The Scoobies Do: Chapter 3 - Gabi Shared

The Scoobies Do
Chapter 3 - Gabi Shared

by Jennifer Sue


 
From the kitchen they heard a car pull into the driveway and park up near the barn. Looking out, they saw Rev. Palmer Beech, Virginia Beech, and their daughter Sandy exiting the 2000 Taurus station wagon. Sandy, Rocky's nine year old sister, promptly headed over to a tire swing hanging from one of the large branches on a huge maple tree. Pops came out of the barn and waved a greeting to the first guests to arrive.

Gabe thought they were awfully early until he looked at the clock to see it 4:30. The cook-out was to start at 5:00. Where had the afternoon gone? Pastor Palmer Beech pulled out a couple of shopping bags from the back of their Taurus X and placed them on the stone counter on the right side of the fireplace then turned to talk to Pops while keeping an eye on Sandy. Virginia came into the kitchen to see what she could do to help.

"Moms, Buffy," Virginia greeted. Since Gabe had his back to her as she entered she didn't know who he was until he turned to face her. "Gabe... that is you? Well, I must say with your hair like that you look cute!"

Gabe blushed bright red. They were so comfortable he'd forgotten all about his pigtails! All he could manage was to smile sheepishly and nod his head in greeting.

"I've been calling him Gabi since I showed him how to put up his hair this morning," Buffy giggled. "It fits him better, don't you think?"

"Yes it does," Virginia chuckled. "It really makes you look like a girl. It's about time you let the girl you've been unsuccessfully trying hide inside come out."

"I told her the same thing," Moms chuckled. "Gabi and Buffy have been such good helpers that I'd completely forgotten Gabe is physically a boy."

"That's because Gabi is a girl," Buffy insisted. "She just has a birth defect that makes her body look like a boy."

Gabe blushed deeper as everyone kept reinforcing his natural girlish appearance and mannerisms. Maybe Buffy was right, what if his being in a boys body was a birth defect?

"Well, Gabi, you're certainly not the first girl to have such a birth defect," Virginia smiled. "If you can get a doctor to give you an official diagnosis that you're transgendered, they can start to correct your birth defect. They can even give you medicine to stop all those nasty male secondary sexual characteristics."

Gabe's head was spinning. He was just beginning to admit he might be somewhat girlish. Yet instead of being freaked out by his girlishness as he expected, so far everyone had not only openly accepted his emergent girlishness, they seemed to think it was long overdue and encouraged his rapid transition into girlhood. Maybe they knew something about him that he couldn't see. Or maybe he was simply in denial.

"It looks like you've got everything under control," Virginia said as she looked around. "What do you want me to do?"

"We were just ready to take the condiments, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, macaroni salad and potato salad out," Moms smiled. "Grab a tray and lets go!"

While Buffy and Virginia arranged the serving table, Moms took Gabi to the oven and asked, "Do you know how to check if the bread is done?"

"When I helped my mom bake, she always stuck a toothpick inside to see if it was done,” Gabe answered. “If it came out full of goo, it wasn’t done."

"Your one smart girl, Gabi. You do the same with bread," Moms smiled. "Open the oven and check the loaves."

As he opened the oven, the savory smell of fresh baked bread engulfed him making his mouth water. With toothpicks, he checked the crispy golden crown of each loaf and found they were done. Using an oven mitt and the pizza shovel, he deftly slid the loaves out one by one and placed them on the ledge to cool. After the last loaf was removed, he slipped the cupcake pan inside the oven and closed the door.

"You're certainly a quick learner," Moms beamed. “We'll check the cinnamon rolls in ten minutes.”

Pops and Palmer Beech were setting up at the fireplace grill. They'd already unpacked the rolls from the bag the Beech's had brought. The trays with the meats were ready to be put on the grill.

The familiar squeal of the tires heralded the return of the wagon with the drink filled cooler. Rocky doggedly pulled the wagon while Freddy perched atop it pretending to use a whip to urge on the draft ox pulling the wagon. Everyone smiled.

