No Need for Masculinity
|By : Richard_Priapi|
Category: +S to Z > Tenchi Muyo
Views: 95 -:- Recommendations : 0 -:- Currently Reading : 0
|Disclaimer: I do not own the various Tenchi Muyo properties, nor any of the characters herein who may be found within that canon. Originally posted to AO3, I'll be posting more proofread/edited versions of the chapters here.|
“Now where did I put that thing?” Tenchi groused. Washu had given him a prototype seed drill and fertilizer gun that was supposed to slash the time he spent planting carrots, but all it yielded was a bumper crop of misshapen tubers that he swore had human faces if you looked at them from the right angle. He’d thrown the cursed thing into his closet, but now she wanted it back for tinkering, so he rifled through the closet on hand and knee.
As he dove into one small corner his fingers brushed an unlikely memento from his trip to space- a girl’s school uniform and a brown pigtailed wig.
“Oh man,” he pulled the top out, mortified by memory. “I’m glad we were able to get past security when we did. If “Tenko” had to spend any more time schmoozing with that guard he might have tried to kiss me!”
An impulse picked at him. Just for a moment. Just for a laugh. Why not? There was a mirror mounted to the closet door. He leaned back in seiza, holding the garment up. Hesitantly he stretched it across his torso, eyeing distastefully the way his face appeared over the smooth sailor-fuku’s collar.
“Really brings out your eyes.”
“Gaah! Ryoko, don’t you ever knock?”
The hedgehog-haired Hakubi floated in the air beside him, on her side as if laying on an invisible sofa.
“Why, afraid I might judge you for wanting to slip into something a little more comfortable? You should know me better than that.” She listed closer, nuzzling her nose into the curve of Tenchi’s neck, arms draping sinuously across his shoulders.
“Want me to help you put it on?” she purred. “It’ll be our little secret, Tenko.”
He shoved himself to his feet, face red as a sunset.
“As if. I was just looking for- for this!”
Tenchi reached down into the closet and pulled out the handheld device, its smooth black frame dotted with garishly bright buttons. Funny, he thought, how he must have looked right past it before.
He abruptly scrambled downstairs, leaving a flustered space pirate phasing through the walls after him, calling half-hearted apologies and whole-hearted invitations for her to make it up to him if he just came back to bed.
The pocket dimension of Washu’s lab was a cluttered minefield of inventions in all states of completion, parts and diagrams sprawled across every flat surface in a series of constellations you needed three PHDs to understand. When Tenchi entered, Washu was bent over a motherboard of semisentient circuitry, a pair of loupe glasses giving her emerald eyes a bug-like distortion not helped by the unkempt antennae of pink hair spiking over the frame.
“Washu! I brought that seed drill you were looking for. Washu?”
“Oh hi, Tenchi,” her nasal voice chirped distractedly. She gestured with one hand, using a soldering wand like a pointer.
“You can just leave it on the desk over there.”
Tenchi picked his way through the gloom of the lab until he found the right table, identifiable only by the fact it had exactly the spare surface to accommodate the faulty gardening tool. Washu reached a logical stopping point in her work. She could hear Tenchi working his way back towards her and turned to be polite. Between them was a clear, curvy tank of pink liquid. For a moment, looking through it, Tenchi’s figure seemed to flare and curve. She lifted her glasses and appraised the waspy figure through the glass before he emerged on the other side of the tank.
Tenchi froze like a deer in headlights.
“I know that look. You just had an idea. How worried should I be?”
She circled him like a hawk.
“Not at all. It’s just a thought, really. Not an idea, per se. I’m just thinking about how smooth your skin is. And that delicate bone structure…”
“Oh, you think so?”
Tenchi broke out in a cold sweat, eyes darting to spot some kind of mechanical sex dungeon that might spring up around him. He was so nervous he didn’t even think to blush at her intimate tone, or the way her eyes undressed and reconstructed him. Washu planted a fist decisively down into her palm.
“Yep, no doubt about it; you’d make one beautiful woman.” Grateful to have followed her curiosity to its natural conclusion, she broke off and returned to her work, leaving Tenchi spluttering in protest.
