The squeal of the alarm clock was the first thing that Elliott heard. It was the first thing he ever heard since starting classes at NSFU, and he was starting to get sick of it, honestly.
"Jason, turn that shit off," Elliott groaned over the edge of his bunk.
"Shut the fuck up, Elliott," Jason said, but he turned it off anyway. Jason was a dick, but he wasn’t a spiteful one, and they both shot jabs at each other like that. That’s just kinda how their friendship was. After all, they’d been roommates in the dorms through freshman year, and Jason hadn’t had the decency to burn that awful clock for all that time. Maybe it was a cursed family heirloom or something.
The boys dumped themselves out of bed at about the same time, onto the pile of clothes, empty popcorn bags, and discarded beer bottles that littered the floor. The trashcans were overflowing, it’s not like there was anywhere else to throw garbage, and neither had really bothered to tidy up since getting back after Christmas break, and it was almost a month into classes. Whatever.
While Jason was busy hunting through laundry for something fresh to wear, Elliott already had his clothes, towel, toothbrush and shampoo under his arm. Every day Elliott had a strategy that afforded him a twenty-minute headstart over Jason: "wear any pair of jeans, and any shirt he didn’t wear the day before."
Elliott padded along in his ratty slippers over to the communal showers where some of the other brothers, the ones who didn’t have morning insert-sport-here practice, were shaving and stuff before their eight a.m. classes. Shaving seemed like a huge pain to Elliott, and he was glad he didn’t have to bother.
His mom called him a late-bloomer, but if blooming meant getting hairy and buff, Elliott was happy to put it off as long as possible; however, that did mean that he was kinda, well, smaller. So Elliott enjoyed the prestigious privilege of being the shrimpy kid in the locker room. Today it actually wasn’t so bad— just the standard eye-rolls at his swim trunks —but that wasn’t always the case.
Other than that, there was just the small matter of keeping his toes free of grime while he showered, and then Elliott brushed his teeth, and he was practically good to go. He dumped his wet trunks and towel off in the bedroom, stuck his tongue out at Jason— who had only just gotten his clothes together —and strolled downstairs to the common room to scrounge up some breakfast.
There was bound to be a box of cheerios somewhere, and maybe even some milk.
Jason and Elliott busted back into the house from Chemistry right around ten — one of the quietest hours of the day, the one chance they had to talk about stupid shit and play games without getting kicked off the TV. Jason was right in the middle of telling Elliott about friday’s game, where he’d met the sexiest girl in the world, and all about how wild her snapchat was, when they both heard something. They stopped.
"Again, Hank? Again?," came a voice from the common room. It was Chad, a senior, probably the most awful member on the Gamma Chi Activities Committee, and the guy whose dick everybody else wanted to suck, "What the fuck, dude? You can’t cancel on me three times in a week, and still say ‘Sorry Bro’."
Everybody except Hank apparently. Hank was chill. He was marginally cooler than a lot of dudes. He got Jason stoned as fuck one time, at the Gammathon Homecoming Gala.
"No dude, it’s not chill," Chad said, into his phone. He looked about as you’d expect: an asshole with gelled hair and a polo. "I’m not gonna go into a Victoria’s Secret by myself, looking like a total fucking pervert… What? No! Fuck you dude," then a burst of laughter, "Yeah, whatever. I’ll talk to you later, Bro."
Chad looked up to see Elliott and Jason standing in the entryway to the common room, and sneered at them, "What?"
Elliott shrugged, but Jason saw an opportunity. God dammit, Jason.
"If you want someone to hang out with, Chad, we’re not doing anything," Elliott winced, because Chad was side-eyeing them both so hard that his answer was obviously going to be ‘Fuck off, fresh-meat.’ God dammit, Jason.
"Fine. Come on," he said.
Chad drove. Chad bought them Taco Bell. Chad was kinda cool, after all. Elliott had gotten the impression he was just another ‘Jock’ or whatever, but he was pretty nice. He played old Sega games in his spare time, so that counted for something. For the first time ever, Elliott actually felt like there was something worth saying to him.
While Elliott and Chad gushed about Sonic 2 and the bygone days of the Dreamcast, Jason more or less grumbled in the passenger seat about how they were nerds and glared out the window. It didn’t last long; the drive to the mall was quick, and that pepped Jason right up, as quickly as it popped Elliott back down to quiet dweeb-mode.
