Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: Sugar and Spice
Author: Dolores
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: None - pre season one
Summary: What are little girls made of?
Disclaimer: I don't own them, they're not one of my many toys. I don't own them; I won't say they can't go with other boys.
Website: Thrown With Great Force
Author's Note: The idea for this came from a conversation with Kate, but I would like to acknowledge the influence of Prophecy Girl's Little Earthquakes series, which I urge you all to go read. Much love to Pam and Kate for beta reading. "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." - Dorothy Parker


The little brush glided across his thumbnail in silence, the sheen of wet nail polish left in its wake. He thought that the blue colour was nice, even if the smell of the polish gave him a funny feeling in his stomach. Taking great care not to paint his fingers, he stuck the tip of his tongue out in concentration and so intent on his task was he that he did not notice when his tongue smudged the rosy red, waxy lipstick that coated his lips.

When he got to the second last finger he decided once and for all that the polish definitely looked like the teal eye shadow he had applied in a thick swathe on each eyelid. This was a good thing, though why that would be he didn't know so he wasn't sure.

Cocking his head to admire his handiwork allowed Monique, hitherto sitting heavy but straight on top of his head, to slip to what he could have called a rakish angle, were either of those concepts familiar to him then.

"Daniel?"

Mom suddenly appeared at her bedroom door then, and Daniel pouted, giving her a petulant look.

"Mo-om! It was supposed to be a surprise!"

"Oh, it is sweetie. It really is."

For a few moments Mrs Osborne stared at her four-year-old son as he sat, resplendent in one of her floral dresses, at the vanity table. He was caked in her make up and wearing one of her many wigs. She could have opted here for horror, as her husband undoubtedly would have, but instead she settled on amusement. And, oddly, curiosity.

"Honey, what are you doing?"

"I'm being you!" he answered with a grin. It was the answer she vaguely expected – and vaguely desired in a way, she realised, not without some discomfort. Daniel slid off the stool and stood in front of her, the dress hanging off his bony frame like a marquee on a telephone pole, capped like some sort of absurd psychedelic mountain by the smooth bob of jet black acrylic hair.

"I don't think I would wear that dress with that lipstick dear. But otherwise it's a very good imitation." She regarded him for a moment longer. "You know, I always wanted a daughter, but after you came – well, your daddy and I only wanted one baby."

***

As the station wagon whisked them towards Oxnard, Mrs. Osborne wondered if it was inevitable. She was a jazz singer, after all, with wigs and sequined dresses and heavy make up strewn about her house. At some point Daniel was going to want to try them all on.

She glanced in the rear view mirror where Daniel sat in the back seat, fiddling with one of the white ribbons that decorated his pink party dress. She'd looked at it hanging in the store window for weeks, wishing she had a daughter or a niece or, God, even a granddaughter to buy it for.

When she was little she'd always wanted a live Barbie doll to dress up and parade in front of her friends, a toy whose hair she could brush and curl and tie into bunches. The day after she'd first found Daniel in her bedroom wearing her dress, she went back to the store and bought the dress, heart quickening as she handed over the bills to the cashier. She would have her Barbie doll after all.

It wasn't until today, when her husband had left early to go and play golf, that she'd been able to surprise Daniel with her present. He'd been as excited by it as she was nervous he'd reject her. They'd spent the morning dressing him up; his hair was long enough that, with the addition of a few hairclips, he looked quite girlish. She wanted to take him out and show him off, but Sunnydale was out of the question: too many people knew them, and she didn't like to think what would happen if she met a neighbour. Her husband certainly couldn't ever know.

It would be their little secret.

***

About once a month after that, when Dad was out of the house, Mom would take from her closet one of the many dresses she bought for her son and they would play dress up. Some days they would stay in and paint each others' nails, and some days they would go on a trip somewhere and shop for new clothes and hair dye and accessories, and strangers would tell Mom how sweet her daughter looked with those ribbons in her hair.

Daniel enjoyed it; he felt special when he was a girl, he could do different things and play with different toys and no one noticed. Mom loved him more when he was Danielle he thought, because she showered upon him so much more attention. Being a girl was better for sure.

As he got older those special days became fewer and fewer until they stopped. He knew it was because he looked less and less like a little girl and it became harder for Mom to see him as such. Besides, he was interested in other things now: music and video games replaced ribbons and dresses.

Every so often though he would remember the days he would become a little girl and he wished he could recapture some of what he felt then. The days when he wanted to feel special. That was probably how it started.

***

Oz picked a box of Clairol from the shelf, frowning at the winsome model on the front, and tried to decide if he would look better in Liquorice Black or Deep Plum. He knew he had to choose quick; the drugstore was due to close soon and he still had to pick out a new bottle of nail polish.

After all, tonight just wouldn't be special if Mom couldn't paint his nails.