Barbie's Doll ~ Part 12 REVISED (Conclusion of Book One)

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What lengths would you go to, to help a pretty girl struggling with her past? Especially, if you knew there was the potential to be more than ‘just friends’?


 

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Barbie’s Doll

By Shauna

Copyright© 2018 Shauna
All Rights Reserved.
(All image originals sourced from Creative Commons)



Hi All,

I have to sincerely apologize to my readers for the original version of this Chapter. :-)

I took Barb's comment to heart--I didn't take it as her criticizing me, in the least. But, she was right--I did rush this one, much too much. I am not going into the reasons, but just know that I had them.

At any rate, I hope this is more in line with what those of you that have supported the story deserve. It doesn't change the story, but I hope it adds to it. Please feel to revise/add to your comments, if you disagree (or agree, for that matter).

I left my original comment at the end, so that new readers will have context for the original reader comments. I think I can safely say, there seems to be interest in a continuation. :-)

Once again, thanks to all of you for supporting the story and Happy New Year!

HUGS!
S

Part Twelve (REVISED)

I look around the stage set up in the restaurant and am suddenly nervous again. We have just finished getting everything set up—well, the guys have, since it’s only the instruments that really need setting up—amidst the backdrop of the crowded restaurant.

Why a Greek-themed restaurant has become the hottest item on the preppy teens’ and twenty-somethings’ list of places to go in town is anyone’s guess, but here we are. It supposedly has to do with ties to the ‘Greek life’ on the campuses around.

What? Oh, yeah. There are three university/college campuses within easy driving distance—all with their own set of ‘Greeks’.

Oh! Did I mention I am nervous, again? I feel like the restaurant has been transported to Pollux IV and Apollo is going to come out any minute and point his finger at us.

What? The Borg? Yeah—they’re there, too. Oh! And Q…

I check to make sure my white blouse hasn’t turned red, as Chris does the first ‘mic check’.

What? Of course, it hasn’t! O!M!G! Really?

Then, I chase my eyes down the steps to the stage when I see a table full of the jocks from school—without any girls, of course.

I can actually feel Greg’s lust as he stares at me—and the heat as they glare at everyone in the band but me.

I get my eyes back in without a waitperson tripping on them and look at Chris, who is beckoning to me. I sigh and go over to him and have to go chasing my eyes down again—this time they make it into the kitchen and get a little greasy, making it harder to keep them in.

What? No! It’s the slippery kind of grease—not the sticky kind!

Anyway, he says, “I talked to Apollo, the owner, and he wants us to do some songs from ‘Mamma Mia’ and Barbs says you know the words to all the ABBA songs?”

What? I like ABBA. So, sue me! I can’t wait for ‘Mamma Mia 2’, although they better not have killed off Donna!

Anyway, I split my attention between trying to keep my slippery eyes in and focusing on what Chris—who suddenly seems to have turned into a back-stabbing Cardassian—is trying to say. He hasn’t quit talking, “…and so, we want you to take the lead. Everyone else is comfortable playing the music from the sheets and the backups can read the words, if they need to—but the lead has to know the words. This is make-or-break on getting the long-term contract!”

I hiss at Chris, “You can’t just like fake ‘ABBA’! That’s like trying to fake Elvis! Besides, I don’t want to be out front and center—I don’t really want to be up here, at all. Are you like crazy?”

His face falls and Jillie pulls me to a back room, where we are out of sight, and gives me a toe-curling, two-foot-popping kiss.

What? O! M!! G!!! Yes!!!! I’m on my knees and out of breath!!!!! I must be out the hatch again—I’m not sure I’m tethered, though!

She breaks the kiss with her signature ‘smack’ and asks in a coy voice, “Do it for me? For us? For all of us?”

I sigh and try and pull myself back in the hatch—the lifeline is frayed and in danger of breaking. And there’s a Romulan Bird-of-Prey coming in fast!

I sigh, “Jillie! Did you see that table out there? The one full of jocks? I can’t have the spotlight on me—no matter how good this disguise is!”

She nods and says, “And did you notice that you’re the only one they have eyes for? Greg looks like he wants to eat you like pink cotton candy!”

O!M!G! There like go my eyes again!

I giggle at my next thought and exclaim, “I know! He is like a Ferengi and wants to acquire me. I think he would like me to be the Ferengi female—you know naked and at his beck and call.”

Then I get serious again, “And that’s why I can’t do this, Jillie! I mean like really?”

And I’m suddenly out in deep space again, my toes in a death curl and my feet totally useless. I can’t breathe until I hear the ‘smack’ of the hatch closing. I take in greedy gulps of air and look into her endless deep-green eyes framed by her flame-red hair.

What? I’m in love!

“Resistance is Futile”, keeps running through my head.

I sigh deeply and say, “If this goes badly, it’s on all of you and I will sell you to the Ferengi!”

She giggles, “Females aren’t allowed to conduct trade, remember?”

I nod, “If this goes badly, I won’t be female. Besides, the ‘The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition’ are subject to interpretation and depend on the situation, so if there is enough gold-pressed latinum involved…”

I shrug.

What? O!M!G! Would I like really sell them? Of course not!

Err…I think.

Jillie squeezes both of my hands and I feel her lifeline tether to me. I sigh and nod. She wipes the lipstick off the side of my mouth with her finger and refreshes it for me.

