Soixante-Trois Airlines, part 15

“Please all give a round of applause to our newest in-flight supervisors,” Alana announced to the assembled crowd of stewardesses. “Miss Jessica Tyler!” Jessica blushed as she stepped out in front of the cheering crowd, nervously fiddling with the brand-new gold buttons on her blazer.

“And,” Alana continued as Jessica anxiously bit her lip, “Miss Carly Powell!” Jessica smiled as the blonde Englishwoman stood alongside her and eagerly waved to the crowd. Jessica’s smile faltered, however, as she remembered that several of the other girls in the crowd had been vying for the two positions that she and Carly had filled- not least the black haired Scottish girl stood at the front of the group, whose blue and green eyes seemed to bore into Jessica’s skull like a laser beam.

“I promise to be firm, but fairly cruel,” Jessica said, earning chuckles from many of the faces in the crowd.

“Our new dynamic duo will be in training for the next two weeks to get them up to speed on supervisor duties,” Alana announced. “But rest assured, they’ll be bossing all of you about before too long… Especially those of you who started earlier in the month!”

“Looking forward to it already,” A familiar Mancunian accent called from the crowd, earning chuckles from all present.

“Hush you,” Jessica said to yet more giggles. “You’re meant to be setting a good example, anyway."

“We ALL are,” Alana said. “So back to work, all of you!” Jessica smiles as she and Carly followed their new line manager back to her office.

“Didn’t realise that you were an Avengers fan,” Carly said to the American girl. “I would’ve made the ‘prima nocta’ joke, but let’s face it, I think we all know who’s got a monopoly on THAT.”

“I dunno,” Jessica mused. “He’s been behaving himself a lot more as of late.” Especially since he was videoed dancing around in a Little Bo Peep costume, Jessica thought to herself.

“Ladies, keep the discussion work-appropriate, please,” Alana said, silencing the two blonde women as they sat down and began taking notes on their many new responsibilities.

----------

“Unlucky, girl,” Anna-Jade sighed as she gave Paige a gentle pat on the shoulder. “Sure, there’s always next time, you know how fast this place goes through employees.”

“AND we’re supposedly going to be expanding services here soon,” Abbey interjected. “If this third runway gets built…”

“Thanks, guys,” Paige said with a long, heavy sigh. Like many of her colleagues, she’d applied for the two supervisor positions. She’d cited multiple references in her application, her good relations with her colleagues, her familiarity with every aspect of her duties and the fact that she’d gone from barely conversational in French to fluent in the space of under two years… But the fact that she had taken two days’ sick leave- while Jessica and Carly hadn’t taken any in the course of their employment- meant that Paige had been passed over.

The worst part for the Scottish girl, however, wasn’t the fact that her lover would now outrank her- it was that she was unable to control her jealousy of Jessica. Like the American girl, Paige had only signed up with Soixante-Trois as a short-term thing, a brief ‘adventure’ in the world of femininity that she never imagined becoming a permanent thing. And yet, unlike many of the colleagues she’d worked with over the previous two and a half years who had moved on, she found herself wanting more from her life- both in a personal sense and a professional sense. The two years of hormone replacement therapy- which had made her body unrecognisable to anyone who had known her as ‘Paul’- had gone a long way toward her personal change, but Paige couldn’t help but think of her rejection by the company as the beginning of the end of her career- much like her rejection of Jessica’s proposal nine months earlier appeared to be the beginning of the end of her relationship.

Whilst Paige still adored the American girl, she’d found themselves growing more and more distant. As much as she loved Jessica, Paige felt that- at the age of 22- she simply wasn’t ready to commit herself to a permanent relationship in the way that Jessica wanted, and whilst Jessica had kept her promise and not made a second proposal, Paige’s rejection coloured every second that the two spent together, hanging over them like a black cloud.

Exactly two weeks prior to the announcement of Jessica’s promotion had been Valentine’s Day, and the close group of friends- including those no longer working for Soixante-Trois Airlines- had celebrated with a ‘quadruple date’ at a local Chinese restaurant. Jessica and Paige celebrated their love alongside Natalie and Zoe, Anna-Jade and her boyfriend Paul and Rachel and her boyfriend Danny. All throughout the meal, however, Paige couldn’t help but observe that whilst the other couples were totally at ease with each other, she and Jessica seemed tense throughout the night, even when they returned home and spent the night wrapped in each other’s arms.

Paige wanted to be with Jessica, and she was sure that Jessica wanted to be with her- she just wished that that was enough…

“Well, we’d better get going,” Abbey said, snapping Paige out of her reverie. “Your sister isn’t going to teach herself how to be a stewardess, Nat!”

“Well let’s face facts, neither is anyone else!” Natalie laughed, her laughter intensifying as their group was approached by a petite brown-haired woman, fidgeting in her brand-new blue pencil skirt and matching high-heeled shoes.

“You can stop laughing,” Ellen snorted at her sister.

“Never,” Natalie giggled. “I’ll be honest, when mum called to say that my sister was applying to join the airline, I genuinely didn’t think she meant you!”

“Yes, you’ve said that EVERY DAY since I started!” Ellen sighed. “Honestly, I don’t get why you’re so surprised? I DID say I was attending interviews, keeping my options open, I have a degree, I speak excellent French...”

“You have the work ethic of Dave Lister,” Natalie countered.

“Look who’s talking!” Ellen spat.

“I have a great work ethic,” Natalie retorted. “I just hate stupid and arbitrary rules, that’s all. Now go on, get to your classroom, make sure your pencils are all sharpened, listen to what Miss Watkins teaches you!”

