"Was I just not good for him? Did he actually love me at all? Why did he cheat on me?"
Katherine's thoughts refused to leave her alone. Ever since she broke up with Vincent (and even more mysteriously, Vincent's strange disappearance), she had been going through many stages of self doubt and losing confidence in herself. Her career at Bantam distracted her enough, but it majorly sucked going home to no one but herself. She wished that she had reacted differently when Vincent came out with the truth about cheating on her with a girl named Catherine, only now it was too late. Vincent had vanished and had been gone for months. Even Jonny and Orlando had given up on him ever reappearing. Toby's optimism about Vincent had vanished and Erica was sure it had to do with the "Woman's Wrath" that the customers to the Stray Sheep had been talking about. She told Katherine, "Someone probably got your revenge for you. Cheating is the lowest of the low anyway."
True, Katherine wasn't genuinely sad about Vincent vanishing. It had taken her a few weeks of convincing herself that she no longer missed him. She just regretted not asking him what made his cock turn into another direction, especially when she thought she was pregnant. Unfortunately, the not knowing part was driving her crazy.
She considered the facts. She was thirty two, maybe not wildly sexy but she had a classic beauty look. She was slim with long soft hair and a very down-to-earth personality. She didn't consider herself to be a bad person...certainly not the kind of woman who would drive her lover to cheat on her. She had really loved Vincent and always took care of him, even before they had begun dating.
So...where did she go wrong?
There was no way of knowing now.
It had been five months since the last time she saw him and she knew it was time to move on.
Strength varied in many different people. While Katherine seemed to possess it in great quantity, it wasn't the same for her childhood friends.
After Vincent's sudden disappearance, his friends had taken different paths in life. Orlando and his ex-wife, Nadia, got back together and Orlando had made the promise to make things work between them and for his business as well. So far, he was living up to his promise and Nadia supported him all the way.
Jonny had not been doing so well. He and his girlfriend, Vicki, had broken up on bitter terms. Vicki was insistent on Jonny finally marrying her, something Jonny had no intentions of doing. Vicki stuck with him anyway, hoping she could change his mind. When Jonny refused to budge, there had been a terrible fight between them and Vicki had walked out. Jonny wasn't too upset about it, although it did leave a bad aftertaste. He didn't enjoy the single life as much as he let on and he desperately wanted to tell everyone the truth about why he had no intentions of making the commitment to Vicki. But above all, he was a gentleman and was waiting for the right time to tell the truth.
Toby seemed to be struggling the most. Finding out that his crush was a transgendered male to female was hard for him to accept, especially since he punched out his V-card before finding out the news. He wanted to talk to someone desperately about it, but he didn't want to stir some shit up among his older friends. They were all close and he wanted to be one of them without looking like a huge baby. But how was he suppose to look at Erica the same way now? He no longer saw her as a mature woman that could fulfill all his fantasies. Instead, he saw a guy that looked and dressed like a woman.
He wasn't gay! Not even close to it! And yet he still had feelings for Erica...or Eric, as she used to be known as...and was trying to hide them.
Toby hadn't even been to the Stray Sheep since finding out the news. He couldn't face Erica or the guys and he definitely didn't want to drink to forget. That was stupid.
The other stupid thing was Vincent. Where the hell was that bastard? Toby looked up to him almost as much as he looked up to Jonny. Vincent was the man who had it together. He had a job doing what he liked, his friends always around him and Katherine. Toby had only met Katherine a few times before, but she was the pinnacle of Toby's admiration. She was beautiful, smart, cool...everything good in a woman. He actually envied Vincent a bit for having the kind of relationship he wanted and was shocked when Vincent came out with the news he had a one night stand with some girl he had met the night before. All admiration he had for Vincent went out the window that night.
Okay! I've made my decision! I'm a man. I'm gonna finally tell Erica how I feel!
"What a joke. How can I be a man if I had my V-card punched out BY a man?" Toby thought with disgust for himself.
He shoved his hands in his pockets and went home. It had been a long day and he was ready to fall asleep and try and not think about his troubles.
