Masks and Stockings

by Torino Koji

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/48664.html)

Alex, despite popular belief, did know exactly what was being said about him around school. He had come to terms with what people were saying about him when he was eight years old and the girls at school had shoved him into the bathroom; they had refused to let him leave until he admitted that his name was not Alex, it was Alyssa and one day he’d grow breasts and have pretty hips and wear dresses. He had come to terms with gossip when he’d had his first boyfriend and it had gone around school that he was on the rag within the first three days of their dating—it was his shortest-lived relationship to date.

And so, by the time he cut all his hair off and began having to bind his chest down to hide those tell-tale breasts from the world, he was well used to people spreading rumors about him. It wasn’t particularly helped by the fact that his mother had seen fit to “fix” him by sending him to a pricey Catholic boarding school (which Alex thought was stupid anyway because they weren’t Catholic, they were Jewish). But he was lucky, he supposed, in that PE classes were not mandatory if you had a note from a doctor, and nobody at St Jude’s Academy had any idea who he was.

Alice wore knee-highs and patent leather shoes.

This was no different than with any other girl in the school, with their knee-length pleated skirts and their sweater-vests and their pretty, polished Mary Janes. But Alice’s knee-highs were in a shade of red that was vivid and probably against the rules; and her shoes were straight black, with a silver buckle and a charm hanging off the back of her right one.

Alex had three classes with Alice: Literature, European History, and Trigonometry. In each, he was seated three seats behind her and either to her left or right.

Alice was not what one would call “traditionally beautiful.” She wore her hair in a sloppy bun; it was a mousy brown color and she did nothing to alter it. She wore glasses, and had braces, and wrote with her left hand whenever the Sisters’ weren’t watching. She, like Alex, had more rumors than truths growing around her. Alex could have watched her for days.

Instead, he got detention for impertinent behavior during class.

Alice’s eyes were the same color as her hair. She smiled without showing her teeth. Alex wondered what her knee-highs felt like.

The first day Alice took lunch with Alex was the first day she had her braces off. Without asking, she sat beside him on a bench at the front of the campus, then promptly turned and smiled broadly at him.

“Does it feel strange?” he asked after he got over the fact that this strange girl was smiling at him. He could see her tongue moving under her upper lip.

“It’s slick,” she said. Her voice was slightly nasal.

Alex realized, as they sat there eating lunch—she had a tuna fish sandwich; he had left over mashed potatoes—that this was one of the first times he’d seen her not from behind. His eyes coasted over her while they ate. Her breasts strained the front of her sweater-vest.

He remembered a rumor, that they were implants. Her father was a doctor after all.

She suddenly started to laugh, and he looked up, feeling his face go hot.

“Sorry! Sorry, Alice, I didn’t mean to stare!”

“It’s okay, Alex,” she told him, then promptly grabbed his hand and frowned, placing it over one of her ample breasts. “Do you think they feel fake? Because—well, I mean, I’m not going to whip them out and show you, but they are real, I swear!”

“Uh.” Unconsciously, his fingers squeezed. Alice’s eyes shut, and her knees came up a little. Her skirt slid down from her knees. Her skin was very pale against her red knee-highs.

Within an hour, they were apparently an item. At the end of Trigonometry, where Alice occasionally sent smiles and winks his way, and little flashes of her pink tongue, Sister Augustine pulled them both aside and they were given the standard lecture of propriety in the school.

Alex had already heard it three times, when he’d been caught kissing in the boy’s locker-room—and not just with boys. He nodded appropriately. Alice appeared not to listen.

As they left to go their separate ways to their final class, Alice smiled toothily at him again. She said, “I’m sorry I got you into trouble. My marmie’s always telling me that I need to think things through before I do them.”

She bounced onto her toes and delivered a quick peck to the corner of Alex’s mouth.

As she turned away, her smile became a smirk. “I’ve been thinking about doing that for a while.”

