JKLM+15

by Stephanie Silver

(sjtw69@yahoo.com)

Chapter 12 - Confused

One thing Jenna had noticed since beginning her transition to becoming female is that her emotions were a lot closer to the surface now than they had been as a male. Maybe it was the hormones. Yeah, probably it was the hormones. Or maybe they'd always been there, but in response to society's views on what is proper behavior for men versus women, she'd just done a better job of keeping her emotions under control.

Bottled up, actually. The nice thing about dressing like a girl and having a feminine body was that she no longer felt compelled to keep her emotions hidden. As soon as she was safely out the door and on the next level headed toward the parking lot, she let all of her feelings come bubbling out in a wave of tears and sobbing. She wasn't sure what she was crying about, exactly. It was everything. It was nothing. It was the way Lucas wasn't responding the way she had hoped. She'd envisioned him as her knight in shining armor. And he'd just let her walk right out the door.

Christina had been half-naked when she left, and she couldn't help thinking that he and Katon were about to share Christina in a threesome. "Perverts," she sobbed, trying to change her sadness to anger, but succeeding only slightly.

As she made her way to her car, her tears subsided only slightly. There was more to this particular crying jag than Lucas. It was all the other things about being transgendered. The guilt, the confusion, the fear.

The guilt came from her religion and her family. Her former religion, she guessed. Excommunicated or not, she still felt an attachment to it. She still felt like she was doing something wrong. The guilt from her family was more indirect. Like a reflection of her own feelings of inadequacy. They had accepted her and assured her she was loved. But still, always, in the back of her mind was that feeling that they resented her decision, and felt betrayed by it. There was still that feeling that she had let them down.

The confusion was over the fact that she was no longer a male, but not truly female either. Transgendered - sometimes it was the best of both worlds and sometimes it was like being in neither world at all.

The fear was of being discovered by someone who might not appreciate it. Kind of like what had happened to Kyle, when he'd been in that bar in Wyoming and a group of homophobes had taken exception to his sexual orientation and decided to teach him a lesson. She knew she always had to be careful who learned her secret, just in case they weren't as accepting as she wished they'd be.

She found her car, and got inside, closing the door but not starting the engine. For a long time she just sat there at the steering wheel and cried. Why did life have to be so hard?

When she finally finished crying, when the last tear drop made its way down the cheek that hormones and electrolysis were gradually making smoother, she knew what she had to do. Determined, she started the car, leaving the parking lot and the apartment Lucas now shared with Katon.

* * * * *

Lucas was confused too. But not to the point where he wanted to cry. It had been fun seeing Jenna take her bra off the way she had. Erotic in a way he couldn't quite describe. Maybe it was the fact of just knowing that underneath her clothes, she was nude. That her perky little breasts were just a heartbeat away from being revealed. It had been fun seeing Christina in her underwear, too. He'd wanted - hoped - to see even more before the night ended. Of both of them. It seemed like that's where things were headed. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. And then, suddenly, Jenna had gotten mad and left.

He thought about going after her. Isn't that what his uncle had meant when he warned him he'd end up regretting it if he let Jenna get away? But he'd sat there, foolishly believing she would come back on her own. Why hadn't he gone after her? Was he still mad about the way she'd supposedly betrayed him? Did he still feel like she had? He wasn't sure. He just knew that Katon had started dealing, and although he picked up his cards and looked at them, he barely saw them. It was only when Christina started to take off her bra that he realized he didn't want to be there if Jenna chose that particular moment to come back.

"I need to go," he said, and stood up. Still not knowing what he wanted to do, he turned around and went to his room before he saw any more of Christina. It wasn't until he heard Christina and Katon close the door behind them to Katon's bedroom that he realized he needed to be out in the parking lot looking for Jenna.

By the time he got there, her car was already gone. He looked around, hoping that maybe she was still there and he'd just missed seeing her. When it gradually became clear that he'd missed her, he wondered if the tail lights he saw disappearing across the parking lot when he first came out had belonged to her. It had kind of looked like her car. "She'll come back," he muttered, almost convincing himself.

For some reason it never occurred to him to get in his own car and try to follow her. Where would she go? Turning around, he slowly made his way back inside.

When he got there, he could hear Katon and Christina going at it in their bedroom. Although she was doing her best to stay quiet, Christina moaned and groaned a lot during sex. He could hear Katon's muffled voice, encouraging her as their combined thrusts made the bed do a steady thump, thump, thump against the wall.

He went into his own room and closed the door, drowning out most of the noise from his two neighbors, but still hearing the steady thumping of the bed against the wall. Confused, he lay on his bed and thought about Jenna. He tried to imagine what she looked like naked, now that she was no longer male. He pulled out his cock and began to stroke it. Then, thinking better of it, he got up, took off all his clothes, and lay back down and the bed and continued to stroke himself.

