(MOON POWER MAKE UP!)
by Nijiiro Sumi (虹色 墨)
illustrated by Pepperoni (ペパロ)
The idea hit me in the shower, and of course the first thing I did was call Leslie while my hair was still dripping and I had a towel wrapped around my waist.
“Okay, you’re probably gonna yell at me a lot, but–” Then it occurred to me that Leslie usually sounds pretty okay on the phone, but he’d sounded kinda fuzzy just now, and maybe he was sick or–had he been sleeping? “Were you asleep or something?”
Oh. Yeah. Oops. I was still on college time; normally, Leslie’s a night owl like me. Summer before our senior year, though, and he’s gotten all responsible. Got some kind of programming internship, and he’s got to get up at 6:45 am because his commute involves the 210, and that’s hell at any time of day. “Sorry, uh, I’ll just call you tomorrow–”
He sighed. “Nah, I’m awake now. What is it?”
“I just. . . uh. . . had an idea for this summer. For cosplay.”
Okay, at least he wasn’t yelling at me for calling him at 11:30 at night about cosplay. But that’s why we’re For Great Justice. “Sailor Moon. I mean, specifically, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune.”
I let it sink in.
“They’re both girls,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
“You want me to dress up as a girl?”
“What’s wrong with that?” I hissed. “I do it all the time!”
“Yeah, but you like it!”
“You might like it, too,” I argued. Which was a dumb argument, but sometimes I just can’t stop myself from saying these things.
“No,” he said.
“Please?” I tried.
“No,” he repeated.
“Because,” he replied.
“Because why?” I responded, aware that I was being immature and he might hang up on me at any second.
“Because,” he repeated, sounding kinda edgy and frustrated now. “I’d, I’d be hurting the movement.”
“The movement?” I asked, honestly mystified.
“You know,” he said, even though I didn’t. “The gay movement.”
I was about to point out that, as far as I knew, drag queens were totally a part of the gay movement, but he sighed in a way that meant he’d also realized that his argument made no sense whatsoever.
“Okay, not so much,” he admitted. “But the hell are you, crazy? You catch crazy when I wasn’t looking?”
Okay, Whitney. Time to put your heart and soul into it. “I was just thinking that, you know, this is the last summer we’re gonna have to do cons and stuff. I mean, this time next year you’re probably gonna be working some Silicon Valley job, and I’m gonna be–I dunno, I’m gonna be doing whatever it is History majors do. Teach or flip burgers or something. So this might be our last summer as For Great Justice, and if that’s the case, then I wanna blow everyone else out of the water. Maybe we’re not gonna win Best of Show, but we’re gonna be the act that everyone remembers.”
Leslie was silent. “Okay,” he said at last. “Let me think about it.”
I was grinning as I hung up the phone. Think about it, my ass. I had him.
Leslie and I have been friends for pretty much forever. We met in sixth grade, middle school, on the first day because we both had girls’ names. I used to get picked on in elementary, but fortunately I was a pretty chunky kid and could beat up just about anyone. Leslie wasn’t so lucky; he was kind of a scrawny little guy, and I was forced to do most of the protecting. That changed when we hit our growth spurts in high school and Leslie sprouted, like, half a foot over me. But in high school, our names didn’t really matter anymore: there were guys with names like Ashley and Lauren and girls with names like Cameron and Blake, and we were way too old to be pushing each other around just because someone had a funny name.
But by then we were really good friends besides the whole name thing. So we’d hang out a lot, and I burned anime for him and he’d share his video games and stuff with me. We told each other pretty much everything–except for the one thing I didn’t really tell anyone except my sister, and that was because she caught me trying on her shoes.
Then, one day, I said something stupid at his house, when he was on the computer looking something up and I was lying on the floor, flipping through one of his gaming magazines.
“It looks like fun,” I said, studying a picture. I mean, okay, I’m a straight guy, but even I thought Yuna’s outfit in FFX-2 was completely ridiculous. But, I mean, the game looked kinda fun, maybe.
Leslie glanced over his shoulder, saw what I was looking at, and snorted. “It looks stupid. They turned Yuna into a slut.”
“It says here they’ve got some new battle system where you collect ‘dresspheres’ and change their job classes,” I said, skimming the text. “It looks like you get to change their outfits, basically.”
“That’s retarded. Girl stuff.”
“Oh come on,” I said, now just looking for a way to make fun of Leslie. Sometimes the guy’s just way too serious. “Didn’t you play with enough dolls as a child? I mean, look at that skirt,” I said, indicating some random dressphere that didn’t actually have that cute of a skirt, I just wanted to drive Leslie up the wall.
“I’m not listening to you,” Leslie said loudly, “I can’t believe you’re even–”
“I would totally wear that skirt,” I blathered on without really thinking, and then I shut my mouth.
“Wait, what?” said Leslie.
Leslie’s the one person I can’t really lie to. Well, him and my mother, but that’s because my mother’s psychic. Leslie I just can’t lie to because I’d feel awful. I mean, he’s Leslie! He was there the day I tore the ass of my jeans climbing over a fence, and his mom fixed it for me and didn’t tell my mom or anything. But now Leslie was staring at me like I’d maybe grown an interesting fungus on my face, and I was debating the merits of laughing it off or maybe finding some way to die on the spot.
“You were totally serious about the skirt thing,” he said, and he was smiling, so maybe this wasn’t too bad. Yet. “What, you like shoes, too?”
“Uh,” I said. Yeah, way to go, Whitney! Aren’t you on the Speech team?
Leslie started laughing, and I felt like I was going to puke, but then he said, “Oh man, and I’m the one who’s gay!” It took me a few seconds to realize he’d just fucking outed himself, holy shit, and then I was laughing too, and suddenly everything was okay, and Leslie didn’t even mind that I’d crumpled up his magazine in a nervous spasm. It turned out he’d been keeping things from me, too, and mine maybe wasn’t even as big as his. Maybe.
