“Weird...” Casey frowned, pushing the door closed. Angel was waiting right behind her, causing her to jump, and squeak just a little. “Jesus!”
“Sorry?” Angel giggled. “Who was at the door?”
“Our dorm guardian, Stephanie. She gave me these...” Casey held up the orange bottle with a frown. “She said they’d ‘help me fit in’. Weird huh?”
Angel grabbed the bottle and started to read the label. Her eyes widened, and she almost squealed,“You might want to take these sis. It says to take two a day and its prescribed to you so don't let anyone else take them.” She looked at Casey seriously.
“What?” she blinked, leaning closer to actually read the label. She almost let out a squeal of her own, “Does that say what I think it does?! How did they... I mean... How could they...” Her hands started to shake, and Angel quickly grabbed her in a hug.
“We can ask Bethany when we go talk to her. But now you don’t have to worry about guy puberty and all that weird crap we learned about in health class!”
Casey stared at the bottle. “Should I take them now?”
“Well, Stephanie is a dorm guardian, and Ms. Anderson said they’re like parents, so I’d go for it. What could possibly go wrong?”
Casey nodded her head and went into her bathroom, grabbing her mouth rinse cup and filling it with water. After taking two pills from the bottle, she swallowed them, “This is like a dream come true here Angel. I think we might still be in comas or something!” she called out from the bathroom.
Angel laughed as she sat down at one of the vanities, opening drawers to see what she could find in the way of a hair brush as she called back, “Tell me about it! If this is a dream I don’t want to wake up. Hey maybe we’re in heaven?” she added, continuing to giggle.
“Maybe but wouldn't mom and dad be here and even Auntie June?” Casey replied as she came out of the bathroom to get a brush for her hair.
“Mom maybe,” Angel mumbled under her breath.
“Hey I loved Auntie June; she understood me!” Casey giggled as she began to brush her hair, “I still want a pink streak like yours by the way.”
“Gah! Don’t sneak up on me like that. I thought you were still in the bathroom. Anyway I wasn’t talking about Aunt June,” Angel shot back with a smirk. She added a moment later, “I was just thinking the same thing though. I know we’re not identical twins, but I think if we did something with your hair we could be pretty darn close. You really do look just like me.”
Casey smiled and giggled. “Mom always said she had a hard time telling us apart except I had extra baggage.”
Angel stuck out her tongue. “She just didn’t want to face the fact that she had two daughters. I mean it was pretty obvious,” she sighed as she started running a small, new pink brush through her hair.
“Auntie June knew she had two nieces at least. Remember that summer when we were 8 and we stayed at her house?” Casey smiled thoughtfully as she reflected on their mom’s sister..
“And she let you wear that extra nightgown I ‘accidentally’ packed,” Angel grinned innocently.
“Oh yeah, and the hair barrettes that she bought me, but told me I had to leave; I was so sad.” Casey sighed as she finished brushing her hair.
“Oh my God. I am so taking you to Claire’s,” Angel suddenly announced, grinning.
Casey’s eyes lit up. “You finally going to get your ears pierced too? You know how much mom hated the fact that you wanted them pierced.”
Angel replied in her best mock-annoyed mother tone, “I didn’t get mine pierced until I was eighteen,” before giggling loudly.
“She was such a prude sometimes,” Casey whined. “I asked her if I could streak my hair, and she flipped a lid on me, she was like, ‘Boys don’t do that, and if I knew your sister was going to i'd have stopped her and tanned her ass.”
Angel stuck out her tongue. “That’s why I didn’t tell her. Aunt June used to say it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.” She stood and approached Casey.
“You got grounded for the rest of the summer. That's why we were going to Grandmas remember? Well, that and my dressing up” Casey sighed.
Angel giggled. “Lemme just fix one thing.” She ruffled the back of Casey’s hair a little with her hand to make it look fuller. “Good thing Dad never made you get this cut. God knows he threatened often enough.”
“I told him that hair doesn’t make a man.” Casey giggled. “Attitude makes a man, and he agreed.”
“Y’know the same’s true for us girls,” Angel shot back as she returned to her vanity. “If you think girl, accept yourself, it’s a lot easier for others to accept you. That’s what Mom always told me anyway, about, you know, growing up and avoiding trouble with boys and stuff.”