Then we go back out and Jillie nods at Chris. He looks at me and I try to pull the knife out he put in my back. It’s not quite ready to come out—we’ll have to see how this goes.

I nod and he takes the main microphone as the lights dim. He hands it to Apollo, the owner, and I suddenly feel like I’m on Pollux IV, again—and wearing a red dress. Depending on how this goes, it could result in the same fate for him as for that Apollo…

He introduces us, “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce P.S.T.K. to you as tonight’s entertainment. As is tradition, they will start out with some songs from ‘Mamma Mia’!”

There is some mild clapping.

Chris shouts, “Good evening, Greeks! Are you ready for some fun?”

There is a lone shout back, “Just get on with it! We want to hear the hot girl sing!”

I look and it’s Greg. I reign in my phasers. Not that the other girls do. Greg melts into a puddle of greasy goo on the floor and we have to take a break while someone cleans up the spill at Table Eight. They are certainly honoring the name of the band, tonight!

What? O!M!G! Of course not! You know what? I have a bridge on Vulcan I can sell you like cheap. Interested?

Anyway, Fred counts us in and they start playing ‘I Have a Dream’. I miss my first cue and blush, but close my eyes—that I’m trying really hard to keep in—and start out a little timidly on the second go-round.

I pretend I’m out in space, floating in an isolation suit—all alone. I feel my tether to Jillie and my voice gets stronger—I’m just singing for myself. No one else can hear me.

When the song comes to an end and the music stops, you could hear a pin drop in the place. Then wild applause after the stunned silence.

I blush as I feel a tight hug from behind and see Jillie’s arms around me.

Then Fred counts us in on ‘Dancing Queen’, followed by ‘Does your Mother Know?’—and it’s finally time for a short water break.

I’m completely drained. I feel like Seven-of-Nine at the end of her cycle—in total need of my charging station.

The applause dies down and we all get a bottle of water to rehydrate. I notice Greg eyeing me again. He has a funny look on his face—suddenly, he reminds me of the Cardassian.

I shudder and turn around to find Apollo talking animatedly to Chris—the others start gathering around him and I go to see what’s going on. I come in on the tail-end of what he is saying, “…like to offer you a contract, right now. You’re great! I assume you can play more contemporary stuff, too?”

Chris says, “Yes Sir, we can play most anything that’s currently popular. What are you thinking for a contract?”

Apollo smiles, “We’ll talk details later, OK? I’m sure we’ll come to a deal. Now, get back to playing!”

I breathe a sigh of relief when I can fade to the background and Barbie takes over for some of the more currently popular songs.


I’m somewhere between being totally drained and totally exhilarated when our first true ‘set break’ comes up. We have a twenty-minute break to get a snack or something to drink—and use the restroom. And I need to go.

What? You don’t see the issue?

Really?

OK, let me clue you in. I’m not Borg, so I have to pee.

What? I thought we established they don’t have to pee?

Anyway, I have never had to go while out as Chrissie or Jacie—other than on that first outing to the mall.

What? I held! Remember?

Anyway, I still don’t feel comfortable going to the women’s room. I mean still think there has to be some sort of Cosmic Guard there with a phaser set to kill and making sure guy’s don’t go into the women’s room—even if they are dressed like a hot girl.

Jillie comes over—oblivious to my discomfort—and says, “Come on, Jacie. Let’s go freshen up, Hon!”

She takes my hand and pulls me towards the women’s room and I pull back before we can enter.

I mean, I need to chase down my eyes, anyway.

She hisses in my ear, “Don’t make a scene. I know you have to go after all that water you drank!”

I sigh and let her pull me into the forbidden sanctum of womanhood. I am sure we pass through some black hole into an alternate dimension and then a wormhole when we pass through the door.

Luckily, the only ones in here, at the moment, are the other Circle girls and they fall all over me and congratulate me on how great I sang the ABBA songs. I squirm and Jillie giggles, “Let her pee, girls!”

She looks at me and giggles again, “Make sure you sit!”

I hold my retort, since a young woman we don’t know comes in. I blush and go into one of the stalls and take care of business.

What? Details? Are you sick? Pervert!

I come out and the girls are all around the huge, well-lit mirror—the strange woman included—chatting and ‘freshening up’. The woman looks at me, “Hon, that was awesome! I’m told you’re going to sing some more in the second set?”

What? Where did she hear that? Several Borg beam in.

Kate says, “Yes, she’s our secret ABBA weapon!”

I try and dodge the disrupter fire from the Klingons storming the room, and barely get out of the way. I’m out of breath, though.

The woman smiles and leaves. Jillie gives me a quick kiss and says, “Breathe, Love! You’re fine!”

She pulls me back out into the restaurant—and we run right into…Greg coming out of the men’s room.

I chase my eyes that have found their way into a hot pot of soup on the stove in the kitchen. My whole face is on fire when I pop them back in.

He is once again beaming one piece of clothing off of me at a time, using his eyes as transporters. My eyes are still steaming from the hot soup and the steam pressure is beginning to build in my head—and will soon escape out my ears.

Jillie squeezes my hand and says, “Hello, Greg. What are you doing here? Planning on going Greek in hopes of getting a sorority girl when you grow up?”

