Lake Graceful

Lake Graceful, a name that could evoke images of peace, long evenings spent on a boat enjoying gentle waves, nights spent gazing at the stars or a peaceful afternoon swim. Brothers Steve and Vick were doing the later on one late summer afternoon.

Steve was twelve and not looking forward to the beginning of another school year. The routine that gripped him every year was in full swing. Heíd get depressed at the end of the summer; school would start and wouldnít be so bad once Steve made it past the initial awkward few weeks of readjusting his routine.

Vick was twenty-two. This fall was the first fall that Vick wasnít returning to school. He had a job was only tolerable but did afford him an apartment and still allowed occasional fun. Heíd taken Steve to the lake for an afternoon of swimming to help rid of the boyís mind of worries of school starting.

It wasnít working.

Steve wished heíd cut his hair shorter as they left the water. Shoulder length hair made drying take all the longer. Vick on the other hand had a buzz cut. Drying, especially under the warm sun was a short process.

"Youíre so lucky, you donít have to go to school any more," Steve said. "What, what are you staring at?"

Steve realized that indeed Vick was staring at Steveís hair.

"Sorry, I just realized that Mom and Dad were right about your hair. The sun shows how red it is."

"Um okay," Steve said. "Geeze man, you sound like Mom when you say that."

"No I donít!" Vick protested.

"Yes, you do!"

"Do not!"

"Do too!"

The sensation of something fuzzy under his foot made Steve realize that he wasnít watching where he was stepping. He didnít have enough time to stop before he flattened something.

Steve stopped.

Vick took a few steps beyond Steve before Vick also stopped.

"Whatís wrong?" Vick asked.

"I stepped on something," Steve said.

Vick rolled his eyes. "Well, youíd better wash your feet before getting into my car. I donít want dog sh..."

Steve growled. "It wasnít dog crap!"

"Then what was it?"

Steve raised his foot. A small creature lay on the ground where Steve had stepped. It looked like a tiny person with wings. Steve picked it up and brought it to face level.

"No way," Steve said.

"What the hell is it?" Vick asked. "It canít be what it looks like. Fairyís arenít real!"

"Then what is it?" Steve asked.

The creature twitched before struggling and escaping from Steveís grasp. It fell down to just in front of Steveís knees before its wings fluttered at a speed Vick and Steve would have thought impossible if they werenít seeing it. The creature flew until it was eye level with Steve.

"I canít believe you stepped on me! Why donít you watch where youíre going?"

Upon closer examination, Steve saw that the creature was a she and that she wore a white leotard.

"No way, it's impossible," Steve said.

Vick face palmed and sighed. "Brilliant Steve; If she isnít real, what are we looking at?"

"I am quite real thank you," the creature said.

"She even talks! Where did you come from?" Steve asked. "Vick, wan we take her home? Sheís so cool and freaky looking!"

"You didnít even apologize for -- I am not an exhibit you can just -- so, you like strange female things do you," the fairy said. "Iíll show you strange and female!"

Steve raised an eyebrow. "Geeze, Iím sorry. Whatís with the drama queen act? It was an accident! Anyway, my friends would love to see a real life fairy!"

"Damn it Steve, sheís gonna turn you into a toad if youíre not careful," Vick said.

The fairy looked at the water and laughed.

"No, not a toad, even I wouldnít do that," The Fairy said. She looked toward the lake. "Perhaps something a little more humane but..."

Vick grabbed Steveís arm. "It's time to go."

Theyíd only run a short distance before they both felt something warm hit them. They hovered above the ground, unable to move as they found themselves surrounded by blue light.

The Fairy approached them. Neither Vick nor Steve had any control of their bodies as the Fairy turned them to face her.

"You have the attention span of a child," she said.

"Damnit Steve now look what..."

"Silence," The Fairy said. "I had considered something interesting but now -- no, Iím just not that kind of person. Sure, the farm down the street could always use another donkey or pig but thatís just not my style. But there must be something."

"Come on now, this is nuts," Vick said. "It was an accident. We didnít even know you existed or could exist. Would it help if we said we were sorry?"

"No, no, no, no; itís too late now," the Fairy, said. "Thatís just not fun. I donít want to be mean to you. Oh, I know! Yes, this will be perfect."

The energy field around Vick and Steve turned pink before it lowered them to the ground and vanished in a flash of light that seemed to take the fairy with it.

"That was messed up," Vick said

Steve looked his body up and down. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He wondered if the Fairy was joking.

"I thought she was going to do something evil to us but she didnít do anything," Vick said.

"Maybe she was afraid to," Steve said.

"Steve, this isnít a joke. She could have done anything. If sheís real then -- anything could be real! For all I know, weíre lucky were not toads right now. Damn it, why canít you watch where youíre stepping?"

"Geeze, chillax, weíre fine, she probably just wanted to scare us," Steve said. "Okay, I learned my lesson; Iíll watch where I step from now on. See, I learned something."

"Yes, thatís good -- thatís cool and all," Vick said.

"Come on man, whatís wrong?"

Vick gasped. "Dude, she was a fucking Fairy as in magical creature."

"I wonder whatís itís like to be a toad, it might be kinda cool," Steve said. "You get to run around naked all day and swim and stuff; Might be interesting. Even if she turned us into donkeys, at least I wouldnít have to go to school and you wouldnít have to go to work."

"Toads canít play video games," Vick said. "And donkeys canít either. I like having hands, not being smelly and being able to speak."

"Thatís not fair, youíd be smelly if you didnít shower every day," Steve said.

"Youíre probably right," Vick said.

"Anyway, before we go home, can we stop somewhere for dinner?" Vick asked.

"Yeah, yeah, just donít mention this to anyone okay?" Vick asked.

"But my friends will..."

"To no one!"


*†††† *†††† *

Steve and Vick sat in a roadside diner a short while later. Both awaited their meals as Steve drank Coke and Vick, Coffee.

