The Scoobies Do: Chapter 5 - Operation Scoobies Treats

The Scoobies Do
Chapter 5 - Operation Scoobies Treats

by Jennifer Sue


 
Chapter 5
 
The Scoobies decided to go all out for Halloween, deciding they’d all portray an NCIS character. As the largest and most intimidating Rocky was the natural choice to portray Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS Special Agent in Charge. Buffy had to decide between Ziva David or Jenny Shepard, but since Jenny was a redhead, the choice was easy, she’d portray Jenny Shepard, NCIS Director. Freddy eagerly decided to portray Dr. Donald 'Ducky' Mallard, NCIS Chief Medical Examiner and Forensic Expert. Of course Gabi would portray Abby Sciuto, NCIS Forensic and Evidence Specialist, only this time wearing a skirt.

Buffy had already loaned Gabi more skirts so he could wear them whenever possible. Now that he’d be wearing one in public the Scoobies wanted to make sure Gabi was comfortable in skirts and could handle functioning in skirts. Everyone had to admit that Gabi took to wearing the skirts like a duck takes to water. As the days passed Lyle and Faye realized that Gabi was becoming too comfortable as he wanted to wear skirts all the time except for school. They all had to admit Gabi seemed to belong in skirts. There seemed to be little question that Gabe was transgendered and while Lyle and Faye assured him they'd support him no matter what, they still felt apprehensive, Lyle much more so than Faye.

For his part, Gabi had always been drawn to skirts, and when he'd had to wear them that day when he'd wet his pants, despite his shame and humiliation, he instantly knew it felt right and natural. The Scoobies already referred to him in female pronouns all the time and almost everyone did so when he wore a skirt. Gabi thought of himself as a girl when in skirts. Being spoken to as if he were a girl didn't bother him in the least. His only concern was what might happen when he showed up at school in a skirt.

Gabi searched the net and found images of the NCIS photo ID badge and of the NCIS badge. Freddy used his computer skills to create full color individual NCIS photo ID badges for the Scoobies. Taking the badge image, he was able to manipulate it to look almost 3-D. Using thick paper he printed the ID's and badges, cut them to shape, and laminated them. The results were quite realistic. Buffy located some inexpensive imitation leather billfolds that would work as the team’s NCIS ID and Badge holders.

Gabi also found black baseball caps and lined black nylon jackets. Freddy was able to create stencils and print them on special paper that created iron-on patches. He made small NCIS ones to put on the front of the hats and larger ones to put on the back of the jackets. He also created NCIS badge stencils to make iron-on patches for the front of the jackets. Buffy carefully located the iron-on stencils and then pressed them into place on the hats and jackets.

They even made replicas of Agent Gibbs ever-present Styrofoam coffee cup and a big plastic cup of Caf-Pow for Abby.

*****

As they prepared for Halloween, Rocky made a comment. "I feel sorry for kids that are in the hospital or otherwise unable to go trick or treating since they miss out on getting any goodies."

"Yeah, that is a shame," Freddy agreed.

"Maybe we could help out," Gabi declared. "It could be the Scoobies first service project. We can contact all the local businesses to ask them to donate any goodies they have left over after they close on Halloween. Plus, if our costumes are as great as we hope, we should make quite a haul. We can put part of our goodies in with the stuff we get from the businesses."

"That sounds great," Buffy enthused. "I'm sure we can sort and bag the goodies at The Crateful Bread. We can sort the goodies into groups for kids who are allergic, like peanut free, sugar free, and regular."

"I can make labels for the bags," Freddy suggested.

"Yeah, instead of Scooby Treats like Scooby Doo eats we can call them Scoobies Treats for our gang," Rocky suggested.

"We should make up business cards for the Scoobies," Gabi suggested. "When we do service projects we can hand the cards out. Once people know us we'll get requests for help on other things."

"That would be really kewl," Buffy agreed. "It would also make us more of an official group."

"Yeah, I can make them up too," Freddy smiled. "What should we put on the cards?"

"A picture of us," Buffy declared, "and our names."

"The Scoobies needs to be on it too," Rocky added.

"How about some mottos like the Marines have," Gabi added. "SEMPER FI which means always faithful and SEMPER GUMBY which means always flexible. Then their unofficial mantra WE IMPROVISE, ADAPT & OVERCOME."

"Well, business cards are 3  ½ inches by 2 inches," Freddy said. "Centered in the the top would be two lines of print, the first line in small letters would simply say THE. The second line would have larger letters and read SCOOBIES. Below Scoobies we can put four lines in smaller letters, the first would read SEMPER FI & SEMPER GUMBY. The next line read WE IMPROVISE, ADAPT & OVERCOME. On the third line we could put a phone number and on the last line an e-mail address or website."

“I’m pretty sure Moms and Pops would be okay with us using the phone and computer in the clubhouse as our base set-up. We'll have to put an answering machine on the phone and we can set up an e-mail account and even a website from the computer," Buffy gushed.

"I can set up programs and passwords so we could link our home systems and phones to the phone and computer at the clubhouse," Freddy smiled. "That way each of us can access any messages even if we're not there.

"That sounds like a plan," Buffy nodded. "Does everyone agree?"