So after that I’d maybe mention nail polish around him, and he’d maybe point out a guy he thought was hot (and the guys he thought were hot were almost never the one girls thought were hot, except for Johnny Depp, but Johnny’s some kind of exception, I think, because I know some lesbians who’d do him), and once in a while I’d be able to drag him into a shoe store. I mean, I had girlfriends, yeah, but none of them were into anime or video games, they weren’t my best friend or anything like that. Leslie was my best friend, and he liked all these things, and he didn’t mind that I liked to dress up like a girl. And that’s how For Great Justice! Cosplay was born. The name seemed like a good idea at the time.
The worst part about bra-shopping if you’re a guy isn’t, well, the fact that you’re a guy. It’s that you can’t find any bras that fit. I mean, I have an okay time because I’m 5’8″ and kinda skinny. I was a nerd in high school. But Leslie, he’s not Arnold Schwarzenegger or anything but he likes to keep fit, plus he’s like six inches taller than me, which means we’ve gotta move to the “full figured” section to have even a hope of finding a bra for him, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and totally give up on finding anything in cute colors.
Not that Leslie cared about cute colors. He looked like we’re stuffing candy bars under our jackets at a 7-11, all staring around like the gender police are going to give us a ticket. Man, I thought, if he’s this wired about bra-shopping, wait until we get to the panties.
Whoops, better not bring that up right now.
Oh glory hallelujah, a miracle! A 42, and it was–gasp–a C cup. Which was still a little too big for Haruka, but man, when you’re shopping for bras above 40, you’ve gotta take what you can get. And it’s not like we had to put actual breasts in there or anything; we’d make it work.
“Here, try this on,” I said, shoving it in Leslie’s arms. It was that ugly tan color that nobody except old ladies like, but again, beggars can’t be choosers.
“Try it on?” Leslie hissed. “You’re crazy, I’m not going in the women’s fitting room–”
“Of course not,” I said. “You’re a guy. Go in the men’s.”
“That’s not any better,” Leslie said, sounding like he was about to blow a gasket.
Jesus, the guy couldn’t make up his mind. “Look, go in whichever one makes you more comfortable–”
“Neither of them–”
“You wanna back out?” I asked, because if Leslie was this uncomfortable, maybe it wasn’t worth it. The guy had a redwood shoved up his ass, but I didn’t want to make him miserable or anything. “I mean, if you want to, say it now before we make any monetary investment. Bras are expensive.”
Leslie stared down at the bra, frowning. He looked like he was thinking about it. And don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want him to back out or anything, but I thought maybe it’d be kind of a relief. Sure, this was a great way to go, but I didn’t want to rock the boat any more than necessary. We’d been doing great before, I wasn’t gonna live or die by this.
“I’ll do it,” he said.
“You sure?” I prodded.
“Yeah,” he said, nodding. “I still think you’re crazy, though,” he added.
“You’re there with me,” I said, grinning.
Leslie grinned back, took his bra, and went in the fitting room.
I was kinda proud of him.
It wasn’t like I’d never put makeup on Leslie before. It comes with the territory when you’re a cosplayer. It’s just that Leslie had never needed more than the bare minimum: maybe a light application of foundation, some concealer when we’d been partying too hard and we had to be Kagome and Inuyasha the next day, or–the opposite of that–dark streaks under his eyes when Leslie decided he wanted to be L one summer.
This, though–Leslie sitting on my bed, breathing lightly while I painted his foundation–was just. . . weird. I didn’t even know what to call it besides that. It just made me jumpy. It was like time had slowed down into maple syrup and someone had poured it all over my body. I could feel it on my skin, heck, even on the hair on my skin. It made me take shallow breaths, which I tended to do, anyway; I didn’t want to, like. . . breathe all over Leslie. That would be weird. My chair was so close to the bed that our knees were practically touching.
The foundation seemed to take forever, even though when I looked up it’d barely been ten minutes. Then I had to do the eyeliner and the eyeshadow. This was probably going to be the first cosplay where Leslie didn’t have to wear colored contacts; I’d already ordered my green eyes, but Leslie’s eyes were naturally gray. I just had to make them pop. There’s no rule for what you do with gray eyes, but I figured earth tones would do the trick.
“Are we done yet?” Leslie growled as I was doing the mascara.
“Don’t move,” I said, before I’d even processed the question. “And no.”
“Do girls do this every day?” Leslie demanded with some skepticism.
“Some do,” I said. “It gets faster with practice.” Needless to say, I didn’t practice enough, since I didn’t wear makeup on a regular basis. Not that I really wanted to; you look great, yeah, but I always felt like the stuff was kind of bad for your skin.
“How much more after this?” Leslie wanted to know.
“Then I gotta do your mouth,” I said. Leslie got kind of a weird look at that. I went back over what I’d said in my head, realized that did sound kinda. . . well, and hurried to add, “You know, lipliner and lipstick and stuff. Then blush, but that’ll take like two seconds. And then we can see how you look.”
“Okay,” Leslie said.
“Great. Now don’t talk.”
Haruka was pretty butch, so that didn’t call for anything outrageous with lips. Something subtle, like a natural-looking pink or pale red, would do the trick. The idea was to draw attention to him first with the eyes; then the eyes should fall naturally to the mouth. Then, well. I couldn’t help grinning. This was gonna be so awesome.
Leslie raised his eyebrows, but true to his word didn’t talk.
The blush did take all of twenty seconds; just a light dusting to give him that healthy, flushed appearance. Then I took a step back and handed him a mirror. And now that I was more than five inches away, I could take a look at my own handiwork.