"Youíre really that bummed about school starting again?" Vick asked.

"Yeah, I mean the classes arenít so bad but the homework and studying sucks. Not to mention how early the school day starts. I hate getting up so early. Maybe Iíd do better if I could start later."

Vick nodded.

"I know it sucks but everyone needs to go to school," Vick said.

"But Iíll never use anything I learn. Once I learned read, write and do basic math, it seemed like everything else was a waste of time," Steve said.

"I wouldnít say that," Vick said. He leaned in closer and whispered. "Anyway, do you really wana end up like those kids in Pinocchio that got turned into donkeys because they didnít go to school?"

Steve frowned. "Geeze, youíre starting to sound like Mom and Dad. I mean, that worked when I was like five. It wonít now, even after seeing you know what. Anyway, havenít you ever wondered what if feels like?"

Vick sat back. "Being a donkey? I guess. Maybe itíd be better if we donít find out. Being on a farm all day would be boring. You couldnít talk to anyone or do much of anything besides standing around."

Steve rolled. "I get it bro."

†"Just making sure," Vick said.

Steve leaned back just as something seemed to happen between his legs. He felt warmth combined with something pushing down that felt like what he imagined it would feel like if his body was clay and someone were molding it.

It only lasted for a few seconds but left Steve feeling strange. It was as though he knew something was wrong but couldnít remember what. He wanted -- needed to make sure everything was fine down there.

"Everything all right," Vick asked.

"Yeah, why do you ask?" Steve asked.

Vick shrugged his shoulders. "You looked like you were worried about something."

"Iím fine," Steve said.

Steve wanted to ignore the gut feeling that something was wrong. The Fairy had just scared them; sheíd hadnít of done anything.

He couldnít ignore it.

"Actually, I have to go to the bathroom," Steve said. "Iíll be right back."

Steve got up and walked toward the bathroom. As he walked, he felt as though everyone was watching him. It made him even more aware that something wasnít right. He quickened his pace. The stares (real or imagined) seemed to grow in intensity. Everyone's real or imaged stares distracted Steve so much that he almost went into the womanís bathroom. He told himself that it was an honest mistake but he couldnít shake the worry that heíd gone there as automatically as heíd normally enter the menís room. When he entered the menís room, he went right for an empty stall, closed the door and pulled his pants down.

He wished he hadnít.

What Steve saw between his legs was something he never wanted nor expected to see on his body.

Steve had female equipment between his legs.

"Holy crap, what the hell -- What happened to..."

The sound of someone entering the bathroom silenced Steve. He sat down and locked the stall door, praying that no one would see him or somehow sense his condition. While he didnít want to acknowledge what lay between his legs, he couldnít avert his gaze. Somehow, seeing female parts down there wasnít as frightening as not seeing male parts.

Okay, itís a dream or Iím seeing things. Itís not real. Even if it is real, I can get help, they can fix it! It doesnít matter what I look like down there; Iím not a girl!

Steve waited until the others had left before pulling up his pants up. When he did up his belt, he noticed that he had to set it two notches tighter. He tried to justify it by saying that heíd lost weight from swimming all day. When he stood up and found that his shirt seemed longer, he knew there was more going on.

After leaving the stall, he looked at his reflection in the mirror. Everything seemed normal. He left the bathroom and rushed back to his and Vickís table. Their meals were there. Steve was having a steak and Vick was having a club sandwich.

"Is everything all right?" Vick asked.

Steve wanted to tell Vick about the changes but Steve couldnít bring himself to mention it out of embarrassment.

"Of course; everythingís fine! Why wouldnít it be?"

"You were in there for a long time."

Steve shrugged his shoulders. "No reason."

Steve couldnít get his mind off his problem. He wondered how he was going to break it to Vick or his parents. Steve didnít want to think about what the people at school would do once they discovered that Steve was technically a girl. Being a girl could also open him up to issues girls faced. Steve dropped his fork clanged at the realization.

"Whatís wrong?" Vick asked.

††††† "Nónothing Iím just fine," Steve said.

This were about to get worse. Small light brown hairs appeared to be sprouting on Steveís arm. It was too fine for anyone not knowing what to look for to notice but Steve knew it was there. The ever-famous hair where no hair had existed before had only recently become reality for Steve. People spoke of such changes as being part of puberty; Steve doubted this was what they had in mind.

Steve wanted the changes to go away. They had to go away; this would get better by itself.

When Steve looked at Vick, he saw that Vickís beard seemed to be growing. Only minutes ago, Vick was clean-shaven. When Steve looked, Vickís hair also seemed to be growing. It was still short but anyone that knew what to look for would know it was longer.

"Maybe that fairy really did do something," Steve said.

Vick frowned. "What are you talking about?"

Steve wanted to tell Vick about what was happening to him. Images of being in a lab flooded Steveís mind. While the idea of someone else knowing about this terrified Steve, he knew that remaining silent wouldnít reverse what had happened to him. Technically, he was now Vickís sister; something he wanted to deny. Inside, he was still male; it didnít matter what was between his legs. He was only starting to take an interest in girls; he didnít want to be one!

"Vick, have you ever wanted a sister?"

Vick frowned. "What are you talking about?"

The server came back seconds later.

"Is everything all right?"

Steve nodded.

"Everythingís good, thank you," Vick said.

When the server left, Steve leaned forward.

"Vick, your hairís growing!"

Vick touched the top of his head and gasped.

"Okay, donít panic, Iím sure thereís a logical explanation for this," Vick said. He closed his eyes and shook his head before opening his eyes.

"Yeah, weíre mutating!" Steve cried.

"Keep it down," Vick said. "Okay, that Fairy caused this. We can go back to the lake and ask for help or -- beg for it."

"Beg? Are you nuts? I donít wana beg," Steve said.

Vic put his hand on Steveís right arm. Steve flinched and whimpered. He hoped Vick wouldnít notice the hair growing on his arms.