They all nodded and smiled.

Gabi began giggling.

As the others looked at her she regained her composure.

“I was just thinking maybe we should name the clubhouse something like ‘Scoobies Place. Then I thought of an even better name. How about we call it the ‘Dog House’?

After Rocky and Freddy picked themselves off the floor, they all agreed the clubhouse was now the Dog House.

*****

The Scoobies made the rounds of all the local businesses. After identifying themselves as the Scoobies and giving the person in charge one of their business cards, they explained Operation Scoobies Treats. Almost all the adults were impressed by the Scoobies enthusiasm and sense of community responsibility and agreed to participate

Next they approached Miss Peach with their idea. She loved their business card and was delighted the Scoobies wanted to help those less fortunate. She agreed to accompany them to speak to Principal Jass about being out of school the day after Halloween so they could sort, package, and deliver the Scoobies Treats to those children unable to go trick or treating.

Principal Jass found their business card incredible and had a hard time believing they'd done it on their own. He liked their plan but didn't feel right about excusing them for the day.

"The Scoobies are all straight A students and far enough ahead in their assignments that missing a day will not interfere with their schooling," Miss Peach explained.

"We've already signed up most of the local businesses," Buffy added. "They think it's a great public service project and it should bring some positive media coverage to the school."

"We're not asking to be given the day off," Gabi stated. "You can mark us absent, we just don't want to be tagged with cutting school."

Principal Jass knew he’d been outmaneuvered. “I’ll need written permission slips from your parents promising to make sure you do your community service.”

“I’ll expect you to give a report to the class,” Miss Peach added with a smile.

Almost everything was set in place for Operation Scoobies Treats.

Pastor Beech helped them put the final item in place by making arrangements with Good Shepard Hospital in the small city to allow the Scoobies to deliver their Scoobies Treats to the children in the Children’s Ward.

*****

The Thursday before Halloween Eddie was nearly bubbling with excitement as the family sat down for supper.

“All right, Eddie, spit it out before you explode,” Lyle chuckled. “What has you all wound up?”

“There was a fight in gym class,” Eddie began. “This kid Alex, he’s in some of my classes, anyway, he’s always putting on a tough guy front but we can all see he’s not. Anyway, there’s this big 9th grade jerk, Payne Inthass, who’s constantly hassling anyone who’s an easy target. Alex couldn’t pass the football and Payne was really letting him have it. The harder Alex tried to pass the football, the worse he got. Payne soon had a bunch of other jerks hassling Alex. When Payne called him a sissy, Alex lost it and jumped him. Alex was like a wild man! He took Payne down and proceeded to beat his face to a pulp. It took two teachers to pull Alex off. Once he realized what he’d done, Alex broke away from the teacher who was holding him and took off. He ran up the bleachers and climbed to the roof of the press box and to jumped off the back.”

“Oh my God,” Faye gasped. “That’s horrible.”

“It would have been if Alex had hurt himself,” Eddie chuckled. “Even though he was about 50 feet up when he jumped, he landed on his back on the pole vault bags. All he did was knock the wind out of him. By the time he recovered, a bunch of us had him pinned to the ground. He struggled and cursed but we held him down until the paramedics arrived and gave him an injection which knocked him out.”

“Wow,” Gabi asked when Eddie shut up. “What happened then?”

“They took Alex and Payne to the hospital, then sent the rest of us back to change,” Eddie wrapped up his tale as he refilled his plate for a second helping.

Lyle, Faye, and Gabi exchanged looks of exasperation.

*****

On Monday, October 31, the school had their Halloween contest, Moms, Pops, Arie, ChooChoo, Walt, Val, Autumn, Palmer, Virginia, Brenda, Lyle, Faye, were amongst the crowd of adults who always showed up to watch the kids arrive in costume. Arie and Walt stood at opposite ends of the crowd to video tape the Scoobies as they arrived.

The Scoobies showed up for school just five minutes before the bell rang. Sonny Summers was driving the big step-van from The Crateful Bread. Using water soluble paint, they'd painted it blue and white and applied white lettering NCIS INVESTIGATIVE UNIT so it looked like the big investigative van from the show. Naturally the arrival of the van grabbed everyone's attention. The Scoobies emerged in character.

Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs exited first wearing his black jacket with the NCIS badge on the left front with a big NCIS on the back. He wore an open collared dress shirt under the jacket. His black baseball cap had NCIS above the brim. A laminated picture ID was clipped to the belt of his dress slacks, a cup of coffee clutched in one hand, and polished black shoes completed the image. Rocky had perfected the piercing Agent Gibbs glare.

Director Jenny Shepard followed Gibbs. She too wore a black jacket with NCIS on back and 2-color shield on front under which the word DIRECTOR was stenciled. Under the jacket she wore a white silk blouse with a ruffled collar. A laminated picture ID was clipped to the waist of her thick cotton black knee length skirt. Staying in character, Buffy wore pantyhose and three inch heels. She had the director's stern no-nonsense face mastered.

