The reception area was fairly small and occupied by only two other people, a receptionist in her late thirties and an absolute mountain of a man. He was a tall, wide and heavily muscled African-American. Paul guessed he was security, though he wasn't wearing any sort of uniform.
Paul stepped nervously up to the receptionist. She looked up from her computer terminal and said, "Welcome to Quince Biochemicals. Can I help you?"
"Yes, I'm looking for Doctor Kingston." Paul's feminine voice still sounded way too high to himself and he unconsciously cleared his throat.
The receptionist frowned. "I don't recognise the name. Hold on, I'll just check our records." She tapped at her computer for a few moments. "No, I'm sorry. I have no record of a Doctor Kingston."
Paul's heart missed a beat. "When did he leave? Did he give a forwarding address?"
The receptionist shook her head. "If your friend had worked here he would be in our records. But we have never employed anyone by that name."
Paul was certain he had come to the right place and he knew Kingston had at least been here. The receptionist must have got it wrong. "Could I speak to someone in charge."
"I am sorry, miss. But everyone is busy right now."
Paul was starting to panic by now. Kingston HAD to be there. He was the only one who could help Paul regain his fully male shape. "I know he's here! I have to see him. It's a matter of life and death!"
The security guard spoke for the first time. "Look, the lady said he ain't here. Now leave before I throw you out."
Paul had dealt with this sort of people before. The trick was to threaten lawsuits, not violence. They wouldn't want to risk a lawsuit and they would usually pass the buck to their superior. "You lay one hand on me and I'll sue you and this company for every cent it's got!"
The guard advanced on him. Paul stood his ground and tried to hide the fear he felt. The man was huge; he would have dwarfed even Paul's old body. But he seemed to be twice as tall as Paul's new half-female body. "Are you going to leave?"
"No. I demand to speak your boss."
"Fair enough," said the guard and without any warning picked Paul up and put him over one broad shoulder. With one arm securely around Paul's waist the guard headed for the door.
"Put me down!" he shouted. His voice sounded slightly hysterical to his own ears. This wouldn't have happened if he'd had his commanding male voice. In frustration he beat his hands against the guard's back. Why would no one take him seriously anymore?
The guard left the reception and took Paul into an alley next to the building. Paul felt fear building up in him as he remembered his encounter with the cop. What if the guard was going to try the same thing? The guard removed Paul from his shoulder and put him down against the wall. The huge black man towered over Paul, effectively boxing him in. "Now I don't know what that was about. But if I were you I'd stay away from here in future. I don't want a pretty young girl like you getting hurt."
That sounded more like a warning than a threat to Paul. "I understand. But I have to find him. It's very important!"
The guard sighed. "You are not listening to me. He isn't here."
He's lying, thought Paul. "Okay, I hear you. I must have got the wrong address."
The guard gave a broad smile. "That must be it. I won't delay you any longer." With that he stepped back and Paul gladly made his way out of the alley. He started the car and drove off before the guard changed his mind.
The guard made a mental note of the license plate as Paul left. His superiors were not going to like this new complication. He sighed and re-entered the building.
Paul had only gone a couple of blocks before he parked the car again. So near and yet so far. He had to get in that building and find Dr. Kingston. Probably they hadn't wanted to disturb him with some lunatic off the street. Carefully he made his way back to the building.
From across the street he could see two entrances to the Quince Biochemicals building. There was the main entrance and a larger side door in the alley which was probably for deliveries. This was pointless. Even if he did get in there he would be stopped long before he could find Kingston.
If he couldn't get to Michael Kingston, he was going to have to wait for the doctor to come to him. Hopefully those two doors were the only way in and out of the building. Presumably Michael didn't live there and would be heading home at some point. All Paul had to do was wait.
Paul hid round the corner of another building where he could watch for Kingston without been seen by any of the guards. The next few hours were fairly nerve wracking. He could just see some street gang discovering him and deciding to have a little fun. He missed the security his old body used to give him. This new one was just built for looking good. It wasn't practical at all. He even had to be careful not to crush his breasts just looking around the corner.
It was close to eight o'clock before Michael Kingston finally appeared. It was starting to get dark and Paul was on the verge of giving up. Paul almost leapt for joy when he saw him. There was his salvation! Paul started following him, his heart in his mouth. How should he approach him?
Kingston stopped by a car and rummaged in his pockets for his keys. It was now or never. "Excuse me, Dr. Kingston."
Michael Kingston looked up and looked at Paul. "Yes? Can I help you?" he said in a guarded voice.
"You probably don't recognise me, but we worked together a few years back."
Michael was quiet for a moments. "Are you sure? You barely look old enough to be out of school. Where did you meet me?"
"I helped clear your name in your legal case. Look, I really need your help and I think you'll be fascinated in my problem."
Michael turned and unlocked the car. "I'm sure we've never met. Now I have to go, I'm late."
He doesn't want to know, thought Paul. If he'll only listen for a few minutes! Michael opened the door of his car and climbed in. That car has central locking, noticed Paul. When Michael had unlocked one door he had unlocked them all.
Wasting no time, Paul shot round the car and leapt into the passenger seat. "What do you think you're doing? Get out!" shouted Michael.
"Shut up, or I'll start screaming rape." This seemed to quiet Michael down as he realised what sort of situation that would put him in. "Okay, now you must have heard about Dr. Anne Chamberlain and the sort of research she is doing."