“Jerk,” Ellen retorted, before snorting with genuine laughter as she and Abbey headed toward the small conference room where she was learning all about life as a Soixante-Trois Airlines stewardess.

“…Honestly,” Anna-Jade sighed. “I’m glad I don’t live in your house because the words ‘fucking nightmare’ come immediately to mind. Almost lucky that you didn’t a supervisor position either…”

“That was never going to happen,” Natalie sighed. “Not thanks to one particularly stupid and arbitrary rule. And I wouldn’t have been able to supervise a flight for her anyway, like Jess can’t supervise any of Paige’s flights.” Paige bit her lip as she was reminded of Jessica’s promotion (and her own lack of one). “I really want to be on her first flight, though…”

“Sure, you are just CRUEL,” Anna-Jade snorted.

“I’m her big sister AND her big brother,” Natalie said with a smug grin. “That’s a lot of cruelty for one person to keep up!” Natalie smirked as Paige and Anna-Jade- both of whom had older siblings- giggled at her joke, though she was troubled by the confused look on her other companion’s face. “…Something up, Annabelle?”

“Yeah,” the American woman sighed. “Who’s ‘Dave Lister’, honeys?”

A few hours later, the stewardesses of Soixante-Trois Airlines were hard at work, either learning about their new responsibilities or carrying out said responsibilities several thousand feet above the surface of the Earth. However, as busy as they were, and as far apart as they were, neither Jessica nor Paige stopped thinking about each other- though their thoughts weren’t just about how much they were looking forward to seeing each other again.

As she took down page after page of notes about her new role, Jessica found herself repeatedly staring over at Carly and wishing that it was Paige sat next to her, as it had seemingly been since the very first second they met. Every time Jessica thought about Paige she felt guilty that she had earned the supervisor position when Paige hadn’t. They may have had the same amount of experience with the company, and Jessica may have had more overall experience as a flight attendant, but she would always lag behind Paige in the one area that Jessica cared about the most- she would always have less experience as a woman. Paige began transitioning before Jessica, and as far as the American girl was concerned, that entitled Paige to the supervisor position before her.

Meanwhile, as she served the passengers on board the aeroplane en route to and from Berlin, Paige couldn’t tear her thoughts away from the American girl she’d shared her life- all of her life as a woman- with for the past two and a half years. Paige felt increasingly jealous of Jessica, and the more jealous she felt, the more guilty Paige felt. It wasn’t Jessica’s fault that Paige didn’t get the supervisor job- there were two to go for, after all, so it’s not like they were going head-to-head, and Jessica was more experienced in the job, she was the more popular one with management, so in Paige’s mind, she more than deserved the promotion.

She just wished that subconsciously, she didn’t resent Jessica so much for ‘beating’ her…

----------

“Seriously, my head is about to explode,” Carly laughed as she and Jessica left the office where they had been studying and headed to the locker room to change out of their blue uniforms. Even though she hadn’t been performing the tasks she was accustomed to doing whilst wearing her uniform, Jessica was no less tired than usual, though for once, it was more a case of mental and emotional tiredness than physical exhaustion.

“I think I’ll actually be more nervous on my first supervisor flight than I was on my first, you know, ‘normal’ flight!” Carly laughed.

“Yeah,” Jessica chuckled as she unzipped her tight blue skirt, stepping out of it with a long sigh.

“Jess… You okay?” Carly asked. “You’re kinda distracted… Is- is it, you know, Paige?”

“No,” Jessica retorted, before letting out another long sigh. “Yes…”

“It’s not like you’re gonna be bossing her around,” Carly said. “Alana wouldn’t put you in that position, no one in management would.”

“They’ve never really approved of our relationship,” Jessica said. “For all their talk of equality…”

“There’s nothing they can do about it, as long as you keep it outside the airport,” Carly shrugged.

“It’s not them I’m really worried about, though,” Jessica sighed as she slithered into her tight black pencil dress and headed toward the nearest tube station, ready for the long commute back to her- or rather, her and Paige’s- home.

----------

“I suppose the one good thing about skirts this tight,” Natalie said as she eased out of her uniform, “is that it makes it hard for the kind of perverts we regularly deal with to get a hand up there. Though trust me, that doesn’t stop all of them from trying.”

“Are you TRYING to make me quit?” Ellen asked her sister as she exchanged her brand-new blue uniform for a smart white blouse and knee-length black pencil skirt. “And why, exactly, do we have to be dressed up on the way to and from work, again?”

“Because we’re representing the company from the second we step out of our front door to the second we step back through it,” Natalie, Abbey and Paige responded in a robotic monotone.

“And besides,” Natalie said as she stepped into a slender pencil dress, “it’s not like we don’t get a generous clothing and make-up budget for exactly this reason. Ell, zip me up, please?”

“Gone from trying to scare me into quitting to trying to creep me into quitting,” Ellen mumbled as she fastened Natalie’s zip. “I really doubt I’ll ever get used to this…”

“Hey!“ Abbey protested. “Nat’s as much one of the girls as any of us.”

“Not for the first seventeen years of my life, she wasn’t,” Ellen sighed. “But I guess you’re right, she is now…”

“To be fair, the clues WERE there,” Natalie laughed. “Remember Halloween 2010?”

