Title: Interchangeable Parts

Author: Hawk Clowd

Disclaimer: I don't own a thing. . I'm sorry if that disappoints, although I don't know why it would. Um. Yay for Maki Murakami!

Blood Type: Something estrogen-infused.

Warnings: Transgender-ness. Some spoilers. My apologies.

Author's Note: This fic is for Aja, who would not stop hinting that the Gravitation fandom needed more Yoshiki fic. I'm sorry if this isn't quite up to par, dear, but please remember that I'm supposed to be temporarily retired. You can't expect me to get characterization spot on when I'm on hiatus. Anyway, this story works in conjunction with Gravitation Volume 9, with special attention to track 38. I reuse a lot of that dialogue, and that really bugged me (a lot), but there was no getting around it. Sad.

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Undoubtedly the most difficult thing about almost being an adult woman was having a penis, Yoshiki decided, and she would be rectifying even that soon enough. Then she would be a true woman, and no one could tell her differently. She had the appendage for right now, however, and that came with its own collection of troubles: the occasional awkwardness at a public restroom, the way clothes didn't quite sit just right, and of course the sudden bursts of testosterone that always exploded in Yoshiki's head at the most inconvenient of times. Still, Yoshiki was certain even those things would be eradicated -- or at least that they would happen considerably less often -- once she amputated her extra (and, for her, very inappropriate) appendage.

Yes, surgery would fix it all for her; all Yoshiki had to do to be a real, undeniably womanly woman was a bit of a snip and tuck. There was a problem, of course, as there usually was with these things: Yoshiki was terrified of that final surgery. She would still get it done, of course. Denying herself that opportunity would be worse than going through with it, even in spite of the pain and uncertainty and the absolute, inescapable fear she had in regard to the surgery.

Argh. Yoshiki examined herself briefly in her wall mirror one last time and then groaned, fell back onto her bed, and threw an arm over her eyes. Then, when not even that blocked out the image of her all-too male body, she rolled over onto her stomach and buried her face in her pillow. This wasn't fair. She wanted to get her surgery and complete her transformation into a woman, but the idea of going under the knife in such an important, sensitive area actually made her feel nauseous. She literally felt like vomiting every time she even thought about the procedure.

It just wasn't fair. She knew she was a girl, even in spite of the sex she had unwillingly been born into. She had always thought of herself as female, even when her parents and relatives had tried to force her accused gender onto her in the forms of boy toys and haircuts and after-school sports and clothes she really didn't want to wear. It had taken her a lot of effort to convince her parents she was indeed a girl, even in spite of the arguments her body put up, and they still got uncomfortable whenever she went to visit them wearing a skirt or her hair long or her face made up or whatever. It helped that she took after her older (and now deceased) brother, who had possessed rather feminine features himself, with the same wavy brown hair and large brown eyes, but her face was still a little more angular than she would have liked and her features were sharper than most girls her age. All of that made it more difficult for people -- even her parents! -- to just take her word for it when she told them she was a woman. If she had just been born with the proper pair of chromosomes like every other girl, all of this would just be so much easier.

Of course, it would also be "so much easier" if people would simply accept her as a woman, too, although she would still have to deal with the penis problem. She had managed to deal with everything else so far; consistent use of hormonal beard retardant cream supplements had helped her with the shaving issue (although if she accidentally skipped a few days, she often paid for it later in the week with the traces of what could almost be a five o'clock shadow), Estro-Glan and mammary supplements had helped her shape and enhance all the womanly parts she possessed (or, at least, wanted to possess), and estrogen caplets had helped most everything else. There was only one thing left to take care of, and that, of course, just had to be the most difficult part of all.

What if the doctors messed it up? It wouldn't take much to get it wrong; a slip of the scissors (or whatever they used), a misplaced stitch, a horribly deforming accident… Yoshiki pressed her face even harder into her pillow. She'd be an indeterminate woman-man thing with a genitalia region that looked like it had been through a war zone. And, granted, no one would see it except for her and the people she wanted to see it, but it would be there and she would know and she would be a freak and damn it all this thinking just wasn't helping!

