24. Parents
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Content warning: mention of transmisia, unsupportive family

I hurried to answer the door when I heard her knocking, and I couldn't help but smile when I pulled it open and saw her standing there.

It was about noon Monday, only a little over one day since I last saw Melissa, yet I could immediately see the differences in her.

In less than twenty-eight hours her hair had grown another inch, her face had changed a little more, and she looked like she lost a bit more weight. Her clothes were hanging off her, and her pants were held up with a belt that had a bunch of new holes punched in it. The only thing that hadn't changed at all about her was her height, she was still as tall as ever.

I grinned, "C'mon in Melissa!"

"Thanks Mara," she smiled back, though she was blushing slightly. She'd obviously caught me staring, and she knew how much she was changing from one day to the next. When she spoke I realized her voice had moved up slightly in pitch since yesterday.

Mom was in the living-room again with her laptop. She glanced up and did a bit of a double-take then said "Hello Melissa."

My friend responded, "Hi Ms. Carter!"

Then I grabbed her hand and pulled her to my bedroom so we could talk again. As I led her to my room I said "We're going to order Chinese food for dinner tonight, if that's ok? Mom took the night off though so we don't have the place to ourselves this time."

"That's ok Mara," Melissa replied. "And Chinese sounds good."

Today was July first, Canada Day. Mom always worked on holidays because she needed the money and the restaurant paid time-and-a-half. She didn't need the money anymore so this was her first actual holiday in ages. We didn't have any plans or anything though, so the only excitement was Melissa's visit and getting delivery for dinner. Mom would be back at work again Tuesday, but this was her last week. Saturday night would be her last shift then she was done.

Melissa and me exchanged a few texts last night since I was still worried about her, and we made plans for her to come over again today. She didn't say much last night about her family situation, but what she did say suggested things weren't going well after all.

Once in my room we both sat on my bed and I asked, "So your texts were pretty vague, what's going on with your folks?"

She sighed as her expression got dark. "So first, when I was here Saturday they literally ransacked my bedroom. They thought I was taking hormones and they were looking for them. I don't know if they were planning to flush them or just like, withhold them as a bargaining chip? They did find all the girl clothes I bought in the last two weeks though so they took all that. So now that I actually need the girl clothes since my guy-stuff doesn't fit anymore, it's all gone missing."

"Fuck," I glared. "Do you know what they did with the clothes?"

She shook her head, "Not yet. Anyways when I got home yesterday they made it sound like they wanted to talk it through with me? This was before I found out what they'd done to my room. I didn't see that for hours because they kept me in the living-room for this huge 'conversation'."

She sighed and continued, "So they claim they're not going to kick me out? But they refuse to call me Melissa and refuse to acknowledge that I'm a girl. Basically their idea of 'not kicking me out' is they're just going to act like I'm still a guy."

"They wanted me to stop taking my 'drugs' and they wanted to know where I was hiding the 'drugs' and who gave them to me." She rolled her eyes, and continued, "I told them I wasn't taking HRT. I told them I was on an experimental program, and I couldn't tell them any details because I signed an NDA? And I told them it was a done deal, that I'd keep changing every day and nothing could stop it, that in a week or so it would be finished."

I couldn't help but smile, "What did they say about that? And what's an NDA?"

Melissa replied, "Non-Disclosure Agreement? It's basically a contract that says you won't talk about something. Technically I wasn't lying, my deal with Lily included not telling people about her."

She continued, "And they were pretty unhappy about the fact that they couldn't stop this? Like I said, I think if I was on HRT they'd have swiped it to try and stop things. Anyways so like, they're claiming that they're not kicking me out but at the same time they're planning to make my life as miserable as they possibly can."

By the time she was done she was scowling angrily, and I was pretty unhappy about the whole thing too.

Her expression softened slightly as she added, "The only cool thing was talking with my brother? Sam called me after dinner last night. Mom called him Saturday and told him I'd come out as trans and stuff? And Sam laughed and told mom it was 'about bloody time'. Apparently he'd suspected I was trans for a couple years. So he called me to congratulate me for being brave enough to come out and transition. Then he asked if I was into guys or chicks, and finally he came out to me about being gay but asked me not to tell our folks because he's not out to them yet."

My head was spinning a little by the end. I was really pissed off with her parents, but happy that her brother sounded cool.

I was quiet for a few moments, then finally I said "Ok... I'm glad Sam's supportive of you. He sounds a lot cooler than I thought he was, but I guess it makes sense if he's been in the closet the whole time. Your parents though, that whole thing pisses me off like six different ways."

Melissa sighed "Yeah."

"So me and mom talked a bit yesterday, you're still welcome here. She uh, said you can sleep on our sofa, or you can sleep in here with me. But she said if we share a bed, we have to keep the noise down and she doesn't want to know what we're up to."

As soon as I mentioned that, Melissa's cheeks went pink.

I grinned, but my cheeks were a little pink too. "So I guess that brings us to where we have to talk about Saturday night? Like, I think we need to know where we stand with each other?"

"What do you mean?" Melissa asked. She looked and sounded nervous, like she was worried about what I had to say or something.