He turns red and ignores her. He looks straight at me and says, “Hello, I’m Greg Chapman. I don’t think you’re from around here? Although, there is something familiar about you.”

Suddenly, the Tribbles are going crazy and there are disrupter beams coming at me from all directions. I take a glancing hit and it wakes up my survival instincts. The Klingons won’t get me! I won’t let them!

I smile and say, “No, I’m Fred’s cousin from Nebraska. I dropped out of school and decided farming isn’t for me—so, he offered me a spot on the band while I work on my GED.”

Greg is nodding his head, but the Tribbles won’t settle down. He states more than asks, “So, I assume you don’t have a boyfriend?”

I shake my head, “Sorry. I’m not on the market.”

He turns even redder and says, “Is that so? You don’t look like Fred. I’ll figure this out…”

He turns and leaves and the Tribbles are going crazy. The red alert claxons are going wild. I’m back out in space without a suit.

I feel Jillie pulling me back in by my tether. She takes me back to that back room and shuts the door behind us. She gives me a deep kiss, but I’m so distraught that my toes don’t have the energy to curl.

She gives me a serious look and says, “Greg Chapman is stupid! He’ll like never put two and two together to figure out that Jacie is actually Jimmy. Breathe, Hon! Breathe!”

My hands are shaking so hard, I’m not sure I can go back out there. I sigh, “Jillie, stupid, or not, I have a bad feeling about this! He may not figure it out—tonight, or ever. But, someone will. I can just feel it!”

She squeezes my hands to stop them from shaking and gives me another kiss. My foot makes a lame attempt at popping. She breaks the kiss and looks me straight in my eyes, “James Tiberius Amanda Christine Jacie Alexander! I love you! The Circle is behind you. The band is behind you. Yes, it’s your life—but how long can you keep your demons hidden?”

I don’t get a chance to retort that the Borg are way worse than mere demons. There is a sharp knock on the door and it swings open from the force of the knock.

Something doesn’t seem right about that; I could have sworn we latched it behind us, but it looks like it was just leaned to instead. Chris pokes his head in with a strange look on his face and says, “Three minutes!”

His look distracts me. Why? You really have to ask? Why would he think it’s strange that Jillie and I are alone behind closed doors? I mean, really?

Jillie nods at Chris and fixes my lipstick after giving me another kiss. My foot almost pops this time. She just smiles at me and says, “It’ll be alright, Hon! I’m right there behind you!”

I smile back wanly and shake my head. I want to say that I just don’t think her shields will be strong enough to protect us, but Sara pokes her head in and says, “One minute!”

I want to scream! This isn’t some huge concert with thousands of people waiting! Just like a hundred, or so.

And a table full of Cardassians…

We go back out onto the stage—in spite of the feeling of impending doom—to a rousing applause. I somehow find the strength to sing ‘Fernando’ and ‘Waterloo’. Feeling my strength coming back, since the world hasn’t ended in some huge explosion, I sing three more to more loud applause. I’m actually starting to feel good. The Tribbles are even starting to purr a little.

We take a quick water break and Chris asks me, “What did Greg Chapman want?”

I shrug as the Tribbles shrink back a little, “We just ran into him coming out of the bathroom and he was asking who I am…”

He shakes his head and says, “No, I mean outside your d…”

At that moment, Apollo comes on stage and takes the microphone off of its stand. He smiles brightly and says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, it appears we have a romantic in our crowd tonight! Mr. Chapman would like to ask Ms. Jacie of our wonderful band here a question. Give it up for Greg!”

The red alert claxons going are deafening. I want to put my hands to my ears to drown out the noise—not hear the alerts to danger.

Chris gives me a concerned look—I barely register it.

All I can see is a smirking Greg as he takes the microphone and smiles at me—well, it looks more like a Cardassian ‘smiling’. A Cardassian crossed with a Gorn. Suddenly, the knife that Chris put in my back is insignificant. I feel like I just had a bad transporter accident and my body is put together in some strange way with the way people are looking at us.

I’m pretty sure the next knife to my back will be fatal.

I feel Jillie’s arms surround me from behind, but I know her shields aren’t strong enough.

Greg says, “Well, ‘Jacie’, is it? I would just like to know if that’s how you plan to come to school on Monday—or if you’ll just come as that tranny-fag, ‘Jimmy’?”

There is a loud buzzing in the restaurant as people stare at my disfigured body from the transporter accident.

It slowly fades as I’m sucked out the hatch with no protection.

My tether breaks as I feel Jillie’s hold on me break. I quickly run out of oxygen and embrace the blissful cold blackness of open space as my eyes slowly float away.


“My God! He’s dead, Jim! Why did you let him wear red?” I groan as the voice in my head is replaced by mummering, then more coherent words, “Jacie! Chrissie! Jimmy! James Tiberius Amanda Christine Jacie Alexander! Wake up!

Then I feel my toes involuntarily curl as I am sweetly and gently kissed on the lips.

My eyes pop open—and are intact and in my head for some reason. I have no idea who put them back in—nor why they didn’t just implode in space.

I stutter, “Where… Wha…?”

Jillie kisses me to shut me up and when she breaks the kiss, she says, “You’re in the back room. You fainted when Greg outed you out there. You’ve been out for several minutes and we brought you in here out of the chaos. Are you OK, Hon?”

