|For an Uninterrupted Date
Author: frogs of war PM
Diemen really likes Pavel, and he thinks Pavel probably likes him back, so he wants to spend time with him, but the world seems to be conspiring against him. Stand alone from Balance of Harmonies universe (They were at Zan's party in chapter 17)Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Family - Chapters: 10 - Words: 15,437 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 01-29-13 - Published: 01-16-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3092646
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The traffic was even worse than before, but that was to be expected on a Friday afternoon. Courtney and her husband lived in a tiny, probably rented, house further into the suburbs than Diemen. Amelia was particularly ecstatic to see Em. They ran off into the house. Courtney invited Diemen inside and asked lots of questions about how Em had acted and whether that was normal and how people got on with nem. Diemen told the total truth. "Everyone that met Em loved nem."
Then he sat over tea and explained gender neutral pronouns to the best of his ability and why using them with Em was a good idea. He could tell that Courtney really wanted to be comfortable with them, but she wasn't. She'd need time.
"But was he happy?"
She sighed. "I'm asking because… Are you sure?"
"Ne gets overwhelmed when ne gets too much attention all at once, but a little alone time and ne's right as rain. Why?"
"It's just…" she leaned forward. "Amelia started school this week. Kindergarten. In her class is the boy down the street. He used to be happy. He wore his hair long and sometimes he wore dresses him mom picked up at garage sales and everyone just smiled. That's why I knew no one would say anything when Emmet became Emma. We…I thought Amelia just wanted a brother like Mikey. I thought Emmet would grow out of it. This was just a stage and when school started we'd cut his hair and toss out all the girls' clothes and that would be that."
Tears shone from Courtney's eyes. She grabbed a napkin and wiped them away. Then she blew out a deep breath. "But that's not what happening at the Johnson house. Mikey screamed when his hair was cut and he cried through his first day of school on Wednesday. His mother made him go yesterday, but when she checked on him in his bath last evening, he was covered in scratches. Of course she freaked out, but when she finally calmed down enough to calm him down, she found out that he did them to himself. And this morning he said he'll kill himself if they made him go back — I mean, what kind of five year old wants to die? She's a good mother, no worse than I am, at least. What if my baby says the same thing?" She took a deep breath. "So understandably, she kept him home today."
Diemen stood up. "Where do they live?"
Courtney called for Amelia. She came out with Em in matching outfits. Courtney didn't seem to notice. "We are going to Mikey's house."
"Yippy." Amelia danced around a chair. "He has the best dresses." She frowned. "But he didn't come to school today."
Diemen nodded. "That's why we are going to see him."
"Good, Good. Isn't that good, Emma?"
Em nodded. The kids each took one of Diemen's hands and he followed Courtney across the street and down two houses. She knocked on the screen door. The front door was open. A dark haired woman with red rings around her eyes smiled. "Courtney. So good to see you."
"Barbara, this is my cousin Logan Van Diemen I told you about. He took Emmet for the week."
Diemen shook Barbara's hand. "Nice to meet you."
"And you." Barbara was well dressed without looking like she was trying too hard and her house was neat and clean, but still looked lived in.
Courtney caught Amelia on the way down the hall. "Logan here is good with kids, and remember how I told you he played with my dolls? I feel better after a few days break. Maybe Logan can give you a break too, and Mikey can start school fresh on Monday."
Barbara pressed her lips together.
Diemen held up a hand. "Can I talk to him?"
Barbara nodded and pointed down the hall. Amelia skipped the way to a door, but it was closed with something against it so it wouldn't open.
"He hasn't eaten anything today. I can't get him to come out or even let me in. I'm worried he's going to do something. You know he threatened…" Barbara looked at Amelia and Em. "…to hurt himself. Please see if you can get him to open his door. Or say something. I have to know he's all right."
She wiped tears from her eyes.
"Mommy," asked Amelia. "Why is—"
Courtney picked Amelia up. "Let's play outside."
Em lifted his arms for a hug from Diemen then followed nir mother and sister down the hall. Diemen got down on his knees. "Hello."
This was probably going to take a while. "Hello. My name is Diemen. I heard you have the prettiest dresses around."
A sob came from behind the door. Another came from the hall. Barbara turned her head away.
"I wanted to see you all dressed up."
A small child screamed. "You can't!" sob "No one ever can again." Sob "She threw them away. All my pretty dresses." Many sobs. "My dresses. And my hair. She cut my hair. She wants me to be a boy." Another scream. "I'm not a boy. I wish they'd cut this off too. Come off! Just come off!"
Then the child lets out an angry scream. Diemen met Barbara's eye and pushed open the door. A child wrapped in a sheet and wearing nothing else except tears scrambled from behind the door. "It won't come off. Maybe with scissors."