Jonny was drunk. So drunk, he could hardly see straight. The nightmares had ended and he was finally able to sleep peacefully, but lately he had been ordering sake almost nonstop and Orlando and Erica could clearly see his troubles were getting the better of him. Which was absolutely crazy. Jonny was one of the most laid back and collected guys in the world. But even the sake couldn't loosen his tongue and Jonny kept insisting nothing was wrong.
"Bullshit!" Orlando finally exploded, startling the couple at the table next to theirs. "Man, what is up with you? Ever since Vincent took off with the bimbo, you've been acting like someone died! He's not dead. He's just decided we're not worth the time anymore."
"No one's dead," Jonny said flatly, staring into his sake cup.
"No, but you will be if you keep ordering more sake," Erica scolded, taking away his empty sake bottle and putting a bowl of chips in front of the two men. "No more tonight, Jonny."
"What are you, my mother?" Jonny snapped. Erica fumed and stomped off, leaving Jonny quite red in the face and Orlando stunned.
"Dude, did you just snap?"
"Not my fault," Jonny said harshly. "Since when does the barmaid tell me what to do?"
"She's not just the barmaid, she's also one of our friends," Orlando pointed out. "Jesus, what the shit's going on? Vincent ups and vanishes, Toby's avoiding us and not even talking to Erica and you're here night after night drinking more than the four of us used to chug together! This shit's getting on my nerves."
"Figures you wouldn't mention Katherine," Jonny said. "Hasn't anyone thought about how she feels lately? Vincent left her for some other woman after they'd been together for five years. That's a long time to be with someone who just cheats on you and dumps you in the end."
"Man..." Orlando rubbed his temples. "Look, it's not like I'm not thinking about her. I just haven't seen her lately, so I don't know how she's been."
"Busy with Nadia?" Jonny couldn't help asking.
Unfortunately, that struck a nerve in Orlando. "Fuck you, Jonny. At least I've gotten MY shit together. When will you?" Before Jonny could answer, Orlando slammed down some money for his drinks and took off.
"Damn..." Jonny thought. He hated admitting it but Orlando was right. He had been acting like such a prick lately and it wasn't anyone else's fault but his own. The single life had turned him around and he was at the Stray Sheep night after night downing more sake than he had ever had before.
He wasn't himself. He had allowed his love for Katherine to destroy him...all because she was with his best friend. He couldn't look at another woman the same way he looked at her and no one else seemed to come close in comparison.
But now Katherine and Vincent were over and his girlfriend had left him. He had let this whole 'waiting to heal' period go on long enough. It was time to make things right.
It was time to tell Katherine the truth and get his feelings in order.
Only then could he move on.
Katherine's phone had an unanswered text message on it. She slid back into her office chair and flipped it open to find a message from Jonny.
Subject: Talk to you?
Hey Katherine. Just wondering how things are going for you lately. If you have a free night, I'd like to talk to you one on one at the Chrono Rabbit.
"One on one?" Katherine thought. She hadn't spoken with Jonny in so long...but maybe it was time to get an old friend back in her life. Her girlfriends from work hadn't really known Vincent, nor were they in her life for as long as Jonny and the others. And maybe Jonny knew something about Vincent and why he cheated on her.
She flipped open her phone and texted him back. Sure, I'm free tonight after four. Should I meet you there?
She closed her phone and was about to continue working when her phone vibrated. Opening it up, she saw it was a reply from Jonny. "Wow, that was fast."
Subject: Re: Talk to you?
I'm off work around four thirty. Meet me over at the Chrono Rabbit. It's on me.
"Almost sounds like a date..." Katherine thought. She sent him a confirmation text and turned back to her computer. Sales for Bantam suits were going up and the company was doing great. She focused on her next advertising idea and her newest suit design for women. Her company was originally only making suits for men but there had been an increased demand for business suits for women now and Katherine wanted to strike it while it was high. Her designers were all enthusiastic about the idea, but it had taken some work to get her sales manager to go along with it. He was still a bit under the impression that women in business was a bad idea, even though his boss was a woman.
"Todd's changed a fair bit over the past few months..." Katherine mused. "And Archie doesn't seem so terrified of me anymore. By making Bantam a unisex suit company, we can double our profits and provide something for everyone. At least they understand that fact, even if they're still doubtful of women in power."