I groan as it all comes back in one terrible rush. I can’t stop shivering, I’m so cold. I guess that’s what exposure to deep space does to you. I whisper, “I told you all this was a terrible idea! Now, my life’s over!”

“Not over, but certainly more complicated,” Rita says as she comes through the door, a contrite Mitsi behind her.

I stutter again, “Wha… How? Rita?”

She smiles, “Scott and I were just down the road at Vincenzo’s. I wanted to be close by—just in case. Although, I certainly was more worried about having to deal with something happening because of the way you were dressed than this!”

Mitsi says, “I’m so sorry, Jacie. Maybe if we hadn’t pushed you into something that hot, he wouldn’t have paid you so much attention. Chris says he was lurking outside the door when you and Jill were in here before. He must have followed you from the bathroom and heard you say something.”

I sigh. Now I know what was bothering me. We had closed the door. He must have opened it enough to listen in on our conversation. Of course, Jillie and I gave him just the tidbit of information he needed.

I’m too numb to even nod in acknowledgment. Jillie just says, “The bastard! I can’t believe I ever dated him! Jacie! We will figure this out! I promise!”

Kate comes in before I can even attempt a retort and says, “I…I…I hate to say this, but it’s all over the school’s social media circles, now. The other jocks were taking pictures while Greg was being the ass he is and those are now like going viral after they posted them. It’s like about a fifty-fifty split of people coming out in support of you—and others…not…”

I feel the welcoming embrace of absolute-zero space once again begin to envelope me.

Rita shouts at me, “Jacie! Snap out of it! You can’t go into a cryotube until this goes away. Not like before—neither you, nor your memories. You are old enough—and mature enough—to deal with this! Do you hear me? The Borg have assimilated you—now you can learn to deal with it. Or you can fight it. If I remember right, Piccard did—and won. Seven-of-Nine found a way to live in both worlds—well, sort of. My point is that this is not the end. You still have choices. You still have to make choices!”

The coldness of space recedes, but it leaves a different kind of cold void in its place—the Tribbles are dead, shriveled little furry corpses scattered everywhere. The Borg have won—there is no hope. ‘Resistance is futile.’

I have been fully assimilated into the ‘collective’ against my will.

I feel a cold hopelessness take over the cold void in my body and mind.

I sigh and sit up. I rub the back of my head where I was laying on an ice pack. I feel a small lump where I must have hit my head when my consciousness was sucked out of me by some new species of vampire cloud.

Jillie kisses my head and says with a rueful blush, “I’m sorry, Hon. I wasn’t expecting you to drop out cold, like that. I couldn’t hold on enough to prevent you from getting that lump.”

I grimace as I vaguely remember my ‘tether’ breaking. I sigh, “It’s OK, Jillie. It’s not your fault that asshole outed me!” Then I groan, “But, what now? There’s no way I can go back to school, after this.”

Jillie squeezes my hand and Kate says, “Well, you still have the Circle firmly behind you—and roughly sixty percent of the wider circle of popular girls are like solidly behind you; with another thirty or so trending towards supporting you.” She is busily following the social media feeds on her phone.

Somehow, I’m not reassured. I smile wanly at her for her attempt at encouragement, though. I notice Rita just sitting back and watching what’s going on. I’m not sure if that should worry me, or not.

Sara comes rushing in and stops when she sees me. She rushes over with a smile, hugs me, and says, “Welcome back to the living, Hon! Are you OK?”

I shrug and wince as I feel a headache coming on.

She continues, “Once Chris explained what was going on to Mr. Apollo, he was like furious—Mr. Apollo, I mean. Well, Chris was—is—too.”

I can’t help but smile at her rambling.

What? I have to find something to maintain my humanity!

She is rambling on, “But, like anyway, Mr. Apollo’s niece is transgendered and he is a huge supporter of LGBT rights. He thought Greg was going to ask you to the prom, or something—Greg like totally led him on. Anyways, he like threw the jocks out and banned them from the restaurant for life! Chris, Barbs, and the guys are still talking to him about the contract for the band. I need to go back and let them know you’re OK. They didn’t want to crowd you.”

I sigh, “Well, any contract will have to be without me.”

There are gasps all around.

“You can’t do that, Jacie,” Barbie exclaims as she comes in. She adds, “Mr. Apollo was very explicit in his offer that the whole band perform. He wants you—not because you’re transgendered, but because you’re good.

She seems to think about what she just said and turns beet red. She rushes over and hugs me. I wince as my head hurts again. She breaks the hug and says, “I’m sorry, Jacie! I didn’t mean to come across like an insensitive bitch! Are you OK, Hon? I mean I know you can’t be alright…but are you alright?”

I can’t help but smile at that. It’s more a frightened grimace, to be honest—I actually understood that. It scares the Hell out of me!

I nod and say, “Yes, to the latter. No, to the former.” Then I shake my sore head, “I’m sorry, guys. I really am. But I feel like I’ve been transported to a different world and am missing some pieces in my reassembly. I would be so embarrassed to go out there and try and sing again—with everyone judging me. Judging me on my ‘gender status’—not on any talent I may, or may not, have. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“You’re going to hold your chin up high and damn the photon torpedos, Hon!” I look up in surprise as Mom rushes over to me and gives me a huge hug.