However you looked at it, Chad managed to hang out with them like he was doing the pair a favor, and simultaneously exuded this perpetual eyeroll in everything he said. Elliott was pretty observant, and felt himself reflexively shrink. Everything he did was some kind of apology for taking up Chad’s time. Jason, on the other hand, didn’t get it. Jason was kind of an idiot.
When they got to the Victoria’s Secret, Chad stopped them outside.
"What’s up, Chad?" Jason asked
He seemed to think it over for a second then pointed at Elliott. "You come in with me," then he pointed over to Jason, "You… go to Gamestop or something."
He pulled a fifty out of his wallet, balled it up and tossed it at Jason. "Get something that doesn’t suck, okay? No turn-based, RTS whatever the fuck it is you play." Chad laughed. Elliott nervously laughed with him.
"Huh?" Jason said, "I thought—"
"Don’t make it weird, Bro," Chad interrupted, "I only brought you guys along ‘cuz you two look like little, lost puppies whenever I see you around. But I don’t need two gawky freshmen—"
"—Whatever. You’re gonna make it weird. You get all giggly and stupid, ‘cuz you’re embarrassed. You make idiots outta yourselves. I’m just tryin’ to buy my girlfriend some underwear, Bro. Don’t need a whole squad. Three’s a crowd," Chad said. Jason looked mortified, which Chad didn’t seem to mind.
Chad turned and with a nod of his head, he said, "C’mon, Elli."
It happened so fast that Elliott didn’t know how to respond. He offered a pained look to Jason as he followed Chad; Jason just shot a glare back. Then he stormed off in the direction of the food court.
Elliott actually wasn’t as worried as he thought he’d be. Chad was right. The store would have been more uncomfortable with Jason, but Chad was cool about it and that helped Elliott feel cool about it. Together, they sorted through lace, straps, variations on pink, a spectrum of neon, and black.
"Elli-o, how come I never see you around? You’re actually pretty cool, Dude," Chad said.
"Uh, well, I guess I just keep to myself mostly. I don’t party or anything," Elliott said, with three hangers slung over one arm and two over another.
"That’s lame, dude. The bros back at the house would love you if they knew you as anything other than ‘Trunks’," Chad joked.
"Trunks?" Elliott asked with a laugh.
"‘Cuz you shower with your swim trunks on," Chad said, and Elliott flushed and rolled his eyes. "But also cuz you’ve got shaggy blonde hair, kinda like that dragon-ball character."
Elliott gagged, then said "I didn’t know you guys watched DBZ." He didn’t correct Chad on Trunks’s hair color. Which, of course, was lavender.
"That’s what I’m sayin’! You gotta hang out with us more, dude!" Elliott couldn’t describe how surprised he was. He felt utterly at ease with Chad. The guy was actually nice.
Over the next few minutes, Elliott held up bras & panties, and made funny faces while Chad snapped the pictures to his girlfriend. They even got a selfie together, which, after a few filters and some tasteful cropping, was on instagram for all of Chad’s seven-hundred plus followers to see. Nice.
"So, your friend," Chad said out of nowhere, and let it hang in the air between them.
"Jason," Elliott said.
"Jason…" He stretched out the syllables out like they had a bad taste. "Kinda sucks."
"Yeah," Elliott agreed, "But he’s also really cool when you get to know him. He just… takes a while to calm down. He gets excited about stuff."
"He’s so fucking lame, though," Chad said, " What’s with—"
Chad’s phone buzzed in his pocket, and he fished it out. He was getting a call.
"Man of the hour…" he muttered under his breath then picked it up.
"Jason. What’s up?" Chad’s voice was clipped, tense, obviously not thrilled.
"Uh huh. Sure," he said, "What? No. You can’t walk into a store and buy a video game by yourself? What are you, five?"
There was another pause, "Dude, listen, just get a game that everybody can— Dude, no, listen— Listen— Listen to me."
Chad rolled his eyes at Elliott, and Elliott shrugged sheepishly. Sounded like Jason had gotten tired of waiting and started throwing a fit. Classic Jason.
"You know what? Fine. I’m on my way. See you in two," Chad hung up, and shook his head at Elliott. "Is he always like this?"
Elliott shrugged again, "Only when he’s upset."