Two more vehicles pulled into the driveway. First was a beat-up 1974 Pinto station wagon. All four of Buffy's grandparents emerged from their well worn but dependable jalopy. The other car was an even more beat-up but equally serviceable 1970 Maverick hatchback that held Buffy's parents. Arie and Walt carried a few bottles of home made wine. Since Gabe was the only newcomer to the group, Buffy quickly introduced him to her grandparents and parents. They recognized Gabe from the many times he’d been in The Crateful Bread, and they’d always spoken to the quiet lad as they did with every customer. In addition to quality foods, a great deal of their success was due to the personal rapport they built with their customers. They all smiled and hugged him, never even blinking at his pigtails.

As they settled in, the dual deep throated roar from the dual exhaust of the 390ci engine announced the arrival of Brenda Bangs arrived in her immaculate classic 1965 Mustang convertible.

Freddy greeted his mom with a hug and led her right over to Gabe. "Mom, this is Gabi," he introduced.

"I'm pleased to meet you, Gabi," Brenda smiled. "I was hoping to meet you some time to thank you for turning in those hoodlums who tripped Freddy in the school cafeteria. It's refreshing to see young people still have enough gumption to do what's right. Your father has been nice enough to go after their parents for payment of Freddy's medical bills.”

"Rocky, you didn't tell us it was Gabe who stepped forward to turn in those bullies," Pastor Palmer Beech said.

Rocky just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

"Brenda is right, Gabe," Pastor Palmer smiled. "You did the right thing and we're proud of you."

Gabe blushed and smiled. "It wasn't like I had a choice," Gabe replied. "Principal Jass asked me who did it and I can't lie. I had to tell him."

"Even so, it was still brave," Virginia added. "Then to have those same guys twice try to assault you after school, well, they should be locked up."

"I think that would just make them worse," Gabe responded. "I hope my dad's threats of lawsuits keeps the school and their parents on their case so they straighten out."

"Whoa, dude, like, I've finally got a little sister," Eddie Bull said as he came walking up to the group.

Gabe almost wet himself as he spun around to face his big brother. The swish and swaying of his twin pigtails only seemed to accentuate his already too girlish presentation.

Then Gabe saw his parents coming up behind Eddie with perplexed looks on their faces as they looked at him. Suddenly he felt a warm wetness on his thighs as the world started to spin and then everything got black.

Fortunately Eddie was quick. He saw Gabe wobble a bit and saw the wet stain spreading before his eyes rolled back in his head. As Gabe's knees buckled, Eddie grabbed him and held him upright even though Gabe's head rolled lifelessly to one side. While able to react quickly, Eddie didn't know what to do with the unconscious Gabe. Pastor Palmer and Brenda Bangs stepped up and helped Eddie lower Gabe to the ground.

It was quite obvious that Gabe had fainted and lost his bladder control. It only took a minute or two for Gabe to start coming around. As he blinked his eyes he saw the concerned face of his mother. It took another moment for him to collect all his senses. Looking about he could see everyone was looking at him with great concern. Kneeling beside his mom was his dad. Fear engulfed Gabe as he realized he'd wet himself.

Before he could react, Buffy pushed through the onlookers to lay a large towel over the embarrassing dark wet spot. "Gabi, I'm so sorry," she sniffed. "I didn't want to embarrass you like this." Then Buffy turned to his parents. "It's my fault Gabi's hair is like this. I've thought for a long time he'd look so much cuter this way... and he does! I cajoled him into letting me fix his hair this way. He really looks like a cute girl now, which is such an improvement over his hapless male appearance. Besides, I think that inside, Gabi is really a girl! She's just been too afraid to even think about that!"

"Mom, Dad... I'm sorry I've disappointed you," Gabe apologized as he blinked back tears of humiliation.

"Gabi, you have absolutely nothing to fear," Faye Bull reassured her child. "Your father and I have talked about you possibly being a girl. We both think you need to loosen up and become the person God wants you to be. If that means you're a girl, then you're a girl! We love you and want you to be happy. Besides, I've always wanted a cute daughter to spoil."

"Your mother is right, Gabi," Lyle Bull added. "I'll be honest with you, I have a lot of reservations about you being a girl. But the bottom line is this is your life and we'll love and support you no matter what. I can't promise to understand and fully accept your need to be a girl right away, but your needs and desires come first and I'll have to adapt.”

“Why don’t you help Gabi into the house so we can clean her up,” Moms said. “Autumn, the goodies in the oven should be done in about five minutes. Buffy, can you find something for Gabi to wear?

“Sure” Buffy answered as she scurried ahead into the house.