I can’t hold back the tears anymore and let the floodgates open. She coos me and strokes my hair while I cry—being careful to stay away from my lump, once she accidently touches it and I flinch away in the beginning. I don’t even hear her feral growl when she finds it.

When I’m cried out, the hydroponic tanks on the ship are overflowing—and I look like a miserable raccoon.

I take a trembling breath and Rita asks, “Feel better?”

I nod.

What? O!M!G! I mean, I do feel better—that doesn’t mean I feel good. ‘Better’ is a relative term.

She pats my knee and gives me a hug. I sigh and say, “That doesn’t mean I know what I’m going to do, though.” I smile wanly at Mom, “Besides damning the photon torpedoes, that is.”

Mom squeezes my shoulders and Rita says, “Well, we’ll talk about that. That is what I am here for, after-all. Not as your shrink, but as the mother of one of your best friends that also happens to be a shrink.”

I can’t help but give her a double-take at that and then another when she winks at me. Jillie’s right! Mothers are different when it’s just the girls.

She says, “Look around you, Jacie. You’re surrounded by a support circle that is impenetrable. Yes, you were dealt a severe blow tonight, but that circle is here, none-the-less. And don’t discount the boys in the band. They just don’t know how to deal with all this ‘female emotional nonsense’. She makes airquotes around the ‘female emotional nonsense’.

She says, “They are just out there doing what they know how to do—be busy with something. Ironing out a contract is what helps them—it gives them something to do. But, I think you know that. It’s not like you don’t have an understanding of what it’s like to be a guy.”

I sigh and nod, “OK. But, I’m ready to get out of here. Can we just go home?”

Mom nods and Kate fixes my makeup enough that I can venture out of the room. Mom and Jillie take me between them in clear defiance of anyone—or anything—trying to mess with me. We go out into the restaurant and there is a sudden roaring applause.

I turn beet red as I duck the disrupter fire. I honestly didn’t expect that there would still be anyone here. But, I guess I was only in that back room for about half-an-hour. I also didn’t expect any sort of applause—if anything rotten tomotoes, maybe.

Mr. Apollo comes over and asks, “Ms. Jacie, are you OK? I can’t apologize enough for what happened here tonight. I can only hope that you will forgive me and come back with your wonderful band to play for my customers and for your fans?” He nods towards the crowd.

I blush as I look at the people, still standing and clapping, and sigh, “I don’t know, Mr. Apollo. I have to think about some things—but, I won’t say ‘no’, OK? As for forgiving you. For what? You couldn’t like know what Greg was up to. It’s not your fault that he’s lower than trash compactor scum.”

He smiles and takes my hands in his, “You remind me so much of my niece in Greece. Please come sing for us?”

I respond, “I will certainly think about it. I promise, Mr. Apollo. Please thank everyone for me.”

He squeezes my hands and Mom takes me out to the car as I hear him go to the microphone and announce that I am OK and that I thank them for their support.

Mom and Jillie take me home and I collapse on the couch. Rita had followed us in her own car—I have no idea where Scott is in all of this—and she comes in behind us.

The four of us talk for a couple of hours—part of which Daddy is video-conferenced in from wherever he is this time.

We talk about my ‘feelings’. I mean, they try to get me to. To be honest, I am so numb right now, I don’t have any. I feel like Han Solo frozen in carbonite—or maybe a better analogy is Anna after Elsa freezes her heart, right now. I doubt Han felt anything—I feel the cold.

What? I like ‘Frozen’. So, sue me!

After a while, after Daddy gets on, we talk about the band. I guess Chris had emailed him a copy of the contract at Mom’s bidding. Well, Mom’s bidding through Jillie texting Barbs.

Daddy says, “Hon, it’s actually a really good contract for a starting band. I mean, I’m no expert on music contracts, but I do understand contracts.”

I sigh, “That may be, Daddy, but I don’t know that I can like get in front of a crowd ever again. It was like bad enough when I was anonymous—now like everyone knows.”

I notice Rita smiling in a funny way. I don’t get it and feel a strange heat rise in my cold void. I call her on it, “What? I don’t see what’s so funny about that, Rita!”

She smiles brighter, “Good! Get mad! At least that’s an emotion—as is fear! Both can serve you well in all of this. I don’t think it’s funny, at all, that you now have a very specialized version of stage fright that you’re going to have to get over—whether you ever set foot on a stage again, or not, by the way.”

She lets that sink in before she continues, “What I was smiling at is the fact that you’re calling your father ‘Daddy’. Have you even noticed? Now, that’s not a purely girly thing to do, but…”

She lets that sink in and then shoots the torpedo that sinks the Enterprise, “And I doubt you even notice that you use the word ‘like’ a lot, now. Not in the sense of liking something, but like so many other teenage girls that throw it into sentances in really strange places. Mitsi does it, Jillie here does it, so do the other girls in the Circle. You’re picking up their bad habits—habits that I think only Jacie/Chrissie would pick up.”

My mouth opens to retort. Then closes. I need a break to go chase my eyes. They had stayed firmly in place since the ‘outing’. Now they’re on the loose again.

I finally get them back in and see Jillie just nodding in agreement with Rita. Mom is smiling at me in that funny way she does as she winks at me. Daddy…

Damn! I am doing it!

Anyway, Daddy is nodding, too. He breaks the silence, “At any rate, Hon, you should really consider the contract. As Rita just pointed out, I think, at some level, Jacie is here to stay. And I also think, that you enjoyed singing. I’ve seen the YouTubes.”

