Playing her way 2 - Chapter 14
Susan knocked on the partially open door and poked her head through the gap. The female police officer who had just approved her entry looked on ready to intervene if the patient demanded that the visitor leave.
"Hi," Susan smiled and waved at Zoe. "I know the hospital doesn't like flowers or cards cluttering up the place, so I brought chocolate."
Zoe was sat in the chair next to her bed. She was fully dressed in a long skirt, white blouse and blue cardigan, unlike most of the patients who were wearing various types of nightwear.
"Thanks," Zoe replied. "I wasn't sure if you would come visit after what happened."
"Why on earth not?" Susan asked.
"Because it was my fault," Zoe answered.
"You asked a couple of boys to rip your clothes off, sexually assault you, and suffocate you in the process? Funny way to try and commit suicide," the sarcasm evident in her voice, "I know you fought back, so don't start blaming yourself."
"No," Zoe sighed. "I had no intention for things to go that far. I just wanted everybody to have a good time."
"By freely plying them drugs and booze?" Susan softly asked.
"I didn't know about the drugs," Zoe replied. "Or the sex going on upstairs. Well, I suspected that might happen, I did invite a lot of the older students, and their brothers and sisters. The bouncers were supposed to prevent anybody sneaking into the bedrooms. I knew about the booze. My father knew how desperate I was to have friends so when I suggested a party, he agreed to it, and allowed me to have a case of vodka and beer for any special guests I wanted to impress."
"He really did that? We wondered where the booze came from, the drinks were obviously spiked," Susan added.
"Yes, only that is not all he did. He arranged for those bouncers. Apparently, he's been mixed up in the drug trade, and those thugs were happy to have a captive audience to hook. I didn't know who half the guests were. Some of the boys were only there because of the chance of hooking up with drunk underage girls."
"Shit, that's so screwed up," Susan stated.
"That's why I'm still in hospital. I technically don't need to be here. After keeping me in for twenty-four hours for observation, and seeing in the new year in the process, I was declared physically fit, but Dad is still in prison, and my house is still a crime scene."
Susan wasn't sure that Zoe was totally healed. Given the description from Emily, she could see the bruises on her arms and knew she must still be sore elsewhere. "Can't you stay with your mother? I know you don't get on but under the circumstances?"
"I burned that bridge with the restraining order against her new husband. She took his side when I accused him and my step-brother of molesting me. Of course, it was my word against his, and I already had a track record as a troublemaker."
"Oh my god, why didn't you tell me?"
"I was ashamed. Those rumours about me, they were true. I did give two boys blow jobs back in October. They were friends of my step-brothers, he said he would help me against my step-father if he did me a favour. The bastard blackmailed me into it, then used it as leverage to shut me up when I complained about his father."
"Have you spoken to the police?"
"I filed a report. Not enough evidence. Dad got custody and filed the restraining order for me, but he is just as much of a rotten bastard, only in a different way."
"I guess if you don't have any other relatives, you'll have to go into foster care."
Zoe started to sob, "I had a panic attack when my new foster family came to collect me. I hate what those boys have done to me. I get really agitated around strange men. I realise rationally that not every man is out to rape me, but emotionally I can't get over the attack. I can't remember all that happened, but I keep getting vague flashbacks."
"How about trying to meet up with a boy you trust? Tim or David maybe, they are pretty harmless. They helped Donna and Cheryl when they started to get a bit on the tipsy side, didn't take advantage of the situation once."
"Maybe," Zoe squeaked sounding very unsure of herself, "assuming they don't hate me. I'm guessing Donna and Cheryl are going to be pissed at getting pissed."
"Don't worry, I'm sure they will forgive you once the hangover fades from memory," Susan stated. "How about a boy you trust, who doesn't have the slightest interest in girls, and can even be persuaded to turn up in a dress if it would help?"
"You mean Jason? Is he really gay? I saw what he was wearing, but didn't get chance to talk to him about it. I thought the pink trousers was a big 'fuck you' to those who kept joking about his sexuality. I was nearby when Gary realised that it was Jason that Tim was hugging. I had to beg him not to harm either of them. Jason didn't get hurt, did he? I heard the party ended in a fight, he wasn't involved was he?"
"Nobody told you what happened?" Susan asked.
"All I know is that the party got out of control and the police were called."
"I meant about how you ended up here?"
"I don't know, I guess the police found me when they searched the house after they broke up the fight."
