Bikini Beach and the Nerds - Holiday Queen

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Bikini Beach: Nerds — Holiday Queen
ElrodW

All fraternities sponsor a candidate for the annual Holiday Queen ball. But the Nerds are having a problem finding a girl to sponsor. That is, until one of them suggests using the magic of Bikini Beach.

(This tale is largely based on Revenge of the Nerds, and is set in the Bikini Beach universe. The characters were initially defined in my earlier tale "Bikini Beach: The Nerds — Revenge")

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Bikini Beach: Nerds — Holiday Queen

This story is copyright by the author. It is protected by licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The flier couldn't have been less inconspicuous; brightly colored and large, it dominated the bulletin board in the student union, attracting attention as it had been designed to do. Robert eased past the sorority girls clustered in front of the board, ignoring their disdainful snorts and comments, and took a closer look at the flier.

45th Holiday Luau
Our Annual Celebration
of
Sun instead of Snow!!

To Robert, it looked like a good idea; as a southern city, there wouldn't be any snow to deal with, but sun and fun. The flier further detailed the events. The student union board sponsored the games and food — all seemed to have tropical themes, including the pig roast luau — and it was free. Then Robert read the last lines and his heart sank. The event included the annual Holiday Queen pageant, where the fraternities sponsored the entrants. Even as he stepped away from the bulletin board, Robert knew that the Nu Rho Delta fraternity, his fraternity and the newest on campus, was going to have to sponsor a girl.

As Robert walked back to his room, he felt the pall of his social status darkening what should have been anticipation of a fun event. By the time he got to the old gym, the new fraternity house of the NRDs, he was almost depressed. He shuffled through the lobby, ignoring the construction workers rehabilitating the old gym into his frat's house. He tossed his books on his desk and slouched into a chair.

Bert heard the crash of the books and lifted his head from his pillow. He rolled and stared down from the top bunk, searching for the source of the interruption to his nap. "Oh, it's you," he said through a yawn as he spotted Robert. "I say, you look a bit down." Bert's British accent was unmistakable; he was the only member of the fraternity from the UK.

Robert glanced up, and then slumped back in his chair, his eyes fixed on nothing in particular. "Yeah, I guess." He sounded completely without enthusiasm.

Bert twisted and leaped from the third bunk. Originally, their room was part of a makeshift dorm in the old gymnasium. But since the fraternity had been started, rooms had emptied; after all, not everyone wanted to be part of a nerd fraternity. It was no longer necessary to have triple bunks; in fact, some of the guys had single rooms. But Bert had bonded with his two roommates, and after a quick council, they had decided to remain in one room.

The Brit yanked open the refrigerator and pulled out a couple of cans of Coke. One he handed to Robert; the other, he opened as he sat down. "So," he said after a long swig of cola, "what's the problem this time? The Dean trying to get us again?"

Robert glanced up, then shook his head. He popped open his own can and took a long swig. "No. I think he's laying off us for a while. I think we make him nervous."

Bert tilted back his head and laughed heartily. "I can understand why." That the Nerds had used the magic of Bikini Beach to effectively blackmail the dean into accepting their application as a fraternity was a very closely guarded secret. Though they didn't know precisely why the dean disliked them so much, they knew not to trust the man.

"Holiday Luau," Robert answered Bert's original question. He took another sip of his pop.

Bert frowned. "What exactly is a 'Holiday Luau'?" he asked. "It sounds like some type of celebration."

"It's a great big party," a voice answered from the door. Both boys' heads nearly snapped as they spun to see who had come into their room. It was Brandon, the third roommate and Robert's lifelong best friend. Brandon's eyes were aglow with excitement. "It's a big Hawaiian style party, with games and contests. Most girls dress in bikinis and grass skirts." He sat down on the modest sofa. "Oh, and there's a big pig roast, too!" Brandon's eyes lit up. "It's going to be great! There's even a beauty pageant."

Bert shifted his glance between Robert and Brandon. The contrast between the way these two were taking the same news couldn't have been more striking. He looked at Robert. "So what's the problem?"

Robert shook his head. "The problem is that we, as a fraternity, have to sponsor a girl as an entrant in the pageant."

Brandon didn't seem to really comprehend Robert's concern. "So we find a girl to sponsor. No big deal, right?" He hadn't lost any of his enthusiasm.

Robert shook his head, and he saw Brandon's face fall. "So, we're nerds," he said bitterly. "How are we going to find a girl to sponsor?"

**********

Brandon and Chuck sat at the table, facing an array of sofas and chairs pulled around them in the 'lounge' area. In reality, the lounge was just another section of the basketball court, but devoid of the temporary partitions which constituted the rooms. Little light filtered in through the large windows on one wall; it was late, and there was no sunlight. The dim light came from the few remaining bulbs in the ceiling fixtures, diminished in number to save the college electricity costs, and a couple of floor lamps flanking the table. The table itself, in an ironic twist to the nerds' interests and lack of sporting skills, was situated on the free throw line of the court, the faded paint lines still visibly marking the original purpose of the facility. Even more ironically, laptop computers and smart-phones were prolific in the room, including a laptop on the table, obviously for organizational purposes.

Brandon pressed a key on the laptop, and then banged a gavel, formally initiating the procedures and silencing the murmurs of the membership. "This meeting is officially called to order." Okay, I'd like a motion to dispense with the formalities and get right to the business at hand." Six voices immediately called out, "so moved," while the matching hands shot in the air. "Second," rang out almost immediately afterward. And in keeping with their normal and quite informal way of conducting business, the membership shouted out their "Aye," votes without waiting for Brandon to call for them.

Brandon tapped his gavel again. He glanced at a screen and pressed a couple of buttons. This part always screwed up the voice recognition system they used for minutes, and as usual, he had to clear the jumble. A couple of deft keystrokes replaced that which the software couldn't recognize with their standard 'start of meeting and dispense with formalities' template. "Okay guys," Brandon began, "I checked and we are supposed to sponsor a girl for the pageant." He glanced at Robert, who looked glum. "This shouldn't be a problem. Being the Holiday Queen is a social goal for all the sorority girls; they should be anxious to be sponsored." He picked up his tablet computer and tapped it a few times. "I've compiled a list of sororities and other women's organizations, like the Society of Women Engineers." He glanced over the list. "Everyone has an assignment to contact the girls. We'll have interviews here next week. Okay?" With little additional to-do, the meeting broke up.

**********

"I don't understand it," Brandon said again, sitting at the table in the lounge and glancing around the room. None were present apart from the nerds sprawled in their sofas and chairs, and this fact seemed to be Brandon's concern. He glanced at Chuck. "You made all your calls, right?"

Chuck nodded. "Even the Tri-Delts." He shook his head forlornly. "Looks like even the triple-nipples are no-shows."

Brandon shook his head again. "I don't get it. This is the social highlight for the women. They should be here for the auditions." He glanced at Robert. "You got the ad in the student paper, right?" He didn't wait for Robert's answer; they'd all seen the advertisement for their interviews for a Nu Rho Delta sponsored entrant. Brandon glanced at another member. The nerds had taken a considerable amount of ribbing about the ad; none of the other student organizations had advertised for candidates, let alone posted an ad with the 'nerdy' criteria for their candidate — including GPA. "And we all saw the fliers, right?" He shook his head, a genuinely perplexed look on his face. "I just don't get it."

The sound of the doors creaking open brought a ray of hope to Brandon's face; all heads spun toward the doors. Then the hopeful countenances fell as they recognized the newcomer. "Hey, Greg," Brandon said unenthusiastically.

Greg, the newest member of the NRDs, slid easily into a vacant chair. "Hey, guys. Sorry I'm late." He glanced around. "So did you already pick one?"

Bert shook his head. "Not exactly. No one showed up."

Greg's face fell. "So what are we going to do?" He glanced at Arnold. "You talked to some of the independent girls, didn't you?"

Arnold finished the swig of soda and let out a small but vocal belch. "Yup." He shook his head. "Only a few told me no, but the rest didn't sound too enthusiastic." He winced visibly. "And some of the no's were quite explicit."

All the guys flinched at Arnold's words; as lifelong nerds, they'd all experienced the stinging rebuke of uninterested girls. As such, they sympathized with his pain.