Feeling his cock growing harder, he wondered why anyone would willingly want to have their penis and testicles removed and replaced with a vagina. Just the thought of it made him uncomfortable. He wondered if Jenna's vagina looked the same as a normal woman's vagina, or if they were somehow different. Jed with a vagina now - that was a crazy thought.

He let his thoughts of Jenna wander to how she had once lived in this very room, and slept in this same bed. She'd been naked in here plenty of times, he was sure. He wondered if Jenna still liked to sleep in the nude the way Jed had. Or if going on a mission had somehow changed that. He thought again about the bra she had been wearing and taken off without removing her t-shirt first. Jed wearing a bra and panties - that was another crazy thought.

Between thoughts of Jenna, and the steady thumping from the room next door, and his memories of when he and Jed had been lovers, Lucas soon brought himself to orgasm, spewing semen all over the sheets where Jenna had once slept.

Satisfied, he drifted off to sleep. The sounds from the room next door had subsided. She'll be back, he thought. She probably just needs some time to cool off. She'd probably just gotten scared. Or shy. Yeah, that was it. That's why she was reluctant to let anyone see her nude now. Next time he got the chance, he'd let her know it was okay, that he'd be happy with her no matter what she looked like. He was bisexual, after all; he couldn't imagine being bothered too much by anything.

And he'd... He'd even ask her on a date. That's probably what she wanted now. Face it, he thought, Jenna's different from Jed. Jed had been willing to take the top role during sex. He probably wouldn't be able to do that with Jenna anymore. Assuming he hadn't already blown it with her. When was the next rehearsal? Tuesday? This was Friday. That was four days. Was that too long? No, she probably needed some time to cool off and collect her thoughts.

Weren't tranny girls always having issues like that? About one thing or another? It was probably the hormones, he guessed. It made them act crazy sometimes. He'd give her a few days to collect her thoughts, then start treating her different. Like a real girl. That's obviously what she wanted. He'd just... It had been hard for him to make that adjustment. It was like he was giving in, letting Jenna take over completely. It felt like he was betraying Jed, in a way. Accepting Jenna meant betraying Jed. Was he really that loyal? Maybe. Or maybe he was just confused. Hadn't it been Jenna who was betraying Jed and him? He didn't know. All he knew is it hurt his head to think about it.

He turned over and tried not to think about the cute boy he'd once known and the cute girl that boy had decided to become. He'd see the girl on Tuesday; he'd figure out what to do about it then.

* * * * *

Jenna wasn't at rehearsal on Tuesday. Nobody had heard from her. "I don't know," said Katon. "Usually she calls if she's not coming and lets someone know. Christina? Have you heard anything from Jenna?"

"No, sorry," she replied.

"I know she gets hung up at work sometimes, and doesn't usually call for that, but never for more than like half an hour."

"I'll stop by Burke's on my way home and see if she's there working late," offered Lucas.

She wasn't there. "Hasn't been here all week," said Burke, looking more than a little put out. "She came in Saturday. Did her usual shift. Didn't say much when she left. Seemed to have something or other on her mind. She gets that way sometimes, you know. Kind of moody. I figure those times it's probably just that time of the month for her. You know?"

"Yeah, I know," agreed Lucas, not wanting to mention that Jenna was transgendered and therefore not subject to that-time-of-the-month issues. Or was she? He didn't think so, but what did he really know about it? "She's the same way with me," he added.

He suspected that Burke was put out for a couple of reasons, only one of which was the fact that he needed to fill in on Jenna's work hours. More likely, he thought, he was probably missing Jenna's blow jobs. He was pretty sure that's all he was getting from her. Lucas would have had a hard time believing she did anything more than that with him. For that matter, she'd never admitted to the blow jobs or anything else of a sexual nature with her boss. But there were the frequent after-hours delays. What else would it be? And now Burke was missing that, along with the work she did.

Next he decided to try stopping by her Aunt and Uncle's place. That's where she was staying now, of course, now that he was staying with Katon. But since it was already late, he decided to wait until the next morning, stopping by there on his way to the studio.

Aunt Nan answered the door and seemed surprised when he asked about Jenna. "Jenna? She didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"She left here Sunday; went back to Utah. I thought she would have told you. She said she planned to spend Thanksgiving with her parents."

"No, she didn't say anything," Lucas replied, feeling the familiar hurt rising up again. It was classic Jenna - making decisions and acting on them without bothering to ask anyone else for their opinion or even tell them what she was doing. He turned on the front porch and looked out at his car, a '93 Lexus, trying to control his hurt, anger and disappointment, still not completely sure which feeling he felt the strongest at that moment.