Susan sighed, "they weren't called to break up the fight. They were called because you had been raped. David overheard some guys talking about drugging some girls. We realised you were missing so went looking for you. Gary started the fight when Jason was prevented from going upstairs to look for you. It was Jason who found you, called the ambulance, and performed CPR."
"Oh my god, did he see," Zoe gulped.
"Yes, but he refuses to go into details. All he said was that your clothes were ripped and that it was obvious you had been sexually assaulted from your injuries, you need to ask him yourself. If it is any consolation, try not to think of Jason as a boy, she much prefers to be seen as a girl. She officially had her name changed a couple of months ago and has been living full time as a girl since September."
"You're winding me up, you are just saying that to try to make me feel better about being found half naked by a boy."
Susan grinned, "Emily, as she prefers to be called, is outside on the ward as we speak. When we talked to the matron about visiting, she said you were only comfortable with female visitors. Emily is here if you want to meet her, but she realises you may only see Jason and find it uncomfortable. She has actually gone to annoy Gary, as he's down the corridor. Poor guy ended up with two cracked ribs, a broken leg and a broken arm."
Zoe winced at the thought.
"Why don't we go and see them, I'm assuming you are allowed to walk around?" Susan asked.
Zoe immediately started to hyperventilate, barely managing to stutter, "I can't go out there!"
Susan waited for the panic to subside before asking calmly, "Why not?"
"The are boys out there," Zoe softly replied.
"Yes, but most of them are pre-teen and probably don't even know what sex is yet. Half of them are confined to their beds anyway, and those that aren't will be in the play room down the corridor. That leaves Gary, who is in no state to be chasing you around the ward, and Emily, who while is technically male doesn't want to be, and her only interest in what you have in your knickers would be pure jealousy that she doesn't have the same."
"I'll be only a few steps away from you," the policewoman added, "the doctor did say you should try some gentle exercise."
"You can't hide in here forever," Susan stated, "you might as well get this over with now. I'll stay by your side, as will the officer here."
Taking some deep breaths Zoe nervously stood, taking the hand that Susan offered.
Gary was led in his hospital bed feeling miserable. His brother had dropped off a load of magazines, but holding them and reading them with one hand wasn't easy, and he wasn't really in the mood for concentrating.
The TV was on down the end of the room, but he didn't have a good view of the screen, not that he was interested in the crappy cartoons they were running.
He considered trying to get back to sleep, but he wasn't really tired, instead, he was looking out the window in boredom, not that the was much to see.
"That was a really cool right hook," Emily's voice startled him, "guess the follow-ups didn't work as well."
It took a couple of seconds for the voice to register and make the connection with the girl standing at the end of the bed. Her hair was loose and draped across her shoulders. Emily was wearing the same dress that she did on Christmas day, red velvet with white fur trim.
"Jason?" Gary stated hesitantly having recognised the face and voice.
"Yes, but I prefer to be called Emily when presenting as a girl," Emily stated as she positioned the blue plastic visitor's chair next to the bed so that she could sit down, "and no laughing about my appearance."
Gary chuckled softly, "rather not, too painful."
Emily continued, "I wanted to thank you for what you did at the party. You made a big contribution to saving Zoe's life. The noise of the fight caused the assailants to panic and abandon trying to suffocate her. It also meant I could get to her in time to restart her breathing."
"You performed mouth to mouth?" Gary asked.
"Yep, Mr Graham's classes last year paid off," Emily replied.
"Glad she made it through, at least physically," Gary sighed.
"What do you mean?" Emily asked, "She's regained consciousness, although I heard she was out for several hours."
"She's had night terrors, woke half the ward up screaming," Gary answered, "She's down the corridor if you didn't know."
"I know," Emily stated, "Susan's gone to see her. We were told she isn't ready for male visitors, and while I see myself as a girl, I realise others will still see me as a boy, even if I do turn up in a dress. Susan is going to talk to her and give me a shout if she is willing to let me say hello."
"Sorry, but the view from here is very confusing. I know you're male, but you make an extremely convincing girl."
"Thanks," Emily replied. "Don't think too hard about it, you'll get used to it eventually. Don't worry, I'll be back at boarding school in a couple of days, and you won't have to worry about bumping into me until the Easter holidays."
Gary led is head back down and looked at the ceiling, "I'm worried Zoe might not recover. She screams every time a male walks past her door. Had a fit when a potential foster carer turned up. The guy was in his sixties, hardly what you would call a threat."