And Leslie. . . well, he looked like Leslie. But not ordinary Leslie. This was movie star Leslie, this was fashion model Leslie. He suddenly looked glamorous, but still himself–especially the way he was kind of frowning and tilting his head from side to side, not at all like a magazine model. I might’ve choked up a little. I had to swallow a few times, anyway.
“I look. . . good,” Leslie said, sounding like he didn’t know what to say. Probably just kind of weirded out; that was me, the first time my sister did my makeup, before I learned how to do it myself.
“You always look good,” I said without really thinking. It just seemed like the right thing to say. As soon as I said it, though, I felt stupid. That’s the kind of thing you say to your girlfriend, right? Not another guy. Guys don’t worry about stuff like that. Well, except maybe guys like me.
Leslie cracked a grin; he got the joke. “Thanks. I, uh, I almost don’t wanna wash it off. You, uh, you spent a lot of time on this.”
“Yeah, well, unless you plan on not showering until July, don’t worry about it,” I said, shrugging, and turning that into a stretch after I realized how long I’d been in that chair. Leslie’s gaze slid over to me, then skidded back to the mirror. “No, really,” I said. “This was just to see, you know, what colors and stuff you needed. Now that I know, it’ll be way faster later.”
“Okay,” Leslie said. He stared at himself in the mirror some more. “I really don’t look like myself.”
“Sure you do,” I said. “That’s just your prettier self.”
“This actually isn’t that uncomfortable,” Leslie said, sounding surprised.
Oh shit, Leslie looked good. No, he didn’t just look good; he looked edible. I’d done his makeup again and somehow done an even better job this time. Add photo shoot Leslie to sailor senshi outfit, and you had–hell, I didn’t know, but it was crazy hot. Kind of disturbingly so. Leslie could never really pass, since he was just way too tall and his arms were a little too big, but the makeup had kinda softened his face, and so did the wig–which had been a pricy purchase, but worth it; I didn’t even have to bleach it, just style it. I’d made him shave his legs and wear nylons (an indignity he assured me he’d never forget, but I didn’t regret it), he was wearing the bra with the falsies I’d made him, his hips were padded–basically, he looked like a really tall, leggy blonde who was maybe kinda butch.
He looked like Sailor Uranus.
It was the hottest thing I’d ever seen.
I swallowed. “Damn,” I said. “The guys are gonna be all over you.”
“Really?” Figures that’d get his interest.
“If you were a girl, I’d do you,” I assured him.
“But aren’t I a girl, right now?” Leslie smirked; on Haruka’s face, that smirk was dangerous. “That’s what you’ve been telling me this whole time, right? It’s about more than looking like a girl,” and now Leslie was oh shit, he was moving, he was walking toward me, “it’s about acting like a girl, thinking like a girl.” And now his hand was on my arm, his hand was on my (padded) hip, his hand was on my thigh, and I was maybe dangerously close to punching him or coming in my pants, I wasn’t sure which one.
“What–” I said, and then I wasn’t able to say anything else because Leslie’s mouth was on me, his mouth was on my mouth and he was kissing me. I was turned on like crazy, and this was so weird because since when have I been turned on by lesbians? But I was, and Leslie wasn’t even a girl, even with the skirt and the bra and the panties and the hose and heels, he wasn’t any more a girl than I was when I put on all that stuff. I knew that, I knew that, but I still had my arms around him and I kissed him back, and the next thing I knew we were naked and horizontal and just all over each other. His mouth was on my nipple and his hand was on my cock and my teeth were in his shoulder and I was gasping with my head thrown back, and oh God shit fuck he knew what he was doing, of course he did, who knows a guy’s body better than another guy, right–
BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP
I’d shut off the alarm before even opening my eyes. It wasn’t until I moved to sit up that I realized the front of my boxers was damp and kind of sticky. I knew without checking that the sheets were probably messed, too. Oh shit, I thought, now I have to do the laundry.
Then I remembered what I’d been dreaming about.
“This actually isn’t that uncomfortable,” Leslie said, sounding surprised.
I didn’t actually hear what Leslie said next, since I was trying not to run out of the room.
“Whit? Hey, Whit.”
“Huh?” I said.
“You gonna get dressed too?” Leslie had his “you’re being weird again” look on. He has a very expressive face. “C’mon, I don’t want to be the only one looking like an ass. And isn’t it traditional for you to take pictures and put ’em up on your MySpace or whatever?”
“LiveJournal,” I reminded him, but Leslie was smiling, so probably he remembered and was just giving me a hard time. Whatever. “Actually,” I said, turning to my desk and looking for my camera, which should have been in the second drawer but wasn’t, “I haven’t made mine yet.”
“What? But the con’s like a month away.”
“Yeah, a whole month and I don’t have a job or anything to get in my way. Whatever am I going to do?” I found the camera, finally. It was in the closet. Weird place for a camera. Mom must have put it there. “C’mon, strike a pose.”
Leslie recoiled in such a classic manner that there was really no word other than “recoil” I could have used to describe it. “By myself? Heeellll no.”
“Aw c’mon. You look so hot. And not like an ass at all,” I promised. He really did look hot. As hot as in my dream. Maybe hotter. Oh my God, what was wrong with me? This was Leslie. I was not supposed to be staring at his ass. Or any part of him. Or him. Unless he had, like, spinach in his teeth or something. Basically, I was not supposed to be staring at him and thinking how hot he was.
Leslie stared critically at himself in the full-length mirror. “I’m not really seeing Sailor Uranus, here. I’m seeing me in a skirt that barely covers my ass.”
“That’s because you’re not in character yet,” I told him. “Remember–”
“Yeah yeah yeah, be a girl,” he said, flapping one hand. I was tempted to tell him that that was totally queer.
“So be a girl,” I said, trying not to be offended that he’d cut me off. Well, maybe I’d repeated myself a lot these past few weeks.
