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"If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?" ~RuPaul Charles
Justin's journey to self-acceptance and personal transition is long and winding. Will he learn to love himself as others love him?
A/N:I started writing this series back in December 2015 which officially makes it my first WIP. Please bare with me and wait patiently between updates.
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Disclaimer:I own nothing but this story.
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-A Couple of Days Later-
The first meeting with Dr. Schmidt in his office went quite well. Dr. Schmidt had short, salt-and-pepper hair, and deep brown, understanding eyes. He seemed to be in his early fifties, and I immediately felt comfortable around him. He sat with me for forty-five minutes, answering all my questions and explaining all the different options for my surgery. His voice was confident and reassuring, with just a touch of a dry sense of humor which really appealed to me. He concluded our session by advising me to go with the keyhole method for my top surgery. He explained to me that out of all the top surgery methods available for trans men, this particular one would fit best with my body type; plus, it would leave almost no scars afterward. I nodded as I was reminded of the first time I had seen Cody shirtless at the lake, and how impressed I had been with his appearance, even before I knew all about him. Cody hadn't disclosed too many medical details with me that summer for obvious reasons, but I remembered Cody mentioning Dr. Schmidt's name, and how instrumental and helpful he had been to him during his own transition. He mentioned that some of his trans friends had also found great comfort in Dr. Schmidt's expertise and compassion during the very delicate phase of their physical transitioning, mainly the bottom surgery with its many intricate stages. Back then it was all so new and raw to me that I didn't really know what to make of it, but when the time came for Dr. Bruckner to refer me to Dr. Schmidt's clinic, I remembered Cody telling me about him before, and I almost felt like it had been fate that I wound up with the same doctor.
At that point Dr. Schmidt paused briefly and looked at me with a reassuring smile. He then took the time to point out to me that he'll be on hand during the entire procedure since he's the senior surgeon. I must have seemed slightly apprehensive, because Dr. Schmidt kept explaining to me that he always made sure that he participates in every one of his patient's surgeries, from the initial consultation and then throughout the post-op recovery period.
I took a few moments to take a couple of deep breaths to compose myself, but then I decided I'd waited enough. "Okay, then. I've decided. This is what I really want, Dr. Schmidt. I know what it's going to involve, and I know it's not going to be easy. I know it's only the first stage of the journey I'll be taking, but I also know it's the right one for me. So…" I stopped and took another deep breath to continue, but I found it unnecessary to explain any further when the doctor spoke up then.
He nodded at me. "I can see you are both determined and sure of your decision, Justin. So okay, I'll instruct my assistant to schedule your appointment, and I'll be in touch with you next week," He said. I nodded, overcome with emotion as I shook his hand and headed toward the door. I paused, however, to turn around and peer back at him, hoping he could tell how grateful I was. "Thank you so much, Doctor," I softly told him, my voice a little choked over the enormity of it all, and what I was about to do. I was both nervous, but also very excited. He nodded back at me with a warm smile as I left the room.
After I left the building my head was swirling, and my heart seemed to be racing a million miles an hour. I was elated, euphoric almost in light of all the information Dr. Schmidt just shard with me, but then more practical concerning thoughts began to creep in. Such an operation would cost quite a bit, even with the medical insurance I had. My parents would have to know, since I was covered through their policy, but I wouldn't deter me from telling them – and following through with my decision. It's not that I didn't want them in my life, but the resentment and hatred I knew they now felt toward me did make me realize they undoubtedly wouldn't like the permanent change I was about to undertake.
Standing with my back against one of the brick walls of the clinic a few minutes later, my phone started ringing. It kept ringing a couple more times before I glanced down and noticed that the caller ID read Brian K.
Why is HE calling me now? The thought crossed my mind as my pulse sped up. The night we met was still a foggy memory, but I did recall that he kept asking me for my phone number. I tried to explain to him that I never exchanged phone numbers with other guys. That much was true, because I never felt comfortable enough to do that with anyone, no matter how captivated I was with him. My hesitation to do as he wanted seemed to have challenged him even more, though. He seemed determined even more then to get my number, so against my better judgment we ended up doing just that.
I couldn't deny my excitement as I noticed who was calling me, but I wasn't sure that now was the time to be carrying on a conversation with him. I mean…our first brief encounter was REALLY awkward to say the least, and we didn't exactly keep in touch after that. It's not that I haven't been thinking about him – as the journal entries I kept for my sessions with Lindsay reflected - but I definitely didn't expect HIM to be calling me. And definitely not today.
I finally found my voice after a few seconds to utter a simple hello.
"Hey," he replied, his voice smooth and silky. It made my entire body tingle, even though I couldn't even see him. "Are you…okay?" He asked me. "Your voice sounds different," he commented after a slight pause.
"Yeah," I answered a little apprehensively. So he'd noticed my voice had changed. I cleared my throat, frantically trying to come up with an explanation. "I've been struggling with a cold; nothing serious," I answered him. Standing in the windy street outside Dr. Schmidt's office, still clutching my medical file and other forms in one hand and holding onto my phone with my other hand, I knew I couldn't possibly disclose the real reason my voice had changed since the last time mine and Brian's paths had crossed at that club a few months ago. But on the other hand, the guy had called ME, so why was I hesitating? There was so much going on in my head at that moment, though, that I felt really light headed. I felt I needed to sit down somewhere, or at least grab a coffee so I could regain my composure.