"Did she say when she would be back?" he asked at length.

He could hear the hesitation in Nan's voice. What Lucas didn't know, Jenna might want to keep secret. She didn't really feel like getting in the middle of anything. "She didn't say. She only mentioned Thanksgiving. I expect she'll be back some time after that. She left a few things here so I imagine she plans on coming back."

Thanksgiving was still a week away. It seemed like forever to Lucas. "So you think she'll be back after Thanksgiving?" he repeated.

"Or possibly Christmas or New Year's," said Nan. She felt sorry for the young man on her doorstep. He obviously had been expecting something else. And Jenna could obviously have handled the situation better than she had, but she hadn't, and that left her trying to patch things up on the fly. It wasn't something she liked doing, but she could handle it. It wasn't the first time she'd had to do it. She watched the bewildered young man for a moment before making a decision. "Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving this year, Lucas?"

Distracted, Lucas replied, "The usual, I guess. Nothing really." With no family nearby other than his uncle, Thanksgiving usually involved little more than watching football games on TV and then going out to dinner at Shoney's or something.

"Well, why dont you come here then? If you want. Jack and I were hoping to have Jenna with us this year, but now she's gone, so it'll just be the two of us. We'd love to have company."

Lucas hesitated. Aunt Nan's Thanksgiving dinners were almost as legendary as her chicken pot pie.

"You can bring your uncle, too, if he wants to come," she said.

Lucas said he would have to think about it and talk to his uncle first, and that he'd let her know later that evening. As he left, the hurt, anger and disappointment were being slowly crowded out by an unexpected feeling of family and acceptance. Nan had that affect on people.

There really wasn't anything to think about. Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant paled in comparison to what Lucas would describe as the real thing. It filled some need, he guessed, but it always left him feeling more empty than thankful. Now he had the chance to experience a real Thanksgiving dinner with a real family. They'd probably even have a real turkey, just like in the movies. Probably? Without question.

Already he could feel that empty feeling he usually associated with Thanksgiving being filled up with something he'd never imagined hed been missing - family. Jenna's family, to be sure, but somehow it still felt like it could be his, too, in a way. If he handled things right. The only question, the only thing there really was to think about, was his uncle. Would he want to go with him? And if not, which was more important? Being with his uncle that day? Or spending it with Jenna's family?

In the end, it was a simple decision. Uncle Leland said yes, he'd like to go. Lucas called back and let Jenna's aunt know they'd both be there.

Something had changed for Lucas. It's hard to say just what it was, and even harder to say exactly when. Somewhere between Jenna getting mad and leaving and the pumpkin pie on Thursday almost two weeks later. He still hadn't heard a word from Jenna. At least not directly. He knew where she was. He knew she'd gotten to Utah safely and was spending the Thanksgiving holiday with her parents and the rest of their family.

That was something he really had to admire Jenna for. Her courage to face that. It took courage to meet people who had known her for years - all her life really - as Jed, and ask them to start accepting her as Jenna, a woman. These were people who believed gender was divinely appointed - not something you went around choosing, based on your mood. These were people who very likely felt she was making an immoral decision by presenting herself as female. Lucas knew it couldn't be easy for her, facing all those people. He wished he could be there for her. He knew he should be there for her. For some reason that suddenly occurred to him, that he owed that to her. That he was letting her down by not being there.

But all he could do for now was wait. Wait for her to return.

Thanksgiving was close to being a disaster. Close as in everyone involved could see how perilously close they were to having an extremely awkward situation at a time when everyone was supposed to be happy and comfortable. Everyone but Nan. Somehow she made it all work out. She made everyone feel totally at ease. She somehow made Lucas feel close to Jenna, despite the fact that she was nearly two thousand miles away and still not talking to him. She completely defeated the awkwardness that should have been there between her and Uncle Leland and Jenna's uncle J. Having an old boyfriend come visit - someone you haven't seen in years - was just inviting trouble. But Nan made it work. She made it seem like the most natural thing in the world.

Oh, and the food was amazing.

On top of that was the awkwardness of a father-figure, Uncle J, meeting the man who wants to take his daughter away. Of course Jenna wasn't really his daughter, but no one could doubt that the same feelings were there. But somehow Nan smoothed that over, too. He was "the boyfriend," he realized, at some point. Not a boyfriend, but THE boyfriend. The one everyone knew was going to stick around for a while. The one who somehow became another member of the family.