By the time she had finished her next Bantam commercial advertisement idea, it was time to call it a day. She stretched and grabbed her coat and purse. The Chrono Rabbit, the place that used to be her favourite date spot with Vincent, was just down the street. She hadn't been in there since she and Vincent had broken up and, briefly, she wondered if it was a good idea.
"Why not? It's still one of my favourite places. I shouldn't stop going there just because I'm not with Vincent anymore."
Jonny was waiting for her by the door. He was smoking, as usual, but he butted his cigarette out as soon as he saw Katherine approaching. Katherine smiled when she realized that time seemed to agree with Jonny. He was still good looking and hadn't lost his sex appeal that drove girls crazy back in high school.
"Hey Katherine," Jonny said in his low voice. They hugged briefly before going inside, where Jonny requested a table for two in the non-smoking section. This was new to Katherine, who recalled Jonny always being a bit of a chain smoker. Jonny saw the look she was giving him and chuckled.
"I'm trying to cut down. It's just not healthy to breathe smoke almost every waking second, you know?"
"I sure do," Katherine said, impressed with his resolve. "You know it's hard to quit it?"
"I never said quit...just cut down. Maybe one of these days I'll cut down enough to quit, but I'll take it slow first," Jonny said. Katherine nodded and a waitress led them over to a table on the opposite side of the restaurant. Katherine slid into the booth and ordered a Perrier, while Jonny took the chair and requested sake. As soon as the waitress left them alone, Jonny fixed his dark eyes on Katherine and asked, "Have you been okay?"
"As okay as I could ever be...despite what happened," Katherine said. "I'm over the initial shock of it, but Vincent underestimated me. I started seeing the signs just a few days before I confronted him about it. When I asked him if he was hiding anything from me, he got all flustered and denied it..." she shook her head. "That was all I needed to know that he was cheating on me."
"It was a shock to all of us," Jonny admitted. "We all knew Vincent was never really one for full commitment, but none of us ever imagined he'd cheat."
"Jonny...?" Katherine slowly said. "I know this may come off as demanding, but how long did you know it was going on for?"
Jonny hesitated and Katherine bit her lip. He obviously knew it for a long time and didn't bother telling her. Katherine had to remind herself that Jonny and Orlando were both more of Vincent's friends than her's, but it's not as if she was a complete stranger to them. She wished one of them had let her know.
"Let me guess...a long time."
"Close..." Jonny said. "Vincent told all of us the truth the day after it happened. The poor fool was messed up, thinking that it was something that could be swept under the rug and he made all of us swear not to tell anyone outside the Stray Sheep. The only problem was that other girl kept texting him and calling him back and I guess he-" Jonny stopped, seeing the look on Katherine's face. "I'm sorry...all of us, especially Erica, were giving him a hard time to make things right. We weren't exactly thrilled with him and his other girl, but it wasn't really any of our business. Although Erica wanted to tell you really badly..." Jonny paused and looked down. "And so did I."
"Why didn't you?" Katherine couldn't help asking.
"When we heard you were supposedly pregnant, we all thought it would be a bad idea to bring it up ourselves to you. We tried getting Vincent to tell you and do the right thing, but he just kept saying 'I don't know, I don't know' over and over," Jonny said. "If you really were pregnant, the news would have really stressed you out and done something to you and the baby. And it wasn't our responsibility," Jonny added, looking up again. "It was suppose to be Vincent's."
"That's true...sorry. I've just felt so messed up since this all happened," Katherine said. "Um...he didn't say anything about why he did it, did he?"
"Not really," Jonny said. "All I know is the first time it happened, he apparently had too much to drink and woke up next to her. But she kept coming back."
The waitress brought their drinks to them and asked if they wanted anything to order. Katherine asked for her favourite shrimp salad and Jonny took poached salmon with rice. As Katherine sipped her water, she thought about Jonny's information about Vincent and she realized closure was probably next to impossible to get now.
She just had to stop thinking about it. There was nothing else she could do.
"How about you?" Katherine asked, feeling the need to change the subject. "How have you been doing?"
"I suppose I could be better," Jonny admitted. "Vicki and I broke up. She couldn't handle the fact I didn't want to marry her and left shouting four letter words at me."
"Oh Jonny..." Katherine sighed. "Why?"
