Black and White

Black and White
By: Light Clark

Synopsis: Alyssa and Noah had been friends ever since they were kids, but high school was complicating that. She was one of the popular girls, and he was a ‘nerd’. Unfortunately for the two of them, things only got more complicated from there.

Warning: This story is 'technically' set in the Whateley universe. It uses no characters or places from that universe; just borrows a few terms and general thematics. It is certainly not canon.

Note: This is a rerelease of an older work, so it may seem familiar. However, it has been heavily edited since its first publishing, so it is substantially different from its original release.

Chapter 01

“Hey, Noah. Ready for that test in math?” I asked as I walked past the table where my childhood friend and his buddy Heath were sitting.

“Yeah, it should be easy. How’d the shopping trip go?” Noah responded brightly, a warm smile on his face.

Doing a little twirl, I showed off my current outfit, a pair of denim shorts and a teal tank top, both of which were so small that they’d been difficult to squeeze into. In spite of that, it wasn’t like they were particularly revealing or anything. That was just the fashion. “See for yourself.”

At the completion of my spin, both boys were staring. That was hardly an uncommon occurrence for me, though. Looking like I did, it was rare for guys not to be staring at me even when I wasn’t showing off.

“Looks like it went great,” Noah managed to maintain enough composure to compliment.

“Thanks,” I chirped happily at the compliment, before offering a quick wave and turning to go. “See you two in math.”

The boys waved back as I hurried away to find my own group of friends to sit with before class. They’d undoubtedly be waiting for me with some nonsense problem that was the end of the world to them. I wondered if it would be boys, clothes, or weight this time. It always seemed to be one of those three.

My friends, as befitted a popular clique, had our own table even though there were usually only three of us in the mornings. Ruby was the bottle blonde of the group, sporting a voluptuous figure, to go with her bleach blonde hair and brown eyes. She was the one usually complaining about her weight as she tended to be a little thick and loathed having to exercise or diet. No one else really noticed when she put on a couple pounds, though, especially not the boys who were far more concerned with staring at her impressive bust, but she fretted over it constantly anyway. Liz was the group’s athlete, with short brown hair and a slim toned physique. She was usually the one complaining about clothes as she struggled to find things to allow her to compete against Ruby and me with her more modest curves. It was in complaining about boys that the two found most of their common ground.

As I approached, I noticed that the two girls looked quite excited about something. I supposed that meant that today was one of those rare days when something really good had happened to one of them, and they were too focused on that to worry about anything else. It would probably still be related to one of the three things, though. I couldn’t remember the last time it wasn’t.

“Ally! Guess what!” Ruby called when she saw me. She didn’t wait for even a breath before squealing in glee, “Parker asked me out!”

“Wow!” I exclaimed, excited for my friend, though, not particularly by the news itself. “He’s a sophomore isn’t he?”

“Junior,” Ruby corrected proudly. “He’s going to take me out friday night. He even told me to wear something fancy.”

Liz sighed wistfully. “Older boys are so dreamy. He’s got like a car and everything.”

“I know!” Ruby tittered excitedly. “Plus I get to rub it in Christa’s face, the skinny bitch.”

“More like scrawny,” Liz added, following Ruby’s lead in the conversation.

As my friends talked, I slid into a seat quietly, noting to myself that I had forgotten about one of the pair’s other daily topics – insulting other girls. Admittedly, Christa was in fact a skinny bitch who often tried to spread nasty rumors about Ruby just because the girl wasn’t built like a model. Of course, the real reason wasn’t Ruby’s weight but Christa’s petty jealousy which was where the bitch part really kicked in.

“No kidding, she’s like totally flat,” Ruby continued the bashing. “But we are so going to have to go shopping again. I need something super hot to make sure Parker knows he made the right choice.”

“Definitely,” Liz agreed, nodding quickly. “You know, Parker is friends with Trent.” She paused for a moment to sort of swoon. “Think you could get him to hook Trent up with Ally or me? Then we could double date!”

“Hold on Liz, they only just got together. It’s a little too early to be asking favors like that?” I cut in, hoping to temper the brunette’s excitement. I had absolutely no interest in dating Trent, and I certainly didn’t want to put up with the two of them trying to force me into doing so.

Liz pouted. “Oh come on! He’s like … the hottest guy ever.”

“We wouldn’t want Parker to think Ruby is too pushy and dump her, though,” I countered.

“Yeah!” Ruby jumped in defensively. “You can get your own boyfriend!”

“Fine!” Liz grumbled, sinking further into her pout.

“You should get back together with Luke,” I suggested, trying to cheer my friend up a little. “He’s cute and you two were great together.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Please. We’re in highschool now. No way am I dating a freshman.”

“We’re freshman,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, but we’re girls. We’re supposed to date guys that are older than us, silly,” Liz stated matter-of-factly.

“Fine, not Luke then,” I conceded, not wanting to argue about it. “I’m sure you could get Trent on your own if you tried.”

Liz huffed incredulously. “Yeah right … maybe you could, but no way could I compete with all those gorgeous upperclassmen he’s got fawning over him.”

“Speaking of you …” Ruby began leadingly, glancing toward me. “Have you found anyone you like yet, Ally?”

Mere mention of that topic was enough for me to feel my cheeks heating up. “No ...”

“Oo you’re blushing!” Liz teased. “Who is he?!”

“He’s no one cause there’s no one I’m interested in,” I corrected firmly, forcing away the moment of embarrassment.

Ruby sighed. “You better pick someone soon or people are going to think you’re going out with that dweeb, Noah.”

“Ew, that would be social suicide,” Liz remarked. “In fact, you really should stop hanging around him already. I know you two were friends like a million years ago, but we’re grown up now. It’s time to move on.”

Wincing slightly, I shook my head. “I’ve told you two not to make fun of him like that. He’s a nice guy. Besides, I’m not interested in dating. All boys are interested in is getting me to put out. No thanks.”

Ruby shrugged. “You’re loss. Boys are awesome – sex is too.”

“Well if you’re not going to use it, you should lend me your body so I can go seduce Trent with it,” Liz remarked.

I forced herself to laugh at the joke. It was common for the two of them to joke about borrowing my body or parts of it. Liz and Ruby were both quite pretty in their own rights, but I was gorgeous, tall, slim, busty, with flawless features, deep blue eyes, and long golden hair, all courteous of a nice growth spurt over the last year or. I certainly wasn’t going to complain about it, but I’d never really been comfortable with all the attention it garnered – or the little comments from my friends like the one Liz had just maid..

“Well if we’re borrowing stuff, I’d like to get on it too, so I don’t have to start a diet. I need to lose at least five pounds by friday,” Ruby joined in. “I’m counting on you two to make sure I stick to it this time.”

“Aw, but you’re always such a bitch when you’re trying to lose weight,” Liz groaned.

“Yeah well, you’ll really see how bitchy I can be, if I don’t lose it,” Ruby warned.

“You look great, you really don’t need-” I tried to be supportive.

Ruby cut her hands across in front of her to silence us both. “Not another word. I’m on a diet and that’s final.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

The room for my math class was mostly empty when I arrived. Not a surprise given how early I was. Most of my fellow students weren’t usually all that punctual to their classes, after all. However, there were a couple of kids already there, namely Noah and a girl named Jessica, whom he appeared to be helping with a problem. Seeing that brought a soft smile to my face. Noah was such a nice guy, always willing to help people out.

Not wanting to disturb the two, I just quietly found my seat. As I did, I considered getting a little last minute studying in, but like Noah, I didn’t think this test was going to be much of a challenge. I was fairly smart and always made sure to keep up on my work, so I was pretty sure that I’d do fine.

“Got it?” Noah asked after a little while of lecturing.

“Yeah, thanks,” Jessica replied before quickly returning to her last minute studying.

“Good, let me know if you have any more questions,” Noah told her, before turning toward his desk. As he sat down next to me, he offered a soft, “Hey,” in greeting.

Looking up at him, I smiled. “Hi there. Get Jessica squared away for the test?”

“Hope so,” Noah answered, scratching absently at his chest. “She’s always panicking that she’s going to fail then ends up doing completely fine. I was mostly just trying to calm her down so she isn’t too nervous during the test.”

“That’s nice of you,” I told him. “Or are you trying to soften her up before you ask her out?”

Noah chuckled. “That would probably be my only chance, but no.”

“Why not?” I inquired. “She’s cute.”

Noah shrugged. “Just not my type, I guess. Of course, if you really want to talk about asking people out, we can always discuss your dating life.”

Groaning at the mere mention of that topic, I rolled my eyes. “Ugh. Please don’t. I already spent half the morning getting grilled by Ruby and Liz about that. You’d think girls thought that it was impossible to live without a man to hold them.”

“Guys really aren’t any better,” Noah pointed out. “Heath is constantly talking about how much he wants to ‘score with some hot chick’ and about how we really need to hurry up and find girlfriends before people decide we’re gay for eachother.”

I giggled at the description. “Sounds every bit as bad. Oh, by the way, sorry, but I’m going to have to cancel our movie plans for tonight. Ruby needs to shop for a new dress for her date on friday.”

“Really? You’d think that girl had enough dresses, already,” Noah commented before shrugging. “I don’t mind, though. Who’s she going with anyway?”

“She got Parker Olsen to ask her out, and you’d thinks she did but apparently not,” I informed him. “I think she’s looking for something especially slutty, so that Parker knows he’s not going to have to wait long for her to put out.”

Noah nodded. “Parker’s one of the better looking guys in school so congrats to her. Should warn her to hold off on putting out, though. He’s got a rep for dumping girls the moment they give him what he wants.”

I sighed helplessly. “Of course he does … I’ll try, but she’s probably not going to listen.”

Noah shrugged. “Well that’s all you can do. Up to other people to listen to advice. Stupid free will and all that. I’d try to talk to her myself, but she hates my guts.”

“She does not,” I insisted.

“Yeah, she does. If you weren’t her friend, she’d probably have Parker beat the crap out of me for ruining her top a couple weeks ago,” Noah countered.

“She would not … That wasn’t even your fault. Someone else shoved you and it spilled your tray,” I argued weakly, even though, I knew that that Noah was probably right. Neither Ruby nor Liz had much concern for people they deemed below them socially.

Noah rolled his eyes a bit at that. “Whatever you say, Ally. I’m honestly surprised they haven’t forced you to stop talking to me. It’s gotta be bad for their rep having you seen with a nerd like me.”

“You’re not a nerd,” I countered, but it sounded every bit as weak as my last attempt.

“Yes, I am,” Noah stated somberly. “Honestly, I don’t even know why you still hang out with me.”

“Alright, that’s enough,” I snapped, having had more than enough of this from Ruby and Liz. I didn’t need Noah feeling down about it too. “We’re not getting into this again. Just because I … ahem … grew, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends anymore. I like hanging out with you, plus you’re nice and don’t treat me like meat. So, unless you decide you hate me or something, we’re staying friends. Got it?”

Noah chuckled. “Got it.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

A loud crash distracted me from my lunch and the half-heard conversation Liz and Ruby were having about which shampoo was better for split ends. Looking back over my shoulder, I saw the reason for the disturbance and immediately frowned. Several chairs had been overturned, along with more than a few trays of food that were now on the floor.

At the center of the mess was Ben, a boy who until this year had gone mostly unnoticed. Over the summer, he had manifested as a mutant, a low-level energizer that could shoot little spark bolts from his hands. No one probably would have known except his eyes had changed in the process to look like twin starbursts, something that instantly marked him as a mutant to anyone that got a decent look at him. Anti-mutant sentiments were pretty strong in town, and it doesn’t exactly take much to get high school students to pick on someone. Life had gotten pretty bad for Ben after that.

“What? Can’t you freaks even walk without tripping over yourselves?” sneered today’s bully, a husky senior named Steve.

Ben didn’t even try to respond. Instead he just started gathering up what of his food hadn’t been ruined, intending to continue on his way. Naturally none of the teachers that watched the area while the students ate moved an inch. They’d undoubtedly side with Steve and claim the Ben just tripped if anyone brought it up. It had happened before.

“God was a schizo,” Ruby remarked, getting me to turn back around. “Being a mutant must like mess up your brain or something.”

“It sure messed up his eyes. I wonder how he even sees out of them,” Liz added.

Ruby shrugged. “Probably can’t. That’s why he’s always tripping over everything.”

“He didn’t trip. He was pushed,” I stated, quite sure that was how things had gone.

“Well, whichever. He’s still a mess,” Ruby continued dismissively. “I can’t believe he even still comes to school. It’s so obvious that he’s not welcome.”

“Yeah, you’d think his parents would have just moved already,” Liz noted. “My dad and his buddies have been trying to get them to leave for weeks, but they just refuse to budge. This town is for humans not those freaks.”

Suddenly, I stood up, grabbing my tray. “I need to go talk to my english teacher about my paper. I’ll talk to you guys later.” I didn’t even wait for an answer before walking away.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 02

“Hi, sweetie, how was the movie?” my mother, Beth, asked me as I came in through the front door.

“Didn’t go. Ruby has a date on Friday so we had to go shopping to find her a dress,” I told her, coming over to sit on the couch.

My mother was seated in her chair, a stiff-backed old thing that no one else in the family could stand, but she, for some reason, loved. There wasn’t much of a family resemblance between us. My mom was short and very skinny, a fact that was emphasized whenever I was around her. The one big similarity was that we were both blue-eyed blondes, but she had always had darker, dirty blonde hair and gray-blue eyes, even when she was young, instead of my much brighter and more vibrant coloration. While our appearances may not have been close, we certainly were. Unlike with my friends, I felt like I could talk to my mom about anything.

“I hope Noah wasn’t too upset,” my mother commented.

“He seemed fine with it. We just rescheduled for tomorrow,” I answered. “Honestly, I think I was more upset by it than he was.”

Beth tilted her head to the side as she regarded me. “Why would you be upset?”

Sighing, I let my shoulders slump. “It’s nothing really, just … with Ruby dating Parker now, she and Liz are acting a little crazy.”