Watching his uncle, and knowing the history between him and Nan, Lucas felt sorry for him. Uncle J was enjoying what he'd passed up. Passed up by not making an effort to hold on to the woman he loved. And his whole life had probably been less fulfilling than it would have been otherwise. On the other hand, Uncle J seemed as content as a man could be. Sitting there at the head of the table, with his devoted and loving wife granting his every wish, before he could even think to wish it, life for Uncle J was good. Very good.

Lucas decided he wanted that same thing. With Jenna.

* * * * *

November quickly became December, and soon it was Christmas. And still there was no word on Jenna's return. "Maybe next week," he kept hearing from her aunt and uncle.

And each Sunday, Lucas was over to visit, enjoying Aunt Nan's delicious Sunday dinners. "We try to keep it simple," said Uncle J one day, as he pushed his large belly back from the table. "I hate seeing Nan work too hard on the Sabbath. But at the same time, it seems like Sunday should be special, and I'm afraid that means eating like this, if we can."

"It's no trouble," assured Nan. "I just pop a roast in the cooker before church and it's ready by the time we get home." Lucas knew there was more to it than she made it sound.

"Well, I really do appreciate you inviting me over each week," he said. "I know I've never eaten this well any place else." He recalled Jenna's worries about her waistline slowly expanding if she lived with her aunt, finally understanding just how hard that decision must have been for her. "And I appreciate you keeping me up to date with Jenna. Do you think she'll be back after Christmas then?" He wasn't sure he could wait that long. And what if she never came back at all?

"Unless she decides to stay for New Year's, too," said Uncle J.

New Year's resolutions. Lucas had never exactly been inclined to make a lot of them. If ever he did, he was usually just as inclined to break them. They seemed like a sure way to make yourself feel guilty about something you're doing or not doing. But January 2009 seemed like a good time to resolve to do everything he could to get Jenna back into his life. As enjoyable as those Sunday dinners were, he was getting tired of waiting. If Jenna wouldn't come to him, then he was going to go to her.

Three days after Christmas, when it became clear that Jenna still wasn't ready to come back, he made up his mind. He'd take a few days off work, drive out to Provo, find Jenna, tell her he loved her and tell her just how much he wanted her to be in his life from now on. It would be romantic. Who knew? It might even be snowing when he said it.

He planned on making the trip in two days. That would get him there the day before New Year's Eve. With a little luck, he'd be kissing Jenna at the stroke of midnight when the New Year came in.

Fate rears its ugly head.

Poor fate. Why does fate have to be described as having an ugly head? I mean, I've known some attractive people - pretty heads - who are capable of doing some pretty mean things. So... how 'bout Fate intervenes instead? Doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? Okay then, ugly head it is. I guess to distinguish it from fate's better side, the attractive side. The side we see when fate delivers good fortune to us. Fate rears its attractive head, in that case.

But not in this case. At least not for Lucas and his plans to be there on Tuesday, the 30th day of December. He got there, instead, on Wednesday, New Year's Eve.

It wasn't quite Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the movie with Steve Martin and John Candy, where their two characters get stranded and rerouted because of weather-related issues, turning their short flight to Chicago into a travel nightmare, but it was at least close. Partly because the only means of transportation involved, in Lucas's case, was an automobile. A 1993 Lexus. A car just as old, coincidentally, as Jenna and Lucas's relationship.

The Lexus wasn't in that bad of shape; it just needed a little extra attention. Like light pressure on the accelerator and a firm foot on the brake at stop lights to keep the engine from stalling. Like compression issues that made avoiding hills a near imperative. Avoiding hills as you travel through the Rockies is... Well, let's admit it. It's impossible.

I once went on a backpacking trip in the Rocky Mountains with a scout group. At some point we ran into some seasoned travelers riding on horseback. Said they, when we commented that the hike, despite being mostly uphill going in, would be mostly downhill when we returned, "Boys, there ain't no such thing as downhill in this country."

Turns out they were right. And no, I have no scientific explanation for that.

Lucas was learning the same thing. After getting a late start on Tuesday - later than he wanted thanks to a dead battery that morning that required him to replace the car's alternator, stranding him in West Kansas until well after lunch - it was dark by the time he started climbing the first of what were to be many more hills west of Denver. Perhaps if he'd taken the more northerly route, through Laramie, he might have made it. The weather was cooperative enough; although a potential blizzard on the plains of Laramie isn't anything to look forward to.

The old Lexus chugged dutifully up the first hill. It chugged begrudgingly up the next. By the time Lucas found himself being passed by slow-moving semis on the third hill, he figured it might be time to stop and wait for daylight.

On Wednesday, after more hills and a minor navigation error that had him going west on I-70 for about fifty miles after missing his turn onto Highway 6 going toward Price, he finally made it into Provo. With an hour or two of daylight to spare.

