AN: Seasonal depression may be chewing my kneecaps off, but I still got content to post! This is actually part of a oneshot collection I have on AO3, but this one in particular is the chapter I'm most proud of. It's 2020 and there's no god strong enough to stop me from projecting my queer and neurodivergentness into everything I like and that's why this exists. Also, this is my first time writing Newmans.
Big shoutout to twitchytweek on there for betaing and another for Khush_i's fic Gender is the Night for the inspiration!
Laney chewed the inside of her cheek as she packed up her bass. It had been a whole month since she started wondering and yet she couldn't quite get the courage to speak it out loud. Which was weird in its own right, because she never had a problem voicing her thoughts before. Not counting that embarrassing crush, of course. She knew the rest of the band was okay with being queer, yet every time after practice the words clogged up in her throat. It was starting to get pretty annoying.
"Hey, Earth to Lanes, you there?" Corey snapped his fingers in front of her face, able to sneak up on her while she was lost in her thoughts.
The redhead blinked back into reality, not having noticed when her former crush walked right up to her. "Oh, uh, hi Core."
"There something up? You've been kinda scatterbrained all practice."
"No, I'm-" Deep breathes Penn, now's your chance! "Actually yeah, something's been on my mind. How..." There was that familiar tightness in her throat again. It was like ripping a bandaid off, she just had to do it fast. As soon as she got the guts, that is.
"Howl? Like, awoo?" The guitarist joked in an effort to relieve the tension. Something in his gut told him that this was capital i important. Well, not so much his gut as it was how Laney couldn't quite look at him. He was very carefully not paying attention to the tiny voice in his brain coming up with conspiracy theories on what was wrong. Seriously, he was going to bawl if something happened to Granny Penn.
At least it got a snort and a fleeting smile out of her. "No, you furry, how... How did you know you were a boy?" Each word came out haltingly, not so much like pulling teeth as it was peeking out from under the covers. There was a comfort in not knowing his reaction, no matter how much hiding grated against her senses.
Whew, it wasn't that kind of emergency at all. "Dunno, I've always been a boy for as long as I can remember. Being a girl just isn't me." Corey took a seat next to her on the stage. This definitely was a sit down sort of conversation. At least she was looking at him, though her expression was troubled. A warmth bloomed in his chest at the trust she had in him. "What makes you ask?"
"I don't think I'm a girl, exactly. Not that I'm a guy either! I just..." Laney grasped the air as if she could pluck the words right out of it. Whoever said talking about it out loud got it off your chest was a filthy liar. "I know I'm not a guy, but girl is the closest thing, but it's still not quite it? I don't know, dude. I feel all all mixed up inside and I hate it."
He pulled her into a side hug. "It's all cool, Lanes. You make you, you know?"
By the look of bafflement the bassist was giving him, she did not know. A spotlight would've shined down on him as he began to explain, had this been the end to another wacky adventure.
"It's like when you got a song stuck in your head and you swear you heard it before but can't remember the lyrics so you're just humming to the tune until it comes to you! But you don't need the lyrics to jam along, just whatever notes make you feel like you got what's inside right. Who cares what other people think, they can't hear those sweet riffs in your skull! You gotta rock what you got!" As he spoke he air-guitared to those imaginary tunes, though careful not to knock her off the stage. The bruise she gave him last time he did that still hadn't gone away.
The rest of his speech (and bruise for that matter) were forgotten as Laney pulled in a brief but strong hug. That shortie could give Kon a run for his money when it came to raw strength. It said a lot more than the muffled "Thanks, Core" spoken into his shoulder.
"I think I still have some of my old binders in my room if you wanna try them out."
"When was the last time those things got washed?"
"Thanks, but I'll get my own."
"Aaaaaaannnd, done!" Kim finished with a flourish.
"Check it out!" Konnie shoved the mirror into his face far too close to actually see himself in.
Once he wrestled her arm back into visible distance, Lenny was able to take himself in. Black lipstick, black eyeshadow and liner, she even doodled a couple tiny black hearts here and there. For as little makeup as he had on, it felt like a drastic change. Worldtilting, even. Not immediately recognizing his own face was an odd feeling. Yet, some part of him rejoiced and settled at the same time. It was... A good kind of terror, he decided after a moment of tilting the mirror around. Close to but not quite like the anticipation of coming onstage, mixed in with just a little bit of giddiness for good measure. His reflection was grinning back at him when he put it down.
"Looking hella, dude." Carrie looked up from her phone and gave him a thumbs up when he turned to her.
Well, he couldn't say no to the frontwomen stamp of approval. Not like he wanted to. "Thank you," Lenny quietly said back with a rising blush.
"We aren't finished with you yet!" Came Kim's slightly muffled reply. She had her head down in the trunk that contained her accessories slash invention collection. They were usually one and the same with her.
"Please no lasers this time." Larry pleaded.
"Scorch a couple eyebrows off and nobody lets ya live it down, jeez…"
"It took a month for mine to grow back!" Carrie shot back. Sure, she learned her away around a makeup pencil because of that, but that didn't mean she wanted to in the first place. And they itched growing back too.
"Fiiiiine, ya weenies," the keyboardist said with a put-upon air as she popped back up. "Here, try this on."
Lenny eeped as he fumbled to catch the handful of jewelry she tossed at him. As he detangled the mess, his mind began to wonder. Sure, he was more or less willing to go along with makeovers since he joined the band. He hadn't really grasped, and still hasn't if he was honest with himself, why boys couldn't have makeovers or sleepovers or whatever else girls got to do. Frankly speaking, he was just happy to be invited in the first place. One of the perks of being mostly homeschooled was missing out on all that who was supposed to do what sort of nonsense. Still, this was the first time he said he actively wanted to something in particular. First time he wanted to keep it on as long as he could too. Usually he just washed whatever makeover the girls did to him off as soon as he could without offending them. Or after he accidentally smudged it, whichever came first. Having it done on his own terms felt liberating in a way. Is this what people meant when they said they felt pretty? If so, no wonder why they went all out with the stuff. He wasn't about to slather on by the gallon anytime soon, but this felt like a really good start.
A yelp drew his attention back to the real world. The source of it being Carrie, who was trying and failing to fend off a hairbrush wielding Konnie. Him and Kim shared an eyeroll over their antics. One would think she would learn her lesson about brushing her hair regularly after the first few times this happened.
"Help, mayday, SOS! I'm being mauled!"
"Hold still before you break more bristles off!"
"You can keep those, they aren't really my style", Kim piped up over the two wrestling on the floor.
"Hey, Konnie, is it okay if I keep them?" No way was he falling for the 'but she said it was okay' trap again. Even as he asked, he was eyeing the black and steel jewelry. The studded leather choker (collar?) was rather understated compared to the neon and charm-laden style the twins preferred to hoard.
"Nahhh, we still got extras from that gig at that goth store. C'mon, try them on!" Konnie answered cheerfully, completely ignoring Carrie's biting and clawing attempts at freedom.
Later, he could tell the guitarist he was smiling because of how welcoming and stuff the band was. Totally not because she looked like a cat trying to escape a bath.
AN: Merry christmas, and a happy holidays to everyone! To anyone whose curious I headcanon both Laney and Larry to be nonbinary, Corey as a transguy, and haven't decided on the rest of them. If I get around to that, that chapter will be posted in here. Hit me up in the review box if any of yall would like to see more from that oneshot collection on here!