Five Things Dr. Sydney Katchadourian Neglected to Mention

Shay Sheridan

Fandom ~ Zerophilia, a cult movie about Luke, who discovers he's a "zerophiliac," and his amusing adventures in genderswapping. Luke/Michelle/Max/Luca.
Written for
Yuletide 2009

"Why the fuck, Janine–" I leaned closer until our faces were only inches apart "–did nobody tell me about cramps?"

"Oh, poor you." She tried to look sympathetic, but her mouth was twitching with the effort of holding back a laugh. "Welcome to the wonderful world of womanhood."

"Shut up." I folded in half again. "I feel like my insides are going to come out."

"Well, they kind of are, you know. Every month the cells of a woman's–"

"Eww. Shut up, shut up!" I rolled to my stomach and the tampon she'd given me shifted again. "Ouch. How the hell do girls get these things in the right place?"

"Practice." She had the nerve to pat me on the head. "Don't worry. You'll get it. Eventually."

"No way. Nuh-uh. Never going through this again."

"Hah, right." She folded her arms and gave me a superior look. "Serves you right. You guys never believe it really is harder to be a woman than a man."

"Whatever." I flailed a hand. "Gimme." Janine sat down on the bed and passed me the bottle of blackberry brandy. "Yuck. Tastes like fermented cough syrup. You sure this stuff cures cramps?"

"My grandmother swore by it."

"Maybe if you drink enough to pass out."

"Want another Advil?"

"Nah. I'm already about to hurl. Don't have a joint anywhere, do you?"

"Sorry. You could ask Keenan, though."

"No way! I'm not talking to him about this. And you better not, either. Ever." I curled around the pillow. "This totally sucks. And it's gross."

"Jerk. It's perfectly natural."

"Janine, the last word that applies to me is 'natural.'"

"True enough." The mattress bounced as Janine moved closer and my stomach rolled in a really disgusting way. "So answer me this…if you hate having your period, why don't you and Max just…you know, change. Seriously – sometimes when my cramps are really bad, Keenan and I do it because the sex makes me feel better. You know, the rhythmic–"

"TMI, Janine."

"Hey, just trying to help. But seriously, Luke. Luca. Why don't you and Max try it? Call it therapeutic sex."

"Because," I hissed, "that's why we changed in the first place. Michelle had her period. Now he won't change me back for a week."

"Wow. That's mean."

"Tell me about it."

"And no sex for a week. That's, like, a biblical prohibition because the woman's blood is unclean, or–"

"I mean it, Janine, I'm going to hurl if you don't stop talking."

"It's interesting, though." She had that expression she gets when she's about to make a speech about female solidarity or oppression or some boring shit. "Don't you find it fascinating how women's cycles sync up when they live together?"

"Oh yeah, thrilling," I moaned into the pillow. "Just kill me now."

There are pronouns like "he" and "she" and words like "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" that just do not apply to some people.

Like when I'm talking to my cousin Taylor about coming to her wedding and I say I want to bring one of the above as my date but somewhere in the middle of the conversation I realize I've been using both pronouns and both words and saying both "Max" and "Michelle" and she starts sniffing around to find out if I've joined a polygamous cult like Uncle Walter did, because apparently she's marrying a guy whose folks are born-again Christians and she wants to be prepared for a scene at the wedding if the fiancé's family faints when they meet Cousin Luke and his Entourage of Many Sex Partners.

And the worst part is I can't even tell her the real situation, because the truth is way, way weirder than fiction.

"What the hell did you do?"

"What do you mean, what did I do?"

Even a belligerent stare looks good on Max's goddam gorgeous face, but I wasn't having any of it at the moment because it was Max's face and not Michelle's and I was standing here with all my guy parts intact. So I may have been a little, shall we say, testy at this particular moment. "What do I mean? What do you mean turning up like that? You did something! You did somebody, Max, because you were Michelle this morning when you left and now you're not! So who was it?" I narrowed my eyes. "Not that Katchadourian guy, Max, tell me you didn't–"

"Will you shut up?" I actually did shut up then because Max shoved me up against the wall and was breathing in my face and I was going cross-eyed looking at the hairs growing out of his chin and his really long lashes, and then I got a little distracted with the idea that maybe I might be kind of queer after all, at least for Max, but I pushed that aside real quick. "I didn't have sex with anybody," he growled. "Not…exactly."