The final difficulty came in Provo itself, when he spent more than an hour trying to find an address that kept proving to be non-existent. It wasn't until he finally decided to stop and ask directions, as he was refueling, that the gas station attendant pointed out the 3668 East address he was looking for was actually on the other side of town, the east side, and that this was the west side of town. The same attendant assured him it was only a ten-minute drive, so, determined to get there as quickly as possible, he got back in his car and kept going.

It might have been ten minutes if he'd known about the detour that took him west again and eventually deposited him back on the freeway headed south. By the time he got turned around and found his way back to the east side of town, it was nearly an hour later, and well past dark. with very few house numbers visible thanks to the recent snowstorm, it was past seven o'clock by the time he found the King residence.

Fate's ugly head.

Lucas took a deep breath. The King residence. Of course he'd met Brother and Sister King. Once. In Mayville, twelve years before when they'd come for Jed's high school graduation. And shortly after that they had taken Jed away, back with them to live in Provo. It still made him unhappy whenever he thought about that. Kind of as if they'd stolen away the best friend he'd ever had.

He'd missed seeing them a few months previous, when Brother and Sister King had come to Mayville to see Jenna after having been missionaries in Mongolia for two years. But again, almost no sooner had they come than Jenna was packing her bags and moving back to Utah with them. It wasn't that he disliked Jed's parents; it's just that they seemed to keep taking Jed/Jenna away from him.

He took another deep breath. This was it. He was going to go in and show Jenna just how determined he was to be with her. With his confidence temporarily bolstered, he crunched across the unshoveled sidewalk to the Kings' front door and rang the doorbell.

Sister King answered. "Yes?"

She looked older than he remembered. Twelve years will do that to a person. She didn't remember him either.

"Uh, hello. I'm Lucas Mysinger, a friend of Jenna's from Mayville. Is she home?"

"Oh, Lucas. I didn't recognize you." She pulled the door open wider. "Come in."

He stepped inside, wiping his feet on the new rug. So this was the home Jed grew up in. It was big, but not as big as he'd imagined. He'd expected the owner of a car dealership to live in a much bigger house, but the Kings were apparently the type who believed in living beneath their means.

Either that or the car business wasn't doing that well. No, he'd seen the billboards for King Motors driving in. The recession might be hurting people financially, but it obviously wasn't the reason they were living in his house. The house looked like they'd lived there for years. Even though they'd spent at least two of those years living out of the country. Comfortable was the best way to describe it. Homey. It was the same feeling he got at Aunt Nan's house, but coming at him from a totally different direction.

"Izzy," she called, looking toward the back of the house. "Jenna's friend Lucas is here. Come up and say hello."

There were signs of movement from the other room, and then Izaiah King, Izzy, appeared, wearing a comfortable looking sweater over a white button-down shirt. Blessedly, he wasn't wearing a tie. "Mister Mysinger," said Brother King, sticking out his hand. "Happy New Year. What brings you to our house this time of year?"

Okay, so, if Lucas would have thought about it for a minute, he would have realized that wasn't a good sign. He'd just spent three days traveling to get there. It should have been obvious why he was there. He shook Brother King's hand and asked, "I'm actually here to see Jenna. Is she around?"

Brother King's look hardened slightly, taking on that threatening look fathers instinctively have when they feel they have to protect their daughters from ravenous wolves like Lucas. It was the same look he'd fleetingly noticed at Thanksgiving from Uncle J, the one that Aunt Nan had skillfully subdued, only in this case it was more pronounced and a little more appropriate. "Jenna?" he asked rhetorically, glancing at his wife. "Where did Jenna go tonight?"

"I think she went with Wally to a YSA dance," she said. "I don't think she'll be back till after midnight. Seeing as how this is New Year's Eve." Her tone was vaguely apologetic.

Izzy King's face brightened noticeably at the mention of Wally. Lucas tried not to show his disgust. Why was Jenna going out with some guy named Wally?

He backed toward the door, suddenly very anxious to leave. "Oh, umm, okay. Can you tell her I came by?" he stumbled over the words, suddenly feeling incredibly foolish.

"We'll be sure to let her know," said Brother King, stepping forward and looking every bit as eager to see Lucas leave as Lucas was to be doing so.

And maybe that's what made Lucas stop. He'd just driven 1900 miles in a fifteen-year-old car to find Jenna. He wasn't going to give up without making at least some kind of effort. "Would you happen to know where that dance is being held?" he asked. "I don't really have any plans for New Years'. I was kind of hoping to do something with her."

Sister King looked puzzled as she glanced at Brother King, who looked slightly defeated at not being able to easily rush Lucas out the door. "I don't think it's over at the stake center," she said. "It's probably on campus somewhere. I'm afraid I couldn't tell you where."

