Fairport, New York, 2008...the Jensen home...
The woman was a lady of stature and elegance; her long flowing robe signified both her taste in clothing and her position of influence on her home planet. She paused in front of the mirror in the boudoir and admired her reflection. Rather, she gazed at her image with a disappointed frown as her barely twin-like self gazed back at her.
Not an elegant woman, but a very plain looking girlish boy stared back; his hair barely touched his shoulders and was a dirty blonde and not the golden shade he had hoped for. His face was almost completely free of blemishes for the first time in nearly a year, but the hastily applied makeup made him look almost cartoonish. His long gown hung like pretty curtain; draped on his body straight and unbroken by any curve. He put his hand on his hip and pursed his lips and made a kissing sound that was unheard over the shout from the living room.
“Caleb…honey? We’ll have to put off that talk. Jason’s Jeep died again, so I have to pick him up at work. We can talk when I get back. Maybe stop off and get some Thai or maybe something from that new Burmese place?”
“Sure,” the boy yelled even as he looked again in the mirror.
“I should be back in about an hour. Whatever you wanted to talk about? We can all talk about it together?” Caleb kept quiet.
“Honey, I know he’s your step-father. But he loves you. You know that, right?”
“Yeah, Mom…I know,” Caleb shouted. He pulled the gown off his back and jammed it into a shopping bag and tossed it into his closet.
“Okay, honey. Back in a bit. Love you!” The door closed loudly and Caleb walked back to his dresser and looked into the mirror one last time, shaking his head. An hour would be treasured as an opportunity to be whoever for any boy like him, but Caleb just sighed and pulled off the satin panties he wore. He pulled out the top drawer of his dresser and pushed the panties to the back before replacing the drawer.
Looking down, he frowned at the inactivity. For a fifteen year old boy, he had a body almost identical to that of a girl much younger, albeit for his near five-ten height and the fairly useless organ that hung between his legs. He grabbed a pair of jockey’s and pulled them on along with a U of R tee shirt and grey sweat pants. While he had the time, he’d try to come up with a topic of discussion that would draw little attention himself while still appearing authentic and concerned. He knew his stepfather loved him, but he wasn’t even sure his mother could handle the real topic of discussion.
Lying sideways on the bed, he reached over and grabbed the remote off his nightstand. A moment later the DVD began to play; "War Games!"...the aura from the screen lit the darkened bedroom in an eerie glow as the scene unfolded. Two women stood in a cargo bay of a spaceship. They seemed overdressed in flowing gowns as they greeted each other with warm hugs; the crewmates of the darker of the two stared at them in disbelief; rather at the blonde woman who accompanied the Companion up the gangway to her shuttle.
A few moments later the scene shifted as the darker woman stood above the bed. She was dressed in a pretty robe and a prettier smile as her hand traced circles on the back of the nearly nude woman lying face down before her. As her hand circled slowly, Caleb flinched in almost a sympathetic response as he took in the scene for what was probably the twentieth time or so. The woman on the bed spoke…as Caleb mouthed the words…
Oh– that feels amazing. [the dark-haired woman smiles] Oh, right there. Oh, that's perfect. I should have done this weeks ago.
[chuckling] Well, I wouldn't have been here weeks ago.
That would have been a shame.
For me as well. You have such beautiful skin.
[looking up at Inara] There's no need for the show, Inara. I just need to relax with someone who's making no demands on me.
Most of my clientele is male, do you know that?
Caleb’s face grew hot. He pressed pause on the remote; once again almost stuck halfway into the scene with no way in and no way out, much like his life. He stared at the frozen image of the woman on the bed before looking down at his own body. A moment later the room went dark as he turned off the TV and rolled over on his back, weeping in shame.
Fairport High School Cafeteria...the 'Geek' table...the following day...
“You know who you’re goin’ as?” Danny Kalish sat down next to Caleb and punched him lightly in the shoulder. Caleb shook his head no.
“Maybe you could go as Mr. Universe. Oh maybe even one of the twins. Fanty, since you’re pretty to begin with.” Part of Caleb actually wanted to nod in approval, but he protested instead, trying to keep up a tenuous subterfuge in the midst of what few friends he had. The girl standing next to Danny punched him hard in the arm.
“Gorram idiot!” She laughed but surprised everyone by kissing Danny on the cheek.
“Kalish here is going as Wash and I’m going as Zoe, just in case you couldn’t guess.” Marcie Rodriguez was a huge Gina Torres fan, and Danny pretty just did whatever Marcie wanted, being her biggest fan. Caleb nodded and smiled, happy that the attention had been drawn away from his limited choices. He actually had played around with the idea of going as Simon Tam since the character was perceived erroneously by some to be a ‘weak’ guy and Caleb couldn’t find another adjective that was bantered about by his friends that suited him better than ‘weak.’
