she said. She stood up moving out of the room heading toward their bedroom. She paused at the door, pursed her lips, and pushed it open.
Amy sat on the bed head bowed, something clenched in her hands. She turned toward Sapphira and stared up at her with wide eyes. Her emotions differed from previous times and it could only mean one thing. She swallowed, hard, and swooped in beside Amy. When she slipped her hands under Amy’s, the other woman dropped what she’d been holding into her palms.
She pulled her hands away and examined the item. A home pregnancy test. Unlike the previous ones it showed a very different result. Amy was pregnant.
Hot tears stung her cheeks, and she laughed. She pulled Amy close and kissed her on the lips. They’d been trying for months and their lack of results had grated on Amy.
The prospect of raising another child, had given her pause at first, terrified that it might again end in heartbreak, but she came around when she’d seen how much it meant to Amy. The spark that powered her abilities was adaptive. She grew the needed equipment and when she didn’t need it, well, it didn’t stick around. She shuddered, remembering the things they done together, it had been… fun, but the longer she remained in this body the more she preferred her privates remain female
“I-I missed my period last week, and I got so busy at work I forgot all about it. This morning I drove past a drug store and… I got this hunch. I bought a test, and I got around to taking it just now,” she said pulling close to Sapphira. “Liv, are we doing the right thing? You’ll be starting college soon and my job is so demanding not to mention dangerous. A child needs so much attention and I don’t know the first thing about one. God, I–”
“We’ll figure it out,” Sapphira said cutting her short. Though she said nothing to the other exemplar, she’d already reached out and confirmed the results of the test. There was a new life growing within Amy. She didn’t know much about fetal development, but she sensed the pinhead-sized collection of cells growing and multiplying within her body. “I’m getting better with computers. I don’t need to go full time and I can take some of my courses online. I’m sure Hailey, at least, will help. I raised a kid all by myself working full-time. Between the two of us, I think we can make it work.”
Amy bit her lip, nodded and pecked Sapphira on the lips. “Thank you. You always know the right thing to say. Which makes what I’m about to tell you so much worse.”
She rose to her feet and glanced back over her shoulder at Sapphira. “Matthews dropped a case on me today and it’s got me shaken up.”
Sapphira didn’t speak, but instead stood and wrapped her arms around the other woman.
“There’s a situation in Tondzaosha,” Amy said shaking her head.
All at once Sapphira understood. Tondzaosha, Idaho was Amy’s hometown. The day she’d found out she was pregnant, Matthews gave her an assignment in the place where she’d spent her childhood. Of course, she would have second thoughts. Her childhood had been a living hell.
“When do you leave?” She pulled away and studied the other woman. Though she hated to see Amy go, she understand that the other woman did important work. Sapphira would never ask her to stay.
“Tomorrow. They’ve booked me a late flight into the Tondzaosha Regional Airport. I would have told you earlier, but you were having such a good time with Hailey and the others I didn’t want to dampen the mood.
Sapphira smiled grabbed Amy by the shoulders and pulled her close. “We’ll celebrate the baby when you get home.”
”We don’t even know for sure if I’m pregnant,” Amy whispered in her ear.
”We do,” she whispered back. She did not explain herself, Amelia knew the power and scope of her abilities. She could put two and two together.
Though news of her lover’s departure was not what she had wanted to hear, she couldn’t help but smile at the prospect of raising another child. Besides, she a powerful telepath, there was nothing to say she couldn’t speak to Amy whenever it please her. She’d done it a handful of times before and on Amy’s last trip. She’d even created such a convincing projection they were able to make love despite being over four-hundred miles apart. With that thought in mind, she leaned in and kissed Amy on the lips. Despite the challenges that lay ahead, the future looked brighter than ever.