Chapter 83

“I’m not coming out,” Chad said, his voice echoing through the Melbrook common room despite speaking through the closed door to boy’s lounge. “I was misled on my costume and I feel it is inappropriate to walk around in.”

“Don’t be such a spoilsport,” Angela called. Her own costume was a mystery, as she was wearing a long blue robe over the length of her body. The only clue the others had was that her blonde hair was teased up in a messy bundle. Otherwise, she was totally concealed.

“It can’t be that bad,” Alice said. She was dressed in a blue and white dress, with a simple black hair band running across her head. Sewn to her left shoulder was a purple striped stuffed cat with a wide grin, giving away a hint to her identity for those who didn’t pick up on the subtle cues. For Alice, the idea of dressing up as another Alice tickled her with a strange humor, which made the costume all the more fitting.

“I assure you, it is rather bad,” Chad’s voice reiterated.

Alice let out a long sigh, then turned to the other males currently in the room. “Vince, Roy, you two want to pop open the door and drag him out?”

“You say that like he won’t put up much of a fight,” Roy pointed out. “Not that I mind a good row, but I’d hate to get blood on my outfit.” Roy’s “outfit” consisted of a pair of red shorts that ran down to his knees, soft soled shoes, a red silk robe across his back, and a set of boxing gloves tied together and hung over his neck. It was as much of a compromise as Hershel had been able to strike with his brother, in that at least this way Roy’s shirtlessness seemed to be part of a genuine costume effort and when Hershel took over he could close the robe.

“Don’t feel silly, Chad,” Vince encouraged him. He tugged on the red and yellow striped poofball hat that hung to his ears, effectively concealing his silver hair. “I let Alex coordinate our costumes, and I don’t even know who I am.”

“For the love of… how many times do I have to tell you this? You’re Jayne, I’m Mal, and Will is Wash,” Alex grumbled. He wore a striking ensemble himself, chocolate colored coat hanging to his calves and a genuine replica pistol strapped to his side.

“I don’t know what that means,” Vince replied.

“Just tell people you’re a browncoat,” Will instructed.

“No, Jayne wasn’t part of the… screw it, sure, why not?” Alex threw up his hands, abandoning all hope of educating his pop-culture-deficient friend.

“Chad, it can’t be all bad. I took a risk letting Alice choose my costume, and while it’s a little more than I’d have picked out, it still looks nice.” Mary’s words were gentle and reassuring. The small brunette was clad in tan slacks that hugged her legs, a period blouse dipping just a bit below the neck, and a large, voluminous red cloak. Even without the picnic basket, she was clearly meant to be a modest, yet sexy, Red Riding Hood.

“More is not my concern,” Chad mumbled.

“Well you need to get over your concerns soon,” Alice informed him. “We’re meeting Thomas and Camille’s bunch in half an hour, and if I’m not there they won’t let them into the area I reserved. How about we be fair and leave it to a group vote? Come out, and let the room decide if Angela has asked you to wear a bad costume. If they say yes, I’m sure we have an old spare we can lend you. If not, you deal with it and we get moving. Fair?”

There was a moment of silence as Chad contemplated his options, then the door to the boy’s lounge slowly opened and Chad stepped out.

The room was suddenly filled with gasps, blushing cheeks, suppressed snickers, and one piercing wolf whistle. The latter was done by Angela who immediately stepped forward to admire her handiwork.

“Chad, um, I thought you were going to be a robot,” Mary said, pointedly angling her gaze directly at his eyes.

“A robot? Where’d you get that idea?” Angela interrupted.

“You said metallic, shiny, and perfect for me. I made assumptions,” Chad explained.

“I kept my word, didn’t I? They are shiny and metallic. And the costume is perfect for you. I mean, you’re a blond man in superhumanly good shape. Rocky seemed like a good fit.”

“I’ve seen Rocky around ten times,” Roy said. “And at no point does he wear a set of skintight gold shorts.”

“Wrong Rocky,” Alex corrected. “Check Hershel’s memories. Angela is talking about Rocky from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Which, if I were to take a stab in the dark, would mean she’s dressed as Janet.”

“Give the nerd a prize,” Angela declared, letting her robe fall to the floor. Underneath she was wearing a white bra and a skirt slip that ended in a torn, misshapen line well above her knees. “See Chad, I got us a couple’s costume. Aren’t I just the sweetest?”

“It occurs to me that you are still wearing a considerable amount of more clothing than me,” Chad pointed out.

“Oh? Did you want me to even that out?” Her hands moved lightly to her toned back, where she hooked a thumb under the catch of her bra.

“No! No, you do not need to expose yourself,” Chad snapped quickly.

“So you’ll wear the costume without complaining?”

“I never said that.”

“Then you’re going to change? After I went to all the trouble of picking these out just for us, so anyone who looked would know we’re together, you’re going to just wear some other costume and leave me looking silly?”

“I… no, I will not. Let’s go to the party. As is.”

Angela threw back her head and let out a slight peal of mirth. “Oh Chad, you’re just too much fun. Once we’re in the car, you can put on your real shorts. You’ll still be Rocky, but this pair will leave a lot more to the imagination.”

“I’m confused,” Chad said.

“I just wanted to see if you’d actually wear that for me,” Angela explained, moving in close and giving him a small, lingering kiss on the cheek. “Now that I know, there’s no way I’m letting you out of the house in those things. I’d be batting other women away all night, and that’s just not my idea of how to have a good time.”

“Dang,” Roy said, watching the ordeal unfold before him. “That has got to be, mothers excluded, the most downright terrifying woman I’ve ever met.”

“Yes, she is,” Chad agreed. Despite the seriousness of his words, he returned Angela’s kiss, and when they were finally done, the night was able to commence.