The thought of searching the BYU campus for a New Year's Eve Dance, where Jenna might, or might not, be with some guy named Wally, didn't sound especially appealing to him. He decided he'd take his chances on the stake center. "Can you tell me where the stake center is?" he asked hopefully.

Sister King opened the door and stepped onto the porch with him. Pointing she said, "Go back to the road, turn left, then right at the next street. Go down... How far would you say, Izzy? A half mile? Then left again. It's right there on the left."

"More like a quarter mile," corrected her husband. "You can't miss it."

It's a proven fact that any directions that end with the phrase "you can't miss it," are virtually guaranteed to be incomprehensible and useless. From Jed's description of the number and proximity of LDS churches in Provo, Utah, Lucas knew he could easily miss a single turn in Sister King's directions and end up two or three stake centers away from the one he intended to go to. "Thank you," he said, deciding he'd just stake out the King house instead and wait for Jenna to come back.

But first that meant a nap. A nap was somewhat risky, because there was always the chance she could come home early, but he was willing to take that chance. And before that he really needed to use the bathroom.

* * * * *

Walter (Wally) Xavier Yorkman. Medium height. Husky build. Short, red hair. Witty and fun-loving. Nice looking. Attractive. He lived just two houses down from the Kings. Her father, Izzy King, thought the world of him. Jenna thought of him as her replacement, making up for the son her father had lost now that she'd decided to become the daughter he'd never had. Best of all, Wally was a University of Utah graduate and a fan of his alma mater. In BYU-centric Provo, the rare Utah fans had to stick together.

And he had a job, too. As a high school football coach. In short, he was the perfect catch. With maybe the exception of the husky part. But, seriously, a lot of that was muscle. No, really. He was a good catch for a Mormon girl, that is. See, he was also a returned missionary, and Jenna, unfortunately, was an excommunicated transgender female, and therefore totally wrong and totally off limits to someone like Wally, who had grown up planning to get married in the LDS temple. Temple weddings are for members in good standing only. Of course, even if she'd been born female, and hadn't been excommunicated, and was still unmarried - a long shot in Provo where women tend to marry at a relatively young age - she still thought of Wally as more of brother than a potential lover, so it still would never have worked out.

That didn't mean they couldn't go do the New Year's Eve dance together. Provided Wally wasn't involved with anyone, which he wasn't. For Jenna, it was the first real date she'd ever been on as a girl. Wally was patient with her, helping her learn how to dance from the other side. It was still kind of like dating your brother, but with no one else to be with at the time, she wasn't complaining.

She recognized Lucas's old Lexus as soon as she saw it. And unless she was mistaken, that was him sitting at the wheel, trying not to look like he was waiting for them. Trying not to look like he was freezing to death. She smiled. So he'd finally come looking for her. That's what she'd really wanted from him all along.

Wally parked the car and Jenna reached over to stop him from getting out. "See that car over there?" she asked.

Wally looked in his rear-view mirror. "Y-Yeah, w-what about it?" Wally had a slight stuttering problem, by the way.

"That's my boyfriend's car. From Tennessee. He's watching us."

"Is he, is he v-violent?" Wally looked less concerned than his question indicated.

"Probably not," said Jenna. "He's a sweetheart really."

"Did you kn-kn-know he was going to b-be here?"

"No. We sort of broke up just before Thanksgiving. That's why I came back to Utah. I guess he wanted to come find me."

"Either that or he b-brought you your Ch-Christmas p-present," he joked.

Jenna was quiet a moment, thinking. "Want to help me make him jealous?"

"N-Not really," Wally admitted. "W-What do I h-have to do? Is there any ch-chance it's going to get me sh-shot?"

Jenna grinned. "I told you he's a sweetheart. If he tries to shoot you, I'll jump in front of you and protect you. I know he won't shoot me. He once beat a guy up for me."

"B-Beat a guy up? Really? He s-sounds v-violent."

"Well, sort of. The other guy was drunk and didn't fight back. It wasn't much of a fight."

Wally, innocent Wally, gazed at Jenna in surprise, wondering just how wild her life must be outside of Utah and the LDS church. "I g-guess that's f-flattering, having a guy f-fight for you."

Jenna grinned again. "Yeah, it was. But... He never really did much other than that, and then... I just decided I needed to get away for a while. So now I'm flattered he came here to find me."

Wally nodded. "O-okay, so what do I h-have to d-do?"

Jenna looked at him for a moment, measuring his ability to follow her request. "You were okay dancing with me. Right?"

Wally looked confused. "Y-yeah, why w-wouldn't I be?"

"Well, I'm not exactly someone you can have as your girlfriend, so... I just needed to make sure."

