It was Tuesday after school. Owen was home alone. His parents were still at work. His sister was working after school a lot in the next two weeks. Seamus had hockey practice. He thought about his date with L. Could he call it a date? Mon ami....maybe it was just two friends going to a movie. But that smile after he asked and L said yes. He had awkwardly handed L a scrap of paper with his number on it in the hallway and then walked smack into an open locker. Smooth move ex-lax.....
He thought about the conversation at the 10Alarm and Mr. Caito. L had said he wasn't being a dick but it sure felt dickish. Sighing he tromped upstairs and threw his book back at the bunks in the room he shared with Seamus. He pulled off his socks and tossed them after the bag. He was still thinking about L. What would it feel like to be in L's shoes when someone like Mr. Caito started asking questions? Hell, what would it feel like to just be L? To have that duality of gender. Owen had never considered what it might be like to want to be anything but a boy. He likes being a boy. He was comfortable in his own skin. But how would you cope if it all just felt like the wrong skin and form, even sometimes.
Owen walked into his sister's room and looked around. this was girl territory. Fiona might even plot his murder if she knew he was in here without her permission. But right now she was an elf terrifying the island's children, not him. He walked to her dresser and picked up a tube of lipstick. He opened it, considered it, but then sniffed it and made a face. Makeup just smelled strange. And makeup was not the only part of being a girl, or feeling like one. Sometimes his sister got on anti makeup rants about the patriarchy and put away all her makeup for awhile. No, makeup was not the thing. But he wanted to understand L's duality so he could at least be a better friend.
Curiously he opened Fiona's closet. Now she would kill him five ways from Friday. In an odd way he delighted in this rebellion. He clicked into her iTunes library on her laptop and put on some music because dammit she was not here to pound him. Owen touched all her dresses as he swiped the hangers aside, looking at them. He pulled out a black and white block dress. It was woolly. It looked comfortable even. Before he knew it he was in it in front of her mirror. Holy fuck it was short! His red plaid boxers stuck out from the bottom of the skirt. He was pretty sure Fi wore this one with tights like she did almost everything. Owen frowned at himself critically. Curiously he struck a more feminine pose and looked harder, thinking of L and girl mode vs boy mode.
Colleen Reinhardt opened the door to her house with every intention of tackling the mountain of gifts she had to wrap before Dec 23rd and the visit of Michael, his girlfriend Stephanie and her son Tristan. John thought she was crazy, insisting she could just knock them out over the weekend, but history had already showed her that between nosy kids trying to hunt it all down and their ability do vanish when she needed them to work and their not always stellar ability to keep a secret that she was almost on her own.
Susan McKinney had been wonderful about her leaving a couple of hour early. Another great reason to work for a small island clinic instead of a big city hospital. If the world exploded, Susan would just call her.
Her mind was on Fiona as she began to climb the stairs. Now her daughter could be counted on to help .. and even for some mother/daughter talks now that she was older. But she was working and, after work she suspected that Vincent would pick her up and walk her home safely. That young man reminded her so much of John; hey had the same demons. And the relationship reminded her a bit of she and John in the beginning. In many ways it was amusing to watch John as the father of a daughter.
The sound of music came from Fiona's room and Colleen walked to it. "Fiona, I thought ...." and then she froze.
Owen stood in front of Fiona's full length mirror, posing in one of Fiona's dresses!
Colleen took it all in as she stood in the doorway, blinking. "Owen..." whatever was happening with him, she knew she probably wasn't going to be wrapping any presents this afternoon.
Owen jumped about three feet off the ground at the sound of his mother's voice. He spun around and then looked down at what he was wearing and gave his mother a very awkward smile "Um......this isn't what it looks like.....I mean I'm not.......I'm just trying to understand something......you know...for a friend..." He sighed. None of this was really a convincing explanation at all.