I chase my eyes down again and croak, “YouTubes?”

Jillie nods and says, “Kate has kept an eye on the social media. It wasn’t like just the asshole jocks that posted videos, some of the restaurant patrons posted videos of us singing. Since we weren’t like under contract, there was nothing illegal with that—another reason we need a contract and a manager. Anyway, there has been a flurry of postings and counter-postings. It’s like created this strange web of links between the band singing and you being outed. At this point, there is like a clear majority on your side.”

Rita breaks into my stunned thoughts, “That doesn’t mean that there aren’t enough that aren’t on your side to not be concerned—and careful, Hon. The point is, your Daddy’s right. You clearly enjoyed doing it—scared as you were. Do you want to miss out on that? Sleep on it, Hon.”

Daddy breaks in and says, “Yes, Apollo has even offered to give you tomorrow to decide—you can go and sing, if you want, and see how it goes. His offer to the band is still contingent on your decision to be in the band, though.”

I sigh. Why do I feel like the weight of the universe is on my shoulders?

I say, “That’s not fair, though, Daddy! I mean, if I like don’t want to—that shouldn’t like penalize the band!”

I shake my head and blush, “Wow! I like really say ‘like’ a lot, don’t I. That used to like drive me crazy as Jimmy.”

Rita smugly smiles and winks at me. Then she drives the final torpedo home. Well, I guess, technically, she targets it and Mom and Daddy push the launch button.

She says, “You also need to decide about Monday, Hon. How are you going to school?”

I vehemently shake my head, “That one is easy! I’m not!”

Mom takes my hands and squeezes them. She looks me in the eye and I know I’m dead—red shirt, or not. She says, “Yes, Hon, you are. You can’t hide forever. This is one horse you are just going to have to get back up on.”

Daddy jumps in and says, “I know it’s not fair, Sport, but life seldom is. Unless Rita gives us her official medical opinion that we’re wrong in sending you.”

I guess I was wrong, it is Rita that sends the death torpedo as she shakes her head and says, “No, I can’t do that, since I agree. James Tiberius Amanda Christine Jacie Alexander, you have to face this—both the public situation at school and the band. More importantly, you have to face yourself, I wasn’t kidding before, you can’t go back into your cryotube, Hon.”

I feel my self melt and Jillie comes and squeezes me. She whispers in my ear, “We’ve got your back, Hon. I’ve got your back—no matter what you decide.”

Mom says, “We just need to know your decision before you go to bed tomorrow, so we can let Mrs. Blackthorn know. She is, of course, already aware of what Greg and Co. have done. She’s not happy.”

When I finally get to bed an hour later, I’m drained of all energy. Another type of vampire cloud? The only thing keeping me alive is the slight energy transfer I got from the foot-popping, toe-curling kisses that Jillie gave me before leaving. Mom even let her come to my room to give us privacy for her to deliver the transfer.

I think she just wanted to talk to Rita alone, to be honest, but I enjoyed the moment—and the trust she gave us, none-the-less.

I sleep in spurts and have really weird dreams of the Borg taking me over and my body being replaced with more and more foreign parts against my will—and the Klingons laughing at me. A Cardassian stabs me in the back and a Ferengi pays the Romulan that saves me—so that he can own me and I can be his naked, submissive wife.

I finally give up trying to sleep and get up at dawn to take a long shower.

I still have no idea what I’m going to do come Monday. I do, however know, that I don’t plan on singing at the Goddess tonight.

Well, I’m pretty sure…

I mean, I really shouldn’t

Err, right?


I look at myself in the mirror.

Jacie stares back at me—well, sort of. Jillie is right behind her in the mirror’s reflection and looking over her shoulder.

I sigh, “I don’t know how I let you talk me into this, Jillie!”

I’m sporting a toned-down look compared to last night, but it’s still a sort of edgy party look with a blue shorter, just-above-knee-length dress that would make any prom-going girl proud. It actually matches the blue of my eyes. I am not wearing the contacts, or the glasses. I do have the extensions in my hair, though.

What? Oh, right—you missed some things…

Jillie had come over in the early hours of the morning. She wasn’t able to sleep, either. Then the rest of the band congregates at the house a few hours later. Everyone—well, the girls, at least—give me supportive hugs. Everyone, no really this time, lets me know how worried they are.

I understand that they really are concerned about me—and not just about what I’m going to do in regards to the band.

Anyway, we sit around and discuss things for an hour. Kate brings me up to speed on the social media situation. I just can’t bring myself to go there just yet. She reports much the same that Jillie had surprised me with last night—the trends are all in my favor. Of course, that goes hand-in-hand with the trends for the band.

I know she doesn’t mean to put pressure on me, but it does. The fate of the band is in my hands—well, at least the fate of the band’s start.

Strangely enough, though, I realize that my fate is tied to the band. At least to a certain point. The discussions last night made it clear that the band can be a great ‘shield’ for me as the world comes to grips with ‘Jacie’.

If I decide to go with Jacie, that is.

The thing is, I’m not sure I could lead the double-life of Jimmy at school and Jacie in the band. So, if I decide to do the band thing, does that mean that I’m also committing to being Jacie fulltime?