Dr. Donald 'Ducky' Mallard followed wearing his signature tan battered cotton duck hat and flashy bow tie at the neck of his dress shirt. He wore a black jacket with a large NCIS with a much smaller line with MEDICAL EXAMINER on the back and smaller three line logo on the left front, NAVAL CRIMINAL - NCIS - INVESTIGATING SERVICES. A laminated badge hung from the belt of his black dress pants. His polished black shoes and black doctor's bag completed his image. Freddy had Ducky's inquisitive darting eyes perfected.

The last to emerge was Abby with her high bouncy ponytails swinging. She wore a short white lab coat over a black and red plaid jumper mini-dress over a white ruffled blouse. The pleated skirt of the sassy dress flared out from her waist and swayed in concert with her movements. With two inch thick soles, her black leather boots reached to her knees and were closed by oversized black metal hoops. Her nails and lips were purple, and she wore black eyeliner. She also wore a studded 1  ½ inch wide leather collar and matching studded wrist gauntlets. Gabi even had a fake spiderweb taboo on her neck and carried Bert the hippo under her left arm with a big cup of Caf-Pow in that hand and carried the fake computer she'd created two years before in her right hand. Her laminated ID was clipped to the silver chain wrapped about her waist three times. Gabi smiled happily at everyone having mastered Abby's perky grin

The four lined up side by side on the sidewalk and eyed the crowd. Everyone recognized their accurate portrayal. Then Gabi squeezed Bert with her elbow and he farted loud and clear. Everyone was momentarily shocked so Gabi did it again. People began to laugh and several adults began to applaud and many onlookers joined in. The foursome nodded their heads to acknowledge the crowd and began to head into the school as if they were heading to a crime scene. Everyone had to admit Gabi handled the thick soled boots with an ease that made the pleats swirl teasingly while maintaining her modesty. Those who knew the Scoobies were surprised but not shocked to see Gabi in the short sassy skirt. A lot of their male classmates made disparaging comments but kept them low keyed as they were all aware of Gabe's protected status.

The adults and students parted way for the Scoobies as they resolutely marched into the school, through the halls and to their classroom. Of course Gabi couldn't resist having Bert leave one more loud fart just before they entered the building. The other students could only stare at them with envy for their images were so perfect. Of course, Gabi in a skirt created quite a furor amongst his schoolmates, but everyone had to admit he looked natural and comfortable and was even cuter than the real Abby.

During lunch the Scoobies found themselves on the receiving side of many smiles from their schoolmates. A few of the guys sneered at Gabi but none went any further than that. Even out on the playground, the foursome walked the perimeter in their costumes but stayed in character with ad-libed NCIS type conversations and comments. As they returned from lunch, Gabi approached Miss Peach. "Miss Peach, I never fit in as a boy and I know this sounds weird, but I feel right dressing like a girl. Could you please call me Gabi from now on and treat me like the other girls?"

"Gabi, I can't officially do what your asking," Miss Peach replied. "The school can only do what you're requesting if your psychologist notifies the school you're transgendered and that you should start dressing and behaving like a girl."

"Dr. Lee talked about it over the last few weeks with my parents and they said they'll support me if I want to start living full time as a girl," Gabi replied. "I’m about 98% sure becoming a girl is what I want. The Scoobies and our parents accept me as a girl or a boy. Basically, I’m afraid what would happen at school if I come as a girl. But I'm here as a girl today and I simply love it. It feels so right to be wearing a skirt. I know I'd feel horrible if I had to go back to being a boy."

"Well, you definitely need your psychologist to make it official for you to come to school as a girl," Miss Peach said. "But in the mean time, I can unofficially call you Gabi and treat you like a girl. But you must understand that if your psychologist does not approve your change, I'll have to go back to calling you Gabe."

"Thank you, Miss Peach," Gabi gushed as he hugger her. "I'll talk to my parents tonight about asking Dr. Lee to contact the school."

As the school day drew to a close, the last hour was spent by having all the students parade around the playground where parents could see all the costumes. It came as little surprise that the Scoobies won the best group category, but they also won the best overall costume category. Sonny was waiting for them outside the school after dismissal and the Scoobies left in their NCIS van.

They traveled to the Crateful Bread where they had a snack and roamed the store entertaining the customers with their NCIS imitation and conversations. Rocky and Buffy went so far as to interrogate some bemused customers while Freddy and Gabi carefully dissected a pumpkin complete with esoteric comments by ‘Ducky’. The customers loved it.

The Crateful Bread had a deli, a lunch counter with a salad bar and fresh home-made soup. They also made a few sandwiches on their fresh baked bread. The lunch area was always busy at meal times and had a steady flow of customers all day. The Scoobies took a table in a corner to eat a supper of fresh home-made soup and toasted cheese sandwiches on home-made bread with fresh whole milk.

After they finished, Sonny Summers drove them about town in the still NCIS costumed step-van so the Scoobies could go door to door trick or treating. They were a hit at every stop, posing for many photos, and collected several bags full of goodies. They also handed out their new business cards.

As they had pre-arranged, Pastor Palmer Beech and Lyle Bull stopped by several of the local businesses at their closing time for the day to pick-up any goodies they had left over to help them with Operation Scoobies Treats.

Upon returning to the Crateful Bread, they went into the back warehouse to place their goodies beside the bins Pastor Palmer and Lyle had collected from the businesses. Then everyone headed home agreeing to meet back at The Crateful Bread at 8:30.

