The Opposite Sex
By The Steel Angel

Authors Notes - I know I haven't worked on this fic in forever, but now that I'm out of highschool, and things have settled down a bit, I'm ready to jump back into this seemingly popular adventure. I hope you enjoy the following chapters!

Chapter Four
-Autumn-

Like an insatiable fire, or an unstoppable flood, autumn gradually replaced Summer. Autumn's legacy this year was a strong one, granted the Terror attacks on the World Trade Center towers. Everything seemed tainted after that. School, family functions, even our own meetings.
The Chee were coming up empty, which meant that the Yeerks had gone deep, deep underground. They were planning something big, that I was sure of. The Yeerks aren't the type to cut themselves off from their own people if nothing big was going on. There'd been no missions since before Autumn actually began, and we were going on a month. I should have been happy for the time off, but I was still immersed in my own personal crisis.
As much as I hated it, I was gradually getting used to being a girl. Through sheer willpower and determination, I was finally able to look at myself naked in the mirror, and not blush. That's not to say that I still didn't hate this body, and all of its damn quirks. I thought that I had some fatal disease when I had my first period.
I was finally able to tolerate that my friends too, had changed. Not so much mentally, but physically. It was a hard thing to accept. Kiss all your social norms goodbye. I still didn't have the willpower to confront one of the others and tell them that this isn't the way it was supposed to be. Not even Casey. I wasn't sure that any of the group would react too well. They'd probably think that I'd gone nuts.
Another possibility had crept into my mind. The harsh reality that I might never get back to the way I was. I didn't know how I got here in the first place, so how could I know how to return? If I said something about it, it could taint these "new" friendships for life.
For life.
I stepped into the bathroom, the cold tile under my feet. I closed the door behind me. The shower was already on, as I'd turned it on some five minutes earlier, like I always did. I never stepped into the shower without a layer of steam touching the ceiling. I slipped off the red blouse I was wearing, and slide down the matching red skirt non chalantly. Even now, I still hesitated to get undressed, but I couldn't very well not bathe, could I?
I slid one hand up my back and unhooked my bra. If there was one positive thing about this experience, it was that I had finally mastered bra removal like no other man could hope to achieve. I slide off the rest of my clothing, giving myself a slight grin in the bathroom mirror, then stepped into the shower. The hot water felt good on my skin, and the steam surrounding me created a sauna effect. It was like heaven.
The heat of the water seemed to bring new questions to the surface of my mind. Stupid, selfish questions, but valid questions none the less. Questions dealing with my identity. My personality. My sexuality. Casey contantly rose to the top of my questions list. Could I really stay in that relationship when I had no attraction to him? Breaking up would cause problems, though. Especially since Casey was an Animorph.
I sighed. I couldn't stay in that relationship. I just couldn't do it, no matter how much I wanted to preserve our friendship. Being in a healthy romantic relationship is as important as anything, and when you're in a romantic relationship that you're uncomfortable with, it can wear on your mind. Like it was doing to me right now.
I was attracted to girls. I knew that. Despite my mental attraction for women, since I had a male mind, I was becoming physically attracted to them as well. And let me tell you, nothing is as unnerving and strange as the aroused female body. Especially when you've got a male mind. I knew how to take care of arousal in my real body, but in this body, I couldn't find the release valve. The off switch. And I was too scared to look.
Staying in that relationship would drift over into our lives as Animorphs as well. My judgement would be off. I'd be forced to make tough calls with all that emotional baggage that I didn't want in the first place. I'd end up making the wrong call. Sighing deeply, I reached over and turned off the water, not moving for a towel. I just looked down at my feet. Lousy breasts. They were blocking my view. Why did I have to be a C cup?
I had been meaning to do something about my relationship troubles for a while, but I'd never gotten up the guts to actually say something. I always figured "Hey, I'll wake up in my own body tomorrow morning". But as the days and weeks went by, the possiblity of that happening seemed less and less likely. I grabbed a towel and started drying off. Today was gonna be the day. I had to do something, I just had to. I was going to break up with Casey. Why did my insides feel like sludge?
I picked up the clothes that I had set out in my room. A plain white spaghetti strap top, and a pair of black shorts. There wasn't any school today, so I didn't bother with a bra. Those things were uncomfortable and itchy. I slipped on my sandals, and walked downstairs, brushing my hair. I don't know how girls do it. So much hair! My mother was waiting downstairs.
"Are you ready to go shopping?" She asked. I nodded. I hated shopping, but it seemed like the "girl" thing to do. I know how excited Rachel always was to go shopping. I didn't want to seem out of character. "Ouch, what happened to your legs?" Mom asked. I looked down to the tiny bandaids on my legs. Shaving is hard.
"I just slipped while I was shaving this morning." I said.
"Three times?" She inquired. I shrugged. No mom, this was just the first time I've ever shaved my legs, therefor, I'm inexperienced and prone to cuts.
