The Girl for Me
So Kevin moved into his new apartment. It was rather barren: boxes stacked to the ceiling along one wall, nothing at all to sit on, kitchen completely empty, no bed.
There was going to be a lot of shopping before it was livable.
"I want a water-bed!"
"Oh for chrissakes, Kev – what, is it the 80's all over again? Maybe we should get some black-light posters, too... Oh! And put in green shag carpet! High-five!"
"Curtains and sheers and valences, with pull-backs and-"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"But this one vibrates and swivels and rocks and reclines and-"
"What about that one?"
"You gotta be kiddin' me. It doesn't even have cup-holders in the arms..."
"Excuse me, sir? - do you have these in taupe?"
"Yes we do, madam. All colors are in stock."
"But it's huge! You could probably fit two... Okay, yeah. We'll take it. What's 'taupe'?"
"Taupe is the color that matches your end-tables."
"Oh. What's an end-table?"
"Furniture. Along with curtains and the rug, it's all part of our decor."
"Oh. What's 'decor'?"
"'Decor' is... is what I'm in charge of, sweet-heart..."
"... has three different sizes of saucepans, and a dutch-oven. The skillet will be a give-away – too bad, stainless and all - but the sides are just not deep enough to-"
"Fine fine fine – gawd, would you shut up and just buy it? Shees! I'm gonna go look at plates or something..."
"Whoa – hold on there. You think I'm letting you pick out the plates all by yourself? I'm the cook. I get to pick the plates."
"Oh god... I am not eating off Spiderman dishes!"
"Okay... so... ya ready, Kev? She's probably gonna squeal. If you thought she was bad at the mall... it'll be nothing compared to this. You really do look hot in that tux, by the way," Dani said. She had just finished her make-up, and she and Kevin were about to head downstairs to show themselves off to Dani's mother and sister. This would be the first time they'd see Dani in full regalia – including make-up, jewelry, perfume... the whole deal. Kevin was finally taking her to that concert – something about "Strings of Winter", or some damn thing – Kevin couldn't remember. It was classical, it was formal, it was what Dani wanted. That was enough.
"And you're beautiful in that dress. But I still don't see why you didn't get a new one... I mean, I bought you that for a funeral..."
"Because I like it, Kev! And... so do you. You helped pick it out. I like that about it, too... Besides – it's not like I need a new dress every time I go out."
"I just thought you'd want something new... I know how women are about that."
"And it would've been fun for me to go shopping and help you pick-"
"Okay, Kev? No offense – but you're getting a little too... 'gay', even for me."
Kevin smiled at that. "Okay, okay... let's go show the fan-girls, then..."
There was indeed squealing. And now there were two cameras.
"Oh! Oh! Back up a little more – I need to get the shoes..." Stacey said.
Kevin wondered, while checking what was behind him and he and Dani edged towards the fireplace, "Shoes? Why?"
"It's a girl-thing – you wouldn't understand. Men don't 'get' shoes. Okay, hold it! Cheese!"
"My little boy... all grown up... and her handsome boyfriend..." Mrs. Rainier said with dripping sentiment, pointing her camera as well.
"Geez Mom... why don't you just break out my birth video? Gyah..."
At the intermission, Kevin went to the restroom, then bought two Sprites. He found Dani still waiting in line for the ladies' room, but at least she was only six people away from the door, now.
"My god – still waiting?"
"Suffering is a woman's lot, Kev. Just hold on to that drink for me, okay?"
"Sure. Look – the men's room is empty. I could stand guard while-"
"Oh, no way! The men's room? Gah! You guys are so filthy in there... no thanks. Although – thinking about it – sometimes the women aren't much better..."
The woman behind Dani interrupted them, "Oh, that's so true, isn't it? I don't know what some of the girls are even doing in there... But at least we flush," she said, smirking in Kevin's direction.
"Hey! We flush! ... Usually..." Kevin said defensively
"Sweet-heart?" Dani said to him, "Go find some men and talk about NASCAR or something, okay?"