"Like, I guess if one of us thought Saturday meant we were girlfriends now? But the other one thought it was just a one-off thing or whatever, that we were still just friends but nothing more? Then there could be like, hurt feelings and misunderstandings and stuff. So I figured it would be best if we both talked it out, so we both know how each other feels about it?"

She still seemed a little anxious but asked, "Uh, ok? So how do you feel about it all?"

I shrugged, "I guess right now I'm still in the 'best friends' mindset? I'm definitely not ruling anything else out, because I absolutely love you as a friend Melissa. Like, we've been best friends for years, and even when I thought we were both guys I still loved you like that? But yeah... I could see it becoming more? Just, not overnight. Like I had a lot of fun doing that with you on Saturday night, but it wasn't a big romantic awakening for me? Not yet at least."

After a moment I added with a smile, "I'm also definitely not opposed to doing more of that again, you know? Like it was really good, and I'm glad my first time was with you. So uh, I guess right now I'm cool in a 'friends with benefits' kind of thing? But at the same time, I'm not ruling out anything else happening in the future. Like, romantically speaking?"

Melissa stayed quiet for another ten or fifteen seconds, then finally nodded.

"Thanks for clearing that up Mara. I was scared for a moment you were going to tell me you were in love with me or something like that? Like don't get me wrong, I agree with you about loving you like a friend. But yeah, I don't have any big romantic feelings either. And maybe that'll change, so I'm glad you're not ruling anything out? But yeah, I'm not there right now."

She added, "As for Saturday night, like I said yesterday I enjoyed it and I'm glad we did it? But uh..."

Her cheeks got brighter as she dropped her voice to a whisper, "It's not going to happen again, like it's not physically possible anymore."

I smiled and whispered back, "Then I'm glad we did it while we could."

"Me too," she agreed softly. "As for the 'friends with benefits' thing... We'll see."

We were both quiet for a few moments, then I asked "What about moving in here? It sounds like your parents' place isn't going to be safe for you anymore."

Melissa sighed, "Yeah. They had me going for a bit yesterday, but now I know it's not going to work. As for your sofa or your room..."

She blushed and shrugged, "I guess we'll see how it goes? Maybe that'll be a night-to-night decision?"

"Ok Melissa," I smiled. "Do you want to go back over there now to get your stuff? I'll help you pack. Or whenever you want, I'll be there to help and back you up."

"Tomorrow's fine," she replied. "Though I might crash here tonight if that's ok."

"Of course it's ok!" I insisted.

Melissa smiled, "Thanks Mara. So has anything happened around here since yesterday? Did you get in too much trouble with your mom from waking her up too early?"

I shook my head, "She wasn't upset. Not about that anyways. She was freaked out about us being in bed together? Not angry, just surprised. Same with when she first saw you Saturday and realized Lily was helping you."

I sighed, "So she doesn't want any more magic or supernatural stuff going on, she says she's kind of had enough of that for now."

"I can see how all that would get to her," she said, with a thoughtful look on her face. "It's been a lot, and it hasn't even been a month yet."

"Yeah," I agreed. "So me and mom went for a drive yesterday afternoon, to look at houses? Then when we got back home..."

I told her about the encounter with dad, including all the shitty stuff dad said and how much of slime the guy was. I also told her about Lily's magic and how she got dad to leave.

Melissa's reactions to my story were kind of amusing. From dad showing up, to dad being a gross jerk, to Lily sending him away with magic basically all came down to "Oh shit!" and "Shit." and "Holy shit!"

I decided not to tell her about meeting Lily face to face. I wasn't sure if Melissa was still freaked out about Lily being a demon, and I was worried she might not have the same reaction I did to finding out what my sexy demon friend really looked like.

"Anyways, after that I asked if Lily would teach me to do that same magic? She isn't too happy about it, but she's thinking it over. No promises though."

Melissa smiled, "That would be pretty cool. But I can think of a lot of ways you could get in trouble with it."

I pouted, "That's what Lily said. Why does everyone think I'm going to get into trouble?"

She did an exaggerated eye roll and replied "Uh, maybe because we've met you Mara? We know what you're like?"

That just made me pout harder, but it was hard to hold the pout with my grin trying to sneak out.

"So mom wants me to to hurry up and pick a college," I said, changing the subject. "I can't pick one though till I know what you're doing? I want to go to the same school as you! Assuming that's ok with you and you're still thinking about it? So do you want to look at colleges again, check out drama programs or whatever?"

Melissa nodded, "Yeah ok. I'm still kind of stuck for tuition though right? I doubt my folks will be any help."

I nodded, "We'll talk with my mom at dinner, but like I said before, she gave me fifty thousand for education and I'm sure that'll cover a few years for both of us. I'll ask her if it's ok to share it with you. But I'm sure she'll say yes."

She pulled me into a hug, "Thanks Mara."

Then we got to work at the computer again. I pulled up my short-list of colleges first, and Melissa started checking out the different programs and courses each of them offered. We also looked at the locations and the other details, like extracurricular stuff, what the campuses were like, and Melissa checked to see if any of them had published support policies for LGBTQ+ students, which I hadn't even thought about.

By the time mom was ready to order dinner, me and Melissa had picked a college and were figuring out exactly what courses or programs we both wanted.

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