Greg sighed. "And the sororities are off limits, too." His words caused a stir, a wave of disbelief coursing around the room. He nodded for emphasis. "Vicky, down at the park, told me that the sororities have basically dictated that their members can't be sponsored by us. Except for the triple nipples." He glanced hopefully at Brandon and Chuck. They were shaking their heads, letting Greg know that the Tri-Delta girls had turned them down, too. This was stunningly bad news; the Tri-Deltas, better known as the triple nipples, were the most outgoing bunch of girls on the campus. They had even dated nerds, as long as they got some sex out of the deal. If the Tri Deltas had turned down the guys, there was no way in hell they were going to get a girl to sponsor.

Fred, the youngest of the group, suddenly perked up, his eyes illuminated with an idea. "What about your girlfriend, Greg? Anya? Why can't we sponsor her?"

A buzz filled the room; it was the first truly hopeful thought of the evening. The hope lasted but a few seconds; as the guys murmured about the possibility, Robert had been furiously tapping his own tablet computer. Using the wireless connection to the campus intranet, he retrieved some information. "Uh," he cleared his throat, silencing the guys instantly, "no good. She's not a student."

This was but a minor setback as far as Brandon was concerned. "No problem. We can enroll her in a continuing ed class. Something in the Business College. I'm sure her grandmother would like that; it would be a plus for the park and for Anya. And if we picked up the cost, it'd be nothing out of her pocket." His enthusiasm had bubbled up anew; his thoughts were spewing forth almost faster than he could speak them. "And if we get her in a night class, something that's once a week, then it shouldn't have any impact on her work at the park." He turned to Greg. "What do you think? Would she go for it?"

Greg leaned back, his eyes staring at a blank wall, clearly fixed in thought. "Hmm," he mumbled. "She might..."

"No joy," Robert interrupted, killing the renewed hope. "The rules specify full-time students only. Anya's not eligible."

Chuck nodded, his expression grim. "How about the other girls at the park? Vicky, or Marta? There are some who work and go to school full time, aren't there?" He was desperately groping for some kind of answer.

Greg sighed. "Vicky — you don't want to ask her. She's got some pretty strong opinions about these kinds of things." He shook his head. "And Belinda, Marta, Holly, and Norma are all in one of the sororities. They wouldn't defy their sorority for anything."

Chuck and Brandon glanced at each other, and then nodded. "Okay, I guess that's it. We don't have a candidate to sponsor." Brandon reached for the gavel, to officially close this depressing meeting.

Before he could bang the gavel down, Fred stood up. "Wait a minute, guys," he interrupted. His eyes were lit with a curious fire, some brainstorm of an idea which he couldn't contain and had to share. "Who says we don't have a girl to sponsor?"

Brandon's eyes narrowed. He swept his arms wide, sweeping the room. "Look around," he said disgustedly. "Do you see any girls?"

Fred's smile broadened. "Not now. But there are plenty of potential girls here." His smile turned into a full-fledged grin.

It took a few seconds for the implications of his words to sink in. "Bikini Beach," Robert muttered, his eyes aglow with hope. He returned to his tablet, fingers flying as he sought more information about the pageant and the surrounding events.

Anticipation returned to the group. And with it came a little dread. Arnold cleared his throat. "So one of us would have to change? For how long?" He voiced the unspoken fear of all.

Brandon shrugged. "A couple of days for the pageant, right?" He glanced at Robert hopefully.

Robert stood, shaking his head. "Not quite. According to the schedule of events, there are events scattered over three weeks, with pretty much full-time events for the last week."

Chuck nodded his understanding. "And given the administration's view of us, you can bet they'd be giving our candidate some thorough scrutiny. So it's probably be three solid weeks."

A nondescript member rose, adjusting his thick glasses that seemed to teeter on the end of his nose. "So whoever changes is going to be a girl for three weeks? What if she wins?" His squeaky voice wavered as he voiced a new fear.

Eyes widened as silence descended over the room. No one had considered that possibility. All heads turned toward Robert, who after a moment of stunned inaction, returned to his computer.

He looked up after a few seconds, biting his lower lip. "Not good, Paul," he answered the wiry member. "Not good."

Paul sat down slowly. "Define 'not good'," he squeaked.

Robert took a breath. "By tradition, the Holiday Queen and her court ride in the New Year's Day parade." He glanced up. "So if she wins..."

Greg nodded with the rest of the gang. "...she's stuck as a girl until after New Year's Day." He winced. "Guys, this is getting complicated. If we're still going to do this, I'd better give Anya a call."

**********

The meeting was reduced to the executive council — Brandon, Chuck, Bert, Arnold, and Greg — with Anya, all seated around the table. A few guys had drifted into the lounge, driven by deep curiosity, but they obeyed protocol and stayed silent as they listened.

"Okay," Anya nodded as she glanced at the notes she'd taken. "Let's see if I've got this straight. You want a member to be changed into a girl as your representative for the pageant, right? And the change is only temporary?" She frowned. "And you expect the dean to do some thorough scrutiny, so the change has to include a complete background?" She thought a second. "After the change back, you guys want everyone to remember the girl, and that you sponsored her, right?"

Brandon nodded. "No sense doing this if no one remembers."

Anya nodded her agreement. "But you'll have to preserve the memory of whoever changes, too. Otherwise, when he changes back, class records and such will be pretty fouled up." She sat back, biting her lip as she stared into space. "Sheesh, you guys don't ask for much, do you?" She stared for long, agonizing minutes, and the guys could tell that she was in deep concentration. The clock ticked with painful slowness. Finally, she looked at Brandon, a faint smile on her face. "I think I can do it. It's going to be tricky, but I think I can handle it." She gave Greg a sideways glance. "And if I need help, I've got a friend who'd love to work on this one." There was a twinkle in her eye that made Brandon suddenly feel nervous.

Within moments, news had spread from the lounge, and the call to a meeting was a mere formality.

"Good news," Brandon announced as soon as the guys had all been seated. "Anya said she can do it."

Anya gave Brandon a nudge. "So now do you guys draw straws?"

Brandon grinned. "Not quite." He pulled out his smart-phone and stood up, and saw the guys mimic his movement. He glanced at Robert. "All logged on?"

Robert nodded. "All set." He pushed a button, and instantly, a computer somewhere in the building began communicating with all the phones. Random patterns began to flit across the screens as a randomizing program began to run. For several seconds, each guy had his eyes fixed on his phone, watching the screen with dread and anticipation. Finally, the patterns ceased, and a simple word displayed on each PDA. All but one displayed the word 'NO'. The remaining smart-phone displayed 'YES'. Sighs of relief echoed through the lounge. One after another, each guy whose phones said 'NO' sat down. Finally, only one guy was left standing.

Paul glanced at his phone, then back at the head table where Brandon and Anya were sitting. His hand trembled slightly. "Okay," he said, acknowledging his fate with that one simple word.

**********

Anya was bent over the computer in the Bikini Beach ticket booth, concentrating intently on her task. Outside the booth, the wiry little Paul stood between Greg and Brandon; it wasn't clear if they were present to support him or to keep him from running away. It was early on Friday morning; that afternoon, the entrants in the pageant would be formally introduced. So this was the latest that they could change Paul if he was going to enter.

After several minutes, Anya came out carrying a card. "Let's make sure we have this correct." She was talking to Paul. "Height, five four?" Paul nodded slightly. That was only three inches shorter than Paul's current height. "Weight, one fifteen?" Another nod. "Dark hair?"

Paul looked down and nodded. "I've always liked dark hair," he muttered. In his mind, he thought how nice Anya's brunette hair looked — long and slightly wavy, held back in a ponytail. He wanted hair like that; it was the kind of hair he liked.

Anya's eyes twinkled. "Thanks," she said, as if she'd read his mind. Greg smirked, but Brandon and Paul stood confused. "36, 22, 33, right? And a D-cup?" Paul flushed crimson, and he nodded hesitantly as Anya revealed the data. She looked at Paul. "Anything else?"

Paul thought for a moment. "I can't think of anything."

Anya smiled. "I've got a suggestion, if you don't mind." She waited, but Paul said nothing. "I can make you a touch, um, exotic. Say one quarter Hawaiian?"

Paul thought for a moment. "Okay," he finally said. "I guess." He didn't sound at all enthusiastic. "But what would I look like?"

Anya smiled. "I kind of figured you'd take the suggestion." She unfolded a piece of paper and handed it to Paul.