Casey looked at her sister and smiled. “Let’s go next door and get this over with so we can come back here and plan the rest of our day?”
Angel hopped up with a nod. “Yeah. I need some lip gloss. I don’t care if we are too young for makeup, I can’t live without mah lip gloss!” she replied mock-dramatically before heading for the door.
Casey giggled. Standing up she went to grab both the Android phones and then joined her sister at the door, handing her one of them. “I think we might need these.”
She turned hers on and used her thumb to literally ‘thumb’ through the apps. Pressing the allowance app icon, her jaw dropped. It listed her current balance in several different currencies as well.
“Hey, check your balance for your allowance, and tell me how much they gave you and then I’ll show you how much they gave me.” Casey giggled as they approached their neighbors’ door.
Angel looked at her phone, fiddling with it until she found the power button, and then knocked on the door while the device played its power-up tone.
“Une seconde, sil vous plaite!” came a very feminine voice from the other side. Casey and Angel blinked and glanced at each other as the door opened, and a black-haired girl in a yellow tank top and white cargo shorts pulled the door open. She looked between the two and smiled sheepishly.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought that was Stephanie. She is always teasing me to work on my English so I thought I would fight back. You must be Angel and Casey yes?”
They both nodded, “You kinda confused me for a second. I thought maybe we teleported somehow to France.” Casey giggled. “With how weird our days been I wouldn’t have been surprised either.”
Jolien laughed, “This place does remind one of a certain infamous magic school,” the girl teased. “I am Jolien. The Headmistress asked that I show you to the front office whenever you’re ready - or anywhere else you might need to go on campus.”
Angel replied, as her phone finished loading, “Well Casey and I wanted to go to town maybe and get some things that they didn’t after we go to the office.”
“Oh, well if you want someone to show you around the town I am certainly available. I need to pick up a few things as well.” Jolien paused to reach out and catch a few strands of Angel’s pink streak in her fingers, giggling. “I love your hair, by the way.”
“Thanks! I’m going to do my sister’s like this later,” she added with a giggle.
“Then you two as they say will not be able to be told apart?”
Casey blushed a little as she nodded. “I hope not. We’re not identical twins, but we are twins. I always wished we had been born identical though.”
Jolien giggled. “You are close enough that I can honestly barely tell you apart already, for what that is worth.”
“A tour around town would be awesome though,” Casey answered, starting to shrug off some of her shyness. “How old are you anyway Jolien? You look older then me and Angel.”
Jolien nodded. “I am fifteen, but I will be sixteen in November. You two are... twelve? Or thirteen?” she guessed in a cautious tone, clearly not wanting to offend them.
Angel giggled, “Eleven, but we’re almost twelve.”
“That would explain the shoes,” she teased, quickly adding, “Just kidding. You both look adorable. I love pink, but I can not wear it. It looks like I robbed an easter sale when I try.”
Both girls giggled and replied, “I bet you would look cute in a pink dress no matter what you say.”
“Hot pink, maybe,” Jolien laughed. I’m a deep winter though so I have to be careful what I wear. Ironically everyone else WISHES they were a winter! Ah, but I digress. Have you gotten your … Ah, what is the word, stipend yet?”
“I’m waiting for Angel to look and see how much she got.”
“Oh!” Angel answered. “I forgot.” She held up her phone, pressed the clearly labeled balance sheet app, and very nearly dropped her phone. “Shut the front door!” she squealed.
Jolien, curiosity piqued, leaned closer. Her jaw dropped as well. She gasped something the girls couldn’t understand in French, and then cleared her throat. She paused, as realization dawned on her face. “I’m so sorry. Usually when someone receives an allowance like that it is because of inheritance... If there is anything that I can do, please do not hesitate to ask me.”
Angel shook her head. “It’s okay. Our parents were not the most loving people in the world.”
Jolien looked at the two for a second with a puzzled look on her face, “So are you both or which one of you is um, what is the word special person, no transgendered?”
Casey blushed furiously at Jolien’s question, but after a moment or two, a surprised look crossed her features. “Wait... You mean you... You can’t tell?”
