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By Alana Church, Veronica Sloan, and Pornelope
Artwork by Moira Nelligar
Copyright 2018 @ Alana Church, Veronica Sloan, and Pornelope
~~ All characters in this book are over 18. ~~
By Alana Church
Artwork by Moira Nelligar
Copyright 2017 Alana Church
~~ All characters in this book are over 18. ~~
Fifteen years ago...
“Come on over here, honey. Don't you want to meet the people who are moving into Mrs. Klepper's house?”
“No.” Brian Underwood, six years old, scowled at the TV. He didn't know why Mrs. Klepper had to leave her house and move away. She was nice. She gave him cookies and let him play with her dog, Rosco. And now she was gone and some stupid new people were taking her place.
“Brian!” His mother's voice was uncommonly sharp, and his head jerked around. “Come on, honey,” she continued more gently. “I know you miss Mrs. Klepper. So do I. But she's gone and we have new neighbors. We have to make them feel welcome here.” She held out her hand. “Come on.”
He sighed and frowned down at his feet, but got off the couch, taking his mother's hand. Maybe she would let him watch a show about dinosaurs when they got back.
Outside, there was a big truck in the driveway next door. Sweating grown-ups lifted and carried all sorts of furniture into the house. A strange man with black hair and dark skin stood near the front door with his arms crossed, looking like his mother did when he tried to stay up part his bedtime. Close by, a worried-looking woman watched the movers, as if they were going to break everything on purpose.
“Hello!” his mother called. The two grown-ups turned to face her. “I'm Marjorie Underwood. We live next door.”
The man stood very still, his mouth looking like he had bitten into something nasty. Finally, he nodded. “I am Wei Lee,” he said. He spoke slowly, the words sounding strange. He made a small gesture to the woman at his right. “My wife, Min.”
His mother smiled, but Brian could tell she was confused by the new people's rudeness. “This is my son, Brian.”
“Hi!” Brian said, hoping he would be able to go soon.
The lady gave him a small smile. “Hello, Brian. How old are you?”
“I'm six,” he said.
“Six,” the lady repeated, turning to her husband. “Perhaps our daughter might like to meet him?”
Brian found himself subject to a long, frowning study, from his scuffed tennis shoes to his scabbed knees to his uncombed hair.
It seemed he earned a passing grade, if barely, because Mr. Lee raised his voice. “Jia! Come and meet this smelly American boy!”
Above him, he felt his mother take in an outraged breath. He cut her off. “Hey! I'm not smelly!”
“Yes, you are.”
Brian spun around and looked down, his mouth opening angrily.
She was dressed in pink and white, with ribbons in her hair, and Brian Underwood felt a tiny spark light up in his heart.
“Hi!” he said, taking in her slim, elegant form. “I'm Brian.”
“I'm Jia,” she said, sounding bored.
He fumbled for something else to say. “Will you be my girlfriend?” he heard his mouth asking, then hoped, with all the power of his heart, that the earth would suddenly open up and swallow him.
Jia laughed, the tone like tinkling bells to his suddenly love-struck heart. “No. I don't like boys.” Her nose wrinkled in distaste. “They're stupid and stinky.”
“I'm not stupid,” he flared. “I can name all the states. And their capitols,” he said proudly. In truth, this skill had been learned while singing along to episodes of Animaniacs on DVDone day while his parents were wrestling upstairs. When he had gone into their bedroom, his mother seemed to be winning, which was weird. And his father had told him he could watch TV until they were done, which was even stranger.
“Yeah?” she said, a cute frown on her delicately carved face. “Well, I can name all the elements in the periodic table. So there!”
“The what?” Behind him, he heard Mr. Lee give a harsh snort. “Well, I don't care about your dumb table. I like dinosaurs. I'm going to be a paleontologist when I grow up.”
Mrs. Lee leaned down, smiling at him. The expression made her tired face resemble her daughter's. “That's a very big word for such a little boy. Do you know what it means?”
“It's a scientist who studies fossils,” he said.