Colleen watches him jump and spin, then stare at her. The line about this not being what it looks like and his only doing it for a friend is as old as time, almost. "Well then explain it to me. But get out of your sister's dress. She'll pound you and I am not in the mood to go back to the clinic for sutures." she actually had a more than the basics first aid kit with a decent sized suture kit in it. "And tell me about this friend of yours that has you putting on dresses." she takes a step back and heads for her room, motioning for him to join her when he is not in Fiona's dress. While she waits, she goes into her own closet, looking at some of her own dresses, wondering if she should just ... let him try on one of HERS. She doesn't care if he is gay, or straight. Transgender might take some getting used to but ... Fiona always DID want a sister ....
Owen quickly takes off the dress and tries to put it back on the hanger exactly like his sister had it. He slides it back into the closet and then rearranges the hangers so it doesn't look like they've all been recently moved and heads to turn off the music. He pulls his jeans and t shirt back on and walks into his parents room. "I like someone who is...bi gender. Sometimes acting and dressing like a girl and sometimes more like a boy. I don't want to be a girl, or dress like one, I was just trying to understand how L feels and what makes her....I mean L....want that...or feel that. I watched someone be kid of rude about it yesterday and I want to be a good friend." He sits down on the bed looking completely sincere.
Colleen turns from her dresses and moves to sit beside her middle son. "Yes, I know what bi-gender is." she admits. "I knew a nurse who was like that." she then realizes that she never asked questions, instead researching it on her own to figure out how to adjust her own behavior to make the nurse more comfortable. "I'm not sure you CAN understand how your friend feels, since you aren't bigender yourself. But you can emphasize." she considers it. "You have a mother and a sister, plus a father and brothers, so you have some experience with both genders. And I can tell you SOME aspects of being female. But I imagine there would be many people who are rude, or at least insensitive to the idea. Not everyone knows it even exists."
Owen sighs and nods "L was so cool about it. I wanted to tell the guy off. It was Mr. Caito. I guess he was just being clueless. I mean I didn't know what it was either. I asked L if she was a hermaphrodite the day I first heard the word. I can say she for that day because she was in girl mode that time. So I guess I'm as bad as all the jerks, but trying to do better. And when L smiles at me.....it makes me want to....well I dunno...it makes me something. By the way, can I go to a movie on Friday?" He smirks a bit and blushes.
Colleen listens and nods to herself. "Nico and clueless, I can see." she agrees. She smiles at his confusion, but understands it. "It sounds like you like L." she nods, as if reluctantly. "Well, since you finished unpacking and have the money ... sure you can go to the movie ..... with L?" she asks with the combination of maternal curiosity and teasing she usually uses with her kids.
Owen blushes deeper and nods shyly "Yep. Rogue One, opening day....I think L just said yes as a friend but that's good too. L is French and calls me "mom ami" a lot which I know means friend. I don't really know how to be someone's more than friend anyway." He admits.
Colleen laughs. "Oh L likes Star Wars? What else do you need to know?" she is still teasing but is glad her son isn't offering to cook for her. The lessons seem to be working ... more or less ... but it will still be a while before she is comfortable with Owen cooking dinner again. She shrugs. "Well, you have to be friends before you can be anything else." she tells him. "Your father and I are still friends, even though we fought a lot. You just have to communicate is all." she wants that physically drilled into all of her sons, in case the Reinhardt's gene for communication blackout has crossed into a new generation. "And don't let your siblings tease you. Especially not Shay. He's on a slower road than you are."
Owen looks thoughtful "Yeah I don't think Shay dates yet. This will only really be my second if it is a date. I went for a walk on the beach and an ice cream with Liesel in Germany. Then her sister Inka found out and they got all weird with each other. We didn't even kiss. It was JUST ice cream! I guess we should have brought her one though....They were both so pretty. It was very confusing. L is confusing too but at least there's no sisters involved." He laughs.
Colleen smiles. "No, he's still into his legos." she admits. Then she smiles about the girl in Germany. "Well ... sisters can get complicated. Especially when they like the same boy." she shrugs. "Well, think of L as just being L. Not female or male or bigender. Humanity first, might be the way to go."
Owen smiles at his mother "That's kind of what I'm working on. Thanks Mom..." He suddenly look overcome by gratitude and emotion and hugs her.
Colleen smiles and hugs him back. "You're welcome, Owen." she holds him as long, letting him decide when its time to let her go. Knowing that is how it should be for ALL her children.