"Go away, Kevin!" Dani and the other woman both giggled.
Kevin went away, looking for a conversation that included words he could understand. He didn't have much luck – most of the concert-goes were gray-haired. Or bald. Many of the conversations sounded like they were medical in nature... He glanced over to check on Dani - she was still two people from the door. It was going to be awhile. He headed outside for some fresh air – but didn't find it, of course. Thats where all the smokers had gone...
"Kevin!" Uncle Keith shouted from the foot of the steps, where he was furiously puffing on a cigar. Kevin made his way between the smokers and joined him down there.
"Hi, Uncle. Didn't know you were going go to be here..."
"And I, of course, never imagined bumping into you, either," he glanced at the two glasses Kevin was still holding, "So... you brought a date, it appears..."
"Good! Good, so – everything working out well on that front, then? All made up?"
"Yeah, we're all made up. She even calls me 'sweet-heart' now. And all I had to do was put her out when she caught on fire. Too easy."
Uncle Keith laughed, "Do I even want to ask about that statement?"
"Probably not. I don't think I'm supposed to tell..."
"Then perhaps you'd best keep quiet, after all. Robert tells me you've moved out... I had rather hoped it wouldn't come to that."
"Yeah, well... We never did get along, much."
"I'm aware of that. But let me ask you this: did you ever try? Or did you presume that it was him who should have put forth the effort..."
Kevin couldn't answer that. It had never occurred to him before that he might be responsible – in any way, shape, or form – for his relationship with his father. Since Dani, though, he was becoming aware that it really was a two-way street. With a girl, that was obvious. It applied to parents too? That was a new idea.
"Well, no matter," Uncle Keith continued, "At least you have Dani back to keep you on the straight and narrow."
"Funny you put it like that..." Kevin said, making a pun out of 'straight'.
His uncle's face took on a more serious expression, "Not so much as you probably think."
"I hope you guys aren't talking about me," Dani said, coming down the stairs – under the many eyes of the men surrounding her, stealing glances. Kevin saw them turn back toward their buddies when he looked over, and felt a rush of pride.
"Dani! Hello again – I'm so pleased to see you two here – surprised too. I wager it took some arm-bending, eh?" He stuck his hand out in her direction.
She took it, shook it, and then proceeded to give Uncle Keith a Level One hug – mostly protocol, but a hug nonetheless.
"We women have our ways," Dani said, smiling brightly at him.
The old man smiled, "Yes... I remember. Any culture or dignity I may appear to possess is entirely my late wife's doing, I assure you. You've changed your hair..."
"Oh, uh... yeah. Just thought it was time for a change. And that is a very handsome tuxedo..."
"This old thing? Just something I threw on," he chuckled – it was a $5,000 Armani, not counting several hundred dollars of custom tailoring, "Anyway – I'm glad to see you exposing Kevin to some of the finer things. The two of you should come back to my home, sometime. Perhaps make a weekend of it."
"Oh, well," Kevin said, trying to think of a way out, "I sort of promised Dani we'd go skiing next weekend..."
"Perfect! The Chedabuckto Slopes are right next door, you know. Well, twenty minutes away. You can ski all day, and we can talk all night. I would like to hear about your plans for the future... and there are certain – other – things we need to discuss. Involving the school."
There was what Uncle Keith was after, and both Kevin and Dani knew it.
"Uhm..." Kevin was still trying to find a way out of this, but Dani knew that the man wasn't about to take 'no' for an answer.
"We'd be happy to come up next weekend, Uncle Keith," she said.
"Dani..." Kevin looked at her as if she'd over-stepped her bounds.
"Sweet-heart..." Dani said, mocking him.
Uncle Keith tried to suppress his grin, "Good – it's settled then," he interjected while he had the chance, "I shall see you on Saturday, when you're done skiing. Dinner will be at seven. Oops – looks like it's time to head back inside. Dani? Kevin. After you..."
They allowed Uncle Keith to herd them back inside, then he excused himself to go upstairs to his box seat.
"Dani... 'Our plans for the future'? Do we have any?"