“Okay, so.” Leslie rearranged himself into what he probably thought was a feminine pose, still staring at himself in the mirror. Maybe it was a little much to ask a gay guy–well, a gay guy like Leslie–to think about what girls act like and be like one of them. It’s not like he’s looked at girls much or anything. “So when you do the whole cross-dressing thing, do you think like a girl?”
“Well, yeah,” I said, nudging Leslie’s elbow into place. “What, you thought I was pulling this advice out of my ass? You’ve seen me pass.”
“Yeah,” he said, sounding thoughtful. “You’re like a totally different person. Well, not totally different. But you know. Sometimes I swear you’re checking out a guy’s ass.”
“I probably am,” I said without really thinking. Leslie jerked his head around, completely ruining the pose I’d been setting up. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. “It’s not like I’m thinking about it. I mean, when I do something like that, it’s because in my head I’m Elena, or Kagome, or Misa, and I’m just doing what I think they’d do.”
“Oh.” Leslie sounded weirdly disappointed. Maybe he’d been hoping to make fun of me.
“Anyway,” I said, “the part about being attracted to guys should be easy for you, right?” I flashed him a grin, to let him know I didn’t mean any hard feelings, but he still had that look on his face. Jeez, lighten up, man.
“Yeah,” he said, but he sounded like he was somewhere else.
I stopped trying to fix his wrist because I’m not a total jerk. “Hey. You okay?”
Whatever it was, Leslie shook himself out of it. “Yeah,” he said. “I’m fine. How’s this?” And he drew himself into such a perfect Sailor Uranus pose–arms crossed, head tilted at a rakish angle, and a smile that somehow managed to be superior and flirtatious at the same time–that I had to dive for my camera, and by the time I finished taking pictures I’d forgotten all about it.
“Okay, okay, so the thing is, funny skits are easier to pull off, right?” I said, pacing around the room. I’d already spent way too much time rolling around on the floor. The walls were not any more inspiring now than they’d been forty-five minutes ago.
I hate thinking up Masquerade skits. The costumes, the makeup, the props–all that stuff is just fine. But I’m not a freakin’ writer, and Leslie is even less of one, and to top it all off sometimes the Masquerade skit is all anyone remembers. It doesn’t matter if your costume was photo-perfect if you didn’t have a classy skit to go with it. That’s just the way it goes, especially with everyone being a million miles away from the stage and therefore too far away to actually see the costumes.
You could also say that I take this way too seriously, but man, if it took you this long to figure that out. . .
“I mean, look at Stripper Vash,” I went on. “The guy’s a genius. Everyone knows Stripper Vash. He’s probably got his own YouTube tag.”
“People remember Stripper Vash because he takes his clothes off,” Leslie pointed out from the floor, where he’d started doodling spirals and flowers and geometric designs on the notepad. “On stage.”
“Well, we could do that,” I suggested. “Reveal to everyone that we’re actually guys–but then everyone’d just think we were copying Stripper Vash.” I sighed.
“Do you really think people will think we’re copying him?” Leslie said.
“Don’t underestimate anime fandom,” I said grimly, flopping down on the carpet next to him. “Okay, so what else is there? Serious thing? I can’t do serious.”
“There’s always the kind where you prance around on stage while some pretty music plays in the background,” Leslie suggested.
Ugh. I hate those. They’re great for showing off the costume, but other than that the only good thing about them is that they’re usually short. I get bored if one goes on for the full length of the song. Heck, I get bored after thirty seconds. I shook my head, about to nix it, but. . . wait. Wait. Something was coming to me.
“Uh oh,” Leslie deadpanned.
“Shut up,” I said. “Can we do, like, a music video or something? Like, have one of the image songs play in the background, and maybe we can. . .” The idea fizzled out about there. “Shit, I don’t know.”
“Hell, make it VH1’s Behind the Music? We can be the next t.A.t.u. or something.” Leslie said, and I could tell he was being sarcastic but it was one of the best ideas I’d heard all day. Not that that was saying much, given that our previous ideas had been nonexistent or so stupid as to not even be worth mentioning, but you get the idea.
“That’s perfect!” I said.
“I was kidding.” Leslie looked pained.
“We’ll intro it with a clip of one of the image songs, like the image song duet thing or something, and the rest of it will be one of those Behind the Music interviews, only the interviewer’ll be off-stage, since it’s only the two of us,” I rambled on.
“No, seriously,” Leslie said. “I was kidding.”
“I know,” I said. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea.”
“It was an awful idea,” Leslie said. He wasn’t even writing it down.
“No, it was a great idea,” I assured him. “Just wait and see.”
As it turned out, by the time we got all the recording and rehearsing done (with some help from my sister), a month had basically just flown by. We still hadn’t had a full dress rehearsal, and Leslie had barely seen me in the Sailor Neptune costume. This was kind of a relief for me; every once in a while, when I was brushing my teeth or making lunch or even just buying fabric materials or something, Leslie all dolled up and posing like Sailor Uranus would just kind of float in front of my eyes, all hazy-like, and I’d have to grit my teeth and think of global warming, dead baby penguins, or all the United States Presidents and their party affiliations to make it go away.
As usual, we wore old costumes the first day of the con. We figured Elena and Tseng would be a hit, thanks to the whole FF7 revival bullshit, and sure enough we got plenty of squeals and photographs from teenyboppers. Leslie got rather more attention than me, which forced me to pull my prop gun a few times. I’ll admit that my barked exclamations of “Get away from Tseng-sama!” were maybe not entirely forced, while “Tseng” looked gratifyingly discomfited by all the attention. That probably was not totally acted, either, although it may have had more to do with said attention usually being given by people probably not even old enough to drive rather than any loyalty toward me. A couple of them didn’t even recognize Elena and asked, confused, if I was supposed to be Rufus. I managed not to kill anyone.