"Steve, whatís going on with your -- holy shit; youíre..."

Steve looked back and forth, seeing that several people that heard Vick. Such attention was the last thing Steve wanted.

"I know Iím getting more hair on my arms," Steve said.

"You were planning on mentioning this right?" Vick asked. "Is there anything else that you have that youíre not -- you asked if I wanted a sister -- oh Steve, donít tell me that..."

Steve looked back and forth. He tried to force down the panic that threatened to grab his sanity and control and throw both out the window.

"I donít want to talk about it," Steve said.

Vick let go of Steveís arm. "We need to get back to that lake."

††††† "Can we finish our meals first?" Steve asked.

Vick rolled his eyes. "Whatís more important to you, your stomach or your humanity?"

"Iíll eat fast," Steve said. "Anyway, Iím a growing boy, I need my food."

"If this gets much worse, Iím not sure what you -- weíll be growing into," Vick said.

Steve was already eating by the time Vick finished talking. Vick sighed and kept eating, all of the while touching his head and starting at Steveís arm to monitor the level of hair growth. It seemed to be slow enough that they had time to eat. Steve did his best not to think about what was between his legs. In his mind, they would reverse this in time to be laughing about it before bed. That they might be unable to change back seemed impossible. In Steveís mind that only happened in fantasy and to other people. He wondered if heíd have time to explore his new female part before he reverted.

They finished their meals soon after. Steve looked at his arm; the hair was longer but still difficult to notice unless one knew just what to look for. A gaze at Vickís head showed that his hair was a little longer. The brown seemed lighter as well but Steve wasnít sure.

Steveís chest felt itchy and he noticed that Vick was scratching at his chest and shuffling in his seat.

"You okay?" Steve asked.

Vick glared at Steve. "Am I okay? What kind of question is that? Weíre both cursed because you stepped on a fairy and you ask if Iím okay."

Vick lowered his head and rubbed his eyes just as his bangs grew almost with a will of their own.

"Iím sorry, I just -- this isnít funny when itís happening for real."

"Vick your hair, itís even longer," Steve said. "Iím sorry I..."

The server came back at that moment. She seemed confused. "Is everything all right?"

"Yes, weíre fine," Vick said. "May we have the bill?"

The server nodded, she kept looking at Vick as though something was wrong. Steve hoped she wouldnít comment on his arms or Vickís arms. Steve knew that clothes hid his significant changes but feared that people would somehow know. It was unsettling.

"Of course, is everything all right?"

Everythingís fine, just fine. You donít notice anything unusual.

"Yes, weíre fine," Vick said.

The server nodded, picked up Steve and Vickís used plates and left.

"This is stupid, someone is going to catch us," Vick said. Vick kept scratching at his chest. When he felt his chin, he gasped. "This is nuts"

"At least you donít have a..."

The server returned, this time with the bill. Her look was that of concern.

"You sure youíre all right honí? Maybe this has just been a long shift but you look different."

"Weíre fine, itís just been a long day I guess," Vick said.

"All right but if somethingís wrong let us know," the server said.

She left the bill; Vick waited until she was out of earshot before he spoke.

"At least I donít have a what?"

Steve looked back and forth before he leaned forward. "My -- thing is gone I kinda have a girl part down there now."

Vickís eyes went wide. "And you were going to wait how long to tell me this?"

Steve shrugged.

"Okay, weíre leaving now," Vick said.

Vick put the money on top of the bill, making sure to leave a generous tip. He and Steve walked out of the diner and to Vickís car. The temperature seemed warmer. Steve felt better when they were in the car, at least that way, no one could see them.

"Maybe if we just go home, this will all go away and weíll be fine by tomorrow?" Steve asked.

"Are you crazy? For all we know, if we go home and ignore this, by tomorrow, weíll be animals!"

Vick started the car and drove out of the parking lot. Steve looked at his arm; the hair was growing thicker now. When he touched it, he found that it was soft, like fur. He wondered what was going to happen to his chest and peered down the neck hole. He couldnít see anything because of the shadow his shirt created. With some maneuvering around seat belt, he managed to get his shirt off before he threw it into the back.

"Steve would you mind keeping your clothes on," Vick said. "I donít want to see you naked thank you very much."

"Then keep your eyes on the road bro. Anyway, itís not like youíre seeing what I really look like! Anyway, I still have my pants on."

Vick looked at Steve but only for a moment. "What do you mean?"

"If weíre changing then youíll see what my animal self looks like, not my human self, so itís sort of okay."

Vick shook his head. "And you donít mind me seeing you naked as an animal?"

"Itís not like youíre Mom or Dad."

Steve looked at his chest and examined it as best as he could. The skin on it seemed smoother. The area around his nipples was sensitive. He noticed that small hairs were growing there where none had been before. Steveís chest had been bare for the most part, something that had worried him as he expected to get at least some chest hair. The hairs that were growing on his chest however were not the red he was expected; they were beige!

He looked in the rear view mirror to see that his hair was even longer; it now extended almost halfway down his back! Vick seemed distracted.

"Whatís wrong now?"

"I feel a little dizzy, I need to stop the car for a second," Vick said.

Vick pulled over and stopped the car. Steve was glad there was so little traffic. Someone seeing them was the last thing Steve wanted to deal with. Steve watched Vick as he undid his seatbelt, opened the door, walked outside and in front of the car and put his hands on his hood with his head down.

"No way," Steve said.

Steve watched Vickís hair grow even longer. It grew from a buzz cut to being long enough to hang down over Vickís face while the rest of it reached Vickís shoulders. When Vick raised his head, Steve was that Vickís face was that of a girl! Even with the beard (which itself seemed softer), there was little doubt about it.

Vick felt his face and shook his head before running back into the car.

"Why couldnít you watch where you were going?" Vick asked.

Steve shrugged his shoulders. "Donít worry, sheíll change us back."