“Get real,” he began, but already Washu was surfing the crests of the scientific process, oblivious to outside interference. Time seemed unreal as he walked back to the closet door that would return him to his home. His hand paused on the frame, and he spared one cautious look back. Washu was safely ensconced at the desk, her hair illuminated in showers of sparks as she continued to fine tune her work. He sighed. It hadn’t been the first time his mind had articulated all the ways he wasn’t a woman, even if she had denied him the practice of saying them out loud.
Tenchi finished another day of glorious field work. Well, not glorious so much as tedious, backbreaking, honest drudgery. Washu’s “idea” had bubbled up from the back of his mind as it wandered during the hours of hoeing. What had made her say it? Why couldn’t he get it out of his mind? He ran a hand across the stiff, aching muscles of his arm and shoulder. Nope, no good doing field work with a woman’s muscles. Being a man certainly had its upsides.
He opened the door of the house with his usually polite callout of “Grandpa, I’m home,” but from the living room wafted the sound of an Ol’ Fashioned Serious Conversation. As Tenchi slunk to the kitchen, he wished his shirt had a hood- it would help shield him from the argument Ayeka and Grandpa were having. As usual, it was about him. And, as usual, it proceeded as if he weren’t around to feel the weight of every word.
Katsuhito sat on a zabuton, sipping tea as he spoke. “It’s all well and good to want a member of the royal family to attend the ceremony, but I need a strong back to help in the fields this fall.”
Ayeka stood with practiced poise, hands folded over her lap.
“Really Yosho, you ought to stop hiding your strength. You are more than capable of plowing these fields while Lord Tenchi accompanies me.”
“I am needed at the shrine, even if I could explain how I was able to handle such heavy labor in my apparent condition, where would I find the time?”
Ayeka’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “There’s something you aren’t telling me- what is it?”
“Have you considered that Tenchi might not want to travel to Jurai? This school year is very important if he wishes to remain on earth. He will need to find gainful work in order to fulfill his duties to the family he will one day raise.”
“You speak as if it is a foregone conclusion that he will remain on earth. Why not ask him yourself?”
Tenchi scurried towards the stairs: too late. She rounded on him, face and posture outwardly demure and deferential. The mask she slid over her feelings was of exquisite make, but he knew how easily it came off.
“Lord Tenchi! Would you be so kind as to accompany me to my homeworld for a festival of great significance?”
“I don’t know Ayeka,” he shrank on himself as he began, hoping an agreeable refusal would defuse the moment, “I don’t exactly feel like royal family material- I’d rather just… stay put and keep up with school.”
Ayeka raised a sleeved wrist to her face, seeming to ponder his statement as her own slid out around it.
“As the man of the Masaki household, I understand you have duties you must uphold for your home and family here on earth. But I too am family- and as a prince of the royal family of Jurai, even a distant one, do you not feel compelled to play some bigger role in this universe?”
“Ehheheh…” he chuckled nervously, “Not really.”
The argument continued to flare beyond him, Ayeka’s shrill, increasingly agitated bleats beating against the relaxed, baritone cliffs of Grandpa’s responses. But he kept hearing it over and over.
The words boiled in his head, harder than ever to push into a comfortable corner of his mind.
Sasami’s voice cut through the noise- “Tenchi, are you ok?”
He hadn’t even noticed her come in. Now every eye in the room was focused on him, he felt like his throat was closing. Without thinking, he ran.
Tenchi burst through the door to Washu’s lab.
“Washu! Washu? WASHU!”
She materialized from the darkness in a hoverchair, chin resting coquettishly on her palm, outstretched fingers framing her cheek.
“What is it, Tenchi, dear? Need the greatest scientific genius in the universe to help with your homework or something?”
He kept his head down, fighting to keep his breathing steady. She was the number one genius… if anyone could do it…why was it so hard to put in words?
“You said I would make a good woman… can you do it?”
She blinked. Shadows curled across her face as she leaned forward in her chair, casting her grin in a wicked light.
“Well it just so happened I couldn’t get the idea out of my head either. I spent half the day coming up with a few neat little gadgets that might just help… if you’re sure.”
She looked like the devil offering apples. Tenchi had to fight back the urge to say a protective Shinto mantra. Instead, he took a deep breath, swallowed his doubt, and nodded.
Tenchi crept back to Washu’s lab bright and early the next morning, well before anyone else in the house stirred- except Sasami, who had predictably gotten a head start on preparing a usual breakfast spread of rice, miso soup, omelets, and grilled fish. Tenchi shook his head in awe of the little girl’s tireless labors before slipping into the lab.