"Something tells me we will after next weekend, Kev."
"Great. Just great."
"Gentlemen, ladies..." Headmaster Gottlieb said, "let us get started, please..." The small-talk and muttering quickly died down in the Staff Conference Room. They were all eager to know why the meeting had been called.
"As you all know, St. Augustine's has a long tradition, dating back more than a hundred years. We stand for Tradition, and Traditional Values. That is what the parents expect their children to learn here – and by God, so they will. I don't think any of you can have failed to recognize the growing element of homosexuality raising its ugly head here. I will not have our school become a bastion of support for the Gay Agenda, and I want to know what we are going to do about it. Now, we cannot just expel them – the press would love that, as would many a disreputable lawyer. But this phenomenon must be put down. Any suggestions from the table?"
The Headmaster was met with silence, a good number of unbelieving stares, and several frowns. He misread the frowns as signals of agreement with his distaste for what he saw happening in the school.
"Well, perhaps you haven't been thinking about a solution to the problem as much as I have. That is my job, after all. Our first priority, I think, must to find out just how many – and who – we are dealing with. To that end – I want the teachers in all departments to start sending me the names of students they have good reason to believe have homosexual tendencies. GOOD reason – that means reasons that will stand up in court, if it comes to that. Witnessed episodes of homosexual behavior or speech."
"Lists? You want us to provide you with lists of names?" one of the department heads asked, not quite able to believe what he was hearing.
"Exactly. The first step in a battle is to assess one's enemy – wouldn't you say?"
"Well... I'm not so sure they are the enemy... what harm does it do if a boy likes another boy?"
"Would you elect such a boy to office? Want him to perform surgery on you? Pay him tax-dollars to design a city? Or even – teach your children?" the Headmaster asked, and then, without waiting for a response, continued, "No, I thought not. I'll be expecting some names from each of you by the end of next week. That is all I had to say, people. Meeting adjourned."
"Didja hear, Jess? They want the names of all the homo's in school."
"They do? Where'dja hear that?"
"My friend Dana – his mom's Mrs. Metarie – she teaches French."
"No shit... how are they gonna know who's gay and who's not?"
"All the teachers are supposed to write down which kids are kissing and holding hands and stuff."
"Wow... Like Nazis... Weird."
"Yeah. Hey – wouldn't it be funny if everybody was on the list?"
"Heeeee! That'd be hilarious! Listen! I know, in Civics - I'll kiss you if you kiss me! 'Kay?"
"And we'll hold hands when we leave! Oh, hey – no kissing on the mouth, though..."
"Hey – you guys. Didja hear about the List?"
Kevin watched Danny pack for the weekend – his stuff was already in his car, which sported a ski-rack with two pairs of skis affixed to it; one old, and one new.
"You're taking dresses?" Kevin asked.
"Yeah. I think your Uncle Keith likes it when I'm a girl. That's how he thinks of me, I guess, since that's how we met. Besides – I know how much you like it. Couldn't even make it all the way back to the car after that concert, remember?"
"Well... Okay, that was kinna weird. I dunno why – I just had this sudden urge to see what it'd be like to suck a girl's dick. Can't explain it."
Danny chuckled, "So first you like boys, now you like cross-dressing boys, next-"
"I like everything about you," Kevin said, while Danny thought about what might be 'next'.
"Uh... next... Uh... I forgot what I was saying..."
"You were about to say you loved me."
"I love you. Thanks. I totally forgot."
"You don't think we should, like, get out stories straight about our 'plans for the future'?" Kevin asked. What his uncle had said to him still worried him. Were his 'plans' for Kevin to be revealed? Did Kevin even have a say in those Plans? Uncle Keith was so rich, and so powerful – it was scary to know that the man thought about him at all.
"Are you still going on about that? Kevin – I trust your uncle. It won't be anything bad." Danny opened his underwear drawer and began selecting things – things for either gender.
"You just say that 'cuz he likes you. -Don't forget the green ones with the teddy-bear on the butt – they're my favorite. He's always liked you. You've never been on his bad side."