"You know how I am, Katherine," Jonny said. "I believe marriage should be between soul mates. She wasn't my soul mate, so I couldn't marry her. That's all there is to it."
Katherine nodded. Jonny wasn't like other guys, who thought 'Hey, this relationship is fun, I hope this lasts a while'. When it came to girls, he was very serious. If they weren't right for him, he told them before things got too deep. Unfortunately, some of the girls he dated got too attached too fast and convinced themselves they could try and change his mind.
"So what will you do?" Katherine asked.
Jonny shrugged. "I'm not too fond of the single life, but I'm not about to jump into bed with another girl right away. I'll just be patient."
"I hope so."
"How's everyone else doing?" Katherine suddenly asked. "I haven't really seen anyone in a while now...not with my career keeping me busy. I heard Orlando got back with Nadia...how's that turning out? And Erica and Toby?"
"Orlando and Nadia are doing great. Orlando's actually gotten it together now and he's putting together a good business. Nadia, of course, won't stop being his biggest supporter. I think she wants to declare herself his partner or something," Jonny chuckled. This got a laugh out of Katherine and she recalled Orlando and Nadia's wedding a long time ago. She had been Vincent's escort and they all had a wild and fun time.
"And Erica? I think I recall her telling me that little Toby had a huge crush on her. Did it work out?" Katherine asked.
"Actually, that's something I don't know much about," Jonny admitted. "Toby hasn't been at the Stray Sheep lately and he's been avoiding me at work. And Erica's been pretty down. Orlando told me those two did make love and how Toby bragged about it the night after, saying now he was a man...then he just seemed to vanish." A thought occurred to him. "Maybe he found out Erica's secret."
"Oh no..." Katherine bit her lip. "If that's true, he's probably not taking it well at all. I told Erica she should have been honest if it came to that...I guess Toby feels like he'd been tricked."
"Yeah, but it's not Erica's fault."
"It slightly is," Katherine pointed out. "If she had been honest with him, he wouldn't be so shell shocked right now."
"Still, he's treating her pretty shabbily," Jonny insisted. "I haven't seen Erica this down since just before she disappeared all those years ago. I think she did want to get serious with him and that's why she told him after the fact. Now he's rejected her and she's pretty upset."
"Someone should talk to him..." Katherine mused. "Why don't you?"
Katherine smiled. "Because you're understanding and you're one of the rare kind of men that know what the right thing is."
"I guess..." Jonny said with a shrug.
"If not for him, then for Erica. She is one of our friends and I, personally, don't want something to happen to her again," Katherine said. "I would do it myself, but I don't know him well enough."
The waitress brought their food over. "Anything else I can get for the lovely couple?" she chirped.
"No, thank you. And we're not a couple," Katherine said. The waitress lost her perky look and turned red with embarrassment. She stumbled away, mumbling apologies. Katherine dug into her salad and Jonny cut into his salmon slowly.
"Katherine...there's another reason I asked you to meet me."
"Hm?" Katherine swallowed a bite of her salad and wiped her mouth. "What is it?"
"I need to tell you something else. About me and why I really didn't want to marry Vicki," Jonny said, setting his fork and knife down. "Katherine, the truth is...I've had feelings for you for a very long time. Feelings I've had to suppress because you were with Vincent and I didn't want to ruin anything between you two. You're the woman I really want to be with...the kind of woman I can't find in anyone else."
Katherine slowly set her fork down. She hadn't expected this. Not Jonny, the average woman's dream, to be confessing feelings of love for her.
"You're not seeing anyone, are you?" Jonny asked.
"No...I kind of put dating on the back burner since I broke up with Vincent," Katherine replied.
"Look, I understand if you don't have the same kind of feelings for me...but if it's okay with you, I'd like to see you more," Jonny said.
"Well, that was to the point."
"I...I don't know, Jonny. It's still pretty soon..." Katherine said, groping for an excuse. The fact was she did like Jonny very much. He was always looking out for her a bit more than Vincent did back in school. Still, did she like him enough to start seeing him? "What would Vincent think?"
"Vincent's long gone. None of us have seen him since you two ended it and all of us are sure he's not going to come back," Jonny said. He fixed his dark gaze on Katherine and asked, "You're not still in love with him, are you?"