“Um no, I cannot. You both look so much like girls.” Jolien kept glancing between them both trying to figure out which one was the boy or if they both were.
Casey giggled a little. “Um... Would you believe me if I said it was me?”
Jolien giggled. “No and I would not believe your sister either, but Pink house is not just for transgendered. It is for lesbian and bisexual as well. Though, between the three of us, I was born a boy, too.” She winked, a very naturally feminine giggle escaping.
“No way!” both girls exclaimed. “You can’t possibly be!” Casey continued, shaking her head.
Jolien smiled as she nodded, “Oui, I am. My old name was Juan, named for my great grandfather on my mother’s Spanish side.”
“I’ve always been Casey,” Casey answered sheepishly, “But I like it. I mean it’s really becoming popular as a girl’s name. But like, the thing that’s been baking my brain is how they knew. There wasn’t any psych screening that I know of. Our parents wouldn’t let me see a shrink, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to tell the school counselor...”
Jolien giggled a little and smiled reassuringly. “The adults here are all strange. They know things about us, but I do not mind. They give us a lot of freedom and allow us to be ourselves.” Jolien explained as she walked the girls to the elevator and swiped her Student ID card. The door opened and they stepped inside..
Casey backed up against the elevator wall, staring thoughtfully at her shoes, so Angel decided to continue the conversation. “Now I understand why they made an exception for me. I’ve always known Casey was my sister, and I’ve tried to help and support her. I guess they figured putting me in a regular dorm would do more harm than good, especially since they apparently know what happened to her...” She trailed off, scowling for just a moment.
Casey continued to look at her shoes till the elevator door opened at the second floor, and two red headed girls stepped inside. “Hey Jolien, new girls?” the one with blue eyes asked. She seemed a bit more obvious than Jolien that she had been born male, but it was still difficult to tell.
“Oui, yes!” Jolien announced cheerfully. “This is Casey and Angel. Angel is … ‘ow you say, ‘natal’? But you really cannot tell them apart can you?”
“Cool! Twins!” the other girl answered warmly. “If either of you ever need anything we’re just down the elevator. You’re lucky to be starting transition early,” she continued, looking over at Angel. “You’ll never have to endure male puberty. Ick.”
Angel giggled, pointing at Casey. “I’m Angel. That’s Casey.”
“... Oh! Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply-”
Angel started laughing, causing Casey to perk up and giggle too. “It’s okay. Even our Mom used to say that she could barely tell us apart half the time.”
“Except for my extra baggage was what she used to say.” Casey giggled more.
Jolien laughed. “It is with great fortune that you’re staying here... There is talk of someone planning to open a gender clinic here in Alpine Springs. The medicine you were given to take? I’ve been taking it too instead of my old hormone regimen.”
“Actually,” one of the redheads added, “She might just be on the initial puberty-blockers, given her age. You guys are... elevenish? So you won’t have to worry about puberty at all.”
“Twelve next month!” both Casey and Angel announced at the exact same time.
“Oh! Well in that case you probably will be asked very soon if you’re interested in the program.”
Casey dug through her skirt pocket and pulled out the small bottle, “This is what Stephanie gave me.” showing it to the other girls
The blue eyed redhead took the bottle and read the label, “Damn girl, they didn’t waste time with you did they? Straight to the hormones: that means your sister’s about to hit or already has?”
Angel blushed a little this time. “Um, well, they are a little itchy...” she answered. She had never really talked about it with any of her old friends, or anyone but her mother for that matter.
“Congrats girls, welcome to womanhood.” The other redhead giggled.
The Elevator stopped at the first floor, “Oh Lacy and I are going into town today if you girls want to join us?” the green eyed redhead mentioned.
“Sounds great!” Angel answered. “Jolien was going to show us around anyway. We can make a group outing of it.”
Jolien nodded, “Lacy and Danielle, I have to show these two to the main office first to get their cards then we can meet back here?” She smiled cheerfully, taking the girls out the front door and down the walkway, as the other two girls nodded and headed off to the student ran Starbucks.