“And I know what 'condescension' means, too,” his mother said. She was looking at Mr. and Mrs. Lee with an unhappy expression. “I came here to welcome you to the neighborhood. Not to have my son insulted. If you don't think he's good enough for your daughter, we'll just go on home.”
“No! Wait!” Mrs. Lee cast a pleading look at her husband, who scowled and looked away. “I'm sorry. We're...it's not easy, being the new people. We would...we would be very happy if Brian and Jia were friends.”
His mother tapped her foot, the same way she did when he hadn't cleaned up his room, then nodded. “Would Jia like to come over and play with Brian while you get moved in?” she asked.
“She can play-” her father started.
“She can play the piano. When she is done studying.”
His mother looked flabbergasted. Was this man real? “It's June. What could she possibly be studying for?”
“She-” Wei Lee looked around suddenly. “Where did she go?”
“....And this is my allosaurus. And this is my stegosaurus. And these are my velico..velocit...”
“They're velociraptors, Brian.”
“Yeah! They eat everything! Like snotty little girls. Grrrrr. Bite bite bite.”
“Eww,” she said, laughing. “Get them away from me!”
Brian looked up from his computer as the door to his tiny apartment slammed shut. “Hi, Jia. Come on in. Don't knock. It's not like I could have a girlfriend over, and be making hot passionate love to her.”
“Did you know what she was doing?” his best friend said as she stormed in, ignoring his gibe. “Do you have any idea?”
“I can guess. I told you she was no good for you. Cheerleaders are all the same. Even lesbians.”
“Shut up. That fucking whore was in our bed. In my bed, getting eaten out by some bleached-blonde bimbo with tits the size of fucking beach balls.” She swiped a hand across her cheeks, which were shining with tears. “She said I was never around, I studied too much, I wasn't any fun unless we were in bed. You know. All that crap.
“Come on,” she said, coming over to his desk and tugging at his hand. Her eyes shone with a mad, self-destructive gleam. “It's Friday night and finals are over. Let's go out, get shit-faced, and do stuff we'll really regret in the morning.”
“Oh, no.” Brian resisted her pull. “Remember the last time that happened? When you broke up with Yolanda because she decided being a lesbian was 'just a phase?' I ended up holding your hair while you were puking up your shoes at three in the morning.”
He saved the file he was working on and shut down his laptop. “Luckily for you, I have prepared for this little eventuality.”
“What?” The black-haired vision in front of him glared angrily. “Did you know this was coming?”
He shrugged. “I've seen this movie before, Jia. I know how it ends. Everything starts out wonderful. Then I start to hear complaints. Like the ones Lynette was making.” He sighed. “Listen. I know it hasn't been easy for you. But if you don't learn to relax a bit, you're never going to have a relationship that lasts for more than a couple of months. You're going to drive everyone away.”
Jia's lovely face crumpled, and she sank onto his ratty second-hand couch. Her face was held in her hands. “I can't help it. It's my dad. He makes me crazy, you know. I hear him in my head, when I'm not studying. 'Jia,' he says, 'we're A-sians, not B-sians.'”
Despite himself, Brian snickered. “I heard a new one in my geology final yesterday. Do you know how Chinese students say the alphabet?”
Brian sang to the tune of the 'alphabet song.' “A-A-A-A-A-A-A.”
Jia giggled and imitated her father, mimicking his accent mercilessly. “Remember, Jia. All good things start with A. A doctor. A lawyer. A-sian.”
And they were off:
“You use calculator? Why not calcu-now?”
“If at first you don't succeed – don't come back home.”
“Your friend call you a-hole? At least you not c-hole.”
“You on Facebook? Why you not stick your face in book?”
By the time they were finished, Jia was curled up on the couch, shaking with laughter. When she finally stopped, she sat up, the strained look gone from around her eyes. “You mentioned being prepared?”
Brian nodded. “I've got beer, cheap wine, frozen pizza, and as many bad comedies to shove into the DVD player as you can handle.”