Emily shushed Gary and nudged him when she spotted movement at the end of the bay. The open ended room had six beds, three on each side. Gary was the furthest from the entrance on the left. Two beds on the other side contained younger bed bound boys watching the telly. Two of the other beds were empty, their occupants down the corridor in the play room. The final bay, the one next to Gary was empty, the child having been wheeled down to the operating theatre on his bed an hour before.
Zoe was stood at the edge of the doorway, clinging onto Susan for Support. A policewoman was stood behind them.
"Hey Emily," Susan called out, "Would you mind taking the end of Gary's dressing gown belt and tying it around your wrist, that way you can't jump up and make a grab for Zoe without being severely hindered. She's a bit jumpy around boys." Turning to the other boys in the bay she instructed, "You two over there, stay put please."
Gary picked up the end of the cloth belt with his free hand and handed it to Emily, who swiftly did as instructed.
"I swear I'm not going to harm you," Emily stated as Zoe edged closer to the pair.
"Me neither," Gary stated, "I can hardly do much even if I wanted too, which I don't."
"If he misbehaves, I'll plant a slobbery kiss on his forehead," Emily stated. "He'll hate that. While he may tolerate a kiss from a real girl, he's not going to accept it from me."
One of the nurses, spotting what was happening, decided to go and fetch another nurse and move the two younger boys out of the way, suspecting the elder teens needed to talk about things not intended for young ears.
"Susan wasn't lying," Zoe stated as she approached as close as she dared, still several feet from the end of the bed.
"About what?" Emily asked
"That you're here dressed as a girl," Zoe stated. "Are you really going to school as a girl?"
"Yes, I go to an all-girls boarding school in Norfolk. I have to be real careful if I go into any of the dorm rooms, only a few girls know I have a plumbing problem, and I've accidently been flashed a couple of times when girls decided to change clothes with me in the room."
"Wow," Gary stated, "Don't you get in trouble?"
"I always look away, although some of the girls might get very angry if they find out," Emily replied. "The worst ones are those few girls who know I'm male. They do it deliberately sometimes to wind me up."
"Anna?" Susan asked.
"The Asian girl from the other night?" Zoe asked. "She seemed nice."
"She filmed the fight." Gary stated, "Send her my thanks, her footage showed that most of my punches were self-defence."
"Didn't you start the fight?" Susan queried.
"I spoke to my lawyer about it," Emily stated, turning to Gary, "Self defence can also potentially cover protecting another person if you have reason to believe their life is in threat. Although you didn't know Zoe was missing, you did tell me you suspected that three thirteen year girls had been drugged and persuaded to go upstairs. If you need a lawyer, email me and I'll put you in touch with Mr Edwards."
"They didn't get," Zoe couldn't finish her sentence.
"No, they locked themselves in the bathroom and threw up," Emily replied. "They only came out after the police arrived. I don't know what happened to the people in the master bedroom, they were having sex but were gone by the time I left. I'm sure the police have found those present. The police seized all the footage in order to find who came down the stairs after I went up. I saw the two boys leave your bedroom, but couldn't identify them."
"They've been arrested," Zoe stated, "I would rather not think about those bastards."
"I'm sorry," Gary apologised, "I shouldn't have mentioned the party."
"It's okay," Zoe replied. Blushing she asked softly, "I have to know something, what did you see when you found me?"
"I saw someone in desperate need of medical attention," Emily replied. "Yes, I saw more than I should, but I made sure you were covered before others arrived. I could go into more detail, but I suspect you would prefer that Gary didn't hear the details."
"I think he can pretty much guess," Zoe stated, "please, continue. While I don't remember much, I have the bruises to work out what was done to me, but I would like to know how you found me."
Emily took a deep breath, and in a soft voice barely above a whisper, described exactly what happened from the moment she entered the room.
"My dad really accused you of stalking and raping me?" Zoe gasped. "You didn't get arrested did you?"
"No, but I did spend a couple of hours down the police station being questioned. I was after all found in your room, over your unconscious body with your lipstick on my face due to performing the kiss of life. I can kind of see how he might have jumped to the wrong conclusion."
"He was muddling you up with Jason Briggs," Zoe responded, "Not that he's stalking me. Jason tried to ask me out a couple of times, but he really isn't my type, too short."
Gary shuffled himself upright having slipped down the bed a fraction, causing Zoe to jump back slightly.
"Sorry," Gary called realising what he had done, "stay calm, I'm not going to go after you."
Zoe stepped forward and leant on the end of the bed and tried to calm down, "I hate that I'm so jumpy, I know full well that you aren't going to do anything. You haven't done anything for the last 14 years, so I doubt you are going to start now."