Once in a while, though, we’d get hit up for a photo by a relatively sane het-shipper, or just some fans who appreciate decent costumes. We had a few standby “serious” poses: back to back with guns drawn; me kneeling and looking intent while Tseng towered over me, gun drawn. Then there were the “silly” poses: Tseng, deep in thought, while behind him Elena fawned and simpered; us with our arms wrapped around each other, gazing into one another’s eyes while our lips hovered inches apart.
I’d never had trouble looking Leslie in the eye after poses before, but I did now.
And every once in a while, especially when there was a big crowd gathered around taking pictures, afterward I’d say, “Thanks, everyone!” And everyone would double-take, except for the few who’re really good at picking out crossplayers, and someone would inevitably say, “You’re a guy?” Then Leslie would make some wisecrack, like, “Yeah, and so am I!” and we’d all have a good-natured laugh.
One of them stuck around after one of these little acts. He looked maybe a little younger than us, around 18 or something, with glasses and not-bad brown hair and that earnest look of someone who’s trying way too hard to impress you. His badge said “Das Mondschaf,” whatever that meant. “You’re For Great Justice, aren’t you?” he said. “I like your website.”
“Oh, thanks,” I said, a little surprised; I hadn’t thought about that website in. . . Jesus, had it really been years? “I’m sorry, it probably hasn’t been updated in a while,” I said apologetically. “Leslie got a life.”
“Oh, but all the pictures are still there,” he said eagerly. “I really admire you. Especially, um, you know.”
He was trying so hard to be tactful, I had to give the guy a break. “The crossdressing?” I supplied. “Yeah, that usually surprises a few people.”
“I-it’s cool, that you’re so cool with it,” he said. “I mean, most guys aren’t so, so open, about, um.”
These conversations happen usually about twice a day at cons. You learn to head them off at the pass. “Sorry,” I said, raising my hands and pointing at Leslie, “he’s the gay one. I just like to feel pretty.”
“Hi,” said Leslie, who was also used to these conversations.
The poor guy’s eyes widened. “Oh,” he said. “I’m, I’m so sorry! Then, um, so you’re not–”
This conversation also happens occasionally. I wanted to put a note on the website, but Leslie maintained that people like the mystery. I grudgingly agreed, but seriously, these are really awkward conversations. “I just like to feel pretty,” I repeated.
“Oh, then. Then. Can I have your email address?” he asked Leslie. Okay, now that was just offensive.
I was about to tell him off, but Leslie let him down easy. “I still check the email address on the website.”
The guy took it for what it was, a rejection, but didn’t seem too broken up about it. “Oh. Okay, thanks.” And he walked away, and that was that, except I was still really irritated for some reason.
“Could you believe that guy?” I said, later, while we were in the dealer’s room, getting stopped every three feet by someone with a camera while trying vainly to find some good posters or figurines or artbooks or anything, something, except it took us thirty minutes to move twenty feet. “I mean, first he thinks we’re a couple, but as soon as he finds out we’re not he goes after you like you’re a steak on sale!”
“Why are you still talking about that?” Leslie said, browsing through some CDs.
“Because I can’t believe it, that’s why!” I sputtered. “Why aren’t you mad about it?”
Leslie turned around and smirked at me in a distinctly un-Tseng like manner. I stopped breathing. Two girls nearby immediately began jabbing one another and pointing at Leslie while whispering in breathy squeaks.
“I’m not the jealous type,” Leslie said, and then turned back around.
I hated him.
By the second day, I was ready to pick up a Death Note and put myself out of my misery. I just couldn’t stop thinking. Okay, so I think my best friend is kind of hot. So what? Lots of people think their best friends are hot, right? Well, okay, not everyone actively wants to make out with their best friend. Not that I do. Very much, anyway. But what was really driving me crazy was knowing that Leslie was gay. It’s like, there’s a chance of reciprocation here! Except that always made me feel terrible; contrary to what the Republican party might have you believe, just because a guy’s gay doesn’t mean he wants to jump every guy, just like my being straight doesn’t mean I want to jump every girl.
Except I’m not really straight, I guess, and this was the other part that was tripping me out. Here I’ve always been straight, and then I see my best friend in a skirt and I’m not straight anymore. That doesn’t even make sense. If I’m attracted to guys, shouldn’t I be attracted to guys? Who, you know, look like guys? . . . yeah, sure, Whitney, now ask that question to people who are attracted to drag queens.
Holy shit, I was so fucking confused.
I spent a little time on Saturday checking out guys, trying to figure out if I was attracted to them and had just never noticed. I concluded, after a while, that maybe some of them had pretty great asses. Did that mean anything? An ass was an ass, right? Whether or not there were boobs or a penis on the other end.
Leslie, meanwhile, was getting pretty annoyed with my spacyness. I kept saying, “Huh?” when he was trying to talk to me and not noticing when people wanted to take pictures. It was cramping For Great Justice’s style.
“Hey,” he said, when most of the photographers had finally wandered off. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said a little desperately, trying to find something that would steer Leslie far, far away from this conversation that I did not want to have right now.
“Don’t give me that bullshit,” he warned. “I know you, Whit. You’ve been spacing out all day.”
“I’m spacy sometimes!” I protested.
“Not during a con. You’re a total ham at cons. What’s up? I’m your friend, man, you can tell me anything.”
Not this thing, I thought, guiltily. Distraction, distraction, need a distraction, why can’t Man-Faye or someone come walking through the concourse right now–
“Hi!” someone chirped. “Can I take a picture?”
I turned around, and there was Jessica Alba.
Okay, not actually Jessica Alba. But that was the first thing I thought, what with the blonde and the breasts and the amazing figure and the revealing clothing. It wasn’t even cosplay; she just normally dressed like a skank. In the midst of my gay panic, I decided that she was the hottest thing I’d ever seen and I just had to hit that right damn now.