"And what if she doesnít?" Vick asked.

"That just happens in the movies; weíre cool, sheíll forgive us," Steve said.

"And what if she..." Vickís voice cracked. He cleared his throat and swallowed. "We could be..."

Vickís voice was higher pitched and sounded female.

"I guess weíd better hurry, huh?" Steve asked.

Vick glared at Steve before he resumed driving. As Steve watched the hair, or as he now knew it, fur growing on his chest. It was thicker, which, coupled with his longer hair, made the temperature seem warmer. What was now obviously the fur on his arms was growing longer. It was darker then the fur on his chest.

His nipples seemed more sensitive and he could have sworn they were swelling.

When they reached the lake, Vick stopped the car and unbuckled as fast as he could before stepping out of the car. He went fast enough that he accidentally caught his shirt in the car door as he closed it. The laws of physics seemed to take as much of a vacation of the laws of biology when Vickís shirt ripped as easy as paper enough that the door pulled it right off Vickís body. Vick gasped when he saw his chest.

After Steve got out of the car, he almost tripped on his pant legs after taking a few steps.

"Ah, screw this," Steve said.

Steve removed shoes that were now two sizes too large for him before he pulled his jeans off and set them down inside the car. He saw that the hair on his legs was growing longer and much more extensive. However, it was coming in soft and fine like fur rather then curly like hair.

The lack of a bulge in his underwear seemed much mire disturbing now.

"Mrs. Fairy, are you there?" Steve asked.

Vick walked around and met Steve; Vickís lack of a shirt revealed the cream fur growing on his chest and chestnut fur growing elsewhere. He was covering his chest.

"Whatís wrong with your chest?" Steve asked.

"I donít want to talk about it," Vick said.

Steve, feeling a wave of playfulness, leapt at his brother and grabbed his hands before pulling them away; Steve wished he hadnít. Vick sighed and looked at his chest. Even with the growing fur, the breasts that were now a part of Vickís chest were impossible to hide.

"Oh man, that so isnít right," Steve said.

"Of course it isnít right," Vick said. "The gender bending isnít enough; they have to also turn us into animals?"

Steve looked at what would soon be a furry chest. Heíd expected to develop chest hair as he grew but not to this extreme.

"How far is this gonna go?" Steve asked. "Damn it Fairy lady, where are you?"

As Steve turned to run toward the lake, Vick watched as a tent formed at the seat of Steveís underwear. Vick didnít have time to alert Steve before a tail forced its way out of Steveís pants, growing until it was almost as long as Steveís legs.

"There she is," Steve said.

Vick looked where Steve was pointing, in a tree several branches up. Steve whimpered when he felt his behind and discovered his tail.

"Vick, Iím sorry, I didnít mean for this to happen! It was an accident!"

Steve closed his eyes as his jaw, nose and face ached. Nose and jaw merged and grew out into a small muzzle completed with sharp pointy teeth and whiskers as cream fur assaulted his jaw and light brown the rest of it. Steve turned around to look at Vick as tears streamed down Steveís face.

"Vick, Iím an animal girl!" Steve cried.

Steve stamped feet as socks seemed to melt into nothing, revealing webbed brown furred feet that even Vick had to admit might have seemed cute in a different situation and on a different person.

Vick felt something click inside of him. He worried this process was going to alter his entire way of thinking. However, the thing that seemed to change was Vick feeling an increased sense of empathy for Steve couple with decreased worry over expressing affection and emotions. Such emotions seemed as they did before but now the idea that Vick shouldnít express them wasnít there.

He approached Steve and hugged what was now technically his sister. Given Vickís progress, he doubted heíd be Steveís brother for much longer.

"Itís all right; weíll find a way out of this. You didnít mean to step on her, heck if it wasnít you, it would have been me or some other innocent person," Vick said.

"Thanks Vick," Steve said. "So, you gonna beat her up or yell at her?"

Vick let go of Steve, "I just might."

Running to the tree the fairy stood on, Vick called out to her. He looked at his arms as fur sprouted all over them. He seemed to shrink somewhat. His pants fell down his legs.

Vick saw that his breasts were getting smaller, a sight he was thankful for as it seemed he was reverting to being a male. Unfortunately, for Vick, they werenít shrinking as much as taking a step backward in development. Vick's underwear fell down his legs, revealing that it hid development that made Vick as female as Steve.

Vick felt his muzzle growing as his tail became a part of the world. Soon, he too was an otter lass like Steve only with darker fur and older.

The fairy saw Vick and giggled.

"Otter sisters are so cute," the fairy said.

Vick turned to see Steve running toward him.

"She made you a kid?" Vick asked.

"Hey, Iím a kid! Iím not even big kid, Iím almost an adult," Steve said.

The fairy flew over the duo a moment later. "Yes, definitely fun."

Vick stamped his foot. "Why did you do this to us? I donít want to be a girl!" he looked at his furred. "I definitely donít want to be an animal!"

"Youíd rather be a donkey?" The Fairy asked.

"No -- I -- I have a life -- how can I live that life now?" Vick asked.

"Your brother -- sister stepped on me, I had to punish you somehow for that," the Fairy said. "Yes, yes, it was an accident. But, humans are so..."

Vick turned to see Steve staring at Vick.

"Think youíll be able to get into the girls change room or shower?" Steve asked.

"I just might. I mean, wait, since when are you interested in girls? Not that I thought you were gay or anything but..."

"I was interested but I guess I was too shy to admit or know it," Steve said.

"You were crying just a minute ago!" Vick said. "Did she brainwash you?"

"Oh sure, blame it all on me," the fairy said.

"No, she didnít," Steve said. "I just realized that being a girl might not be so bad."

Vick crossed his arms. "Weíre not human anymore. Or maybe you didnít notice the fur and tail?"

Steve winked at Vick.

