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How to Be a Boy

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In a rush, Ren said, "I know you don't like girls, but I'm not exactly a girl. It's complicated, but, you see, I--"

Kazuki put one finger to her lips. "I know," he said. "It's complicated. But dressing up like a boy doesn't make you a boy. I should know, you know. Dressing up like a girl hasn't made me a girl."

Ren shook her head. "It's not that," she said. "I--I'm artificial. I'm like Makubex, part of the system. I didn't know before. I found out when I tried to follow you--my fingers vanished, when I started to go through the barrier."

Kazuki looked at her with concern, and took her hand, stroking her fingers. "I'm sorry," he started to say. "If I'd known--"

"No," said Ren. "It's all right. You couldn't have. Just--" She took a deep breath. "The thing is, I can reprogram myself. Not--all of me, but aspects. The way I look. Let me show you." She got up and went to Grandfather's computer, decrypted the file she'd been working on in secret. She stood up, so Kazuki would be able to see the change, and clicked "execute."

Ren let go of the mouse and felt her body shift within her clothes. Her clothes had to be virtual, too, but she hadn't reprogrammed them, so they suddenly didn't fit quite right. Her shoulders stretched the seams of her jacket. Her jeans felt like there were going to slide off her hips.

Kazuki stared. "Did you just--?"

Ren nodded, afraid to speak. She wasn't sure how her voice was going to sound, now. She'd reprogrammed her voicebox to drop an octave, but she hadn't heard it yet. She didn't know.

Kazuki stepped up to her and put his hands on either side of her face. "Ren," he murmured. "You didn't have to." He kissed her, and it startled Ren that he didn't have to bend to do so. She'd forgotten she'd programmed herself a few extra centimeters. "You can change yourself back?" he asked her.

Ren nodded. She had all her design defaults saved.

"Do you want to?" he asked her.

Ren hesitated. It wasn't fair, asking her a thing like that when he stood so close. She did like her unobtrusively female self, and being like this was a little scary. But it was also so exciting. Finally, she said, "Not yet." She felt her eyes widen at the sound of it.

"Have you done this before?" asked Kazuki.

"No," Ren admitted. She put her arms around his waist and leaned trustingly against him. "Teach me how to be a boy," she requested. "Teach me how it feels."

Kazuki laughed. "All right," he said, "but I warn you, your education may not be typical."