"What does that mean?" Max let up on the pressure and I moved away from the wall. "What?"

He dropped his head and mumbled something.

"Hey…are you blushing?" Damn he was cute! "Come on, Max. Tell me. I'm your boyf–, er, your girlfr–"

"Okay, okay, shut up, willya? I'll tell you. Okay. This is what happened." He started to pace around the garage. "I was at school, in the middle of an exam, and I started thinking about what we got up to last night, and again this morning, and how really, really hot it was, and all of a sudden I was getting kind of…you know."

Oh yeah, he really was blushing! "Turned on?"

He made a face. "Well, yeah." I grinned a goofy grin at him. "Stop it. It got so bad I couldn't see the paper in front of me. I had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom, where I, ah–"

"Jerked off?"

"Asshole. I was Michelle, dimwit, and girls don't exactly–"

"Thanks, Teach, been there, done that."

"Oh. Right. But, yeah, I was in the stall and thinking about you and me, and, I dunno, I got off really fast, for once. But something went wrong, or weird, because afterwards I was…like this." He frowned. "Probably failed the exam, too."

I gave him my Dubious Boy is Dubious glare. "You telling me you changed just from doing it yourself?"

He bristled. "You think I'm lying?"

"Jeez, no, calm down! But how is it possible without another Zero?"

"Beats me," Max said, and sank down onto a pile of old tires. "Maybe because I was thinking about you."

I won't lie; that made me feel really great. I sat down on the tires and put my arm around him. "There's a lot that doc never told us. About pheromones and stuff. Maybe we imprinted on each other."

"What, like the kitten raised by that gorilla?"

"Who knows?"

"Great. We should be in a zoo."

I scrubbed a hand over my face. "Wow. This complicates things."

"No shit."

"Well," I said, squeezing his shoulder, "we could try being homos."

"Shut up."

"Wait...Max – the first time we got together – at one point weren't we both girls?"

"Hmm. I do seem to remember four boobs."


He snorted. "Dude, everything about us is weird."

"True." I thought about it. "Though two chicks getting it on can be kinda hot."

"Also true."

We looked at each other. I started getting tingly.

"So," I said, "you wanna?"

Max shrugged. "We can't stay like this unless I do laundry. Don't have any more guy underwear left."

"You're such a romantic."

We were halfway up the stairs when I remembered something. "Hey – weren't you wearing that pink sundress with the halter top when you left this morning?" Max shot me an "I have to kill you now" look. "Oh yeah. You must've been real pretty with those hairy legs sticking out from under a miniskirt."

"I'd look better than you."

"Shyeah, in your dreams."

"Fine. You try walking home in a dress as you. It's mortifying. Some trucker threw his lunch at me."

I may have annoyed him at that point by falling over laughing.

So in the end we went upstairs and he gave me a blow job (because he's really, really good at it as Michelle and apparently talent transcends gender) and I turned back into Luca, but he didn't get one in return because lesbian sex wasn't on the agenda as we only had one clean bra between us, but mostly because I was still a little annoyed that his libido screwed up our normal routine.


As if.

Note to self:

Next time you're going away for the weekend to, say, a close relative's wedding, bring a change of clothes for the other you if there's even a remote chance you're going to get busy with Michelle. Seriously. As Luke I can fit into Max's jeans, but you don't wanna know how I looked in Michelle's party clothes. Can you say "Luca's busting out all over?"

Also, prepare a good cover story for why Luke has to leave the reception after the main course.

And also why your family never heard of their cousin Luca before she showed up between the main course and dessert.

Also, get back at Michelle later for that sneak sex attack between the main course and dessert.

Nice as it was.

I took a sip, made a face and pushed my beer away. "Yuck. Tastes funny."

Max picked up the bottle, sniffed it. "Seems okay to me." He gulped it down.

"Way to steal her drink, Max," Janine said with admiration.

"That's okay." I sighed. "I feel kind of queasy anyway."

We were all sitting at the bar, me trying not to look at Sydney Katchadourian flirting with her, I mean, his, boyfriend the bartender. He caught my eye and I mouthed I hate you, and he air kissed at me. Jerk.

"You want a coke?"