*****

Once they'd all arrived, the goodies were spread out on the sorting table. Next they separated the different types. Using the net bags, they put about 25 assorted goodies into each bag, sealing the top of each with a 2 sided label Freddy had created. The first side was an enlarged copy of their business card, the second side read 'Scoobies Treats' on the top 2/3 and either 'sugar free', 'peanut free, or 'regular' on the bottom 1/3. The bags were placed in shakable clean plastic totes with fold down lids for easy transport.

It was nearly lunch when they finished. Val made sure they had a nutritious meal of fresh home-made soup and toasted tuna and cheese sandwiches on home-made bread with fresh whole milk. Then the Scoobies changed into their NCIS costumes before loading the totes of Scoobies Treats into the step-van and with Sonny once more driving headed off on the 17 mile trip to Good Shepard Hospital to deliver them to the children. They called the Children's ward to give them an arrival time. Since prior arrangements had been made the blue and white NCIS van pulled up outside the children's ward sun room. The windows were crowded with patients and staff and a two man hospital security team waited by the fire door to give them direct access to the children.

The Scoobies exited the van in full NCIS mode, and after scanning their surroundings, waved at the excited kids crowding the windows. Rocky went to the rear of the van and opened the doors and pulled out and set up a ramp before entering the van. In a few moments, Sonny and Rocky emerged each pushing a four wheeled 24" x 40" flat cart loaded with totes. The security officers opened the fire door and the Scoobies in full NCIS character mode entered. The kids swarmed toward them until Rocky as Gibbs gave them a steely gaze. Buffy as Director Shepard took charge of organizing the kids while Freddy as Dr. Mallard began opening totes on the carts. Gabi as Abby called out what type of bag was needed. Freddy handed her the appropriate bag and Gabi gave it to the child along with a big warm Abby hug. Even the children older than the Scoobies were drawn into the excitement. Once everyone had their goodies, the team headed off to the rooms holding kids who'd been unable to leave their bed.

The staff had warned the Scoobies that Alex, a 12 year old boy in one room, was super depressed and angry. As they entered he looked at the NCIS team, scowled, and shook his head. They saw his arms legs had restraining straps on them which severely limited his movement.

"Those costumes aren't even funny," he snarled.

"They're not supposed be funny," Rocky answered flatly. "We're NCIS agents."

With that he pulled out his badge holder and showed his badge and photo ID. The others quickly did the same.

"So you made good costumes, big deal," the boy snapped.

"It sounds like someone could use a big hug," Gabi answered in her best Abby-esque voice and stepped right up and wrapped her arms about the stunned boy.

The staff was surprised and prepared for an outburst. As Gabi's arms enveloped him the boy went as stiff as a board. Then he slowly relaxed and sank into the hug as almost silent long suppressed sobs began to wrack his body. Gabi wasn't sure what to do but instinctively knew to just hold him.

"Abby always gives great hugs," Rocky as Gibbs said. "No one can stay upset once she wraps her arms about you."

Freddy and Buffy nodded their agreement and the staff marveled at the hostile boy's unexpected response. The lad's doctor, who was there prepared to administer a sedative, was totally taken back by the unexpected reaction.

After a bit the boy's sobs subsided, and Gabi kept her embrace but pulled her head back to look at his red-eyed tear streaked face. Their eyes met and Gabi could see he was confused by his reaction to the hug. With a smile she leaned forward and kissed his forehead which startled him even more.

"You need to smile," Gabi ordered but the boy shook his head no. Then she glanced to Freddy and mouthed BERT. Rocky promptly opened a tote and pulled out Bert the Hippo giving it to Gabi.

"This is my friend, Bert the Hippo," Gabi said. "He'll make you smile." With that she gave him a squeeze and he loudly farted.

After a momentary pause of surprise, everyone began chuckling. The boy struggled to keep from joining in.

"You're a tough case," Gabi declared in her best Abby mode. "But I've never known Bert to fail." With that she gave him another squeeze and again he farted.

This time the boy couldn't hold it back and a smile crept across his face.

"Okay, once more Bert the Hippo is victorious in banishing frowns," Gabi smugly announced as she held Bert aloft. "Don't worry, he only farts, he doesn't do anything else."

The boy began to chuckle which stunned the staff and his doctor. After a few moments of looking at Gabi his face dropped into one of profound sadness.

"Guys," Gabi said. "Go on to the other patients. I want to stay here and talk.”

Everyone nodded and eased out of the room. The doctor stood at the door but out of sight.

"I have a feeling you really like Abby," Gabi said.

The boy sighed and nodded.

Gabi took a deep breath. "You can tell me to get lost, but did you try to hurt yourself"?

The boys eyes grew big and filled with tears as he barely nodded his head.

"You don't just like Abby," Gabi said. "You wish you could be like Abby."

Gabi heard the hiding doctor take a deep breath and hoped the boy didn't hear it.

Apparently he didn't as he almost imperceptibly nodded.

"I thought so," Gabi nodded as she smiled at the boy. "It takes one to know one."