"Um, yeah. So what?" He was obviously confused about the sudden twist in the conversation by Paul.
"She's my ex-girlfriend."
"Your... ex-girlfriend. I didn't know she was a lesbian."
"But you just said..." Started Michael, totally lost by now.
"She is doing research into modifying a person's DNA by introducing an engineered, but harmless, virus into their bodies."
Michael shrugged. "So are a lot of people. Any breakthrough is still decades away."
"No, Anne's done it. And she used me as her guinea pig. In fact she infected me with two different viruses. Below the waist I'm still male." Michael's eyes bulged a little at that statement. "I'm Paul Roberts, the lawyer that saved your ass."
"Oh, this is ridiculous. Get out of my car now!"
"If that's the way you want it." Paul wound down the window. "Help! Rape!" he screamed out of the car window.
"Christ! Okay, okay, I'll listen to you."
Paul smiled. "Right, lets go back to your place and I'll give you some more proof. You do live alone?"
The rest of the drive was in silence. Paul looked at Michael, was he really going to be able to help him? Anne was near the top of her profession while Kingston was working in some seedy establishment. Of course, that could be because of his poor reputation and it might have nothing to do with his actual ability. But what choice did he have? At least Kingston would help him.
Michael's apartment was in a more upmarket part of the city. He didn't say anything until both he and Paul were indoors. "Okay, now what the hell is this all about?"
"A few days ago my girlfriend, Anne Chamberlain, found out I was seeing other women. She deliberately infected me with two DNA viruses. So my top half is female and the bottom half is male."
"You're mad," whispered Michael.
In response Paul started removing his blouse. Michael started to protest but Paul ignored him. He didn't like having to do this at all, but he had to give some proof or Michael was going to consider him a lunatic.
He could feel Michael's eyes crawling over his breasts. He hated them. Every slightest movement they made reminded him of what Anne had done to him. She had stripped him of his near perfect male body and replaced it with feminine softness.
Next he undid his pants and dropped them to the floor. He was wearing matching panties, which did nothing to disguise the male genitalia he possessed.
"My God, you are a man," gasped Michael. "I'd never have guessed."
"You haven't been listening," snapped Paul. "My top half IS female now. Based on Anne's niece, I believe. The bottom half is that of some lab assistant of hers. If you ran DNA tests on skin from my arm and my leg you'd get two different results."
Michael shook his head. "It's impossible. Technology like that does not exist."
Paul sighed and pointed to just below his belly button. "Look here. There's the join."
Michael bent closer to get a better look. The skin beneath a certain point had a different texture and was just slightly darker than the skin on Paul's upper body. Maybe there was some truth in this crazy story.
He stood up and Paul started to put his clothes back on. "I still can't believe you were Paul Roberts."
"I am Paul Roberts! Remember the night before we went to court. You wanted to throw yourself on the mercy of the court and confess all. It took me several hours and a bottle of whisky to convince you to trust me."
"So what do you want from me?"
"I want you to cure me," said Paul. "I can't go back to Anne, she did this to me in the first place."
"Cure you! I haven't the first clue how that virus works." A thought struck him. "Is it contagious?"
"You only get it from intimate contact. You're okay, you won't start growing breasts."
Michael regarded the unwilling transsexual in front of him. "This is what I'll do. Tomorrow I'll take two samples from you and run a simple gene test on you. If they match you're out of here, okay?"
Paul nodded, "Fair enough. And when they don't match you'll start looking for a cure."
"It's a deal. Where are you staying? I'll give you a lift."
"I haven't got anywhere. I only got here a few hours back."
Michael thought for a moment. He still couldn't believe that the beautiful young creature in front of him was male. Despite incontrovertible evidence of his gender. The face seemed so feminine. Surely no man could look so good, so natural. Maybe Paul's outlandish story was true. "Okay, you can sleep on the couch tonight. Tomorrow you look for somewhere permanent to stay."
Find a place of his own? Paul had no real idea how long it would take Michael to come up with a cure. Until he did he was going to have to support himself. If he was careful with his money he could probably get a reasonable apartment for a few months. Surely it shouldn't take any longer than that for Michael to undo the damage Anne had done to him.
Paul helped Michael make the couch into a makeshift bed. It wasn't long before he was fast asleep. The exertions of the day and the small amount of sleep he had been getting had tired his new body.
Michael Kingston was going through stacks of various scientific journals late into the night. During her research Dr. Chamberlain had published many papers and Michael absorbed every one of them. Their tone was extremely cautious but the direction of her research clearly pointed to the DNA-altering virus Paul claimed had affected him.
She must have made a huge breakthrough. Then another thought struck him. This research was probably top secret. Chamberlain might not have announced her discovery even to the heads of the research institute she belonged to. Therefore, she almost certainly hadn't registered any patents yet. All he had to do was crack the secret of the virus and file a claim and the untold millions the patent would bring him would allow him to retire in luxury.
But he would have to be a hell of a lot cleverer than the last time he had tried to pass someone else's research off as his own. I'll worry about that later, he thought. First I'll have to see how it works. If I can restore Paul he could probably help me with the legal difficulties. He certainly would like to hurt Anne after what she did to him. This could restore his reputation and his fortune.