“How can I forget?” Ellen snorted. “Thought Greg- our brother’s- jaw was going to fall off when you walked down the stairs dressed as a zombie French Maid, clutching that feather duster in your hand…”

“I still have that costume,” Natalie said proudly. “And that feather duster, though most of the time I don’t clutch it in my hand anymore…”

“And that’s enough of THAT conversation,” Ellen said, making Natalie and Abbey giggle. “What we doing tonight? Night in, or heading to that pub your friend runs?”

“Night in, probably,” Abbey replied.

“Zoe’s got her advanced class tonight,” Natalie explained. “They usually overrun a little and she’s usually exhausted by the end of it. As bad as pervy businessmen are I’ll take them any day of the week over a room filled with thirty-odd teenagers.”

“Speaking of which,” Abbey giggled. “When ARE we going to get young- YOUNG Miss Briggs along to a Thursday morning lesson? As the potential future sister-in-law of one of the teachers, she’s bound to be welcomed into the class, surely?”

“Hell will freeze over before you EVER see me in a skin-tight leotard,” Ellen retorted, making her mentor and her sister giggle.

“And besides, Ellen doesn’t really like the Angels anyway,” Natalie clarified. “That’s the other sister, the younger, more sensible sister’s thing!”

“Not to mention OLD Miss Briggs!” Ellen said with a smug grin as Natalie gasped in pretend shock.

“From my own sister…” Natalie spat. “Paige, we’re heading off now, you okay to get home by yourself? You’ve been kinda quiet…”

“Huh?” Paige asked. “Oh, um, aye, I’ll be fine. Annabelle will be back in a bit, I’ll go home with her."

“You sure?” Natalie asked. “You’ve been really quiet today, I really hope everything’s okay…”

“I’m fine,” Paige retorted. “I- just a little disappointed about the supervisor thing, that’s all. I’ll be alright.”

“If you’re sure,” Natalie mumbled. “See you tomorrow, Paige.”

“See you, girls,” Paige said, forcing a smile on her face that evaporated the second the three women left.

Consciously, she knew that what everyone was telling her was right. There was no reason whatsoever why the change in their professional circumstances should affect her relationship with Jessica. Paige knew she loved the American girl, and she knew that Jessica loved her.

And yet, as Paige stepped through the front door of her flat and was greeted by a long, deep kiss from her lover, she didn’t feel the ‘spark’ she did the first time she kissed Jessica. It was like a black cloud had descended over their relationship… And Paige was sure Jessica felt it as well.

After an evening of relaxing in front of the television, the four flat mates all headed to bed, where Jessica and Paige watched each other with happy smiles as they took turns in front of their dresser removing their jewellery and make-up and brushing their hair.

“So,” Jessica asked as she brushed the knots out of her golden blonde hair, “what d’you make of Natalie’s sister, now you’ve had a chance to get to know her better?”

“I like her,” Paige mumbled. “She’s just like another Natalie. For better AND worse!”

“Yeah,” Jessica laughed. “Alana literally went ‘Oh god not another Briggs’ when she saw her for her interview. She’s apparently really bright, though, and very enthusiastic about the job.”

“Just like another Natalie,” Paige laughed. “Though as someone with two older sisters, I feel REALLY sorry that she’ll have to work with Nat…”

“Nat’ll be professional whilst on a flight,” Jessica said with a grin.

“Let me guess- you’ll make sure of it?” Paige asked, making Jessica frown despite the light-hearted tone of her voice. “Umm, you and, um, all the other supervisors… Reckon- you know, d’you think your sister will ever follow in your footsteps?”

“What, Hayley?” Jessica asked. “Doubt it, she’s not the Europhile I am. Besides, she’s planning on going to college after high school.”

“NYU, like your brother?” Paige asked.

“Umm, think she’s got her heart set on University of Minnesota,” Jessica said. “They’re one of the top colleges for law.”

“And she doesn’t fancy taking to the skies after uni?” Paige asked.

“Nah, she’ll probably just go into practising law,” Jessica mused. “By the time she graduates I’ll be thirty anyway, not like I’ll get to boss her around on a flight even if I wanted to. Not like I could do that anyway, heh.”

“Yep,” Paige said in a dark voice that made Jessica wince.

“Oh- god, Paige,” Jessica sighed as she climbed into bed and wrapped her arms around the Scottish girl’s slender waist. “I- I’m sorry…”

“Nothing for YOU to be sorry about,” Paige sighed. “You’re a better stewardess than I am, that’s all…”

“Bullshit,” Jessica snorted.

“Umm, you WERE already a stewardess before you started work for 63,” Paige retorted. “Well, not stewardess, but- ugh, you know what I mean…”

“I do,” Jessica said. “And trust me, working for Belman is LOADS different from working for 63. So as far as I’m concerned, me and you are equal. It’s just that stupid sick leave you took…”

“Ugh,” Paige spat.

“And it’s not like there isn’t a positive side,” Jessica mused. “I mean, without the commitment of being a supervisor, you can put in for your SRS now- that’s why Anna-Jade didn’t apply, after all- and you can look forward to getting that gender certificate too, you can apply for that any day now…”

“Thanks, not really helping,” Paige grumbled, before letting out a long, tired sigh. “Get some sleep, babe. We’ve both got a long day tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Jessica sighed, admitting defeat. “Night, babe.”

“Night,” Paige whispered, exchanging a soft kiss with her lover before quickly falling asleep in each other’s arms.

Paige awoke the following morning to discover that Jessica was already awake and in the middle of getting dressed. As she had done countless times in the past, Paige watched with a dreamy smile as Jessica clipped her dark, seamed stockings to her suspenders and arranged her small, fledgling breasts within her lacy bra. As hard as Paige tried to concentrate on the sight before her, though, the memory of the previous night’s discussion- and the stress it caused- wouldn’t go away.