“I remember being pretty excited about new boyfriends when I was your age,” my mom noted.

“Well if that was all it was, that’d be fine, but they’re trying to push me into it too, and I’m just not interested,” I explained. “Boys are idiots.”

“Aren’t you a little old to be saying things like that? It’s like you’re six anymore,” my mother teased with a grin on her face, before suddenly shifting to a more serious look. “Wait … is this a prelude to you telling me you like girls? It’s okay if you do.”

“Mom! Jeez!” I exclaimed defensively, blushing. “That’s not what this is about! I’m not into girls!”

My mother raised her hands in surrender. “Alright, sorry, I just wanted you to know it would be okay if you were. As for the boy thing, if you don’t want to date yet, just let your friends know. I’m sure they’ll understand.”

“Ha! I doubt that,” I scoffed. “If it were up to them, I’d be on a double date this Friday with Ruby and Parker.”

“Well then I guess you’ll just going to have to stick to what you want even when they try to push you away from it,” my mom advised me.

The very idea of doing as my mother instructed had me rubbing at my temples. “Well, remember you were the one that told me to do that when I come home crying about Ruby and Liz not wanting to be my friends anymore.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“You alright?” I asked as Noah and I sat down in the movie theater. The movie wasn’t due to start for a while, so they were free to talk while they waited. “That’s the fourth time I’ve caught you scratching since we met outside.”

“Just been itchy today. It’s no big deal,” Noah replied, forcing his hand to stop scratching at his chest.

Momentarily suspicious, I glanced over at the boy to check him over. Noah was a pretty average looking guy, with brown hair and eyes, and build that was a little on the short side for his age. Nothing seemed out of place, though, so I shrugged it off. “If you say so.”

“Oh, hey, since Ruby’s got her date Friday, you wanna hang out with me that night?” Noah offered. “I was thinking pizza and some video games.”

“Mmm pizza. Not going to get that for a while what with Ruby on her diet. She says she can smell it on us when we eat it, if you can believe that,” I replied, giggling softly at the absurdity of the claim.

Noah joined in with a chuckle. “Well, then all the more reason to come over! You can go home right after and wash the stink of cheese and tomato sauce from you, before she gets a chance to find out what you did.”

“That is tempting, but I’ll have to be back home by like nine or so, and my mom and dad won’t be back till ten,” I told him. “Ruby wants Liz and me home in case her date goes badly and she needs a shoulder to cry on and some ice cream to devour.”

“We can make it an early night. You can just come by my place right after school and I’ll get my mom to drive you home at nine,” Noah suggested. “At least half your night will be fun that way.”

That plan brought a smile to my face. “Thanks. I’ll probably just be sitting alone after that anyway. I really doubt Ruby’s date is going to go badly. They’ll probably be out super late.”

“Well, if you want, I can lend you my computer and use my dad’s laptop, and then we can keep playing even after you go home,” Noah offered. “Then you won’t have to sit around with nothing to do.”

“Really? I thought you were like attached to that thing?” I questioned in surprise. “You’re not going to die without it, are you?”

Noah laughed. “I get how you might think that, but I think I can manage with my dad’s laptop for a night. It’s not the worst computer ever, just close to it. I’ll pick mine back up on Saturday.”

“Thanks, Noah,” I told him sincerely. “And here I thought I was going to have a junky weekend.”

“Well glad I could save you from that,” Noah responded warmly. “I mean ... what kind of friend would I be if I let you have a terrible weekend?”

Shrugging, I looked down at the sticky floor of the theater. “I don’t know. Ruby wouldn’t care. She’s the one that wants both Liz and me sitting around doing nothing, after all.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that,” Noah apologized quickly. “I’m sure she’s just nervous and wants her friends’ support. Like, remember how nervous you were when you got the lead in the play sixth grade year?”

“Yeah, you gave up your part to work on costumes, so you could be there for me between all the scenes,” I reminisced, remembering how big of a help it had been to know Noah was right there behind me, cheering me on.

“Well that’s what you’re doing now, giving up some of your Friday night to be there for Ruby,” Noah explained, smiling reassuringly.

At that moment, the lights began to dim, so I just offered a quick nod of understanding. I didn’t turn my attention to the screen right away, though, choosing instead to look at Noah for a few more seconds in the dark. There was one big difference, between that long ago play and right now. Ruby had asked, practically demanded, Liz and I wait for her. I’d never asked Noah to be there for me. He’d just done it.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Sitting at my own table, I watched as Noah introduced his new friend to Heath. For the first time since the school year had started a month ago, Ben was actually smiling, if a bit nervously. I was glad to see he finally had some people willing to look past what he was and be his friends.

“Ally!” Liz hissed, startling me from my watching.

“Huh?” I mumbled uncertainly as I turned to my friends.

Waiting for me was a view of Ruby frowning my way. “Weren’t you listening?”

“I asked you which of these you like the green or the red,” Liz added, shoving her phone toward me.

Looking down at the phone, I flipped between the two pictures of evening gowns that were on it. Homecoming was a little over a month away, and all three of us were all expected to get new dresses. Even Ruby was going to, in spite her having just bought a new dress for her date.

“Uhm … the red one I think will look better on you. It goes really well with your hair,” I finally responded after a few moments of careful consideration, sliding the phone back to the brunette.

“Thanks!” Liz chirped. “What about you? Find any dresses you like yet? I did catch you looking at that blue one while we were shopping the other day.”

That comment prompted a shrug from me. I had liked that dress from the shop, but it was way out of my price range. I didn’t even really want a new dress, anyway. “Nothing has really caught my eye yet.”

“Well, I know what I’m getting,” Ruby announced, gesturing in an exaggerated manner toward herself. “There’s this killer black gown at that bridal shop, Genevieve’s, that will make it hard for Parker to even stand up to dance with me.”

“Genevieve’s? They don’t have anything for less than like two thousand there. How are you going to get the money?” Liz asked.

Ruby grinned. “My daddy’s going to get it for me, after I explained how important my first high school dance was to him.”

“God, you’re so lucky. I wish my dad had that much money,” Liz grumbled.

“Well you guys better pick something soon. You’ve only got a month left,” Ruby informed them.

I had to suppress the urge to laugh at that warning. As if a month could possibly be described as ‘only’ in this situation. Obviously, I couldn’t exactly get a dress the day of, but a week would be plenty of time. I’d probably have to get something cheap and simple, anyway.

“Maybe we should go look this Friday since Ruby will be busy,” Liz suggested.

“No! You guys have to be there to help me get ready!” Ruby blurted.

I blinked in surprise at that claim. “Wait, we do?

“Of course,” Ruby answered as if that fact should have been obvious.

“I’m sorry. I told Noah I’d hang out with him that night,” I explained. “I’ve already had to cancel on him once this week. I don’t want to do so again.”

“Well you’re going to have to,” Ruby told her. “I’m more important than him anyway.”

Eyes narrowing ever so slightly, I shook my head. “You don’t need both of us to help you get ready. Liz can help you.”

“This date with Parker is a really big deal, Ally. I need you guys with me,” Ruby pleaded. “Please?”

I sighed in defeat. “Alright. I’ll push it back a bit so I can help you get ready. I’m sure Noah will understand.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Couple hours late? That won’t be a problem,” Noah agreed without so much as a complaint. “Are you going to need a ride both ways then? I’m not sure my mom can do that.”

I shook my head. “No. I’ll be at Ruby’s house. She doesn’t live far from you, so I’ll just walk. It’s no big deal.”

“Oh, how about I walk over there and meet you? That way we can walk to my place together,” Noah suggested.

“You don’t have to do that,” I told him. “It’s bad enough I’m pushing it back without making you walk all that way for me.”

Noah waved a hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it. I’d rather spend more time hanging out than less. A little walk isn’t going to kill me. Well at least I hope it doesn’t or I’m in even worse shape than I thought.”

I giggled at the joke. “I’m sure you’ll be fine. You sure you want to do it, though? I really can manage by myself.”

“Shush, it’s already been decided,” Noah hushed my complaints. “If you keep asking stuff like that, I’ll start to think you don’t want to spend time with me.”

“Well that’s certainly not true,” I replied with a smile. “I was pretty annoyed when Ruby sprung it on me that I had to help her get ready. I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to do. It’s not like she can’t dress herself.”

Noah shrugged. “She’s probably just nervous. He’s good looking, older, has a car, I can see why that would cause some anxiety.”

A little dubious of that claim, I scrunched my face up a bit. “I guess. I don’t really see it honestly. I mean he’s tall, but he’s kind of husky and not very bright.”

“He is a linebacker for the team, so husky is no surprise. Those guys are big,” Noah commented. “Besides, don’t girls like big, strong guys that can keep them safe and warm?”

“That is the dream,” I admitted. “Not sure I’d feel all that safe with Parker, but he’s probably got the other attributes down.”

“Well, nobody’s perfect, Ally,” Naoh remarked.

I sighed. “I suppose you’re right. I’m probably being hard on him because Ruby’s always talking about him. Once the date’s over and everything goes fine stuff will get back to normal.”

“That’s the spirit!” Noah exclaimed.

“So what about you? What’s going on in your life?” I asked, wanting off the topic of Ruby’s date.

Noah rubbed his chin in thought for a bit. “Well, lets see. I finally beat that dragon boss. I helped Paul with his history project. I made friends with Ben. Oh, and I learned how to make banana nut bread.”

I laughed at that odd list, especially the final item. “Sounds delicious. How are things going with Ben? That ‘fall’ he took during lunch the other day looked pretty bad.”

“He’s a little skittish and shy, but I think he fits in well,” Noah replied. “It’ll probably take a little bit before he really feels at home, though. Plus, hopefully now that we’re his friends, he’ll get picked on a bit less. Most of the bullies leave us alone, thanks to you – not that that will help him and his family with all the other assholes around.”

“I don’t really do anything,” I mumbled modestly. “Most of them just leave you alone because they figure they’ve got no chance with me if they mess with you. What they don’t seem to understand is they’d have no chance regardless. Like I’d date some guy who has to beat up on smaller guys to make his dick feel big.”

Noah chuckled. “Yeah that really doesn’t seem like your style. Still, it keeps them away from us so I count it as a positive.”

I smiled warmly. “Well then I’m glad I could help.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 03

“That would be Noah,” I announced when I heard the doorbell ring downstairs. It was followed a moment later by the sound of talking as Ruby’s mom answered the door.

“But you can’t go yet. I’m not finished getting ready,” Ruby protested.

While I really wanted to go, I had to admit that that was indeed the truth. The blonde had been taking forever to get ready for her date, with over an hour just for a shower, then another for hair. The three of us were now only just in the midst of make up.

“He walked all the way here to get me. I’m not going to make him wait. And besides, you look great,” I assured Ruby.

Ruby pouted, doing her best sad puppy dog eyes. “Please.”

“Alright, one last little touch up, but then I’m going,” I told her. That little touch up took me another ten minutes before I was finally out of Ruby’s room and on my way downstairs to where Noah waited in the living room.

“How’s she look?” Noah asked, rising from the couch to greet me.

“She looks amazing, not that she’ll admit it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she took another shower and started from scratch,” I replied, a touch annoyed with my friend.

“Well that’s good,” Noah noted, before moving over to open the door. “You ready to go then?”

“Definitely,” I assured Noah, immediately walking through the door that he was holding for me. “Thanks.”

Noah bowed his head slightly as he followed behind me. “My pleasure.”

After that, the two of us set off down the road, strolling along in the waning light of day. The neighborhood was well lit, so it wasn’t like night would actually hinder our travel anyr. What was of greater concern to us was the low heavy clouds that hung overhead.

“Uh oh,” Noah mumbled, staring down at his arm.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, peering at that arm, but not seeing any cause for concern.

“I just felt a raindrop,” Noah answered. As if on cue, several more drops fell, creating a light drizzle.

“I guess our evening stroll just turned into a run. Come on!” I called, breaking into a jog.

A moment later, Noah broke into a run catch up quickly before making sure to keep pace. As we ran, the rain worsened from drizzle to full on storm, lightning cracking off in the distance. It wasn’t so bad, though. While the rain was cold, the day had been warm, making for a pretty fun little run.

“You were a lot easier to keep up with when you were shorter than me,” Noah huffed over the sound of the shower, panting a bit for air.

At those words, I slowed my pace a bit. “Sorry. It’s kind of fun, though. We haven’t run about in the rain since we were kids.” To emphasize my point, I put a sudden stop to my running for a second, using the water to skid along the sidewalk for a few feet before jogging again.

“True,” Noah replied, taking my lead and performing a little hop. He came down in the beginning of a puddle, splashing water all around him, which included me.

“Hey!” I exclaimed in mock anger, searching for a puddle of my own to splash in. I found a nice one a few paces up the sidewalk. “Let’s see how you like it.”

The two of us hit the puddle at the same time, splashing each other and everything around us as we laughed at the childishness of it. The rest of the run home was full of such splashes and slides. Finally, though, we found ourselves in Noah’s house, sopping wet and out of breath.

Noah shivered a bit. “Brr, AC is cold when you’re wet.”

“Well maybe you shouldn’t have been hopping in … puddles …” I began only to trail off when I looked at Noah.

The boy’s shirt was plastered to him with water, his arms folded in front of him from the cold. That served to only highlight the way the shirt clung to his chest – a sight that was more than a bit shocking to me. Two small mounds with puffy nipples, stiff from the cold, rested there, impossible to miss with the shirt clinging to them like a second skin.

“What?” Noah asked, peering at me in confusion.

It took me a couple of blinks to get my brain to accept what I was looking at. “Are those … breasts?” I questioned, pointing toward his chest.

Looking down, Noah turned bright red and raised his arms a little so that they would cover the bumps. “They’re nothing!”

“They aren’t nothing!” I countered, quite certain of what I’d just seen. “I know what breasts look like, Noah.”

“Stupid rain,” Noah muttered before looking up. “Fine, they’re breasts.”

