I don't foresee this being the norm or anything, but I do like to change it up from time to time (as the story dictates). Hope you like it.
Like Mother, Like Son
"She just doesn't understand me!" Michael growled. "No matter what I do, it's the wrong decision. I chose the wrong college. I chose the wrong major. I don't study enough. The girl I'm dating isn't right for me. Nothing is ever good enough for her!"
"I just want you to maximize your potential," Misha said. "I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did when I was your age. I'm trying to help you."
Michael rolled his eyes. "There it is again. My life isn't about your regrets, Mom. I can't help it that you got pregnant at fourteen years old. I didn't ask -"
Dr. Kendrick cleared his throat, cutting Michael off. "How long have you two been coming to me?" he asked.
"I don't know," Misha responded. "Three years maybe?"
"Four," Kendrick corrected. "And in that time, do you feel that we've made any progress at all?"
Michael and his mother were both conspicuously silent; both knew that they hadn't. They were both far too stubborn to make any sort of compromise in their shared relationship.
"Right," the psychiatrist said. "None at all. You're still at one another's throats more often than not. But here's the thing: clearly, you two love one another. You want to get along better. The relationship is important to you. The issue is empathy. Neither of you can really understand what it's like for the other."
"That's what I've been trying to say," Michael said. "She treats me like I'm a little kid, and -"
Misha interrupted, "And you treat me like I'm some stranger who doesn't know a god damned thing about life. I'm your mother, and -"
Kendrick cleared his throat again, interrupting what, unchecked, would no doubt become a full-blown argument. "You are both at fault," Kendrick said. "Though I'd be surprised if either of you could see it that way."
"So what's the answer?" Misha asked. "Am I supposed to just let him ignore my advice? Am I supposed to let him walk all over me?"
"And do you really think I'm going to let her dictate my whole life?" Michael responded. "Fat chance."
"You'll do whatever the doctor says to do, young man," Misha said. "Or so help me..."
"I'm twenty-two years old, Mom!" Michael hissed. "I don't have to -"
"Then act like it," his mother said. "Twenty-two, and still living at home. When I was your age, I had two jobs, and -"
"Because you had to!" Michael said. "What do you want me to do? Move out? Go live with a friend? Or on the street? Okay! Fine! I'll be out by tomorrow morning, but you think about that when -"
"Jesus Christ! Shut up! For one second, just shut up!" Kendrick exploded. "I've spent almost four years listening to you two bicker back and forth. And I'm tired of it. Absolutely exhausted by your petty arguments. So listen up, because I have a plan that could help you two. But if you don't do it, I can no longer treat you."
Looking appalled, Misha said, "You can't talk to us like that. You work for us!"
"Not anymore," Kendrick said, pointing to the door. "Go on - get out. You don't even have to pay for this session."
"Nice going, Mom," Michael said, getting up from his chair.
Before he could take a step, Misha said, "No! I'm sorry, doctor. I really am. Whatever your plan is, we'll do it."
"I don't want you to promise anything," the doctor said. "I just want you to listen. Can you do that?" Misha nodded. "And you?" the psychiatrist asked, looking at Michael. "Can you shut up for a few minutes while I explain the plan?"
"I can if she can," Michael replied, sitting back down.
Kendrick leaned back, took a deep breath, and said, "It's pretty unorthodox, but I think it might work. Look - like I said before, the problem with you two is empathy. You can't put yourself in each others' shoes, so to speak. And I think I have a way to fix that."
He leaned forward, asking, "What do either of you know about hypnosis?"
"Nothing," Misha said.
"I went to a show one time where a guy hypnotized some people from the audience, and made them do stupid stuff - like one girl thought she was a chicken, and -" Again, Michael was interrupted.
"Then nothing," Kendrick said. "This is what I propose: I will hypnotize each of you, and combined with ongoing subliminal commands, I will force you two to strive to understand each and every aspect of the other's life."
"That's it?" asked Michael. "Why didn't we start with this?"
"Because hypnosis can often get out of control," the therapist said. "If we do this, you're going to know your mother at least as well as she knows herself. And vice versa. Most people aren't comfortable with that kind of intimacy. And no one is truly prepared for it."