“Maybe I can help,” a husky contralto voice came from behind Danny and Caleb.
“Oh…hi, Sia.” Marcie said as both boys turned to face the girl who stood almost menacingly over their shoulders. Caleb’s face turned a bright red, quickly followed by the even deeper crimson that crossed Danny’s face. Danny might have been Marcie’s biggest fan, but Sia was just too hard to ignore. Even Marcie seemed taken in by the girl's presence.
“I’m going to get ready at my house on Friday afternoon. My mom said it was okay to take the afternoon off school.” She put her hand on Caleb’s shoulder and he shrunk away.
“She said she’s got some ideas for you, if you don’t mind.” Caleb swallowed hard. It was one of those questions you’re forced to answer both ways, if only silently. Aspasia Kanekaredes was nearly impossible to resist. She had a strangely appealing almost androgynous way about her, which Caleb might have found difficult to ignore under the best of circumstances. Given Caleb’s own confusion, he was forced to admit that he wanted her to do whatever she and her mother thought would work for the convention, but just as much of him was afraid of being anywhere with her other than school.
“Oh….okay.” He said weakly, unable to say anything else.
“Then it’s settled, okay? My place on Friday at say….two-thirty?” Considering the convention started at seven, that left an awful lot of time for Caleb to be intimidated and scared in the presence of the only girl he had ever taken a liking to since fourth grade. He sighed as she rubbed his back before running off as the next period bell rang.
Friday, the Kanekaredes home, Fairport, New York...
The girl came to the door dressed in only a robe and a smile. She reached out and pulled Caleb inside, being careful that her mother wasn’t standing anywhere near the front door.
“Here…put this on,” She said, handing a robe to the boy. He hesitated and she squeezed his arm.
“Come on…just follow my lead, okay?” Caleb pulled the robe and Sia closed it with the sash, lifting the hood over his head. The robe was long enough to hide his shorts, giving him an almost bare underneath appearance. Just then Olympia Kanekaredes stepped into the living room from the kitchen and stopped to take in the view of her daughter and a friend at the doorway.
“Oh, Sia, honey? Is this the friend you told me about that needs help with a costume for the convention??
“Yes, Mama….this is my friend.” The tease was meant to put Caleb at ease, since their families had known each other for a long time. The boy grimaces anyway; feeling embarrassed over the moment.
“Well, why don’t you show your friend just how handy your mother is with a needle and thread, yes?” She held her hands open and urged Sia. The girl untied the sash around her own robe and let it fall to the floor, revealing a gold brocade gown.
“Mama got the pattern off the internet,” Sia said using her hand almost as a flourish. Her long black hair made her look like Inara Serra’s twin. Caleb noticed the familiarity of the gown and almost mentioned that it was the same design that Inara had worn in “The Message” episode, but thought better of it, considering he was trying his hardest to downplay an already painful commonality with the girl in front of him.
“So you see that I can indeed be of help. Sia told me about your special circumstances, honey,” Olympia said as she stepped closer to the two. She ushered them away from the doorway and closed the door before turning her attention back to them.
“I thought that you might like to look at a few things first, if that’s okay….Then you can decide.” She smiled and pulled three garment bags out of the coat closet by the door. Draping them across the back of the couch, she grabbed a large handled shopping bag and placed in Caleb’s hands.
“Why don’t you go into the bathroom there and begin to change. Then you can try on these and decide which one suits you best, yes?” She pointed to the bathroom at the end of the hall and nodded. Caleb stood for a moment before Sia’s mother pointed once again.
“Go ahead, honey. Sia has told me all about you.” She pointed once again, this time a bit more animated.
“We don’t judge here, child. And Sia says she’s sure you’ll like what I’ve chosen.” Caleb nodded reluctantly before slowly toddling down the hall. A few moments later he came to the door, clutching tightly the robe Sia had given him; his face was beet red and he was shaking nervously.
“What’s the matter? Is there anything wrong?” Sia laughed softly, anticipating her friend’s answer.
“I …this doesn’t seem right…I’m not sure…” He held up the contents of the bag; a package of flesh colored tights and a pair of thong panties; the color of which nearly matching the red of his face. Olympia stepped closer, holding out one of the garment bags.
“I don’t know what you mean.” She unzipped the bag partially, revealing a very soft shiny pewter-colored gown.
“I’m sure this will do nicely, but you’re welcome to try on the other ones as well. After all, we’re all girls here, Callie.” Olympia looked over at her daughter and back at Caleb before smiling and winking.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I thought that pewter might be a good color for you. And I can see now that I was right. Let’s get you changed and then we can work on your makeup, okay?”
“Oh……okay.” The boy's face seemed to grow a pale pink as the pretty girl led him back into the bathroom.
Next: Conventional Wisdom...
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