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30 November 2010 @ 01:46 pm
Late Bloomer  

Title: Late Bloomer
Prompt: Bedroom (prompt seven, table two)
Author:imamaryanne 
Word Count: approx 1,300
Rating: PG
Summary: Jay has an important question for Ducky.
Author’s Note: This takes place during California Diaries #10, the evening of December 2nd, after Jay unsuccessfully tries to set Ducky up on a date with Lee Ann’s hot Swedish cousin.  Told using the same ‘voice’ as Ducky in his diaries, which, if you haven’t read them are written entirely in the second person. 

  

 

Later.  Much later.

 

Jay just left and you are spent - tired at the thinking he’s made you do.  You can’t believe what he came over to say to you and you hope you said nothing incriminating because you’re pretty sure he was recording this conversation for all the cro-mags to have a good laugh at your expense.

It started innocuous enough. A knock on the door, your parents going to get it, and them shrieking with excitement to see Jay, whom they hadn’t seen in nearly a year.  Because Jay can turn on the charm when he needs to, he actually acted interested in their work in Ghana, even though you know there’s nothing more boring than talking about Ghana.

Jay walks into the kitchen with his usual inane greeting, “Duckman! Duckarino! The Duckmeister!”

“Hi Jay,” you say. “What’s up?”

“I have a question for you.”

Your stomach clenches, because you’re sure, beyond sure really, you’re 100% CERTAIN that he’s going to harp on you about setting you up with Lee Ann’s Swedish cousin again. “What’s the question?” You’re trying not to show that your teeth are clenched. 

Jay glances around and lowers his voice, “It’s kind of personal, can we go to your bedroom?”

You sigh, consider refusing his request but finally you get up and walk silently to your bedroom with Jay following behind you.

The setting: Your Bedroom
The scene: You – sitting on the edge of your bed fiddling with the ends of your pillowcase (freshly cleaned since your mom has taken over laundry duty from Ted)
Jay – standing at your desk, pretending to be interested in a badly-built model plane you built when you were ten years old and haven’t had the heart to get rid of yet.  Jay seems nervous.
The dialogue:

            J: Anyway, I’m sorry about trying to set you up again.
            D: Okay.  That was your question?
            J: No, my question is kind of related to it though.
            D: (after a moment’s silence) Okay.  What’s the question?
            J: (even more nervous than before.) Well, you know.  You kind of freaked out over being set up with Lee Ann. Which, I shouldn’t have    sprung that on you.  But there wasn’t really any reason to freak out over me ASKING you to go out with her cousin.  Then Marco made that comment about you. And then I started thinking about how the other day I said if I was more like Alex, maybe you’d hang out with me more.
          D: What’s your question, Jay?
          J: I was wondering if that’s the case, with Alex. That you won’t go out with Lee Ann’s cousin because you and Alex are already….(Jay drifts off)
           D: Already what?
          J: (Stamps his foot impatiently). You know what I’m trying to ask, Ducky.  Look, I have an aunt who’s a lesbian, so I’m okay with it.
          D: Oh.  You have an aunt who’s a lesbian. What does that have to do with me
          J: (Rolls his eyes, clearly getting more uncomfortable.) Don’t make this question harder on me than it has to be. (His head is tilted back and he’s looking at you from the side).
          D: You haven’t asked me a question yet. (Your teeth are undeniably clenched now.)
          J: Are you gay? Are you together with Alex?

You’re too upset to write about this right now.

 

Two O’Clock in the morning

(aka the fifth straight hour of your major freak-out)

 

You’re sitting on your bed, in the exact same position that you were sitting in when Jay came over and dropped his bombshell of a question.  Instead of playing with your freshly laundered pillowcase, you’re scribbling in your diary.  But you are sitting in the exact same spot. 

Of course you denied it to Jay.  You told him you aren’t gay, and you resent the hell out of being questioned just because you aren’t some football playing Cro-Mag like Marco and Bud and the rest of Jay’s new friends. Why would he even ask that anyway?

You can’t believe he answered your rhetorical question. “It’s just the way you are Ducky.  You dress a little girly,” (Well, if not wanting your jeans to hang off your butt is wrong, who wants to be right?) “You aren’t at all interested in girls except for those eighth graders you hang out with, you dressed up like CUPID last Valentine’s Day.  And the other day, I saw you in the parking lot with Alex.  He was depressed, no surprise there, and you were singing that song from Guys and Dolls to try and cheer him up.  Guys don’t do that, Ducky.  Straight guys don’t anyway.  It’s seemed kind of queer.”

And you swear, you aren’t offended by his use of the word queer BECAUSE YOU AREN’T, so there’s no reason for you to be offended, right?  But you continue to deny to Jay and you get angry and you kick him out of your room.

All for asking an honest question.

Then you spend the next several hours freaking out alone in your bedroom.  And you want to talk to someone about this, but WHO IS THERE TO TALK TO?  If Sunny wasn’t such a basket case, you’d go to her.  If Alex wasn’t such a basket case, you’d go to him.  Ted is out.  Your parents are out.

Oh God, your parents.

