Title: Once you were beautiful

Disclaimer: not my characters; just for fun. Title from Sylvia Plath.

Warnings: spoilers for movie; implied child abuse

Pairings: canon

Rating: PG
Wordcount: 590

Point of view: third

He left behind the wimp who got bullied, the geek who always read and wrote, the kid who loved music more than football. He left behind the quiet, shy boy to become a loud, boisterous man.

Priestly is his armor, the shiny surface to hide the tarnished truth. Priestly is a distraction, a lie, someone he wishes he could be but will never truly become.

Tish has never looked at him as a man. Part of that is his appearance, he knows, the hair and the piercings and the tattoos. But he is always mocking her, trying to get noticed—ire is better than apathy.

Every time Tish looks past him to go home with someone new, his father laughs in his memory, calling him loser and fuck-up, telling him he'll never get far in life, useless as your bitch mother, little bitch boy.

He never learned to fight because Dad had been a champion boxer, but he sure did learn how to dodge.

Tish doesn't want Priestly. And, to be honest, he's a bit tired of Priestly, himself. It's been so long since he's thought about where he came from. Years since he's considered that kid. But Tish doesn't want who he is now, the lie, the bright distraction. So maybe she'll like who he was, quiet and shy Boaz.

(He loves his mother, but he's never forgiven her for his name.)

He cuts his own hair, washes out the dye, shaves the sideburns, takes out all the piercings. Each piece of his armor comes off slowly—it's harder than he'd thought, shedding Priestly. He's been Priestly ever since he left his father's house, since he decided to erase all evidence he'd ever known the man.

He's been Priestly so long he's almost forgotten how to be Boaz.

He doesn't have any clothes Boaz would wear, so he goes shopping. For the first time in years, he doesn't get horrified looks from old ladies or people glancing away with smirks. He doesn't know what to buy, so he asks for help. The words don't come easily because the salesgirl actually sees him, Boaz and not Priestly. His armor is gone and he's forgotten what to do when he's not sarcastic and witty and so loud the world looks away.

But the salesgirl, Rebecca, is patient. She waits him out with a kind smile, and after he's made his selections, she says quietly, "I'll miss the hair."

When he looks at her in shock, she adds, "But this style is nice, too."

He blushes, smiling shyly, and softly thanks her. She pats his arm and tells him, "Just be yourself. You'll knock her dead."

He ducks his head, words failing him—again—but she just gently pushes him towards the door.

Priestly couldn't win Tish. Priestly was just a mask.

And if she don't like your little bitch self any more'n she liked your gay self, huh, boy? Dad's voice demands; he flinches, clutching the bag of clothes.

But Dad is dead. He' dead and gone, and has no place in Santa Cruz.

So Boaz straightens his spine and strides out the mall, confident in Priestly's walk. He's not just Boaz and he's no longer Priestly—he can make himself anew, take pieces of both, finally and truly rise from the ashes.

He might not win Tish, but he'll present himself to her, not the sarcastic Priestly and not the stuttering Boaz.

Dad is dead, that drunken monster, but he'll finally be able to defeat the ghost by trying.