"Thank you Fairy lady. I was worried you were gonna make us donkeys or something," Steve said. "Being an otter girl -- I thought it was gonna suck but itís great that you made us this way. Itís like this is what I really am inside. Iím still sorry I stepped on you though."

Vick looked at the Fairy, at his altered body and back at the Fairy.

"You know what? Steveís right. Being an otter lady is going to be awesome! Iíd hug you if I wouldnít squish you!"

The Fairy frowned. "Are you kidding me? You actually like this?"

"Of course," Steve said. He walked over to Vick and hugged him. "Now weíre like twins! Man, how could I have ever not wanted to be a girl?

Vick looked at the Fairy and grinned. The Fairy smacked her forehead.

"I canít believe they actually like it!"

"Hey Vick, wana go for a swim?" Steve asked.

"But we donít have anything to wear!" Vick said.

Steve laughed. "Weíre otters; we donít need to wear clothes when we swim!"

"You canít just -- thatís not allowed! Youíre not supposed to like this," the Fairy said.

"Please, donít change us back into human guys," Steve said.

"Yeah, that would be mean," Vick said.

"This is just great. I can only transform you once, it was supposed to get you back for stepping on me and I waste it on something you like!"

Vick felt a chill go down his spine.

"You can only change us once?" Vick asked.

"Wait, what?" Steve asked.

The Fairy grinned and laughed. "Ah, so youíre not so happy to be female otters are you? The jig is up my friends!" She floated around Steve and Vick.

Vick stamped his feet. "This isnít funny!"

"Hey honey at least I didnít turn you into a pig."

"But I canít be an otter girl! Please, even if you have to make me a pig, at least change Vick back," Steve said.

"Steve, no way," Vick said.

"Maybe being a pig wonít be so bad," Steve said. "I can eat all I want and just lay around in the mud all day."

"Sorry but I canít do that," The Fairy said. "And Steve, being a pig isnít like that. Itís not like cartoons would have you believe. It's an easy but dull life. If I left your intelligence intact, youíd go insane with boredom. I couldnít make you a dumb animal. I did that to a guy once because he made a sexist remark. My people made an exception to the rule and changed him back. I turned you into an otter girl so you could still live your life but be something interesting."

"But you said it was punishment," Vick said.

"Yes well, I felt obligated to punish you somehow! Your brother -- sorry, sister stepped on me, I had to do something! If I gave you what you wanted for that, it would be like a reward! At least youíre both something cute."

"But why canít you change us back?" Steve asked, tears starting to form around his eyes. "I donít wana be a girl!"

"Even we have rules. Otherwise, some members -- who am I kidding, Iíd do it too -- some of us would go around turning people into all sorts of things for our amusement," the Fairy said.

"Can you make other people otters or make it so everyone was always an otter person?" Steve asked.

"Steve, I donít want her to change history so I was always a girl!" Vick said.

"Even if I wanted to, I canít," the Fairy said. "Iím not God."

"But, weíll be freaks!" Vick said. "This was funny when I thought we could change back but now..."

"Maybe I should have thought this through..."

"Canít you make an exception for the rule and change Vick back? Even if I have to be stuck this way, donít make Vick be stuck! Tell you what, you can make me a full otter if thatíll make it okay!"

Vick jumped in front of Steve. "No, I wonít condemn Steve to a life as an animal just for my convenience!"

"Steve, even that wonít make it all right," the Fairy said. "I understand what youíre trying to do, itís noble."

"So, thatís just it? Iím back to being a teenager and Vick a kid and weíre both otters and girls?" Vick asked.

"Iím sorry, I should have given it more thought I..."

"This is my fault! All because I wasnít watching where I was going, now weíre finished," Steve said.

Vick hugged Steve.

"I donít want to act all girly. I like sports and video games, not dolls and dancing," Steve said. "Everyoneís gonna expect me to like girl stuff now."

"Steve, you decide who you are, not society," Vick said. "If you want to play video games then play video games."

"Wait a second, if weíre girls now, does that mean we like boys?" Vick asked.

Vick released Steve as a worried expression fell on their faces.

"But there are no otter boys that I know of," Steve said. "So, I guess we wonít have to worry."

"I wouldnít be so sure of that young lady," the Fairy said.

The Fairy landed and after a flash of light and gust a wind, an otter boy no older then Steveís new age stood before them. He had darker fur then either otter girl, long flowing black hair and green eyes but with an innocent look.

"Well girls, do you like?"

"Steve, if you do like him, remember that heís not real."

He does look cute. Iíll give him that. I wish he had an older brother.

Vick blinked.

"You okay bro?" Steve asked.

"Oh my God, I think I like boys now," Vick said. "I think I still like girls a bit but I definitely like boys. Wow, I never thought of boys that way. Itís weird, itís like I was missing out on something but not quite."

"Nothing wrong with that my friend; as a boy you liked girls, it makes sense," the Fairy said.

"I never even had a girlfriend," Vick said. "I was always kinda afraid of girls -- not afraid of them per say but what would happen if I went on a date like expectations of me and stuff. If they wanted to go home and do something, I was worried I wouldnít know what to do. What if I couldnít get it up; how would she react? All my friends always talked about all these dirty things they did to girls and I was barley even comfortable with the idea of asking a girl out."

Okay, okay, as a girl Iíd just have to lay back and let him do it to me, but what if he wanted more -- what if I got pregnant -- what if he was one of these pervert guys then only saw me as something to screw and to forget about after?

"The shy type huh?" The Fairy asked.

"What do you mean by get it -- oh I get it now," Steve said. "Eww bro, I canít believe you said that!"

Vick cupped his mouth. He held it for several seconds.

"I guess I feel a bit more open now -- hey did you brainwash me to make me more open like girls are did you?" Vick asked.

"All species have their nature. Humans have there nature, men have aspects of thinking that are just part of being male; likewise, women have ways of thinking that are part of being female," the Fairy said.

"You mean sort of like, come to think of it, I feel like swimming right now. I liked swimming before but now, that desire is a lot stronger," Steve asked.