You remember, with sudden clarity, a conversation you were unlucky enough to overhear about a year and a half ago.  Your dad was wondering the same thing about you that Jay was wondering.  He was worried and using phrases like, “It’s a hard life,” and “Chris is already getting picked on in school.  These other kids can obviously see it.”

Your mom laughed it off and assured him that you were a late-bloomer. Words that you held on to for the last eighteen months, KNOWING that was the truth about yourself. 

But your father was adamant. “We need to stop letting him wear those tight jeans, and vests and tight pink t-shirts.”

Your mother laughed at how silly your father was being.  And you laughed right along with her because of COURSE your dad was wrong and of COURSE your mother was right.  And face it, pink is a good color on you. You held on to the belief of being a late bloomer for the last eighteen months.  You’ve held onto that turn of phrase, “late-bloomer” like it was a life preserver and you were drowning in a sea of doubt about yourself.

No need to worry about not being interested in kissing Sunny even though you KNOW she’s gorgeous and funny and smart.  Because eventually that interest will come around, you’re just a late-bloomer, Ducky. 

No need to worry when the Cro-Mags say you flit around or call you a fairy or laughingly tell Jay that Lee Ann or her cousin aren’t your type. Because they’ll see that you’re just a late-bloomer. 

No need to worry that you occasionally find yourself staring at Bud. Because you aren’t staring at him LIKE THAT, you’re just doing a little comparison between him and your own late-bloomer body.  

You see it, your mother sees it.  WHY CAN’T JAY SEE IT?  Why can’t the rest of the Cro-Mags see what you and your mother see?

Unless.

God, don’t even think it.

Are you and your mother failing to see what Jay sees and what your father sees and what the rest of the Cro-Mags see?

No.

You can’t even believe you wrote that. 

BECAUSE IT’S NOT TRUE.

Say it to yourself, Ducky.  You are not gay.  You are not gay. Lather, rinse, repeat.  You. Are. Not. Gay.

Unless.  Maybe you are. 

No.  You can’t give Jay that much credit.  Those Cro-Mags with their tiny Neanderthal brains could never pick up on that about you if you couldn’t pick up on it yourself.  Late-Bloomer.  Say it again, Ducky.  LATE-BLOOMER.

You’re safe.  You aren’t gay.

 

One Hour Later

(Hour Six of major freak out) 

Except that you are. 

 

 
 
 
whyteroze28whyteroze28 on November 30th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
Late Bloomer
Poor, poor Ducky.
I know this is the biggest speculation in the series, and it seems so likely that that was where things would end up, but I wish we had been given some kind of resolution one way or another.
I love the way he finally realizes that he can't even really lie to himself, because he's sort of painted himself into a corner with all of his arguments.
Really awesome story, and so true to the Ducky I remember.
Nikkiimamaryanne on November 30th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Late Bloomer
I've pathetically been keeping track of all the Ducky is Gay hints in California Diaries. It's all but been said. It's so weird, because these were written for an older audience, and it's OK to write about a girl being abused by a boyfriend, a suicide attempt, rampant anorexia, slightly slutty Sunny. But mention the word gay? Noooooo!
cassandraclue: geniuscassandraclue on November 30th, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Late Bloomer
I've always felt it was completely intentional--there are a lot of really subtle clues--and that if they had started writing the series nowadays, Ducky would totally be out, in least in terms of writing about it in his diary.
ciara xyerraciaraxyerra on November 30th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
i have heard that ann m. martin (who is gay herself) was working up to revealing that ducky was gay, but the books weren't doing so well sales-wise & scholastic ended the series before she got to the big revelation. you might notice that the series does end kind of suddenly.
Nikkiimamaryanne on November 30th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
It's a sad state of affairs when there were a million Little Sister books but only fifteen California Diaries.
LuxKen27: BSC - 1992luxken27 on November 30th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
This is incredibly well written - you've captured Ducky's voice perfectly, and his patented ability to freak out in a slow-burn sort of way :P

It's been awhile since I read his later diaries (they are incredibly hard to find around here), but from what I remember of my first read through the series, I never thought he was gay. Confused, yes. Traumatized, yes...but I didn't think this was the 'obvious' answer to his woes. I don't know. I was surprised when I found this fandom and everybody was like "ZOMG SO OBVIOUS" *shrug*

Either way, this is a really excellent scene - and if this is the direction Ann was trying to take it, then this could very easily be canon :P And yay for more Ducky fic!!
Nikkiimamaryanne on November 30th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

I actually didn't read any of CD until I was an adult. And as an adult, Ducky's sexuality is definitely obvious. Not sure if it would have been had I been reading it as a kiddo.
cassandraclue: geniuscassandraclue on November 30th, 2010 10:45 pm (UTC)
I read them when I was in middle school, and it always seemed clear to me.
Melciawritingvixen on December 1st, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
I feel like this is a deleted scene from the California Diaries and that's a great compliment. Amazing.
Ashley in the Sky with Diamondschicken_queen on December 1st, 2010 03:49 am (UTC)
This is FANTASTIC. I don't know how to say how much I love it without saying what has already been said. This reads as if it were actually part of the series, it is so perfectly Ducky.
Emilybookplayer on December 8th, 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
I know this is forever ago and I'm late to the party, but I just wanted to say how awesome this is. It makes me even more proud that you liked my recent Kristy fic.