Jia smiled at him. “Challenge accepted.”
As they finished 'Knocked Up' and started 'Superbad,' Jia leaned back, with a slice of pizza cradled in her fingers. “Shit. Fuck. Shitfuck. How did I not see this coming?”
Brian shrugged. “Because you're a delicate flower who always thinks the best of people?”
She punched his shoulder. “Shut up.” She finished the slice and burped delicately. “I don't suppose you've got any ice cream?”
“Two pints,” he replied, fishing them out of the freezer. “Chocolate mint for you,” he said, handing her the container and a spoon. “Rocky Road for me.”
“Nice.” She peeled the top off and dug her spoon in deep. “Let's go out on the balcony for a while. I've seen this thing a dozen times.”
The night was warm and pleasant, with ragged clouds playing hide and seek with the nearly-full moon, which hung low in the southeast. Brian leaned back in his cheap plastic deck chair, rescued from a garage sale before he moved in last fall, and put his feet up on the railing. Four stories below, the Burlington Northern tracks wound away towards the western suburbs. In that direction, the last glow of sunset was slowly fading.
Jia sat down beside him, her dark eyes shadowed in the dim light. He looked at her, feeling his heart break all over again. He had loved her since the day they first met. But the cruel realities of sexual orientation said that they would never be together.
Four years ago, after their junior prom, Jia had asked him to take her for a drive, rather than to go to the after-party some of their friends were hosting. His heart had raced excitedly. Here, he had thought, would finally be his chance to make love to Jia. They had been dating for several weeks, after he had finally worked up enough nerve to ask her out. And even if they didn't end up screwing, he was more than willing to spend a couple hours making out with her.
She was so beautiful. Unlike many of his classmates, she had never gone through the gawky teenage transition, where they were all knees and elbows and acne. No, not Jia. Somehow she slowly transformed from a cute, black-haired girl in pigtails to a stunningly beautiful young woman, with long, shapely legs, a wonderful ass, a shimmering black waterfall of hair, and the sort of chest that made priests curse their vows.
But instead of indulging in his fantasy of taking his virginity, his gorgeous Asian neighbor and best friend had come out to him as a lesbian. It was, he had decided when he had recovered his ability to think clearly, an incredibly brave thing to do. He was aware, as no one else was, of the tremendous pressure Jia faced from her parents to excel in everything - particularly from her father, who was a high-ranking medical researcher in a pharmaceutical company. The pressure was not limited to grades and scholastic achievement, either. A few years ago, Mr. Lee had made it appallingly clear to him just how unacceptable he was as a potential husband for their only daughter, who was expected to graduate with honors, have a career, and produce grandchildren for her parents. And all at the same time, if he understood correctly.
His lips quirked as he remembered Mr. Lee's blank-faced astonishment when he shared the news that he, like his daughter, had been accepted into the University of Chicago. Unlike Jia, who was planning on being an engineer, Brian was in the geology school, with an emphasis in paleontology and climate science. The older man had stormed around the neighborhood for weeks, muttering darkly about how low the admissions standards had fallen, and how Jia didn't really want to go to UC, and how it was just a safety school after she had been cheated out of her rightful place at Yale.
“A geologist. Pah. Rocks. All you do is look at rocks all day.”
But for Jia to tell him she was a lesbian was a sign of amazing trust. He had been the first one to know. Her parents had, predictably, hit the roof when she told them a few weeks later. Even now, years after her coming out, they could not stop bringing home young male executives from their jobs, certain that if they somehow found the right combination of looks and personality, Jia's lesbianism would turn itself off and they would have the perfect, obedient, heterosexual daughter they craved. Somehow it never registered with them that Jia would be far happier if they brought home female executives for her perusal.
But the flip side to that was the fact that he would never be able to be with the woman he loved more than any other person in the entire world. How many nights had they stayed up until nearly dawn, sharing everything? Watching silly, stupid, stoner movies, talking about everything from politics to religion to the plot arc of Game of Thrones? Divulging their most intimate secrets, their hopes and dreams for the future? But the one thing they could never share was the one thing he most wanted.