"And you think this will work?" asked Misha.
"I do," Dr. Kendrick answered.
"What do you think?" Misha asked turning to Michael.
Michael shrugged. "It's worth a shot, isn't it?"
Kendrick smiled. "See? It's already working. I think that's the first time you've agreed on anything in months."
After putting them both into a trance, Dr. Kendrick gave them their instructions: strive to completely understand your mother (or son). It was a simple instruction, but, he hoped, a powerful one.
Once he'd woken them up, he said, "By tomorrow, I'll have some MP3s constructed to reinforce the message. It'll sound like white noise, but rest assured, it's an integral part of this process. It's very important that you listen to them every single night. No skips. No excuses. Do you agree?"
They both nodded.
"Good," Kendrick said. "Now - I'm going to be out of the country for about three months. When I get back, we'll reassess the situation, and hopefully, you will have made quite a bit of progress by then."
"Thanks, doc," Michael said. "Really. I know we're a pain to work with, but you understand that we appreciate it, right?"
"I do," Kendrick said. "I just hope this plan can help you."
The three months passed in a flash, but during the the doctor's entire trip, he couldn't quite get his patients out of his mind. By the time he returned, he was extremely eager to see how the hypnosis and conditioning had worked out. So it was with more than a little anxiety that he awaited his first meeting with Misha and Michael.
When they walked in, they looked no different than when he'd left - which wasn't surprising. While he'd helped some of his patients lose weight via a similar program, he hadn't specified any physical changes for the mother and son.
"Welcome back, doc," Misha said, grinning. "How was your trip?"
"Fantastic," Kendrick said absently. "Italy is wonderful this time of year, and I was able to see some relatives I hadn't seen in years. But that's not why we're here, is it? Tell me - how has your relationship progressed?"
"That's...ah...complicated," Michael answered.
"What Michael is trying to say is that we went through a couple of rough spots at first," Misha said, patting her son's arm. "But once we got used to it, things settled in quite nicely, and we've never been closer."
"Rough spots?" asked the therapist, leaning forward. "Please explain."
"Like when I described - in detail - what I liked his stepfather to do to me..." Misha said. "In bed."
"Or when I showed my mother the sort of porn I like," Michael stated. "It was a little embarrassing at first, but once we got over it, she sort of latched onto it. Now, I bet she watches at least as much as I do."
"And you should have seen his face when I described my first sexual experience to him," Misha explained. "His face was so red at first. But once we got past the whole 'mom as a sexual being thing' he really made an effort to understand what I was feeling. That's when we got to the root of our issues, I think."
"Yeah," Michael said. "Knowing how young she had me - and how horrible of a decision that was - I never really took any of her advice seriously. How could I trust the judgement of someone who fucked up that badly, right? Well - now I understand why she had sex with my real father. I get it. She was young and stupid. And he was so cool. She didn't want to lose him, so she put out. It wasn't a decision so much as a kid trying to hold onto something she didn't think she deserved."
"Wow..." Kendrick mumbled, a little astonished by how well it had all worked. He hadn't expected such a significant breakthrough so quickly.
"And then I caught him watching my husband and me having sex," Misha said. "No - it wasn't a sexual thing. I'd described it to him, and now he wanted to see it. To better understand."
"Don't act like I was the only one," Michael said. "She set up a nanny cam in my room to catch me and my girlfriend. I caught her watching it about a month ago."
"You're the one who said she was an absolute demon in bed," Misha said defensively. "I just wanted to see if you were exaggerating."
"But I wasn't, was I?" Michael asked.
"No - you were right," Misha agreed. "She's definitely a hot little thing. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on her, if you know what I mean."
"And I'd love to feel what you feel when you're having sex with Rick," Michael said. "I mean - not, like, a gay thing. Just, you know...to understand better."
"Right," Misha said. "I'm not a lesbian or anything either. But I'd love to understand your perspective on sex a little better."
"Let's get back on topic," Kendrick said. "So - would you say that there are any boundaries between you now?"
Michael shook his head. Misha did the same, adding, "Not at all, doc. I feel closer to my son than I've ever felt before. I understand him in ways that I didn't think possible."