“Of course,” I said, reeling Leslie in by the waist.
“Thanks!” she burbled. “I love Full Metal Alchemist!”
We posed. We swaggered. We flirted. Well, I flirted. Leslie mostly looked disturbed and confused, which just irritated me. I mean, he gets phone numbers from gay fanboys, I’m not allowed to get a little action? I can’t help it if girls don’t hit on me because they all think I’m gay.
I’m not gay.
“You guys are great!” she giggled, after all the other photographers had drifted away, toward the Exhibit Hall. “I mean, you’re the only ones I’ve seen who, like, actually look like Colonel Mustang and Hawkeye! All the others had, like, the wrong color hair and stuff, you know?”
“Yeah,” I said to her breasts, which were jiggling an awful lot as she bobbed up and down with her speech. How could she not notice? Was there something wrong with her bra? “We, um, work really hard on our costumes.”
“Here’s my phone number, cutie!” she said. Wait, what?
“Oh, uh, thanks,” said Leslie, taking the proffered slip of paper.
“Call me sometime, okay? I just got a fake ID, so we can go drinking sometime!” She winked rather ostentatiously, waved, and then scampered off with her bubbly ass waving from side to side. I’m pretty sure my jaw was hanging open.
“Did you just–” I began.
“Don’t even,” Leslie warned. “Here, you want her phone number?” He thrust the scrap of paper at me.
“Well, now I don’t,” I snapped. “She thinks I’m a girl. Or a fag.”
“Hey,” Leslie said warningly.
“This isn’t fair!” I plowed on, regardless of any tiny, rational voices in my head that said I should stop now, before we drew a crowd, before I said something stupid, before I confessed any crazy thoughts I was having as to Leslie’s hot ass and great body. Not that there were many of these tiny, rational voices, nor were they very loud; they were overpowered by the louder, crazier parts that wanted to be unbearably pissy. “You get hit on by guys. You get hit on by girls. What do I get? Nothing. Because I like wearing skirts, and everyone thinks you’re the straight one, and when they find out you’re not the straight one, they hit on you anyway! What is up with that, huh? Why can’t I get anything I want?”
“What do–is that what this is about?” Leslie demanded, incredulous. “You ignore me for half the day and space out the other half, and it’s because you’re jealous? You’re jealous that I’m the homo who can pass and you’re the straight guy who doesn’t? Well fuck you, Whitney, I didn’t ask to be born this way and neither did you, and I thought you got that.”
Well. Uh. Damn.
“Look,” Leslie said, and I could tell he was angry because he always got kind of curt and bit all his words off at the end like they’d offended him. “Look,” he repeated, which is another thing he does when he gets mad, “let’s just–aw, fuck it. Never mind.” He made some sort of incoherent gesticulation with his hands, nearly hitting me with the giant TokyoPop bag he’d gotten in the Exhibit Hall, and then turned around and stormed off.
I didn’t bother to go after him. It wouldn’t do any good. Also, we had drawn a crowd, and if I didn’t do something we’d end up on YouTube within the hour.
Leslie didn’t come back to the hotel room all night, and I had paranoid delusions of him sleeping in some faceless stranger’s room–or that he’d just gone home, which may or may not have been worse, since it was his car and that meant I was now stranded at the con. I almost went to the garage to check and see if the car was still there but decided that was something only crazy people did. Instead, I just stared at the backs of my eyelids and tried to think boring thoughts. The hotel sheets were stiff and scratchy. They always are.
I must have fallen asleep eventually, because the wakeup call jangled, and I bolted awake with my heart in my throat. Leslie’s bed was still empty.
The third day dragged like crazy without Leslie there. I didn’t even suit up–it wasn’t worth it, without Leslie there to be the Ruka to my Juri. It was actually kind of relaxing, though, to just be a regular con-goer in jeans and t-shirt. I was actually able to attend panels on time and browse the Exhibit Hall. Not that I bought anything; I was too depressed to shop properly. Besides, I was never into cons for the merchandise.
I should probably just check out and leave, I thought as I trooped back up to my room. Tomorrow–the last day of the con–would be insufferable without Leslie, and plus I had to figure out how I was going to get home. Maybe I could call my sister. Oh, and I’d had to drop out of the Masquerade, obviously. So much for For Great Justice’s last hurrah.
Leslie was in the room.
Leslie. Was in the room.
He had a day’s worth of stubble and his hair was mussed and he was dressed in boxers and a wrinkled t-shirt. He didn’t have his contacts in, so he squinted. I’d never seen anything so beautiful and sexy in my entire life. He looked up at me, and he looked like he hadn’t slept much last night, either.
“Hey,” he said, sounding annoyed, and that was so familiar and comfortable that I kind of wanted to melt, “c’mon, we’ve only got a few hours until pre-show.”
“Okay,” I said. Leslie raised his eyebrows at me expectantly. It took me a second to realize that I was standing next to the wardrobe.
“Go shave,” I ordered, and got out the costumes.
We didn’t say much of anything for the next few minutes except “Hang on” and “I’ll get it” and “Hold still.” Then, finally, I said, “Go sit on the bed, I’ll be right there.”
Leslie obediently seated himself on the bed. The covers were tousled and wrinkled, so he’d probably been napping, waiting for me to get back. Where had he been all night? I fished out the foundation, pulled up an armchair, and got to work.
“So, I,” I said, after the silence had grown more awkward than relieved. Oh God, was anything going to be normal ever again?
“Yeah?” said Leslie.
“I, uh,” I said again, concentrating on keeping my hands steady. This wasn’t going to bode well for the eyeliner. “I. Okay.” I took a deep breath, held it, and let it out again, just like I’d learned in yoga class a few semesters ago. Oh God, yoga. Had I been gay this whole time and not noticed? “I’m just. Um. I’m really glad you came back.”
