Pete woke up much earlier than usual feeling distinctly different. For one, he felt decidedly joyous, which just didn't happen at 6:40am, and the room smelled like rose petals and glitter. Suspicious, he tossed off the covers and sat up, reaching for his sweatpants, and realizing with horror that they clashed miserably with the t-shirt. How come no-one had told him at dinner last night? He quickly folded and stowed them, reaching for a pair of jeans and a shirt, fresh from the cleaners, mournfully contemplating his lack of gaudy ties. On his way toward the door he stopped twice to re-arrange the drapes, and once to properly align the edges of the pile of comic books on his dresser. Then he caught himself with a shake of the head. Something was definitely going on.
He stood on the landing for a moment, contemplating his next move. Was something wrong with the entire B&B, or just with him? Then he heard a noise, and quickly crept down the stairs to investigate. When he turned at the corner, he suddenly saw Myka and HG. Myka was pushed up against the wall, Helena pressed against her, their hair tousled, robes over their pajamas and their clothes in disarray from their hands roaming, kissing leisurely, with eyes for no-one but each other. It should be every guy's dream... but he didn't feel a thing! And then he suddenly realized what was wrong.
"Myka! Myka! Myka! HG! Oh my god! We all woke up gay!" He rushed down the stairs.
They jumped apart and hastily started straightening out their clothes. Then Myka froze and looked at him. "What did you say?"
"It makes so much sense! We must have all woken up gay! I woke up with a strange desire to re-arrange the drapes and color-code my outfits, and here you are making out, and I don't even think it's hot!"
They were interrupted by Claudia ambling down the stairs, wearing every item of black clothing and every chain in her possession, her hair slicked back, and six, no seven, different rainbow buttons. She stopped at the bottom of the stairs, ogling Myka and HG and letting out a whistle. "Looking *good*, ladies." Then she froze in place. "Whoa. Something is seriously weird."
Pete almost jumped up and down, gesticulating grandly. "See?! See?! That's what I mean! We've all woken up gay!"
Claudia smiled brightly for a moment. "Oh! So that's what this is! Wicked cool, guys!" Then she remembered herself and put a proper scowl in place.
At that moment Artie swept in through the door, wearing a bedazzled spandex jump-suit, and a... Pete made sure he looked again, a rainbow cape. Everyone gaped. It was loud, outrageous, sparkling, should be silly, but all Pete could feel was envy. Maybe Artie would let him borrow the outfit later.
"Which one of you did this?!" Artie bellowed. Claudia could swear the windows rattled.
Myka was looking thoughtfully around. "Well, clearly it has affected us both here and at the warehouse. Artie, when you were driving over, did you notice anyone else being… well, gay, or is it just us?"
Artie sighed dramatically. "No. All the men showed a remarkable ignorance of proper clothing and sparkly colors, and I saw several women in beautiful dresses." He finished by humming the first bars of I Feel Pretty.
"Okay, so it's probably something we came in contact with or were exposed to yesterday, and it took effect during the night."
Helena elbowed Myka and hissed "Myka," but Myka grabbed her arm.
"Later. Let's backtrack our actions yesterday."
Claudia looked up from picking her nails with a pocket knife. "Wait, where's Leena? She was at the warehouse with us all day yesterday too."
"She usually meditates this time of the morning, right?" Helena lead the way toward the patio.
Leena was seated in a lotus position, facing the back yard, soft sounds of string instruments coming from a CD player near-by.
Artie studied her. "She looks unaffected."
Pete filled in, "Well, so do Myka and HG, but they were making out when I found them this morning."
Claudia perked up. "Alright, ladies! Way to go!"
Helena again looked like she wanted to say something, but Leena looked up then and turned around. "What's going on..." she trailed off as she saw them. "Oh, my."
Artie was striking a pose with his cape, his foot twitching a beat as he hummed the theme from Sound of Music, Pete was re-arranging the throw pillows on the outdoor furniture with a pinched look on his face, and Claudia was carving 'I ♥ Pussy' into the railing.