"Good," Kendrick said. "Do you want to take it a step further?"
"What do you mean?" asked Michael. "There is no 'further', right? This was the goal."
Kendrick nodded. "One of the goals, yes. But seeing how you've responded, I want to make another suggestion. Again, it'll be your choice on how to proceed."
Misha said, "We'll listen." She turned to Michael, asking, "Right?" He nodded.
"Fantastic," Kendrick said, smiling broadly.
"What do you know about magic?" asked Kendrick.
"Magic?" Misha responded. "Are you serious?"
"I am," the doctor said. "Or do you really believe hypnosis is responsible for your progress? I'm a talented hypnotist, but that level of progress is far beyond my abilities."
"What are you saying?" Michael asked.
"I'm saying that I'm a wizard," Kendrick said. "And that I want to continue to use magic to help you."
"Be serious, doc," Misha said. "I'm not -"
Kendrick snapped his fingers, causing a small ball of flame to appear out of thin air. It floated in front of him, seeming to wait for his command. "I assure you, Mrs. Ferguson, that I'm being deadly serious."
"I-is this...real?" asked Michael, backing away. "I don't...this isn't..."
"Calm yourself," Kendrick said, and Michael immediately seemed to relax.
"What are you going to do to us?" Misha asked.
"Nothing," the wizard replied. "Unless you want me to. Same as before." At their confused looks, he explained, "I can't do anything without your consent. That's how it works. If I were to manipulate you against your will, I'd be brought before the International Confederation of Wizards, and put on trial. Unless I could prove that my life was at risk, I'd be put to death. So relax. I can't do anything to you unless you agree to let me."
"But you've already done s-something to us," Misha said. "You just admitted it."
"I did," Kendrick agreed. "But if you recall, I had your consent. And I hope to get it again."
"For what?" Michael asked.
"To give you what you want," the therapist-turned-wizard responded. "I'm here to help, after all. Think about it - what is it that you want more than anything right this moment?"
"To get away from you," Misha said without hesitation.
"Don't be silly," Dr. Kendrick said. "That's just fear. Look into your heart - what do you want?"
"I want to be her," Michael said. "That's what I want. I can't stop thinking about it. I dream about being her. I fantasize about waking up, looking in the mirror, and seeing h-her staring back at me."
Kendrick smiled, then looked at a very surprised Misha. "And you?" he asked.
"I-I don't...I can't...this is wrong," she said. "So, so very wrong."
"It's not," Kendrick said. "I know what you feel. I just need to hear you say it. It's neither right nor wrong; it simply is. There's no shame in being what you want to be. Admit it, and I can make it all happen."
"I...I want...I want to be Michael," she said. "I want to be...him."
"Good," Kendrick said. "The first step is admitting what you want. From here, though...well, that's going to be a difficult path, but I think you two can make it. Now - stand against the wall so I can take a couple of photos."
The two stood obeyed without question; they were nestled in the iron grip of his mind, and there was no resistance or escape. Once they were standing side by side, he produced an expensive-looking camera, and took a couple of photos.
"What's with the pictures?" Michael asked.
"A necessary part of my process," was Kendrick's reply. He took another photo, then said, "Now - strip down to your underwear."
"What?" asked Misha.
"It's not optional," Kendrick said. "If you want what you want, I need to do this."
Misha nodded, took a deep breath, and unfastened her dress. Michael slipped his shirt over his head, took off his shoes, and pulled his jeans off. Once they were dressed only in their respective undergarments, Kendrick said, "Good," and snapped a couple more photos.
"I trust you've been naked around one another recently," Kendrick said.
Michael nodded. "We really don't have any boundaries anymore."
"Then you won't mind disrobing completely, then?" Kendrick said. "No embarrassment, right?"
"I'm not embarrassed," Misha said. "Not around him."
Michael was already slipping his boxer briefs down his legs. Misha followed suit, and unhooked her bra, revealing her pert breasts. Her panties were next.
Naked, she asked, "Can you really do it?"