"That's what happens when you try to shave when you're half asleep." I said with a smile. She smiled back, and led me outside to where the car was already running, to get the air conditioner going. Even though it was late October, the temperature refused to drop. It was still hovering around the mid nineties with humidity at about fifty percent. I hated California sometimes. I got into the car, just as mom settled into the driver seat, and began to drive us toward the mall. I looked out the window aimlessly.
"I haven't heard from Marcy in a while." Mom said, breaking the silence. Why did it still sound weird to refer to Marco as Marcy? I hadn't spoken the name Marco aloud in two months. Ax, Tobias, Rachel, Cassie either. It was almost like a vacation. A vacation from hell.
"She's got family things going on." I replied. Mom seemed to buy that, and pulled into the Mall parking lot. Everything looked exactly the same... why was I the only one who noticed that everything was different? When mom parked the car, I stepped out, stretching my back. I followed her inside.
"I want to check Robinsons May to see if they have any sales going on. Where are you going to be?" She asked me. I looked at her.
"I'm gonna check out the Gap and the Limited. Then I'll meet you at the food court." I said. She smiled and nodded, and then took off in her own direction. I went the opposite way, looking around at all of the milling people, the kiosque directors, and the mall security guards. I headed into Gamestop. The new Zelda game was coming out soon.
"Need some help, young lady?" One of the store clerks asked me. I looked over at him with a raised eyebrow. I was holding the display box for the new Zelda game. He smiled. "That's a good game. It's about a kid named Link who-" He started. I cut him off instantly.
"Who's the hero of time, and saves Princess Zelda on numerous occasions, I know. Reviews for this game haven't been as high as they've been in the past, especially considering the huge success of the three previous games, the Windwaker, Majora's Mask, and the Ocarina of Time, which was the first to incoorperate three dimensions into the saga. It wasn't my favorite, though. I liked Windwaker's dynamic lighting and pixelation, personally. Even with that said, I'm not a big Zelda fan. What was the last thing released from Squaresoft?" I asked. The clerk just stared at me, mouth hanging open.
"Um..." He said, clearing his throat.
"Squaresoft's last three relases have bottomed out, showing that the company is going in the wrong direction. They need to get back to what made them famous. Games like Chrono Trigger. Now, I'll take Breath of Fire three, and Breath of Fire four." I said, slamming my credit card down on the counter. The clerk didn't say a word. He just took my card, and walked back to get my games. "Lousy clerk.... thinking that I don't know about video games..."
"Whoa, take a pill Jade." A male voice said. I turned my head to see Ruocco and Casey standing by a Disgaea 2 display board. "I had no idea you knew the first thing about video games. It's not a chick thing." He said. I rolled my eyes.
"What are you guys doing here?" I asked. Casey took a sip of a cherry icee.
"Tanya and Marcy wanted to come shopping, and dragged us here. I figured hey, why not pick up a video game?" He said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. I stiffened instantly.
"You here shopping?" Ruocco asked.
"Yeah.... my mom took me here. I figured I'd pick up a few new outfits." I said. Ruocco rolled his eyes.
"I seriously don't get the obsession girls have with clothes. What's the big hype?" He asked. I smirked. If you could only remember. I thought.
"It's a girl thing." I answered simply. Casey's arm was still around my shoulder when I took the bag and my credit card back from the clerk. I coughed. Ruocco took the hint, and veered off from both of us. "Hey Casey..." I said.
"Hm?" He asked, looking at me with a smile on his face.
"We should talk..." I said. I can't believe I was going to do this. I knew what I was about to do, and I knew what it did to guys.
"What about?" He asked.
No easy way to do this. No sugar coating. Just get it out in the open. He'll understand, right? No big deal, right? WHy isn't anyone answering me? "I... think we should see other people." I said bluntly. Casey just stared at me.
"Are you.... breaking up with me...?" He asked. I sighed. I was the biggest jerk in the universe.
"...Yes..." I answered. What else could I say? It was the truth... I couldn't be with a man....
"Wh.... wow..." He said, looking to be in shock. I patted his shoulder. He turned to look at me, disbelief still in his eyes. "What did I do?" He asked.
"You didn't do anything.... I just realized something about myself." I answered honestly.
"What? What did you realize?" He asked.
"...That I'm a lesbian." I said. Those words sounded so, so strange coming out of my mouth. But there they were, out in the open. How would Casey react?
"...Wow." Was all he said. Wow? What was that supposed to mean.
"...This won't affect our friendship...Or the other thing.... right?" I asked.
"Of course not. I wouldn't trade our friendship for anything..." He said, trying to put up a strong front. But I could see that he was hurt. And that I was the one that had hurt him.
I left the mall that night with a new outlook on the world. I wasn't being tied back by a relationship that I didn't want. Leaders have to make tough decisions most of the time, and often, neither situation is positive. But the thing that makes a great leader, is picking one choice, and making it work. Sticking by that decision. Not having any doubts about the decision. I had done that. And time will tell, if I made the right one.

To Be Continued in Chapter Five - "Winter"