"That’s so shitty," grumbled Chad. "Listen, here’s my card. Can you ring up all this stuff? I gotta go instruct a dumbass on how to walk inside of a store and ask for what he wants."
Just like that Elliott was left behind, and without Chad there, Victoria’s Secret felt like a very, very different place.
Elliott, with hangers hooked around his scrawny arms, made his way up to the register and laid out all the underwear that Chad had picked out. He sighed with relief as he placed down the last hanger and looked up. There was no clerk behind the desk. Come to think of it, had there been anyone in the store at all? He didn’t remember seeing any employees.
"Is that all?" A voice spoke from behind Elliott, and he practically jumped out of his skin to turn around. There stood a woman. She was… huge. She was probably like six feet tall naturally, and in heels she towered over Elliott. Her shoulders were broad, her bare arms were soft, but clearly muscular. She wore a black halter-top and matching fitted slacks. A tattoo on her shoulder peeked out from behind the top.
She looked more like a bouncer than saleswoman. But there was something. A scent; she was wearing perfume and it smelled good, but it was so thick that it made Elliott feel dizzy.
"Wh-y-yeah," Elliott stammered, "S-sorry, you surprised me."
Her stern look melted into a warm smile, a sharp curve on her face defined by black lipstick. Her raven black hair was pulled into a neat bun. She rounded Elliott, then the counter, and started looking through his purchases.
She had plenty of time to make small talk, as she sorted through the item tags and entered them into the computer one by one.
"Getting something for your girlfriend?"
"No," Elliott laughed, "I—"
"Ah, so it’s for you? Then the older boy who was with you must be your..." she let the end of the sentence fall off.
"Oh, n-no! No way, he’s not—" Elliott was so busy defending against the accusation that he might be gay that he didn’t even have time to argue about the lingerie before she interrupted him again.
"Did he pick these out? Hmm. These bras are going to be a little big on you, I’m afraid," her voice was measured, even, firm. She spoke slowly enough that Elliott felt as if she was holding his hand through every sentence, but something about the way she talked still made him feel like she was spinning him around in circles.
"W-well, yeah, but—" Elliott tried in vain to get a word in edgewise.
"Mm, don’t worry. I know how men are. Just be sure to keep your receipt, so you can return them for something smaller. Besides, pink isn’t really your color," she continued.
"I-it’s not like…" Elliott was trying less to interrupt her now, even though everything she said made him feel weird and twisted up. That perfume didn’t help matters much at all.
"Then again…" She looked Elliott up and down, and raised her eyebrow with a concerned frown, "I’d be happy to make some recommendations the next time you come in. I’ll just have to take your measurements."
Elliott felt wave upon wave of self-conscious with her every look at him. His clothes were bad: ratty, unwashed, too big. His posture was slumped, and noticing that made him feel like curling up even more. His face was splotchy, pink in some spots and pale in others. Practically the only thing he had going right now was that he brushed his teeth this morning.
"S-sure, whatever…" he mumbled.
"Good," she said, and started filling pink and black paper bags. "I have an open time-slot early tomorrow that would perfectly fit you."
There! That was a joke! A social cue he could latch onto. Elliott laughed nervously, and she frowned right at him. He immediately bit his lip and looked down at the counter.
"Put out your hands," she said, and he cupped his hands over the counter. In them she placed Chad’s credit card (when had she taken it?) and a business card. "Call me tonight to set up your appointment."
Elliott hung his head, and nodded. This woman was crazy. She was so bizarre, and saying the weirdest things, and he couldn’t even argue. He just wanted to buy all this stuff and get out of here. Then he saw her hand, and felt something hard and sharp against the base of his collarbone. Her fingernail.
She dragged it up, leaving a thick red line all the way from the base of Elliott’s throat to the tip of his chin. She lifted his face to look into her eyes. That perfume was thick on her hands. It fogged up his whole brain.
"Tonight. You’ll do that," she said on a smile, then with an afterthought, "Won’t you?"
Her eyes were dark. They locked Elliott in. The pressure on his chin forced him to look into them at first, but now, the sheer gravity of her gaze was all there was.
"Yes." Elliott whispered the word, like it had been wrenched from his mouth, swallowed up into void of her eyes. Elliott had never seen eyes look so black before. She was gorgeous.