"I…it was really nice talking to you, Brian, but I really must go now," I blurted out, something akin to panic threatening to set in. But Brian wasn't ready to take NO for an answer, apparently, because I could hear a soft wheezing come from the other end of the line.
"Brian?" I pressed, wondering why he wasn't saying anything.
There was a brief hesitation before Brian finally replied, "Look, I know we didn't keep in touch since that night, but… it's just that I never chase after guys, much less call them back after some chance encounter in a bar." He stopped to take a breather before letting out a short, dry chuckle, which I found quite irresistible. In a way, it was a little annoying that he apparently thought of me as 'just some other guy,' but then again, he seemed to be making an exception by calling me, so I also felt flattered.
He continued while I pondered that contradiction, and I thought I could hear some nervousness in his voice. "I know it was kinda… weird when we ended up at my loft that night, but… I dunno," he started mumbling before I heard him take a deep breath. "Okay, here goes," he continued, his voice surprisingly hesitant. "Hell, I might as well say it before I lose my nerve," he muttered. "Would you like to hang out again? Maybe like… this evening?
Oh, my God. He wants to see me again? I could barely wrap my brain around that. This incredibly sexy, handsome man was interested in me? My heart was thumping in my chest at the thought, but I knew there was no way I was ready for that – or for him to know the truth. "I…I'm sorry, but I can't," I managed to stammer. I'm busy tonight." That sounded like such a lame excuse, even to my own ears, and I couldn't believe I was turning him down, but just the thought of being alone with him both excited me and frightened the shit out of me.
“You're not making this any easier for me, are you?" he replied; I could hear what sounded like frustration – and maybe a touch of disappointment? – in his voice. I heard him sigh then. "Well, call me if you change your mind," he told me before he disconnected the call.
I couldn't help thinking about the irony as I clutched my cellphone in my hand. Talk about 'change.' There was SO much I needed to change, and my journey had just began.
_ _ _ _ _
-Later that Day, Justin's Apartment-
"Shit! You turned down another chance to be with him?" Cody asked when I called to update him about my day so far.
"What was I supposed to do?" I growled, a little disturbed that he didn't understand what it had taken me to say no to the guy. I suspected that no one ever turned Brian Kinney down. I shook my head and let out a deep breath in frustration. "I already told you! I was just on my out of Dr. Schmidt's office, and I had so much on my mind, and then he calls, and…" I stopped mid-sentence.
"What is it? Tell me…" Cody's voice softens as he asks me.
"You know why! We've talked about it before!" I responded despondently. "What if he came onto me? I mean, the man is fucking hot! You know what he would want, and…and…I can't give that to him right now. Fuck!!! I hate this!" I could feel tears burning at the back of my throat. Anyone would be crazy not to want to be with Brian physically – I ached for his touch in ways I had never felt before – but I couldn't give him what he wanted, and what I knew he would expect; at least, not yet. What would happen when he found out the truth? Would he resent me, or be angry with me? I couldn't live with that possibility. I'd lived a lie for far too long, and I wasn't about to deceive someone who obviously cared about me enough to want me in his life; someone who I hardly knew yet, but already had intense feelings for.
"I really don't know which way to turn, Cody," I continued, suddenly feeling helpless. "I mean… the weird thing is…before – when I was Justine," my voice tripped on my birth name, which I had come to abhor, "I never cared much for guys, but NOW as Justin, I'm so attracted to Brian that it scares me." I wish there was something I could do….
"I've been there. I guess the best advice I can give you is not to question yourself, or your right to be who you are," Cody replied, his voice sympathetic. "I know exactly what you're going through. Despite your 'plumbing,' Justin, you're a GUY. And it's perfectly normal that you would be attracted to this person. It's not wrong for you to be attracted to him, and want to get to know him better. The fact that he got back in touch with you after so long means that there's something he finds special about you.
"That's what I don't get," I countered. "Why call me now? And he even mentioned that he never chased after guys, and never saw them more than once. Hell, he said he never even bothered to remember their names after they fucked. So why me? And why now?"
"He said that?" Cody sounded surprised.
"Sounds like it's not his normal M.O., then, to call a guy after they fucked," Cody observed. "But that's not unusual for queers," he added. "In fact, it's pretty much right out of the Gay Man's Dating Manual," he quipped. "Some gay men would even go to their grave without the word 'dating' ever being uttered from their lips," he stated wryly. He grew more serious as he told me, "Some CIS gay men prefer to trick before they're willing to commit to a relationship. Peter was the same before I met him. As for Brian, from what you told me so far he seems interested in you, regardless of the fact that you're a trans man."
"But he doesn't know that!" I pointed out.
"Yeah, I know. But think about his side. He sounds like someone who's not comfortable pursuing a guy…and yet he still called YOU. That says something. He wants the freedom to trick like a lot of queers do, but he also asked for your phone number, man! That sounds huge to me! And he was the one who called YOU. Justin…don't let your fears get in the way of getting to know him better. He deserves the chance to make up his own mind about you, don't you think? Don't shortchange yourself…or try to read his mind. Let HIM decide what he wants or does not want to do. Have faith in yourself. That's going to be an important part of your transition."
I bit my lip in thought, knowing Cody was waiting for me to reply. I mulled over everything he had said to me. I knew it made sense, but it still didn't make me any braver, or quell the fear I felt – the fear of being rejected. "I know you're right," I conceded. "But it's still so fucking hard."
"Anything worth fighting for always is," Cody responded quietly. "Think about what I've said, okay?"