"Oh, right," Wally nodded, understanding.

"But I need you to do one more thing that might kind of push that boundary a little."

"Y-you want him to see you k-kissing another guy?" Wally asked, figuring it out.

Did I mention Wally was a good sport? Kind of in the way Jenna wasn't, when she left the card game feeling hurt more than a month before. As a quasi-member of the family, Wally, of course, knew all about Jenna's gender status. He knew he was dating a former guy. That didn't bother him. Well, other than the fact that it made Jenna someone he could never get serious about to begin with. But she looked like a girl, and if he hadn't known otherwise, he probably would never have guessed.

So when Jenna asked him if he'd be willing to help her a little by getting her boyfriend across the street something to get excited about, he agreed. Okay, he was just a bit curious what it might be like to kiss a transgender female. Just a bit.

"It doesn't have to mean anything," Jenna assured him. "I just want to make him jealous. He doesn't know about you."

"Un-n-less he's been in t-talking with your p-parents," warned Wally.

"Well, yeah, there's that. But... Will you do it? For me?"

Wally was grinning mischievously as he slowly replied. "I d-don't know, Jenna. W-what if someone w-were to see us? They m-might think I l-like girls like you."

"It could harm your reputation," she added. "The bishop might be calling you in next week to ask you if you're gay."

Wally laughed. "He'd just a-add it to the list of p-possible reasons I'm n-not married yet."

Jenna laughed. "I had a bishop ask me once why I wasn't married. I guess I should have told him then I just hadn't found the right guy yet. That would have given him something to think about."

Wally laughed. "And th-then you could have told him y-you were s-still working on being the r-right girl." Jenna laughed too, It felt good to be with someone who could see humor in her situation.

"So, will you? It doesn't have to be tongues or anything."

Wally acted disappointed. "I was k-kind of hoping for at least a l-little tongue," he teased.

"Better not tease me," she warned. "I might think you're serious." By the look she was giving him, Wally knew she meant it.

"Y-yeah, I can add k-kissing to one of the services I'm providing on this date," he said.

"Thanks. And it has to be where he's sure to see. Okay?"

"H-how about I walk you to your front door and k-kiss you on the f-front porch? The l-light's on. That'll m-make it easy for h-him to see."

"Too risky. My parents might be watching. Plus someone else might see." Jenna was thinking now of Wally's reputation in the neighborhood. As well-meaning as they might be, her church membership status made her something of a social pariah with some of her parents' less tolerant neighbors. It wouldn't be good for him to be seen in a liplock with her.

"I don't care what anyone th-thinks," he insisted. "If I did, I w-wouldn't have gone to the dance with you, Jenna. But I did."

"I know. And thanks. "But... " She was turning around to study the terrain between Wally's driveway and her front porch. "Okay, there's a streetlight there by the mailbox. We'll do it there. That way Lucas will get a good view, and my parents won't be able to see. And probably there's nobody else around watching us right now." She gave his hand a squeeze, silently thanking him for his help, for his patience, and for his understanding.

The kiss was somewhere slightly beyond sweet, chaste and innocent. Jenna was surprised. She had expected a quick peck. Instead she got a long, close-lipped smack and a tight embrace. At one point she almost slipped, and started to open her mouth, but immediately thought better of it and kept her lips together.

The accompanying embrace didn't end with the kiss, however. He continued to hold her close, causing Jenna to wonder if he was possibly enjoying the feel of her breasts. "What's he doing?" she asked, since her back was toward Lucas.

"Uh, n-nothing. He's just s-sitting there," he said.

"I dare you to put your hand on my butt," she said. "I bet that gets him out of the car."

Wally kissed her again, this time letting one hand drift down to caress her bottom lightly.

"I'm n-not sure I should be d-doing that," he said nervously, when their lips parted.

"Sorry. Is he getting out of his car yet?"

Wally's embrace loosened as he pulled away slightly. "Yeah. And I th-think he's got a sh-shotgun."

"Seriously?"

"N-no. But... You're s-sure he's not v-violent?"

"No." He let her go as she pulled away and turned to face the approaching figure.

* * * * *

Lucas had no idea what he planned on doing as he crossed the street. All he knew was that someone named Wally had just kissed Jenna was now fondling her ass, and that he really hated this guy. Or at least he was extremely jealous. Nobody said anything until Lucas stopped about eight feet away, slowly clenching his hands into fists.

"Hi Lucas," Jenna said as casually as if they'd just met at band rehearsal in Mayville. "Happy New Year."