"Good," she said and ruffled his hair. "Your friends are waiting. If you want to avoid any discomfort, just laugh sheepishly at them, show them my business card, and say ‘I guess so’ when they talk to you. It will make your life a lot easier."
Then she flicked her eyes toward the store’s exit. "Go."
In a daze, Elliott swayed through the door with arms full of bags, and just as she’d said, Chad and Jason were waiting, open-mouthed.
"Holy shit, dude," Jason said.
Elliott laughed sheepishly.
"You sly, little smooth-talker," Chad said and playfully punched Elliott’s arm, "That milf was all over you. Tell me you got her number, at least."
Elliott showed him the business card.
"Oh my god," Jason gasped. "You have to call her."
Elliott said, "I guess so."
And the three of them laughed and joked all the way back to the frat house.
Elliott had gone to bed early, but he couldn’t really sleep. He was sweaty, disoriented, his chest felt tight. Who was that woman? Her business card didn’t even have her name on it, just a phone number on one side and some weird instructions on the other. He had turned it over and over in his hands while Jason teased him about calling her. Chad seemed all for the idea too, but neither of them knew…
They didn’t know what it was like to be tossing and turning in bed at seven, eight-thirty, ten, eleven-thirty. Elliott faded in and out of sleep every ninety minutes, each time, her business card was right back in his hands like he came up just for her, until he closed his eyes for another ninety minutes of restless sleep. And every hour closer to midnight, her words echoed in his head, and there was nothing he could do to get them out.
That’s where he was now. Eleven-forty-five and he hadn’t fallen back to sleep yet, his eyes were fixed on the card in the dark, and even though he couldn’t make out the letters, he still knew them all by heart, could repeat them in his head easily enough. Ten numbers listed in a row on one side, with the phrases, "1. Be a good boy.", and "2. When confused, smell this card and refer to 1." He had sniffed it a few times. It was her perfume, or her sweat, or something. So thick and musky and cloying.
Elliott swallowed and he could hear the wet thump in the back of his throat, his heartbeat echoing up to his ears, and all the other grinding meaty sounds that his body made. Louder than Jason’s snore in the bunk beneath him, or the sounds of bros in the common room. He kicked off the sheets because they clung too tightly to his skin, and then his mattress was too hot, and by eleven-fifty, Elliott was standing shivering in the hallway outside his room, in the dark.
He had to call her.
Elliott fished his phone out of his pocket, crushed the card in his hand, and dialed in the numbers. He had to tell her to make it stop, he had to get her out of his head, scream at her, threaten to tear her head off or something, anything, to assert some sense of control over the situation. Most of all Elliott just—
He had to hear her voice. The phone had rung three times already, and she hadn’t picked up.
"No…" he mumbled to himself, and called again. 11:56.
Three rings, no response.
"No, no, no, no—" he fumbled to type the number in again. 11:57.
Elliott sunk back against the wall, tears forming in the corners of his eyes. Why was she doing this to him? Did he deserve this somehow? He must have done something wrong, he must have waited too long? Was today Daylight savings-time, maybe his phone didn’t update.
11:58. Elliott was crying, huddled on the floor with his back to the wall.
And then his phone buzzed in his hands. He practically jumped from fear when it did, and he raced to answer it. It was her.
Elliott held the phone up to his ear, trying to conceal a loud sniffle through his sleeve.
"Good boy," she said, and it was her. He choked to reply, but he'd been crying and he never could talk through his tears. "There’s a cab out front. It’ll bring you home. I’ll leave the light on, and at a quarter-till unlock the front door. That should give you fifteen minutes of fresh air to calm yourself."
Elliott tried to form a word, any word, but he could only gasp, and nod his head, and wince, because why was he nodding his head? "Wh-why? H-how?"
"Look at your card, sweetie," she said and hung up, and all that was left for Elliott was silence. He uncrumpled the card.
1. Be a good boy.
He felt as if he was going to cry again.
2. When confused, smell this card and refer to 1.
He leaned forward, and he took a deep breath of it.
When Elliott opened his eyes he was okay. He needed to get in that cab.
The fifteen extra minutes sitting on her stoop absolutely did not calm him down. When she opened the door, he was freezing, and crying, and thinking all sorts of weird things that if only he’d been a little bit less overwhelmed, he might have been able to stave off.