Paul stared at the photo, or very nearly a photo, of a girl. She was slender and athletic looking, with dark wavy hair framing her face. She looked tanned; on closer look, Paul realized that she had some Island blood in her, and her skin was lightly browned. "Wow!" he exclaimed softly, his eyes locked on the girl in the picture. Finally, he looked up at Anya, confused. "What...?"

Anya smiled. "It's a computer generated image of what you'll look like."

Brandon and Greg peered over Paul's shoulders at the picture. "No way this is CGI," Brandon finally said. "There's no software good enough to do this."

Anya smiled. "Actually, it's magic software. My friend works in a store that sells things like this. She lets me use this. It really helps for a guy to know what he's going to look like after he changes."

Brandon looked at the picture again. "If I didn't know how you work here, I wouldn't believe it." He smiled. "I'd sure love to have a copy of that software."

Anya smiled enigmatically. "Trust me, you wouldn't. Not unless you use magic. Or enjoy being a bimbo." The boys gulped; they knew of the magic in the park, so it wasn't hard for them to imagine that what she said was true.

Anya's smile faded. "There's one problem, though. To keep your memories intact, I can't just give you all the, uh, feminine skills you'll need for the pageant."

"Why not?" Paul said, his eyes furrowed in concern.

Anya sighed. "If I gave you those skills, it would alter your mind. The change would be slight, and very subtle, but it would be changed. To pull all of this off, you have to keep all your memories."

Paul glanced between Brandon and Greg, then back at Anya. This was getting far more complicated than he'd bargained for. "So, what you're saying is that I'll be a klutz? A guy in a girl's body?" He wrinkled his nose in confusion. "That's going to be confusing, isn't it?"

Anya shook her head. "No, I can give you all the lower-level skills, the things that are almost reflexive. You know — walking, going to the bathroom, those things. But higher skills, those that you learn later in life — well, you're going to have to learn those for yourself."

"Skills — like what?" Paul was starting to feel nervous.

Anya tried to avoid an outward sign of concern. "Makeup. Walking gracefully. Things girls start to worry about during puberty."

Paul mulled things over for a quick few seconds. "So how do I learn?"

Anya smiled. "I've already taken care of that. You know Vicky, one of the staff here, don't you? You're going to be her roommate, and in return for helping you learn what you need to know, you'll tutor her."

Brandon got a concerned look. "Tutoring? In what? Women's studies? Nursing?"

Anya scowled, fighting the urge to shake her head. "She happens to be a dual major studying pre-law and electrical engineering," she said through clenched teeth. "You can help with the engineering."

Brandon cringed. "I guess I deserved that." He glanced at Paul.

Paul shrugged. "Okay, I guess that'll work."

Anya smiled. "Well, then let's get started." She gestured toward the entrance gate.

Paul started to walk, but halted. "So I just shower? Like...?

Anya smiled. "Right." She knew that he'd been one of the guys who'd been purposefully changed into big-busted bimbos to get revenge on the Alpha fraternity. There wasn't any point in specifying exactly which event; it was obviously embarrassing for all the guys who had been through that change.

**********

It was Paul that emerged from the locker room, Greg and Brandon reminded themselves. And yet, it wasn't Paul. Paul was a five foot seven wiry kid with thick glasses. This was Paul's mind in a stunning container.

Anya elbowed Greg. "Reel in your tongue," she hissed.

It was easy to forgive Greg for his gawking. Paul had been transformed into a lovely girl, five foot four, with a shapely figure and ample bosoms. Her hips were wrapped in a decorative floral print sarong, and a matching band concealed her breasts. Her bare midriff displayed a flat tummy and shapely waist. Her long hair had just a touch of wave in it; she was wearing it parted, sweeping back behind her ears and down off her shoulders. For effect, Anya had added a flower behind her ear; with her light brown skin and the sarong, she looked like a picture from the islands. All that was missing was a floral lei.

"Wow!" Brandon mumbled. "You look...great!"

Paul blushed. It was obvious that he felt a little self-conscious in this body, and Brandon and Greg's leering didn't help. "Anya said my name is Melanie now," she said, surprising herself at the soft, melodic tone of her new voice. "Melanie Keilani Lewis."

Anya interrupted the staring. "You guys have to get her to her room, so Vicky can start teaching her the finer points of behavior and grace."

Melanie shrugged, and then started across the asphalt toward the car. She walked with an awkward, clumsy gait, but still, with her wider hips and altered center of gravity, her hips swayed in a seductive manner. Greg and Brandon caught themselves staring at the girl, then forced themselves to remember that this lovely creature was really Paul.

"Uh, Melanie?" Anya's question caused Melanie to stop and turn, yet another awkward motion. Anya winced inwardly; there was a long way to go to turn Melanie into a refined woman. "You're a woman." She saw the confusion on Melanie's face. "You forgot your purse in the locker room."

Melanie blushed, and strode in a most unladylike manner back to the locker room. When she emerged, she was carrying the purse like it was a grenade. This time, Brandon and Greg winced. As Melanie walked back toward the car, with Anya at her side, Greg leaned closer to Brandon. "She's got a long way to go to be a lady," he whispered.

Brandon nodded his agreement. "You think we can pull this off?" He watched Melanie walk. "She's walking like a guy."

Greg grimaced. "Yup. I wonder if Anya bit off more than she could chew with this one."

**********

"You must be Melanie," the girl at the desk called without looking up. "Anya said you'd be here this afternoon."

Melanie opened the door fully and stepped into the room, glancing around nervously. "Hi," she said meekly.

The girl at the desk looked up and grinned. "Don't be so shy," she admonished. "After all, it's just us girls here for the next few weeks." There was something in the way she spoke the words that made Melanie a bit nervous.

Melanie tossed her handbag on the vacant desk and sat down. The girl smiled at Melanie's clumsiness. "Well, dear, it looks like I've got my work cut out for me, huh?" She extended her hand. "I'm Vicky."

Melanie shook her hand. "Hi." Then she blushed. "I guess I said that already, huh?"

Vicky managed, barely, to stifle the guffaw. "Look, Mel. Is it all right if I call you Mel?" Without an immediate reaction, Vicky assumed she had permission. "You don't have to be so nervous."

Melanie bit her lower lip. "I'm sorry. It's just that, well, I've never, uh, that is, I've..."

Vicky grinned. "You've never been alone with a girl in a girl's dorm, is that it?" She laughed aloud. "Look, Mel, you're a girl now. A girl." She made it really clear that she knew of the magic. "Tell you what," she suddenly said, then stood and pulled off her blouse. Mel sat rigidly in her chair, her eyes wide and fearful and fixed on the well-filled lacy bra Vicky was wearing. Vicky smiled again and fumbled with the bra, unfastening the front hook. She slipped her arms out of the straps and let the bra drop. Her boobs were bared for Mel to see.

Mel's eyes were riveted on Vicky's firm breasts. She glanced up at Vicky, and then her gaze dropped again of its own accord.

Vicky spread her arms, the motion causing her boobs to lift slightly. She turned a bit one way, then the other. Finally, she dropped her arms. "Okay?" She sat down on the chair, her chest still bare. "Tell me what you were feeling."

Mel swallowed, feeling very nervous. "I, uh, I, well, it was interesting."

Vicky laughed. "You're a virgin, aren't you." She watched as Mel glanced down, blushing. "I mean as a guy. Aren't you."

Mel looked up, then nodded in embarrassment. Then her mouth dropped in shock. Vicky knew. "You...you know I'm...I was...a virgin?"

Vicky smiled. "It wasn't too hard to guess, not the way you reacted." She fetched her blouse and began to pull it on. "Anyway, tell me what you felt when I was taking off my bra."

Melanie swallowed again. "I..." She halted and frowned. "It wasn't what I expected!" she complained softly.

Vicky smiled and put her hand on Mel's shoulder. "Look, you were expecting to get aroused from my little show, right?" Mel turned, confused, and looked in Vicky's eyes. "You still have your guy memories, and in the back of your mind, you think my little titty show should get you horny, right?" She smiled gently. "You're not a guy right now. When you got changed, you got the basic package of girl instincts and hormones. So my bod doesn't do anything for you." She smiled. "Your body and your mind are out of sync right now. I bet if you saw a gorgeous man, you'd start getting the feeling you thought you'd get from me."

Mel looked down, embarrassed. "I hope not," she said softly.

Vicky smiled. "I guess that's good enough for lesson one. From what Anya told me, you've got a lot to learn before the pageant." She spat the word 'pageant' as if it were disgusting to her. "But right now," she turned to her own desk, "I'm working on a problem and I could use some help."