“Second day of dominating,” Paige teased, chuckling as Jessica stuck her tongue out at her.

“Don’t laugh, I still have my Project Tutu quote-unquote uniform somewhere,” Jessica giggled as she tied her hair back into a tight French pleat. “Jeez… I remember when this used to be a wig, heh.”

“The wig was never as nice to run your fingers through,” Paige chuckled. “And are you mentioning the PT uniform because you secretly want to wear it again?” It’s the one way I wouldn’t mind you being ‘dominant’, Paige thought to herself.

“I doubt management would allow me to wear THAT on a flight, hehe!” Jessica giggled, making Paige frown at the missed meaning behind her words.

“Doesn’t mean you can’t wear it at other times,” Paige said in a low, sultry voice. “And besides, give Masson enough time and he’ll probably have us all wearing nothing but lingerie on flights. And even that’s only because most of us are still pre-op…”

“Don’t say that in front of Alana, whatever you do!” Jessica laughed.

“Erm, yes, I do already know that, thank you,” Paige laughed as she slid her slender body out of bed and took headed toward the shower. “No need to tell me how to do every tiny bit of my job, you know…” Jessica bit her lip as Paige walked past her- she hadn’t intended to come across as bossy, and she knew all too well how badly Paige reacted to people trying to assert authority over her. Instead of arguing further- and inevitably making things worse- Jessica instead pulled on the long-sleeved blouse and tight pencil skirt she’d chosen to wear for the day, before sitting down on the edge of her bed, her knees pressed tightly together, and waiting for her lover’s return.

“…Sorry,” Jessica mumbled as Paige returned from the shower with a towel wrapped around her long, jet-black hair, and another wrapped around her chest.

“…Maybe we oughta set up a safe word, for when you’re getting a bit TOO dominant!” Paige giggled, kissing Jessica on her lips before sitting down to apply her make-up.

Jessica watched with a relaxed, satisfied smile on her face as Paige transformed herself from the cute girl who had shared her bed the previous night, into the sexy, glamorous stewardess she’d fallen in love with two and a half years earlier. Together, the two women elegantly sashayed toward the nearest tube stop, which ferried them to their workplace.

“Paige…” Jessica mumbled as she changed into her tight blue uniform. “I hope- ugh. I’m sorry if this- this whole promotion ‘thing’ is driving us further apart. I know, I just know that no matter what, I do NOT want to lose you. Not for anything or anyone else.”

“I feel the same,” Paige whispered. “And I’m sorry too, sorry I got so jealous of those things.” Jessica giggled as Paige fiddled with the gold-coloured buttons on the front of her blazer.

“You’ll get some of your own soon, I know you will,” Jessica said in a soft, caring voice. “Hell, you’ll get a different kind of ‘button’ long before I will…”

“We’re seriously calling it THAT?” Paige giggled. “Would’ve thought ‘buttonhole’ would be more appropriate…”

“Depends on what you plan on putting in it,” Jessica giggled, before carefully looking around the small locker room. Once she was satisfied that she and Paige were alone, she leaned forward and gave the Scottish girl a brief, but still tender kiss on her lips that made both women giggle like naughty schoolgirls.

“Shouldn’t you tell yourself off for doing that?” Paige teased. “Discipline yourself or something?”

“Cheeky,” Jessica teased as she and her Scottish lover headed to their respective workplaces for the day.

----------

“Hi Jessica,” Alana said with a smile as she ushered the American girl into her office. “Thanks for getting here early, the sooner we get going, the longer lunch we can have!”

“Read my mind,” Carly giggled. “There was SO much to take in yesterday.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to consolidate what you’ve learned before we turn you loose,” Alana chuckled. “You’ll be shadowing supervisors on flights starting next week to get a feel of what the role entails.”

“Good,” Jessica said. “Always preferred, you know, ‘hands-on’ stuff.”

“Yeah, me too,” Alana said. “Obviously the theory’s still important to. And when it comes to ‘hands on’, don’t worry, we won’t put you on any of Paige’s flights, even during consolidation.”

“Thanks,” Jessica chuckled. “THAT would’ve been awkwardness I don’t need right now!”

“The company really doesn’t need it either,” Alana said with a smile. “Obviously, we can’t tell you who to get together with, but it’s no trouble to keep you apart on flights. You might get called on to supervise one of your flat mates though, I trust that won’t be too awkward?”

“Shouldn’t be,” Jessica said. “Anna-Jade and Annabelle are both cool.”

“When Anna-Jade isn’t swearing every other word, anyway,” Carly interjected, making the other two women giggle.

“She never does it on flights, though,” Alana says. “So we can left her off there.”

“The relationship rule does make a lot of sense, though,” Carly mused. “Think it extends to ex-partners as well, doesn’t it?”

“Where possible,” Alana answered.

“Unless your name is Jacques Lacroix,” Jessica said with a snort of laughter. “Then it, like, isn’t possible.” Jessica let out a nervous laugh, before biting her lip as Alana fixed her with a dark, disapproving glare.

“That sort of talk needs to stop now,” Alana said firmly. “It is ENTIRELY unprofessional.”

“Well- yes, out in public, sure,” Jessica said, taken aback by Alana’s sudden hostility. “But- but behind closed doors…?”