You have a best friend. Be happy. It's enough.
He leaned over and took her hand, squeezing it gently. “I love you, you know.”
The squeeze was returned. “I know.”
Jia closed her eyes. Please tell me he's not going to hit on me. I don't need this. Not tonight.
She didn't think Brian would. After she came out to him, there had only been two clumsy, ill-thought attempts by him to lure her into bed, both brought on by alcohol.
She had cut the last attempt off so cold, he had never mentioned it again.
“Well, how do you know?” he had asked one night during their sophomore year, swaying slightly from the effects of too many mojitos at the Mexican restaurant where they had eaten dinner. “I mean, you might be bisexual. Right?”
“Really?” She raised her eyebrows mockingly. “So could you. Tell me. How do you feel about the idea of a man's cock up your ass? Because,” she had said when he visibly flinched, “it's the same way I feel about one in my pussy.”
“You've used strap-ons,” he countered. “You've told me about it. Even when I begged you not to.”
“Right. Because that was my choice. And it was a woman doing it. With tits and a vagina and all the rest of the things that makes women wonderful. Not some hairy, smelly, sweaty guy, pinning me to a bed like it's a fucking wrestling match.”
His eyes glinted with a hint of humor. “I take showers now. So I'm not that smelly. And for you, Jia-pet, I'd let you be on top.”
She had laughed helplessly at the sentiment and the old nickname, and hugged him. “I love you. But no.
She tried to change the subject. “So. Anyone new in your love life?”
“What? In the three days since you saw me last? No. No one since Sharon dumped me.”
She let out an exasperated huff of breath. “Yeah, I talked to her a time or two after that. You know, Brian, if you would stop talking about me like I was the Second Coming and gave your poor girlfriends a chance to be comfortable and not have to feel like they're competing with me, you might have better luck.”
He shrugged, the dim lights glinting off the dark blonde hair which he never adequately cut. “Maybe. But you're my best friend, you know? When they ask about me, I can't help talking about you. I've known you since I was six. We come as a package. Buy one, get one free.”
“Uh-huh. So how's the job?” Brian had recently scored an internship at the Field Museum of Natural History.
For the first time, he became enthused. “Great. Really great. I think I'm going to be able to make a lot of good contacts there. By the time next year rolls around, I'll be able to see if I want to do post-grad study, or if I can maybe do some field work. Maybe out west in Wyoming or Montana. Or even in China. You would not believe the shit they're finding out there, now that things have opened up a little bit.”
As he rambled on, as enthusiastic as he ever was when his beloved dinosaurs were the subject, Jia smiled and took in his body. Unlike Brian's passionate but unrequited admiration for her physique, her appreciation for Brian was more artistic in nature. He was a little more than middle height, with dark blond hair that turned golden in the right light, and clean, chiseled features. Unlike some of their classmates, he hadn't fallen prey to the 'freshman fifteen,” and his body was hard and lean.
She finished her ice cream and drained her beer, feeling uncomfortably full. But at least the distractions Brian had offered had kept her from turning into a weeping, barfing mess at some ungodly hour in the morning. And had also kept her from making yet another furious late-night call to her father, which had always ended in shouts, threats, and hurled accusations of a lack of respect for her forebears.
“Look,” Brian said, pointing to the southwest. A single point of light hung in the sky, almost caught up in the cloud-wrack drifting in from the same direction. “First star of the night. Want to make a wish?”
She squinted. “That's not a star. That's Venus. It's a planet, you doofus.”
“I know what Venus is,” he said, ignoring the lecturing tone she used when she thought he was being needlessly dim. “Come on. Make a wish.”
She closed her eyes, humoring him. She was startled by the sudden prick of tears against her closed lids. I wish I had a girlfriend who understood me the way Brian does. A best friend who I could take to bed and love all night long. And all day. Who wouldn't bitch when I had to cram for another exam. But smart and sexy and caring and loyal. And mine.