Lyle helped Gabe to his feet while Faye made sure the towel remained in it’s strategic position. They followed as Moms led them into the house.

Moms showed them into the first floor 3/4 bath and told his parents to get Gabe out of his wet clothes while she helped Buffy find something to wear from the clothes she kept there. Gabe merely hung his head as his parents helped him undress.

“I’m really sorry,” Gabe said as he let himself be disrobed. “I don’t know why I let Buffy do this to my hair. I should’ve said no. I...”

“Gabe, enough,” Faye ordered. “Has anyone teased you about your pigtails?”

“No,” Gabe admitted softly.

“Okay,” Faye said. “What did they say about your pigtails?”

“That I looked good,” Gabe whispered.

“They were right,” Lyle stated. “You look cute in pigtails.”

“But I’m a boy,” Gabe sniffed. "I shouldn’t look good in pigtails! Only girls should look cute in pigtails!”

“Gabe, you do look good in pigtails,” Lyle stated. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but from the time you were able to think for yourself, you let us know you didn’t like doing BOY things. Oh, you always tried, and did quite well, but you never liked it and never wanted to continue. We know you’ve never been what’s called a normal boy, if such a thing even exists. That’s why I was so pleased when you agreed to take the self-defense classes. I also think you chose Metamorphosis School of the Arts because they require their self-defense students to take dance lessons.”

Gabe blushed and began to stammer

“Don’t even try to deny it,” Faye said with a chuckle as she used a damp washcloth to clean her son. “You played your hand quite well. We didn’t know you scammed us until your father checked their web site. You got us fair and square and you’ll get your rebuilt laptop computer.”

“I was afraid you’d get mad if I asked to take dance lessons,” Gabe mumbled.

“I probably would have been upset at first,” Lyle admitted. “But if you really wanted to take dance lessons, I’d have given in. Gabe, we’ve been concerned about you for a long time. You’ve never had any close friends. You’ve never wanted to get involved in any activities. That’s why when you started on this whole Abby Scuito thing, we never tried to stop you although we did try to keep you from going too far.”

“Like wearing pigtails,” Gabe almost whimpered.

“Yes, like wearing pigtails,” Faye sighed as she hugged Gabe tightly. “But we were wrong. You look good in pigtails. They look right on you.”

“So you think I should be a girl too,” Gabe sniffled.

“We think you should be yourself,” Lyle stated as he placed a reassuring hand on Gabe’s shoulder. “If that means you’re really a girl stuck in a boy’s body, that’s okay. If it means something else, that’s okay too. We’ll work this out together.

It was at that moment Buffy knocked on the door. “I’ve got some clothes for Gabi but you may not like them. Unfortunately it’s all I have here.”

“That’s okay,” Faye said as she cracked the door open to accept the proffered clothes. Her eyes went wide as she noted the pleated denim skirt and white panties.

“Sorry,” Buffy sniffed. “I normally wear skirts. It really is all I have. I don’t want to cause any more problems for Gabi. I’m really sorry I put his hair in the pigtails. I didn’t mean to cause any problems.”

“Buffy, settle down,” Moms said as she put a comforting hand on her great-granddaughter’s arm. “I’m sure the Bulls understand you never intended to hurt Gabi. No one will say anything about how Gabi’s dressed,” she continued. “But we’ll hold off grilling if you want to take him home to change.”

Gabe had heard Buffy’s apologies and realized she’d brought him a skirt. Part of him was horrified, but another part was thrilled.

“We’ll see what Gabi thinks,” Faye said as she accepted the clothes.

Gabe looked at the simple white cotton panties and pleated denim skirt and nervously swallowed. They looked so cute! Yet the idea of putting them on made his tummy churn with both desire and squeamishness. The expressions on his face flickered through anxiety, lust, excitement, nausea, curiosity and down right embarrassment.

"Gabe, we're holding up the barbeque," Lyle said. "I'll tell them to start grilling. Let your mom help you get dressed."

"B... but...," Gabe managed to stammer in stunned surprise.

"We can tell you're curious," Faye said. "Now is the perfect time to see if you like wearing skirts or not. Everyone here accepted your pigtails without any problems. I'm sure by now that Buffy told them she only had skirts to loan you. No one will say or do anything to embarrass you. They've accepted you for who you are, not what you are. Lyle, tell them we'll be out in a few moments."