The boy was confused and wondering what it was about this girl that was drawing him out of the suicidal funk even the professionals had failed to penetrate.

"My real name is Gabe," Gabi stated and looked straight into the boy's eyes as she reached out her hand to shake his secured one.

In obvious disbelief he asked, "Y... you're a b... boy?"

"I was born male," Gabi answered. "But I was never much of a boy. I don't like most things boys are expected to like. I was always different and teased for it. When NCIS came out two years ago, I got hooked on Abby and have been a mini goth ever since. Things came to a head when school started this year and I was totally ostracized by the kids at school. Rocky, Freddy, and Buffy were already on the outside of things and they welcomed me as a friend. It's only in the past six weeks I've started wearing skirts but I know I'll never go back to trying to be a boy. I still wear pants to school but my shrink is working on it so I can go full time as Gabi."

"Those others playing NCIS with you," Alex frowned. "They know you're a boy and are still your friends?"

"They're the ones who told me I was really a girl," Gabi answered. "They helped me see the truth I’d been trying to avoid and helped me accept it. Just like I'm trying to do with you."

"But you don't even know me," Alex stated. "Why would you risk exposing yourself to a stranger?"

"That's easy," Gabi smiled. "My friends helped me find my way when they didn't have to. It's just what good people should do. Jesus said we should love our neighbor like we love ourselves. I could tell you needed love, and Abby is always giving hugs to people when they're upset or feeling down. I felt you needed a hug. A real big hug. So that's what I did."

"I still don't know if I can believe you. It all sounds too good to be true. Besides, you are way too cute to be a boy," Alex sighed. "You're just making fun of me like everyone else does."

"Lexi, I'd never tease anyone about something this serious," Gabi said. "Boys who feel they should be girls are called transgendered. The diagnosis is called Gender Dysphoria. It is a real medical issue and not just something messed up in your head. If you try to hide it and deny it, you'll drive yourself crazy and try to kill yourself. Oh... that's what happened, didn't it?" Gabi caught herself. She’d suddenly realized this was Alex, the boy Eddie had told them about who jumped off the roof of the stadium press box! Instinctively she understood it wouldn’t be wise to mention that right now.

"Yeah...," he whispered. "Y... you called me Lexi... that's a girl's name... why?"

"My given name is Gabe, but I go by Gabi now," Gabi explained. "Your boy name is Alex, so the girl's version could be Lexi. I think it's a cute name for a pretty girl and most important, it fits you."

"Lexi... I do like it... Lexi...," Alex became lost in thought for a moment. Then in a wistful voice whispered "I want to be Lexi!"

"You already are Lexi," Gabi said. "Just like I'm already Gabi. All you have to do is tell people that Alex is dead and he left Lexi to take his place."

"That sounds too easy," Lexi sniffed. "My dad would never let me be a girl. He'd think I was a faggot or something."

"We know you're not a faggot," Gabi stated with confidence. "You're simply a girl named Lexi who, like me, has a slight birth defect. As for your dad, I thought the same about my dad. I'm not saying it'll be easy or that your dad won't have issues, but you are his child and he loves YOU. He already knows you're so unhappy you tried to end your life, and I'm sure he's already told you nothing could be bad enough to do that. My dad still has some issues accepting me this way but he's working on it, just like your dad will. Look, if it'll help, I'll make arrangements to be here with my parents when you tell your parents. I'll give you some back-up and our moms and dads can talk about the issues."

"It sounds too good to be true," Lexi sniffled. "It has to be a lot harder."

"I didn't say it'd be easy," Gabi answered. "It's very hard, but it's something that needs to be done and you only have to do it once. When my parents first saw me as Gabi, I wet myself and fainted. After that, my parents were with me just as your’s will be with you to make transitioning easier. Start out by telling your doctor. He can explain things better than I can."

"I don't think I can tell anyone," Lexi sobbed. "It's too hard. They'll all laugh at me."

"You're wrong," Gabi said as she walked to the door. Reaching out she took the surprised doctor's hand and pulled him inside.

"No one will laugh at you, Lexi," the doctor promised as Gabi pushed him toward the bed.

"Oh God," Lexi cried. "You've been listening?"

"Yes he has," Gabi answered. "I realized when I heard him gasp when I said you want to be like Abby. I figured if he didn't come in right away he was a good shrink who could help you. I'm sorry if you feel I betrayed your trust, but now he knows and it didn't hurt a bit."

"Gabi, you are a very remarkable young lady," the doctor praised. "Lexi, being transgendered can be difficult, but it's not impossible as Gabi is proving. I think your parents will be so relieved to find out what it was that made you try to hurt yourself that they'll embrace you as your daughter. Just understand, transitioning can't happen overnight. We'll need to do physical and psychological tests, then if everything checks out we can begin a gradual transition. Now, young lady, if you promise to be a good girl, I'll remove your restraints, at least as long as someone is in the room with you."

Lexi's eyes grew wide. "I've been tied down for five days, and now you'll release me?"