“Jacques Lacroix is a kind and sensitive man,” Alana said. “And he is the great-nephew of the founder of this company. He is NOT to be spoken of in those terms.” But it’s okay to say ‘oh god not another Briggs’ when you saw Natalie’s sister on the interview list? Jessica thought to herself.

“Understood,” Jessica whispered.

“Good,” Alana said as both Jessica and Carly fidgeted awkwardly in their seats. “Don’t want you doing a ‘Rachel Harrison’ on only your second day in the job now, do we?”

“No,” Jessica said quietly as Alana prepared her and Carly’s learning for the day.

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“Feeling better today, then?” Natalie asked as she removed her hat and blazer and began boiling the kettles in the aeroplane’s cramped kitchen.

“Aye,” Paige said with a grin. “Doing Dublin instead of Berlin also really helps, heh. But to answer what your question inevitably was, yes, me and Jessica have sat down, talked it over and sorted it out.”

“GOOD,” Natalie said. “You know, to the best of my knowledge, you and Jess are the longest-lived relationship between any two Soixante-Trois employees?”

“Only because Zoe quit,” Paige retorted, making Natalie giggle. “You know, I’ve heard that she’s supposed to be a really strict teacher? But she messed around at work, like ALL the time, and she’s going out with you…”

“Must be a French thing,” Natalie shrugged. “And do NOT tell Zoe I said that! Unless, of course, you want to bitch about something about America that you don’t like.”

“Hardly a fair trade, I love everything about America,” the Scottish girl giggled. “Hoping to go back in the summer, maybe visit the west coast, or Disney World, or Universal Studios. Or Hollywood. ESPECIALLY Hollywood!”

“Okay, okay, I get it,” Natalie laughed. “God bless America, heh. It’s not even like I hate France, I mean, Zoe’s said her parents might even be able to get us tickets to go and watch the Monaco Grand Prix in May.”

“Umm… Aren’t France and Monaco separate countries?” Paige asked.

“Good point,” Natalie said, triggering a fit of giggles that was only silenced by the kitchen’s call light illuminating. “And it’s good about you and Jess. I want to be a bridesmaid someday soon!”

“…Yeah,” Paige grimaced, making Natalie frown and sigh.

“…God,” Natalie moaned. “S-sorry, Paige, I-“

“Don’t want to keep the passenger waiting,” Paige said, making Natalie nod as she pushed her drinks trolley into the plane’s aisle. “Or Jessica…”

----------

“Again, mind- blown,” Carly laughed as she and Jessica returned to the locker room to change out of their blue uniforms. “I’m sure I’ll get it all once we’re actually, you know, doing it, like you said.”

“Yeah,” Jessica mused, taking a deep breath as she loosened the laces on her corset. “Ugh, SO much better…”

“Umm, you know I should report you for that?” Carly asked as she slithered her own corseted body into the tight grey pencil dress she wore to work. “I won’t do, obviously, but- and I really don’t want to cause offence- but, umm…”

“Aren’t we T-girls supposed to enjoy tight lingerie?” Jessica asked. “When I’m wearing it to have sex with Paige, then yes, I guess, but not during a long working day… You’ve surely got to agree with me?”

“Oh- 100%, yeah,” Carly said with a snort of laughter. “But you heard Alana, I don’t want to end up ‘doing a Rachel’, I need this job too much… Can’t believe Rachel quit, anyway. You know what she’s doing now?”

“Umm, yeah, think she’s managing a bar in the city centre,” Jessica said. “Don’t think she’s making as much but she definitely seems happier. She doesn’t have to wear a uniform, either…”

“Meh, I can live without the corset, but I DEFINITELY couldn’t live without the rest of the uniform!” Carly giggled, before a quizzical look fell over her face. “Is- does that surprise you, Jess? That, you know, a ‘from birth’ woman could like wearing a sexy uniform?”

“…I dunno,” Jessica laughed. “I guess in a way it does make some sense, heh. I mean, I spent all my life wishing I was a beautiful woman, soo…”

“Exactly,” Carly said with a grin. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a beautiful MAN waiting at home for me, hehe!”

“Enjoy,” Jessica laughed with a wink as Carly sashayed out of the locker room, leaving the American girl alone with her thoughts.

Jessica sighed as she checked the time on her phone- 4:45pm, a full two and a half hours before Paige was due back from Ireland. With Alana’s words ringing in her ears, Jessica headed to the nearest tube stop, but instead of heading home, she headed further into the city centre, eventually finding herself stood outside the front entrance of a modern, posh-looking bar. Jessica took a deep breath as she entered the establishment- it wasn’t the sort of English pub that she’d seen examples of on TV, or heard about from her friends, but it was still a bar, and she was still dressed in a tight skirt, seamed stockings and stiletto heels, and she knew all too well how excited men could get at such a sight.

Fortunately for Jessica, however, the first face she saw when she entered the bar wasn’t that of a lust-filled patron, but was instead the friendly face of the young man stood behind the bar.

“Evenin’ darlin’,” Danny said in a London accent that was far stronger than his natural speaking voice. "What can I get ya?”

“Your girlfriend,” Jessica said with a snort of laughter that made Danny chuckle.

“Doubt she’ll fit in a pint glass,” Danny laughed, before poking his head through the door at the end of the bar. “Rach! You got a visitor!” Jessica smiled as she heard the familiar sound of a person running down a flight of stairs, and her smile only grew wider as she saw Rachel emerge from the door wearing work clothes that were a far cry from the smart apparel Jessica was wearing.