“But how?” I questioned in disbelief. Noah was a boy. We’d bathed together a few times as kids even, so I knew that for certain.

Noah shrugged. “I don’t know. At first my chest was just a little itchy and a little sore. I thought it was like an allergic reaction or something. Then it started getting puffier ...”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I pressed, surprised Noah would keep something like this from me. I’d never known him to keep anything from me.

“I didn’t want anyone to know. It’s embarrassing, and they’d make fun of me,” Noah mumbled shyly. “Boys aren’t supposed to have boobs.”

I gave Noah a sympathetic look. “I wouldn’t have made fun of you. You know that, right?”

“You looked like you were about to faint from shock just a moment ago,” Noah pointed out.

“Well, I was surprised,” I argued defensively. “That’s not making fun of you.”

“It sure felt the same,” Noah huffed, a hurt expression on his face.

Reaching out, I rested my hands on Noah’s shoulders. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. Forgive me?”

“Yeah,” Noah agreed with a simple nod.

As the apologize drifted away, an awkward silence started to stretch between the two of us as we stood. I had no idea what to do in that situation, and it seemed Noah didn’t either. That left me just sort of fidgeting a bit as I tried not to look at him, or specifically his chest, too much as my mind started racing with possibilities.

“Is it just your chest?” I finally asked after several seconds. “Does anyone else no?”

Noah tilted his head from side to side uncertainly. “I don’t know. I think so, and no, no one else knows.”

“You should tell your mom. Maybe she can take you to a doctor that can help,” I suggested.

Noah shook his head. “I don’t want to go to the doctor.”

“Why not? They might be able to fix things,” I pointed out.

“Because I’m scared,” Noah admitted.

I furrowed my brow in confusion. “Scared? Of what?”

Shoulders slumping, Noah looked away nervously. “Scared that it means I’m a mutant.”

For the second time that day, I found myself too stunned to speak. I knew quite well that some mutants changed a lot when they manifested, so it seemed completely possible that breasts could be a side effect, and possibly a lot more than that too. Worse than just whatever changes were in store for Noah was the fact that, if anyone in school found out he was a mutant, it would be really bad for him. Ben and his family were all but completely ostracized by the town, and the same would probably happen to Noah too.

Words may have failed me, but I managed to find another form of communications that didn’t. Using my hands, which were already on Noah’s shoulders, I pulled him toward me, wrapping him in a tight hug. At first, Noah was shaky and resistant to the embrace, but it didn’t take him long to relax in my arms.

“Ally, I don’t know what to do” Noah told me. “If people find out ...”

In that moment, my memory flashed back to the last time Noah had been in my arms shaking like that. We’d just been little kids then, six years old and at the county park. Some of the older kids had convinced us to go into the woods, then ran off and left us there alone. It had been dark and there were all sorts of terrifying sounds coming from all around us. Noah had been frozen with fear, unwilling to move an inch. I’d tried to go get help, but Noah had started crying the moment I tried to leave his side. I’d come right back and ended up holding him the entire time until our parents had finally found us. I hadn’t left him then, and I wouldn’t leave him now.

“It’s alright. You don’t have to go through this alone,” I reassured him. “I’ll always be here for you.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

I awoke to the sound of my name being shouted. Sitting up, I was momentarily confused as I found myself in a place other than my bedroom. It took a moment before I finally recognized the guest bedroom at Noah’s house.

The two of us had stayed up into the wee hours of the night researching mutations to figure out if Noah was mutating or not. Unfortunately, short of seeing a doctor, which Noah was justifiably afraid to do, there didn’t seem to be any way to know other than if the person started to exhibit significant physical changes or manifested a power of some kind. Noah hadn’t shown any powers, and while breasts certainly seemed significant, apparently teenage boys could develope slightly in that regard, usually only temporarily, so it wasn’t conclusive proof of mutation.

“Ally!” came the shout again, clearly Noah, and he sounded scared.

Hopping out of bed, I hurried out of the room toward the sound. “Noah?” I called, using the name as a question. It didn’t prove necessary, though. Noah was easy to spot. He was in the living room, floating about a foot off the ground.

“Ally?” Noah repeated my name, this time more quietly. “I’m … I’m …”

“It’s alright, calm down,” I directed gently, approaching Noah slowly so as not to spook him.

“But I’m …” Noah trailed off again.

I nodded. “Floating, yes I see that. Can you control it?”

“I don’t know!” Noah exclaimed, looking down at himself. “Once everyone in town finds out about this …”

“The best way to avoid that is to try to figure out how to set yourself back down,” I told him, still using the calm gentle tone of voice as I tried to get Noah to focus. “If no one sees you flying, they won’t know you can do it.”

Calming a bit at the words, Noah nodded. “I’ll try,” he mumbled. It took him a couple of moments to gather himself for the attempt, but he did. Slowly he drifted to the ground until he was once more standing on it like a normal person. “Thank God,” he breathed in relief, once his feet settled down.

“See, no reason to panic,” I assured him. “We can just keep it a secret.”

That proved to be the wrong thing to say. “Keep it a secret?!” Noah spat incredulously. “You saw some of those things we read. I’m a mutant. I’m growing boo- err … you know. What if I keep changing? People are going to be able to tell!”

I winced at the claim, having to admit, at least to myself, that Noah was probably right about that. We could keep the flying secret, but if he kept changing, and there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t, it wouldn’t take long for people to notice something was up. Once they did, whether he could fly wouldn’t be important.

“We don’t know if you’ll change any more, and even if you do, it won’t change anything between us,” I told him, moving close enough to pull Noah into a hug. “I’ll still help, so there’s no need to panic.”

Noah leaned into the embrace. “I’ve talked to Ben about some of the stuff they’ve done to his family. They broke all the windows in his house, slashed the tires on his parents’ cars, and his dad’s boss is just looking for an excuse to throw him out on the street. I can’t let that happen to you or my parents because of me.”

I smiled softly at that. Even as scared as he was Noah was still worried about what this would mean for those around him. That was just so like him.

“Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to me,” I promised. “I want to help, and I’m sure, once we tell them, that you’re parents will too.”

“Tell my parents?” Noah questioned. “They’ll think I’m a freak.”

I shook my head. “No they won’t. Besides, better we tell them than they figure it out by seeing your … uhm … new assets.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Well that’s a little hard to deny,” Noah’s mother, Linda, breathed as she sat there staring at her son floating a few inches off the ground. Meanwhile, Noah’s father, Andrew, was completely speechless.

“There’s more than just that,” I noted, nudging Noah gently with my elbow. “Show them.”

Noah’s cheeks were burning bright red as he reached up to lift his shirt up. “Are those …?” Noah’s father gasped, getting an embarrassed nod from his son before Noah yanked his shirt back down. “Unbelievable.”

“We did some research and we think they might be part of his mutation,” I explained, trying to keep Noah’s parents from staring at him too long. The last thing he needed was to feel more like a freak. “We think a doctor could probably tell for sure, but …”

“Any doctor in this town would make sure that his being a mutant got around somehow,” Noah’s father finished the thought, knowing full well how the town operated. “We’ll have to take him into the city,” he continued his line of thought. “That way it won’t get back to here, whatever they find.”

Noah appeared to be about on the verge of tears between the staring and the conversation. “I’m sorry …”

“Aw, honey, it’s alright,” Noah’s mother reassured him, rising to walk over and give him a hug. “We’re not upset, right Andrew?”

“Of course not,” Noah’s father answered. “We’re just worried about how others might react. We want you safe.”

“See? I told you they’d want to help,” I remarked to Noah just a bit smug about being right.

Noah’s father pulled back a little bit from her hug to look at her son. “You thought we wouldn’t want to help?”

“I … I didn’t want you to think I was a freak,” Noah mumbled.

That comment had his mother pulling Noah right back into the hug. “Honey, we love you. We wouldn’t think that.”

“It’s not surprising that he’s scared. We have this other mutant at school and well … things haven’t been going well for him and his family,” I explained.

“The Rutgers boy? Yeah, I’ve heard about some of the things they’ve done,” Noah’s father noted gruffly. “A little house damage isn’t that big of a deal. We’ll manage just fine.”

“I’ll be doing my best to keep him out of trouble while he’s at school,” I added. “I’m not like queen there anything, but I have a little sway.”

Noah’s father nodded. “I’m glad to know that at least someone will be looking out for him.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 04

“And he is such a good kisser,” Ruby told Liz as I sat down at our table on monday. As I did, the two girls both turned to look at me, Ruby with an offended look on her face. “Well look it is. I tried to call you Saturday and you didn’t pick up.”

“Oh, sorry, Ruby,” I apologized. “Noah had a sort of family emergency Friday night, so I ended up spending most of the weekend with him helping out. The date went well, though, right?”

Ruby held the guarded expression for a just a moment before her glee bubbled to the surface. “It did! Ugh, he is just so amazing! You would not believe how much of a difference a couple of years makes. We could go wherever we wanted, he could actually buy nice things, and he was an amazing kisser. It was just … wow. I was tempted to let him take me right there.”

“Wow, sounds … virile,” I remarked a bit surprised by just how enthusiastic the blonde was. “I’m really happy it went well, though. It’s really awesome that you’ve got someone that can make you this happy.”

“It’s even better than that! She found me a date too!” Liz blurted. “Parker’s friend, Brayden apparently said I was cute, so we’re going to double date next Friday! He’s a total hunk too.”

“Not as much of a hunk as Parker!” Ruby shot back playfully.

I blinked in surprise at the news. “Wow ... that’s awesome.”

“What would make it perfect though …” Liz paused for dramatic effect. “Would be if you’d let Trent take you out with us. Just think all three of us out together with new boyfriends. It would be amazing!”

“We’ve talked about this, I’m not -” I began, really not wanting to get into this conversation again. I had enough to worry about with what had happened with Noah over the weekend.

“Interested,” Ruby finished for me. “We know, but come on. He’s like the hottest guy in school, and Parker said he’s totally into you.”

Anger suddenly flared in me at the pressure as my eyes narrowed. “Enough! Even if he was the hottest guy in the world, I still wouldn’t be interested. Just drop it already!”

After my outburst, the table fell silent. Ruby and Liz shared a look as the silence slowly built to ever increasing heights of awkward. Along the way, I cringed, as regret seeped into me over what I’d said.

“Alright, well we’re going to go watch the boys at morning practice,” Ruby finally announced, rising with Liz in tow, both wearing hurt expressions.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-” I tried to apologize.

Ruby shook her head. “No it’s alright. We get it,” she cut me off, her passive-aggressive tone making it clear that they did not get it and were not planning to forgive it easily.

“But …” I started to try again, but the two just turned and walked away, leaving me alone at the table. “I did say this would happen …” I mumbled sadly to myself, not at all comforted by the fact that I’d be right.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“So how’d things go with the doctor?” I asked, knowing that the answer couldn’t be anything good. Noah had invited me over to his house because he’d been unwilling to even discuss it over the phone.

Sure enough, even the mention of the doctor had Noah looking down at the ground, a faint flush on his cheeks. “He thinks … “ he trailed off for a moment before continuing more forcefully. “He thinks I’m turning into a girl!”

Even having an idea that might be what was happening, I was still surprised by the outburst. I did my best to keep it off her face, though, other than just a slight widening of my eyes. It didn’t matter how it made me feel, I needed to stay calm for my friend. “I’m sorry, Noah.”

Noah let his head fall into his hands. “What am I going to do? There’s no way I can hide turning into a girl from everyone. I’ve apparently already shrunk two inches and lost a bunch of weight. Then there’s these…” He cupped his chest for emphasis. “... and the doctor says there’s … stuff going on with my hips and …” He didn’t need to go on for me to get the gist of well else in that area was changing.

For my part, I had no idea what to do or say. I’d tried to prepare myself for this possibility, but it hadn’t worked. What could I possibly say to comfort Noah in a situation like this? It seemed so futile, but I had to do something.

“So we won’t hide it,” I finally announced, knowing that it was the only way to handle this situation. I also knew that it wasn’t going to be something Noah liked.

“Everyone in town is going to hate me!” Noah protested.

“Not everyone,” I assured him, coming over to slide an arm around Noah’s shoulder. “I’m not going to hate you, boy or girl, mutant or not.”

In that moment, Noah snapped, tears suddenly falling from his eyes. As they did he pressed himself against me, clinging tightly. I just let him cry, hoping that he’d feel better after he did. If I tried to stop him, it would just call attention to a display that was decidedly girly and upset him further.

Eventually the sobs stopped, although, Noah didn’t pull away. “I don’t think I can do this, Ally, changing into a girl, being a mutant, it’s too much.”

“I can help you with the girl stuff you’ll need to learn, which honestly isn’t that much, and I’ll do my best with the mutant stuff too,” I told him. “Besides, being a girl or mutant doesn’t mean you have to stop being you.

Noah finally pulled away, seeming to have found his resolve in those words or somewhere in the midst of the tears. “You’re right. It’s not like I can change it, anyway. I just have to face it and make the most of it.”

I smiled at that show of determination. “Exactly. Who knows, you might even like it. You never were one of those musclebound, macho meatheads.”

“I doubt it, but who knows,” Noah muttered. “Thanks for being there for me, Ally. You’re a good friend.”

“So are you, Noah,” I replied.

“So … where does this girl education start anyway?” Noah asked.

Glancing down at Noah, I looked him over for a moment. “Hmm, well you don’t exactly need girl clothes, but we could probably start there. I doubt you’re interested in or ready for makeup, boys, or feminine hygiene.”

Noah scrunched up his face in disgust. “Definitely not. How are we going to do this, though? I don’t have any girl clothes, and no way am I fitting into your stuff.”

“Yeah, definitely not,” I agreed, smirking in amusement at the mental image that idea conjured. “You’re not too far off from my mom’s size, though, so I think her stuff would probably fit. It’s not going to be the height of fashion, but it should work for explanations until you get some of your own clothes. You could keep wearing the stuff you have, too. There are a few girls at school that rock the tomboy look.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, but for right now I’m supposed to be facing it, so I think I’d better tackle the girly stuff before I fall back on comfort,” Noah decided.