Mel's features softened. This was something she could handle. "What course?" she asked softly. The comfort of a familiar discussion let her true voice ring out, soft and mellifluous and carrying just a touch of an Island accent.

Vicky picked up her book. "Circuit theory 201."

Mel's eyes lit up at the sight of the book. "Hayt and Kemmerly!" she cried excitedly. "Good intro book."

Vicky stared, and then a smile crept onto her features. "You know something, kid? This could be the start of a beautiful friendship."

**********

"Okay, guys," Brandon announced, hoping to get some silence in the lounge. "Guys," he implored again. This time, the noise dropped dramatically. "I'd like to introduce our candidate for the Holiday Queen, Melanie Keilani Lewis."

At Brandon's words, Melanie strode out of the hall into the lounge. She blushed at the gasps and catcalls directed her way; she had clearly made a big impression on these guys and it embarrassed her. She walked, still with Paul's ungainly stride, to the front, where she turned, nearly tripping and falling, and then she smiled sheepishly and shrugged.

The white shorts she wore displayed nearly every inch of her shapely brown legs, perfect with not an ounce of fat. Instead of the sarong band, she now wore a floral print shirt, tied beneath her bosoms and open on top to display some cleavage. Her hair had been rearranged by Vicky into a neat ponytail. In a word, she was breathtaking to the assembled guys.

"Remember, that's Paul," Brandon cautioned his fellow nerds. Inwardly, he wondered how long it would take for these guys to forget that Melanie was really Paul.

"Paul never looked so good," an unknown member called from the rear. He said what was on everyone's mind; as a girl, Paul was a knockout.

"Yeah, well I'm not going to let you guys forget," Melanie said with a scowl. She wasn't sure if she enjoyed being treated like this. On the one hand, the attention was great. On the other hand, she felt very self-conscious. And even as she tried to warn her frat brothers, her voice oozed with a feminine charm that added to her allure. Sure, her words were crude, and her speech pattern was rough, but the potential was there for a thoroughly sexy woman with a wet-dream voice.

Brandon sighed. He was starting to think that this was going to be a long three weeks.

**********

"Like this?" Melanie asked as she wrapped the towel around herself, hiding herself from mid-thigh to just above her bosom. One loose end she tucked between the towel and herself, forming a tight wrap.

Vicky smiled. "That's it." She, too, was wrapped in a towel and was preparing for her shower.

Melanie scowled. "I can't do this," she complained. "It's not...right!"

Vicky sighed for perhaps the hundredth time in as many minutes. "Remember our lesson this afternoon? Everyone else here is a girl, right?" Melanie nodded slowly. "So what's the problem?"

Mel sighed, then nodded slowly. "Okay, I guess. Let's go."

The pair walked from their room down to the bathroom, Vicky leading confidently and Melanie trailing nervously. As Vicky opened the door, a girl, hair wrapped in one towel and body in another, stepped lightly out into the hall. "Hi, Mel," she sang sweetly.

"Oh, hi," Melanie answered. She felt confused; the girl obviously knew her, but she didn't know the girl.

Vicky nonchalantly hung her towel on a hook and strode naked into the shower. Mel gulped and glanced around. It was hard to think like a girl; she was in a girl's body, in a girl's dorm, about to step into a girl's shower, but she still had lots of male thoughts. She stepped into the shower and turned on the water.

As she lathered her hair, Mel heard another shower turn on. She felt her cheeks redden, but there was nothing she could do. She finished washing her hair and began to rinse it. Finally, with all the shampoo gone, she brushed the hair back off her forehead and opened her eyes.

Mel felt her heart stop. In the same shower with her and Vicky was Terri Preston, the head cheerleader and one of the most gorgeous girls on campus. Mel gulped; the water ran down Terri's long blond hair and cascaded off her boobs, those perky round orbs that guys drooled over, including nearly every guy in the nerd house. And Mel was seeing them up close. Terri was at least four inches taller than Mel, and was well built. Trim and sexy. Mel found herself making a serious comparison. Terri wasn't at petite; her waist wasn't as narrow as Mel's, and her rear was less rounded. She looked more like an athlete.

Mel felt a nudge, and she glanced at Vicky. For some reason, Vicky was grinning. Vicky handed her a bottle, and Mel glanced at it, confused. Cream rinse? She wrinkled her nose, and from the corner of her eye, saw Vicky grin again. Mel opened the bottle and dabbed some on her hand, then rubbed it into her hair. Vicky smiled as Mel finished rinsing a second time. As she wiped the dripping water from her face, gathering her hair to the back, Mel saw Vicky jerk her head toward the door, indicating that they should leave. Melanie handed Vicky the bottle, gathered her shampoo and soap, and shut off her shower.

Terri finished wetting her hair, and she opened her eyes. "Oh, hi Mel," she said sweetly. "Vicky." Her tone toward Vicky was far less sweet; a sudden thought slammed into Mel's brain that Terri was somehow jealous of Vicky. "I saw you're entered in the Holiday Queen pageant." Again, her voice was overly sweet.

Melanie reached outside and grabbed her towel. She began to pat her hair dry, wondering for a brief second how she'd known to do that. "That's right," Mel answered. "I'm being sponsored by the Nu Rho house. And you're being sponsored by the Alphas, right?"

Terri smiled, flexing her back slightly, an act which made her boobs seem to jut out more. "Len insisted," she cooed. "Well, I guess we'll be seeing lots of each other during the pageant activities." She glanced at Vicky, and her eyes seemed to turn to daggers. "Those of us lucky enough to be sponsored, at least."

Vicky stiffened imperceptibly as she stepped from the shower. Mel was right behind her. Something Terri had said was irritating to Melanie, and she struggled to identify it. What was it? She finished drying, then wrapped the towel around her hair. The second towel went around her body, and she walked down the hall to their room.

Vicky came in on her heels. "Bitch," she snarled. It was more than obvious that Vicky hated Terri. Then Vicky's face lightened. "How did you walk like that?" she asked.

Melanie frowned. "Like what?"

"Like...like you did coming down the hall." Melanie's confusion showed on her face. "Oh, come on!" Vicky complained. "It was so...graceful!"

Melanie concentrated, and then she shook her head. "I don't know. I wasn't thinking about it."

A dawning light of recognition filled Vicky's eyes as she got her nightie out of her closet. "So what were you thinking about?"

Melanie scowled, concentrating, as she dropped her own towel. She opened her closet, only to find that her choices of nightwear were a lace teddy and a girlish nightshirt. "Great," she muttered. She grabbed the shirt and turned back to Vicky. "I was thinking about...the contest. And how much I hope that stuck-up witch doesn't win!"

Vicky grinned and laughed aloud. "I like your taste in girls," she said when she could talk again. She leaned closer to Melanie. "You know, she's not a natural blonde." Her voice was hushed, like they were in some conspiracy.

Melanie started. "No, I..." She halted, and she remembered the shower, the dark brown hair of Terri's pubic patch. Melanie's eyes widened, then she started giggling.

Vicky smiled through the giggling. Melanie was making good progress. If only she could stay focused. And Vicky now knew the perfect way — remind her that if Melanie didn't compete well, then Terri would win.

**********

"Okay, try again." Vicky set down the washcloth and watched.

Once more, Melanie leaned forward, toward the vanity mirror. In one hand, she held a small case of eye shadow, and in the other, she held a small brush-like instrument. Carefully, she rubbed the brush on the makeup, then she leaned even further forward, trying desperately to keep the one eyelid shut while holding the other one open. She shifted the brush to her other hand, and began to gingerly wipe it on her eyelid. After rubbing a bit, she transferred the brush to the other hand and repeated the awkward process on her other eye. She leaned back from the mirror and peeked at Vicky.

Vicky stood shaking her head slowly in disbelief. "No," she admonished slowly. "You're not painting a barn." She turned Mel back to the mirror. "Is it even?"

Mel glanced, and then dropped her gaze. "No," she admitted. "This is hard."

Vicky grimaced and nodded. "Yes, it is," she acknowledged. "You're going to be doing things for this pageant," again she spat the word distastefully, "that require you to do your own makeup." She handed Mel the washcloth. "So let's keep going until you can put on makeup without looking like a hooker."

A knock sounded at the door; Vicky opened it. "Oh, hi."

Brandon slipped past Vicky. "Hi, Melanie. How's it going?"