When Elliott woke up, it was in a strange room, on the floor at the foot of a huge bed. There was very little light, except for some that slipped beneath a set of heavy blackout curtains. It must have been late in the day for how deeply rested he felt —almost groggy from too much sleep— but his only class today was the Friday evening chem lab, which started at five, so he wasn’t worried about classes.
What worried Elliott was twofold. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and his phone was gone.
"Wh-where am I?" He muttered, struggling to his feet though his body felt like jello. He moved slow, he could feel lag between his brain and his fingers. It was weird, because as much as he complained, he was usually a morning person. Way more than Jason anyway.
"Is anyone there?" he said into the darkness.
The darkness rustled, then groaned, and apparently the darkness was not a morning person.
"Elli?" she said. "What are you doing awake?"
Just the word Elli was enough to make Elliott feel dizzy, but he knew that voice. It was the woman. Her voice was scratchy, but she was the one from the mall, and… Slowly the events of the previous evening filtered back into his head. "Wait— You! What did you do to—"
"Elli," she said and her voice was firm. Elliott’s head felt thick and heavy. "Down."
Elliott fell limp to his knees.
Elliott slumped forward, head falling on the edge of the bed.
"Good boy," she said, and then the darkness rustled. And then it rustled some more. And it cursed. Apparently there was no use in sleeping now. "Elli, go make coffee."
Elli was a good boy, and made the coffee. Then she fed him toast, and fucked him again, and this time he wasn’t so resistant when she made him wear black, lacy underwear that showed off his luscious little hips. She took a nap before noon, and when she woke up, he was panicked again. She completed his baseline conditioning over lunch, and sent him back to school.
Chem lab was easy, and on the way back to the Gamma Chi house, he stopped by a gas station to look at some of the fashion magazines. Meh. When he got home, the place was basically empty, which was weird… oh yeah, friday night football… He had promised to go to the game with Jason, but by now he'd missed the tailgate and the opening ceremony. No use even showing up at this point.
At least it gave Elliott some time to actually put effort into his appearance for once. He teased out his hair a little bit, sorted through some of the clothes on his floor. There wasn’t much to pick from.
Elliott wasn’t usually too concerned by his clothes, especially not the lack of variety: normally what mattered was comfort. But tonight he was going to the Kickoff Bash that Gamma put on for the first big game of every semester, and he wanted to make it special. He did his best, and ended up with an outfit that was just a little too bro-ey, a little too introvert. But it looked… good. Intentional.
It felt good to look good.
The party was fun. Jason was a grump, but Chad was bursting at the seams ecstatic. The game must have gone really well. After a few beers, he leapt off to one side of the party, and a few beers later he crashed back against Elliott's side. And of course, he asked all about the date that kept Elliott out all night. Elliott blushed and looked away, which made Chad laugh. Then Chad introduced him to Hank and some of the other seniors, some girls, some guys, and Elliott appeared in more than one selfie with all his new friends.
It was the best night of his life.
Elliott went to the woman’s house again Saturday, because they needed to talk, and get things straight. Something had happened - something he didn't want to think about, but that he just couldn't stop thinking about. And he had classes and friends and all sorts of shit, so she couldn’t just take over his life. The door was unlocked, so he went inside. He made coffee and toast. He went to her bedroom to wake her up, and kneel patiently beside the bed. When she kissed him 'good morning' he was gone until midnight.
Elliott woke up, and he didn’t panic for once. She made him do all sorts of weird things. She talked about his body, and made him answer a slew of questions. He could vaguely remember bits and pieces and put together a blurry picture from it all, but he knew that he hesitated. When she made him do something new, something weird, he hesitated because he was keeping a secret that she was not allowed to know. She knew that secret was somewhere in him, but he refused to give it up. He hid the secret in a book, on a train, by a beach, in a dark pool of water, and every time he woke up she was a little closer - and there were fewer places left to hide. Finally, Elliott started to cry, and when he did, she held him.
Elli had a full day on Sunday. He showered and then he scoured the bathroom until it was spotless. He prepared breakfast, and awoke the woman. The woman made him pick which of three French Maid costumes he liked the most, and that was difficult. It was like a test, and she seemed satisfied when he finally chose one.
Then he cleaned the living room over breakfast while she watched. She fucked him, and then confined herself to her office for several hours. He cleaned while she did so, and when she came out, she announced that she’d be going to work. He’d already prepared her lunch, and she took it. Elli felt compelled to kiss her cheek before she left, and she pulled up his skirt to cup his ass. Elli liked it when she touched him.