I sigh and listen to the chattering of the girls and smile at the lost looks on the guy’s faces. I find myself able to keep up with the girls’ conversations and I know they can’t.

I don’t know what that means, but I’m still thinking about it when everyone but Jillie leaves and I promise to make a decision within the next hour.


So, anyway, now you’re caught up… Back to the story.

I sigh, “I don’t know how I let you talk me into this, Jillie!”

I’m sporting a toned-down look compared to last night, but it’s still a sort of edgy party look with a blue shorter, just-above-knee-length dress that would make any prom-going girl proud. It actually matches the blue of my eyes. I am not wearing the contacts, nor the glasses. I do have the extensions in my hair, though.

She spins me around and my breath is taken away, as my toes curl and my foot pops. She breaks the kiss and smiles, “You know it’s the right thing to do, Jacie. For the band, for Mr. Apollo’s niece, and for you.

I look at the slowly growing population of Tribbles in the room. Their come-back is less than stellar. Nowhere near warp speed—more like quarter-impulse, if that.

I sigh deeply, “I’m not doing it for Mr. Apollo’s niece—I don’t even know her. I’m certainly not doing it for me. I just want to bury my head in the sand somewhere—even if it would mean maybe having a Ceti eel larva slip in my ear. I’m not even doing it for the band. I’m really only doing it because you asked me to.”

I shrug, “I’m still not convinced it’s the right thing to do, though. At least it will keep my mind off of tomorrow—I still can’t believe my parents are making me go to school.”

She kisses me again and I’m once again in space without a suit—toes completely curled under—but securely tethered to her and she pulls me back in before I can completely suffocate.

She smiles brighter, “We’ll look out for you—me right out front. No matter how you decide to come, Hon. Now, come on—let’s fix that lipstick and go downstairs. Jeff should be here any minute to pick us up.”

We walk down the stairs. It’s a funny feeling to actually have to walk down them, again. I had sort of gotten used to the pink cascades. That river is completely dry, right now, though, and I have to carefully pick my way through the rocks in the dry river bed—in my heels.

Mom gives me a hug and says, “You look wonderful, Jacie—or Chrissie? Much more appropriate than last night. Break a leg, Hon. Rita and I both are just a text away, if you need us. OK?”

I take a deep breath and nod. The Borg implant that has replaced my vocal chords isn’t working right now, so I give her a squeeze and break the hug just as Jeff pulls up the driveway.

She pulls me into a hug one more time and says, “I’m proud of you, Jacie! Not that it matters, but I think you’re making the right decision to at least give this a chance. If you decide to not go through with the contract, after-all, at least you’ll know you gave it your best—and so will the band.”

I simply nod and try to pull some moisture back into my parched mouth. Jillie and I quickly walk through the cold to get in the van.

I’m immersed in gratitude for my bravery and compliments on my look. I’m quiet the whole ride, though. I certainly don’t feel ‘brave’. I still feel like I am in the mirror universe and don’t know who to trust and who to not.

What? Yes, I trust the Circle. They like have my back!

Err…I think…

Anyway, when I step into the restaurant—firmly gripping Jillie’s hand—I almost turn right around and retreat from the scores of enemies that flash in front of my mind. Jillie squeezes my hand and pulls me into a hug, that is suddenly expanded to one big group hug—the girls on the inside and the guys on the outside.

I giggle, “OK, guys. I’m not running—but, I can’t breathe!”

The huddle dissolves as quickly as it had formed and Chris says, “I don’t think you understand, Jacie. We all feel awful about what happened to you last night. It was all our fault.”

I start to shake my head, but Barbie just puts a finger on my lips. Chris continues, “We know how hard it is for you to even come in here, let alone sing. We are all firmly behind you, no matter what you decide. Is that clear? No matter what!” Everyone is nodding—and it’s clear they all mean it.

I feel light-headed at the love I feel from this group. I also don’t feel any better—their fate is still in my hands.

Then Mr. Apollo comes over and takes my hands, “Ms. Jacie. Thank you for coming back. I still can’t apologize enough for what happened to you, last night.”

I once again start to shake my head and retort, but he just shakes his head in a clear sign to let him finish. He says, “I talked to my niece last night and I have to admit that she put me to further shame. She quite firmly reminded me that no one in this group has any idea what you are going through, right now. She clearly understands that we are all here to look out for you, but she also, quite firmly, admonished me that it is extremely unfair to put the burden of the band on your fragile shoulders.”

Now, I truly am light-headed.

He continues, “She has seen the YouTube videos and is quite certain that you have a future in the band, but that said future will only happen if it truly is your decision—not one out of guilt, or other misguided incentive.”

I see funny looks on everyone’s faces and know they must mirror mine. I don’t know where this is going. I look around for Cardassians.

He finally blows the cotton candy that has reformed in my mind right out of it. He squeezes my hands and says, “So, Ms. Jacie, I once find myself in need of begging you for your forgiveness. I hope that you will sing with your band tonight. And I hope that you will find enjoyment in it. I hope that you will decide to stay with the band and sing with them when they perform here. But, I also want you to understand that they will be performing here—with or without you.”

He winks and I fall into his arms giving him a hug of such immense relief that I think I’m going to collapse. I fight the tears that threaten to ruin my carefully crafted makeup, but give up when I see that all of us girls are going to have some work to do.