I nodded in agreement. “Good thinking. Ruby and Liz have dates Friday night, so why don’t I grab some of my mom’s things and we can do another hang out night?”

“Sounds great,” Noah agreed.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“I guess they’re still mad at me,” I sighed as I plopped down into my seat at the otherwise empty table. I could always talk to some of my secondary friends instead, there were plenty of people that liked me, but I figured I could use the time to think. “I wonder how I can get them to forgive me,” I mused, doubting that Ruby and Liz were interested in an apology. I could accept the date with Trent, but that would just be letting them bully me into it, and I didn’t want that. Since they weren’t willing to listen, it seemed like I was just going to have to wait for it to blow over, however long that would take.

Deciding to focus on something else, I turned my gaze toward Noah’s table. He, Heath, and Ben were there, talking and laughing. For someone who had found out that he was a mutant and changing into a girl, he seemed to be in surprisingly good spirits. Noah never was the type to let something keep him down for long, though, and he certainly wasn’t the type to let his problems bring his friends down.

As I watched, I wondered how his being a girl would change things. Our relationship aside, teenage boys weren’t typically all that accepting of girls as ‘just friends’. I didn’t think something like that would be a problem with Heath and Ben, but one never knew. Maybe if Noah ended up pretty cute he might even end up dating one of them. That idea didn’t sit well with me at all, though.

“Just because he’s going to be a girl doesn’t mean he’s going to be into boys,” I reminded myself.

That idea did make me wonder what Noah was going to end up looking like once it was over. It seemed he was going to be short, even shorter than he was now. Would his face remain the same? Would he keep the same bright smile? I ended up just sitting there for a while, looking at his face and wondering how much of it would remain. He really wasn’t bad looking or anything, maybe a little kiddy but that was cute. It would be a shame if the changes ruined that.

Shaking my head, I cleared away the daydreams. “I’m sure he’ll look just fine,” I mumbled, knowing that how he looked wasn’t really going to be the issue. The real issue would be how people reacted to him being a mutant. Judging by how things had gone with Ben, and the last mutant to manifest in town before him, things weren’t going to go well. I probably needed to start thinking about what I could do to help mitigate it. The easiest idea was to just make it clear that we were friends and that I wouldn’t like it if anything happened to him. It seemed to have worked so far with Ben, but I wondered how many people my popularity could really protect before people started turning on me too. Sure, I was pretty, but so were several other girls in school, and I wasn’t exactly making a lot of fans at the moment with my refusal to date.

“I promised to be there for him, so that’s what I’m going to do,” I told myself. There was no way that I was going to abandon Noah, even if it made everyone hate me. I’d make it work.

“Promised to be there for who?” a male voice asked, apparently overhearing my remarks to myself.

Looking up, I was treated to the sight of Trent Young, widely accepted hottest guy in school. It was easy to see why. The seventeen year old stood an impressive six-four with sandy hair and piercing blue eyes. He had the easy smile, strong features, and impressive build one expects of the starting quarterback, which of course he was. Truly, he was the quintessential hunk, who a freshman like me should be getting all weak-kneed just by being graced with the privilege of his company.

“Uhm … no one … just a friend that is having a rough couple of days,” I stumbled over my answer a bit, a little embarrassed at being overheard. That could have been very bad, if I’d let slip more information.

“Ah, well, hopefully it works out for them,” Trent replied, sliding into a seat next to me. “I’m Trent by the way.”

“Oh, I know. I’m Ally, err Alyssa, whichever,” I responded nervously.

Trent smiled warmly. “Ah, I see my reputation has preceded me. Yours has as well actually. My buddy Parker’s new girlfriend has been telling me all about you.”

“Of course, she has,” I sighed in annoyance. Naturally, Ruby wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Letting his gaze trail along me, Trent nodded slowly. “She had a lot of nice things to say, and I must admit I was intrigued, especially when she told me you said you weren’t interested. I hope I haven’t offended you somehow.”

Slouching slightly under the scrutiny, I shook my head. “N-no nothing like that. My friends have been trying to push me to date, and I’m just not ready for that, so I sort of took a stand on it.”

“Ah I see,” Trent remarked knowingly. “Well you are in highschool, now. It couldn’t hurt to try some new things. It’s your choice, though.”

“Exactly!” I blurted. “Ruby just doesn’t seem to get that. She thinks that just because she’s going out with Parker that we all need to hook up with people, and Liz is just going along with it.”

“Liz … she would be Brayden’s date for this Friday, right?” Trent asked.

I nodded in confirmation. “Yeah, that’s her. They’re good friends, but I just wanted them to not be so pushy about this.”

“I take it that’s why a pretty girl like you is sitting by herself?” Trent inquired.

Blushing slightly, I looked down and away. “You’re pretty perceptive.”

“Not really. I just actually listen, unlike a lot of men,” Trent admitted smoothly. He paused for just a moment before continuing. “I have to confess, something. I sort of came over here to try to convince you to go on that date with me. I know you and Ruby are sort of arguing about this, but I hope you wouldn’t let something like that keep you from having a good time with me, and I promise to make sure you have a good time, too.”

My blush only intensified at Trent’s promise. “I … uhm .. I’m sure you would, but I’m just not … ready for that. Sorry.”

Trent shrugged. “It’s alright. It just isn’t the right time for you. It was still nice talking to you, Ally.”

I nodded bashfully. “You too, Trent.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 05

“Hey! I brought the …. clothes …” I began as the door opened only to trail off at what I saw beyond it.

Standing in the doorway was Noah, except his hair was long, reaching to his chin, and was pure ink black. To add to that, his eyes were ice blue a harsh contrast to his usual warm brown orbs. He had an embarrassed look on his face as he hid off to the side of the door to make sure no one could see him from the street.

Catching myself, I stopped staring and stepped inside, so that Noah could close the door. “What happened?”

Noah shook his head. “I don’t know. I was just getting up to throw away some trash when a little ball of black light appeared in my hand and exploded. Next thing I know the trash is gone and my hair and eyes were like this.”

“That’s a little more than flying,” I commented, frowning at the news. “We’ll just have to not tell anyone. If people in this town found out about that, things could get real bad real fast. Do you think you can control it?”

Noah shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know. What if I accidently hurt someone?”

“I know you won’t let that happen,” I assured him. “You’re going to have to practice to get it under control is all.”

“Right, okay, just control it,” Noah agreed, nodding slowly.

Now that Noah didn’t seem quite so worried, I reached out to fiddle with his hair. With the longer hair, and subtle shifts in his build and face, he really did look like a girl now. “Unfortunately, I think this means we’re going to have to let people find out sooner about your change. We could probably hide the hair, and I doubt many people know what color your eyes are, but it’s probably not worth the hassle given that it wouldn’t buy you much time. I guess it’s a good thing we’re getting started with clothes today.”

“Yeah …” Noah mumbled, reaching up to toy with the hair as well. “It’s pretty different from what I’m used to. Does it look bad?”

I shook my head. “Not at all. You’re right that it’s different, but it’s a nice color. Kind of a bad length right now, though. You’ll want to get it cut or I guess let it grow out if you want to go with long hair.”

Noah scrunched up his face at the idea of long hair. “Ew, no thanks. I’ll get it cut.”

“You’re mom’s pretty good at that stuff. You should probably let her do it rather than risk someone in town. They might shave your head or something else gross,” I warned.

Noah shuddered. “Yeah, definitely don’t want that.”

With the hair issue out of the way, I held up the bag of clothes that I’d brought. “So, I scrounged through my mom’s clothes for anything that looked like it might possibly be worn by a teenager. There wasn’t a lot, but it should be enough to try some stuff on. As for underwear, rather than give you used stuff, I had my mom take me by the store to pick up a few things.”

“Underwear?” Noah repeated the word with trepidation.

I nodded. “Yep. Honestly it’s the biggest difference between boy and girl clothes that I know of, and you’re definitely going to need a bra. Boy’s clothes might be baggy enough to hide them, but girl tops tend to be thin and tight.”

“Great …” Noah sighed. “Well … let’s get this started then.”

“Sure, just take off your shirt and we’ll get started with the bra,” I directed, grabbing a little white bra out of the bag.

Noah folded his arms protectively in front of his chest. “Take of my shirt?”

That rather girlish act of self consciousness prompted me to giggle. “Come on, it’s not like I don’t have them too. I’ve even seen yours before!”

“Alright,” Noah sighed, reaching down and quickly tugging off his shirt.

In spite of my nonchalance, I was actually surprised by the sight that awaited me. Without the camouflaging nature of the baggy shirt, Noah’s upper body looked just like a girl’s, although, admittedly, a small-breasted one. He was notably slimmer than I was even, with soft pale skin, and narrow shoulders. His breasts weren’t large, but they were perky and capped by distinctly female nipples that were stiff in the air. Looking at him, I found it very hard to believe this was my childhood friend.

“Uhm … right,” I muttered, shaking myself free from the stare. “So bras are pretty complicated. There are two sizes, the band which is the number, and the cup which is the letter. You’re pretty thin and not all that big so you’ll probably be like a thirty A or something. We’ll have to measure you, but for now we’ll use this to explain the mechanics.” As I finished, I walked over and handed Noah the bra, helping him get it on and the hooks done. “Alright, so once you have it on, you want to kind of take your hand and scoop your breast into the cup. It will help the fit, make them look a little bigger, and make sure they aren’t getting pinched anywhere.”

Noah followed instructions, carefully adjusting his first bra. Altogether, he didn’t do a bad job of it. When he let his hands fall, his chest looked well-situated, filling the bra nicely. “How’s it look?”

“C-cute,” I stuttered slightly at the sight, immediately diving back into my bag for more clothes. “Alright let’s keep going.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Is something wrong?” Noah asked, looking away from the movie to peer at me in concern.

The sound of that question got me to jump in surprise pulling my gaze up from Noah’s outfit to look him in the eye. “No,” I answered hurriedly, shaking my head and turning back to the movie. Beside me, Noah merely shrugged and turned back as well.

Since Noah and I had stopped with the clothes, I had had a hard time not looking at Noah. To help him get used to them, Noah had stayed in the last outfit that he’d tried on, a skirt and blouse combo. As he sat there watching the movie, knees together as per my instruction, there was no way to tell that he wasn’t a girl. It really weirded me out. He was supposed to be a boy,at least for a little bit longer, but he looked just like a girl.

“Thanks for coming over, by the way,” Noah spoke up again, turning to me with a smile. “You’ve been really great about this – making me feel normal even though I’m not.”

“Oh … uhm ... you’re welcome,” I responded uncertainly. “I don’t really think you aren’t normal, at least not any less normal than I am. Everyone’s got a weird thing or two about them, right?”

Noah nodded. “You’re right, my weird things are just a little more noticeable than most ...” he conceded, leaning against my shoulder. “People are going to notice on monday, aren’t they?”

“Yeah,” I confirmed reluctantly, sliding an arm around Noah to rub his far shoulder. “But it’ll be okay. You look so different, it’ll probably take everyone most of the morning just to figure out who you are.”

“I guess this is really different, huh,” Noah remarked, looking down, and tugging at his blouse with one hand. “It’s not as embarrassing as I thought, though. They’re just clothes, and they fit better than my old stuff.”

I laughed lightly. “Just wait till you get stuff that’s actually your size, and not my mom’s. Everything you’re wearing is pretty baggy on you, even the bra is probably too big, at least in the band, since I didn’t think you’d be so slim.”

“Maybe I can get my mom to take me shopping for some stuff this weekend,” Noah mused.

“That would probably be a good idea,” I told him. “Not that you’ll stick out, but you’ll stick out even less if you’re wearing stuff that fits and is in style.”

Noah chuckled. “I suppose I’ll need to learn what’s ‘in style’.”

“Or just come up with your own style,” I suggested. “Keeping in style can be a real pain, unless you’re rich like Ruby’s parents. I’m constantly having to find ways to make money so that I can keep up with all the shopping Ruby does.”

Noah stuck his tongue out at that. “Yeah, I’m definitely not going to be doing that. My parents don’t have that kind of money to spend. I’m already worried about how much this is going to cost them, what with clothes, the doctor visit, and whatever the town decides to do to us.”

I gave Noah’s shoulder a little squeeze. “I’ll pitch in too. Whatever it costs you’re worth it.”

“Actually there was something I was hoping you’d help me with today besides the clothes,” Noah began.

I furrowed my brow at the request. “Uhm okay. What is it?”

“Well it’s just, if I’m going to be a girl and dress like a girl and everything …” Noah trailed off into a brief pause. “Uhm … I should, y’know, have a girl name, too, right?”

I blinked for a moment in surprise at that question. I hadn’t even thought of the possibility of him changing his name. “Oh, right. You probably do need that, don’t you. Noah’s prety boyish.”

“Yeah, and I always liked my name, so I was thinking about ways to make it a bit more … girly, and I was thinking Naomi,” Noah explained. “What do you think? Does that sound okay? Does it … I don’t know ... fit me?”

Giving Noah a good look, I considered the name carefully. I didn’t really like the idea of Noah changing his name – he’d always be Noah to me – but I had to admit that it made sense for him to do it. Naomi was a cute name and it did sort of suit the cute, dark-haired girl that he seemed destined to be.

“I like it,” I finally answered, forcing conviction into my voice. “It definitely suits you.”

Noah still looked a bit uncertain. “Why don’t you try calling me it so that I can get a feel for it?”

“Uhm … sure …” I started slowly, putting off finally saying the name as if doing so would make the change complete. “Naomi.”

Noah brightened immediately, a warm smile spreading across his face. “Naomi,” he repeated the name. “That’ll be my new name.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

It was quite a surprise when I found Ruby and Liz sitting at our table on monday morning, instead of off with their boyfriends. “Hey guys,” I greeted as I sat down next to them. “How’d the double date go?”

“Fabulous, of course,” Ruby responded confidently. “Liz and Brayden really hit it off, isn’t that right, Liz?”