Alex had never had the rumors help him before, but for once he was glad the world was apparently comprised entirely of gossip mongers. Within the week, Alice was openly spending time with him, a livewire of attention. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had anyone this close to resembling a friend.

He just hoped Alice wasn’t expecting anything from him. There had been that one other girl, before his mother had decided he needed a “more structured learning environment,” who he had thought a friend, but who he had lost when she thought he couldn’t get it up for her. He’d regretted not being able to tell her the truth.

But this was something else, something new and fresh. He’d make this one work right.

“Hey, Alex!” Alice was always smiling. Today, her hair was up and skewered with chopsticks. “Do you want to come over to my house after school?”

“Uh. Sure.”

The charm on the back of her shoe rattled softly as she giggled and took off in the other direction, toward her class. Alex was left standing dumbly in the hallway, wondering what he’d just gotten himself mixed up in.

Alice’s House was like any other suburban house. It was a two-story, painted a strange not-quite brown with a bright green door and several hanging flower baskets arranged on the front porch. There was a porch swing. In the front window, looking into the kitchen, were several stained-glass ornaments. On the door was a sign which proclaimed in bold, slanting text, “Rushmore Family Home. Est. 1982”.

Alice’s house key was as red as her knee-highs. When she unlocked the door, they were ambushed instantly by an almost-fat tabby which purred uproariously when Alice picked him up, and a yappy little dog that came tearing out of the kitchen to wind around their feet.

“This is Vishnu,” Alice said, waving one of the cat’s paws at Alex. Then she pointed at the dog and said, “That’s my Aunt’s dog, Cha-cha. We’re taking care of her until she gets back from Rome. Cha-cha, no! Down!”

Alex laughed softly, and removed his shoes. Alice shut the door, plopped the cat onto the ground, and collected both their shoes. She grabbed Alex’s wrist, and in an instant they were tearing up stairs. The dog kept barking. The cat followed them at a much more leisurely pace.

Alice’s room was not frilly and girly like most girls’ rooms. Her bed was high off the ground, with boxes stacked haphazardly underneath. There were clothes all over the floor. A television sat atop her dresser, with a gaming platform and a laptop beside it. There was very little wall-space: most of it was taken up by bookshelves that were filled and overflowing, with posters and hanging pictures in the free spaces. She plopped onto her bed and lifted her skirt to hook her thumbs into her socks.

“It’s not that great, I know.” The cat hopped onto her bed and flopped onto its side near her pillow. She smiled and patted the bed. “I don’t get many channels, but the PlayStation works as a good DVD player. How long can you stay?”

“Uh, I should probably be home before ten,” Alex finally decided. He had no curfew. Alice nodded, and scooted back on the bed. She shoved the cat out of the way and just smiled.

At half-past five, Alice’s parents came home. Alice was curled against Alex’s side by that point, half watching the movie they’d put on and half playing with the buttons in the middle of Alex’s shirt. It was making Alex a little nervous, and he was grateful when a large, booming male voice shouted up the stares, “Ali! Help your mother bring in the groceries!”

Alice bounced instantly off the bed, and dragged Alex with her. He laughed, uncertain, as he was pulled down the stairs and out into the garage with nothing on his feet but his socks. Then again, Alice was bare-foot, so he didn’t think about it.

Alice’s mother was plain: a brunette with brown eyes, slightly heavy-set, with strong arms under a short-sleeved T-shirt. She leaned over her bags to kiss Alice on the forehead before she even noticed Alex; she smiled at him.

“Who’s your friend, Ali?”

“This is Alex, mom,” Alice said in the sort of voice one used to describe the weather. Alice’s mother beamed.

“It’s nice to meet you, Alex. I’d shake your hand, but!” She shrugged instead. “Would you mind helping Ali bring in the groceries?”

“No problem,” Alex assured. Alice’s mother gave Alice a significant look; Alice batted at her mother’s wide hips as the woman laughed and went on inside.