Okay. All right. Calm down. Yoshiki took a few deep breaths and then turned back onto her back, clutching the pillow to her chest. She had to stop and think about this rationally. She was going to get the surgery done, she knew that; she had had Karen, one of her friends at the legal office where they both worked, call and make the appointment for her last week. In spite of having been born with all the appropriate female parts, Karen had more balls than Yoshiki had ever had, and calling to arrange a genital amputation hadn't bothered in the least. Yoshiki envied that a little. Maybe more than a little; sometimes it was difficult to tell. In any case, the preliminary to the surgery had been set for the following Wednesday -- six days away, now -- and that unfortunately left Yoshiki plenty of time to worry over it all.

What would her brother tell her to do? Yoshiki bit her lower lip. Yuki, her elder brother by a little over ten years, had died six years before, at the age of twenty-three, when he had been shot by one of the students he had been tutoring. Yoshiki didn't know all the details, but she enough to know that the student had shot in self-defense, and Yuki had died soon after. Still, Yuki had always seemed a wonderful person to Yoshiki, so she had no intention of contesting that memory of her brother; her only regret there was that the student would probably never be able to forgive himself for killing such a wonderful older brother. She sighed. Yuki had always given her the best advice. What would he tell her to do in a case like this? Maybe he would tell her to suck it up and deal; this was what she wanted, after all, and so what if she had to brave through a surgery or two? Or perhaps he would tell her to go ahead and skip her appointment (or do the logical thing and cancel it) and simply live with the genitalia she hated. Or...

...or perhaps he, like their parents, would have wondered why she couldn't just be happy as a boy, as she had been born and raised. Yuki had always tended to side with their parents, and he had been a little close-minded on subjects like that besides.

This was no use. All she was doing here was working herself up, and what she really needed to do was just not think about any of this at all. Maybe she should just call someone and get out of her apartment for the night; at least that would be one less night she'd have to mull over the operation. Yeah. Okay. That sounded like a plan.

Yoshiki reached to the nightstand, where she had left her cell phone. Karen would still be up -- her coworker was, above all else, renowned for her ability to get about six hours of sleep a week and still be functional every day at work. That ability had recently caught the attention of Steve Lashers, their boss, and Karen was consequently in danger of being promoted from secretary to paralegal because of it -- something she didn't want because it would require that she did more work.

Karen answered on the third ring. "Hello?" she said brightly.

"Kombanwa."

"Yoshiki!" Karen squealed. "You okay? What's up?"

"I'm fine," Yoshiki murmured. "Look, I..." She looked around her bedroom, the room she had painstakingly designed to fit her -- gender and all -- when she had finally managed to get away from her parents, who had been overprotective ever since Yuki's death. She sighed. "I've got to get out of here for tonight. Are you busy?"

"Um..." Karen paused. "Not so much, no. My little sister is over, but she can entertain herself for a couple hours, you know? Where do you want to meet up?"

Yoshiki tapped her fingers against the back of the phone. "I don't know. Where is good for you?"

There was another brief pause, which Karen hummed through. "Well, there's a bar down on sixty-third. The A.X. How's that sound?"

Yoshiki knew that bar; she was a semi-regular there, since it was so close to her apartment, and it wasn't bad. Cheap. Clean. Nice people. Yeah, that would work. "Okay," she said. "I'll meet you there."

Karen's grin was practically audible. "Great! See you, Yoshiki!" And she hung up.

Yoshiki stayed where she was, phone in her hands, and then turned off her own and got out of bed to get dressed. Once she had on suitable clothes, she pulled on her shoes, grabbed her keys, and left for the bar.

It took her all of fifteen minutes to walk to the A.X., and she got a seat at a table while she waited for Karen to show. It was quiet for a long while and Yoshiki nursed a drink -- her usual, a scotch -- and waited. And waited. And waited.

Ten more minutes passed, and Yoshiki started to wonder if Karen was going to show. She played with her cell phone, contemplating calling her friend, and was about to raise the phone to her ear when one of the waitresses -- a cute girl named Sarah, who Yoshiki was halfway decent friends with -- came back complaining about all the cutest guys being gay. Yoshiki followed Sarah's gaze to the two men at the table, and caught a snatch of conversation here and there. She didn't care much, really, but one thing -- one name -- stuck out in her mind.

Yuki-san.

Yuki-san? It couldn't be her brother, she knew that -- her brother was long dead -- and it was probably just a coincidence, but... Yoshiki squinted, then sighed, set down her scotch, and went to the table.

"Excuse me," she said. "Which one of you is Yuki-san?"

Both men turned to look at her. One was a shorter guy with dark hair and glasses, who looked a touch shell-shocked by... well, everything. The other was blond, pale, and oddly familiar. Yoshiki pursed her lips.