"Okay," Lyle answered. "Gabi, I think you'll look cute in that outfit."

Gabe was in a daze. Not only had his dad accepted his pigtails, he was encouraging him to wear a skirt! The entire world seemed to have turned upside down.

"Step into the panties, Gabi," Faye gently ordered.

Gabe looked at his mom with tears forming in his eyes. The look on her face was one of pure love. With a timid anxious smile he stepped into the cotton panties. The lace edging tickled a bit and they fit his groin a bit snugger than he was accustomed, but they felt nice, much softer than his normal cotton jockeys. He tried to rationalize that underwear was underwear and it all served the same function.

"They fit very well," Faye smiled at her concerned son. "They probably feel a little different but you'll get used to them quickly."

Before he had a chance to react further, Faye held the pleated denim skirt out for him to step into. Almost mechanically he stepped into the circle. She deftly pulled the skirt into place about his waist positioning the zipper in the rear before pulling it up. As with the panties it was a perfect fit.

The skirt ended about an inch above Gabe's knees. His mind nearly overloaded as conflicting thoughts and emotions swirled through his beleaguered brain. The feeling of the denim pleats brushing against his thighs made him shiver. The sensation was at once enticing and condemning. How could something feel so nice and be so bad? Boys didn't wear skirts! But was he really a boy? Everyone was telling him he was more girl than boy. Even his dad! Physically he was a boy, but had he ever really FELT like a boy? For that matter, what did being a boy feel like? What did being a girl feel like? It was all too confusing.

"Gabe, it's okay," Faye soothed her son sensing his dilemma. "Don't worry about being a boy or a girl. Just be yourself. Everyone here simply wants you to be happy and will respect your feelings. If wearing a skirt feels right, do it! Of course there will be times a skirt would be inappropriate, but around friends and family, you're free to explore. I'm positive no one will laugh at or tease you and I’m sure no one will reveal the secret. Pops Winter may be old, but he's the patriarch of this gathering, and he will never let a welcome guest be hassled. When your dad and I had him in school, he was quite strict, but also extremely fair. He accepted everyone for what they were, not what others expected them to be. Since he's accepted you as Gabe and Gabi, you have nothing to fear."

Gabe listened and realized his mom was telling the truth. He'd been accepted as Gabi by everyone, even his jock big bro! Still nervous, he managed a timid smile. A pair of sandals completed his outfit.

"While you're dressed like this, I think it'll be best if we all call you Gabi," Faye continued once she saw Gabe relax. "Now, let's go join the picnic, I can't wait to show off my cute daughter!"

As Gabe walked beside his mom, the swirling skirt made him feel giddy. Since he'd first seen Abby over two years ago a very big part of him had wanted to try wearing a skirt. One of the things he liked about Buffy was her willingness to be girlish. It seemed that most of the other girls at school were trying to play down their girlishness in an effort to be one of the guys. Why they wanted to look and act like boys seemed dumb to him. He was a boy and didn't like the way he was expected to behave, so why would someone who had a choice to not be a yucky boy would want to behave like one didn't make any sense. Then he stopped dead and his mouth fell open.

When Faye looked to see why Gabe had stopped, she saw he looked as if he'd been gobsmacked. "Gabe, are you all right?

Gabe rapidly shook his head from side to side to clear his mind. Then looked at his concerned mom. "Mom, I was thinking and just realized that I really do dislike being a boy! But I'm not sure I'll like being a girl any better. Does that make sense?"

"It makes a lot of sense," Faye smiled as she hugged her child. "It means you're searching to discover who you really are. Your father just told you he didn't care if you were a boy or a girl or somewhere in between. We simply want you to be yourself and to be happy."

Everyone fell silent as Gabi and Faye stepped into the back yard. All eyes were upon the pretty but nervous new girl. Pops began clapping and the others quickly joined in adding a few approving hoots.

Gabi smiled in relief and blushed deeply, making a passable attempt at curtseying.

Buffy ran over and threw her arms about her new best friend. Rocky and Freddy quickly joined in a group hug. It wasn't too long until everyone had hugged the new girl. Gabi smiled at their open acceptance of what he thought was a radical change.