Rather than a pencil skirt- or any kind of skirt- Rachel was wearing a pair of tatty dark blue jeans, and instead of a tight blouse or top, Rachel wore a loose long-sleeved top that nonetheless managed to flatter her slender figure. Aside from a touch of mascara, her face was make up-free, and her hair had been tied into a very loose, casual ponytail.

“Hey, Jess!” Rachel giggled. “I understand congratulations are in order?”

“Thanks,” Jessica said with a bashful grin. “And you- you, umm, you look, you know, nice?”

“Told you,” Danny said, earning a playful eye roll from his girlfriend.

“I look- and feel- comfortable,” Rachel said. “Have had more than enough of being Antoine Masson’s own personal Barbie doll.”

“Seems strange hearing that from the woman who won a beauty pageant just two years ago,” Jessica teased, earning another longer eye roll from Rachel.

“That should’ve been my first clue,” the blonde Englishwoman snorted. “Still, I’m in a place now where I can be happy. And, you know, nothing lasts forever anyway…” I hope you’re only thinking about work there, Jessica thought to herself.

“My parents weren’t exactly happy,” Rachel continued. “Exchanging a higher-paid job for a lower one, even if here, I actually get to be in charge. Well, apart from when the bar’s owner comes in and yells ‘Sam and Rebecca’ at me in Danny in an accent that’s half Nigeria, half jet engine.”

“Whatever ‘Sam and Rebecca’ means, anyway,” Danny interjects.

“Cheers re-runs were all my mom watched when she was growing up,” Jessica laughed.

“But anyway, that’s enough about me,” Rachel laughed as she stepped out from behind the bar and gave her American friend a gentle hug. “You’re here for a reason, after all! Take a seat, Danny will bring over some drinks in a bit.”

“Thanks,” Jessica laughed as she sat down, elegantly sweeping her skirt underneath her before crossing one leg over the other, whilst Rachel casually plopped down into the seat next to her.

“So let me guess- the whole supervisor ‘thing’ is a bit overwhelming, at least to begin with?” Rachel asked.

“A little,” Jessica shrugged. “I mean, I get the whole ‘theory’ thing, the, you know, mechanical side of it, and obviously customer service I’m good at…”

“But…?” Rachel asked.

“Ugh,” Jessica spat. “It’s- it’s, you know, the whole ‘bossy’ bit. You know, I nearly got my ass kicked by Alana today just for badmouthing ‘le connard’. In private.”

“Ugh, Jess, trust me, you are preaching to the choir here,” Rachel sighed. “’Fraid that’s going to be a big part of this job, it’s 20% customer service, 80% kissing the ass of anyone even remotely related to the Masson dynasty. You don’t mind it at first because of the money, and the seniority, but they SERIOUSLY hate people who think for themselves. They want good little worker drones, preferably ones with good looking faces.”

“Heh,” Jessica chuckled. “If my dad was here, he’d probably accuse you of being a communist. And he voted democrat the last seven elections in a row!”

“Well, if wanting more respect and more rights for Soixante-Trois employees makes me a communist, then just call me comrade Harrison,” Rachel laughed. “You know, the other day, I actually called up Joshua- the owner of the bar- and ran a few ideas by him? And not just that, but Danny pitched in an idea he had as well, for a St Patrick’s Day celebration. Joshua LOVED the ideas, actually thanked us for our hard work and gave us a free rein to put them into practice.”

“Well…” Jessica said. “In fairness, you ARE the manager of this bar, it’s kinda your job to come up with ideas.”

“It isn’t Danny’s job, and Joshua paid as much attention to him as he did to me,” Rachel shrugged. “Doubt any other employer would be happy with me working on ‘Project Tutu 2017’ in quiet times at work, either. Or gossiping with friends, heh!”

“How is the project going, anyway?” Jessica asked.

“SLOWLY,” Rachel sighed. “Beginning to think the whole thing was a stupid idea, anyway. I mean, yes, Zoe’s contributed all she can to it, but even that isn’t much, and everyone else I know still works for the company so has to be careful. Annabelle and Paige have only helped a little, Anna-Jade doesn’t want to jeopardise her three months’ sick leave for her operation, Natalie and Abbey don’t want to drag Nat’s sister into it, Tanisha, Rhianna and Rosita haven’t been working with the company long enough to generate any scandal, and now you’re ‘the authority’. And I’ve now got a good job with an employer I can respect and who can respect me… Yeah.”

“I always did think you were being overambitious,” Jessica mumbled. “Trying to take down Antoine Masson himself…”

“Remember you said that, next time you’re sat there fidgeting in your corset and your thong,” Rachel retorted. “Anyway, I can’t stick around, I do have actual work to do, people are about to get off work… It was good seeing, you, Jess. Give my love to Paige.”

“I will,” Jessica said, silently cursing the Englishwoman as her corset and her thong suddenly became very uncomfortable.

On the tube ride back to her flat, Jessica found herself lost in thought as she contemplated Alana and Rachel’s advice to her. When she’d received the promotion, she’d promised herself that it meant that nothing would change. She’d still be the same old Jessica, she’d have the same relationship with her friends- and most crucially of all, with Paige- she’d just be better paid, that’s all. However, Jessica couldn’t help but notice how much Rachel had changed. When she worked for Soixante-Trois, she was one of the bossiest people Jessica had ever met, both at work and in their home lives. The Rachel that Jessica spoke to in the bar couldn’t have been more different from the old, bossy Rachel, the Rachel who reported Natalie and Zoe for the most trivial of ‘offences’, and wouldn’t have hesitated to report Jessica and Paige for the same. As she walked through the front door of her flat, Jessica shuddered at the thought of having to report her friends to management, especially as she knew that if she was faced with a colleague breaking the rules, she’d have no choice but to report them…

“Hi, honey,” Annabelle said in her quiet Southern accent as Jessica dropped her handbag in her bedroom and slipped her tired, aching feet out of her stilettos.