"If you don't want to be noticed," she went on, "you shouldn't yell like that."

The darker one flushed. "Oh, I'm sorry, I... I mean, uh..."

The blond rolled his eyes and waved with one hand. "Hello," he said. "I'm Yuki, young lady. What's up?"

It wasn't her brother. She had known that, of course. But she had hoped, maybe, just a little... Yoshiki watched the blond, and he gave her a look that clearly said "you're wasting my time". This... This wasn't worth it. She should go back to her table and just wait for Karen.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I've made a mistake."

The blond said something else, but Yoshiki wasn't paying attention anymore. She knew that hair and face, somehow, and...

Oh.

Oh!

Oh.

The blond was leaving. Yoshiki threw some money down on the table and ran after him. "Excuse me!" she called as she opened the door. "I'm sorry about what just happened, and I hope you weren't offended, pleas come again, Yuki-san!" He didn't stop, so she followed after him. Karen was going to kill her, but... "You're turning in to a semi-regular customer, dropping by every once in a while, aren't you? I recognize you."

"Shut up."

All right, so he wasn't the most polite guy in the batch, but whatever.

"I'm sorry! I made you mad, didn't I?" she said, rushing after him. "I mistook you for someone else, and now you're offended."

"Yeah, I'm mad," he snapped. "I'm fucking pissed."

Jerk.

"Well, I'm sorry, but it's just... My older brother was named Yuki, and..."

He grabbed her arm, stopping both of them. "Listen," he said. "I'm in a bad mood, and it's not your fault, but you're the only one here. So if you don't hurry up and get lost, I'm really going to fuck you up."

Bullshit. Yoshiki frowned. "But you're gay," she said. "That's what you told the waitress, anyway." She stood on her toes to get a good look at him. "And now that I really get a good look at you... You are pretty cute. All the cute ones are gay, aren't they?" She sighed. "It's good to know I'm not why you're mad, but still, as an apology for making it worse, how about you let me buy a drink for you next time?"

He stared at her, obviously confused. She couldn't blame him, really. Some weird girl was following him and bugging him, and he probably had that same nagging feeling she had had earlier, and...

There it was. His eyes widened. She just kept smiling.

"Wait," he said. "Did you say that your brother's name was Yuki?"

"Yes." Yoshiki tilted her head slightly to one side and was careful not to let her smile fall. "His name was Yuki Kitazawa."

The blond was silent, although his mouth fell open a little. Oh yes. She knew she had been right. Six years and finally -- finally -- she was able to see the face of her brother's killer. He wasn't what she had expected, but maybe she could make amends for what her brother had done, and then when she had her operation karma would catch up with her and everything would be just fine and, and...

"Ki... Kita..."

"That's right," Yoshiki said. This was mean, she knew, but... She leaned forward and smiled, switching to her Man Voice. "Do you remember me?" she asked. "Eiri-kun?"

The way the blond's eyes got white and his face paled, she had almost expected. She had definitely expected him to stiffen the way he did. What she didn't expect was the way he turned blue, turned around, and vomited all over the pavement. She also didn't expect him to faint the way he did, and, well...

Okay, the fainting was a surprise, too. Yoshiki sighed and knelt down, prodding the blond's head. Yup. Down for the count. Shoot. Now she'd have to be nice and take care of him or something.

Well, at least this was a good distraction from her upcoming surgery. Yoshiki sighed and picked Eiri up, hailed a taxi, and directed the guy back to her apartment. Might as well make peace with Eiri while she could, given all the nasty stuff her brother had done to him. She probably owed him for that. It also sounded like the blond was having a hard time with something or another, so maybe -- maybe -- she could help out with that, too! She had always been good with matters of the heart, after all, and since it was probably her brother's fault, then maybe she could help patch that up a little.

Besides, it would take her mind off things. Yoshiki hummed merrily as she helped Eiri, who was slung over her shoulder, into the elevator, to her apartment, and into bed. She'd sleep on the couch tonight, and maybe tomorrow things would be different.

Ha. Yuki-san. She smiled. It was almost like having her big brother back from the dead. How weird.

Yoshiki smiled and stretched out on the couch. That was settled, then. Tomorrow she'd have Karen call the doctor and delay her surgery, and then she'd devote a week or two to getting Eiri-san back on his feet or whatever. It would be fun.

It had to be.

---end---