I wish, Brian was thinking at the same time, looking at the pure, clean lines of Jia's profile, that there was some way we could be together forever. Lovers. Not just friends.
Jia opened her eyes and stood, wavering a bit as the effects of three glasses of wine hit her. “I should go home.”
“Are you sure?” Brian asked. “You can sleep here. I can crash on the couch.”
She shook her head. “All right,” he said, holding the screen door open for her. “At least let me walk you back to your place. This neighborhood isn't the best.
“Besides, a couple of the guys asked me to drop by O'Hooligans and shoot some pool.” He leered at her cheerfully. “Who knows? I might meet a girl and get lucky.”
“And a unicorn might fly out of my ass tomorrow, but I'm not betting on it.” She picked up her purse. “Come on. Let's go.”
It was after one in the morning before Brian got home, pleasantly buzzed after several games of pool and drinking more beer than was strictly necessary. He took a quick shower and went to bed.
Once asleep, he plunged into an amazingly erotic dream. He was standing, fully nude, in front of an incredibly beautiful woman. Her hair was an arresting shade of reddish bronze, curling past her hips, bound at her brows by a fillet carved in the likeness of twining leaves. Her waist was narrow, but her hips flared out in a wonderful display of womanhood. Her breasts were large and firm, perfectly proportioned for the rest of her body.
He found himself instantly, achingly erect, and her dark green eyes glinted in amusement. “Well, this is a wonderful tribute you bring before me,” she murmured. One hand reached down to cup his scrotum, lifting his balls as if testing them. He could feel the delicate pinprick of her nails on his sac. “But it is not me you truly desire,” she said softly. “You yearn for another. Jia.”
He nodded mutely.
“And you wish to be together with her. Tell me, mortal. What would you give for that chance?”
“Anything. Everything. I love her. I've always loved her.”
“Everything?” The voice turned low and purring. Brian shivered, catching a hint of darkness in her eyes. “A worthy sacrifice, to be sure.” She bent, kissing his nipples, laving them with her tongue. “Tell me, mortal. Do you love women? Love their bodies, so wonderfully ripe and curved?” His skin burned where her tongue touched his flesh, but although he ached to take her into his arms, his hands remained at his sides as if enspelled. “Do you love the feel of their breasts in your hands? Do you love kissing their nipples, the way they grow hard and high under your tongue? Do you love the feel of their buttocks, filling your palms as you caress their asses?
“Do you love the taste of their pussies? Do you love licking them and stroking them, tasting their holy nectar under your tongue?” She knelt at his feet, her breath coming hot and fast. He shivered as he felt it on the skin of his cock. Her hands clutched his rear. “Do you love making your beloved orgasm, her muscles shuddering as she climaxes? And then doing it for her again and again, her body an altar at which you worship?”
“Good. You tell the truth. And so we have a bargain.” She opened her mouth, deep-throating him with effortless ease. As his cock entered her mouth, he groaned aloud with pleasure, his hips twitching helplessly.
Brian didn't feel any pain at all as she bit off his penis.
He woke the next morning dazed and disoriented, blinking against the sand that coated his eyes.
What a weird fucking dream. Squinting against the early-morning light, he levered himself out of bed, an overfull bladder driving him to the bathroom. Unwilling to risk a poor aim, he sat down on the toilet, sighing in relief as he urinated.
Got to cut down on the beer. Thankfully he had left the bar before a late night had turned into a full-on binge, but his head still ached unpleasantly.
He finished his business, then reached between his legs to shake off the last few drops.
His fingers found nothing.
He jerked up the hem of the t-shirt he wore to bed, his eyes rounding in horror. Two seconds later, he was in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at the impossible reflection.
“What the fuck happened to my dick!?!”
Jia was in her small apartment off campus, idly flipping the channels on her TV, when the text from Brian came up on her cell phone.