Alice handed Alex bags, then gathered her own. She smiled, and bumped her hip against his. As they stepped into the house, she proclaimed, “She likes you.”

In the kitchen, Alice’s mother and father were kissing. Her parents pulled apart with equal grins when they set the bags on the kitchen table. Alice began to unpack the groceries, handing them to Alex and telling him where to put things.

“So!” Alice’s father boomed. He did not appear to have a “down volume” switch. “You’re Alex. We’ve heard a lot about you from Ali.”

“Whatever she’s told you, it’s all lies,” Alex assured, then grinned at Alice’s parents. “Except the good things. Those are definitely the truth.”

“Cheeky boy,” Alice’s mother said, smiling at him. Alex caught Alice rolling her eyes. “Ali told us you’re new to St Jude’s. What made you decide to go there?”

Alex stalled, hand on the pantry knob. Alice hissed, “Mother!”, but Alex finally smiled over his shoulder and said, “There was a difference of opinions between me and a few other students at a couple of my old schools. My mom decided it was time for a fresh start.”

Both of Alice’s parents nodded knowingly. Alice hurried into the kitchen with her hands full of things to put in the refrigerator; Alex hurried to open it for her.

Alice’s mother simpered. “And such a nice boy, too! John, invite him to dinner!”

Alice’s father beamed. He had the same closed-mouth smile Alice normally used. He was huge and handsome, and looked like he might have been a sportsman in college. In his booming voice, he asked, “You busy for dinner, m’boy?”

“No sir.” Beside Alex, Alice giggled a little.

“My parents want to meet your mom,” Alice told him the next time they saw each other, which was Monday. Alex shut his locker.

“No they don’t,” he said decisively, and turned away.

Alice caught up. She grabbed his hand and held it tight. When he looked down at her, she was frowning slightly.

“Then can I come over some time?”

“No.” Alice flinched a little at the quick finality of Alex’s words. He sighed, looking away. “Look, Alice. It’s … complicated.”

“I understand.”

Except he knew she didn’t.

Alex’s mother, that evening, asked, “When am I going to meet this Rushmore girl?” He smothered the insistent urge to tell her, When Hell freezes over, and kept picking at the tuna casserole she’d made.

There was only the sound of their flatware for a while, before his mother asked, “Have you told her you won’t be able to satisfy her?”

Beside her, his grandmother flinched. Alex bit his lip and shook his head. His eyes hurt.

His mother snorted and shook her head. “You should break up with her before we have to move you to a new school.”

“She isn’t like that,” Alex assured. His mother dropped her fork and slapped a hand to the table. Alex’s eyes stung.

“She will be. Just like everyone else you’ve tried to dirty your body with. You’d think you’d learn, Alyssa—”

“Don’t call me that!” His voice went shrill with his anger. His mother sneered at him. He looked back at his plate.

His grandmother gracefully broke the silence with, “You may be excused.” He had never been more grateful in his life.

It was very late, yet Alice was still awake.

“Alex, what are you doing here?”

There were still tears on his face. He climbed in through her window without permission, and flopped against the wall, scrubbing at his eyes. She touched his shoulder.

He took a good, long look at her. She wore a bra under her camisole, and little spankies that were the same red as her favorite knee-highs. Her hair was mussed and down around her face; it was much longer than he’d thought.

“Alex, what’s wrong?”

“Alice,” he said, and choked on the words. It seemed like an eternity before he could muster up the strength to say, “I love you.”

It was pouring rain and he’d been standing outside Alice’s house since his mom had left for work. She hadn’t picked up her phone when he’d called.

He could see her silhouette against her sheer curtains. Slowly, he lifted a hand to shield the rain from his eyes. She stopped beside the window, and lifted the curtain. He could see her smiling from a distance, and then she disappeared from window.

The door opened not long afterward. There was no yap of her Aunt’s little dog. He took off his shoes and coat in her foyer, and hung them in the closet beside the door.