"N-No...not really..." Katherine said, finding herself unable to resist Jonny's charm.
"He cheated on you and made it no big secret that he wasn't going to commit to you," Jonny reminded her. "Katherine, I swear on my life that I would never cheat on you or put you through the same crap Vincent did. You're a woman that's worth more than the world."
Despite herself, Katherine blushed. "You think that I'm your soul mate, Jonny?"
"I've got a strong feeling you are. I haven't been able to think about another woman since high school. You were the only one on my mind," Jonny admitted. "I had to tell you this or it was just going to drive me insane, Katherine. If you think it's too soon..."
"Maybe just a bit...I need a bit more time, Jonny. But..." Katherine reached across the table and rested her hand on his. "Thank you. It's reassuring to know someone out there wants me. When I found out Vincent was cheating, I...I thought it was something I did."
"No way." Jonny held onto her hand. "No one knows the reason why and it's not important anymore, Katherine. He's gone now. What's important is you. You can't let him make you doubt yourself. You're an amazing woman that a lot of girls could really learn from."
Katherine smiled. For the first time in five months, she finally felt at ease with herself and comfortable with Vincent really being gone.
Maybe she should give Jonny a chance...
The sound of Jonny's ringtone interrupted the perfect moment. Jonny groaned and mentally kicked himself for forgetting to turn off his cellphone before dinner. "Hang on a sec, Kath...let me see who it is."
"Sure..." Katherine was less than happy about the moment being broken. Jonny reached into his pocket and flipped out his cellphone. "Who is it?"
"It's Orlando. Probably wondering why I'm not at the Stray Sheep," Jonny replied. "Is it alright if I take this?"
"Go ahead," Katherine said, surprised he asked. That was something Vincent never did.
Jonny pressed the talk button and held his phone up to his ear. "What's up?"
"Jonny, you gotta get over here," Orlando said urgently. "There's an emergency."
"What, at the Stray Sheep?"
"No man, the hospital. Something bad's happened."
Jonny felt a sinking feeling creep up on him. "What's going on? At least tell me that much!"
"It's Toby...the kid tried to mutilate himself at home. His mom just called me. We gotta get over there now."
"Oh Christ..." Jonny suddenly lost his appetite. "We'll be there."
"We? Who's we, man?"
"I'm with Katherine. Look, I can't explain right now, not with Toby in the damn hospital and needing us," Jonny said. "We'll be there as soon as we can. I'll see you soon." He clicked off and Katherine gave him a worried look.
"Jonny, what's going on?"
"Toby tried to kill himself at his house. He's in the hospital right now. Listen, I know you don't know Toby that well, but the kid's like a little brother to me. I need to go see him," Jonny said. "Will you come with me?"
Katherine felt sick to her stomach, but she nodded anyway. Jonny called for the check, explaining it was an emergency and the two rushed out to Jonny's car. Jonny drove like a madman to the hospital and Katherine had to tighten her seat belt to avoid going through the windshield. Both of them were thinking the same thing.
Orlando, Nadia, Erica and Toby's mother, Lissa, were already in the waiting room. Both Lissa and Erica were crying and Nadia was trying to console them both, saying that he'll pull through. Orlando had a tight look on his face, indicating he wasn't taking this news well. When he saw Jonny and Katherine approaching, he stood up and went over to greet them. "About time you got here. Hey Katherine."
"Hi Orlando..." Katherine's tone was soft and full of worry. "How is he?"
"The docs say he didn't lose a lot of blood, but he's out of it right now. They had to wrap his arms up a lot and let him sleep the shock off. He should be awake in an hour or so." Orlando didn't look any better about the news. "Listen, I don't want to say this loudly, but when the paramedics got him over here, I found a note in one of his pockets and got it out myself. The kid was actually trying to off himself." He passed Jonny a sheet of lined paper. "See for yourself."
Jonny wordlessly took the note and read it quietly. It read, im an idiot. i can't accept myself for what happened between me and erica. she's really a man in a girl's body that i screwed with. i don't deserve to live.
"What kind of crap is this?" Jonny demanded.