~R U Busy?~
~No~ she replied. ~What's up? : )~
~Get over here right fucking now. Emergency!~
~What is it?~
~Too weird 2 tell u. Please come over. Now. PLEASE.~
~k. b there in a few~
She slung her purse over her shoulder and walked the short distance to Brian's apartment. It was a gorgeous May day, the sun shining brightly between a few widely-scattered cumulus clouds. This early on a Saturday morning, there weren't many people out yet, so the streets were pleasantly quiet.
She took the elevator to Brian's floor, knocked perfunctorily, then let herself in. A few steps into the room, she stopped dead, staring.
“Hello, Jia,” said the gorgeous, blond-haired woman, her face twisted in panic. “Do you know who I am?”
What the fuck?
“No. I have no idea who you are,” she snarled, stunned by the level of her jealous fury. What the hell did Brian think he was doing, parading this, this tramp in front of her, like she was a prize he wanted to show off? The girl was dressed in the gray Cubs t-shirt that Brian had been wearing the night before. On her, it reached down past her hips. Below that, she could see the plaid colors of a pair of ill-fitting men's boxers.
“Jia! It's me. Brian.”
“What the hell are you talking about? What do you mean, 'it's me?' It's me what? Where's Brian?” She looked around the tiny studio apartment. “Is he playing some sort of stupid joke?”
“Listen to me!” The high, clear voice was half a scream. The woman took her upper arms in her hands and shook her until her head rocked back and forth. “My name is Brian Peter Underwood. My birthday is January twenty-seventh.” She ran a hand through her hair, disordering the wavy mass. Even in her confused state, Jia couldn't help eying it admiringly. “I met you when we were six. Your birthday is March the third.” She stammered frantically, clearly searching for the correct piece of evidence. “You came out to me at the junior prom, while I was trying to figure out whether you'd let me take your bra off.”
Despite herself, Jia laughed. “You never told me that! Wait,” she stammered. “What? Brian?”
The girl nodded miserably.
She looked her up and down. Then again. Then a third time.
“Who the hell do you think you are, having a set of tits that are bigger than mine?”
“What am I going to do?” Brian moaned. It was a few minutes later. After the panicked confusion of earlier in the morning, a dull lethargy had set in.
“Fucked if I know,” Jia replied. She sat down on the couch.
“I took a look at your room. It's weird. It's as if Brian Underwood never existed. Here.” She flipped a wallet into his hands, and he caught it reflexively. “Looks like your name is Brianna Paulette Underwood now. Check out the driver's license and the debit card. All the info is the same except the name.
“All your clothes are gone. But don't worry. They've been replaced by clothes in your size. Including some really nice lingerie. Goodness, Brianna,” she said teasingly, her eyes twinkling. “I didn't know you were so...adventurous. Crotchless panties? What will your parents think?”
“Oh, Jesus.” He sank back on the couch and closed his eyes. “How the hell do I explain this to my folks?”
“I don't think you'll have to.” At his disbelieving stare, she explained. “Everything has changed, Brian. Your cell phone has a pink casing. But I bet the passcode is the same. You have the same books on the shelves. You still attend the University of Chicago, and you're still obsessed with dinosaurs and old rocks. Christ, the plastic toys you showed me when you were six are still up there on a bookshelf.
“The only thing that has changed is your...your-”
“My penis is gone,” he said flatly. “And now I've got boobs and...and all those other things.” A horrible thought began to fill his mind, as the dream from the night before began to intrude on his memory, like an unfortunate late-night burrito making its presence known the next day.
“We need help.” He staggered over to the table where his laptop lay, still trying to recover his sense of balance. The breasts and the new shape of his hips made his steps awkward and stumbling.
“Brian?” The voice was oddly hesitant. “Who do you think can help?”
“Hah. Found it.” He scribbled an address on a sticky note, then slapped the laptop closed. “I saw these people on TV a few weeks ago. It was played up for laughs. Kind of a 'stupid cult moves into town, what will these gomers think of next?' sort of thing. But if anyone knows what happened, I bet it's these people.”
Jia squinted at the note when he showed it to her. “The Greek Unorthodox Church? Are you serious?”