I take a deep breath and accept the Kleenex that he offers me. I wipe my nose and nod, “Thank you, Mr. Apollo! Oh, thank you! Yes, I will sing tonight. I still can’t make any promises on what the outcome will be, but I will promise that I will give everything in me that is left to give!”

He smiles and nods and the girls pull me to the girl’s room for a serious makeup repair job while the guys finish setting up.

Kate quickly redoes all of our makeup after we completely wipe our faces clean. I find myself chattering along with them, like I had been a part of the group my entire life.

I know I am just fooling myself, though. I haven’t been—and I’m not. My day of full reckoning is still coming and there is nothing that will stop it.

Somehow, I find the strength—supplemented by the tireless energy of my Circle—to put those thoughts aside and go out with the band an hour later.

When I step out onto the stage for the first song, ‘Money, Money, Money’, however, I’m not sure my Borg voice implant is going to work. I let out a ‘squeek’ and get it going on the second cue. I just focus on keeping the damned implant working and not on anything else and am surprised to hear loud applause—I realize the song is over and I have stopped singing.

I feel Jillie’s arms wrap around me from behind—in comforting support. I look around and smile at the others, then nod at Fred. He counts us in for the next song…

The rest of the night goes OK. I mean, there are still dead Tribbles everywhere, and a few Klingon corpses, from last night. You would have thought they would have cleaned the place up better—but there were a lot of bodies after the battle.

I finally relax enough to let my shields recharge a little when no one in the crowd makes a crack about me. As a matter of fact, no one even mentions anything about me—or last night. They just seem to enjoy the food and the music.

I don’t know if Mr. Apollo somehow specially picked the crowd tonight, or not. It doesn’t seem possible, since reservations are so hard to come by. There is a clear sense of support from everyone here, though. So, my shields make it to maybe ten percent, or so. Still far too low to take a direct hit, though.

And I will be going into a full-out war at school tomorrow.

With that thought, I feel the strength of my shields drop a couple percent.

I feel my shoulders sag a little and the comforting arms snake around me from behind. I hear Jillie’s voice whisper in my ear, “We’re here for you, Love.”

I smile and we finish our last set to a roaring applause. We take our bows and convene in the back room, where I, once again, find myself in the center of a crushing group-hug.

Fred says, “That was awesome, guys! Clearly our best work, yet! Jacie, you rocked! But, how are you feeling?”

Now, being a guy under all of this, I know that’s not a normal ‘guy’ question. I also know he is genuinely asking it—for all of the guys. The girls will ply me with much more—later.

I smile and sigh, “I… I’m surprisingly OK. It was hard—but I could feel your support. All of your support—and just knowing that the pressure was off and that you were still there for me, means so much you can’t imagine!”

I smile and hug Jillie. After a foot-popping, toe-curling kiss that we break with a loud ‘smack’, I look at Chris and ask, “So, where do we sign?”


I sigh and look at myself in the mirror. I see the reflection of a pretty teenage girl in her school uniform. She has long, blonde hair framing her school-appropriate makeup that accentuates her striking blue eyes.

What? I had to make a choice and since I am dead, anyway, I may as well die dressed comfortably.

Err… Right?

What? Oh right—you have trouble keeping up! It must be a guy thing.

Err, you are a guy, right? I doubt a girl would find any of this interesting!

Anyway, after the signing ceremony last night, I had to make a choice. I don’t know if it was residual ‘glow’ from the support I received from my ‘peeps’ last night, or some other nudging from the Force, I just decided to Hell with it. Damn the photon torpedoes, as Mom said.

Mom had called Mrs. Blackthorn late last night and let her know my decision. And now you’re caught up, again. So, can we get back to the story?

I shudder and look at the clock.

I pick my way through the rocks back down to the kitchen, trying to avoid the newly-formed crevices in the river bottom that have been created by the extreme drought. I notice a slight pink trickle forming though. Great! Now, it will just get muddy!

Ewww!

I give Mom a hug and take my bowl of oatmeal from her. I give Daddy a hug from behind before I sit down with him at the table. Daddy had gotten home late last night and both have taken the day off for my meeting with Mrs. Blackthorn at ten. Jillie and the others are already in class—it was thought best for me to come after school had already started for my initial talk with the front office.

I look down at my bowl of oatmeal and know that I can’t choke it down anymore than I could a bowl of Klingon Gagh.

I finally give up and Mom at least has the good grace to not try and force me to eat it. She just puts some protein bars and an instant breakfast drink in my bag.

The drive to school feels like a shuttle-transport to Rura Penthe. It seems I have been sentenced to a lifetime term on the Klingon prison planet and there isn’t much I can do about it.

What? Escape? Yeah, I know the real James T. did… But, I’m just a fraud…

The shuttle docks at the front entrance of the penal colony…

What? Oh, sorry…

Daddy parks the car in a visitor’s spot and I look at the school with that feeling of impending doom.

My life has already changed forever—the Borg implants can’t be removed now.

It is getting ready to change even more.

I sigh and get out of the car, drawing on what residual energy I can from my peeps…


This is the end of the first book. If interest remains, I will work on book two after I get a few other things cleaned up.

As always, if you enjoy this story, please remember to hit the ‘Thumbs Up’ button.

Thanks for supporting the story and Happy New Year!

HUGS!
S



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