"Guess he was more broken up about the news than we realized..." Orlando said. "Listen, don't show this to Erica. This'll only make things worse. We gotta wait until the kid comes out of it and talk to him ourselves."
"Right..." Jonny nodded. "Katherine, if you don't want to stay, I can take you home. I have to be here. I hope you understand."
"I do, Jonny. And I'd prefer to stay," Katherine said. "It's been too long since I was with any of you and I'd like to offer any support for Toby."
"That's the Katherine I remember," Orlando said with a grin. Nadia glanced up and gave a very girlish shriek. "Nadia's been asking about you, too."
"Kathy!" Nadia said, jumping up and hugging her. "I've missed you!" She led Katherine over to the other girls and started a round of small talk. Orlando glanced at Jonny, who still hadn't moved.
"What are you doing with Katherine anyway?"
"Remember when I said if anyone's been thinking about how she feels after that loser left?" Jonny asked. "I realized that included me too, so I took her out to dinner after work to catch up."
Orlando sensed there was more to that, but now wasn't the time to press for answers. He just shrugged and sat back down next to his wife and Jonny took a seat next to Katherine. They all talked about Toby and how horrible it was for him to do this to himself. Erica seemed to be the most broken up about it.
"I'm an idiot. I should have just kept my secret to myself. Maybe if I did, he wouldn't have done this."
But it wasn't completely her fault, was it? She was thirty two, ten years older than Toby. She had thought Toby was more mature than his age and figured he could take the news well enough.
"Looks like I overestimated his maturity...I shouldn't have gotten involved with him. He's too young for me, too naive and clueless about how life really is."
And yet, he was also the most adorable thing Erica ever laid her eyes on. He was fun to tease in a lighthearted way and he had a heart of gold. He did moon after her like a little lovesick puppy, which she found appealing. It was a change from men who ogled her lustfully, especially while she was at work. Toby didn't want her for her looks. He just had a crush on her...for her.
Until the truth came out. When he found out she wasn't all one hundred percent female, the crush evaporated. Now Erica was left with this sense of guilt right next to a hollow feeling.
It was much later when the doctor treating Toby came out and announced he was awake. Lissa spoke to the doctor a little bit more about the treatment while Jonny, Katherine, Nadia and Erica went in to see him.
The plucky youth looked like a wreck. There were bandages wrapped all along his forearms and his hair was disheveled and he looked miserable. When he saw Erica walk in, he freaked. "No! No, not here!"
"Toby, snap out of it!" Jonny said in a firm voice. "What's wrong with you?"
"I don't want to see her...him...here!" Toby whined. Erica took a step back, evidently hurt.
"Toby, that's just awful!" Nadia said. "Erica came out here to see you because she's worried sick about you! Don't you think that's good?"
"You idiot!" Orlando snapped. Jonny shot him a look that said 'shut up' and Orlando glared down at the youth.
"Toby, we need to have a serious talk with you when you get out of here," Jonny said. "If you can't handle the truth about some things, maybe you're not mature enough to work for me."
"Chief..." Toby's eyes widened. "Are you threatening to fire me?"
"I can't keep a mechanic who tries to kill himself because of one little thing," Jonny said. "When you're out of here, you're coming to the Stray Sheep and we're all going to talk."
"Actually..." Erica spoke up quietly and everyone glanced at her. "If no one else minds, I'd like to talk to Toby by myself right now."
"No!" Toby whined. "Someone get my mom and get her out of here!"
"Forget it, kid," Orlando said. Katherine seized the opportunity and went next to Toby's bed.
"Toby, listen to me. Learning the truth is always a hard thing, but it's part of growing up. Listen to what Erica has to say before acting rashly, okay?" she said softly. "We'll be outside."
Erica waited until they all left before pulling a chair close to Toby's bed and sat down. Toby looked away and Erica frowned. "So is this how it has to be, Toby? All that talk of being a man and owning up to your words was just a farce?"
"Like you can talk," Toby spat. "You tricked me!"
"Toby, do you think I got a sex change just because of you?" Erica snapped. "Well, you're wrong. I didn't get a sex change to go around and get men to sleep with me, only to tell them I was once a guy. The real reason I got it..." she paused. "Actually, maybe I shouldn't tell you. You're obviously not mature enough to handle the truth about me. Why should I tell you my pain?"