The brunette girl was already nodding. “Yeah, he was amazing. Ruby was totally right about older guys. They are so much more experienced and knowledgeable than guys our age. I felt like I was just going to melt in his arms.”

“Wow, sounds like it was quite the evening,” I replied.

“It was,” Ruby snapped just a bit defensively. “In fact the only thing souring the evening was the fact that our friend wasn’t there with us, even after Trent went out of his way to ask you personally.”

“Look, I’m sorry-” I tried again to apologize.

Ruby cut me off with a wave of her hand. “It’s fine. We’ve forgiven you. If you don’t want bliss, we can’t force it on you. Let’s just forget about it.”

“Okay …” I said uncertainly, confused by my friends giving up on it so easily. That was certainly new. Maybe they’d just finally realized that I wasn’t going to give in.

“Have you heard about the new girl that came in with her parents this morning, Ally?” Liz asked, changing the topic.

I stiffened as I realized exactly who the ‘new girl’ had to be. “N-no what have you two heard?”

“Not a lot,” Ruby answered. “She’s apparently short with black hair. She’s kind of cute, I guess, but really scrawny. Still, she’s got a lot of guys talking about her. It’s probably just cause she’s new, though.”

“Rumor has it she’s a freshman, too, and that she had to leave her old school because she got caught with a teacher,” Liz added in a conspiratorial whisper.

It took effort for me to suppress the desire to roll my eyes. At least nothing truthful had leaked out about Naomi yet. “Really?” I questioned with mock interest. “And with a teacher?” I added an exaggerated shudder. “That’s gross. I don’t think anyone would really do that, though. It’s probably just a rumor, right?”

“It is gross,” Ruby agreed, ignoring my last comment. “She’s probably just one of those sluts that sleeps around for attention. She certainly wouldn’t be getting any attention with that non-existent chest of hers.”

“She’ll probably be real popular amongst those guys that watch those japanese pedo shows, though,” Liz added with a snicker.

“I think you two should probably pay less attention to rumors,” I chided, not really wanting to listen to them talk badly about Naomi. “I’m sure she’s nothing like that. This always happen when someone new shows up, and none of it is ever true.”

Ruby shrugged. “Maybe not, but it’s a lot more interesting than her being a nobody we won’t pay attention to in a week. And who knows, the rumors could be true and she could be the biggest slut this school has ever seen.”

“I don’t know if that’s possible,” Liz noted. “Don’t you remember Maggie, the girl that got caught giving out handjobs in the bathroom? I think she probably has that record forever.”

Ruby laughed. “Yeah, totally. Who’d even want a handjob from her anyway? She’s like a total heifer.”

“Well not everyone can land primo girls like us,” Liz answered arrogantly.

As the conversation drifted away from Naomi, I sighed softly. It was definitely a relief to have her friends talking about something else. There would probably be more than enough rumor mongering later, once everyone figured out who Naomi really was.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 06

“Why didn’t you tell us that Noah was the new girl?!” Liz exclaimed as she and Ruby waylaid me in the hall between classes. “You had to know it was him right?”

“Of course, she did,” Ruby pointed out matter-of-factly. “She was just hanging out with him this weekend. There’s no way she could have missed that.”

“Oh right,” Liz conceded. “Still, this is so crazy! His mutation turned him into a girl! How could that even happen? Did he want to be a girl or something.”

Sighing at the fact that it hadn’t even taken two periods for people to discover the truth about Naomi, I shook my head. “No, she,” I began, making sure to put extra emphasis on the female pronoun that now described my childhood friend, “just happened to have a mutation that entailed changing that way. It’s a little unusual but not unheard of.”

“She, right, as if he could ever be a real girl,” Ruby sneered. “He’s just some genetic freakazoid like that Ben loser. No wonder they started hanging around each other. Who else would want to talk to them?”

“Well, me for one,” I shot back, using my height to tower over the shorter girl a bit. “She’s still my friend, and I’ve already told you I don’t like you two making fun of her.”

Ruby glared up at me. “You’re going to stay friends with … with … with that.”

“Yes, I am,” I stated firmly.

“But why?” Ruby demanded. “Things are going so well. We’re really starting to carve out our place in high school. We can’t associate with someone like that. It could ruin everything!”

I rolled my eyes at that concern “Then don’t. You two can focus on getting to the tippy top of the pyramid and I’ll focus on not betraying my friend.”

“We’re your friends too, you know,” Ruby retorted defensively.

“Yes, and I’d rather hoped that as my friends you wouldn’t be trying to make me choose between you,” I countered.

Liz and Ruby shared a look before finally Ruby sighed. “Fine, we’ll stop picking on … Naomi was it?”

“That’s all I’m asking,” I told her.

“It’s going to be pretty hard to talk about anything else for a few days,” Liz commented. “The whole school is focused on it.”

Ruby shrugged. “It’s fine. We’ve got the boys, and there’s homecoming to plan, and you and Ally both still need dresses. I think we can manage to ignore one … student for a few days until this ceases to be anything anyone who matters cares about.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Will you stop staring?” Ruby chastised, shooting a glare my way.

“Sorry,” I mumbled, forcing my gaze away from Naomi. I’d been watching over the other girl practically from the moment that I’d entered the lunch area. It was the first part of the day where people would both have the information and the time to do something to Naomi, so I was more than a little nervous about what might happen. “Just worried about her.”

“I’m sure he’ll ... err ... she’ll be fine, Ally” Liz offered, correcting herself to the proper pronoun for my sake. “They seem to even be having fun.”

In spite of my concerns, what Liz had said did appear to be correct. Naomi was sitting with Heath and Ben, looking very cute with her new short haircut and actually fitting clothes, and they all seemed to be in pretty good spirits, laughing and talking just like any other day. It was looking like Naomi and I had been more afraid of what would happen than we should have been.

“You’re right, sorry,” I replied, returning my focus to my friends. “What were we talking about again?”

“Dresses for homecoming,” Ruby informed me.

I nodded. “Right, we were going to go shopping … uhm … Thursday, right?”

“Right,” Ruby confirmed. “Liz thinks she’s got her choices narrowed down, so we’ll all go help out. I’ve also got a fitting for my dress to make sure that the alterations came back right.”

“You already got it altered?” I questioned in surprise.

“Yeah, duh,” Ruby answered as if that should be obvious. “Homecoming is less than a month away, and all the dress shops in town are going to be slammed for it. You have to get this stuff taken care of early if you don’t want to end up without enough time.”

I winced at Ruby’s remarks. I hadn’t even really started looking for a dress, other than to learn that off the rack definitely wasn’t going to fit me right. All I could really do was hope that I’d find one while we were out and that getting it adjusted wouldn’t cost too much. “Can you guys help me pick one out Thursday, too?”

“Sure!” Liz chirped excitedly. She absolutely loved playing dress up with me. She always said it was like having her own, personal, life-sized, Barbie doll.

The lunch area suddenly got a lot quieter as everyone’s attention focused on a single point. I didn’t even need to follow people’s eyes to know who it had to be about. Turning around again, I looked right toward Naomi’s table.

Sure enough, towering over Naomi was Steve, the same bully that was always picking on Ben. It was no surprise that a mutant-hating bastard like him would seek out Naomi. The dark-haired former boy was clearly terrified, too, cowering down in her chair.

I was about to hop out of her chair and rush over when Trent shoved himself in between Steve and Naomi to demand, “You got a problem, Steve?”

“Yeah, I got a problem; that freak being in the same building as me. He’s an eyesore,” Steve shot back. While he was trying to sound angry, he couldn’t quite get the uncertainty from his face. Nobody had stood up for one of the mutants before.

“I think she’s going by ‘she’ now, and the only eyesore here is the one you are making with this spectacle,” Trent retorted. “Why don’t you just go eat your lunch, unless you want to handle this after school … with me.” After school was when the real fights happened.

Steve was far from small, and for a moment he seemed ready to fight over it, but in the end he just shrugged. Tossing a glare at both Trent and Naomi, he spat out a, “This isn’t over,” before spinning to storm off.

With the altercation averted, the area immediately got loud again as people turned back to their own things. At the same time, I finally hopped up from my seat and hurried over to where Trent was talking to Naomi. As soon as I got there, I was already asking, “Are you alright?”

Naomi nodded up at me. “Yeah, thanks to Trent here. I still can’t believe you just came to my rescue like that.”

Trent just shrugged dismissively. “It’s nothing really. I’ve been tired of Steve thinking he’s tough shit for a while now. Felt good to put him in his place, and I even got to play hero for a cute girl in the process.”

Blushing, Naomi giggled in a soft and very girly fashion. “Well I’m not sure about that last part, but still thanks.”

“It was my pleasure,” Trent replied. He offered a quick wave before turning to go. “Enjoy your lunch.”

Throughout the exchange, all I could do was watch in dumbfounded silence. I didn’t know which was more surprising, Trent treating Naomi like a cute girl or Naomi acting like one. He’d been a boy till last weekend and now they were both acting like that had just never been the case.

“Uhm … “ I stumbled to find some words as Trent walked away. “I’m glad you’re okay … sorry I didn’t get here sooner.”

“It’s alright,” Naomi assured me, flashing another bright smile. “I don’t expect you to be watching over me every second of the day. I’m a big girl. I can watch out for myself.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“What a weird day,” I groaned as I flopped onto my bed at home. Naomi and I had spent most of the weekend planning for her first day of school as a girl, but nothing could have prepared me for what had actually happened. Everything had gone perfectly fine – in fact, better than fine. It had been great.

Somehow, in spite of the way they’d treated every other mutant, the kids at school really hadn’t been that bad. Sure, there was a contingent of assholes, guys like Steve that were always looking for new victims, but thanks to Trent siding with Naomi, most of the popular kids seemed to be willing to leave Naomi alone. Naomi’s friends, who I had thought might be uncomfortable with the former boy’s change, had been quite accepting of the new girl, too. Even Naomi herself had acted surprisingly feminine and comfortable all day long without having to come to me for help even once.

“Unbelievable,” I muttered, thinking about how it had all gone. It really was really the only word to describe it. Everyone had been so nice that it made me suspicious of it – like it was some kind of trick being played on Naomi and me. They could be trying to hurt her somehow, but I couldn’t see how that made any sense. If they wanted to hurt the girl, they could have just let Steve hurt her.

“Things went that bad for Noah?” my mother asked from the doorway, misinterpreting the reason for my consternation. “Oh sorry, Naomi.”

Sitting up, I shook my head. “No, they went good – great even. Naomi went over well, other than a few minor things. Other kids even stood up for her. It was just like she was any other girl …”

“Ah, I see,” my mother said knowingly.

I looked up at my mom in confusion. “See what?”

“What’s bothering you,” my mother answered cryptically.

That comment only made me even more confused. “What? You mean about it being suspicious?”

My mom shook her head. “No, dear, that’s not what’s bothering you.”

“Well then could you tell me, because I’m confused,” I requested.

“You and Noah have been friends since you were kids. He’s friendly, caring, and male to you,” my mother explained. “Seeing him as a girl bothers you.”

“What?! That’s crazy!” I exclaimed. “I’ve been the one helping him make the switch!”

My mom got an amused little smirk on her face. “Of course, because he’s your friend, but that doesn’t mean you’re okay with it. Him being a girl changes things – confuses things – like how you feel about him.”

“She’s still my friend,” I stated with absolute certainty.

“Ah, youth,” my mother sighed with patronizing wistfulness. “The thing you think is the same is exactly what’s different. Did you really think of Noah as just a friend?” That got me to wince. “I thought as much. It didn’t make much sense for a girl your age to be turning down someone like that Trent boy.” As she talked, my mother walked over to sit next to me and wrap an arm around my shoulder. “Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we plan.”

Frowning, I let my mom pull me into the embrace. Noah and I had been together since we were kids. Before I’d grown up, I’d just been too shy, thinking I wasn’t good enough for someone as nice and friendly as Noah and that he couldn’t possibly be into me. Then I’d hit my growth spurt, made friends with popular girls, and everyone had been telling me that I shouldn’t spend time with him anymore – not that he’d shown any interest in asking me out at that point either. Now he wasn’t even a he anymore.

“I just thought …” I began only to trail off, not really even knowing what to say.

“I know, dear,” my mom said sympathetically. “Everything is always so complicated until it’s too late to do anything. You were afraid he might not feel the same way. You didn’t want to risk your friendship. You stayed friends, hoping he’ll realize, thinking you have time, then the time runs out and you regret it.”

Having it all laid out brought tears into my eyes, blurring my vision. “Why didn’t he just ask me out? I’m pretty enough, aren’t I? We’ve been together our whole lives … we were supposed to be together our whole lives.”

My mother rubbed my arm comfortingly. “I know, sweetie.”

“Now he’s a girl and he’s all friendly and adorable and he’ll probably end up with Trent, the guy I turned down for him,” I complained bitterly. “Why couldn’t he just stay a boy like a normal person? Everybody else manages to stay their own gender, why couldn’t he? It’s not fair.”

“It never is,” my mom told me. “When life wrecks your plans you just have to make new ones.”

Hearing that unhelpful answer, I slumped against my mother despondently. Unhelpful or not,I knew that she was right, but I had no idea what to do about it. Noah and I had grown up together, knew everything about each other, were the same age, were great friends. How was I supposed to just get over it and find someone else like that? How was I even supposed to be the friend he needed me to be when being around him would be a constant reminder of what would never be? Everything was just ruined.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 07

“You alright, Ally?” Liz asked. “You’re looking bluer than that dress.”

“Huh?” I muttered as I looked up from my melancholic thoughts. “I’m fine, sorry. Just got a lot on my mind,” I explained, smoothing out the fabric of my dress and standing up straight to look at it in the mirror. “How does this one look?”