"Claudia!" Claudia abruptly drew the knife away, looking at Leena with a deer-in-the-headlight expression.
"I'm sorry, Leena! I don't know... I don't know what came over me."
"We all woke up gay today!" Pete announced.
Leena studied them. "I can see that."
"Why aren't you affected?" Artie grumbled.
"Well, assuming it's an artifact, I'm doubtful it has the ability to actually change someone's sexual orientation, but it probably taps into our preconceived notions of what being gay means and makes us act on them. Pete is dressing very dapperly and has has developed an interest for interior design. You are wearing rainbows and glitter and singing show-tunes. Claudia is looking butch and angry. Helena..." she trailed off studying HG.
"Was making out with Myka earlier!" Pete filled in triumphantly.
Leena smirked. "Right."
Helena elbowed Myka, and Myka frowned at her.
"As for me, I usually see people's auras before I notice their clothes or behavior, so in me it would probably express itself differently, I would guess..." She held a hand up to the light and studied it. "Yes, my aura has shifted a little more toward lavender. Interesting. I didn't notice that when I got up this morning."
"How do we fix it?" Artie was a study in dichotomy. Clearly upset and brooding about it, but at the same time unable to resist the urge to make sweeping gestures and smile toothily.
Leena shrugged. "We were all at the warehouse doing inventory yesterday. I suggest we head back there after breakfast and backtrack what artifacts we came into contact with and any in their general vicinity. Claudia can... Claudia! Stop carving on my railing!"
Claudia sheepishly lifted her knife from 'patriarchy sucks'.
"Claudia can look through the database and look for artifacts that may have caused this."
Breakfast was quick. Freshly squeezed orange juice, cereal, toast, Pete and Claudia ate at the counter in the kitchen, Artie by the door stomping a foot impatiently – coincidentally keeping the beat to chim chimney chim chimney chim chim cheree that he was whistling between bites, and Myka and HG argued in hushed voices over their tea mugs. Before long they were packed into the car heading back to the warehouse.
An initial search of yesterday's inventoried areas turned up nothing of interest, but Claudia had found a list of potential culprits housed in the warehouse.
"Here we go. Sappho's headband, Alexander the Great's drinking bowl, Oscar Wilde's pen, Judy Garland's slippers from the Wizard of Oz, a pink triangle from WW2, Liberace's piano, Freddie Mercury's spandex jump-suit... Oh my god. Artie, is that what you're wearing?"
"Oh, it's harmless, Claudia. As long as nobody plays Queen music in its general vicinity, I'll be fine."
Pete and Claudia both compulsively looked around for the CD stand, Claudia's fingers positively ached to drag her laptop over and type in "Queen" in her YouTube search field, but Myka cleared her throat.
"Right." Claudia exchanged one last look with Pete and regretfully went back to her list. "Finally we have Elton John's glasses, Madonna's bra, and a pair of bi-curious shoes. These are the ones most often associated with expressed or perceived gayness. But none of their descriptions really fit with our collectively waking up gay. They're all relatively harmless, except the pink triangle which is really scary, and they appear to only affect the person who's using it while they're using it. Nothing to account for this kind of long-lasting collective effect."
"So back to square one, then," Pete sighed.
"We'll have to go back over our aisles more carefully. See if there's anything out of place, anything that shouldn't be there, anything that might have been activated accidentally," said Myka. "Are you joining us, Claudia, or is there anything else you can do from the computer?"
It was Myka who eventually found it. Carrying it in her purple gloves she called for the others. "I think this could be it. I found it in one of those crates of unknown artifacts from Warehouse 12 that we've been going through. Who was working on them yesterday?"
"I was." Pete held up a hand.
"Did you do anything to these letters?" The stack was neatly held together with a string, 15 or 20 folded papers missing their envelopes.
"Not those letters, no. We didn't have time. I think... I think Claudia and I cataloged a few other letters in the same box, from some lady named Mabel to a guy named John." He watched Myka react to his words. "Are they connected?"