The Fairy nodded. "Animals indeed have instincts. While those instincts indeed influence behavior, how we react to them determines who we are."

"Okay, I get it, you didnít brainwash us, we just gained otter and girl nature now that weíve become both," Vick said. "Still, there are things I might share with Steve but not with other people."

"Just remember that you can still chose to go against your species and gender nature," the Fairy said. "I made myself male and an otter because I havenít seen with anyone in a long time. Steve, would you to be that someone for me?"

Steve and Vick backed up.

"A guy kissing and hugging me and me thinking guys are desirable, thatís too weird," Steve said.

"You will adjust to it in time," The Fairy said. "Being with girls seems normal because you were born male and how do you humans say it, fly that way? I know what youíre going to say; you shouldnít have to adjust to this. But, whatís done is done. I cannot reverse this."

"You said you could but it would go against a rule. What would happen if you broke that rule?" Vick said.

The Fairy hung her head. "The last time I did that, I ended up spending millennia as a little white rabbit."

"No way," Vick said.

"ífraid so. A wolf and fox nearly ate me more then once. Granted, I would have just woken up in a day or so as though it never happened but still, itís not a pleasant experience. If I see a carrot any time within oh, the next five thousand years, I just might go insane."

"So, thatís really it isnít it?" Vick asked. "Weíre stuck as female otters that are each younger?"

"There are worse things to end up as then a different gender and half animal," the fairy said. "Your body still works more or less the same way as it did before. Granted, society expects different things of females then it does of males. Believe me; it could have been much worse. Vick, youíre sixteen now and Steve, youíre six."

"So thatís just it, you send us on our way and go back to your life while ours is messed up?" Steve asked.

"No, I wonít do that. If you must face the consequences of this then indeed, I should too."

"But wait a second, I have a life and a job; not to mention my own place," Vick said. "How am I going to explain this to my parents? People will find it strange if I come into work for my next shift as a teenaged otter girl."

"Do you really want to go back to that small apartment that you share with two other guys or your job washing floors at that burger place?" The Fairy asked.

"I was trying to get something better," Vick said.

"And youíll be able to again," The Fairy said.

"Vick, I feel weird. I think I like boys now too," Steve said. "I thought it was gross a couple of seconds ago but then I started noticing that his eyes are kinda cute and..."

"Itís been a long time since Iíve had companionship," the Fairy said. "If you wish to hug and kiss me, I will not resist."

"Vick, I want to," Steve said.

"Steve, thatís not really an otter boy. Even if he is cute as a bug and seeing him just makes me want to put my arms around him and never let go, doesnít mean I should -- oh oh."

The Fairy smiled. "Donít stop on my account. I wonít judge you."

"I canít take it any more!" Steve said.

Vick watched as Steve dashed at the Fairy and embraced him in a hug, kissing the fairy several times. Both fell to the ground, the impact doing little to halt Steveís assault. Vick wanted to resist giggling at cute they looked but resisting now felt like going back on something heíd been doing for years.

Steve and the Fairy rolled around in the dirt kissing, hugging and playing. Only several drops of rain falling interrupted them. The drops soon increased in intensity until it was pouring out as the clouds blotted out the sun. Steve and the Fairy, now both covered in mud, stood up.

"Thank you, I needed that," the Fairy said.

"I canít believe how fun that was," Steve said. "Maybe when weíre older we can try more things."

The Fairy smiled. "We just might be able to. Oh and Vick, donít be afraid to enjoy it as an otter girl. Just use common sense and youíll see that well, I wonít spoil it."

"Steve, I thought you said our lives are messed up?" Vick said.

"Well they are but that actually felt kinda good. Before, it would have bothered me being the girl when doing boy and girl stuff but now it seems okay."

Vick nodded. "I guess we kinda needed some mental stuff to keep us from going insane if weíre gonna be like this to stay."

Thunder crashed through the clouds as lightning lit up the area.

"Maybe we should be getting home," Steve said.

"Wait, how do we explain this?" Vick asked.

"I have something in mind that Iíll explain when we get home."

Vick blinked. "Youíre coming with us?"

"As Iíve said, it is lonely here," the Fairy said. "Besides, I wish to see human society. Perhaps itís time I used my abilities to do some good."

"How do we get home," Vick asked.

"We could always run home; or skip," Steve said.

Vick gasped. "But weíre naked!"

The Fairy rubbed her chin. "I can always conjure up some clothes for you."

"No dresses, no way Iím wearing a dress after wearing pants my whole life," Vick said. "And please, donít make me wear pink!"

"Dresses arenít so bad," the Fairy said. "But I wonít force one on you."

"What about my car and everything? Iím still making payments on it!" Vick said. "Er, I guess we can worry about that later."

The rain grew harder, the dirt under the trio turned to mud.

"Come on, havenít you ever wanted to just run naked through a rain storm," Steve asked.

"Well yeah, when I was younger," Vick said.

The Fairy walked between the duo, putting his arms around Steveís shoulders and Vick waist.

"Well then my friends; shall we? Come on Vick, even if just for a little while, be an otter girl, have some innocent fun with your sister. No one is going to catch us."

"Well," Vick said. He looked both his brother and the Fairy in the eye. "I guess it wouldnít hurt."

For the next two hours, the trio walked, skipped and ran through the rainy, muddy evening. For a moment, even if just a moment, the cheers of Steve and the Fairy turned otter boy allowed Vick to live in that moment. He saw things the way he saw them back then, enjoying the novelty of not only being naked but also a naked otter girl. He saw it as perhaps fun in new and exciting ways. For those moments, Vick was an otter girl. When they arrived at his parentís street, he was almost sad that it was over. Then reality set in; the desire to panic, now far stronger, almost overwhelmed Vick.

The rain was letting up, the clouds parting to reveal a beautiful twilight sky.

"Oh my God, we really are stuck this way," Vick said.

