The week after our dinner with Samantha was "Adrian's" office Christmas party. I never would have thought of Kitty as an office drone but apparently he's taken to it, working in H.R., filling out forms and helping people adhere to policies. I didn't know that much about it beyond that. I've kind of kept it deliberately separate, and I wasn't much looking forward to mingling with his co-workers, since as I said earlier, I don't exactly love being in situations where I don't get to be myself.
But I had promised I would be the Good Wife that night, even if I was still struggling with how to respond to his declaration of love. He knew I needed time to process everything, although I could tell he was eager for me to come down on one side or the other.
I wanted to put in a good effort for that night, so I went out that day and got my nails and hair done (I can look presentable on my own but it takes more capable hands than mine to turn this frizzy mass into something more than "presentable" - to say nothing of the time and effort.) All that was left was the dress - a long dark red sleevless gown that dipped low in the front. I haven't worn anything that refined since my pageant misadventure as Lauren, and this was a whole different matter. I was a little hesitant to put it on and found myself just sitting at the vanity staring at my face in the mirror... trying to find my inner Judith, I guess.
I looked at the Crow's Feet around her eyes, the laugh lines... the one or two chin hairs I needed to pluck. I wondered what the original owner of this body thought about all that. Did she feel old before her time? Or was it nothing to her? She's only 36 for God's sake. But working and raising a kid will put years on you. I wondered about the little soft roll of flab that I inherited just at the hips, the dimples and freckles that I've noticed on my ass.
She's still got some good years left, I can tell... hopefully she wants them.
And what, exactly, does Adrian see when he looks at it? Either of them.
I eventually did put on the dress and attempted to get comfortable in it... not easy when you're crammed into spanx underneath. I also forgot who and where I was for a minute and dropped a bite or two of lasagna into my cleavage during dinner. Embarrassing. I tell you, they're not even that big but the amount of times these things get in the way...
Kitty was impressed. He jaw actually dropped. "You were already beautiful... I've never seen you look so stunning, though." Even though it's not really my body, I did my best to accept the compliment, and I have to admit it felt good to get that reaction.
I was a bit distracted all night, but I was impressed watching Kitty in action. I forgot that around other people he's very warm and personable, easy to make friends. He knew just about everything about all her co-workers and had a ton of inside jokes with them. He was like a different person around them. Charming - I can see "manhood" agreeing with him. Something about being in this position brings out the best in him, and he was laughing all night, which is rare. We even danced. Together. It just about killed my feet in those heels, but we danced quite a bit.
When we got home, I was feeling good so we cuddled up in bed. "Don't get the wrong idea," I told him. "I just really need someone to hold onto right now."
He laughed slightly, "I feel like that sums up our whole relationship." It made me feel warm to joke around with him that way. I wanted to tell him he was being a good sport about my indecision... and that was helping me come in for a landing on it.
We had a lot of talks about how exactly to approach "Christmas," specifically the gift-giving aspect. We don't exactly plan on bringing a lot with us when we leave these bodies. After all, my aim is to become a man again in the long run, so buying clothes for Judith's body, or make-up or jewelry, seemed like a pointless gesture.
"It's not pointless if it makes you happy even for a minute," he said to me. "That's what I really want for Christmas, to make you happy. To see your smile."
"I don't have a smile," I said flatly, aware that my lips were curling even as I said it. "This face only goes in one direction. It's a serious face."
"Not true!" He stepped closer to me - we were in the kitchen at this time. "I've seen you laugh. I've seen you giggle. I've seen you get lost in daydreams, fondly remembering old times..."
"I don't have a lot of fond old times... and I don't giggle."
"Every now and again. It's like.. hehe. I can even tell you get really embarrassed when you do it, too."
"That's not a giggle... it's a titter."
"Don't call it that... that has 'tit' in it and I don't like that word."
I chose to ignore the conversational pivot - was he trying to get me to discuss my anatomy? - and went back to gifts. "I'm not really a gift person anyway. Let's just... I dunno, go on vacation or something."
"I don't think I can get away from work. Besides, we're kind of saving up the vacation days, remember?"
"Pfft, how could I forget... okay, well, you can think of something. Just don't get me a vacuum cleaner or cookware."
"What kind of husband do you think I am? Need I remind you that I've been a wife before!"
"Yeah, you never shut up about it," I smirked - and tittered.
The real problem we were facing was with the Kid. Like Halloween, we wanted to make sure it was a real special year for him. We did splurge a bit on clothes and accessories... I figure if he's privately interested in dressing the part as Olivia, then it might be nice for him to have some clothes that never belonged to the real one.
He first asked for a puppy. I reckon it's something he has asked his parents for year after year and they've always said no. I don't wanna deny the kid anything but we ain't exactly set up for a dog here... in the short term we could take care of it, but are we gonna bring it with us to our next lives? It's too complicated.