Melanie turned, shrugging her shoulders. "Okay, I guess."

"Makeup?" Brandon exclaimed in disbelief as he spied what the girls were doing. "Isn't that going a bit overboard?"

Vicky snorted her disgust. "You want her to look nice for this thing, right?" She grabbed Brandon's arm and pulled him toward the door. "So shoo. Go. Leave. We've got work to do." She shoved Brandon into the hall, and pushed the door shut against his protests. "Sheesh!"

Mel grinned. "He means well," she defended. "But sometimes, he's so...naíve! So geeky!"

Vicky's mouth dropped in astonishment. "Geeky?" She shook her head. "You are, too!" she exclaimed. "Or rather, you were."

Mel laughed, and then swept her arms open, revealing her feminine curves and charms. "Not any more, from what I see!"

Vicky joined the laughter. "Okay, so you're not quite so geeky." She handed Mel the brush that Mel had dropped. "Now let's try for not quite so slutty, too!"

Mel giggled and began yet another attempt at eye shadow. Vicky sighed aloud. This was but one of many items of cosmetics that Mel was going to have to learn, and judging from her progress, it was going to take a lot of practice.

Melanie finished and turned, already wincing from the expected tongue-lashing.

It didn't come. Vicky slowly nodded. "Okay, that's not bad." She grinned. "It's not good, but at least you don't look like a five-dollar whore."

Mel leaned back against the vanity. "Can I ask you something?"

Vicky shrugged. "Shoot."

"You don't like the pageant, do you?"

Mel saw the muscles in Vicky's jaw tighten, then slowly relax as Vicky let out a deep breath. "They aren't my thing," she said in a practiced, deliberately cool voice. She turned back to put away the cosmetics. "We'll take a break from this. Besides, you need to help me with LC tank circuits, remember?"

Mel knew that there was something there; something that Vicky didn't want to talk about. And her tone left it clear that the subject was off limits.

**********

"We're going _where_ for the pictures?" Mel's voice was disbelieving. Beside her, Vicky's mouth hung open.

Greg and Randy glanced at each other. "I understood you," Greg said, "so you must have been speaking English. Funny, though, that they don't seem to understand."

Randy shrugged. "Temporary insanity. Or amnesia." He turned back to the girls, two in a pack of nearly twenty. "I said," he repeated, very slowly and careful in his enunciation, "we're going to do the photo shoot at Bikini Beach. Bi-ki-ni Beach."

Tiffany crossed her arms over her bosom and snorted in disgust. "You guys think you're clowns, huh?" She half-turned to some of the other girls. "This is going to be such a waste! I mean, couldn't they have at least gotten decent photographers instead of Nerds?"

Another girl hissed, loudly enough that Greg and Randy couldn't help but hear, "Like I'm supposed to be in a bikini in front of nerds? Yeah, like right!" The sarcasm dripped from her voice like venom.

Greg heard, he just gave a quick wink to Randy. "What say we really show them?"

Dean Livingstone and Coach Fielding both glanced at the two boys, then the Dean spoke. "This is a real coup for the university, to be able to do the Holiday Queen photo shoot at Bikini Beach." He was barely concealing the lust in his voice. "There were certain conditions, however, and so we are forced," he paused, glaring sideways at the nerds, who pretended not to notice, "to use these two young men as photographers."

The girls weren't mollified; they stirred and chattered uneasily.

Coach Fielding raised his hands, commanding silence. "Look, girls," he barked, "I know you're not happy about this. But we are providing day-long passes for you after the photo shoot. While I've never been to Bikini Beach, I understand that the park is one of the best, so I'm sure you'll have a good day."

The girls quit protesting and started filing onto the bus for the short ride. Greg gave Randy a wink, and the two started walking toward their car.

From nowhere, the dean appeared, latching firmly onto the elbow of each boy as he strode between them. His jaw was firmly set and his eyes narrowed with anger. "I don't know how you little twerps swung this deal, but I know you're up to something. I know what you little perverts are thinking," he snarled, "and I'm warning you — keep your hands off those girls." He abruptly dropped their elbows and stalked to his own car, leaving the boys standing dumbfounded.

"Definitely an anti-social type," Greg muttered. He slapped Randy's arm and resumed the short walk to his car.

The guys had their plan; they beat the bus to Bikini Beach by nearly ten minutes, and they'd showered and changed by the time the girls started to step off the bus.

"Okay, girls," Randy and Greg directed, totally female, shapely, and clad in short shorts and scoop-necked short-sleeve shirts, "here are your passes. Go stand over by the ticket booth, please." Randy handed each girl a card as she exited the bus. More than one girl stared jealously at Randy and Greg as she strutted by, thrusting her own chest outward to emphasize her own bosom. Randy elbowed Greg and giggled; they'd asked Anya to become very shapely girls, more attractive than any of the girls in the pageant, and with much curvier bodies. Just their little gag to tweak all the 'in crowd' girls.

The Dean's attitude toward them was definitely changed. Instead of glaring at them, he kept peering into Randy's and Greg's vast and inviting cleavage. "Okay, where do we go?"

Randy ignored the Dean. "Swipe your card at the gate, then go in the locker room and change. Anya will be waiting to lead you to the where we'll be setting up the cameras." Anya raised her hand and waved to identify herself.

The Dean stepped toward Anya, drawing himself to full height and thrusting out his chest in what he believed was a manly display. "And where is my pass, young lady?" he asked boldly. "As Dean of Students, I must insist that they have an official university representative as chaperone at all times. After all, this is official university business." He got a smug, self-important smirk on his face.

Anya gave a quick sideways glance at Greg, and caught his warning frown. She smiled to herself; she didn't need Greg to understand what this pompous ass was up to. Her magic had given her a very clear picture of the deviant things running through his mind. She crossed her arms firmly. "I'm sorry, Dean, but the conditions allow for only one chaperone, and the coach was the person specified in the contract."

The Dean started to sputter. "But, see here, young lady..."

Anya didn't bother to listen; she'd already turned toward the gate. Most of the girls were already in the locker room changing, and Greg and Randy were scurrying toward the camera sites. Coach Fielding was standing beside the gate, holding his pass like a treasure. Anya paused a moment. "Just swipe the card and change in the locker room," she instructed. She swiped her own pass and went through the turnstile, then turned. "And be sure to shower," she added quickly. "Health department regulations."

The coach grinned, then swiped the card and practically dashed to the shower. Behind him, the Dean glowered; why should Fielding get all the action when _he_ was the Dean?

**********

Barb Fielding blew her whistle, annoying Randy yet again. "Come on," the coach barked in a commanding voice, "get moving here! We're almost out of time!"

Terri frowned at the coach, and then scurried out of the way, replaced almost instantly by another girl. As the girls primped and preened themselves, getting ready for the photos, Randy gave Anya a nudge. "You didn't have to make the coach such a bitch," he whispered.

Anya grinned. "I didn't. It's his personality with a woman coach's memories and body." Coach Fielding was, if anything, more attractive than any of the girls, but in a much different sense. She didn't have the big boobs of a stripper, or the hourglass figure of a movie starlet; instead, she had a power and grace of a well-toned athlete. Her hair was short, in a low-maintenance and sassy style, so it wouldn't interfere with any sporting activities. Tall, at almost six feet, her tanned skin betrayed not a ripple of fat.

"Well, she's a _lot_ better looking, but her personality could have used some improvement." Randy turned back to the models. His experience took over, and he began to issue directives to the model — turn this way, swing your head that way, flare your hair, pout, smile, look toward the water longingly, and on and on went his commands as he snapped picture after picture of the girls.

"Melanie! Get your ass ready!" Coach Fielding called angrily.

Mel practically leaped from the bench; the other girls around her smiled. "Back in a bit," she sang to her compatriots as she scampered toward the coach.

Randy smiled as Mel stepped in front of the camera, but she glared back at him. His smile froze as he narrowed his eyes and hoisted his camera. "Okay, now turn. No, a little more. More."

Mel glared at Randy. "Don't be so bossy," she hissed softly.

Randy froze, taken aback by her tone. Of all the girls, Mel _should_ have been the easiest to work with; after all, she knew what Bikini Beach was all about. He glanced at Anya; the puzzled frown on her face made Randy's stomach knot up. He gulped and turned back to the camera. "Can you try to cooperate?" he asked in a softer tone of voice.