"I can," Kendrick said, taking another series of photos. "But it will be difficult - especially for those on the periphery of your relationship. Your husband, his girlfriend. Your friends. There will be a period of adjustment, and some will no doubt misunderstand your situation. But I can do it, do not doubt."
"And I'll be...her?" Michael asked. "Just like her, right?"
"Mostly," Kendrick said. "There are some things even magic can not change."
"Like what?" Misha asked.
Kendrick peeked out from behind his camera, saying, "Your sex organs, for instance, can not be changed. You'll still have ovaries, and he'll still have testicles. However, the functions of those organs can be altered to such an extent that they function as the other gender's counterpart. In short, he'll produce female hormones while you will produce testosterone."
"Does that mean I won't have a...a...vagina?" Michael asked.
"That's correct," Kendrick replied. "Beyond that, you will be a near-perfect facsimile of your mother - aside from a few hallmarks of youth - tighter skin, a couple less wrinkles - you know what I'm talking about."
He took a few more pictures, then asked, "Any more questions before I get into the meat of it?"
Misha shook her head, and Michael said, "No."
"Fantastic," Kendrick said, grinning. "Absolutely fantastic. You can get dressed now."
As the two began dressing, he said, "The changes will take almost six months each, so you'd better be ready for a few strange looks during the transition. I figure we can tackle Michael's transformation first, then Misha's."
"Why does he get to go first?" Misha asked. "I'm older, and -"
"Because it's more difficult," Kendrick said. "And given that I don't have the energy to do you both at the same time, his transformation is the logical starting point. Never fear, though - you'll both get what you want."
"Fine," Misha said. "What do we need to do?"
Kendrick produced a pair of thin, silver rings from his pocket, handing one to both Misha and Michael. "For the meantime, just wear those. Do not take them off until I say so, okay?" Both nodded. To Michael, he said, "You won't feel anything for a couple of weeks, but once it starts, it's going to feel very, very weird."
"I can handle it," Michael said, slipping the ring onto his pinky finger. Misha did the same.
"I will need complete isolation to affect the changes," Kendrick said. "So if you have questions, ask them now. There's no going back once you leave this office."
Misha turned to her son, asking, "Do you really want to do this?"
"I do," Michael said. "I really, really do."
"Me too," she said.
"Good," the wizard said. "Then go home. Tomorrow, the changes begin."
For Kendrick, the six months passed in a blur. He spent the vast majority of the time in a trance, letting his essence flow into the the twin rings he'd given to his patients. They functioned as conduits for his power, directing it, pointing it in the right direction so it could perform predetermined actions. He likened it to a computer program executing its purpose. So even before the two came into his office, he knew that the changes were complete.
Still, knowing it had happened and seeing the fruits of his labor were two very different things. As they walked into his office, he couldn't help but think that they looked like nothing so much as twin sisters. But it was more than that. Twins were often distinguishable by observing their mannerisms, their personalities, but the two people before him were nearly identical in every possible way. They moved the same. They had the same expressions. In short, they were as close to being the same person as was possible. They even wore nearly identical clothes (the only variation being color).
"Same dress as before?" asked Kendrick, directing his question at the one in the lighter colored dress.
She smiled. "I thought it would be easier. In case you couldn't tell the difference."
"I can, Misha," Kendrick stated.
"I figured as much," Michael said - his voice was a perfect match for his mother's.
"And what are you calling yourself now?" Kendrick asked. "You can't both be Misha, right?"
"Michaela," was Misha's answer. "I wanted him to pick something a little different, but he insisted."
Michaela shrugged, saying, "It works. I won't have the name for long anyway. Not once we really switch."
"You seem eager," Kendrick said.
Again, Michaela shrugged. "That was the point of all of this, wasn't it?"
"Indeed," was the wizard's answer. "I assume you're still onboard with all of this, Misha?"
Misha nodded. "This body - it feels so wrong...almost like an itch I can't scratch. I'm anxious to get rid of it."
"Then stand against the wall, both of you," said Kendrick, retrieving his camera. When they were both in position, he began taking photos. "Tell me about the last six months."
"Like you said," Michaela began. "I didn't really feel anything for almost two-and-a-half weeks, but once the changes began..."