Ruby and Liz gave this dress the same critical look they had the last dozen or so. This gown was of a deep blue that matched well with my eyes, and sported a halter style top. After adjustments it would undoubted look snug and elegant, although, right now it kind of hung around my waist while I muffined out of the top. It was, like most of the other one’s my friends had brought for me to try, rather conservative – intended to show a relatively modest amount of cleavage and having only a single slit in the full length skirt that barely went past my knee. It was important that each of us had a way to shine and Liz had claimed legs and Ruby had claimed boobs, so naturally I was not allowed to show too much of either – not that I really minded conservative.

“Hard to tell with the fit …” Ruby noted critically, tugging a bit at the loose fabric around my waist.

“Very elegant, like royalty or something” Liz offered.

“Maybe too elegant, though,” Ruby added. “We don’t want people thinking she’s some kind of frost queen.”

The two fell into silence for a moment, just peering at me with judgemental eyes as they assessed the garment. Circling around me, they took in the dress from all angles, occasionally nodding or shaking their heads.

“Yes, no, maybe?” I pressed impatiently.

The two shared a look and nodded. “I think this one is it,” Liz announced for the pair.

“Shame to waste such a great dress on no date, though,” Ruby commented. “You sure you don’t want to let someone take you? At least it would give you a dance partner.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know … I guess it would depend on who asked. No one’s tried to ask me out at all since I told Trent no.”

“Well turning down the hottest guy in school is a great way to scare boys off,” Ruby remarked. “You could always see if he’d still like to go with you.”

“That would be amazing,” Liz chirped. “You two would be such a cute couple.”

“I don’t know …” I mumbled uncertainly. “I’d feel really embarrassed asking him after I told him no. He’s probably already found another girl for something like this, anyway. Besides, I really just want to go to spend time with you guys and see you two around Brayden and Parker. I bet you’re adorable.”

Liz pouted. “Aw. We are, but don’t you think it will be boring if you just stand there with nothing to do? Ruby and I will be dancing most of the time – if we don’t cut out early.” She giggled a bit at the implications of that.

“There will probably be at least a few good looking guys that go solo that she can dance with,” Ruby pointed out. “Probably the same guys she’d be picking from now for a date anyway. I’m sure she’ll find something to do.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

A small frown crept onto my lips as I watched Naomi approach. The black-haired girl was walking side-by-side with Trent, the two seeming to be deep into a rich and engaging conversation. When they finally parted ways, it was with a gentle pat on the arm by Naomi that was decidedly flirty.

“Hey, Ally!” Naomi greeted warmly. “How’d the dress shopping go yesterday?”

“Fine,” I answered coolly, glancing back toward where Trent was walking away. “You two seem to be getting along well.”

Naomi looked back over her shoulder quickly before turning back with a smile. “Me and Trent? Yeah, he’s been really nice, helping keep some of the more persistent bullies away from Ben and me. Apparently he doesn’t just play football, but likes those kinds of video games too. He was just sharing some of the stories he has from one of them.”

I nodded absently at the stellar assessment. “Sounds like a great guy.”

“Yeah,” Naomi agreed. “So, tell me about this dress you got. Who are you going to homecoming with anyway? Trent said that you turned him down.”

The investigation earned a shrug from me. “It’s blue and I don’t know. The plans I had sort of fell through, so I guess I’m going alone. Why the sudden interest in the dance anyway?”

“Well, I was thinking that maybe I would go, y’know see what it’s like from the girl side of things,” Naomi responded. “As a guy I was also too nervous to ask girls to dance, and then, if I somehow did, I’d spend the whole time sweating through my suit I was so anxious. Trent promised that if no one else asked me to dance, he would, and dresses aren’t nearly as hot and stuffy as suits, so I thought why not.”

“Wow … I guess I should be asking who you’re going with,” I remarked. “Maybe Trent will ask you.”

Naomi laughed. “Ha, I doubt that, even if he didn’t have a date with Tina, that girl from the cheerleading squad. I think he’s got a thing for busty blondes, and I’m neither.” She glanced down at her modest chest for emphasis.

Seeing a chance, I gathered my nerve and asked, “W-why don’t you go with m-me then?”

“Really? Won’t Ruby and Liz be mad?” Naomi questioned. “They’ve always hated me hanging around you.”

I shook my head definitively. “With you and Trent being friends I don’t think it will bother them at all. It’s not like they hated you. They just thought you were in a different social strata or some other nonsense.”

“Girls are complicated,” Naomi sighed. “Boys just find people that like similar things and bam friendship – clean, simple, natural.”

I laughed lightly at the simple description. “That must be nice. So … will you come?”

“Of course, I’d be glad to go with you,” Naomi answered, beaming a smile as she did. “I’ll need a dress then, won’t I?”

“And shoes, and a purse, and a hair and makeup appointment for the day, and probably some other things that even I don’t remember,” I informed her. “I’ll help you with the shopping and stuff.”

Naomi’s smile didn’t waver. “Sounds like fun.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Holy shit!” I gasped as I watched Naomi demonstrate her power. The two of us had hiked out to an old abandoned farm just for the demonstration, clearly a necessity after what I’d just witnessed. All I’d ever seen the girl do before was float around a little bit. That was cool but not exactly awe inspiring as powers go. This was on a whole other level. “That’s amazing …”

“I guess …” Naomi muttered disinterestedly, clearly not happy to have such a destructive power.

Unhappy or not, the brunette repeated the show for my sake. A wave of her hand created a small glowing orb of black energy, about two feet in diameter, in the air fifty feet away. For about a second and a half the orb just floated there pulsing with energy, then it erupted into a huge explosion of roaring flames that had enough heat and force that a hot wind rushed out from it to smack me in the face where I stood watching. It was a truly stunning display.

“So it’s that and fly?” I asked, once I recovered from the second viewing.

Naomi scrunched her face up. “Not exactly. I can also do this.” Bending down, Naomi grabbed a rock and gave it to me to hold, before stepping away. She closed her eyes for a moment and a nearly transparent orb appeared around her, just opaque enough to make it clear that it was black. “Throw it at me.”

With a shrug, I gently tossed the rock at Naomi. It sailed through the air lazily before smacking into the orb. When it did it burst into black flames, vanishing without making it through the sphere.

“Wow …” I breathed as Naomi let the aura fade, very impressed by the array of powers the other girl had demonstrated. It seemed that Naomi wasn’t going to have much trouble taking care of herself if someone did try to pick on her. “Have you had any trouble controlling any of it?”

Naomi shook her head. “Not in a while. The practicing has really helped. Thanks for telling me about that by the way. I probably would have been too scared to ever try to use them and ended up using them accidently instead.”

“Glad it helped out,” I replied. “I guess this means I don’t need to worry about you so much.”

Frowning, Naomi looked down at the ground. “I’d be too scared to ever use my powers on an actual person. I don’t want to kill anyone.”

“Better someone else than you, though,” I pointed out.

Naomi shook her head. “I’m not sure that’s true. I wish all I could do was fly … or even just nothing at all, then I’d never have to make that decision.”

“Honestly, if someone has to have this power, I’m glad it’s you,” I told her. “A lot of people in your position, would use it to take revenge, or steal things, or just hurt people because they could, but I know you’d never do anything like that.”

“Thanks, Ally,” Naomi replied, looking up again. “That means a lot.”

I gave the other girl a warm smile. “That’s what friends are for. Now come on. Let’s get out of this place and go play some video games.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Purple? Really?” Naomi questioned skeptically as she looked at herself in the mirror. She wore a strapless, sheath gown of rich purple. It did an excellent job of highlighting just how slim she really was – even just by girl standards, not former boys, she was tiny. She had just enough up top to show off, too, and the skirt’s slits showed off attractive legs. Altogether, she looked amazing.

Seeing her formerly male friend like this was a bit much for me however – I’d even seen the feminine flatness between Naomi’s legs as she’d change. I pushed such worries away quite quickly, though. Right now I was just helping another friend find a dress. I didn’t have time for my own hangups about what might have been.

“It looks really good on you, but I suppose we could try other colors,” I offered. “Ruby and Liz will be furious if you choose a color that’s the same as theirs, so black and red are out.”

“And you’re wearing blue,” Naomi added, still peering into the mirror. “Hmm … I guess I don’t really mind purple.” She tugged on the top of the dress a bit. “Isn’t it a little low cut for someone of my … size?”

“Not at all,” I replied. “Strapless styles generally work well with small busts.”

Naomi still looked skeptical. “I guess I just wish that if I have to have them that they were a little bigger. Right now there’s just barely enough there to not be a boy.”

I giggled at the criticism. “Well, I’m sure you won’t agree but what you’ve got looks great. In fact, you’re probably going to make Liz and Ruby a little jealous with how good you look in that dress. Hopefully, Ruby won’t start saying nasty things to you. She has sort of a grudge against skinny girls.”

“How’d she ever become friends with you and Liz then?” Naomi asked.

All I could do was shrug. “Honestly, I don’t know. She and Liz were friends before Ruby started struggling to keep her weight down, so there’s that. I don’t know about me, though. It sort of felt like she just decided that we should be friends because I was pretty.”

“Maybe she was afraid you were going to start your own clique and shove her off the top spot?” Naomi postulated.

“That’s as good a reason as any I’ve thought up,” I admitted. “It doesn’t really matter where it started, since it’s worked out pretty well since.”

“Well Heath and I are friends because I just happened to see him reading a roleplaying book,” Naomi shared. “If he hadn’t happened to have that book that day, we’d probably have never have become friends. Friendship is weird like that.”

“I prefer how we became friends,” I remarked.

Naomi laughed. “Because you liked my teddy bear in preschool?”

“And you were nice enough to let me play with it!” I added brightly. “Even back then you were just the nicest person. It’s a good trait for a friend.”

Naomi smiled. “You’re not exactly mean or anything – always there for me. Remember when you saved me from that horrible spider?”

“You mean the little piece of mud and twigs one of the other kids dropped on your head and told you was a spider?” I reminisced. “Yeah, I remember. The hardest part was getting you to hold still for half a second so I could get it out of your hair. You were running like the wind!”

“I was scared!” Naomi exclaimed. “I thought it was going to bite me! I’d been assured it was a very dangerous spider that could kill me like that.” She snapped her fingers on that final word for emphasis.

I broke into a fit of giggles. “The stickmud spider, deadliest spider in the world.”

“Or so they say,” Naomi added, giggling as well.

“We were quite the pair back then,” I remarked wistfully.

Stepping forward, Naomi gave me a quick hug.. “We still are.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 08

“What the hell?!” Naomi gasped, leaning forward to look out the front window of the car.

Speechless, I followed suit, rewarded with the sights of flashing lights and police cars from down the road. There was even an ambulance, but no obvious signs of what the trouble was. That only made it more ominous.

“Stay in the car, girls,” Naomi’s mother instructed as she pulled the car to a stop, hurrying out to go find someone to talk to. One of the police led her through to the ambulance into which she vanished.

Now that the car was closer and stopped, it was possible for me to see that the front door of Naomi’s house was messed up, hanging loosely and appearing to have been kicked in. Several of the windows were smashed as well. There was no way to tell what was happening inside, but the fact that Naomi’s mother had gone to the ambulance first was not a good sign.

“Dad!” Naomi blurted the moment she put it all together. Before I could even attempt to stop her, Naomi had her seatbelt off and had bolted out the door, racing toward the ambulance.

“Naomi wait!” I called after my friend, struggling to get out as well and give chase.

The police seemed oddly lax for a crime scene, even letting me, who was unrelated to anyone there, to run right through their perimeter. By the time I got to the ambulance, there was a sobbing Naomi hugging her father tightly as her parents tried to calm her. Naomi’s father didn’t look great, but there didn’t appear to be any life-threatening injuries. His arm was in a sling, and there were several cuts on his face along with his right eye being swollen shut.

“Mr. Brooks what happened?!” I blurted, stunned by the apparent violence.

“Just some tough guys thinking they’d mess up our house. I tried to chase them off, but they weren’t scared. They ended up busting down the door and giving me a bit of an asskicking, for my trouble. That’s all,” Naomi’s father explained, still patting his daughter on the back.

Naomi’s mother reached out to try to pull her daughter away. “Come on, sweetie, you need to let go so they can take your father to the hospital.”

Clearly still distraught, Naomi nodded wordlessly and released her father. Once she had, her mother guided the girl back out of the ambulance. With Naomi out of the way, the paramedics got to leave.

“Get better soon, Mr. Brooks,” I told him before the doors closed.

“Ally, can you keep an eye on Naomi for me?” Naomi’s mother asked. “I need to talk with the police.”

“Sure, thing, Mrs. Brooks,” I replied, letting the older woman pass Naomi from her arms to mine.

The smaller girl was shuddering in silent sobs, which was no surprise to me. This was basically Naomi’s worst fear, other getting hurt because of her. Worse still it was one of her parents that had been injured.

“It’s alright, I’ve got you,” I whispered softly, as I rubbed Naomi’s back comfortingly.

“It’s not alright!” Naomi spat, finally using words in between the sobs. “It’s all my fault. My dad’s hurt because of me.”

“It’s not your fault,” I tried. “You can’t change who you are, and you can’t change some people being idiots about it either.”

“If I wasn’t around this wouldn’t have happened,” Naomi countered. “I wish I was dead!”

Stiffening at that claim, I pushed Naomi back a bit so that I could lean down and look the other girl in the eye. “Don’t ever say that, Naomi. You think your dad is hurt now? This is nothing compared to how hurt he’d be if you were gone. Not just him either. Your mom, me, Heath, we all love you and we’d all be hurting terribly if anything happened to you. Understand?” Naomi managed a slight nod, and I pulled her close again. “You’re dad will be fine – everything will be fine. I’m here for you.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Thank you for letting me stay here, Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell,” Naomi said graciously as the two of us came through the front door of my house.

“It’s not a problem at all, No-Naomi,” my mother assured her. “It will certainly be a lot more comfortable for you than in some hotel room while they fix up your house. We already got the foldout bed set up in the office for you.”

Naomi nodded. “Thanks, I’m just worried …”

“Don’t worry. I got my shotgun cleaned and ready to go if those hooligans try anything here,” my father, Rob, told her gruffly. “They’ll learn real quick to not mess with the friends of my little girl.”

