There are a few reasons I found it easy to be attracted to Ginessa. One, she's hot. I have a thing for exotic-looking women; if you'd ever met Alia, you'd understand. Two, we come from the same world, sort of. We understand a lot about each other on a sort-of intuitive level that is difficult to explain. Inn folk, even when they disagree, have a sort of mutual respect, at least the ones I've met. Lastly, she just seems comfortable being herself, whatever that's supposed to mean. She's very at ease in her skin, not a prim and proper lady, but one who knows how to command a situation if she wants to.
The first time we met, and often in our letters, it felt like Inn stuff was off the table for her, conversationally. In a kind of "methinks the lady protests too much" way, she wanted none of it. Once she got the sense that I was not a judgmental guy, though, I think she eased up on it. I think a lot of it is her defensiveness from being friends with Darren/Jamie, which apparently wasn't always an easy thing to handle ("I can't say too much about her, but she's getting better.")
"I just find it amazing," she told me over beers at my place, "I met you, and you were this woman, and here you are, looking completely different... I have a hard time believing it, but you're so much like I remember. It's more than a little weird."
"Having Bry around sometimes, and the blog, helped me keep track of myself."
"Can I be honest?" she says, "I'm so glad I didn't keep up on the blog. One, I'm not a writer. Two, it feels like I would've just spent the whole time beating myself up over it. Maybe I gave in early, but I'm happy, and I have been for a long time. Well, I'm not always happy, but it has nothing to do with my body."
Eventually, the way conversations go off in tangents, we began to reminisce about the moments we decided to first have sex in a female body. I told her I felt like the Universe was conspiring against me. Hal was getting his vasectomy, Anne-Marie was on my case about it, I was horny as hell. So many different signals seemed to be pointing me in the same direction. She laughed at that one, "Yeah, I know the feeling."
I asked her about her first time. She glossed over the details. I get the sense she doesn't really like talking about it. "It was a mistake. I should have waited. I mean, it was way, way too early. I was not nearly ready for it, and I barely knew the guy." It was not her husband, but it was the only other guy she had sex with. She paused a moment and smirked, "I remember when he whipped out his cock, my eyes popped out of my head, like You want me to do what? And now, heh." 'Nuff said.
We ended up going out for New Year's to a house party at a friend of Bry's and I. I watched from afar as Crystal/Alia was being chatted up by a couple of guys, trying to suppress my overprotective urges. We've had talks, and I should trust her, but I didn't. Something about her just seemed untrustworthy. And all night people kept pointing her out to me and asking if it was awkward to be around her now that "we were done." I told them nothing's ever done.
At the party, I made like Ginny was my date. She was more of a life preserver. There was a very, very attractive girl who seemed interested in me. I told her I was taken and she said it could just be our little secret. Cue Ginny, playing like she was my woman, a jealous type ready to choke a bitch getting too close to me. Bry sat morosely in the corner, and spent a lot more time talking to Crystal/Alia than I did.
At midnight, I kissed Ginny, a polite, lips-sealed grade-school type kiss. Then she got drunk and developed the amusing habit of slapping asses. Also at the party were Erica LaFleur and Sean Flaherty, but Sean has made it clear he doesn't want anything to do with me. Eric was polite enough to acknowledge me at the snack table, which is the least she could do since I impregnated her and all.
Ginny and I left early. The next morning, though, she was waiting for me in the kitchen while Bry was still conked out.
"What's up?" I asked.
With the uncertainty of a woman with a minor hangover and some bad news to tell, she said, "Listen, Todd, I wouldn't be a very good friend if I didn't tell you this, but you know how you were saying Bry had a girlfriend he wasn't introducing you to?"
"Yeah." Two posts ago, but really I'd written it sometime earlier, I wrote 'He's seeing someone, although our hours don't sync up to the point where I've met her yet.'
"Well, I saw her last night. Todd, it's Alia. I mean, Crystal."
"I was trying to get to sleep. They came in at about 4, all over each other. I didn't look, but I heard their voices very clearly."
I sunk into the couch. For a while I didn't know what to say. So I asked, "Is she still here?"
"No, she left early this morning."
Hot with rage, I pounded on Bry's door, something that is strictly an emergency measure. Through the door he cursed me out before relenting and opening. When I saw his face, I didn't have any time to be subtle. I growled, "You're fucking Crystal."
He stopped in his tracks and sputtered, "Buh, wha? What makes you say that?" which is exactly what he says when he's called on his bullshit.
"Ginny saw you two last night." I looked over at her for confirmation, and she glanced away, trying to remove herself from the conflict.
Bry tried to wriggle out of it for a while, stammering things like "Is that all the proof you've got? You don't know the whole story, that's not what it is at all," before finally admitting "Well, okay, so we're... whatever. So what?"
"So what? So what?!" I'm flipping out, "You're fucking her! Do I need to spell it out for you?" I ranted and raved about boundaries and respect and all this other self-righteous stuff.
I couldn't believe Bry didn't see what was wrong with this. But he let me keep going, and when I was out of breath, he put his hands on his head like Dr. Cox, and asked if I was through. I'd thought I'd made my point pretty sufficiently, so I wanted to head what he had to say for himself.
So he says, "She's not Alia, you know."
Pause. I tell him, yeah, I know that.
"So what's the problem? You don't own her. She's not your girlfriend. She's a stranger to you. You've barely spoken to her. She thinks you hate her."
"I don't hate her," I objected.
"Well, I know, but that's what she thinks. We've gotten to know each other. She likes me. I like her. Things happen."
"You crossed a line here," I tell him.
"This is beyond your control, Todd. This is just like with Erica and Sean. That has nothing to do with you, and neither does this. She can be with anyone she wants. And you're lucky -- for fuck's sake, you are damn lucky she chose me and not, like, some stranger who doesn't know the truth. She trusts me."
"And what happens if she gets attached to you, when we have to send her away to Maine, and she doesn't want to go?"
"That's not gonna happen."
"How can you be sure?"
"Because she cares about me, Todd. Because she knows I want to help you get Alia back, and she wouldn't betray me that way. We're all on the same side here. Don't act like I'm betraying you here. It's the opposite."
I was suddenly feeling very overwhelmed. I can't remember the last time I'd felt so "put in my place."
I never thought of myself as someone who needed to control things, but my frustration at the Erica-Sean thing seems like part of this. The universe seems so big and unyielding, I want things I can command, but there's so much beyond me. It doesn't do wonders for my ego.
So I ask him, "Does Alia know about this?" He says no, he wanted to tell me first, because he know she'd end up telling me. We ended up telling her later that day. Her feelings were... mixed, to say the least. She has plenty going on in Rob's life, and she's not terribly comfortable with the idea of Bryan coupling with her body, but... well, you have to admit there's something in Bryan's logic. Whether this was something he came up with before or after his pants were off, I don't know.
It was on the 3rd of January that Ginessa headed home. The weather took a sudden turn for the colder in the New Year and Ginny took that as a sign that it was time to head home.
There's something very appealing about Ginny's life. It's not the one she was born with, but it's hers. She told me that when she was preparing to marry Gavin, she was still an ex-man doing what she had to do to survive, living in temporary solutions. It was afterward that comfort and security came, and something she calls love, when she really stopped being Mark and became Ginessa. For better or worse, she has her life, she makes decisions for herself, she is pretty much in control and doesn't rely on anything supernatural to provide for her. I hope to get back to that place as soon as I can.
But it's a long way away yet, and like I said... sometimes it feels like nothing's ever done. Maybe Ginessa proves that wrong. But I know nothing's done for me, yet.