"We kept you restrained because we didn't know why you tried to take your life," the doctor explained as he undid the restraints. "You refused to talk about it so we had no choice but to keep you restrained in order to keep you safe. Unfortunately, it's all too common for juveniles with gender issues to keep it bottled up until they feel they have no choice but to take their lives to end the pain. Since Gabi is a kindred spirit to you, she saw through your anger and self disgust to see the scared girl hiding inside you. Now that she's been allowed to peek out, I don't think you'll be able to keep her hidden. Alex is the one who wanted to die, Lexi wants to live."

Lexi looked apprehensive. "Can I change from a boy to a girl that quickly?"

"Sure," Gabi said. "You'll still have to pretend to be a boy at times like I do. It was only six weeks ago that I realized I was transgendered and started wearing skirts at home. Halloween is just a good time to get away with it. Like I said, if you'd like, I'm sure my parents would come in so we can be here when you tell your parents."

"That should make things easier, Lexi," the doctor agreed but then looked at Gabi. "But first I'll have to check with your SHRINK and your parents to see if it's okay."

"My dad is a lawyer and my mom is his office manager so we can get them both at the same time," Gabi answered as he handed one of his father's business cards to the doctor. "My shrink is Dr. Norma Lee"

"I'm familiar with Dr. Lee," the doctor said. "She's the best psychologist in the region for cases of juvenile Gender Dysphoria. I'll go out to the nursing station and call her first, and if she approves, then I’ll call your parents. I'll ask Dr. Lee if she can come over to be here too. Lexi, this will work out. With friends like Gabi, you'll do fine."

After he left Lexi looked at Gabi and very tentatively asked, "Will you really be my friend?"

"Sure," Gabi smiled. "Buffy, Rocky, and Freddy will be your friends too."

"I don't understand why anyone would want to be my friend," Lexi sniffed. "All the guys I thought were my friends have turned against me and tease me."

"Then they weren't really friends," Gabi replied. "The same happened to me. Kids I'd known since kindergarten turned against me because they thought I was a sissy."

As the happy doctor left the room he saw the two nurses accompanying Buffy, Freddy, and Rocky approaching. "We've made a breakthrough," he exclaimed as he flashed them a thumbs up before heading off to the nurses station to make the phone calls.

As they entered the room of the morose suicidal lad the nurses were delighted to see that Alex and Gabi were talking and holding hands as he smiled wanly. It was also quite obvious Alex had been crying. As he noticed they'd entered, he blushed deeply and hung his head.

"Everybody, I'd like to introduce my new girl friend, Lexi," Gabi exclaimed. "Lexi, this is Buffy, Freddy, and Rocky, my best friends! They're the ones who helped me understand and accept that I'm really a girl despite having plumbing like a boy. I'm sure they'll be your friends and help you too."

Buffy, Freddy, and Rocky smiled and crowded the bed to give their new friend supportive welcoming hugs. Lexi cried tears of joy as she eagerly sank into their accepting hugs.

The nurses were doubly surprised. First, they'd never have suspected the cute girl portraying Abby was a boy. Secondly, they'd never in a million years have thought the issues that had created the angry, violent boy they'd had restrained on suicide watch for almost a week could be caused by gender dysphoria! But obviously it takes one to know one applied here since Gabi had broken through his hellascious defensive walls to reveal the frightened girl cowering inside, freeing Lexi.

"Lexi, I'm delighted to meet you," the younger nurse smiled as she approached the bed. "Is it all right if I give you a hug too?"

Lexi was apprehensive as the nurse approached and began to speak, but the fact she was smiling and called her Lexi made her heart leap for joy. "I think I'd like that," Lexi whispered as a timid smile appeared on her face.

After the younger nurse stepped back from the hug the second nurse came forward and asked permission to hug Lexi. The broad smile on Lexi's face granted permission.

"I think we should make a toast to welcome Lexi," the younger nurse smiled. "How does a round of Cokes sound?"

Five smiling heads nodded so the nurses went to get the celebratory drinks. When they reached the nurses station they saw the doctor had already shared the news their problem patient had improved. The doctor was in the adjoining office talking to Alex's mother who had been anxiously sitting in the waiting room all week hoping for a breakthrough.

Buffy and Gabi and Lexi jabbered happily as Freddy smiled watching them. Rocky sighed and shook his head. "Nothing against you, Lexi, or you Gabi. I respect your need to be girls and will help however I can. But I just don't understand how you know being a boy isn't right."

"It's difficult to explain," Lexi answered feeling safe. "But I have an idea that may help you. Rocky, take your shoes off."

Rocky looked a bit perplexed but sat on a chair, untied his shoes, and pulled them off.

"Now put your shoes on the wrong feet," Lexi stated.

Rocky really looked confused but again followed the instructions. In moments his shoes were on the wrong feet.

"Now stand up and walk around a bit," Lexi continued.

"This feels weird," Rocky said as he walked awkwardly about.

"That's the way I feel all the time," Lexi answered. "You can get the shoes on your feet and they do what they're supposed to do, but they're just not a good fit. You feel uncomfortable and you want to correct the problem. Now imagine you felt that way all the time and had no idea how to fix it."

"That's the way I've always felt," Gabi answered as she accepted the analogy. "I just never felt comfortable in my body but I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Finding Abby on NCIS helped me, because she's weird on purpose. Being Goth helped me adjust and feel better about being weird. Then when I tried the pigtails it felt right, and the skirts made me feel even better."