She kissed him when he turned back, hard and long and closed-mouth, her arms around his neck and her weight making him stumble back. His head cracked against the front door, and she pulled back with laughter and embarrassed apologies. He smiled.

“What was that for?”

“I never said I loved you back.”

The bottom fell out of his stomach. His fingers clenched. “Alice,” he began. She shook her head and took his hand. They scampered upstairs.

Her hand skated over his hair, and she said inanely, “You must be freezing. Get naked. I’ll get you a towel.”

He caught her arm, frightened and suddenly wary. She smiled and slipped free.

When she came back to him, he was still standing there looking dumbstruck. With a smile and laugh, she walked over to him, dropping the towel onto his head and unzipping the hoodie he’d been wearing under his jacket.

“Alice, wait!”

She looked up, smiling softly. “What?”

“Alice, I,”—this wasn’t how he’d meant for this to happen—”need to tell you something.” Her wrists seemed so small in his hands; he pushed her away, turned her, sat her on her bed and towered over her. She stared at him expectantly.

When the words didn’t come, she laughed, and reached out for his belt, saying, “You’re going to get sick if you don’t get out of these wet clothes. Christ, how long were you standing out there, Alex?”

“Alice,” he began. When she looked up, her eyes big behind her glasses, he could only rush, “I’m-not-a-boy.”

Her fingers were still on his belt, and warm through the cool fabric of his T-shirt. Slowly, she smiled. “I know.”

Alice’s mother came home from bridge to Alex in Alice’s clothing, sitting on the couch with Alice’s head in his lap. She smiled at them and asked if they’d like anything warm to drink. Alex just watched her go into the kitchen numbly.

Alice told him, “I didn’t tell them you were a girl, you know.”

Alex flinched and looked down at her. “I’m not a girl.” Alice smiled.

Her mother gave them hot tea and said John would be home soon and would Alex be staying for dinner. He checked his watch, before asking, “Can I use your phone?” Alice’s mother retrieved it and handed it over with a smile.

Alex dialed his house by memory. His grandmother picked up. “Mama, I’m having dinner at the Rushmore’s. Tell your daughter I won’t be home until later.”

Alex’s grandmother said, “Tell her yourself. She’s right here.”

Alex’s mother was irate, and didn’t wait for Alex to say anything before she snarled, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Having dinner with my girlfriend.” Alice beamed up at him, and tangled their fingers together. “I’ll be home before ten.”

“You’ll be home now,” his mother warned, “or you won’t be home at all.”

Alice’s mother popped out of the kitchen, smiling, and asked, “Alex, dear, would you like me to talk to your mother?”

“Uh …” But before he could formulate a real answer, she was there, taking the phone and winking at Alex.

She spoke quickly, and left the room. Alice kept a firm hold on Alex’s fingers, drawing them to her mouth and kissing the knuckles.

Alice’s mother waved a dish towel at them. Alice nipped Alex’s knuckle and stood up grinning. “It’ll be a while before dinner’s ready.”

Alice sat on her bed in blood-red spankies and a hunter green bra, her breasts swelling from the top of them, trying to escape. She grinned at Alex as he stared at her disbelievingly.

“Your mom is right downstairs.”

“She knocks.”

Alex was in his boxers. The secure wrapping around his bosom felt suddenly too tight as Alice reached for it, finding the butterfly clips and sliding them free from the fabric. Alice’s hands did not shake, but Alex’s did. He felt numb all over.

“Alice—I can’t.”

The butterfly clip went back into the fabric. Alice’s hands still did not tremble, even as her fingers curled around Alex’s and pulled his hand deftly up, to sit on her breast. Much as it had when she sat with him during lunch and proved that the rumors were false. His fingers curled, much as they had months earlier. His groin throbbed. Her knees came up and apart a little.

“It … doesn’t hurt, does it?”