"Your pain? Look where I am," Toby groaned.
"You put yourself here," Erica reminded him. "This isn't how adults cope with problems, you know. Problems are suppose to be handled and then forgotten about. If they can't be handled, too bad. Put up with it. Not kill yourself!"
Toby was silent. Erica sighed and fiddled with her nails. "Toby, it's true I was once a guy named Eric. I won't deny that. Maybe somewhere deep down, that guy is still there. But I've always been different from other guys. Not different in the usual I-prefer-make up-to-sports kind. There were a lot of times I used to fantasize I was actually a girl and how I should have been born as one."
"So what?" Toby asked. "All you're telling me is that you were different from other guys. Isn't that a problem too? Look what you did to yourself!"
"Yes, look," Erica said. "I changed myself into something I'm more comfortable being. Something that allowed me to forget the real trouble I went through as a male."
"Trouble? What trouble? You talking about the feeling different thing?"
"No..." Erica bit a chipped nail and took out a nail file. "When I was nineteen, just before I got the change, I was ambushed in an alley and raped by a psychotic woman. She beat me into doing it and kept saying how all men do this, how all men only care about sex and how filthy I was making her. She went on for an hour before police found us and arrested her. Everything she said made me feel ashamed to be a guy and I went into hiding for a long time. It took me a long time after the change to make me realize I shouldn't have listened to her, but by then I was already comfortable in my new body. So I got over it and went on with my life."
Toby turned to her with a shocked look on his face. Erica gave him a weak smile. "You're the first person I ever told, Toby. The guys don't know the truth and I never saw any reason to tell them. What I want you to know is that there's always a reason for everything. I had to tell you the truth about me because I really thought we were going to be in a relationship and I didn't want any secrets in our relationship. I really and honestly liked you, Toby. And I still do."
"Erica...I didn't know...I'm sorry."
Erica shrugged. "So now you know everything I hid about me. Now what will you do?"
"I...I don't know," Toby confessed. "I mean, the fact you used to be a guy is still freaking me out. Doesn't that mean you were probably gay when you were still a guy?"
Erica laughed loudly. "Is that what you were worried about? That you might be gay because you had sex with someone who used to be a guy? Toby, let me put it this way. Even in my guy body, I still felt like I was a girl inside. A girl with regular feelings for guys. Does that sound gay?"
"I guess not..."
"Then are you still freaked out?" Erica asked. "Because I'm willing to give it another shot with you."
"I think I need some time to really get it...and get out of here," Toby groaned. Erica's smile grew wider and she reached over and hugged him.
"That's fine. I understand. Just don't do anything like this again or else I'll pour a pitcher of beer down your pants," she threatened playfully. Toby gave a weak smile. The news would take some time to digest, but...feeling nested in Erica's arms felt so comforting and right.
A month later, Jonny, Orlando, Toby, Nadia, Katherine and Erica met up at the Stray Sheep for a triple date. Erica served her best pizzas and drinks all around and they shared jokes and had the best time in half a year. Nadia requested only water, which was strange since she normally had a cocktail when she was with Orlando. It was near the end of dinner she and Orlando announced they were going to have a baby and Orlando asked Jonny to be the godfather. Katherine proposed a toast to their happy days and shared a warm kiss with Jonny, confirming Orlando's suspicions and making everyone else practically shriek with surprise. Toby decided he'd prove he was a real man too and got the nerve to kiss Erica right at the table as well, much to the waitress's delight.
Without Vincent around, life was surprisingly much better. No one seemed to notice he was gone anymore. Katherine and Jonny were going steady and Toby and Erica were taking it one step at a time.
And it all started with asking questions and ended with the right kind of answers.
Bad ending is bad. Sorry, I never know how to end a story.
Finally got my first Catherine fanfic done. Any JonnyxKatherine fans out there? As much as I like VincentxKatherine, I actually like this pairing a lot more. I also like VincentxCatherine, so I based this off the 'True Cheater' ending, where he goes off to the Underworld to be with her.
I freaking love this game. Now if only I had an Xbox to play it again. x_x Before I moved out, I only managed to get two of the endings. I must get my own Xbox and play this endlessly.
Please review and offer critique!