As the guests mingled, Lyle, Faye, and Eddie were told of the close friendship of Buffy, Rocky, and Freddy and that they were happily outside all the school cliques, just as Gabe now found himself, and that the three friends had invited Gabi to be the fourth member of the Scooby Gang.

As the food was being prepped, Sonny and Autumn invited Faye, Lyle, and Eddie to tour the Scooby Gang's hang-out. Buffy, Gabi, Rocky, Freddy led the way into the barn and up to the second floor. Gabi giggled as side by side he mimicked Buffy's sassy strut up the steps giving the boys teasing glimpses of their undies.

Eddie who was right behind Rocky and Freddy saw that the front pair were happily looking up the skirts of Buffy and Gabi. Eddie stopped dead as he stared.

"You'll get used to that," Autumn laughed. "Buffy likes to tease the boys by letting them peak up her skirts and it looks as if Gabi's a fast learner. You don't have to worry about them," she added to Faye and Lyle. "She doesn't do it in public unless there's plenty of people around. We feel it's refreshing to let them be free spirits."

Faye and Lyle exchanged perplexed looks. That Gabi had giggled and joined Buffy in flashing the boys spoke volumes about their son’s sexuality. Mutely they continued up the steps. They were amazed at the size of the area and quality of the facilities. The small kitchen, the bathroom, the sleeping loft, and the sitting area with all the computer, stereo and TV setup was amazing.

"You've gone all out for the kids," Lyle declared.

"It's mostly for the kids," Sonny chuckled. "But we adults gather here for the sports playoffs. It has everything needed for a great indoor tailgate party.

"With our parents just getting The Crateful Bread up and running, Sonny and I spent a lot of time with Moms and Pops" Autumn explained. "Moms and Pops set it up for us when we were little so we had a safe place to play with our friends."

"Of course, back then we didn't have all this," Sonny smiled. "We helped set it up like this over the years. Little by little it just grew and morphed into what you see now."

"Man, I wish I had a place to hang out like this with my buddies," Eddie exclaimed.

"Well it isn't going to happen," Lyle said. "If you and your friends had a place like this you'd be getting into constant trouble. We know Gabi knows how to behave and we're sure the others can be trusted too."

"And don't even try to finagle your way inside here with your friends," Faye added. "If you're invited in, it will be alone."

"Okay, I get it," Eddie smiled. "Anyway, I don't think I'll have much in common with the Scoobies."

"The Scoobies, I like that," Freddy mused. "I think it sounds better than the Scooby Gang."

"Yeah," Buffy agreed. "The Scoobies! I like it too! It'll hook us to the TV Slayer gang and yet we'll be different!"

"Well we're certainly different," Rocky chuckled.

"Thanks, Eddie," Buffy smiled. "From now on, we're the Scoobies!"

The four Scoobies smiled.

"Moms said I should tell you they're almost ready," Sandy Beech shouted up the stairs like a typical 9 year old sent to summon others to the table.

Everyone smiled and headed downstairs. The food was delicious and the late summer weather was quite nice even once the sun set.

As they ate, Gabi had an idea. "I'm going to be taking a self-defense class and a dancing class at the Metamorphosis School of the Arts. It'd be so kewl if all the Scoobies could do it together."

"That sounds like fun," Buffy smiled then looked at her parents. "Do you think I can join Gabi?"

"The cost is quite reasonable," Faye answered. "I was very impressed when we toured the facilities."

"They are a good school," Val said. "The school is next door to our store and the owners and staff are good customers. They said they'd give us a group rate if Buffy and her friends wanted to take classes together."

"The self defense class sounds good," Freddy said. "But I don't want to take a dance class."

"Me either," Rocky added. "I'll probably make a fool out of myself trying to take the self-defense class."

"That's the whole point of taking the dance class with the self-defense class," Gabi spoke up. "Both classes teach you how to coordinate your body and your mind. The school requires the classes be taken together because the results in both are much better. Besides, requiring a dance class to be taken with a self-defense class keeps any macho jerks out because they don't want to take a sissy dance class. If we take them together, we'll be able to help each other and none of us will make fun of the others."

"Come on guys, at least give it a try," Buffy urged. "Try it for a month and if you don't like it, quit."

"Rockford, I think it would do you a lot of good to take the dance and self-defense classes," Virginia Beech declared. "Any improvement in your coordination would be greatly appreciated."