As Connecticut summers go the weather outside wasn’t especially oppressive, Angel at least found herself thankful for the covered walkway as they followed Jolien. Casey continued to look around, taking in the surrounding campus as Jolien commented, “By the way, are either of you interested in a sport? Girls like us are allowed to play on girls’ teams so long as there’s no obvious advantage, such as a seventeen year old linebacker playing field hockey.”
“I’m not really that big on sports,” Angel answered with a shrug, glancing at Casey.
“Field hockey?” Casey asked. “Is that the one with those cute pleated skirts?”
Jolien giggled. “Well there’s more to it than that, but yes.”
Casey shook her head. “I played volleyball in PE a few times, I’m ok at it but not that good.”
“I am told the football-” she paused abruptly and shook her head. “The SOCCER for your age group is very supportive and welcoming, for what it’s worth, so I imagine the others are similar too. Anyway, I just thought I would mention it. You know, making awkward conversation,” she giggled.
Casey and Angel both nodded their heads. “Sorry we aren’t talking much,” they both said, and then Casey finished, “We had a long day already.”
“I understand,” Jolien answered. “Adjustment can be difficult at the best of times. Do you wish to talk about it?”
Both shook their heads, and Angel answered, “Not really. We kinda want to get over it and just get some retail therapy!”
Jolien laughed softly. Apparently she hadn’t been briefed on the girls’ accident. “Oh yes. Casey have you ever been out shopping as your real self?”
Casey shook her head. “This is the first time I’ve been dressed outside my sister or my room.”
“Oh God, you poor thing. You must be feeling so overwhelmed by all this then.”
Casey for some reason didn’t feel overwhelmed about being out dressed anymore. She shrugged thoughtfully. “Not really. It feels natural for some reason.”
“I’ll let you in on a little secret though. Just ask your sister - all girls your age are entering the awkward phase, like you probably learn in health class. But the real secret to retail therapy is the time you spend with friends, bonding. What matters is that you’re spending time with friends, and I can’t think of better ones than Lacy and Danielle.”
She pointed to the large, central building from which all the other additions and walkways seemed to sprawl outward, picking up the pace a bit.
“There are so many buildings here, and they’re so big; how do we get to the classes without being late?”
Jolien shrugged, glancing over with a smile. “They allow plenty of leeway for students to get to classes - about fifteen minutes I believe, but I am a new student here myself, only arriving at the beginning of summer so I haven’t started classes yet. I’ve been taking this time to get used to the new surroundings, meet fellow students, and learn the campus. The navigation app on our phones helps with that.”
“Oh speaking of phones can we get your number Jolien so we can text you?” Angel asked.
“Oh, certainly.” Jolien reached into the pocket of her shorts to retrieve her phone. “Here, you can borrow it to add directly. Add your numbers as well, if you wouldn’t mind?” she asked sweetly as she pushed open the doors to the affectionately dubbed ‘old building’.
The inside wasn’t at all what the girls expected. The floors, highly polished to a mirror shine helped the overhead lights to brightly illuminate the entryway, beyond which a pair of stairs led up to an open landing, with smaller connecting hallways leading to the left and right on both the first and second floors.
“The central office is just up these stairs. It is a workout the first few times, but once you get used to it, it is … ‘ow you say, buns of steel?” She winked at the pair and giggled, heading for one of the two staircases.
Casey being a bit better at technology stuff then Angel quickly added Jolien’s phone information into their phones as they huffed up the stairs, “Wow it seems like a lot of stairs.”
“It is two stories to the landing I think. Not certain what that equates to feet. Apparently the original builders thought it instilled a sense of authority. Bethany just likes having an office with a window view of the courtyard, I think,” she added with a mild giggle. “That is another thing though. The Headmistress loves for her students to call her by her first name outside formal occasions. Ms. Bethany too.”
Casey and Angel were huffing by the time they reached the top, “God that’s enough to kill someone,” Angel complained.
Bethany giggled as she strolled up behind the three, still dressed in her business attire, with the blatant exception of a pair of running shoes. “Now you know why I wear these, and only break out the heels when I have to. Jolien dear, thank you so much for showing these two over.”
“It was my pleasure Ms. Bethany.” She turned to the girls and smiled brightly. “Come back to Pink House when you have finished, and we’ll head out together, yes?”