"For years I never felt comfortable and became angry easily," Lexi said. "I kept feeling as if I were a girl trapped in a boys body but I felt that couldn’t be and denied it. It made me feel I was really a freak and was ashamed to talk about it. I thought I was the only boy who ever felt like a girl. The more the feelings that I was a girl surfaced, I became more and more moody and uncooperative. If anyone even hinted that they thought I might be a sissy I'd attack them. I got into fights at the drop of a hat to prove I was a tough guy but I cried myself to sleep every night. I've spent practically the whole of this school year in detention. Then last Thursday in gym class while we were in the football stadium a ninth grader kept calling me a sissy because I couldn’t pass the football. Finally I lost it. I saw red and jumped him and beat him. It took two teachers to pull me off him. He was laying on the ground bleeding and whimpering. I knew I was in trouble and once I calmed down a bit I hated myself for what I did to him and decided the only way out was to kill myself. I broke away from the teacher who held me and ran up the bleachers and climbed to the roof of the press box intending to jump off. I was being chased but I was too pumped and they didn't get close."

Lexi broke down for a few moments to sob, then after collecting herself she continued. "When I got to the roof I never stopped. It's about 50 feet up and I figured taking a header would put me out of my misery. I ran to the back and dove off head first. I heard people yelling and screaming as I flew through the air but for the first time in my life I felt free."

"You don't even look like you're hurt," Freddy declared. "How'd you survive the fall?"

"I didn't look where I was jumping and I jumped too hard to stay head down," Lexi sighed. "I spun over onto my back and the landing bags from the pole vault were stored right where I went over. I landed flat on my back on the bags. Other than knocking the air out of me I wasn't even hurt. By the time I caught my breath I'd been caught. I felt cheated that I'd lived and flipped out again. I refused to talk and tried to hurt myself whenever I could. They finally sedated me and I've been restrained since. I really didn't want to live, I felt hopeless. Then you guys showed up looking like NCIS. Gabi, you saw into my soul. Thank you for saving my life." Lexi unsuccessfully tried to blink back her tears.

"It's okay for girls to cry, Lexi," Gabi soothed as they hugged.

"I just hope my parents and brother can accept me," Lexi sniffed. "I can't handle pretending to be a boy anymore."

"I'm sure your parents love you and will be delighted to have a smiling daughter instead of a snarling son," Gabi assured Lexi. "If your brother is anything like my jock bro, he won't have a clue why you'd ever want to be a girl but will stick up for you anyway. He teased me before I came out as Gabi and he teases me now, but it's never nasty and I know he's only joking. But remember, it takes a while to get everything ready for you to live full time as a girl. I'm still working on that, so there will be times when you'll still have to pretend to be Alex. But believe me, just being able to be Lexi at home will make it bearable."

"I hope so," Lexi solemnly intoned while smiling wanly. Then she gasped as she saw her mother standing with the doctor just inside the door to the room.

"Alex... Lexi... it doesn't matter... you're my child and I love you," Bea Kahn cried as she rushed over to sweep her child into a loving embrace.

Lexi returned the hug and cried tears of joy and relief. "Mommy, I'm sorry," Lexi sniffed. "I've been so scared and confused and ..."

"It's all right, Lexi," Bea soothed as she stroked Lexi's back. "The only thing any of us should be sorry about is that it took US this long to find out what's been wrong. Now that we know, we'll fix it."

Lexi sank into her mom's embrace. "B... but won't dad be upset?"

"If he is he'll get over it," Bea assured him. "We love you, Lexi."

The Scoobies tried to slip out of the room but were prevented by the arrival of the nurses as they returned with the Coke and glasses.

"Not so fast," the doctor added as he held up his hand to the Scoobies. "I'm sure Lexi wouldn't appreciate you slipping away."

"We weren't trying to slip away," Gabi defended. "We were just going to step outside to give Lexi and her mom some private time."

"Gabi, thank you for the thought but we'd like you and your friends to stay," Bea said. "I heard what you told Lexi, and I need to thank you for all you've done."

"Please stay, Gabi," Lexi exclaimed as she loosened her hug just enough to peer around her mother. "We didn't get a chance to make our toast!"

In a few moments, everyone was gathered around Lexi's bed holding a Styrofoam cup of Coke. "To Lexi, may her life be filled with happiness," Gabi intoned as the toastmaster. With smiles they all carefully touched cups and downed their Coke.

Lexi's doctor, Mack Arronie, said he'd spoken to Dr. Lee who agreed to try to coordinate a meeting between The Bull and Kahns the following evening for the families to discuss their common issues and solutions.

After a bit of conversation, the Scoobies had to leave. Each gave Lexi and her mom a warm hug. Gabi added she hoped to see Lexi the next evening which brought a huge smile to Lexi's face. Bea cried tears of joy to see her child once more freely smiling.

The Scoobies exited the hospital through the same door they'd entered waving goodbye to the kids waving back through the children's ward play room windows. As they turned to their NCIS van, they saw the camera and reporter from the local TV station recording the scene. Rocky didn't even hesitate as he slipped into his character and walked up to the reporter as she began her report.