"Ginger ale, maybe." Max ordered it and I lay my head down on the bar, which felt cool on the side of my face. My hand was near the pretzel bowl and suddenly I wanted a pretzel – many pretzels – real bad, so I grabbed a bunch and shoved them in my mouth all at once. "These are good," I said around the salt and crumbs.

Max stared at me. "Thought you were queasy."

"Now I'm not."

The ginger ale arrived and I downed it in one long gulp, and ordered another. Over to my right was a wooden bowl full of peanuts, so I lurched across a couple of customers and grabbed it out of their reach. The peanuts disappeared into my mouth a few at a time, and then by the handful. "God, these are good. Try them! They're amazing!"

Now all three of them, Max, Janine and Keenan, were staring. "Um, they're just peanuts, Luca." Janine pulled the bowl out of my grasp. "Aren't you eating an awful lot of them?"

I grabbed it back. A sudden craving struck. "Know what would be good with peanuts?"


"Bleu cheese dressing."

"Eww." Janine wrinkled her nose. "Peanuts and bleu cheese dressing?"

Max shook his head. "You're in a weird mood tonight."

I looked at him and my lip started quivering. And then I began to cry.

Max and Janine froze.

Down the end of the bar, Keenan suddenly put down his beer and leaned in. "So, what's up, Luca? You act like you're pregnant or something."

You know how they say time stands still? Yeah. Well, I know what that means, now, because the bar and the music and even the other customers kind of slid away into the background and I was looking through a long, long tunnel, and somehow I knew that Keenan, that idiot, was right. "Oh shit," I mumbled.

"Oh, shit," echoed Max. "No way. I mean…she can't be!"

"Can't she?" asked Janine matter-of-factly. "I mean, do you guys use protection or anything, or do you–"

I sputtered peanuts across the bar. "Janine!"

"Just asking." She lowered her voice. "Well, do you?"

Max looked totally spooked. "I guess, I dunno, we thought maybe we were exempt or something."

She bopped him on the forehead. "Morons."

I blew my nose on a cocktail napkin. "Look, Janine. Before Michelle, I never had sex with anyone – except that woman in the car, and we didn't actually–" Everybody was looking at me again, like I was a rare germ under a microscope. "What? How do you think this whole thing started?" I felt totally exposed and my lip began to quiver again. "With Michelle, I mean Max, we're part guys, ya know, so there didn't seem to be any need to..."

"Lame, totally lame," said Janine, rolling her eyes. "How can you two be so stupid? Honestly. This is all because guys hate to use rubbers."

"Could we please not do this now?" I put my head down again. "Oh, Jesus, what if it's true?"

Max was patting me on the shoulder robotically and his face had gone really, really white. "What... what do you want to do?"

I grabbed a handful of black tee shirt and got up in Max' face. "Listen to me. We have to have sex right now!"

"I think you guys had enough sex."

"Shut up, Keenan." Janine elbowed him in the ribs. "This is serious. This is real life. This is like, the life-cycle of a unique species of–"

"For Chrissakes, Janine, we're not on Wild Kingdom!" I turned back to Max. "Max. Sex. Now."

"Now? You can think of sex now?"

He still looked glazed and robotic and I shook him. "Snap out of it, Max. I can't have a baby. Do you hear me? We have to go have sex now, so I can turn back into a guy."

"Won't work," said a voice. I turned my head. Sydney Fucking Katchadourian was leaning casually against the bar.

"Who asked you?"

"Easy, Luca." Max put up a hand to stop me before I pasted the doctor one in the nose. "Maybe he can help."

"Yeah, right," I snapped, "like he's helped so far?"

Max ignored me. "Okay, Sydney, why won't it work? You mean she won't turn back into Luke? Or the baby won't go away, or–"

"Hold on! You mean I could end up a pregnant guy? Where does the baby go in a guy?" And then I had a worse thought. "Where does the baby come out of a guy?"

"Calm down, boys." Sydney folded his arms. He might be male now, but he still had that snotty superior look he had when he was a she. "Yes, in answer to your question, Luke, you would transfer back. But the baby would, too."

Both Max and I goggled at him, completely baffled. "Transfer…how?"

Sydney pointed at Max.

"Hold on!" Now it was Max's turn to look panicked. "You mean…I'd be pregnant?" Sydney nodded. "That's crazy! Babies don't move back and forth between parents!"

"They do if it's the baby of two Zero parents."