“Hey, Annabelle,” Jessica replied. “Glad to see you’re settling in well.”

“Thanks,” Annabelle replied. “It helps that Anna-Jade spends most of her time at her boyfriend’s place, so I have the room to myself.”

“I guess,” Jessica shrugged.

“Good day at work, honey?” Annabelle asked. “You’re back later than yesterday…”

“I dropped in to see Rachel on the way back,” Jessica explained.

“Getting some tips on how to boss everyone around?” Annabelle asked, making Jessica grimace.

“Getting tips on how NOT to,” Jessica sighed. “I mean, it’s not like I don’t WANT the promotion, but, you know?”

“You don’t to stop being ‘plain ol’ Jess’?” Annabelle asked, smiling as Jessica sighed and nodded.

“I just want to go there and do my job,” Jessica sighed. “It was so much easier two years ago. It will almost like a game back then. Come to work, do a job I had plenty of experience doing and could do in my sleep with the added advantage that I’m getting paid to dress up as a woman.”

“Ah-ah-ah,” Annabelle said, wagging her finger at her fellow countrywoman. “Not ‘dress up as a woman’, ‘BE a woman’.”

“I stand corrected,” Jessica giggled, before sighing yet again. “Now, though, you know, the whole ‘novelty’ of it has worn off. This damn corset’s more of a pain than a thrill, and now I’m not only expected to whip people I work with- my FRIENDS- into shape, I’m expected to bow down and worship anyone with the surname ‘Masson’.”

“I think everyone who works for the company is expected to do THAT, honey,” Annabelle said with a snort of laughter. “That’s why I wish I could help out Rachel’s new Tutu Project more, but, well, I can’t afford anything being traced back to me…”

“Ugh, I- I’m sorry,” Jessica sighed. “Don’t mean to be such a bitch… I- I’m just a little frustrated, being overloaded by info from work and now Rachel… Just- just ignore me, okay?”

“How can I listen and help if I ignore you, honey?” Annabelle asked, earning a genuine smile from Jessica. “Now if your corset’s such a pain, go and get changed! I’ll get dinner on, Paige will be back in a bit. Nurse Annabelle orders to spend the evening resting, relaxing and most importantly of all, having fun!”

“’Nurse’ Annabelle?” Jessica teased. “Does the job come with a uniform…?”

“Maybe,” Annabelle giggled. “And no, you may NOT borrow it!”

Jessica giggled as she headed into her bedroom, where- taking inspiration from the friend she’d visited earlier in the afternoon- she removed all of her tight, sexy lingerie, replacing it with a comfortable cotton thong bodysuit, before pulling on a slouchy sky blue hoodie and a pair of tight, tattered jeans, before removing all of her make-up and letting her long blonde hair cascade messily over her shoulders.

When Paige returned to the apartment later in the evening- still wearing her smart commuting attire- she nearly gasped with shock when she saw the dressed-down Jessica, though her shock was soon replaced with a warm, happy feeling when the American girl greeted her with a long, deep kiss. Before long, Paige had also removed all of her make-up and lingerie and changed into a very plain black denim skirt, a clingy grey top and a pair of her favourite brand of thick black tights. The two women spent the rest of the night cuddled together on the sofa, hardly saying a word to each other, before heading to bed, where they spent the second night in a row wrapped in each other’s arms.

Jessica moaned softly as her alarm woke her the following morning, before easing her slender body out of bed and staring at her dark-haired lover, who was still asleep, with her covers wrapped tightly around her. As Jessica stared closer at Paige, though, she began to see something more in her face- the faint traces of a smile…

“You can stop looking so damned smug,” Jessica snorted as Paige awoke with a giggle. “One person goes off sick…”

“Wonder what’d happen if I called in sick?” Paige mused. “Has that ever happened before? The person on sick call calls in sick themselves…”

“Umm… How would I know?” Jessica asked. “Just ‘cause I’m a supervisor now, doesn’t mean I memorised everything about the company…”

“I- I was just, you know, making conversation… Ugh,” Paige sighed. “Hurry up and get showered and dressed, okay?”

“…Sorry,” Jessica mumbled, before sighing and leaning in to give her lover a slow, soft kiss. “No more fights, okay?”

“I’d hardly call this a ‘fight’,” Paige giggled. “But you’ve got a deal.”

“Good,” Jessica said, eliciting a giggle from the Scottish girl as she left the bedroom to shower.

As she always did, Paige watched enthralled as Jessica covered her face and body in the thick make-up and tight, sexy clothing she wore to work, before bidding her farewell with another gentle kiss. Once Jessica had left, Paige rolled over in bed and tried to get back to sleep, but her thoughts were occupied with the ‘fight’ she and Jessica had had. Paige knew that she and Jessica needed to have a long, intimate talk about their relationship, but she also knew that with Jessica busy at work learning the responsibilities of her new role, such opportunities to talk would be few and far between. Paige was able to reassure herself with the fact that she at least was free from any added work responsibilities- so when it eventually came time for the couple to talk, she’d be able to work around Jessica without any problems.

Paige had just about drifted back off to sleep when her phone began ringing, jerking her back to alertness and putting a grimace of pure frustration on her face.