After what seemed an eternity, Randy put down his camera. "Okay, coach, that's all at this spot." He smiled at Mel, but she glared back at him. Then, curiously, she thrust out her chest and marched back toward the bench, to where the contestants were chatting happily.

Randy shook his head. "Something's wrong here," he muttered to Anya.

Anya nodded slowly. "Yup."

"I mean, you saw how she acted, right? Like she didn't like me being around or something."

"Uh huh," Anya answered as she started to take down a flash reflector. "And did you see how she stuck out her boobs?"

Randy paused, then nodded. "Like she was jealous of my body or something?"

Anya laughed. "Well, if you and Greg hadn't gone overboard..." She folded up the reflector then tackled its tripod. "You realize that I'm going to have to put up with a boyfriend who looks sexier than me for the rest of the day, don't you?"

Randy laughed aloud. The coach had already herded the girls to the next spot, and he and Anya were racing to catch up. "And I suppose you think it was my idea?"

**********

Randy's eyes were watering, he was laughing so hard. Or rather, she was. For he and Greg still were the gorgeous girls they'd changed into for the photo shoot.

"And then the Dean tried to hit on Coach!" Greg howled. "Right in front of all of us!"

Brandon had to hold his side, he was laughing so hard. The guys were just trying to picture the Dean fawning over the coach, albeit the female coach. "And she turned him down?"

Randy wiped his eyes. "She was pretty cold, too!" he added, still laughing. "All but said she wasn't interested in perverted old men."

Randy's words started Greg laughing anew. "She said she like her men young and with lots of endurance."

Chuck nearly spit out his soda. "So was she, like, going to run off to the Alpha house and get laid or something?" He glanced at Rob and grinned. "That sounds like something the old coach would have done!"

Greg laughed, "That's about what she implied." His eyes were tearing, he'd been laughing so hard. "I asked Anya if she'd, you know, given him a boost. She said it was just Coach's libido in a new package!"

Brandon grinned to Rob. "Too bad you lost the connection to their webcams," he said regretfully.

Rob perked up. "We didn't lose it." A few guys glanced at each other, and then sprang clumsily to their feet and raced toward the rooms and Rob's computer.

Brandon watched them go. "So what else..." He was interrupted when the door opened. "Oh, hi Mel," he called out enthusiastically.

Melanie walked cautiously into the lounge area, glancing around as if monsters waited to grab her. "Hi," she said softly. "Vicky said you wanted to see me?"

Brandon's face lit up. "Yeah! We're having a party tomorrow night. We want you to be there."

Mel looked nervous. "Uh, not tomorrow night," she said quickly. Too quickly, she realized belatedly. She looked down at the floor, shuffling her feet as she stammered, "there's a faculty reception tomorrow night, and I have to go."

Randy glanced at Brandon, his features clouded, then he looked back at Melanie. "Well, I guess you have to go to that," he said, trying to sound sympathetic and not judgmental.

"Yeah," Mel echoed. Then she stiffened when she saw Randy and Greg, still in their sexy female bodies. Mel's jaw visibly tightened, and she straightened up, thrusting her chest out a bit. "Look," she said, turning away from Randy and back toward Brandon, "I've got to get back to the dorms. I've got to help Vicky study for a test tomorrow." She turned stiffly and strode quickly out of the lounge, her gait far more graceful and feminine than the guys expected. Nor had they noticed; they were all stunned by the manner in which she'd left, and especially her attitude toward Randy.

**********

Meet-the-media was going well, or at least to Mel. She was clearly having a good time, laughing and chatting with the reporters and photographers, and sharing jokes with the other contestants.

To Brandon and Chuck, on the other hand, the event was a total bust. They felt like intruders, surrounded as they were by the 'in crowd'. As Mel's sponsors for the contest, their presence was required, but it seemed that everyone resented the presence of the nerds. They sampled the hors d'oeuvres — when they could get a waiter to actually pass near them — and sipped their punch, but no one really seemed to want to talk to them.

Mel, on the other hand, had no problem attracting attention. She seemed to be enjoying it whenever a photographer corralled her for a picture, or when a reporter shoved a recorder in her face. She happily talked and laughed with some of the other fraternity sponsors, including the Alphas. And the one time that Brandon had a chance to talk to Mel, he tried to confront her, to see what was going on. Her words left him and Chuck chilled; she dismissed their concerns as jealousy of the attention she was getting. After all, this was just a part of the pageant, and she had to act her part.

**********

"Come on," Mel said pleadingly, "let's go!" She stood in the doorway to her room, her sweater tied around her shoulders and a purse draped over her shoulder.

Vicky glanced up from her book. "I've got to study," she protested again.

Mel frowned. "Come on," she cajoled. "You've got that stuff down cold. Now let's go."

Vicky stared at the book for a few seconds, then she flipped it shut. "Okay," she relented. She grabbed her purse and sweater and followed Mel. Mel had borrowed Chuck's car, and they climbed in and drove quickly.

"We're going to...the mall?" Vicky's voice had an edge, like she was nervous.

Mel didn't notice Vicky's unease. "Yeah," she answered with a grin. "I need to get a couple of new outfits."

The entire time in the mall, Vicky seemed nervous. Mel, on the other hand, was clearly enjoying herself. The 'couple' of outfits turned into two new dresses, a skirt, a couple of tops, and a side trip to Victoria's Secret. And almost five hours time.

As they drove back, Vicky finally turned to Mel. "What's going on?" Vicky asked simply.

Mel glanced at her roommate. "What?" she said, wrinkling her brow in confusion. She turned her attention back to driving and pulled into a parking spot. "What are you talking about?" she asked as she shut off the car.

Vicky frowned. "The whole thing," she said. "Aren't you going a bit overboard?"

Mel glanced at Vicky and laughed. "I figured, 'what the hell?' I mean, most guys never get this chance, so why not enjoy it?" She opened the back door and retrieved her bags, then kicked the door shut with her foot and began trudging toward their room.

When they got back to the room, Vicky tried to study, but she was distracted by Mel's primping. Curiosity, or concern, finally got the better of her. "Okay, what gives? Are you okay?"

Mel set down the bottle of nail enamel she'd picked up, then turned her chair toward Vicky. "Yeah, I'm fine!" she protested. "Why is everyone asking me that?" She turned away, pouting, upset by the implication that she _wasn't_ okay. Then she turned back, her eyes widening with recognition. "You're jealous," she accused softly. "You're jealous that I'm in the pageant."

Vicky felt her jaw tense, while at the same time she fought the impulse to laugh at Mel's ridiculous accusation. "Jealous?" she finally sputtered. "Jealous? Of you? Of that stupid.....pageant?" She couldn't keep the anger or scorn out of her voice. "You're full of shit if you think I'm jealous!" She turned angrily back to her books, her face red and her jaw clenched in fury.

Mel sat silently, wondering what she'd said. After a long few seconds, she spoke again, much more softly. "I'm sorry," she said. "I just don't understand." She set down the bottle of nail polish. "Like this afternoon. I thought you were jealous of me getting new outfits for the pageant."

Vicky took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "I'm sorry, too, Mel." She turned slowly to face her roomie. "It's not your fault. I guess...I just don't like shopping very much."

"At the mall?"

Vicky started, then her eyes softened and she nodded slowly. "Yeah, I haven't really like that place since...." Her voice faded to a bare whisper.

Mel sensed that Vicky had some personal demon haunting her. "And you don't like beauty pageants very much, either, do you?" She saw Vicky's shoulders stiffen, and knew she'd hit the truth. "I don't get it," Mel said softly. "You're pretty. You should be a shoe-in to be sponsored for the pageant." Mel frowned. "You're a natural."

Vicky reached up and wiped a tear. "Thanks," she said quietly. "But I wasn't always...." She looked down at the floor, as if ashamed of what she was saying. "A couple of years ago, when I was a senior in high school, a friend and I decided to pull a prank. The girls always had a beauty pageant, kind of a clique thing. And we decided to enter, to dress in drag." She sighed heavily, and wiped tears from both cheeks. "I found a little shop in the mall that had some costumes and such, and I thought they'd be perfect for the gag." Vicky took a tissue and wiped her eyes again. "It was a magic shop. Spells something-or-other. The costume worked, only a little too well. I didn't win the contest, but I've been stuck like this since."

Mel's eyes were wide. "You were...?"

Vicky dabbed her eyes again. "I was a guy. Until I went into that damned shop! And all because of a stupid pageant!" It seemed that she was torn between lashing out in her anger and breaking down in tears.