“Now, why don’t you just make yourself at home, while I go get started on dinner,” my mother suggested, moving off toward the kitchen once we seemed to be fine. “Don’t be afraid to ask, if you need anything either.”

“Just remember you two still have school tomorrow, so don’t get too rowdy,” my dad reminded us before he too left.

With my parents gone, Naomi looked to me. “Was he serious about the shotgun?”

I nodded. “My dad doesn’t joke about things like that. He once beat up a guy because he refused to stop talking at a movie theater. If he wants you safe, then you’ll be safe, and anyone trying to make you otherwise is in for a world of hurt.”

“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Naomi replied.

“I’m sure it won’t,” I reassured the girl. “Now why don’t I get you settled in and then we can watch a movie or something until dinner. Sound good?”

“Sounds great,” Naomi concurred.

Plandecied, I lead Naomi to a room neither of us usually had much cause to go into. My dad’s office was mostly just a place to get away from us girls and watch sports, or hold poker games, or whatever it was guys did when they were alone. I tried not to think about it too hard. One of it’s other uses was to serve as a bedroom for any of his friends that got too drunk to drive home, which is why it had a fold out bed.

“So, I should warn you, the bed isn’t very comfortable. If it bothers you, we can switch, and you can have my room,” I offered.

“I’m sure, it will be fine,” Naomi responded.

I gave the other girl a skeptical look. “Well the offer still stands. Other than that, the room just smells a little weird from cigar smoke and spilled beer. It’s not all that bad really, just a little odd. There should be clean sheets, so it’s not like the bed will smell or anything.”

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Naomi repeated. “You don’t have to worry so much.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled. “Just want you to feel at home after … what happened.”

Naomi bumped her shoulder against me. “Don’t worry. I do.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Naomi,” I whispered into the darkness as I lay in my bed unable to sleep. While it had been a hectic day, that wasn’t what kept me from rest. I knew Naomi’s father wasn’t hurt badly and the house would be fixed within the week. The person that had been hurt the worst by it was Naomi herself, guilt-ridden and horrified by what had been done just because of who she was. All I could really do was be there for the girl and hope that she hadn’t been too traumatized by the ordeal.

What really kept me from sleep was Naomi herself. I’d seen Naomi in a dress, several of them even, adorable and feminine and acting no different from any girl that I’d ever known. She’d even complained that her boobs were too small. After that, I’d held her in my arms while she cried, and Naomi, only maybe an inch over five feet and so slim and cute, had yet again seemed completely a girl. At the same time, she was still so clearly Noah – still so worried about others, still so warm and friendly. When I didn’t look at her, I could almost pretend that she was still the boy that had always been there.

“But she’s not,” I reminded myself bitterly. Noah was gone – replaced by a girl – and there was nothing I could do to ever get him back. It made me wonder why I couldn’t just accept that. Maybe it was because he still felt so close.

A soft sound penetrated the stillness of night, causing me to sit up to listen carefully. It was clearly a person, but it was hard to tell exactly what noise they were making. Rising from my bed, I slipped out of my room, chasing the sound down the hallway. As I approached the office it grew louder and more obvious with every step – the sound of a girl crying.

Quietly, I opened the door to peer into the room. Naomi sat there on the bed, knees pulled up to her chest and her head down as she cried. In spite their lack of volume, each sob set her shoulders visibly shaking as it ran through her body.

Rather than bother with words, I just crept into the room, closing the door behind me as I went. Climbing into the bed next to Naomi, I slid my arms around the girl. For a moment, Naomi stiffened when she realized that she’d been caught, but it didn’t last. Soon, she turned fully into the embrace, crying against my chest as I gently stroked her back.

Neither of us said a word as we held each other in the dark. Eventually the tears ended, replaced by the steady rhythmic breathing that indicated that Naomi had finally fallen asleep. I didn’t leave when I noticed that, though. Instead, I just laid us both down and let sleep find me as well.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

By the time I woke, I was alone in the bed. That was a bit of a relief for me, saving me from the awkwardness of waking up with Naomi still in my arms. I wasn’t sure how well I would have handled that.

Presuming the sounds of a shower were Naomi, I pulled myself out of bed to go back to my own room and get ready to start my day. By the time I’d found clothes for the day, Naomi was out of the shower, allowing me to take my turn. The warm water was quite welcome, washing away the confusion that clung to my thoughts and helping focus me on the day ahead.

“Good morning, sweetie,” my mother greeted when I finally came downstairs.

Not looking up from the bowl of cereal she was munching on, Naomi added, “Morning, Ally.”

“Good morning,” I responded in kind just a bit awkwardly. Moving around the kitchen was a bit awkward as well as I was constantly afraid that I was looking at Naomi too much or not enough. In the end it just resulted in me blushing slightly and being nervous as I set about getting a bowl for my own cereal and setting it on the counter near where my mom was standing.

“Now Ally, I realize you’re both girls now, but I’m not sure it’s exactly proper for you two to be sharing a bed at night,” my mother whispered to me just as I was pouring cereal into my bowl.

Blushing bright red, I jumped scattering bits of cereal onto the floor and counter. “I … uhm …” I stumbled for any kind of response to that, but that was as far as I ever got.

My mother just grinned from behind her coffee mug as she finished the drink. “You two have fun at school,” she told us, rinsing out her mug and heading out to the garage.

As awkward as my mom knowing that I’d slept in the same bed as Naomi was, being left alone with the girl was even more uncomfortable. It only grew more so as time passed, too. We both just sat there eating their cereal and not saying a word.

Finally Naomi broke the silence. “Thanks for ... last night …”

“I-It was nothing,” I stuttered.

“It wasn’t to me,” Naomi responded, using her spoon to stir her cereal around while she talked. “After what happened, everything just seemed … well I’m just glad you were there.”

I nodded in understanding. “I know, and I don’t want you to ever think you have to face things like this alone. I’m here whenever you need me.”

“Thanks,” Naomi breathed. “Hopefully, things will get better, and there won’t be anything else like this to face.”

“Yeah, hopefully,” I agreed before we trailed off into silence again. This time, though, it wasn’t quite so awkward.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 09

“Hey, Ally!” Ruby yelled, snapping her fingers to get my attention.

The noise snapped me from my daze, getting me to turn from watching Naomi to look at Ruby. “What? Did I miss something?”

Ruby covered her face with her hand. “Unbelievable. We’ve been talking about our homecoming plans for like the last five minutes and you haven’t even listened.”

“Sorry,” I apologized.

“Jeez, ever since Naomi moved in with you, you’ve acted more like she’s your girlfriend than your roommate,” Ruby scolded. “You don’t have to spend every waking minute together, you know.”

Blushing, I looked down shyly. “Sorry. I’ve just been worried about her is all. She was really upset with what happened to her dad.”

“That was over a week ago!” Ruby shot back. “Just move on already! I’m sure she has.”

Nodding, I looked up again. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m worrying for nothing. So what are the homecoming plan,s anyway? Weren’t we just going to meet at your place to get ready and wait for your boyfriends to pick us up?”

“We were, until Trent asked out Tina and you invited Naomi,” Ruby explained. “Now there isn’t room for all of us. Six we could do, but not eight. We need to figure out some other kind of car arrangement.”

“Oh, well I suppose I could just get my or Naomi’s mom to take the two of us, and let the couples go together,” I suggested.

Liz frowned. “But then we won’t all be together!”

“Well we’ve still got all the appointments that afternoon together and the actual dance after that. It’s just the car ride that we won’t be,” I reasoned. “That shouldn’t be so bad, and besides someone has to sit out. This way you’re both with your boyfriends.”

“You sure you won’t mind?” Liz asked.

I gave her a reassuring smile. “Of course, I don’t mind. Honestly, I wasn’t really looking forward to sharing the ride with Tina anyway. She’s been acting all superior and snooty around me ever since Trent asked her out. I guess she doesn’t know that he was originally hoping to go with me.”

“You should tell her,” Ruby suggested. “It might make her less of a nuisance. I really wish he’d asked out someone – anyone – else. She’s such a bimbo.”

“I’m sure she’s not that bad,” I argued. “She’s actively being mean to me and it’s only a minor nuisance.”

“Oh it’s worse for us,” Ruby assured her. “She’s got this horrible high pitched squeal she does when she laughs, and she’s always laughing – always.”

I giggled softly. “Well then I’m sorry I’m sticking you in a car with her.”

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“Hi, Mrs. Brooks. I like the new door,” I greeted as Naomi’s mother opened their front door for me.

“Hi, Ally,” Naomi’s mom replied, smiling as she moved out of the way to let me in. “Thank you. It wasn’t cheap to replace. Naomi’s up in her room by the way.”

“Thanks,” I told her, before running up the stairs to Naomi’s rooms. Once there, I opened the door to step right inside.

In the room, Naomi didn’t seem to even notice my arrival. She was seated on the edge of her bed, controller in hand, and mashing at the buttons. On the screen, there was some CG heroine running from a boulder which explained the mashing. For a few seconds, I just stayed by the door and watched, letting Naomi keep playing until it looked like she’d gotten past that part to somewhere safe.

“Looks like fun,” I finally remarked.

Naomi jumped in surprise, but smiled as soon as she saw who it was. “Oh … hi, Ally. Sorry, I got a little caught up in this while I was waiting for you. Mind if I get to a checkpoint?”

I shook my head head. “Not at all. Take your time,” I told Naomi as I moved over to sit on the bed next to my friend. “So how’s being back in your own home? I bet it’s more comfortable than that fold out bed.”

“It’s nice, but a little lonely I guess. I kinda got used to having my best friend around all the time,” Naomi replied.

Those words made me look away shyly. “I miss having you around too. It was a lot more fun than it’s been by myself.”

“Well we’re together now, or at least we will be once I can get bimbo tits here to a save point,” Naomi responded.

“Hey watch it! Mine are bigger than hers!” I exclaimed defensively.

“Yeah, but yours have a brain attached to them. She has to literally be led around by a controller,” Naomi countered. “It’s a big difference.”

I laughed at that argument. “If that’s true then she can only be a bimbo if you play her like one.”

“Maybe I do!” Naomi shot back. “And …. now she’s safe,” Naomi added before flipping through a few menus to close out the game.

“You didn’t have to stop, you know. I don’t mind watching you play,” I told her.

Naomi shrugged dismissively. “Nonsense. I’m all yours now,” she said as she turned to look at me. “What would you like to do?”

I shrugged as well. “I don’t know. You’re the one that invited me remember?”

“Is that how it works, the person that invites has to start the activities?” Naomi asked, getting a nod in response. “I’ll remember that come homecoming. You were the one that invited me afterall.”

I gasped in mock offense. “Hey! Not fair!”

“Too late!” Naomi retorted, reaching out to grab my hand. “Now come on, we’re going to go make some popcorn and then watch a movie on the big screen.” Laughing, I just let her drag me along.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“I’m home!” I called as I came in after being dropped off from my hair appointment by Ruby’s mom. No one answered, which was hardly a surprise, so I just made my way up the stairs, walking slowly to try not to mess up my freshly done hair.

Right as I made it to the stop of the stairs, my mom stepped out of my room. Seeing me, a bright smile instantly spread across her face. “Oh you look lovely, sweetie.”

“Uhm … thanks,” I responded uncertainly, peering at the room behind my mother. “Why were you in my room?”

“I’m helping Naomi get ready,” my mom answered.

That news took all uncertainty away from me, replacing it with a smile. “Oh. I’ll come help too.”

My mom immediately shook her head. “No, no, no. It wouldn’t be fair to either of you if your dates saw you before you were ready.”

I rolled her eyes at the insinuation. “Come on, Mom, we’re just going as friends.”

“I know, I know,” my mother said in a way that made it seem like she didn’t know that at all – or at least had no plans of accepting it. “Just humor me. I set your stuff out in my room so that you can get ready in there. I’ll be in in a moment to help you. Naomi is just about done.”

Sighing, I just shrugged, knowing better than to try to fight my mom on something like this. “Okay,” I conceded, changing direction to go to my mother’s bedroom. Sure enough, everything that I needed to finish getting ready was waiting there for me.

Closing the door behind me, I set myself to the task. I’d worn a loose dress to the salon, so that I could just undo it and slip it off without pulling it over my head which would risk messing up my hair or makeup. It had taken most of an hour to get my long, thick hair piled atop my head and my makeup done, so I wasn’t going to risk messing it up now. Getting into my gown, however, proved a little more troublesome than I’d hoped.

The lady doing the alteration seemed to have taken some liberties with the dress to really show off my figure. Unfortunately, this meant it was so tight that I had some trouble getting the zipper to go up. In the end, I had to give up on it, deciding to wait for my mom. As such, I just tied the halter behind my neck to keep the dress on while I started on other things. I’d just finished getting my shoes on when my mom came in.

“My little girl,” my mother breathed, hands clutched to her chest and a teary eyed look on her face.

“You’re going to start crying before I’m even finished getting dressed?” I asked incredulously.

My mother shook her head, doing a very good job of not crying when it was clear she wanted to. “I’ll save that for pictures.”

“Good, because I could use your help with this zipper,” I told her, turning to let my mom zip me up. Once she had, I was stuck feeling like the dress was trying to keep me from breathing, but I had to admit that in the mirror it looked amazing.

As I checked my reflection, my mother had to cover her mouth to once again stop herself from crying. “You’re beautiful, sweetie.”

“Really?” I asked, always feeling people tended to oversell my looks. Still, I was glad for the reassuring nod that my mom gave me.

After a few last minute touches, my mother finally let me leave the room. Intent on getting out of there quickly, I made my way straight to the stairs. That wasn’t going to happen, though, as I froze at the top of the steps, staring at what waited down below.

Standing below me was Naomi. The dark-haired girl looked positively radiant. Her short black hair had been styled to sweep enticingly over her big blue eyes eyes, and her makeup had been done to make those eyes look even bigger. It went perfectly with her purple dress to be absolutely stunning. Naomi seemed to feel the same way as I did, because I could see that was staring up at me just like I was staring down at her.