“Good morning, Nee-san.” Washu’s playful greeting flew over Tenchi’s head. He almost looked over his shoulder to see if anyone else was in the room. Then his brain took it in. He tried to respond, but his mouth had gone dry. He swallowed with difficulty before choking out a half-hearted greeting.
“You can relax, Tenchi. We should be able to get the transformation process well underway before breakfast.”
Tenchi’s ears perked up.
“Process? But you turned Ayeka and Ryoko into kappas instantly- can’t you just do something like that?”
Washu shook her head. She gestured to empty space, and a holographic screen appeared, projecting chibi figures as she spoke. On the screen, a miniature Ryoko in kappa form transformed to normality with a puff of smoke.
“A whole-body gene replacement can’t be done in one shot. Without overcoming latent telomeric elasticity, you’d snap right back into your old body in a day or so.”
The figure was replaced with an image of Tenchi, pieces of his body being swapped out like building blocks until an unfamiliar woman stood in his place.
“But if we wear that elasticity down with a series of smaller tweaks, we should have a final product inside a few months.”
Tenchi gasped, unable to tear his gaze away from the image.
“A few months?”
“Tsk tsk, you can’t rush genius, Tenchi.”
A few months. Years of playing hide and seek against his mirror. Years feeling an affinity for the women in his life that ran deeper than romance or lust. Years wondering if knowing his own mother, knowing more intimately the shape of womanhood day to day, would have changed how he processed any of this. All put right before the back-to-school sports festival in Autumn.
A shimmering veil fell across his eyes. He blinked it away, taking a breath to steady the knocking in his knees. The words coiled inside him like a cobra. All he had to do was let them strike. Just like that.
“What’s the first step?”
Washu vanished behind a nearby machine, emerging in a retro nurse outfit, complete with pillbox hat and pleated skirt.
“Samples.” She leaned forward and blew a kiss as a frightening number and variety of small vials materialized from a drawer beside her.
As she plucked, scraped, and stimulated secretion of what she needed, she walked Tenchi through the process of how her machines would scan his DNA and precise molecular makeup to tailor a bespoke suite of gene therapy for the long term as nanomachines would calculate hormone balance in real time. She entered the samples into her computer, which dutifully performed a symphonic light show of bleeps and blinks. The finer details swam past his thoughts, but he grasped the gist well enough that his heart started pounding.
“So… when can we start?”
The floor below him shimmered for a moment before a wave of blue light erupted over him- his eyes blinked in protest while the lab came back into focus.
“That’s dose number one down! You should see results in about a week. Nanomachines will be ready by lunch, so be sure to bring it to me on time, wouldn’t you Tenchi dear?”
So saying, she marched him to the door and threw him out.
In the chaos of a day in the Masaki household, nobody had noticed Tenchi slip into Washu’s lab again at lunch- except Sasami, who was merely grateful that he had volunteered to deliver the scientist’s lunch in her stead. The rest of the day passed in an unreal haze, and before he knew it he was getting ready for bed.
Tenchi closed himself in the bathroom and ran a bath, heart pounding in his ears. He’d taken the leap, so what was a little step forward? As he climbed in, he picked up a razor with hands shaking in anticipation, forcing himself with steady breaths to keep it still enough to use. He had to stop and rinse the twin-bladed disposable frequently, but soon he had trimmed away all traces of unwanted hair- any he could reach, that is, from head to toe. Like the severed legs of a thousand spiders, they floated around him, the image turning his stomach. He pulled the plug, and soon much of the evidence was gone.
He looked at himself in the mirror. The change was small- he hadn’t been hirsute to begin with- but it was a start. As Tenchi appraised his smooth skin, she realized she should start practicing thinking of herself in feminine terms. She lobbed a few softballs. Each sentence or phrase felt like an ill-fitting glove, and his heart raced with a terrible through that she might be making a mistake. Tenchi spun away from the mirror, hastily wrapping himself in a towel. He rushed upstairs to his bedroom, not even registering when he shouldered past Ayeka on the stairs.
He snapped off the lights and hurled himself blindly into bed, burying his face in the pillow until sleep could claim him. Tomorrow would be a new dawn- was there any way to be ready for it?
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