"I'm sorry," Mel said softly. "I didn't know."

"Well, that wasn't the worst of it," Vicky finally added, breaking the awkward silence. "Jim got it worse. He's a...bimbo!" She was fighting back the tears. "I think it was something in the wig, because when he put it on, he turned into a blond airhead. He...she...turned into a sex machine. She's even got a kid now." Vicky turned away from Mel, staring into a blank spot on her desk. "I guess I got lucky; I didn't like the blond wig, so I borrowed one." She wiped her eyes again, then her nose. "But I'm still stuck." Vicky turned back toward Mel. "I got angry, and rebellious. I got in a lot of trouble." She looked down. "I got busted for vandalism."

Mel watched her roomie. "So how did you get a job at Bikini Beach?" she finally asked.

Vicky laughed. "Ironic, isn't it? The place turns guys into girls. Only they were too late to change me, huh?" She laughed bitterly. "A few guys and I broke in one night. You know — to have some midnight fun? Well, we caused some damage to the pumps and stuff, and we have to work off our debt. The guys got it worse, I guess. They're stuck as girls until the debt is paid." She shook her head. "Funny, I thought I was going to get it worst, with my juvenile record and all. But the boss seemed to know what had happened to me. I think she went easy on me because of what I've been through."

The duo sat in awkward silence for a long time. Mel realized that Vicky had said much, much more than she'd intended. "Do you still hate being a girl?" Mel finally asked.

Vicky snapped her gaze up from the floor. Her eyes betrayed an inner sadness that seemed to permeate her very being. "I guess so," she answered half-heartedly. "At least, it's not as bad as it was. Not at first." She laughed again. "I miss football and sports, though." Vicky watched Mel's reaction. Then she returned the question. "What about you? Are you enjoying this? The attention, being popular?"

Mel let her mouth drop open, then she turned away from Vicky so her roomie couldn't see the turmoil in her eyes. No answer came.

**********

Brandon lifted his hand from his knee. He sat in his chair, leaning forward like a hawk over the chessboard, his eyes focused and narrow. He reached gleefully for his rook. With a flourish, he moved it deep toward Bert's side of the board. "Aha!" he cried gleefully. He knew he had Bert in a tough spot.

"Guys?" The interruption came from the doorway. They turned and saw Randy standing in the opening.

"What's up?" Bert asked quickly. This distraction had halted Brandon's excessive gloating.

Randy's frown gave away the fact that he had bad news. "You guys talk to Mel lately?"

"Paul," Robert corrected from his bunk. "It's Paul, remember?"

"Yes," Bert echoed. Then he put his finger on the heart of the matter. "But does Mel remember that she's really Paul?"

Randy nodded. "That's the problem. I think this is going to Paul's head."

Brandon leaned back in his chair, his face wrinkling with concern. "Yeah," he echoed. "I saw her between classes yesterday. She acted like she didn't want to be seen around me."

Randy sighed and slid into an empty chair. "I'm afraid this is getting out of control. I'm afraid Paul is getting to like being Melanie a bit too much."

"She was hanging around the Gamma girls yesterday afternoon," Robert observed. "Stuck-up snobs!" His distaste for the Gamma girls was surpassed only by his dislike for the Alpha fraternity. Both groups were exceedingly snobbish, especially toward the nerds.

Bert looked at the chessboard and tipped his king, acknowledging his defeat. "So what are we going to do?"

Brandon glanced sharply at him, then at Robert and Randy. "I think we need to have a chat with Mel," he said softly.

Brandon and Randy rapped lightly on the door. Though it was open hours in the girls' dorm, they didn't want to give any girl any excuse to complain about them being noisy. The door opened a crack, and Vicky stared out. "Yeah?" she asked simply.

Brandon smiled pleasantly. "Is Mel in? We need to talk to her."

Vicky frowned. "No," she said quickly. "She's...um...at the library."

Randy glanced at Brandon, then back. It was clear that he didn't believe Vicky's little fib. "No, she isn't. I was just over there."

Vicky sighed. "Okay, I really shouldn't lie, should I?" She sighed again. "She's out on a date. With Ron Pike."

Randy's jaw hit the floor only a microsecond before Brandon's. They stood, dumbfounded, for several seconds. Finally, Brandon stammered, "He's a...football player!" The disbelief in his voice was plain for all to hear.

Vicky nodded slowly. "She asked me not to tell you guys," she said softly. Vicky looked directly at Brandon. "Guys, you've got a problem. A big, big problem."

**********

Rob tugged at the collar of his tuxedo for the hundredth time. He hated this thing. But, as Melanie's escort, he was obligated to wear it. He glanced at her again, and a smile overtook him. "You look great," he said. Indeed, he was a master of understatement. She wore a pastel pink gown of satin with an ankle-length skirt. Short puffy sleeves of pink lace hung off her shoulders; with the low neckline, it was as if the fabric had been cut off just above her bosom all the way across. Arrayed down her back were pearl buttons, cinching tight the bodice around her waist and accentuating every curve of her body. Her hair she wore loose, the front sweeping back from each side of the part to behind her ears. Above her right ear she wore a pink plumeria, a fitting tribute to her Polynesian ancestry.

Melanie barely glanced at Rob as she lightly held his crooked arm. "Thank you," she said softly, but still with a cool tone that carried clearly to Rob. She was letting him know that, even though he was her official escort, she wasn't thrilled at being with him.

The pair walked slowly through the ballroom, up the stairs to where the Holiday Queen candidates were being introduced. Rob cringed at the looks of contempt he was getting from the crowd; most of the people at the ball were fraternity types with their steady dates. He spied Ralph, and gave him a quick smile. So at least one of the guys had gotten a date.

"And our final candidate, representing the Nu Rho Delta house, is Miss Melanie Keilani Lewis."

Mel and Rob strode onto the stage, into the bright lights. Rob was clearly out of his element; he was perspiring and feeling very nervous. Mel, on the other hand, was thoroughly enjoying herself. She smiled at the crowd hidden behind the klieg lights. They paused center stage, and Mel smiled some more. Then she gracefully turned and let Rob escort her to the line of couples.

"We will now have the traditional dance, and then we will begin the coronation ceremonies."

The lights clicked off, leaving Rob temporarily blinded as his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the ballroom. In one corner, a swing band began to play. Rob smiled; it was a slow number, so he should be able to stumble his way through that.

"Do you think you can dance without tripping me?" Mel asked icily as they walked off the stage with the other couples.

Rob frowned. "Yes, I think so." He clenched his jaw. Mel's behavior had been getting steadily worse. At the afternoon's games, she hadn't talked to any of the guys, preferring instead to be with the Gamma girls and flirting with the Alphas. Cool toward the nerds was understating her attitude. Snobbish was more like it.

Rob led Melanie onto the dance floor. They began to dance, and Melanie relaxed a bit when she realized that Rob wasn't going to mash her feet. But the moment the music ended, Mel backed away from Rob, anxious to end the dance.

Rob smiled from the floor as they announced the five finalists. As expected, Melanie easily made the first cut. So had Jill, and Rob winced as he saw Melanie give Tiffany a tiny, furtive little glance of dislike. She really wanted to beat Tiffany, he gathered. That matched what Vicky had told him.

He glanced to his side and saw Brandon; for this part of the ceremony, dates weren't absolutely required, and Brandon had decided to attend — with Chuck, Bert, and half the other guys. After all, they had sponsored Melanie; they wanted to see her do well - even if she was really Paul.

The guys held their collective breath while they announced the runners up. Fourth. Third. Second. And Melanie was still in the contest. It was now a two-way race between Tiffany Bell and Melanie.

"Oh, shit!" Robert's soft oath got the guys' attention.

"What?" Brandon whispered.

Robert held up his smartphone. A web page was displayed, and Brandon followed Robert's point. "That."

'That' was a new schedule of activities for the Holiday Queen. During the spring semester. "Oh, shit!" Brandon echoed Rob's sentiments. "How did we miss that?" He shook his head again. "Does she know?"

Rob shook his head. "I didn't even know until just this minute. This is a new schedule — in the last week." His voice was hushed and strained. "I knew they used to ask the queen to these, but the winner usually turned them down. Which means..."

Brandon nodded grimly. "...when the contestants agreed to this schedule, Mel wasn't aware of what it meant."