"Well, maybe, but when you're on his bad side, what does he do? Nothing. Am I right?" While Kevin thought about it, Danny lifted a pink bra from his drawer and out it neatly in his suitcase. Then he stared at it, looking a bit forlorn.
"You're right. Uh... Danny? Something wrong?"
"Stacey keeps sending me these links about TG stuff. Testimonials, stories, places to get clothes an' stuff..."
"Why do I not think that's what's bothering you..."
"... and pills. Pills that... don't require a prescription."
"Pills that do... what?" Kevin asked as gently as he could.
"Pills that – if they work – would make me more girly, Kevin. Pills that would... grow boobs."
"Huh? They can do that with pills now? I didn't-"
"They're not approved or anything – all they have is testimonials and word-of-mouth. But... well... What if they do?"
Kevin didn't say anything.
"They screw with your hormones, Kev. Knock the testosterone down, stimulate estrogen. At least – that's what they claim."
"You'd really like to have boobs, wouldn't you..."
"That's just it, Kev. I don't know. I mean... I like not having boobs too... But, yeah, when I'm in drag... But I'm not in drag all the time. I... I don't know if I'd even want to be in drag all the time, see? Even if I could. But if I had boobs... well, I wouldn't have much choice. I guess I could wrap 'em down – sort of a backwards Victor, Victoria – a guy pretending to be a girl pretending to be a guy. I'd never be able to take my shirt off outside again... I think I understand why that was such a big deal to Stacey's friend now."
"I'd like you any way you are, Danny. I know you get tired of hearing it, though."
"I do not. It's just – you'd say that either way. I'm trying to figure out what I want! Because I can have 'em... 'real' ones, even. I just don't know... what I want... "
Kevin thought for awhile as Danny silently stared at the bra again. If anything in the world were out of his league, it was this. He wanted to say so many things, but in the end, this was Danny's ordeal, Danny's problem. Danny's body. There was nothing he could really say that would have any weight behind it.
"Danny? I can't really help you with this, y'know? I mean – I wish I could, I hate seeing you all bummed out like this – but I can't. Understand?"
"Yeah... yeah, Kev. I know. But if I wanna talk, you'll listen, right?"
"Of course I'll listen."
"Okay. I guess I'll think on it some more."
"Maybe you should talk to some other, uh, 'TG's... see what they have to say..."
"I know what they'd say – I've read enough of it on-line. Anyway, could you put this other suitcase on the bed, please? This one's full."
"Other suitcase? How many are you bringing?" Kevin had one over-night bag – and it wasn't even full.
"How many do you have room for? I still have to pack up makeup, shoes, toiletries, my hair-dryer-"
"He has hair-dryers, Danny..."
"He doesn't have my hair-dryer, Kev. You wouldn't understand. It's-"
"-a girl thing. I know, I know..."
Skiing was perhaps not quite as fun as snowmobiling had been – but only because Dani had never been before, and Kevin had to teach her every little thing, including how to get into a ski-lift – it was good comedy - and then how to get off, which was even more so. Kevin had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing for fear of hurting her feelings.
Her ski outfit was mostly white – with rainbow-colored trim. Not exactly "effeminate", but surely not "macho". More along the lines of "metro-sexual", and she did catch people staring at her, probably trying to figure out if she was a boy or a girl. She wondered if it ever occurred to those people to ask themselves why it mattered.
By mid-afternoon, Dani was shushing her way down the beginner's slope, Kevin right behind her, watching her hips sway from one side to another. It was rather... entrancing. When they got to the bottom, she hugged him and squealed just like she had when Kevin had passed his first state exam. They hit the slope two more times and she did that every time, just like the first. Moments like those were why Kevin had "turned" for Dani in the first place – although there was no way he could have known that. Or maybe there was... maybe his little voice knew.
Then, it was time to head for Uncle Keith's estate – where Dani looked forward to a hot shower, comfortable clothes, and perhaps, the company of the man himself. Kevin, on the other hand, was dreading it. He'd had few experiences with adults that weren't either infuriating or embarrassing, and often both.