Alice undid her bra with one hand, sliding it off to reveal the pale skin and soft rounds of her breasts. Alex stared for a very long time. His experience with breasts was—lacking. Pornography; the occasional glance out his window at the neighbor girl sunning herself topless during the summer; one reckless winter afternoon with the last girl he’d been with, which had ended disastrously.

Alice replaced Alex’s hand, and slid back on her bed. Alex followed obediently, kneading as gently as he could.

Alice’s hand closed over his, and squeezed. Her eyelids fluttered. Her legs spread. For a moment, Alex could only stare again.

He felt terribly overdressed, staring at her in nothing but her short little booty-panties while he crouched over her, still half-dressed. But she didn’t seem to mind.

Her lips parted alluringly to a soft sound as his fingers skated nervelessly. He bent, and kissed her.

Someone knocked on the door. Alice pulled away, swearing.

Alice’s mother’s voice was muffled through the door. “Alex, dear, you need to be going now.”

“Mom,”—Alice managed to not sound too breathy when she spoke, and Alex was impressed by that alone, considering the situation—”can’t Alex stay just a little while longer?”

“Alice, sweetheart, Alex’s mother’s is here. Now. He needs to go.”

“Shit,” Alex hissed. He peeled off the bed reluctantly, gathering his clothes and shoving himself back into them, casting only bare glances back at Alice, still strewn across the bed. She was beating her fist into the mattress, staring at the ceiling. “Alice, I—I’m sorry, but I—”

“It’s okay,” she assured him. She sat up, smiling, not bothering to cover her breasts. He bent to kiss her, but she held him back. “I’ll see you at school.”

“Yeah.”

Alex could count on one hand the number of time he’d watch anybody else dress. Most of those times had been watching his mother get ready for a date or job interview when he’d been much younger. This was something else entirely.

“So, we’ll be an item,” she declared, holding up the tattered, aged pinstriped suit. “My mom found them at a garage sale. Aren’t they great? We can be naughty zombies together!”

“I don’t really do Halloween,” Alex warned her. Alice waved a hand flippantly.

“Free sugar. Where can you go wrong?” She was already taking off her sweater and kicking off her shoes. Alex turned his back to her, pulling his shirt over his head. The sound of her costume rustling drew his attention slowly back.

She stood in the skimpiest pair of underwear he’d ever seen—well, perhaps not entirely true, for the bra covered the vast majority of her ample bosom, and the panties probably could have been smaller or more risque or something; but still, it was the least he’d ever seen on a person in real life. She smiled over her shoulder at him, and sat on the bed.

In her hand were her crimson knee-highs. In the months they’d been dating, he’d seen her take them off numerous times; it was the first he’d seen of her putting them on.

She pointed her foot like a ballet dancer and collected the fabric of the first sock into her hand, working it over her toes, the ball of her foot, the arch and heel, up her calve, and letting her thumbs stroke the sides of her knee. Then, she repeated it with the other foot. Alex stood dumbfounded, half-dressed and feeling his pulse quicken.

Putting on clothes shouldn’t have been sexy.

She put her patent leather shoes on before the rest of her outfit, buckling them carefully. She removed the charm from the back of the right one, and tucked it into the crease of her breast, just above her underwire.

Alex turned away hastily, collecting his age-worn suit and shucking his pants using his feet to pull them down. His groin throbbed as he navigated the old suit, fingers slipping and shaking as he tried to control the urge to turn and put an end to this before it had even begun.

“Alex? Can you help me zip up all the way?”

The skirt came to the middle of Alice’s thighs. In the front. It collected strangely in the back, and had a tall waist which Alice’s shirt was already tucked into. She peered over her shoulder, and smiled when Alex grasped the tab and pulled it delicately up. His hands lingered on her back, feeling the fabric under his fingertips and staring at the very obvious colored line of her bra.