Casey and Angel nodded. Bethany smiled and added, “After Casey and Angel speak with Dr. Logan you three can go out to town ok?”
“Oh, she stopped by earlier,” Casey answered. “That’s one of the things I was going to ask you about. At the time it seemed kinda weird... She wouldn’t tell me anything: just handed me this pill bottle and told me to take them.”
Bethany nodded, “They are safe. I would never let you take anything that would harm you, but Stephanie needs to explain how this program you’ve agreed to works, and before that you need to go through the door on my right and get your Student pictures for your IDs”
“Ohh,” Casey answered after a moment or two. “Um, before all that I just have one question first. … How did you know? I’ve never told anyone but Angel, and until just recently even my parents didn’t know.”
“The police report, dear. One of your neighbors saw ‘two girls’ through Angel’s open bedroom window. Further interrogation records detailed “the girls” being seen playing on several occasions. Since your parents tended not to let you out of the house very often because of your school bully problems, they apparently just assumed you were twin sisters. So, we made an educated guess.”
“But... for all you know I could’ve just liked wearing girls’ clothes,” Casey answered, a little concerned at the apparent guesswork involved.
“We could have got it wrong, but you would have been more confident in yourself in that case, so we did guess right.” Bethany winked.
Angel gave Casey a gentle nudge. “And y’know you sure as heck wouldn’t have gone along with things this far. I don’t know any boys who’d willingly stay in a pastel pink room even if they did like wearing panties or something,” she teased. Casey cracked a smile and giggled.
“I guess that’s true. And I’m not ungrateful. It was just really confusing. But this whole day’s been like that.”
Bethany nodded, “It gets better. I’m sorry for what you girls had to go through, and I hope you will get the most out of your education here.” she opened the door to the secretary's office. “If you have any further questions, you can go ahead and ask now, or you can find me later. If my door is open, then that means anyone can come right in.”
“How’d I get cleared to take hormones? I read on Wikipedia that it can take like, forever, with psych evaluations and stuff.” Clearly, Casey had taken whatever resources she could find on the subject despite her parents’ best efforts.
“We do things differently here. You can see a psych here if you feel you want to, but we aren't bound by traditional medical theories here, as well as some other things, but none of that is a worry for you.” Bethany smiled.
“One last question. When did I ‘agree’ to this?”
Bethany giggled. “When you signed the papers at the hospital, dear. Didn’t you read the last page? It was hard to miss.”
“Oh... I guess I did miss it.” Casey frowned. “May I see another copy? I don’t want to pull myself out. I just want to know what I agreed to.”
“Of course you may. Stephanie will make that available to you once you’ve finished with your I.D.s”
“So when do we get our wands?” Angel teased as she stepped into the office.
Bethany almost blurted something out but caught herself, “Wands are for witches in stories Angel sweetie.” as she watched Angel and Casey enter the office.
“Sorry. Bad joke. This place is like Hogwarts for Casey, and I guess me too.”
Bethany giggled as she shut the door and behind the desk sat a mid 30’s looking male with brown hair, on his desk there was a plaque that said Drake Morrison. “Hello Ladies, here for your student IDs?”
“Yessir,” both girls answered.
The man smiled. “Ok whoever wants to first needs to step on that yellow tape on the floor near the white wall.”
Casey stepped on the line first and got her picture taken then Angel followed next. “See that was painless. Give me about 5 minutes and I’ll have your cards ready for you ok?”
“Sure,” Casey answered.
“No problem,” Angel added, in such rapid succession that it sounded like one sentence from a pair of stereo speakers - left and then right.
The man laughed as he waited for the laminate to dry, before handing them their cards, “Ok so this ones for Casey,” he said as he handed it to Angel, “And this ones for Angel,” he finished, and handed it to Casey. “You should be able to use it as a credit card in town right away, or at the ATM’s. Your pin number is your birth month and the day, but you can also change that via the app on your cell phones.”
The girls gave each other a kind of ‘This again?’ look and grinned as they exchanged cards, giving a cheerful, perfectly unified “Thank you!” … And staring at each other again.
“Seriously,” Angel started,
“Creepy,” Casey finished.
“Have a good day girls.” the man got up and opened the door for them to leave chuckling at the twins.
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