Rocky sighed and nodded his head, "Okay, I'll try it." When his mom called him Rockford, he knew any discussion was ended.

Freddy laughed. "I guess I'm in too. When do we start?"

"What about me," Sandy pouted. "I want to go too!"

"We'll see if we can get in too," Palmer Beech smiled. "I just don't know if you'd fit in the same class with the others."

"If Val can call them Monday morning and let them know we want the five to attend," Faye said. "Then I think we should all go there Monday after school to get things set up."

So it was decided the Scoobies plus Sandy would enroll at the Metamorphosis School of the Arts. During ensuing discussions Gabi's skull flower patches came up in the discussion amongst the adults and Faye explained why Gabe chose that particular symbol. Everyone was quite impressed with his reasoning.

Palmer walked over to the Scoobies and waited for a chance to talk. They saw he was waiting and looked at him. "Gabi, your mother explained why you've chosen the skull flower patch," he said. "I know several members of our congregation are concerned about your Goth appearance. I was wondering if you'd be willing to try to do the Children’s Sermon tomorrow and explain to the children why you selected the skull flower?"

"Yeah, I'd like to know too," Buffy added to the accompaniment of Freddy's and Rocky's nodding heads.

"I guess I can," Gabi answered. “I'd have to make a few notes to organize myself but I can do it. Will it be okay if the Scoobies sit with me?"

"Sure," Pastor Beech beamed. "I'll redo my sermon a bit too to remind people not judge by appearances."

As the word spread of the plan, everyone was looking forward to what promised to be an interesting church service. As the meal wound down everyone pitched in to clean up and then it was home to bed so everyone could make it to church.

It wasn't until Gabi undressed for bed that he remembered he had worn a skirt all night! Everyone had accepted him and treated him as if it was the most normal thing in the world for a boy to wear a skirt. Of course, he was far from being an ordinary boy. The experience had been fun and felt so natural he knew he'd want to wear skirts again. Maybe he really was a girl stuck in a boy’s body! He was also smart enough to know that such a change had to be made slowly, one step at a time.

*****

Sunday morning Gabe dressed in full Goth mode, black ankle boots, dark green khaki cargo pants, and dark green sweat shirt. Although he would have loved to wear a cute skirt, he thought the first step to feminizing his appearance was just going with the pigtails. Again he decided to forgo wearing his beret and secured the twin pigtails with dark green yarn. An inch and a half wide black leather studded dog collar was snugged about his neck and matching cuffs adorned his wrists. The dark green nail polish and lipstick made his skin look pale. The skull flower patches adorning his clothes were unique to say the least. At first glance his appearance was startling. But his clothes were clean and unwrinkled, his boots polished and scuff free, his behavior was respectful and his manners and speech were polite.

While Lyle and Faye both had reservations about their youngest's appearance, they knew he was a good kid trying to create his own niche and had no desire to be with the 'in crowd'. They were just glad he hadn't asked to wear a skirt although they figured that would come up all too soon. Of course, ever the traditionalists, Lyle wore a suit and Faye a nice dress.

Eddie chuckled at his sibling's appearance, not in a teasing manner, but in genuine mirth. Unlike many people, but especially jocks, and Eddie certainly was a jock, he accepted people as they appeared. Even though his little brother looked more like a little sister, it didn't phase him in the least. As far as he was concerned, Gabe could be a boy or a girl. In truth, he was glad Gabe was pushing the envelope as far as what their parents considered acceptable attire for church. Eddie was able to get by without wearing a necktie! He didn't mind wearing dress pants, shirt, shoes or even a sports coat, but neckties... he detested.

Trinity UCC anchored the other of the Hickstown business district at 101-111-121 Main Street. The large stone building was built in 1929. The sanctuary had seating for 120 and the wrap around balcony would seat another 80. The basement hall could seat 150 for meals and doubled as Sunday School rooms. After the short walk to church, Gabe was met by Rocky, Freddy, and Buffy. Rocky, as befits a PK (preacher's kid) wore dress pants, shirts, and shoes with a sport coat and no tie. Freddy wore dress pants, shirt and shoes but wore a nice sweater vest instead of a sport coat. Then there was Buffy. She had put her bright red hair into Pippi Longstocking pigtails and wore a nice green plaid sweater and skirt combo with matching kneesox. The four freely exchanged hugs with no regard for what people might think, then linking arms, the Scoobies walked into Sunday School.