"Yes, but -- this is where we need to have a talk," the Fairy said. "The time has come for you to make a decision about your future."

Vick crossed her arms. "I think youíve already done enough deciding about our future."

"This is where your next decision comes in. I want to do something to right that wrong."

"Why not just change us back?" Vick asked. "I know itís against the rules but..."

"A thousand years as a bunny is enough thank you very much. I donít even want to think about what theyíd do to me if I break the rules again, not to mention to you."

"But, how am I going to explain coming home as a naked, wet, teenage otter girl thatís, like Steve is, six years younger then I should be?" Vick asked.

"If youíll let me speak, I will explain," the Fairy said.

"All right," Vick said.

"Now, it seems to me that I have a few basic solutions to your problem. One, I can also change your parents into otter people as well as family members and maybe even friends if they would like to accompany you."

"Accompany us where?" Steve asked.

"The option is for me to locate a world where otter people or animal people that include otter people live," The fairy said.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute here; another world -- are you nuts? We have lives here!" Vick said. "I canít just give up my life!"

"Would there be other otters boys in that world?" Steve asked.

"There would," The Fairy said.

"I donít know if going to another world is a good idea," Vick said. "Think of how our disappearance is going to affect our friends and family."

"Another option is to -- and this is a bit more complicated but I believe I can do it. I can make everyone remember you both as otter girls; this would include you Vick. You wouldnít remember being human or male."

Vickís eyes went wide. "No! Then Iíd be back to being 16 for real! Iíd lose all the hard work I did in school and everything! My friends -- all my friendships would change or never have existed!"

The Fairy shook her head. "Not precisely. I wonít change history. Iím not God; I canít alter reality to extreme. If you are sixteen and Steve six, then the events that happened today may never have happened. It could create a paradox."

Vick rubbed his chin. "So, what are you going to do?"

"Your achievements are still within the realm of possibility for girls your ages of exceptional intelligence and talent.

"Iím not sure I want to be a wunderkind," Vick said.

"Relax bro," Steve said. "I donít want to be girly or anything, but I think Iíd rather hang out with girls then guys as long as we can still do fun stuff. Anyway being smart might be fun."

"I donít know -- I just -- I donít want to lose who I am! If I forget ever being a guy -- tea parties, dresses -- I donít want be girly," Vick said.

"There is such a thing as a tomboy you know," The Fairy said. "Allowing your form to decide who you are is never a wise idea. Besides, I doubt many sixteen year old girls have tea parties."

"I know but if I and everyone think I was born a girl otter, they might encourage me to act like a girl, saying that itís not lady like to do some of the stuff I do," Vick said.

"Wait, so I wonít remember Vick helping me with school stuff or standing up for me so bullies wouldnít bug me?" Steve asked. "I dunno, Iíd rather remember Vick doing that then offering me make up tips or dress stuff."

"You know guys, a good deal of the population is female and would take exception to those comments," the Fairy said as she folded her arms.

"Well, itís just that, the guy stuff seems so much cooler and more interesting," Vick said. "I donít want to forget doing the stuff I enjoyed!"

The Faerie said. "I must reiterate that you will not forget doing the things you did. You will remember doing them but as girls. Spells that alter perception tend to take the path of least resistance. Altering perception to fit the life of a twenty two year old to that of a sixteen year old, while difficult, could produce interesting results."

Vick gulped. "But a -- a girl; I like girls, donít get me wrong, but -- Iíll be a girl?"

The Fairy sighed. "Gender roles are less black and white then they were in past times. However, it is still ironic that while some consider the traditional female role to be less desirable, most men see little problems with it as long as they donít have to live that role. As you can see, seeing things through the other sideís point of view has a way of opening oneís eyes."

"I guess I never thought about equal rights," Steve said. "I never thought about what it would be like to be the girl."

"And now that are you the girl?" The Fairy asked.

"It doesnít seem fair that just because my parts have changed that Iím not allowed to do certain things in life any more," Steve said.

"Thing is, I never thought of myself as someone to go around protesting about equal rights," Vick said. "I donít know if I want to become one of those types of people."

"Well guys, there is another option," the fairy said.

"What option is that?" Vick asked.

"Truth is there are those among my people that are tired of living in the shadows. What Iím about to suggest would require all and I mean all of my kind to pull off but it might be a more equitable solution for the two of you."

Steve gulped "What do you want to do or at propose you do?"

"First of all, let me get you two some clothes. Vick, you wonít have to worry about being naked and wet, just give a minute here."

A whirlwind of warm air surrounded Steve and Vick, blowing their hair and fur all over the place as it dried them. Once they were dry, the whirlwind vanished but an unseen force levitated both a foot off the ground. Two shirts appeared in front of them. The shirts flew toward the duo, streaming over their heads and onto their torsos. Their shoes and socks appeared and resized themselves to fit the feet of a pair of otter girls their ages. Both stayed the same color however as they fitted to Steve and Vick and tied themselves.

The same force holding the former boys lowered them and released them.

A white shirt appeared on the fairy and she smiled.

"So, what is this proposition?" Vick asked.

"It will take some doing and a lot of concentration from my people but I believe we can change humanity into otter folk. The question remains, would you like everyone to change genders as you two have?"

Vick blinked. "Even if I have to be the girl in my group of friends, I think Iíd rather they stay male."

Steve nodded. "Same here."

"So, this is what you wish me to do?" The Fairy asked.

"Wait, what gives us the right to change all of humanity?" Vick asked.

"We could make it so none of you remember being human. That would allow us to make some other changes to make life easier."

"That still has that one problem of Steve and me not being guys and not remembering ever being guys!" Vick said.

"How about this; I will go to my people and ask them what they think. It will not take long."

Steveís eyes went wide. "Theyíd decide to change the species of an entire species just like that?"

"Iím not sure about this," Vick said.

"Please, let me go back to my people. I will find an equitable solution."

