Danny didn't do his "thinking" until he got back to the familiar surroundings of his room, so that his brain could calm down enough to even think about... Kevin.
He loves me. He loves me not. He's an asshole. But he loves me. After all he'd been through, to just take him back? Kevin had a lot to make up for... in fact, the boy probably had no idea how much. Well, it wasn't going to be 'water under the bridge', that's for sure – a lot of things were going to change. Danny had been abused. He might forgive Kevin for that – or he might want revenge – or he might just call the whole thing off. There were other boys around. Especially now that they were all coming out of the wood-work at school.
Kevin was special though, because Danny still couldn't think of him as 'gay'. Even after all the time they'd been together, and all the ways they'd been together, too - whether Danny was in drag or out – it really didn't seem to matter. Kevin still sort of treated Danny like a girl.
Yeah. Yeah, he did, didn't he... always taking his car, always opening his door, always putting the moves on him first. Just like a guy does to a girl. Did Danny like it that way? He had to admit – he did. Or rather – he used to.
Until it got him hurt.
He looked over at his closet, now stuffed with dresses, blouses, and shoe-boxes on the top shelf. Almost as many girl-clothes as boy-clothes now, thanks to his mom. He sighed. He hadn't felt like wearing any of them – not even the night-gowns – since that night Kevin had hurt him so much. He still didn't.
It seemed to Danny now that being a girl usually meant pain, of one kind or another, and too often.
While he stared at the ceiling in the dark, it occurred to him out of the blue, but I have a choice! Kevin doesn't – he's the way he is. Stacey doesn't – she's a girl. But me... I have a choice!
It was going to be awhile before Danny would find out that he didn't, after all.
"So Danny," Kevin said casually, trying to hide his excitement – this ought to make up for something, anyway, "I got fifth-row-center tickets to the White Mountain Symphony this weekend. I was wondering if you'd wanna go..." Kevin braced for squealing. And hopefully hugging.
"Actually, Kev... I was kind of thinking we could get away this weekend. I was thinking 'snowmobile'. This is the first real winter I've ever seen, y'know. We don't have snow like this in Texas. I wanna do something fun."
Kevin was crest-fallen, "But... I thought this would be fun. For you, anyway."
Yeah, probably thought I'd wanna dress up, didn't you, Kev. I don't think so. "Yeah, well... sorry. I bet you have a snowmobile though. Am I right?"
"Good, then you can teach me how to drive it. And we'll need to go shopping – I don't have anything to deal with that kind of cold. Tomorrow good for you?"
"What about the concert? This guy Dish at school – his mother plays cello in the Symphony, and I had to beg him to-"
"I'm sorry Kev. But what'd the tickets cost ya? Tell ya what – I'll take you to dinner to make up for it. I really wanna go play in the snow, Kevin. Besides, there's always concerts..."
"Well... there's always snow, too, Danny..."
"Can we go back to 'Daniel'? And we're snow-mobiling. You gonna eat that last piece of pepperoni?"
Well, that seemed to be the end of that argument. Kevin was the guilty party here, and had nothing to fight with. But... why back to 'Daniel'? And, for that matter, why was Danny making plans without telling him? On the other hand... if Danny – Daniel – would have more fun 'playing in the snow', as he put it, then that would be good enough. Kevin liked to see Daniel have fun. It was... fun, when Daniel had fun.
Kevin took him to the the New England Outfitters – L.L. Bean was considered passe', in his circles. They shopped by layers: thermal underwear and socks. Wool sweater and pants. Boots. Balaclava and goggles. Finally, the only things that would show – snow-suit and gloves. Matching the boots, of course!
"Yeah, I like it. I'm getting this one," Daniel said, eying himself in the mirror and not even asking Kevin's opinion.
"Daniel... you look like an Evil Henchman from a James Bond flick." Most of the outfit was black, with blood-red highlights.
"Good. Maybe I'll scare everyone else away."
"I kinna had you figured for... I dunno... white and blue or something."
"Tough," Daniel smirked – although, yeah, that would've been good too... if perhaps a little, well, effeminate. Not what he was going for, this time.
Kevin shrugged. Another dead-end disagreement – there were a lot of those, these days. Starting with taking Daniel's car to get to the store. It was weird – Kevin always drove them around, but not this time. Oh well, it wasn't really that big of a deal. Maybe Kevin could at least pick a restaurant.
But Daniel beat him to it - "I'm starving. Let's go eat at The Rib Crib. They have really hot barbecue sauce – reminds me of home."
"Feeling the need for some hot beef, are ya?" Kevin joked. That was a pretty good one, he thought.
Until Daniel glanced at him with daggers in his eyes, "No. I just want to eat ribs with barbecue sauce."
Dinner went better than most of the rest of the day had, because Daniel wanted to know everything about snowmobiles, and Kev was happy to be the expert at something for a change and teach him. Growing up in New Hampshire, Kevin had been snowmobiling and skiing since he was seven. Daniel wanted to try skiing next – but that could wait.