When the woman came home there was no sign of Elli. There was food in the kitchen, and the table had been set. Everything, but Elli, was in its proper place. She ate and looked in the living room, the bathroom, her office, and finally her bedroom. She found him sprawled out on top of the covers. He’d pulled his arms out of the dress, pushed it down toward his waist until it was all bunched up over the skirt around his hips, and then he must have given up on trying to take it off.
"I’m cold," he said to her without looking up.
"I imagine so, Elliott," she said, and sat down on the edge of the bed. He didn’t look up, and she gently stroked his hair. "Let's get you under the covers."
She talked to him. She really talked to really him. There was no aggressive flirting. There was none of that weird blurriness. Her name was Rose. Rose knew that he was hurting inside, and she wanted to help. Elliott knew that he wanted her help, begged for it even, but he was scared. He felt like it meant he’d disappear: it felt like who he was now would die, and be replaced by someone new.
She told him not to be dramatic. Elliott was deeply unhappy, and she could see that. He had simply endured life up until now, and it was only after he had met Rose that he’d started to break out of his shell and choose to take control of his life. She was right, Elliott noted, and he waited for her advice.
But she didn’t give him any. Instead, she asked how he felt.
"Numb," he said, "Stupid. Quiet. Like always."
"It doesn’t have to be ‘Like Always’," she said.
"I’m wearing a dress," he said.
"Yes, you are, Elliott," she said.
"And a collar," he said.
"Mmhmm." She brushed her fingers through his hair.
"Stockings." He kept listing off the things he was wearing, "Panties."
"Are you uncomfortable," she asked.
"No," he said. "I… I just feel… ugly."
She quirked her eyebrow. "And that’s not uncomfortable?"
"I-I… I always feel ugly, but… in this, my shoulders feel so big, and… my hips are too skinny. The chest is really loose," he whimpered. His voice was breaking, "I can't fill it all up."
"The dress," she asked.
"Anything," he said, and he was crying again. "I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m not-"
"Shush," she said, and he stopped talking.
She petted through his hair until he was done crying, and then after he’d gotten his breathing under control, she asked him a question. One he’d tried to evade for a long time.
"Elliott, are you a girl?"
Elli went back to the frat house that evening, and she skipped class on Monday.
On Tuesday morning, bright and early, Chad caught her in the bathroom with an eyeliner pen and makeup pads.
"Bet that looked cute," he teased and shoved Elli softly.
On Wednesday Elli left study hall early, called Rose, and they had a spa day.
After dinner on Thursday, Jason found Elli tidying their room. She asked if it was okay that she had folded his laundry. Jason didn’t know what to say about that, and especially not the thick red eyeshadow she was wearing.
Friday was eventful. In the afternoon, she hung out with Chad, and he let her practice her tarot readings on him. He called her Elli, instead of Elliott, and he bit his lip a little when she leaned over to explain the two of cups. Interesting. Then in the evening Rose picked her up, and they went shopping. After that, they cuddled. It was nice.
A week later, with her hair dyed black (and Rose was right - the blonde was cute, but black made her already pallid complexion feel downright deathly), her crimson fingernails, and her winged eyeliner as sharp as a razor she went thrifting with Jason. He blushed a lot when she asked for his opinion on a black mini skirt she was trying on.
She started to realize that she intimidated her housemates after a few weeks. Her hair and makeup had been one thing - that had gotten her some teasing - but the steady addition of black lace, mesh, petticoats and parasols into her wardrobe had transformed the teasing into slack jaws and dumbfounded eyes all but overnight. Not always friendly, but always awed.
If it weren’t for Chad supporting her, and standing up for her, she likely would’ve left the fraternity before midterm. Instead, he marketed her. He branded her the "Ghost Queen of Gamma Chi," a patron saint of sorts, and with Chad's backing, anyone who would have bothered her knew not to. Even the freshmen - ones who didn’t know who she was - quickly had their own deific rumors of the fickle Ghost Queen and whispered about who had which classes with her and what she ate for lunch.
From her chilly disposition and smoky red eyeshadow, it was like the doofy nerd Elliott had never existed, and whether through harsh glares or her newfound reputation for dramatically 'hexing' her classmates, everyone who had known Elliott made an effort to forget that he’d ever existed.