In a flash of light, the Fairy vanished.

"Great, what if we never see her again?" Vick asked.

"Then I guess weíre otter girls that like boys," Steve said.

"This isnít funny Steve."

"I know but at least she didnít turn us into pigs or donkeys and make us forget ever being human. You can still do stuff right? I mean, we still got hands and stuff."

"Yeah, youíre probably right. But, Iím not so sure Iíd want to be a mother. The idea of being a father was scary enough. Actually getting pregnant and all of that; thatís scary," Vick said.

"Well, we donít have to be mothers when weíre old enough. Itís not like only guys are allowed to live alone and not get married," Steve said. "Thatís what theyíre saying to us now at school, about finding your own path. I never thought Iíd have to worry about womanís rights but now Iím glad they exist. I mean, it would suck if we had no choice but to do something just because weíre girls now."

Vick put his arm around Steve. "Yeah, that would suck. Makes me realize that as guys, maybe not us specifically, but how itís always easy stopping other people from doing stuff when youíre not the one not allowed to do it. The question is, are we brave enough to be sisters and to face the world as otters?"

"I think I can face being a girl otter from now on as long as I donít have to be alone."

The Fairy appeared before them moments later, still in otter teen female form.

"Well, Iíve discussed the matter with my kind and weíve come to a solution that we believe to be equitable."

Vick and Steve stood with their arms to their sides.

"Changing the entire world would cause problems; people would panic over a sudden change. It would no doubt lead to all sorts of accidents and other problems," the Fairy said. "Likewise, if you forgot being human, indeed it would be problematic for you both. We believe that altering perception is the best way to go."

"I see, I dunno, Iím -- this canít be happening," Vick said.

"Vick, I saw what you just did for Steve. You two are already developing a bond. I canít break that. Your personality, accomplishments and intelligence will remain intact. I know itís scary but things will work out in the end."

"What about you?" Vick asked.

"As Iíve said, I am lonely. If youíd like a male companion, I can be he."

"If we gotta do it, I guess we gotta do it," Steve said.

"All right, what the hell," Vick said.

The fairy once again surrounded herself with light.

"So, when you alter our perception to make everyone think this is normal, what will become of my friendships?" Vick said.

"Itís not like you have that many friends," Steve said.

"Hey," Vick said, putting his hands on his hips.

Steve held out his hands. "I didnít mean it that way."

The Fairy rolled her eyes.

"And what happens to my stuff and my job?" Vick asked.

"We wonít have to share a room will we?" Steve asked.

"Wait, this means Mom and Dad will have to support me again and Iíll have to go back to school," Vick cried.

"Guys -- girls I mean, just calm down, things will work out," the Fairy said. "Please, have faith in my abilities."

Vick and Steve glared at the fairy.

"Hey now, donít gang up on me," The Fairy said. "Youíre gonna have to get used to people calling you girls. Once this is done, itíll seem normal." Neither Vick nor Steve appeared impressed. "Itís just a word guys."

Vick folded his arms. "Itís the meaning behind the word."

The Fairy sighed. "I reiterate that you will decide who you are, not your bodies. Girl, boy, male, female -- itís all far more controlling then it should be. Whether I take male or female form, I am still me. Your society needs to learn that one should judge a person on who they are and allow them to discover that on their own rather then set them on a path based on whatever gender or form nature saw fit for them to enter this world in."

Vick and Steve looked at each other. Steve shrugged his shoulders.

"In other words, whatís inside counts," Vick said. "Otter girls are what we are now, but who we are is still the same."

The Fairy nodded her head. "Yes, yes! I am an otter boy now, but I am still the person Steve had the misfortune to step on at the beach. Vick, you are younger, but age shouldnít determine who you are."

"I get it. So, how do we do this? What do we have to do?" Vick asked.

"Itís not going to hurt is it?" Steve asked.

The Fairy shook her head. "Just close your eyes and let it happen. And Vick, I know youíre scared and I know you shouldnít have to be going through this. However, whatís done is done. Itís all right to be scared. Being frightened doesnít make you a coward. Being brave means facing those fears."

Vick nodded.

The Fairy took several steps back. Vick looked at Steve and then at the Fairy. The Fairy nodded, stood back and closed her eyes. Vick couldnít help but take Steveís hand.

"Iím scared too," Steve said.

A white light surrounded the Fairy and both Vick and Steve closed their eyes. They felt warmth bathe them and for a moment, it felt as though they were floating. Then, things felt different, as though they were waking from a dream and were remembering their life as it was supposed to be.

When they opened their eyes, Melvin, the otter boy theyíd met at the beach stood before them.

"You girls okay?" Melvin asked.

"Weíre fine," Vicky said. "For a second there, I thought I was supposed to be a human guy. Isnít that weird?"

"Yeah, and I thought you were my older brother," Steve said.

Vicky blinked. "Weird huh?"

"I know you donít wear dresses or other girl stuff, but that doesnít mean youíre a guy," Steve said.

"Speaking of which," Vicky said.

"I know, I know," Steve said.

Before walking into the house, Steve got out his dress from the backseat of the car (the fairyís magic had transported the car) and put it back on.

"That was pretty smart, hiding the shirt under it and all," Steve said.

"Hey, what are big sisters for?" Vicky said.

"So, you guys gonna let me meet your folks?" Melvin asked.

"You bet," Vicky said.

The trio walked up to the front door. Vicky walked in first where she saw a pair of otter people waiting for her.

"Youíre awfully late young lady," their mother said. "You better have a good explanation."

Vicky nodded. "I do Mom. We had to help a new friend."

"Oh and who is that?" Her mother asked.

Vicky stepped aside to allow Steve to enter with Melvin. "Mom, Dad, meet Melvin. He was lost at the beach and we helped him out."

Melvin approached Steve and Vickyís parents and shook their hands. "Hi Iím Melvin. I was lost but now, Iím found."