Diemen dove across the room and scooped up the child. "That might hurt."
"I don't care," said the sad little cherub. "Once it's gone I'll be a girl again."
Barbara covered her mouth with her hand, but her eyes were streaming tears.
"May I get some new dresses?"
"Anything," Barbara cried. "Anything. I hurt my baby. I'm not fit to be his mother."
Courtney patted Barbara's back. "Come to my house and we can have some tea. Logan will bring Mikey by in a bit."
She looked at Diemen. He nodded.
Once the sound of Barbara's weeping faded, the cherub got off Diemen's lap. "Who are you?"
Diemen held out his hand. "Call me Diemen. Who are you?"
"My name is Lily-Rose Marigold Petal Johnson, but you can call me Goldie. I'm five years old." Goldie held out her open hand. Her sheet slipped. Diemen gritted his teeth. Someone was going to have to look at those scratch marks.
"Well, Goldie. I'm going to call my friend if you don't mind."
"Who is your friend?"
"My friends have the best taste in dresses. Maybe they can buy you one."
Goldie's eyes brightened. "And panties?"
Diemen nodded and dialed Autumn. Zan answered. She was in the middle of a laugh. Diemen cut her off before she could say anything. "Emergency code Goldie. I've got a five year old here in desperate need of fashion advice."
"Then I'll pass the phone to the expert."
A second later Autumn asked, "Is something wrong?"
"I need something as quickly as I can to cover a girl child for her not-girlish-enough-for-her body."
Goldie gave him a funny look.
How to say this without hurting Goldie's feeling, but getting the entire desperateness across? "Remember that little girl you told me about last time I was over? Emil's new little sister? Like that but threatening bodily harm. I need a dress and panties pronto."
"Can do. Where are you? I'm going to pass the phone to Zan."
Diemen gave Zan Courtney's address. Maybe he should head over there now that Goldie had calmed down. Only would that be good for Goldie? And for her mother? Maybe Barbara needed a break too.
Diemen leaned against the wall. If Barbara tossed Goldie's dresses, did she do the same for her dolls? The poor child. But he needed something to keep the girl busy until Autumn and Zan arrived. "Goldie, do you watch movies?"
"Yes! I love princess movies!"
"Which ones do you like?"
Goldie chattered about her favorites and why she liked them and which parts she didn't like, but how despite the problems why they were still good. Her mother must have had quite the movie library.
Amelia appeared in the doorway. "Goldie, are you coming too? I want Uncle Logan to see my room."
Diemen felt so stupid. Amelia had clothes Goldie could borrow. Probably.
He stood up, tucked the sheet around Goldie more securely, and lifted her up. Goldie screamed and beat against his chest. He set her back on the floor. She scuttled away from him. Amelia opened her eyes wide. "What's wrong, Goldie? Do you have an owie?"
Goldie shook her head and continued to sob. Amelia patted Goldie's head. "If you weren't hurt, you wouldn't be crying."
But Goldie refused to talk and Amelia's comforts only made Goldie cry harder. Diemen coxed Amelia away from Goldie. "Amelia, will you go get some clothes Goldie can borrow. I need to talk to her mom."
Amelia laughed. "Goldie is a boy."
"I think for right now Goldie is a girl."
Goldie crossed the room and hid her head against Diemen's shoulder. Diemen rubbed her back. "Can she borrow some of your clothes?"
"Yes." Amelia barely slowed down as she looked both ways to cross the street.
Goldie cuddled closer. "Are you going to let me be a girl?"
He petted her too short hair. "I don't think it's a matter of let."
"Will Mommy let me be a girl?"
Diemen held her close. "That's what we are going across the street to talk about."
He asked her what her favorite toy was. She bit her lip and gave him a long stare. He shrugged. "You don't have to tell me."
"Daddy doesn't like her."
Goldie looked down, out the window, at Diemen, out the door, down the hall, and then in every room. Then she snuck back in her room and closed the door firmly. "Don't tell."
Diemen shook his head.
Goldie stared at him for a moment and then pulled several boxes from under her bed. In the third box, she pulled out several blankets and under the last was a baby doll. She cuddled her baby and kissed her and hugged her tight.
Sounds came from the front room. Goldie's eyes went wide and she hurried to stuff everything back in the box and the boxes under her bed.
Amelia burst through the door with panties and a sundress, but without shoes. She wanted to help Goldie dress, but Goldie shook her head. Amelia pouted. "I help Emma dress, why can't I help you?"
Diemen spent several minutes convincing Amelia to go home, that they would meet her there. She sulked all the way to the street, but then skipped into her house.