The butler let in them and showed them their room – they were to share one, which they hadn't really expected. He also informed them that Uncle Keith would see them at dinner. At seven. Sharp. Casual attire would be acceptable, he added with a barely perceptible sneer. When they got to their room, their luggage was already there waiting for them, and Dani was stunned to find it there.
"How..." Dani asked. Their bags hadn't passed them in the hall or anything... how the hell...?
"Yeah – I know. Full-time servants. It takes a while to get used to – they'll be filling up your glass whenever you drink something, bringing you napkins when it looks like yours is dirty... it's kind of amazing. The thing to do is pretend they don't exist."
"That sounds kind of rude..."
"I know, but you almost have to do it that way – otherwise you'll be saying 'thank-you' every couple of minutes, and it gets old for both of ya. Look at it this way; they're paid to treat you like a king. Just let 'em do it."
"I'm not sure I like the idea of someone being paid to treat me like a king. Who the hell am I that they should-"
"Dani – we're in the world of serious money now. Don't make waves, okay? I can understand not liking it - but you're not gonna change it, either. Just go with the flow."
"I'll try. Now I'm starting to get nervous, too..."
"Toldja. See why he scares me when he starts talking about plans?"
Dinner was actually a non-event. Dani wore a rather conservative pleated blue skirt and a white blouse. Uncle Keith sat at the head of the table, Dani and Kevin to either side. He asked about their day, listened to Kevin's embarrassing stories about Dani, and watched with amusement as she tried to embarrass Kevin back, usually without success. Uncle Keith kept the conversation steered toward small-talk.
He also noticed Dani thanking the servants for every thing they did, either for her, for Kevin, or even for Uncle Keith himself. It was charming. She was charming, as usual.
After dinner, he steered them all into the drawing-room, where each of them took an (apparently pre-arranged) chair. Uncle Keith ordered brandy all around, but Dani changed hers to Coke. Straight-up, on the rocks.
"Now then," Uncle Keith began, preemptively.
"Here it comes..." Kevin mumbled.
Uncle Keith only laughed, "This will not be the Inquisition you fear, nephew. I've asked the two you here for this reason: I have a certain model of you in my head, you see. That model has turned out to be... rather surprisingly flawed, of late. And the time has come that I really need to get to know you better. As we seldom see each other – I simply thought this might be the best way to do that."
"Uh-huh. You said there was something about school, as well..."
"Yes, we'll get to that. Now, then – I said that already, didn't I – how did the two of you meet, if I may ask?"
"What if I say 'none of your business'..."
"Then you'd be quite right, technically speaking. Dani? Can you explain to Kevin why I have the right to ask him personal questions?"
"Don't bring her into-"
"Because you're related? Because you're not just some stranger off the street, but an actual, blood-relative?" Dani said, sounding not too sure of herself.
"Quite. Kevin – it's because my interest in your affairs goes beyond thoughts of how I might gain from the information. It's because I am concerned for your welfare – present and future. So I need to know your past. It may be that I will play a part in your future – then again, it may not. So. Your first meeting, if you will?"
Kevin looked at Dani. She nodded affirmatively, so he said, "I saw her at a party."
"You didn't know her before that?"
Dani filled in, "He knew me – but he'd never seen me in drag before. Uh, that means wearing women's clothes. He basically black-mailed me into tutoring him in Math and English. That's how we started seeing each other."
"What are you smiling about?" Kevin asked his uncle. This was humiliating enough as it was.
"I'm smiling because that sounds more like the nephew I used to know. It will be interesting to hear how he came to be the nephew who sits before me now. So – he black-mailed you into tutoring him. Did he also black-mail you into becoming his escort to my sister's funeral?"
Dani told most of the story, Kevin filling in whenever he could – the parts where he wasn't an ass. Uncle Keith seemed to be interested in the progress of the relationship – from enemy, to friend, to boyfriend, and Dani's part in it. They did leave out their "bad times" naturally, and Uncle Keith never did ask about their temporary break-up.