"They are. This is the other half of the correspondence."
Claudia piped up, "But that was written by some other people."
"Just different nicknames. Radclyffe Hall, RMH on these letters," she held up her stack, "wrote what has been labeled the first lesbian novel - The Well of Loneliness. Her first relationship was with a Mabel Batten, nicknamed Ladye, who gave Hall the nickname John. That's why the names on the letters don't match. The Well of Loneliness deals with the inability of 'inverts' - that's what they called gay people in the 20s – to be accepted by society. My guess is that by separating the letters, or in some other way 'activating' them, all of us who were here might somehow be compelled to act as our own stereotypical version of what an 'invert' is, to experience first-hand what it's like to be shunned for something one has no control over."
They stared at her. Well, everyone except Helena, who gazed lovingly.
"How do you know these things?" Pete asked.
"Grew up in a bookstore, remember?" She rolled her eyes at him.
"Well, let's go get them!"
They started toward the correct section, then Claudia asked, thoughtfully. "Why wasn't this in the computer?"
Artie answered that. "Do you have any idea how much *isn't* in the computer?" He skipped a few more steps down the aisle. "Especially stuff from the older warehouses. Have I ever shown you the filing section? It's huge!"
They found the letters on a shelf with an inconspicuous label. Letters. Origin: Warehouse 12. Special Nature: Unknown.
"Well," Artie said. "If they're like most bifurcated objects, we bring them together, let them get used to each other – they haven't been separated long so it shouldn't be too hard, and then we neutralize them."
Myka put her bound pile of letters on the one resting on the shelf. Nothing happened at first, but then Pete shouted excitedly: "Boobs!" But it was followed by a despondent sigh. "It still isn't working."
Everyone else rolled their eyes, and Claudia pulled out a purple zip-lock-bag. "It probably takes a little while to wear off. I'll bag them, and then if it hasn't started going away by tomorrow, we'll come back and look for something else."
Artie huffed. "Good." He caught a glimpse of his rainbow cape. "I'm going to go take this off now. That's a good sign."
The next morning Pete woke up early again and was fearful for a moment when he smelled flowers and heard birds chirping before he realized the window was open, and there were both birds and flowers outside. He sat up, and to his contentment felt no desire to re-arrange the drapes, and his old worn sweatpants looked only comfortable. Excited about the day, he threw them on and headed downstairs for a cup of coffee, to be followed by watching some sports on TV, or maybe surfing the web for some porn, or... and then he almost tripped over Myka and HG, making out at the bottom of the stairs, completely oblivious to his presence.
"Oh my god, that's so hot..." And then he realized with a sinking feeling, "Why are you kissing? Didn't the neutralizer work?"
They jumped apart, quickly straightening their clothes.
Helena elbowed Myka. "We should have just told them yesterday."
"I know, I know..." She met Pete's eyes. "Pete... I. We." She took a deep breath. "We didn't wake up gay yesterday. Helena and I are... involved."
"What? Why didn't you tell me?" He looked a little hurt.
Myka sighed. "It's only been a few weeks. We weren't... it was so new to us, and with us working together as well, we just didn't know how it would work out..." she turned to smile at Helena over her shoulder. "But it's been wonderful."
Pete whistled. "Dudes! That's so hot! Lesbians under my own roof! Wait. You've been involved with guys. How are you lesbians?"
They rolled their eyes in tandem. "We're bisexual."
Helena tugged on Myka's hand. "Myka, darling, what say you we continue this in my room. Less risk of being interrupted."
Pete stepped aside and let them pass, speculatively eying them as they headed upstairs. Myka spoke without turning around. "One fantasy, Pete. One moment of imagination, and I will know exactly when you're thinking it and I'll do... I don't know what I'll do, but rest assured it will be painful and traumatizing."
"Oh, it'll be worth it..."
Myka growled, "I think I liked you better yesterday..." and then the rest was lost by Helena pulling her into her room and closing the door.
Pete smiled happily. He definitely was back to his old self.