Zoe hesitated and thought for a moment, "actually, didn't I slap you for pinching my bum a few years ago."
"That was Malcolm," Gary replied, "You hit me as I was closer. I had a hand print on my face for the rest of the day."
Zoe took a deep breath and stood up straight. "Emily, please untie your hand and slowly stand up. Then don't move."
Emily did as instructed. Shaking slightly, and using all her willpower to keep herself under control, Zoe inched closer to where Emily was standing.
When Zoe was within an arms reach of Emily, she took a deep breath and wrapped her arms around the other girl, squeezing her tightly.
"Thank you for saving my life," Zoe stated. After a few seconds, she started to relax slightly and realised that the hug wasn't being returned. Realising it was because of her instructions she added, "Um, you can hug back."
Emily slowly moved her arms, not that she had much freedom above her elbows, as she was pinned by the hug. However, she managed to cross her arms around the other girls back.
"Gary," Zoe asked softly, "I really need to get past this phobia of being near boys and men. I need to confront my fears. I'm sorry for slapping you before. Please pinch my bum and we will call it even."
"Are you sure," Gary asked?
"Not really, but I need it to be done," Zoe replied.
Gary reached out with his good arm and placed his hand on the girl's buttock. She flinched and made an "eek" sound. The boy paused a second while she got her breathing back under control before giving a gentle squeeze and then removing his hand.
"Thank you," Zoe responded, "but please don't do that again."
Zoe had visibly tensed up in anticipation of being touched by the boy and had relaxed again once his hand had been removed. The close body hug was obviously soothing and she visibly relaxed into Emily's arms, feeling safe in her embrace.
"Well done Zoe," stated Dr Felicity Anders, who had been summoned by the nurse and had arrived in time to see Zoe request and receive the pinch. "You are making good progress. The more safe physical contact you can have with boys, the sooner you can get over your trust issues. Although, I would have suggested a handshake to start with."
Stepping closer the doctor asked, "Do you think you could return the touch, that is if this young man wouldn't mind? Can you reach out and touch his arm?"
Hesitantly Zoe reached out and gingerly stroked the fabric of the dressing gown sleeve worn by Gary.
Emily smiled as Susan tried her hardest not to laugh at the situation. Emily subtly nodded to Susan that it was time to point out the obvious.
"Well done, Zoe," the doctor praised her patient, "you are making progress."
"She's making a lot more progress than you realise," Susan laughed, "Zoe, get you brain in gear and explain who exactly, and more importantly, what you are currently hugging the stuffing out of. Seriously, if you were in any tighter embrace, if that is even possible, and it wasn't in such bad taste, I'd be telling you two to get a room!"
Emily released her grip, in case the other girl might panic. Instead, Zoe froze and then slowly released her grip and backed away.
Zoe was at a loss for words, and the doctor confused. Seeing that explanation was needed, Emily clarified, "I'm transgender. I have exactly the same anatomy as Gary here. Either Zoe has fully accepted my transition to female and temporarily overlooked the fact I'm still male, or she simply feels safe as she believes I'm only sexually attracted to males as either a homosexual male or heterosexual female. Whatever labels you want to apply to me doesn't really matter. It doesn't alter the fact that Zoe has just been hugging someone who is physically a boy in a dress."
"He's right," Zoe stated before correcting herself, "Or she's right? I suppose you would prefer 'she'?"
"I don't intend to make any further appearances under my former identity," Emily declared. "I have been keeping my transition secret, mainly for my own protection. However, I have now come out to my remaining family members, and to all the friends I had as Jason. I still need to work out how to tell my new friends without upsetting them, considering I've been omitting certain key details about myself."
Turning to Gary, Emily continued, "I would appreciate it if you didn't tell everybody about me, although I realise that after the other night, the cat may already be out of the bag."
"What you are doing takes guts," Gary replied. "Besides, while you may no longer be about, Susan is, and I'm sure she would do her best to prevent me ever getting a girlfriend at school it I started spreading rumours about you."
"Speaking of which," Susan interjected, "I'm guessing neither of you will be back When school starts tomorrow. Any idea how long you'll be out for?"
Gary answered first, "I may be discharged tomorrow. The docs want to take another x-ray in the morning to make sure things are setting correct. They were concerned some of the swelling was preventing the bones setting right. If I'm mobile enough, then I may be back next week."