His other wish was still a tall order but a bit more do-able. He wanted to see his parents.
You might recall, Dylan's parents, Neil and Susan, wound up as little boys much younger even than Olivia, the children of the O'Rileys, Christine and Martin, who live near Boston. We are in contact with them for regular life updates and asking how Dylan's parents are faring. Turns out they're quiet, well-behaved kids - I guess stuffing an adult lifespan into a 2-and 3-year-old body will do that. There are flashes of clarity to where it's obvious they remember their lives, but either they don't have access to their entire memory or they aren't willing to display it all the time. They're both too young for school and answer to their given names - leading to a few "Boy Named Sue" jokes.
They ask about Dylan often, but don't seem to recognize that the girl in the picture I sent is their boy.
It honestly seems a trifle weirder than what we have to deal with. And we worried that Dylan would be too spooked by seeing what became of his parents. We didn't wanna traumatize him none, but we didn't wanna deny his only other specific Christmas wish.
We had them up for Christmas Eve dinner. We brought Dylan face to face with his parents and... he just wrapped his arms around them. "You guys are okay! It's all gonna be okay! we're gonna get fixed soon, I promise!"
I'm not entirely sure they knew what was going on, but... they seemed happy.
Abbie and Kendra hadn't come alone. They brought with them the original O'Rileys, at least Christine and Martin, who had become a gay couple named Robert and Steven. Handsome guys. My first question was to ask about their kids. It was clearly not a fun story, but it could have been worse: "They became my parents," Martin explained, "An older retired couple. It could have been worse... they get live-in care and we see them every day, and obviously we are all looking forward to putting things right. They understand what's happened to a degree but it took them a long time to come to grips with being bigger and... older."
An uncomfortable, solemn silence followed until Christine noted, "Our oldest never stops asking when he's going to get his 'pee-pee' back." I grinned wryly and said me too.
Kendra explained that the O'Rileys were so invested in getting their lives back that the four had formed a makeshift family - which we were part of by extension. That was very nice to hear. I thought of the rest of my "family" and supposed it included Meg and Carrie and Lauren and Tasha... people I haven't heard from in too long and moss more than the rest of my "real" family.
I admit I observed our guests with interest trying to suss out the relationships, maybe out of curiosity and maybe because I wanted to find some clue for how I wanted to be with Kit. Abbie and Kendra didn't give off more than a platonic partnership that I could see, but by the end of the night Martin and Christine were pretty openly fawning over each other. Martin seemed to acknowledge my interest, saying "I never thought I would go this way, but what can I say? Love is love, and I love this person."
It was honestly very sweet and encouraged me to keep my mind open.
We got Dylan some video games, some Olivia-clothes and a whole bunch of junk food. I got Kitty a tablet, reasoning it was something he could bring from life to life, and some aftershave. He got me some make-up and a Spa Day, pointing out that it was all stuff I could use up before we go back to Maine... but also some clothes and matching set of earrings and necklace, "because I wanted to give them." Outwardly I was thankful, inside I was annoyed he had broken our unofficial pact. I wanted to be touched by the gesture and appreciative though.
Christmas day provided more in-character stress. We did had to see Judith's family again, which meant cooking while Judith's sister Kathy batches about her husband's lack of upward mobility at work. Dylan, who was my little helper at Thanksgiving, was off playing with his cousins. Judith's other sister Arlene showed up a few hours late with her new boyfriend - acquired since Thanksgiving - and I'm pretty sure at one point they went off to have sex in the master bedroom, on top of everyone's coats. Well at least someone got laid in that bed.
Kitty was circulating, supporting me for most of the day, but he disappeared after dinner for a while. When everyone had left I found him moping in the spare bedroom I chewed him out for abandoning me with the Medeiroses and reminded him the next day we were sue to see the WAlkers and he'd better behave.
He said he was sorry, he was just overwhelmed... he realized we were all starting to feel like a real family and it made him homesick, and made him sad about having to uproot again in spring. I said I understood, and he said how could I, I'm a born wanderer. I said that wasn't fair, and we got to fighting about.. well, everything. Our plans for the future, mostly, but also recent treatment of each other and fighting about fighting.
We ended up going to bed separately, which sucked for the following reason... I had one more gift to give Kitty.
I had bought myself some lingerie that week. All day I had been wearing a lace thong and corset under my clothes, waiting for us to be alone so I could show off and, well... seduce him. Basically embrace my feelings or at least take a chance on them.
But shit, that blow up really set us back, left me feeling unenthusiastic about it, like a fool wearing expensive, uncomfortable underwear.
We were cold to each other the next day at the Walkers family Christmas, but we both came around and said we were sorry by the end. Inch by inch I'm learning how to make this work and not just run away.
The lingerie would have to wait though.
More in the new year