Kevin still felt bad about how the other boy had looked at him when he'd made that joke, though. Okay, maybe it was a little off-color - an obvious fag joke - but Kevin had thought they understood each other enough to make fun of things like that now. They'd used to, hadn't they? Was the subject untouchable now?
"Daniel... Look, I'm sorry about that joke I made, all right? I wasn't implying... well, anything."
"Yeah, well..." Daniel fidgeted uneasily. Kevin thought he was going to say more, but he didn't.
"So anyway," Kevin attempted to pick up the slack, "I'm getting my own apartment next week. My trust-fund will finally be under my control on Tuesday. That's my birthday, by the way. I was thinking that on Friday I could round up a couple more guys and we could move my stuff into-"
"Why do you need a couple more guys?" Daniel asked defensively.
"Well, y'know... heavy lifting and stuff... I mean, there's a lot of stairs, and-"
"You don't think I can handle it? Just you and me? I'm a jock too, y'know. Oh, wait – you don't want your dad to see me, I get it."
"No, I didn't mean, uh..."
"It's okay, Kev. I know I embarrass you."
"Daniel! You do not embarrass-"
"Good. Then it's settled. We'll do it, just the two of us. And I get to meet your dad." While Kevin digested this, Daniel had another thought, "You tell him about me yet?"
"You didn't tell him you had a boyfriend?"
"Uhm... well, I sorta did..."
"Then what's the problem?"
"The problem... the problem is... Your parents are cool, okay? My dad's not. That's the problem."
"Once upon a time you said he'd have to meet me 'someday'..."
"Yeah. Yeah, what the fuck... might as well be then. Just not looking forward to it."
Daniel only smirked. It was a little bit of revenge for him. It felt kind of good, really, to put Kevin through some shit, instead of going through shit because of Kevin.
When Daniel got back home, after dropping off Kev, he found his sister Stacey waiting for him on the couch. It was now Friday, and she was home to do her laundry – or more accurately – have it done for her. She jumped up as he came in the door.
"Danny! About time you got home, I've been waiting for you for hours! Uh... what's with all the stuff?" Daniel's arms were full of boxes and bags from the Outfitter's.
"Kevin and I are going snowmobiling tomorrow. Snow-suit and stuff."
"Ah. Look – I wanted to ask if it was okay if I borrow your red mini. The leatherette one?"
"Yeah. Sure. G'head."
As Daniel began climbing the stairs with his packages, his sister followed behind. "Great! I have a hot date and we're going to a club. He's in a band!" she nearly squealed, "It's so great to have a brother I can borrow clothes from – oh, that reminds me: can I borrow your Opium, too?"
"Help yourself," Daniel said, dropping his load onto the bedroom floor, "In fact, Stacey – you can have it. All of it."
Stacey stood at his dresser, holding the bottle of Opium, her mouth agape, "ALL of it? You mean – oh, you mean the Opium. What, you don't like it?"
"No, Stace. I mean all of it. The clothes, the make-up... I don't guess you'd want the underwear, but everything-"
"Wait. Just wait a minute. You... I mean, Mom just bought you all this stuff, and now-"
"I'm giving it up, Sis. I'm tired of being a freak."
"You're... tired... Okay, Danny. Sit. Talk. I can't believe I'm turning you down for a thousand dollars of free stuff – although your tops are too big in the shoulders for me anyway - but what's going on... You and Kevin have a fight or something? He doesn't like you cross-dressing anymore?"
"Oh, he'd just love it if I were to keep wearing skirts. But I'm not gonna. It's time for me to just... be who I am. I'm a boy. A 'guy', I mean. I should act like one."
"So... gonna stop being gay, too?" she asked incredulously.
"I would if I could, Stace."
"Whoa. All right... Would you sit down?! My trans-sexual brother is having a crisis, and all he's concerned about is ripping all the tags off his new snow-suit – you should cut those off, by the way - and it's weirding me out."
"I am NOT a 'trans-sexual'!" he glared at her.
"Huh? Sure you are..."
"Do you see any tits here? No! And THANKS for making me feel even MORE like a freak, Stacey!"
"Daniel, calm down! What do tits-" and then she remembered, from her surfing on the internet, what came up first when she'd searched for 'trans-sexual'. Porn. She-male porn. Of course... "Look, Danny – little brother – I wasn't calling you a freak, okay? I don't think you're a freak. In fact, I happen to know you're not a freak, all right? 'Trans-sexual' just means that you're male on the outside and female inside. It's a thing that happens – you got the wrong body, or brain, whichever way you wanna look at it, okay? How can you not know this stuff? I would have thought you'd found out all about it a long time ago..."
"Found out all about what? Yeah, I've seen tranny-porn. I'm NOT a tranny!"
"Oh for god's sake – I swear, you really are such a... GUY sometimes. You think of everything in terms of porn. Just like a boy."
"What... what did you mean 'you happen to know' that I'm not a freak? What do you know about it?" Daniel asked, only just now thinking about what his sister had said before.