Jenna's greeting gave him the opportunity to ignore Wally for the moment. He looked at her, still unable to think of anything intelligent to say. He thought once he saw her it would be simple, that it would just feel natural, but it wasn't. Instead he felt foolish. Foolish for having just travelled 1900 miles only to stand in the street with nothing to say. "Happy New Year," he mumbled.

There was awkward silence for a while, then Jenna said, "Wally, this is Lucas. We used to be... friends."

"P-pleased to meet you," said Wally, extending his hand.

Lucas shook his hand, feeling even more foolish. this time for having traveled 1900 miles to see Jenna only to end up shaking hands with her new boyfriend. It would have made more sense to reach over and slug him. Except he couldn't see himself doing that any more than he could figure out what he could say to Jenna.

There was more awkward silence before Lucas finally said, "Can we go somewhere and talk?"

Jenna turned to Wally and quietly thanked him for the date before assuring him she'd be okay with Lucas. Lucas waited until Wally was well out of earshot before suggesting they start walking the other direction.

It was nineteen degrees and clear and neither of them was suitably dressed. Lucas less so than Jenna, who at least had a warm parka to keep her warm. "Mind if we sit in my car and turn on the heater?" he asked. "I'm freezing."

"No, that would be fine," said Jenna softly.

After some more awkward silence, Lucas finally said, "I saw your parents. They told me where you were. I thought about going to look for you, but decided it would be easier to just wait here."

"Sorry," she said. "Did they tell you I was with Wally?"

"Yes. Your dad really likes him; I could tell. I don't think he's as fond of me."

Jenna laughed. "I think he thinks you're partly responsible for the way I turned out."

"Am I?"

"Maybe in a way. No. I think if you had your way, I'd still be a boy."

Lucas was silent for a minute as that thought hung between them. "Jenna, I'm really okay with that. I mean, I guess that's why I'm here. I realized something. That I wasn't that happy without you, and if... I am bisexual, you know. So... If that's what it takes to have you stay in my life, then I'm okay with it. Really. Honestly."

Lucas's words came in a torrent of mixed-up emotions, leaving Jenna with no thoughts on what to say in response. In response to her silence, Lucas decided to keep talking. "I saw your aunt and uncle, too. They had me over for Thanksgiving and then again on Sundays until Christmas. I've never had a real family like that. It felt good. Warm and comfortable. I can see why your family means so much to you."

"Yeah, they told me you were there," she said softly.

Lucas took a deep breath, preparing to reveal his feelings to Jenna. "I made up my mind there that I wanted that too. With you."

Jenna glanced at Lucas, not sure what he was saying. It almost sounded as if he was about to propose.

He was. And I might point out here that of all the people involved in this particular proposal, Lucas was the last one to realize it. Turning to Jenna and taking her hand, he asked, "Jenna, will you marry me?"

Sadly, there was no lightly falling snow nor violins playing in the background. It was just cold outside, but warm there in Lucas's old Lexus, with the fogging up windows. Lucas swears there was a halo around Jenna, which may have been due to condensation on the car windows refracting light from the nearby streetlamp, but who's to say?

And Jenna was smiling. And crying. And shaking her head. "No."

Of all the possible answers to a proposal, there's really only one acceptable one, and "no" isn't it. Lucas felt even more foolish now than he had when he'd been standing in the middle of the street shaking Wally's hand. "What do you mean, no?!"

All those feelings of confusion and anger and hurt started flooding back. Why had he wasted all his time trying to find Jenna only to hear her say no? Maybe whoever had suggested to him that all tgirls were crazy was right. They're too wrapped up in themselves to ever do the right thing.

He was just getting ready to tell her to get out of his car so he could angrily rev up his engine and screech away without ever looking back, when Jenna explained through a mix of tears and laughter. "Lucas, I can't... We can't. I'm not... I'm not... Lucas, I'm not a real girl."

"What difference does that make? I know you weren't born that way, but they're changing it. Right? Doesn't that make it okay? Or does your religion say you can't change? I thought you were excommunicated."

"I am," she said. "I mean excommunicated. And I'm changing, but not all the changes are done yet that would have to be done for us to actually get married." she paused for a moment before adding, "And maybe, I'm not sure, maybe never will be."

Lucas took a moment to process what she was saying, "Oh, you mean you still have a...?"

"Yes."

"Oh. so you could...? If we wanted?"

"Yes," said Jenna with a blush. "Maybe. It, uh, doesn't get as big or as hard as it used to. But, for you, I might go ahead and keep it."

"So then, if we can't get married, could we just live in sin together?" asked Lucas, hopefully. Sheepishly. "I don't like the idea of going back to Mayville without you."

Jenna laughed.

"Eh?" said Lucas with a cocked eyebrow.

"Where would we live?" asked Jenna, also hopeful.

"Something will come up," assured Lucas.