“Did you really think I’d just leave you here?” Leslie looked like he was trying not to smile, which was good because smiling would fuck up my makeup job. “Dude, how would you have gotten home?”
“Shut up,” I said. “Look, I’m really sorry, okay? I’m sorry, and I’m an ass, but I’m an ass who’s kind of in love with you and that’s kind of why I’ve been an ass.” And now that it was too late to go back, since life does not have any sort of rewind and erase button, I plowed on while I did his eye makeup. “I mean, I don’t know. Maybe this is all in my head. I’m not gay or anything, right? Except then I saw you in the dress, and–and this is the stupidest thing in the world–but I saw you in the dress and I started having these thoughts, like, oh, maybe I have a hard-on for my best friend, which is by the way simultaneously the best and worst feeling in the world.”
Oh my God, why was I still talking? How was I still talking?
Done with the eye makeup. Move on to the–oh God–the lip stuff. Fortunately, this meant Leslie couldn’t talk. Unfortunately, I kept talking.
“So I was kind of freaking out, like, am I gay? How long have I had a hard-on for my best friend? And I started flipping out a little bit and being kind of an ass, and then we got to the con and I saw how many people have a hard-on for you, even girls who have no chance with you have hard-ons for you or whatever girls get instead of a boner, and I was like, shit. I mean, shit.” I bit my lip and made my hands stop shaking. “And I still don’t have any idea what it means, because you’re hot in a dress and you’re hot when you’re not in a dress, and maybe I’ve been in love with you for forever and just didn’t know, and you probably don’t think about me that way at all and maybe you’re wishing you’d never met me or something, and I’m really sorry about that.”
I couldn’t look at him. I wanted to throw up and run out of the room and fall into a hole straight into Hell, which was probably where I belonged, maybe all at the same time. Instead, I finished his lip gloss and applied the blush.
Leslie grabbed my wrist when I was done. That forced me to look at him.
He has amazing eyes.
“Come on,” he said. “Let’s get you ready.”
The stage was, as expected, a million degrees. Leslie and I sat on chairs next to each other. My legs were crossed demurely; his weren’t, which was part him and part Haruka. And he had his hand on my thigh, which had maybe been rehearsed, but I didn’t think he’d still do it what with things being weird between us. Leslie hadn’t said two words together since we left the hotel room, and it drove me crazy. But I figured I deserved it.
“So, here’s the big question,” said my sister’s recorded voice, which was supposedly that of a VH1 “Behind the Music” interviewer. “What’s the relationship between you?”
“Oh, there’s no relationship,” said Leslie’s recorded voice.
“Oh, we’re cousins,” said my recorded voice at the same time. “We’ve been close ever since we were little.” The audience–those old enough or just savvy enough to get the joke–tittered.
I turned my head, very slowly, to look at Leslie, only to find that he was already looking at me. Did his hand just move up on my thigh?
Then he kissed me.
This was rehearsed, but this wasn’t rehearsed. He was kissing me like he meant it, like I hadn’t said all those crazy things in the hotel room, or maybe I had and he didn’t mind, like maybe he felt the same way. Like maybe he’d been waiting for this for months, for years. Like maybe he’d thought I was straight and that he didn’t have a chance. Like maybe he’d been up all night thinking the same things I had, only backward.
I was faintly aware of the sound of thousands of fangirls and boys going crazy.
I’m not really sure what happened immediately after that. I’m pretty sure we didn’t stop kissing. Maybe the stage ninjas escorted us off stage. I remember I had to look up who won Best of Show online, so probably we left as soon as we could. We couldn’t stop touching each other, even in the elevator, and the other congoers kept staring at us. We didn’t mind. We got makeup all over each other’s faces. We didn’t mind that, either.
I finally realized what I was doing about the time we were taking off each other’s clothes, mostly because I didn’t want to hurt the costumes. Leslie didn’t seem to care as much as I did, probably because he didn’t spend hours hunched over a sewing machine, and I had to hit him a couple of times before he would stop sucking on my neck long enough to pay attention.
“Sit down,” I hissed, “I need to get the boots off.”
“Fuck the boots,” he said, and went back to breathing on my neck, which made it really, really hard to think about boots. “Fuck me with the boots on.”
I suddenly couldn’t breathe, and I wasn’t sure if it was because I really, really wanted to fuck him in heeled boots–and that’s him wearing the boots, not me–or because he said I was going to fuck him. Or maybe it was because I couldn’t get a hard-on with my testicles shoved up into my body and my penis tucked against my ass.
I hit Leslie again. He grunted and looked up.
“Don’t you want to get the hose off?” I reminded him. “Can’t fuck with hose on.”
“Rip it,” he suggested, and I really had no problems with that. It was five dollar hose, anyway.
It turns out it’s harder to rip pantyhose than you’d think, since the stuff’s so fucking fragile and runs if it’s the wrong day of the week, but we managed it. And we managed to get everything else off, too–except the boots–and finally, finally we were naked and horizontal. We spent a really long time just kissing with our arms wrapped around each other, feeling each other’s skin, until our lips were swollen, and then we kissed some more. Finally, I pulled away and looked down at where I’d left red lipmarks all over Leslie’s shoulders and collarbone. My hands shook.
“Leslie.” My mouth was so dry that it came out like a whisper. “I don’t know what I’m doing. You have to tell me what to do.”
Leslie grabbed my hand and grinned. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to boss you around.”
I waited for him to roll us over, but he didn’t. Instead, he just pulled me down and kissed me again, until I stopped feeling like a nervous wreck and started feeling good again, and then he whispered in my ear, “Lube’s in my bag, inside pocket. Condoms, too.”
It took a while for all the words to make it past the muh and the buh and the hard and form a coherent sentence in my head. “Wait, you brought lube? The hell did you bring lube for?”