Stacey explained it slowly and deliberately, as if explaining algebra to a 9 year old. Male outside, female inside. Female brain. There are differences. Physical, measurable differences, well-known and well-understood. Unlike the political muck surrounding homosexuality, there was scientific, clinical proof of trans-sexuality. No room for dissent on whether it was true or not. It was. And how did she know?
Because it just so happened that her chemistry lab-partner was one. Except she was a Female-to-Male "trans-gender", as she'd learned to call them.
"Wait. So... she's a guy in a girl's body?"
"Exactly. And after you think about it for awhile, it seems SO obvious, too! I mean, at first I went 'yeah, whatever', but really, the more I got to know him – I mean... well, you get used to calling them by how they act, eventually - the more I got to know him, the more obvious it was that he was a 'him'! So I did some googling, and yeah, up comes the tranny-porn. But if you ignore that and dig a little deeper, you'll see that there's actually a lot of 'em out there! Male-to-Female, like you, Female-to-Male, like him... Danny? How come you never... looked for this stuff?"
He thought about it, staring off out his window. "Maybe I didn't want to know."
After a pause, Stacy continued, "Yeah... I guess I can understand that. But doesn't it feel better to know that you're not the only one? I mean... if it were me, I'd be happy-dancing to know there were others like me..."
"I've been there, Sis. Done that. Back before I knew about homosexuals, I thought I was the only one. Then, one day Dad and I were going somewhere – there was this bill-board. Advertising a gay club. And I asked Dad what 'gay' meant, and he told me 'gay men, uhm, like other men'. That's what he said. I can still remember. I must have been 11 or so. I couldn't let him know, but I felt so... relieved, y'know? No, I guess you don't. But yeah, relieved because a lot of things suddenly fell into place. I was gay. There were others who were gay too. Enough to have clubs! Heh, I couldn't wait to grow up and be a Gay Man... It probably sounds weird to you."
"Not so much. I've been thinking a lot about that stuff since I got Chris for a lab-partner. Funny how you never think about it until you meet someone who's like that and it hits you."
"So... you think I'm a trans-sexual? I really am a girl inside?"
"I dunno, Danny... you're weird. I don't mean – oh, I just mean yeah, sometimes it's so obvious, now that I know about it, and other times... well, you seem like a typical boy. Uhm... it's weird asking this... but... how do you feel about your penis?"
It was weird hearing it, too. Not to mention all kinds of embarrassing, on many levels. "Uhm..."
"Look," she continued to save on the awkwardness, "TG's usually hate their... uh, gender-specific parts, okay? For instance, Chris absolutely hates having tits. And what's weird – she says they hurt a lot, too. In fact, she hates most things about the female body. They disgust her. Him, I mean. So even though she's a guy inside, she's still attracted to guys, because she can't get over how much she dislikes her own body. But that's just him, other FtM's feel differently about that, and you – well, you obviously like guys... so I dunno... but, if you were to have a... problem... with your penis, that'd be pretty good proof that you're TG. So... do you?"
After a short moment, Daniel only said, "Yeah. Sometimes, I mean." Since Daniel had given up trying to be a girl, he'd actually been feeling better about his penis. Even gotten hard by touching himself, a couple of times. Still a long way from masturbating, though.
"Well there ya go!" Stacey said, happy to have made her point, before it occurred to her to feel sorry for her brother who didn't like something so basic about his own body. Her own body, rather. "By the way, there are tests you can take. Even on-line, Chris says. And you're actually kinna lucky – it's a lot easier to turn boys into girls than the other way around."
"You... you're talking about surgery..."
"Yeah. They do it all the time now. Chris has already started hormone and counseling treatment to get changed into a man – he can't wait. Know what he's looking forward to the most?"
"Peeing standing up?"
"Well, yeah, that's a biggie for 'im – but even more – he wants to be able to go outside without a shirt. I really don't get that... but for some reason it's important."
"I... I don't know if... if I'd be interested in that..."
"A lot of 'em aren't. You don't have to actually become female, you know. You just have to get comfortable with yourself, I guess."
Daniel didn't say anything, leading to an uneasy silence for a few minutes. Stacey sniffed the Opium perfume and dabbed it on her wrist, while her brother continued staring off into space.
Eventually, Stacey said, "So... I'm gonna borrow – borrow – your Opium and the red mini. Okay?"
"Yeah. Sure Sis. And, uh... thanks."
"No prob Bro. Or should I call you 'Sis'?"
"Let's stick with 'Bro' for now. I'm still not sure... what I'm gonna do..."
"Okay. But hey – if you wanna borrow anything of mine, well, my closet is your closet, okay? Just don't be stretching my tops over those shoulders of yours. Skirts and wraps and stuff should be fine though. And stay out of my underwear drawer."
"Oh please. I have way better stuff than you do in that department anyway. Not counting the vibrator."
"Why, you little-"
Daniel smiled at her, "I was only guessing, Stace..."
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