Eventually, they got around to the present, "And how are things now?" he asked.
"Well... we're, uh..."
"Have you said The Words?"
"What words?" Kevin asked. Uncle Keith only stared at him, and took a sip of brandy.
"Oh – those words. Yeah. Yeah we have."
"So you consider yourselves 'lovers', then..."
"Yes," Dani said.
"Good. So, Kevin. What will you do after you leave St. Augustine's? Dani still has a year to go..."
"Well..." Truthfully, he thought he'd just 'hang out' for that year, and then discuss what to do after that with Dani later. He couldn't very well say that, though. "I dunno... Maybe-"
"He's going to go to the Community College. He's going to get all A's, too. Then we'll figure out which university we're going to go to. I still haven't decided what to study... I'm thinking 'doctor', right now."
"Dani? We never discussed-"
"Yeah, I know we didn't," Dani said to him, looking serious, "I can guess what you were planning, Kev. You were planning on doing nothing. I'm sorry – but you know it's true. I can't let you do that, though – not if you want to go to college with me. And you are going to college with me. A good one, too – so you're going to have to catch up."
"That sounds like an... uh... what's the damn word..."
"Ultimatum," Uncle Keith volunteered.
"Kevin – yeah, okay, you have enough money and connections with even more – like your uncle here – that you could skate through your life without a care in the world. You'd probably end up one of those 'professional adventurers' who ski to the north pole or whatever, just because they can afford to. Well, I'm sorry – I've thought about it, and I'm not going to waste my life like that. I'm going to make a difference. I don't know what, or how... but I am. And if you want to be around me... well, you're either going to help or get out of the way. Sorry for being so blunt, but it had to be said sometime."
"Shit," Kevin said.
"Oh, c'mon – it won't be that bad. Remember how you thought it'd be impossible to memorize that page of formulas? Remember how you did? And the globe, too? With all the political boundaries, major rivers, mountain ranges, deserts, all those little islands in the Pacific? It's not that hard, Kev – you just need to focus and work at it! Don't you want to do something you can be proud of?"
"Why'd you wait until we got here to say all this?"
"Because I expect it'll take brute force to get you to do it. I can't force you to do anything – but Uncle Keith can."
"How you figure that?"
"I don't exactly know. I just get the feeling he can. There's no use asking him directly, either – he's too clever to just say 'yes, I can'. But I'm betting I'm right. So... Kevin? Are you going to fight me about this? We'd might as well start right here, if you are."
Kevin thought. One of the reasons he loved Dani in the first place was because it seemed he could do anything as long as she was behind him, prodding him, pushing him. No one had ever pushed him before. He'd passed his state graduation exams! How likely had that been, before Dani? He was going to graduate high school!
But college? Ivy-league - if he knew Dani - at that? Him? Dani, sure, no big deal for her... but, to go with her?
Kevin realized, sitting there with Dani and Uncle Keith waiting on his answer, that yes, he could do anything. As long as he was – with her.
"You're the boss. Boss. You don't need to bring out your Big Guns," Kevin said to her, and then turned to his uncle, "Apparently, Uncle Keith, I'm going to Community College. Where I'm going to get all A's."
Uncle Keith looked from Kevin's face to Dani's, and back again. They were waiting on him to say something, but he couldn't think what. Dani's outburst had caught him by surprise – he'd planned out this whole process – he'd even planned to interview each of them in private, later - and now Dani had obviated the need for almost all of it. Damn, girl...
"You are waiting on me to tell you want I intend to do, I think. Well... I did have ideas, yes... but Dani here seems to have taken my job over for herself. I'm afraid I'm actually speechless. Heh. This is not how I expected... Kevin? If you do nothing else, ever, you keep this girl. I mean it."
"She's not really a girl, you know," Kevin said, trying to sound like the smart one. He was feeling a bit like a puppy-dog being shown how to use the newspapers on the floor.
"No – please excuse me. You're quite right. I meant 'woman'."
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