Virginia Beech was their teacher and welcomed the four friends into her class. The students already there recognized the four and while startled to see Gabe's hair in pigtails, were not really surprised. They accepted it as simply another of his quirks. Nor did it surprise them that Rocky, Freddy, Buffy and Gabe were together. The four oddballs of their class had finally banded together. A few late arriving boys did a double take as they saw Gabe and nudged each other and snickered, but created no further disturbances.

The class went smoothly and afterward, the four friends headed off to find their parents to get permission to sit together. After they received the okay, the four linked arms and marched down the center aisle to sit in the front pew. Their comradery and appearance evoked a great deal of whispering from the more staid members of the congregation. They kept a wary eye on the four.

The Scoobies sat quietly, sang the hymns with gusto, and spoke the responses with clear, unwavering voices. Even the snobbiest parishioners had been unable to find the slightest fault with their polite, respectful behavior.

Then after the bible lessons, Pastor Palmer Beech stunned the congregation. "The four youngsters sitting up front are social outcasts amongst their peers because they refuse to bow to peer pressure and expectations. They've come together and call themselves the Scoobies. They'll be doing the Children's Sermon this morning. So as the children from the congregation come forward, let me introduce the Scoobies. Please stand and turn to the congregation as I announce your name. Buffy Anne Summers, Freddy Bangs, Rocky Beech, and Gabi Bull."

Each in turn stood, smiled and waved to the congregation. Then Pastor Palmer had them sit on the top of the three steps to the sanctuary while about 15 younger children sat on the floor before them. While the youngsters got into position, Eddie, Lyle, and Virginia brought forward and set up an overhead projector on a small table and a projection screen. A transparency of the skull flower was placed on the overhead and focused so everyone could see it. Pastor Palmer gave Gabi a microphone.

"I know some of you find my appearance weird," Gabi began. "It is weird, and I'm weird too, but it's a good weird. I like a lot of things about being Goth, the whole dark clothing routine, the nail polish, the leather neck and wrist bands just seems to fit me. I'm just trying to be myself. But there is also some things about the Goth scene I don't like and don't do. One is I wear dark green clothes instead of black. I think the black clothing most Goths wear accentuates the dark side of things, that’s why I went with dark green. I firmly believe in Jesus and I know a lot of people are upset because of the skull patches I wear. A lot of people put up skulls for Halloween but are almost afraid of them any other time of the year. Most Goth skulls I don't like. Some are scary, some nasty, and a skull with cross bones means danger."

"Look at the skull I chose to wear," Gabi explained while pointing to the image on the screen . "It's a flower, the green leaves and green edging show it's alive and growing. When God created Adam in the Garden of Eden, he made him out of the dust of the earth. God puts our souls in our bodies just like we pour water into a glass. Our bodies are just the containers for our souls. When we die, our souls leave our bodies and go to live in heaven with Jesus. Since our bodies are like Adam's, when they die, they turn back to dust. That's called decomposition. A skeleton is made up of the bones inside our bodies. Since the bones are hard, the rest of our body turns to dust first, leaving only the bones, but they too eventually turn too dust."

"A lot of people take their grass clippings and leaves and mulch them," Gabe continued. "Mulching speeds up decomposition and once the leaves and grass loose their shape, they become like fertilizer to help make new things grow big, strong, and healthy. Our parents and grandparents teach us how to live good lives and to believe in Jesus. Their older lives refresh your younger lives. As you get older, you'll take your turn refreshing new lives. It's called the cycle of life and we're all part of it. I think this skull flower represents the new life that springs out of an old life. This is the way God made our world, the old refreshes the new."

"Thank you, Gabi, that was a wonderful explanation," Pastor Palmer said as he came forward to take the microphone back. "Rocky, would you please pass out the Tootsie Pops to the children before they return to their seats."

The congregation sat through Gabi's Children's Sermon in silent amazement. They looked at the skull flower still up on the screen and could now see what Gabi saw. Needless to say, they were quite impressed by the semi-Goth youth.

The sermon Pastor Palmer Beech gave stressed that Jesus loved everyone and that throughout his ministry he reached out to the social outcasts of his time. Jesus easily accepted them and welcomed them into his love. Pastor Palmer stressed that everyone needs to be true to themselves before they can be true to God. He also emphasized that we should never judge anyone by their appearance, but by their actions. The congregation realized he was referring to Gabi and many were chagrined by their initial reactions.