Another photo, and Kendrick asked, "How did it start? What was the first change you noticed?"
"My size," Michaela said. "For the first couple of weeks, nothing. And then, each night, I went to bed, and it felt like my whole body was itching, but from the inside, you know? I couldn't do anything about it. But when I woke up, I was a little smaller. Maybe a quarter of an inch shorter. A few pounds lighter. That sort of thing. After a while, it started adding up, and before I knew it, I was the same height as...Mom."
"How did that feel?" asked Kendrick. "You can strip down to your underwear, please."
The two obeyed without hesitation, removing their respective dresses.
"I felt really small at first," Michaela answered. "From 6'1" to 5'4"? It's a big change. But it felt right, too. Like I'd always been too big, you know? Awkward and lumbering. But now? This is right."
"And your girlfriend?" Kendrick asked, taking a photo. "What did you tell her?"
"That I'm going to study abroad," Michaela answered. "Mom's been sending her emails - you know, being me. I keep telling her that when she's me, she should go after someone a little more her speed. Like a nice, college girl. Not some go-nowhere waitress like Amy."
"And I've told you that I'll make my own decisions," Misha responded. "And if I want to date her, I will."
"But this is your chance to -"
"And what about your sex life, Michaela?" asked Kendrick. "Have you two told Rick about what's going to happen?"
"It's complicated," Misha said.
"It's not complicated, Mom," Michaela argued. "He's a little freaked out about all of this, but he's coming around - especially after our little...um...party."
"You mean where you pretended to be me, and blew him?" asked Misha. "Yeah - he's coming around. He wanted to beat the shit out of you for tricking him like that."
"Please," Michaela said. "He loved it. Just like he'll love fucking me."
Kendrick interrupted, saying, "Go ahead and remove your lingerie."
The two did as they were told, stripping down completely.
"Other than that," Michaela said. "I've had a few eye-opening moments about my mother."
"Like what?" asked Kendrick.
"Here he goes again," Misha said. "Let's hear it for little-miss-perfect."
"I'm not perfect!" Michaela said. "I just don't necessarily approve of the fact that you'll fuck damn near anything that moves."
"Three guys!" Misha said. "Three guys. That's it. That's not 'anything that moves,' and you know it."
"But your boss? Really?" Michaela asked. "Could you be any more cliche? Or Jerry...ugh...talk about sleazy. And don't get me started on Dean. I played football with him for God's sake. He's so young!"
"First of all," Misha said. "You'd better get used to the idea of letting Randall bend you over his desk from time to time because that's how the world works. He's going to be your boss, and as such, he controls whether or not you have a job. So remember that. And Jerry isn't sleazy. He's cute. You should have seen him in high school...God, all the girls wanted him so bad. And Dean's hot. You can't deny that, right? And that cock of his is fucking huge. But you'll see."
"What do you mean?" Michaela asked. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about the fact that you're going to be me," Misha said. "And I told him about it. He's really, really looking forward to fucking you raw. So is Randall, come to that."
"You told them?!" asked Michaela. "You really told them?"
"Of course I did," Misha answered. "I mean, they took it really, really well, too. Surprisingly well, if I'm honest."
"I think I can explain that," Kendrick interjected. Both Misha and Michaela had half-forgotten he was even in the room. "It's the rings. Part of their function is to ease the transition, which means pushing those people around you to accept the changes. Otherwise, no one would treat you the same."
"Makes sense," Misha said thoughtfully.
"But you told them..." Michaela said. "And they're going to expect everything to s-stay the same?"
"Mostly," Misha said. "So is Rick - but I think you're fine with that, aren't you?"
"Of course I am," Michaela said. "I'm his wife!"
"Not yet, you're not," Misha said.
"Whatever - I will be," Michaela said. "And I'll make sure he doesn't forget it."
"As is your responsibility," Kendrick said. "I know you're having a little trouble with this, Misha. But that's to be expected. You haven't begun your change yet, and still feel some connection to your old life. Rest assured that that will change. You may both dress."