The loudspeaker interrupted Brandon. "And the first runner up is..." The emcee, with great flourish and drama, opened the envelope, adding to the suspense, "Tiffany Bell, ...which means the new Holiday Queen is Melanie Lewis!"

Melanie's hands rose to her open mouth, a totally feminine gesture of surprise and delight. She looked like she was about to cry from happiness. Tiffany gave her a quick congratulatory hug, and then the emcee handed her a huge bouquet. Next came the tiara from the previous queen. And the guys watching her shook their heads sadly.

The dance was as miserable for Rob as any he'd ever been to. First was another mandatory dance with her escort, and this time, they were alone on the dance floor. He had the feeling that Melanie really didn't want to be there, at least not with him.

When that dance ended, everyone started dancing. Melanie was the center of attention. She was dancing happily on the floor, but not with any of the nerds. It was the 'in crowd'. Rob stood on the side of the ballroom, watching sadly as Melanie danced her heart away. The rest of the nerds had already gone; without dates, there was no reason for them to stay. His eyes betrayed a melancholy, an inner sadness that belied the joy of the day for Melanie. Finally, Rob shuffled slowly out of the ballroom, his exit noticed by none and his absence missed by no one. His head hung as he walked across the campus, toward the nerd frat house.

"Wait up!"

Rob halted mid-stride and spun his head. He saw a figure — a female figure — trotting to catch up. As she drew nearer, he recognized Vicky. "Hi," he said simply.

"I figured you wouldn't wait around the dance," she observed.

Rob lowered his gaze. "No point."

Vicky nodded, then took his arm, surprising him. "So how'd she do?"

Rob sighed. "She won."

Vicky closed her eyes tightly for a moment. "That's what I was afraid of." She glanced up at Rob as they walked. "So aren't you supposed to be dancing with her or something?"

Rob shook his head sadly. "Not if she doesn't want to." They walked in silence for a few more steps.

"She's changed, you know."

Rob nodded. "Yup." A few more steps in silence. "You know she's got to stay like that through next semester."

Vicky nearly tripped. "What?" she asked, incredulous. "It was only supposed to be for a couple of weeks, till the end of the semester."

Rob grimaced. "They changed the appearance schedule, and the contestants had to agree to it. It goes through next semester."

"So what are you going to do?"

Rob shook his head. "I don't know," he answered softly.

**********

Melanie started when she saw Rob and Brandon standing next to the ticket booth. She halted and glared at Vicky. "What's going on?" she demanded.

Vicky took Mel's arm. "Something we need to do," she answered cryptically. They walked the remaining steps to the booth.

"Hi, Mel," Brandon said, his faux enthusiasm failing to hide the sadness in his voice.

"How are things?" Rob asked, equally unconvincing. "We haven't seen you around for a while."

Melanie shrugged. "It's been busy," she said in a neutral tone. "I can't complain."

Brandon nodded. "I hear the Gammas asked you to pledge."

Melanie looked impassively at him. "Yes, they did."

Vicky interrupted the awkward conversation. "I think she's waiting for us." She nodded toward the low gray building, the offices of Bikini Beach.

'She' turned out to be Anya, and she was indeed waiting. Vicky sat first, followed by Melanie, who demurely crossed her legs and sat upright, in a very graceful pose. Brandon and Rob slumped into their chairs, their bodies seemingly as weighed down as their minds.

"Where's the boss?" Vicky asked Anya.

Anya smiled. "She's at a trade show in Orlando through tomorrow. She said I could handle this one, anyway, so she might as well go have some fun." She turned to the boys. "So," Anya began softly, "things got a bit...messy?"

Vicky glanced at Rob and Brandon, who slowly nodded. "They changed the appearance and event schedule for the winner," Brandon finally admitted. "Mel has to stay a girl through the spring semester."

Anya glanced warily at Melanie, who she knew was hearing this news for the first time. She thought she saw something flicker across Melanie's features. "I take it that's not a problem for you, Mel?"

Melanie's jaw dropped open and her eyes widened. She stared at Anya for a few moments, and then she composed herself. "No," she admitted, her gaze averted.

"In fact," Anya continued, her voice even and emotionless, "you _want_ this, don’t' you?" Melanie, still staring down, nodded feebly. "You want to tell these guys what's going on?"

Melanie looked up at Anya, and Anya saw that Mel was starting to cry. "I guess so," Mel answered. She turned toward the guys. "I...I like this," she began softly. "It's easier for me." Tears were welling up in the corners of her eyes. "All my life, I've been a wimp, a sissy-boy. Even to my dad. Especially to my dad."

Anya watched impassively; she already knew, but the guys had to hear this.

Mel wiped the tears away, a futile gesture as more replaced them. "He wanted a son who loved football. I never got his approval because I didn't like sports. Dad once told mom, when I wasn't supposed to hear, that he wished I'd have been either a proper little girl or a tough little guy. Not the in-between wimp I was." She wiped more tears. "All my life, I've been laughed at, pushed around, and made fun of because I'm a little guy. But since I changed, I...I was popular! No one made fun of me!"

Brandon tried to soothe her. "We've all been there, Mel," he said sympathetically. "All of us have been made fun of...."

Mel shook her head. "You don't understand! I...I can't go back! Not now! Not after what I've been!" She lowered her face in her hands, tears flowing freely as the overwhelming secret she'd carried all these years was revealed.

Vicky pulled Mel close, letting her cry on her shoulder and half-hugging her. Mel's body wracked with her sobbing.

Anya turned back to Rob and Brandon. Rob's mouth hung agape, and Brandon's lips were pursed grimly together. "Well?"

Brandon looked down at the floor. "We'll...see what we can do. We'll get her a permanent pass."

Mel's head lifted slowly, her eyes wide. "You...you guys would do that? For me?" Tears flowed again. "And after the way I've acted toward you?"

Rob nodded slowly. "I guess...we owe it to you. I mean, we started this whole thing, didn't we?"

Mel blew her nose on a tissue Vicky had provided. "Now I feel terrible," she said through her tears. "I was pretty rotten to you guys, wasn't I?"

Rob shook his head. "Nah," he said, trying to dismiss it.

Anya cut him off. "Yes," she said sternly, "you were. Just remember this. Your friends are willing to do this for you — even after you treated them so poorly. Ask yourself how many of the Gamma girls would do what these guys are doing." Her voice softened, losing its stern edge. "Remember who your true friends are."

Vicky glanced at Anya, and Anya felt her concern. "This is going to be a mess," Vicky said, biting her lower lip. "You kind of made up Mel's whole past without changing Paul's."

Mel turned sharply toward Anya. "I was adopted as a baby," she said quickly. "Can't you change...make me my parent's daughter? Like they adopted a girl instead of...."

Anya nodded and then spoke. "Paul is going to cease to exist. Is that what you want?"

Mel glanced at Brandon and Rob, then back to Anya. "Yes," she answered firmly. "That's what I want."

**********

Vicky took a sip of her soda. She stretched out in the chair, enjoying the peace and quiet of the office. "What happened, Anya?" she asked quietly.

Anya shook her head. "Melanie was seduced by being popular. She forgot her values."

Vicky shook her head. "You knew this was going to happen, didn't you?"

Anya smiled and laughed. "There are some advantages to this job. Sometimes." She shook her head. "Kind of ironic, isn't it?"

"What?" Vicky's brow wrinkled in confusion.

"Paul didn't want to change, and ended up wanting to stay. Just goes to show that you never know how things can turn out." She glanced at her watch. "Aren't you supposed to be working the gift shop?" she asked, snapping the focus back to her business.

Vicky started, leaping to her feet and nearly spilling her soda. "Oh, damn! I wasn't watching the time."

Anya grinned. "No harm done. It's pretty slow right now, but we're about to get a busload of visitors. Better get over there. It could get real interesting."

Vicky smiled, then strode lightly toward the door, toward her responsibilities. As the door was closing, Anya spoke again. "Oh, Vicky?" Vicky stopped, poking her head back into the office. "I haven't been able to make any progress on that spell."

Vicky cocked her head for a second, then she understood Anya's meaning. A smile crept over her features. "No hurry." Her smile broadened as she saw Anya's jaw drop. "I think I learned a little something from Melanie, too. Maybe I need to quit being so angry, and just accept what I can't change." She turned, and whistling to herself, strode out of the office.

As the door closed, Anya sat for a moment, looking totally surprised. Then, as she turned her attention back to the computer, a wry grin crept across her face.

FIN



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