Disclaimer: do not own the characters. Just having some fun.

Summary: Trucker and Priestly talk. Just a little bit of insight into Priestly's transformation, based on his speech to Tish about how Jen was being unfair to judge Fuzzy on his looks.

Hiding the Pretty

Trucker's not surprised when they all just crash at his pad that night, nor is he surprised when the sound of a screen door sliding open cuts into his bedroom about an hour after he'd retreated into it. It's just a cycle of drama with his kids and he's used to it, so he slides out of bed immediately, wondering which of them is emoting on the balcony at 2 in the morning, and correspondingly, which dysfunctional parent he will be filling in for this time.

He's a little bit surprised, though, to find the silhouette male and mohawked, and as he pads out onto the balcony he braces himself, because Priestly's angst has always been just a little harder to fix than any of his girls' has. And even by the time he's fully outside he's still wondering how to begin, until Priestly says quietly, "what would you say if I told you I was pretty, Trucker?"

"What's on your mind, kid?" He slides into his chair; Priestly is on his feet, facing out.

"You wanna see a picture of me without all this shit on?"

"Okay," Trucker replies slowly, even though the answer is an enormous absolutely. It doesn't matter, of course, not really, but everyone who sees Priestly has got to wonder what he looks like without the candy-colored 'hawk and the carefully crafted sideburns. Trucker is no exception.

Priestly pulls his wallet from his pants, and a photo from his wallet, and turns only long enough to hand it over. "That's me and my sister," he says flatly, and Trucker doesn't even have time to contemplate this rare snippet of life story because goddamn, the kid wasn't lying. Caught forever in the two-dimensional image, laughably overshadowing a not unattractive girl, is some sort of male model looking up at him with Priestly's eyes. He stares at the picture, momentarily but genuinely flummoxed, until he can muster his voice to say, "turn around, kid."

Priestly turns. He looks just as he had a moment ago, all color and metal and attitude, but those eyes, those damn eyes, they're real, and sad. Trucker rests the photo reverently on his leg, then lifts a hand, positioning one finger each in front of the cheekbone-concealing sideburns. He lets the eyes be his touchpoint, and from there he lets the familiarity spread out, down the straight nose to the full lips, and suddenly he doesn't know who he's looking at.

"Damn," he murmurs, and that face scowls.

"Yeah," Priestly agrees, and holds his hand out for the photo. It disappears back into the wallet and into the pants like it never surfaced to begin with.

"Gotta say, I don't think many men would sound so disappointed when revealing that they're capable of looking like that." Priestly says nothing. "How long you been hiding that pretty, Priestly?"

"Picture's about six years old," he eventually responds, words coming out like teeth being pulled. "'bout a year after that I got the neck tat and the lip ring. Hair's been like this three years or so. Used to be buzzed."

"Mind if I ask why?" Trucker prompts gently. Priestly sighs.

"That's where I'm headed, Trucker. Hold your horses." There's another moment of contemplating the scenery below, then Priestly turns and leans back against the railing. "That guy," he begins, pointing at Trucker's hands even though the photo has been returned. "That guy gets that reaction from everyone." Nail-polished hands are shoved in pockets. "That guy is just too fucking pretty to have an intelligent thought or a worthwhile opinion. He's…."

"Tish?" Trucker finishes.

"Yeah." Priestly's lips are pointed down in a pout, and he looks young. "And he's the kind of guy that uses girls like Tish, too."

"I have a hard time believing you'd do that no matter how your hair looks, kid."

"I didn't," Priestly corrects, very quickly. "But, y'know…."

"No one else could believe that you didn't?"

"Yeah." Silence for another moment. "You know, when Jen went to meet Fuzzy," he says quietly, and here comes what Trucker has been waiting for. "She just assumed he wouldn't want her because of how he looked. It's fucking ironic. I have to dress up all this kinds of shit just so people don't think I care about how they look. You know it takes me like half an hour to do this shit?" He yelps, gesturing helplessly at his sculpture of a hairdo. "When I dressed like I used to, I just rolled out of bed in the morning and went." A humorless smile twists the pout up until it's almost a grimace. "I used to say they'll figure it out someday, but no one did. Ever. It doesn't matter how loud you like your music. When you look like I used to, people make their decisions about you before you open your mouth."

"Hate to break it to you kid, but they still do."

Priestly smiles. "Yeah, I know, Trucker. But at least now they don't know what to make of me."

Trucker nods. "So who's you? I mean… do you like dressing this way?"

"I forget," Priestly admits, and that says it all. His arms, which Trucker sees now are well-muscled under the loose-fitting t-shirt sleeves, wrap tightly around his stomach and Trucker wants nothing more than to hold the kid so he can stop struggling to hold himself. Somehow he manages not to. "I don't think I like spending five minutes on eyeliner every morning. I don't think I like having to make sure that nothing matches accidentally. The lip ring still hurts like a fucker, too." He pauses for a moment. "I like the tats, though."

"Well, I guess that's good," Trucker smiles. "Seeing as how you have the least choice when it comes to them."

Priestly's glance inside to where Tish is sprawled beatifically on the couch confirms everything else that Trucker was left even somewhat guessing at. "I don't want her to think I'm changing for her," he mutters sadly.

"Prettiness aside, you ain't the best at hiding things, Priestly," Trucker assures him. "However you want to dress yourself, if you tell her the gods' honest truth, she'll see it for what it is. She won't see you dressing up for her. She'll know that you've just stopped dressing up for everyone else."

There's another moment of silence. "I don't think I own a shirt that doesn't say something on it," Priestly says at last.

"Good thing you just got paid then, I guess."

"Yeah." The kid looked up at him again, blinking those incredible eyes, and Trucker can't believe that any amount of makeup was ever able to hide their sincerity and beauty from him. "Thanks, Trucker."

Trucker smiles. Maybe Priestly's problems aren't always that hard to fix, after all.