The two dressed in silence, but Misha looked at her dress regretfully. Clearly, it was a chore, putting it back on. Once they were dressed, Kendrick said, "The final phase will begin tomorrow, and Misha, you will begin to change. Again, it will take a little less than six months for the transformation to finish. Do either of you have any questions?"
Neither did, and left without much conversation.
Again, the time flashed by in a trance-like blur for Kendrick, but he knew that the changes were progressing nicely. So he was unsurprised when two familiar figures came into his office.
"It worked, doc," Misha (who looked like Michael) said. "It really worked."
"Of course it did," Kendrick said. "No need to pollute this meeting with idle chatter. Remove your clothes."
The two looked slightly disappointed, but quickly removed their clothes.
"Remarkable," Kendrick said. "I expected good results, but nothing like this. Tell me - are you settling into your new identities?"
"Amy was a little weirded out by the fact that I'm...you know...ill-equipped down there," the new Michael said. "But once I showed her how I could work a strap-on, she really came around. And my friends...well, Michael's friends...they don't really know any that I'm any different."
"Bunch of idiots, if you ask me," the new Misha said. "Of course they don't know any different."
"You'll have to excuse her," new-Michael said. "She's still a little upset because Rick left her."
"Because of you!" new-Misha said.
"You were the one he caught fucking the pool-boy," new-Michael said. "I didn't have anything to do with that."
"I'm just...I didn't...I wasn't...let's just not talk about it, okay?" new-Misha said. "I just want to move along with my life."
"And fuck anything that moves, right?" new-Michael asked. "She's been going on a ton of 'dates' lately. And, like, all of them get lucky."
"Not all of them!" new-Misha said.
"Most, then," new-Michael replied. "I just -"
"Shut up!" Kendrick said. The two went silent immediately - almost unnaturally quickly. "Here's the thing. You need to listen to me very, very closely because the course of the rest of your lives depends on how you react. Do you understand?"
They both nodded.
"Good," Kendrick said. "You've been manipulated against your will. I know you thought that our rules protected you - and they're supposed to - but rest assured, wizards have spent millenia finding ways around those silly rules. And so we have."
He took his trusty camera from his desk, and took a photo. Continuing, he said, "You really did want this - once the hypnosis had run its course. It's a bit of a gray area, hypnosis. The Confederation doesn't really know how to regulate it because, strictly speaking, it's not magic. Certainly, it can be enhanced by magic - which is the case here - but it's not arcane, in and of itself."
"But why would I do this, you're wondering," he said. "It's simple. I wanted to win a bet with a colleague. And with these final pictures, I have won said bet, and have no further use for you. So I put it to you - what do you want from the rest of your lives?"
As if finally remembering how to speak, both Misha and Michael burst into a profanity laced tirade against the wizard. He let it play out for a few moments before he said, "No matter how many curses you throw at me, the reality is that you have a decision to make. I recognize that I've done you an incredible wrong. I merely want to know if you want me to, in some small way, make up for it."
"Change us back you sick fuck," new-Michael said.
"I let him fuck me..." new-Misha said. "I let so many guys..."
The hypnosis had clearly worn off, and their old personalities had begun to reassert themselves.
"There's no going back," Kendrick said. "I can't reverse what I did. No one can. If it was tried, you would burst apart at a molecular level. The human body simply can not withstand numerous transformations like that. No - what I offer you is mental. Regain your former personalities, and try to live your lives as you are. Or I can reaffirm your previous conditioning, and you will forever live as the new versions of yourselves. Those are your choices. Choose quickly, but wisely. I will not linger here."
"But...I can't...I don't..." new-Misha said.
"I choose to be the new me," new-Michael said. "I'll be Michael. And he...she will be Misha."
"Think about it, son," new-Michael said. "At least like that, you can be happy. But as Michael trapped in my body? You'd go crazy."
"I-I guess..." new-Misha said. "I choose the same..."
Kendrick snapped his fingers, putting the two back into a hypnotic trance. After he gave his instructions, he released them. "It's funny you should mention happiness when I didn't," Kendrick said. "Rest assured, that happiness was most definitely not part of the deal."
Just then, the two realized their mistake. Certainly, they would act like their new selves, but inside, there would always linger a remnant of who they once were, railing against their new reality.