At the end of the service, Pastor Palmer had the Scoobies join him at the door to greet the parishioners as they left. Almost everyone took the opportunity to thank Gabi for the wonderful message.

Buffy and Freddy went home with their families. Eddie, Rocky, Gabi and Sandy headed to the Church Library while their parents headed to the Church Office for a private chat. The topic was Gabi and his obvious gender confusion. They all wanted the best for Gabi and knew the next step was to get professional counseling. The discussion ended with Pastor Palmer agreeing to stop in at the Physician Referral Center at the hospital tomorrow while he was there making his pastoral calls.

"You really are something, Gabi," Eddie smiled at his brother as they headed home. Then he looked at his parents. "How come Gabi got all the smarts and I didn't get enough?"

"We all get God's gifts bestowed upon us as he sees fit," Faye explained. "You didn't get short changed in smarts. It's just that with Gabi being so different from most people he needs extra smarts and had to learn early how to use it. You need to learn how to use your smarts more effectively. You let yourself get frustrated before you ask for help. Asking for help doesn't mean you're stupid, it means you're smart enough to know to ask. Look at your Algebra, remember how frustrated you were? Gabi was able to use his extra smarts to figure it out and then explain it to you. Now that you understand it, you're able to do it on your own. It wasn't that you weren't smart enough, you were too stubborn and frustrated to ask for help. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness or stupidity, it's a sign of intelligence. You need to work smarter, not harder."

*****

On Monday it was clearly evident that amongst the "in" guys at school Gabe had became a pariah. The fact he blithely smiled at everyone as they stared at his pigtails just added to the alienation. The four guys who had tried to jump him pointedly ignored him, their parents had obviously read them the riot act concerning Gabe. It was also quite evident the school staff was keeping a close eye on Gabe to insure no one hassled him. Gabe didn't mind being constantly monitored because he never did anything inappropriate. Now that he was safe from harassment and no longer saw any reason to even try to be one of the guys, he was able to join the other Scoobies happily being the odd guys out of their class and probably the entire upper grades of the school.

Pastor Beech headed off to Good Shepard Hospital to make his rounds. While there he stopped in the Physician Referral office and did a search for a juvenile psychologist who treated Gender Dysphoria. After reviewing the biographies of all who had appropriate experience, the qualifications of one Doctor stood out, Norma Lee, PHD. Pastor Beech faxed Dr. Lee’s qualifications to the Bulls. After reviewing it and agreeing she seemed to meet Gabi’s needs, Faye called to set up a preliminary meeting to discuss Gabi.

With at least one parent each, the four went to The Metamorphosis School of the Arts. Lynne Swann took them on the grand tour and set up beginners dance and self-defense classes for the Scoobies and Sandy, as it was felt the nine year old would not be able to keep up with the cohesive group. Even better was the Scoobies were put in classes where they would be the only students. Being close friends meant they would help and encourage each other and would thus be able to make better progress than if they'd be mixed with other students. The classes were set up for Tuesdays and Thursdays, 45 minutes of dance followed by 45 minutes of self defense although the mix could change as the instructors thought best. Wally Wacker was the self defense instructor and his life partner Vance Barr was the dance instructor. They worked as a team, each leading in his specialty while the other assisted. That way they could exact the best performance from the group. Rocky balked a bit when informed their uniforms would be leotards and tights, but the others easily talked him into accepting it. As their own class, they were allowed to pick their own colors. Buffy suggested dark green leotards with skull flower appliques on the front and back with light green tights. The group readily agreed. Faye knew she'd better stock up on the skull flower appliques since it seemed the Scoobies were adopting it as their symbol.

"Mom," Buffy said while looking sweetly at her. "Any new clothes I get I want in dark green like Gabi. I'd like to start wearing dark green lipstick and nail polish."

Brenda sighed and looked at Freddy to see him smile and nod his head.

Rocky was a bit slow on the uptake but finally blurted out, "Me too!"

Virginia looked at her daughter's big eyes. "Sandy, don't even think about it. I'll let you wear nail polish, but not dark green. You're too young to go that far."



To Be Continued...
 



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