"Good afternoon. I'm Cindy Caishun from Channel 5 Eye Witless News reporting from The Good Shepard Hospital. As you can see behind me the patients of the Children's ward are bidding their unexpected guests a hearty farewell. It seems a unit from the NCIS visited the children to give them a belated Halloween treat.”

"I'm Special Agent Gibbs," Rocky identified himself as he flashed his NCIS ID. "This is an ongoing investigation so please don't ask us anything that might jeopardize our case."

"I understand, Special Agent Gibbs," reporter Cindy Caishun smiled as she looked eye to eye totally unaware she was talking to an unusually tall sixth grader.

"It's alright, Agent Gibbs," Buffy said as she stepped beside Rocky and flashed her ID. "Even though we haven't filed our final reports, Operation Scoobies Treat has been successfully completed. I'm Director Shepard, what would you like to know?"

Rocky stepped to the side and gave a remarkable rendition of Agent Gibbs stern glare and smirk when he's overruled.

"You must be pathologist Dr. Ducky Mallard and you most certainly are forensic scientist Abby Scuitto," Cindy greeted Gabi and Freddy as they joined the others. Looking at the grey stuffed animal tucked under Gabi's arm she asked, "Is that Bert the Hippo?"

“It sure is," Gabi proclaimed with a perky Abby-esque grin. "He can even say his own name!" With that she gave the stuffed Hippo a firm squeeze which elicited a loud BRRRT.

It took everything Cindy had not to crack up. "So, tell me about Operation Scoobies Treats."

"We know most kids love going trick-or-treating for Hallowwen to get goodies," Buffy as Dr. Shepard explained. "We decided to provide some goodies for those children who were unable to go trick-or-treating. We organized things, collected donations of goodies, sorted them for suitablity, and brought them here to deliver."

"The way it looks the children were quite delighted to have you visit today," Cindy continued. "How did you come up with the name Operation Scoobies Treats?"

Gabi made Bert fart again and Scoobies broke into giggles. "The four of us are the Scoobies," Gabi explained. "We're best friends in school and are pretty much ignored by our classmates because we're weird. Ducky's real name is Freddy Bangs, Agent Gibbs is Rocky Beech, Dr. Shepard is Buffy Summers, and I'm Gabi Bull. Buffy's parents named her after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. On the show the Slayer's friends call themselves the Scooby Gang because like Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc., they investigate and take on the weird and supernatural. So, since we have our own Buffy Summers and we're certainly weird, when we came together in September we decided to call ourselves the Scoobies."

"That's quite a convoluted pathway to come up with the Scoobies," Cindy smiled. "How old are you and what grades are you in?"

"We are convoluted! We're all eleven years old and in the sixth grade," Buffy replied. "We attend Hickstown Elementary School and Miss Peach is our teacher."

"You're all eleven years old," Cindy exclaimed as she looked at Rocky. "I thought Rocky was much older. You guys are good! It's obvious you've put a lot of effort into your costumes and characterizations. How did you come up with the NCIS character idea?"

"I've been a huge Abby fan since the show began," Gabi answered. "Two years ago I dressed as Abby for Halloween. I really identify with Abby because she is smart, cute, and weird but the people she works with respect her for who she is and what she does. Being semi Goth gves her a lot of freedom and options. I really liked being Abby and Goth so since then I've continued using Abby as a role model. This year when it came time for the Scoobies to select costumes we decided to go with NCIS. Buffy's family helped out by letting us use their truck."

"I must say your portrayal of the NCIS team is simply tremendous," Cindy smiled. "Did you come up with the idea for Operation Scoobies Treats on your own?"

"Yes," Buffy answered. "At first we were just going to share the goodies we collected trick-or-treating. My family owns The Crateful Bread and they offered to give us any goodies they had left over after they closed for the night on Halloween. That sparked us on and with the help of our families we contacted every business in our area and after explaining our idea to share the goodies with the less fortunate kids, most agreed to give us their left over goodies. We talked to our teacher and principal about the project and since we all have good grades they allowed us to take off school today since it's a public service project. Of course we have to give a report to the school but this has been a lot of fun. Last night we went trick-or-treating door to door and collected a lot while our parents went to the businesses at closing to pick up their donations. This morning we met in the sorting warehouse of The Crateful Bread to sort and bag what we'd collected. Then we came here to give out the goodies."

"It seems obvious the children here appreciate Operation Scoobies Treats," Cindy praised. "I'm sure your families and school are proud of your accomplishments."

"Thank you," Buffy modestly replied. "One of our goals as the Scoobies is to help others and this is our first attempt to help someone outside the group itself. We hope to do a lot more."

"I have no doubt you'll succeed," Cindy answered. "It's been a pleasure meeting you. This has been Cindy Caishun reporting for Channel 5 Eye Witless News."

As the news crew began putting their equipment away, the Scoobies boarded the van for the trip back to The Crateful Bread. After changing out of their costumes and a snack, they headed outside to scrub the temporary NCIS paint job off the step-van.

As they headed of to their lessons at the Metamorphosis School of the Arts the Scoobies also decided they liked arriving at school together so they agreed to walk together from then on.



To Be Continued...



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