“In case I scored,” he said, straight-faced. I rolled my eyes at him and dragged myself off the bed to pull through his duffel bag. Sure enough, there were some condoms and a half-finished bottle of lube in the inside pocket. Not Astroglide, like all the girls used, but some brand called Maximus. I turned around, all ready to make some snarky comment, but I forgot to close my jaw after opening it when I saw Leslie on the bed.
He was lying up against the headboard looking–well, debauched was really the only word for it, with his makeup smudged in patches, lipstick smeared across his chin and collarbone. He had one leg stretched straight out in front of him and the other bent at an angle, to properly show off his cock, all bent up against his stomach. Yeah, he was kind of a show-off. I didn’t really have the heart to mind. I threw the condoms and lube on the bed, then threw myself on the bed, on top of him.
“Put it on, put it on,” he said, almost laughing. “No more playtime until you put it on.”
“Mmm,” I said against his stomach. “Put it on for me.”
He did, tearing the wrapper open with his teeth (which you’re not supposed to do, but fuck, it was hot). Then he put the condom in his mouth, which probably tasted gross, and then he put his mouth on my cock, which probably shorted out my brain. I knew I didn’t come, because I was still hard and there was a condom on my cock that wasn’t full, but that had to qualify as some quasi-religious experience. Where the hell did he learn to do that? Never mind, I didn’t want to think about where he’d learned to do that.
And I didn’t have to, because Leslie grabbed my hand and squeezed out a dollop of lube onto it, not just in the palm but all over my fingers. He shut the bottle with a flick of the thumb, one-handed, and threw it toward the floor. Then he squirmed around onto his stomach, offering up his ass, and I swallowed and felt paralyzed, an idiot with a hard-on and lube dripping from his fingers onto the hotel sheets.
“Come on,” Leslie said into the pillow, sounding dreamy and impatient.
“I don’t,” I said, desperately willing Leslie to understand, “I don’t know how–”
“Your fingers go in my ass. Then your cock goes in my ass,” Leslie drawled in a sticky molasses voice. “It’s not rocket science.”
Right. Tab A goes in Slot B, right? Thousands or millions of people do this every day. Some of them end up in the emergency room, but this isn’t going to be one of those cases. Leslie knows what he’s doing. Leslie’ll let me know if I’m doing it wrong. I knelt down behind him and brushed my wet fingers against his ass. He made some kind of sound not like I’d just done something bad, so I did it again, this time pushing my fingertips into his crack, and when I found his hole my fingers just. . . slipped in. Leslie groaned, so I didn’t stop, fascinated by this new thing that I’d created.
He felt different from a girl. As soon as I thought that, I felt stupid; of course he didn’t feel like a girl. He wasn’t a girl. But he was still hot and soft inside, and I was making him slick, and it made me feel hungry. Leslie grabbed my wrist and pulled. “More,” he growled, and I added another finger. Three of them now, plunging in and out of his ass, and it was so hot and obscene that I had to stop for a second and lean my forehead against his back to catch my breath. Jesus, we weren’t even doing anything yet and I was already sweating.
“What are you doing?” Leslie demanded.
“All right,” I said, pulling my fingers out–a little too fast, I guess, because Leslie yelped. “Sorry, sorry,” I mumbled, dragging at Leslie’s hips. Leslie seemed to get the idea, bracing himself up on his knees, grabbing the headboard with his hands. I lined myself up with one hand, crazy and scared in a way I hadn’t been since my first girl.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “Are you ready?” That hadn’t been much fingering; some girls needed more stretching than that, more foreplay.
But Leslie wasn’t a girl. “Hurry up,” he growled, his voice thick with sex. “Hurry up, hurry up.” I ran one hand over the hot, hot skin of his back and hurried.
It was tight going in, so tight that I had to stop for a second and wait, because that couldn’t be any more comfortable for Leslie than it was for me. Then it eased, and I slid in the rest of way so smoothly that I couldn’t believe it; wasn’t this supposed to be harder? Wasn’t it supposed to be–but I had to stop wondering, because Leslie did something that made me gasp and snap my hips forward, and after that the reptile hindbrain took over. After that it was fucking, simple and uncomplicated and wonderful, and I didn’t have to worry anymore.
I came first, which was kind of embarrassing, but Leslie just made some kind of raspy, mewing sound and pushed back against me when I stopped. I shivered and kept thrusting a little, as long as I was still hard, and realized that Leslie only had one hand on the headboard now. The other was bent under his body, his shoulder moving in a way that was instantly recognizable to any guy who’s ever hit puberty. I reached under him too, and when I touched him he shuddered so hard I could feel it. I jacked him off slow and easy, lazily sucking his shoulder, not thinking about how I was touching another guy’s cock. It wasn’t weird or hard or anything, it was just me and Leslie, and I was making him feel good. I was making him come.
He brought us both down afterward, turning us both so that we were on our sides. I didn’t want to move, so he stripped off the condom and threw it with a messy plop that said he’d missed the trash can. But I didn’t care, and neither did he, apparently, because he just threw one leg over mine and pulled the covers over us.
I woke up with Leslie’s mouth on my cock, and Jesus, I’m never getting a blowjob from a woman again if all guys give head like this. I came so fast it should’ve been in the Guinness Book of World Records, and afterward I glared down at Leslie, who smiled smugly with his chin on my hip.
“I’ve been wondering,” Leslie said.
“Yes?” I said, suddenly feeling nervous.
“Did you even consider asking a girl to do this one?”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed.
— end —
あとがき / Author’s Notes: This story could not exist without my beta (she knows who she is), little_details, the transgender community, the crossplay community, and little suggestions and help from many others too numerous to name. Any mistakes remaining are my own. Opinions expressed within the piece are those of the characters, and not necessarily those of the author.