Diemen held up the sheet for Goldie to dress behind. Those scratches really were going to need attention. He called Zan. "While you're out, antibiotic ointment."
"Ouch. What's her favorite color?"
Diemen asked. Goldie answered in vivid detail, but Diemen was unsure what colors baby rose pink and green-like-the-little-leaves-on-the-blue-plant-at-grandma's-house were.
"Pink and green. I think pastels."
"Then we found just the dress. Have you called Pavel?"
No, he hadn't. He had less than an hour to wait for Zan and Autumn to come with the clothes, make sure Goldie would be safe, and get home before Pavel arrived. Diemen took a deep breath. "Let me call you back."
He attempted to call Pavel, but before he hit send, Goldie needed her buttons done up. He got down on his knees and helped her. Then he took her hand and called Pavel, but Goldie refused to step out of the door, even when Diemen offered to carry her. She said she needed to be in the sheet. He sat his phone down and wrapped her up. Diemen finally got everything arranged and the phone back to his ear. This would be one odd voicemail. "Hello?"
"Hello, my darling. Are you having fun without me?"
Diemen gingerly stepped out of the door with the little barnacle of a girl clinging to his neck. He could not see his feet and he didn't want to trip over anything. "I'm having a minor emergency, so I'm going to be a little late."
"Work? I haven't left yet. Something came up as I walked out the door."
That was good. He didn't want to be the only one running late. He looked both ways then stepped into the street. "Family. Sort of."
"I understand. Family can be complicated, but in my experience, they are worth it."
"In this case it's my cousin's neighbor." Diemen walked in Courtney's door.
Barbara looked them over without getting up from the couch. "Mikey, why are you in your sheet? I thought you were going to put a dress on."
Goldie hid her head.
Diemen arranged his grip so he'd have a hand free to rub Goldie's back. "She is in a dress."
"Then why is she in the sheet?"
"But Mommy," said Goldie. "You said I was too old for dresses. That you didn't want to see me in one again. In the sheet, you can't see it."
Barbara covered her mouth, but that didn't stifle her sob. She stood up and held out her hands for Goldie, but Goldie refused to let go of Diemen, no matter how much they coaxed her. Barbara's tears flowed down her face as she hugged herself. Diemen had never seen a person so crushed.
"Darling, I heard a little voice."
Diemen took a breath and arranged the phone so he could speak into it. He could feel the eyes on him. "Goldie is how you were for a year."
Courtney and Barbara both raise their eyebrows at him.
"Pavel, my boyfriend, lived as a girl for a while."
"When I was six."
"He was a little older than Goldie."
"And what is he like now?" asked Courtney.
"Pavel… Pavel is tall and muscular and very handsome."
"Handsome? So he doesn't dress as a woman?"
"Not as far as I know."
"No, but I still like silk against my skin."
Diemen should have splurged for those black sheets. "He says no."
"Why did he stop?" asked Barbara. "Dressing like a girl?"
Diemen asked. "Pavel says that one day he just stopped. But tell me, Barbara, would you love your child any less if she never became Mikey again?"
She shook her head and stared at the floor.
"Is she safe where she is?" Pavel asked.
Diemen remembered the scratches and the threats of self mutilation and suicide. "Barbara, I know you love you child, but can you be sure that Goldie won't carry out her threats?"
Barbara's face blanched. She shook her head again. Then she looked up. "If I give him to you, can you keep him safe? His whole body safe?"
"Mommy!" Goldie held out her arms, but Barbara didn't look up.
"We aren't talking giving up. Just let her stay with me. We can make more permanent plans later, once her wounds heal."
Zan and Autumn arrived. Pavel kissed Diemen goodbye. He was about to get in his car. Diemen stepped away as Goldie oohed and aahed over Autumn's choices. "I love you."
Pavel hummed. "And I will love you later tonight."
Diemen hung up with a smile, but he lost it a moment later. Before Goldie could put on her pink and green ruffly dress, her pink panties, her several layers of pastel petticoats and her white socks and shoes and hat all with pink roses and pale green leaves, Zan said that Goldie's sores had to be dealt with. She had a bag of rubber gloves like doctors used and a tube of medicine.
Barbara and Zan took Goldie into Courtney's room where Goldie screamed as if they were killing her. Courtney took her kids for a walk around the block. Autumn squeezed Diemen's shoulder. "She'll be all right."
But it sure didn't sound that way.
A streak hit Diemen in the hip. He scooped up the poor naked child. Autumn helped Diemen get her clothes on. Zan leaned against the wall. "Nothing was infected, but the sores are going to need to be kept clean. I don't envy you this task."
She handed the tube of ointment to Diemen. He stuck it in his pocket. Keeping Goldie safe and healthy and happy might be difficult, but it was the most important thing he could do.