Chapter 6: JamianDiscuss
...could be my scene.
It took Jamian nearly two days to get up the nerve to talk to Ty – in part because the older student seemed always to be surrounded by other people. During free period on Friday, however, he passed by him sitting alone in one of the lounges, draped sideways over an armchair paying half-hearted attention to a textbook.
Even then, Jamian might have passed him by, but Ty looked up as he passed. “Hey,” he said, leaning over the chair backwards, his strawberry-blonde hair escaping from a short ponytail in little wisps and tendrils, “you’re one of the new students, right? Jamie?”
“Jamian,” he corrected absently. His name was just off enough from the norm that he’d been correcting people on it his whole life.
“Jamian. That’s right.” He grinned. “Magnolia’s got her eye on you. He held out his hand over his head. “I’m Ty.”
“Yeah, I… uh?” He blinked at the other student. “Who’s got her eye on what?”
Ty grinned and twisted in his seat until he was sitting upright, looking at Jamian. “Magnolia. She’s second cohort, like me – the tall girl with the luscious mahogany skin and the purple streak in her hair?”
“Ah… oh, yeah.” The girl in question wasn’t in any of Jamian’s classes, but he’d seen her at meals, usually sitting with Ty and a couple others.. “Um…” What was he supposed to say to that? “Cool.”
Ty laughed. “I guess.” He looked over Jamian for a minute. “Sit down. You’ve got that ‘I’ve got an embarrassing question I don’t know how to ask’ look on your face, and I doubt it has to do with Magnolia’s chicken-hawk tendencies.” A little stunned, Jamian sat down obediently in one of the nearby lounge chairs, and Ty pinned him with an assessing look. “So which is it?” he asked, the laughter around his eyes covered with a mock-stern look.
“Uh…?” Jamian glanced around the lounge. There was no one else within earshot, but it still seemed horribly open and public.
Ty shook his head, chuckling. “Is it my famous career as a vacuum cleaner with all the attachments?”
Jamian choked, staring at Ty with unabashed horror. How could he just… like it was nothing? Like it was a joke? Finally, he nodded, unable to force the words out.
Ty looked sympathetic. “Look, kid, you don’t have to be so embarrassed on my behalf. I grew up ‘down here,’ so it’s not like I think it’s something to be ashamed of or anything – but I know that people who grew up ‘up there’ have a hard time with that idea. So… did you want to see?”
Jamian felt a flush coming to his face. “N-no! No. I mean… I believe you.”
The look Ty gave him had more than a little amusement in it. “‘Course. Just wanted to find out if the rumors were true, then?” Taking Jamian’s silence for consent, Ty continued. “I gotta know, though – who told you? I thought we were keeping things all vanilla for the first week for the newbies.”
“Doctor… Dr. Caitrin,” Jamian choked out. In a half-second, as comprehension reached Ty, Jamian saw the other student’s face go from superior amusement to a sort of embarrassed sympathy.
“Oh! Oh, why didn’t you say so?” Ty sat up a little straighter and gave Jamian an appraising once-over. “You hide it well. I mean, I couldn’t tell, looking at you, and I know what to look for.”
Jamian nodded wordlessly, not really sure what to say to that. He’d spent his whole life hiding it, after all.
Ty seemed to understand. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to spread it around or anything. But, so, wow. Are you looking for advice, then?” Jamian nodded again. He was having trouble believing that he was really having this conversation, that Ty was acting as if it were nothing.
“Cool.” Ty’s smile made him look suddenly six years old, a kid given a new toy. “I’ve never really been able to talk to someone else my own age who really understood, you know? It’s been a lot of experimentation for me, but I can tell you all the tricks I’ve learned, and Addergoole is a great place for experimentation. I mean, no-one’s going to care if you show up to class one day as a guy and the next day as a girl.”
Ty’s enthusiasm had been lulling Jamian into almost relaxing, but that brought him up short. “I don’t want to be a girl!”
Ty’s amazingly expressive face fell as if someone had just kicked his puppy. “No?” Jamian shook his head determinedly. “Not even once in a while? It’s not like it’s cross-dressing for us.”
“I’m a guy,” Jamian said firmly. “Just... different.”
Ty’s sad face was replaced by a sly smile. “Not if you’re like me. ‘Different’ barely begins to describe it. But...” He steepled his hands together and looked at Jamian over his fingertips. “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll teach you everything I know about our unique situation - everything - and every trick I know for passing ‘out there,’ and I’ll keep your secret, but in return -”
He paused dramatically, his devious smile widening, and Jamian’s stomach tied itself in knots.
“ - in return, you have to promise to spend a weekend, an entire weekend, Friday night through Sunday night, as a girl.” Before Jamian could protest, Ty held up a finger. “You don’t have to do it here where people know you. You can hide in my room all weekend if you want, or we can go out to one of the resort towns where no-one knows us, but it has to be the whole weekend, and it has to be this semester.”
Jamian stared at him in horror. After years of convincing people that he was just like any other guy, Ty wanted him to - what, put on a skirt and makeup and high heels and wander around showing off exactly what a freak he was?
“Isn’t there some other way?” he asked weakly. With mock-solemnity, Ty shook his head no, and Jamian writhed internally. Spend a weekend in drag, alone with this guy he’d just met, locked in a room together, pretending to be a girl...
It’s not exactly drag, not exactly pretending, a voice in his mind suggested, and Ty’s not exactly a guy any more than you are...
“Everything you know?” he found himself saying. He couldn’t do it. But Ty was the one person he’d ever met who he wouldn’t feel the need to hide anything around, who might understand, who might have some clue what was going on.
“Everything,” Ty said, smiling again. “Do you agree?”
No. There was no way! The blackmail possibilities alone, if word of this ever got back home...
This is an updated, edited, revised chapter. For the original, click here
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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