Only her friends called her Elli.
Everyone else called her "L".
Rose taught Elli a lot about being a girl. "Woman will come later; first you need time for girl," she preached. Elli was apprehensive and embarrassed, at least sometimes, but more than anything he craved this strange new world of possibilities, and if Rose's approval meant anything Elli figured that probably was the whole point.
Still there were so many things to do and Elli was apprehensive about diving in too quickly. Rose explained that fear was no reason that Elli shouldn't at least know the options. After talking it over, Rose, as always, knew best. Elli felt better simply knowing that her future wasn’t bleak; Rose not only gave her options, but offered goals, things to focus on and work toward and never too fast.
Puberty got you down? It's a bit late for blockers, but you might look into the effects of spironolactone.
Surgery seems faroff and scary and strange? That's because it is. You're not ready, and you'll get there if you get there. Happy to help you learn how to tuck if that's causing you problems.
You don't want to grow into an ugly and decrepit old man? Well. There's a lot to unpack there. Let's look up the effects of estradiol, but you should also set realistic expectations for aging because no one's beautiful forever, love, and if you see a man in the mirror, a little cover-up won't get rid of him.
Elli had never felt more focused.
Over spring break she went to the campus clinic to talk about hormone therapy. A month later, her bloodwork had checked out and Elli was holding Rose’s hand, as she took her first dose of estrogen.
"So," Rose said afterwards, "How do you feel about the name Lilith?"
It was clean-up day at the Fraternity, the day before move-out, and the house was dead quiet. Jason tossed fitfully in his sleep as Elli descended like a ghost to the room, lit only by the pale dawn sunlight that seemed to glow off of her skin. Jason squinted his eyes open as he heard the rustling of movement.
He saw his friend, someone who he’d seen in her underwear plenty of times before. Somewhere faroff, there were memories of wrinkled, plaid boxers and shaggy blonde hair and scrawny, gangly arms and knobby, locked knees. This wasn’t the friend he knew. He never got hard looking at Elliott, but "Ell" or "Lilith" or whoever she was now…
He hated to feel like she might be the hottest girl he knew, and he hated to remember the drunken night that she’d deigned to come to a post-game party since going Full Vampire, and how he had told her she was "so, so, so, so, sooooooo pretty", and she looked him up and down like she was disgusted.
But then she kissed him, and ever since then, he’d been cursed. It was like he could feel her lipstick on his lips every day.
The room was tidy. At some point, she had stopped doing his laundry for him, and he’d just started doing it himself for fear of how she might react to a floor covered in dirty, plain old dude underwear. Living with a girl was weird.
"Hey, Lil," he sniffed, and she tensed. She didn’t jump in surprise like Elliott used to, she was so composed. Invincible.
She pulled on a plain black bralette (different than a bra, apparently?) to cover up the tiny bumps of her two-month old tits. The bra was mostly for show, Jason guessed, or just cuz she liked it.
"Good morning, Jason," she said.
Without her makeup, he tried to recognize her. He did, but he didn't.
Jason didn’t know what to say. He felt like she answered every question he ever asked, and he still hadn’t gotten enough of the truth. Jason had never expected her to change at all, let alone change this much.
"Where did it come from?": I’ve been pretending for a very long time to be a boy. I’m not surprised that you didn’t see it coming.
"But why all the goth stuff?": Now that I’m being open with myself, I feel free. Free to experiment and be myself.
"But-": Jason, if you have a problem with me, say so.
And that had been the last he’d ever bothered her about it. Because, he still cared about his friend, she was just… He was worried was all.
Lilith could see he was deep in thought, and she sat. The edge of his bed barely budged with the addition of her slim weight. Gently, she trickled her fingertips over his cheeks... across his lips... down his throat... then collarbone... then chest.
She smirked at him in a way that she knew drove him crazy, she had to know, and stood after the brief touch. She tied her hair back in a ponytail, and her bangs flopped straight across her brow. She blew them to the side with a quirk of her lip. She was the cutest fucking girl he knew, and he hated it.
"I should go shower before the boys wake up," she said, and as she reached the door, she looked back over her shoulder. The look in her eyes made Jason burn inside, and he groaned and covered his face with his pillow.
The satisfaction that cut across Lillith's lips was a joy so pure that it never could have existed on Elliott’s face.