After a few moments, my mother coughed, breaking the stare and getting both of us to look away and blush at the same time. “Picture time!” my mother announced after the cough, hurrying me down the stairs and getting me to stand next to Naomi. While I let her position me, I was too nervous to even look at the camera much less smile. “Aw, you’ve got to smile. I’ll make you two stand here until you do.”

The threat got me to look up and force a smile onto my face. I could see Naomi do the same beside me From there, my mother took several other pictures, even one where she forced us to put a hand around each other's waist. About half way through, my father came in the watch, complementing both of us. Finally, though, the photo shoot was over and we piled into the car to go to the dance.

The trip to the dance passed quickly and in silence as I snuck glances over at Naomie. I’d known the other girl was cute, but seeing her like this was way beyond that. It was almost impossible to believe that the dark-haired beauty had once been a boy, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about her.

It seemed like no time at all when I suddenly found myself at school, exiting the car with Naomi. As we did, my mom offered a final, “Have fun, girls,” in farewell before we were left on our own.

“Well, here we are,” I declared, glancing over at Naomi.

“Are you nervous?” Naomi asked. “I’m nervous – like really nervous.”

“Me too,” I admitted, glad to know that I wasn’t the only one. Steeling myself, I reached out to take Naomi’s hand in mine. “But we’ll do this together,” I added, leading the way inside.

Waiting inside, amidst the noise and crowd of students, was the rest of the group for the evening. Ruby and Liz both looked resplendent as they each hung on the arm of their respective boyfriend. Tina conversely, was dressed in a gown that I felt was rather trampy, showing far too much leg and cleavage. She was also pressed against Trent like a dog in heat. The only thing that didn’t seem slutty about her was the superior look she shot my way when I showed up with only Naomi beside me.

“You two look fabulous,” I complimented my friends. “And of course all the gentleman do as well.”

“You and Naomi, too!” Liz chirped, looking like she was about to explode from excitement at seeing them all dressed their best. Turning to Naomi, she added, “I wasn’t expecting such a girly dress,” as she looked over the other girl’s outfit.

“It was what looked good,” Naomi replied shyly. “Or at least so I was told.”

“Oh it does!” Liz assured her, probably already looking forward to playing dress up with a new doll.

Ruby gave Naomi a dismissive glance before turning to me. “You’re late.”

“Sorry, my mom held us up forever taking pictures,” I apologized.

“My mom did the same thing when I was a freshman,” Trent remarked. “You haven’t really missed anything. We haven’t even had our first dance yet.”

I smiled at the news. “Good. I would’ve hated to miss it.”

From there, the conversation quickly dipped into meaningless small talk. That didn’t last long, though, as two-by-two the couples made their ways out to the dance floor, until eventually it was only Naomi and me standing there. Even in all the noise, it somehow still felt like there was an awkward silence hanging there between us.

Gathering my courage, I moved around to stand in front of Naomi. As I did, I felt like I was about to fall, my nerves were so rattled, but it was my job to do this. After all, I was the one that had invited Naomi.

“W-would you like to d-dance … w-with me?” I finally asked, struggling to get the words out at all as I offered my hand to Naomi.

“Really?” Naomi asked in surprise.

Swallowing hard, I nodded. “Girls can dance together and I … I did invite you. It would be rude if I just let you stand on the sidelines.”

Smiling, Naomi took the offered hand. “I’d love to.”

Movements almost robotic with anxiety, I led Naomi out into the crowd, and tried my best to get my body to actually move to a beat. It was a fast song, the kind of thing that normally would be easy for me to have my hands up and my hips moving, but now I struggled to even bounce a little on my toes.

Naomi, on the other hand, went to dancing with avengeance. She bounced around energetically, hands flailing in a way that wasn’t particularly skillful, but was adorable in its own way. Seeing Naomi give it her all, helped loosen me up as well, and soon we were just enjoying dancing as songs passed by.

Suddenly, a slow song came up on the playlist, and we both froze in place, completely unsure what to do. All around us, couples pulled each other close, swaying gently to the romantic music. In the midst of it, the two of us just stared at each other for a few moments.

“Uhm …” Naomi murmured softly, glancing around with uncertainty.

Trying to recapture the fun, I reached out, resting my hands on Naomi’s hips and getting us both swaying in time with the music. Naomi’s uncertainty vanished, her bright smile returning to her face. Stepping a little closer, she let her hands rest on my hips as well.

“Thanks for inviting me,” Naomi whispered, only audible because of proximity.

“I just hope you’re enjoying yourself,” I replied, voice a bit shaky but thankfully not stuttering anymore.

“I am. Very much so, in fact,” Naomi assured me as she looked up at me from her far more diminutive height.

For several moments, the two of us just swayed there, staring into each other's eyes. I thought that moment might last forever, but like all moments it didn’t. Soon, Naomi’s hands moved, leaving my hips to reach upward.

“What are you-?” I started to ask as Naomi’s hands slid around behind my neck, but then I was suddenly being pulled down. The next thing I knew our lips had met.

Shock more than anything kept that kiss from ending immediately. I was too stunned to break away, and Naomi seemed content to just let it go on. It was a handful of seconds before Naomi finally broke the kiss, smiling shyly.

“I … uh …” I struggled to find any words for the situation that I’d found myself in. “I … I need to use the restroom!” I finally blurted, breaking free of Naomi’s embrace to scurry away.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

Chapter 10

I raced through the crowd of students, leaving them, and the school behind as I finally broke out into the night air. There, I gasped for breath as I leaned against the wall of the building and stared up at the stars. Memories of the kiss that I’d just had darted across my lips, refusing to be ignored, but I tried my best. Oh, how I tried.

It wasn’t all that long before the door burst open again, this time with Trent coming barreling through. “Ally? Are you alright?”

“Yes, no, maybe … I don’t know …” I ran through all the possible answers with no idea which was the right one for how I felt. Everything was just so confusing.

“What happened? I saw you kiss Naomi then you just ran for your life,” Trent asked, concern clear in his voice.

Holding my head in my hands, I gave it a good shake. “I don’t know. We were having a good time dancing, and then, she just kissed me, and I just sort of … ran away. I’m good at running away from things.”

“I don’t believe that,” Trent told me.

“It’s true. I always want to run away from things, escape from things that are hard and just go with the flow. It’s only thanks to Noah that I ever stand up for myself,” I countered. “Now he’s a girl, and she kissed me, and I don’t know what to do. If only he was still a boy.”

“That’s why you didn’t want to go out with me,” Trent deduced with a frown. “You had feelings for Noah.” When I nodded, Trent’s frown only deepened. “Then you went and invited that freak to the dance and you even kissed him in front of everyone. It’s no surprise that he’s into girls, but you …”

I snapped out of the dizzying whirlwind of emotion at Trent’s words. “Freak? She’s not a freak. I thought you of all people understood that.”

Trent actually laughed at me when I said. “Of course he’s a freak! He was a boy a month ago. Worse, he’s a fucking mutant.”

“But … but you protected her,” I reasoned, unable to believe what I was hearing.

“Of course I did! He was the best friend of the hottest girl I’d ever seen. I figured I’d get chummy with the friend, keep the freak out of trouble with the bullies, and you’d be falling all over me,” Trent laid out his master plan. “Hell, I even asked Tina here in the hopes to get you jealous, but instead, you turned out to be a fucking dyke. I should have listened to Ruby. She knew you weren’t worth my time.”

“Ruby?” I questioned, shocked to learn my friend had somehow been involved.

Once more Trent laughed, even harsher than before. “You’re really doing that blonde hair proud. It was Ruby’s idea that I work the friend angle, after I insisted that I had to have you. All she wanted in return was that I make sure to get you to stop wasting your time on that filth once we were dating, which of course I was glad to agree to. I couldn’t very well have my girl hanging out with someone like that.”

“You’re the filth,” I spat, finally accepting that, somehow, this was real. “I can’t believe I ever thought you were a nice guy.”

“Oh, I’m a very nice guy to people that deserve it,” Trent assured me. “To people that don’t, though, like that sissy little mutant girlfriend of yours, well … let’s just say I’m a lot less nice.”

Fear gripped me at the threatening tone Trent used. “What did you do?”

“Me? Why nothing at all. I just told her that I saw you run off toward the art room,” Trent replied with faux innocence. “Right before I told Steve and a few of his buddies where he could find the gene-freak all alone.” Hearing those words, I started to dart toward the door, but Trent snagged my wrist and yanked me back to him, trapping me in his arms with more than enough strength to hold a girl like me in place. “Ah ah ah. You’re not going anywhere, blondie. Much as I’d love to see the look on your face when you see them rape her, I can’t risk you finding a way to get my buddies in trouble. You’re staying right here with me until it’s all over.”

“Like hell I am!” I shrieked, I shrieked, just before I did something that I’d always told myself that I would never do.

Instantly, a pale white aura surround me right before I smashed my head back with surprising speed. Caught by surprise, Trent couldn’t get his head out of the way in time, allowing my skull to smash right into his face. Trent’s nose splattered all over as it broke, his head snapping back from the force. His grip on me vanished immediately, leaving him to flop limply to the ground.

Not giving Trent another thought, I dashed through the door, breaking it off one of its hinges in my haste. I made it inside just in time to hear the sound a shriek, barely audible through the overly loud music of the dance. Spurred on by the scream, I sped through the hallways, crashing through the door to the art room. This door, less sturdy than the exterior ones, went flying off to the side, to crash against the wall.

In the midst of the room stood Steve and two of his friends. The two friends were holding a crying Naomi down atop a table while Steve worked to simultaneously remove his trousers and hike up Naomi’s skirt. Both things stopped the moment I sent the door flying.

“What the fuck?” was all Steve had time to say before I was on him. He tried to get his arms up to block, but that was pointless. I just punched right through, snapping one arm before driving a fist into his chest with enough force to crack a few ribs and knock the wind out of him.

Steve crumpled as his two friends charged at me. I sidestepped the first strike, and just reached out to tap the second guy, who was trying for a flying tackle. The white aura around me immediately spread to the boy enveloping him. As it did, he froze in midair, unable to do anything more than blink and breathe as he hung suspended there.

The last guy started to back away in fear, hands up defensively. “I’m sorry! We didn’t mean any-” he tried to beg, but I didn’t even hear him. Before he could finish, my fist found his jaw, breaking it and dropping the boy to the ground.

With all the threats handled, I spun, rushing over to wrap my arms around Naomi who had only just managed to sit up. “Naomi!”

“They … they …” Naomi stammered, shaking in my arms.

Gently, I shushed the girl while stroking her hair. “Shh … it’s alright. They’re not going to hurt you. I’m here for you.”

It took several moments, but Naomi eventually started to calm down, the shaking subsiding as she finally stopped crying. Once she finally had, she asked, “Why are you glowing?”

“Huh?” I muttered in confusion, pulling back to look down at myself. Only then did I remember what I’d done, immediately causing the aura to fade from around me. “Oh, right.”

“You’re a mutant too,” Naomi stated.

It was not in any way a question, but I nodded anyway. “Yeah, for over a year now.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me?” Naomi asked, clearly hurt by the lack of trust.

I sighed heavily. “I was scared. You’ve seen how people here react to this kind of thing. Even if it had just been kids at school, I probably couldn’t have taken it, but if you … if you had hated me for it, I couldn’t have lived with myself, so I learned to control it and kept it a secret from everyone – even you.”

Shaking her head, Naomie gave me an exasperated little smile, before grabbing me and pulling me into another hug. “You dummy. You didn’t have to do that. There’s nothing that could ever make me hate you.” With those words, it was time for our second kiss. This one I wasn’t shocked by, nor did I flee from it. Instead, I returned it eagerly.

*********************************************** ***********************************************

“While we’re glad you’re both safe,” my mother began. “This little incident presents a big problem.”

Naomi and Ii sat on the couch at the Mitchell home, faced by all four of our parents. Homecoming had been the night before, and our parents had been discussing what had transpired there basically non-stop since they had collected the two of us from the police station. We’d only caught bits and pieces of what was said, while the adults had been yelling but it seemed like it was a very big problem.

“The principal is going to push to have you both expelled for assaulting your fellow students,” Naomi’s father continued. “And before you complain that that wasn’t what happened, it won’t matter with four battered boys against two mutants. Rather than try to fight and let it stain your records, we talked to them and agreed to take you out of school here if they didn’t press forward with it.”

“But we have to go to school, don’t we?” Naomi inquired. “It’s the law.”

Naomi’s father nodded. “It is, which means we’ll need to find you both another school.”

“We’ve discussed it, and we think it would be best if you didn’t stay in town at all,” Naomi’s mom added.

“But that’s just letting them have what they want!” I blurted angrily.

The parents all shared a look, but it was my father that nodded. “Yes it is, but the town is ready to boil over because of this. We feel it’s the only way to keep you two safe. If you’re gone, they’ll settle down and no one will get hurt.”

“But-!” I started to protest.

Before I got far, Naomi put a hand on my arm to quiet me down. “Let’s just do as they say, Ally. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. It won’t be so bad to live somewhere else.”

“I’m sorry it worked out this way, girls, but it really is for the best,” my mom assured us “We’ve been looking at options, and there are a few boarding schools out there for people in this exact situation.”

Sighing in defeat, I reached out to take Naomi’s hand in mine. “As long as we can go somewhere together then fine.”

That stipulation brought a smile to Naomi’s face, but it had our parents sharing some looks again. Finally, though, my mother nodded. “I’m sure we can figure that out.”

The End

Author’s Note: Hey all, Light Clark here, also known as lightivation or lightoffury or just Light. If you liked the story, consider checking out my free fantasy series, The Trials of Tannen, which is being told in serial at my website here:

Also, if you want to support my work, and have a little money to spare, stop by my patreon here: No pressure, though. If you just wanted a free read, that’s fine too.

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