“Are you sure this is such a good idea?” he asked. He sounded much higher-pitched than normal. Alice turned and kissed him. Her blouse was barely buttoned, showing more cleavage than was probably ever necessary.

“You finish getting ready. I’m gonna get mom to make me zombie-fied.”

“Yeah.”

Alice wore knee-highs and patent leather shoes. And that was all.

Her parents were out for the weekend, and Alex didn’t really care if his mother knew where he was. It wasn’t important anyway. What was important was that Alice had opened the door in her favorite long coat and had instantly hurried them upstairs, and that now she was sitting astride his hips, hand in his hair and cotton knee-highs rubbing against his hips.

He wasn’t entirely sure what to do with his hands, especially since what he would be doing with his hands was being done with his mouth. All he knew for certain was her hips were warm under his palms and her mouth was parted, her breath gusting into his hair.

Her free hand skated aimlessly—knuckles across his cheek, palm down his neck and shoulder, down his arm, her fingers curling into his hair and around his wrist at the same time. His hand slid from her hip easily, shaking and numb, to skate over the jut of her hip bone and down south.

Her legs spread wider as he looked up at her; her eyes were half-lidded and worryingly serious. His breath caught and his groin throbbed. Slowly, her hand moved down from his hair and up from his wrist, leaving his fingers resting dumbly against her.

The butterfly clips gave easily under her fingers, and this time he did not object. Slowly, the bindings came away, revealing petite breasts that Alice scraped her fingers over gently, before her hands continued down. The single button on the fly of his boxers parted to Alice’s fingers; they were room-warm but felt cool against the heat of his groin.

“Sh,” Alice whispered even though Alex didn’t make a sound. His breath rushed from him, and he could feel her, wet against the pad of his finger; it slid mindlessly inward, seeking the core warmth. Alice did not heed her own advice, and squeaked a moan into the air above them. He repeated the slow drag of his finger.

Her fingers were not so calm and slow, searching and pressing effortlessly. He shifted, uncomfortable suddenly, before flopping back onto the bed. She nuzzled his neck, lifting her hips away from his and pulling away the boxers so he was laid out naked beneath her.

“Alice,” he croaked, but she smiled, and kissed him.

“Sh,” Alice whispered.

“Mom,” Alex began. She did not turn and look at him, but his grandmother did. “This is Alice.”

His mother turned slowly, barely hiding the sneer in an overly polite smile. She extended her hand and took Alice’s roughly, squeezing instead of shaking. Alice never stopped smiling, and didn’t even cringe.

“So,” Alex’s mother breathed. She leaned over, still holding Alice’s hand. “You’re the girl my daughter is screwing.”

“Emilie,” Alex’s grandmother warned, but Alice was still smiling.

“It’s good to finally meet the woman who put the fear of the Devil into my boyfriend.” Alice’s grip was just as tight as Alex’s mother’s. Alex pushed between them, prying their hands apart.

He spoke the while he stood between them: “You’re always saying, Mom, that when I accept myself then somebody else will accept me, too. Well, Alice accepts me. And she knows I’m a girl, and she knows that when I have the money I’ll have a cock stuck on and that will be the end of that.”

His grandmother, over him, said only, “Don’t be so vulgar.”

“And you said,” he kept going, “that when I accepted myself and someone else accepted me, than you would give it a rest!”

“You’re seventeen, Alyssa—”

“Don’t call me that!”

His mother reeled back. Alice held his hand. His eyes hurt.

“My name,” he hissed, “is Alexander. And you, Emilie,”—she flinched at that—”do not own me.”

Alex, despite popular belief, knew exactly what was being said about him around school.

“I heard you got kicked out,” one of the boys in his and Alice’s year said to him one day during lunch while they were sitting around, talking about nothing. The boy shrugged, and smiled a little, before handing over a small card.

“What’s this?”

“My mom rents out the room over our garage,” the boy said. “It’s not much, but it’s a roof over your head, right?”

Alex smiled and took the card. “Thanks.”

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