There was a stunned silence. Behind me Janine said, "Cool."

"Look. I know it doesn't seem to make sense, but then we don't make sense, do we?" Sydney pulled up a stool. "I mean, seriously – people who change genders? Is it any weirder that our babies would, ah, follow the female?"

"Yeah, it is weirder," put in Keenan. I'd forgotten he was still there. "Come on. It is."

"Shut up."


"Of course, the partner who has the baby will stay female from that point on." Sydney threw in casually. "Something to do with chromosomes and hormones and–"

"This you just mention now?" I grabbed Sydney's lapels. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Whoa, whoa, take it easy with the fabric! That's a silk blend!"

"I have to go throw up," I announced, releasing Sydney and stumbling toward the bathroom. I was so messed up I totally bypassed the Ladies Room and staggered into the Men's Room, scaring a couple of bikers who took one look at my face and ran for the door.

When I came back, Sydney had made himself at home and was chatting about gay sex with Janine, who seemed a little too interested in the logistics. Max and Keenan were at the other end of the bar, Max drinking heavily and Keenan making smart-ass jokes about "Big Daddy." I slid onto a stool and grabbed the bartender's sleeve. "Jack Daniels. Straight up. With a blackberry brandy chaser."

"Hey," said Max, "should you be–"

"False alarm." You could practically hear everyone's head snap in my direction. "Give us a little privacy, willya, guys?"

"So," Max said slowly, "you're not, we're not…"

"No. Thank God."


There was something funny about that "Oh." I pushed Keenan off his stool and moved closer to Max. "You sound disappointed."

"I dunno." Max looked at me, and then at the bar, then back at me. "Maybe a little. But hey, for a while there, that was pretty freaky."

"Which part freaked you out more – the being the father or the mother?"

He gave me a lopsided grin. "Both. All of it."

"Me too." The drink arrived and I took a big swallow of Jack and choked down a gulp of brandy. "Yecch. Stuff still tastes like crap."

"I mean, Luke. Luca. You gotta admit we're pretty young to be raising kids."

"Yeah." I took a smaller sip. "But if we were, if I was…would you…" He looked at me, one eyebrow cocked. "Don't laugh at me, Max."

"'M not laughing. Would I what?"

"Would you stay around. If I was pregnant."

Max sat back and folded his arms. "You're a total jerk."

"Don't call a lady a jerk."

"You're no lady."

"Yeah?" I stuck my tits in his face. "What're these, then?"

"Okay, okay, I concede the point. You're as much a lady as I am."


"But seriously, Luca." Max put his beer down and ran his hand through my hair. Felt nice. "Do you honestly think I'd leave? I…love you, man. I'd love you if you had our baby. I'd love you so much, I'd have our baby."

"Really?" Damn those hormones; I was tearing up again. "You'd have the baby? You'd do that? You'd really stay female forever to have our baby?"

"Well," he said, leaning so close I could see the gold flecks in his eyes, "I did start out as a girl."

"No way!" My brain officially hit overload at that point, so what else could I do but kiss him? It was a pretty good one, too, possibly world class, because Keenan and Sydney and Janine started clapping. We broke apart. "You guys suck," I said over my shoulder.

"So," Max said, and I was amused to see he'd turned that pretty shade of red again, "Sydney. You want to fill us in on the details about this 'baby-transfer' thing? And the 'giving birth and staying female' stuff that happens to Zeros? You know." He put his arm around me and squeezed. "For future reference."

"Ah, that," Sydney said, and stood up. "I made all that up." He took a sip of wine and smiled in a way-too-smug manner. "You guys are entirely too gullible."

"You asshole!!" Max held me back before I rearranged Sydney's face. "Are you fucking shitting me? You jerk us around like that?"

"Just having a little fun." Sydney put down his glass. "I have to run now." He glanced over at his boyfriend, who was waiting at the door. "Duty calls."

"More likely 'booty,'" quipped Keenan.

"Take some advice, though," Sydney said, and threw a packet of condoms on the bar. "Next time, plan ahead."

"Yeah, whatever, Sydney," I muttered. "Anything else you want to clear up before you go?"

"Nope." He walked to the exit and wrapped his arm around his boyfriend's waist, and called as the door closed behind them, "well, except for that part where zerophiliacs tend to have sextuplets."

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