"I'm not sure I'm ready to face going back to school yet," Zoe added, "Just because I can cope being here now, doesn't mean I'm ready for the crowds of a school corridor. I also have the stigma of everybody knowing what happened to me. It's up to Dr Anders here and social services finding me somewhere to live where I won't constantly have panic attacks."
"I'm not sure when that will be," The doctor explained. "You are making rapid progress, but you still need to demonstrate that it isn't temporary. You could potentially switch to a different school and get a fresh start, but that would have the added challenge of not having you existing friends around."
"I don't have many of them left," Zoe replied, "Susan is the only person who has given me the time of day for months. Going to an all girls schools like Emily sounds really tempting, although I suppose you would say it's avoiding the issue. You don't happen to know if your school has any free places, Emily?"
Zoe had said the last part jokingly, causing an initial laugh from Emily. However, Emily's expression quickly turned serious as a thought occurred to her.
"I know that look," Susan said sternly, "That's your problem-solving face. You're planning something."
Emily smiled, "Well, I was just thinking Svetlana does have a double room to herself since Anna moved in with me."
"Wait, you share a bedroom with a girl?" Gary asked in surprise.
"Oops," Emily blushed, "forget I said that. I'm supposed to have a room to myself for obvious reasons, but we had to evacuate half the dormitories for a couple of weeks. Everybody had to double up, with some girls actually having to camp out in sleeping bags. In order to stop anybody becoming suspicious as to why I was getting special treatment with a room to my own, I ended up temporarily sharing a room with Anna, and we never reverted back to the original arrangements. It's a private school, they can basically make up their own rules. All our parents have agreed to the arrangement, so nobody is going to complain, plus it stops any rumours about me being a boy."
Zoe sighed, "While a private boarding school would certainly solve the problems of needing somewhere to live, and cutting down on the number of men I come into contact with. I assume you have male teachers? There is one major problem with that fantasy. My family can't afford it, especially as I'll be a ward of state. My father is most likely going to prison, and the is now way I could live with him again after this anyway. I can't see the state paying for it."
"Don't even think about it," Susan pointed at Emily.
Emily ignored Susans insinuation that she was about to offer to pay for Zoe to attend. The thought had crossed her mind, but she was still tight on cash flow. Emily had already offered to pay for Susan, although she had so far refused the offer. Emily asked, "Does your dad own the house?"
Zoe fought for a moment, "Yes, but it's likely heavily mortgaged, as he had to pay mum off when they divorced. He'll probably be forced to sell it or it'll get reprocessed. I supposed I could sue the bastard for whatever money is left. It must be worth half a million on the current market."
"I was thinking the rental market, but the highest I've seen locally is around a grand a month, and you would need nearly triple that for where I attend," Emily replied. "Anna's been looking at the house prices and rental values around here to see if it's worth investing any of her trust fund capital. Her family are ridiculously wealthy."
Susan opted to go for the usual cover story, "Emily got sponsorship due to her high grades, unfortunately, with your poor record I don't think you would qualify for the same."
"I'll have a word with the headmistress," Emily promised, "About a quarter of the students get financial aid. There may be some scholarships or bursaries available that could help with the costs. Seriously, the level of care and support you would receive is likely better than a council run group home."
"It might not be an outlandish idea," Dr Anders agreed, "Foster care doesn't come cheap. Social Services often employ outside agencies, and they may be persuaded to pay a contribution to the school fees instead of whoever they would normally have to pay."
Emily grinned. One way or another, if Zoe did decide to attend St. Mary's, then she would make sure it happened, even if she had to foot some of the bill herself. Emily borrowed a pen and paper off the doctor and provided both her own contact details and that of the school. She did so at the wards main desk, away from Gary so that he couldn't learn exactly where she was and cause her any trouble.
Marilyn came to collect the girls shortly afterwards. She had dropped them off and gone to the supermarket, rather than stay and pay for parking. Anna was with her, opting not to go with Emily and Susan as she only met Zoe once, and didn't want to get in the way, or overwhelm the girl with visitors, another reason Marilyn didn't stay.
Anna and Marilyn briefly said hello to Gary and Zoe. Gary having the opportunity to thank Anna in person.
Zoe once again hugged Emily and thanked her again for saving her life as she said goodbye.
As one final piece of mischief, Emily said farewell to Gary by planting a kiss on his cheek before dashing off while waving, much to his annoyance.
To everyone's surprise, including her own, Zoe didn't retreat to her room after the others had left and stayed to keep Gary company, only leaving when the evening meals arrived.
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