“Nooooo…” Paige moaned, her scowl only getting deeper when she checked the caller ID to reveal that it was indeed work who was calling her. Paige took a deep breath, before pushing the ‘answer’ button on her phone. “Hello?”

“Hi Paige,” Alana said. “’Fraid we’re going to have to ask you to come in today. How soon can you be here?”

“Umm… About an hour,” Paige sighed, throwing her covers back and shivering in the chilly March air. “Where am I headed today, then?”

“Oh, you’re not needed on a flight,” Alana replied, making Paige frown in confusion. “Change into your blue uniform when you arrive, then come and see me in my office.”

“Umm… Okay…” Paige said with a grimace. Was she in trouble? Had someone seen her kiss with Jessica earlier in the week? Was another friend or relative of Jacques Lacroix causing trouble for her and her friends?

Paige ran through every worst case scenario in her mind throughout her journey to Heathrow airport, as she changed into her restrictive blue uniform and as she walked the short distance from the locker room to Alana’s office, the clicking of her heels on the hard floor acting almost like a metronome to her fearful thoughts. When Paige opened the office door, she was unsurprised to see another blue-clad stewardess sat opposite Alana- though she was surprised to learn that not only was it not her lover, it was someone she’d never seen before, not even in the most recent group of trainees.

“Paige, please sit down,” Alana said, gesturing to the seat next to the mousey-haired new stewardess. “I’ve called you in today as I need you to act as a mentor to Amelie here. She’ll be joining the airline as a stewardess, effective immediately.”

“Umm, okay…” Paige said with confusion in her voice. “Why- why didn’t she join the other trainees in their group?”

“Because she only passed the relevant tests a couple of days ago,” Alana explained. “Too late to join the rest of the group.”

“So why didn’t she wait until the May intake?” Paige asked, bristling as Amelie rolled her eyes at her question. Much to Paige’s surprise, though, Alana didn’t pay any attention to the young woman’s petulance- in fact, it was almost as though Alana were afraid of her…

“Because her full name is Amelie Masson,” Alana explained, causing Paige’s eyes to go wider than they have ever done. “She is the second youngest child of the owner and CEO of Soixante-Trois Industries. And as such, you are to treat her like royalty. Understood?”

“Uh-understood,” Paige stammered.

“You are to give her one on one instruction in this job,” Alana explained. “We want her to be fully skilled as a Soixante-Trois stewardess by the start of May. Understood?”

“Understood,” Paige whispered. “Why- why me, though?”

“You were our third choice for the supervisor job,” Alana explained. “That makes you the most senior among your grade of stewardess.” Paige’s eyes once again widened at the news- it was bad enough to miss out on the supervisor job, but to learn that she’d only just missed out…

“Umm, okay,” Paige mumbled.

“I won’t keep you any further,” Alana said. “Thank you for choosing to work with us, Mademoiselle Masson.” Paige frowned in confusion as Amelie snorted at Alana’s simpering, before leading the young woman back to the locker room.

“Umm, I- I’m Paige,” the Scottish girl said in a nervous voice, feeling as afraid of offending the young woman as Alana clearly was.

“I know,” Amelie snorted in a refined Parisian accent. “I can read your name badge.”

“Umm, sorry…” Paige mumbled. “I- uh, um…”

“You have a question? Ask it,” Amelie said in a clipped voice.

“I- I gotta know…” Paige mumbled.

“No, I did NOT used to be a boy,” Amelie spat, interrupting Paige before she could finish her sentence and making the Scottish girl grimace. “Why my father insists on hiring pretend women, I have no idea.”

“I’m fairly sure your father doesn’t have a choice,” Paige retorted, trying her hardest to keep her anger in check. “The EU says that you can’t discriminate based on-“

“Ah, yes, the EU,” Amelie snorted. “Well you Brits won’t have to worry about THAT anymore, will you?” Paige clenched her fists to try to keep her in check- like most of her fellow Scots, she’d actually voted to remain in the EU, though it was an insult she was willing to let slide, especially considering who she was talking to.

“I guess not,” Paige said in a cold, quiet voice. “The question I was ACTUALLY going to ask is why you chose to work for us when your father’s one of the richest men in France?”

“And the answer is: that it’s none of your business,” Amelie retorted with a smug grin. “Sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong, how very, very…” Don’t say it, Paige thought to herself. Do NOT say it… “…English.”

“Who the fuck are you calling English!?” Paige snapped, startling the younger woman. “Actually, let me rephrase my earlier question: why did you choose to work for us when your attitude stinks and you’re probably going to bankrupt your dad with your shitty customer service skills? And before you say ‘I’ll have your job for this’, I’ll save you the bother- if I have to babysit spoiled, obnoxious little brats like you as part of my job, then you’re fucking welcome to it!” Paige took several deep breaths as the adrenaline surged through her veins, but as the adrenaline began to thin, she found herself starting to shake. Nice going, Paige, the Scottish girl thought to herself. Off to the dole queue with you… Much to Paige’s surprise, however, Amelie’s reaction changed from one of shock to a genuine smile.

“Bon,” Amelie said, letting out a quick giggle that seemed to Paige to be totally out of character with her earlier aloof attitude.

“Uhh… Uh?” Paige stammered.

“’Treat me like royalty’,” Amelie scoffed. “I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by brown-nosed assholes like Alana, too afraid of who my father is to treat me like a real human being.”

“Umm… Okay?” Paige mumbled, still struggling to believe the sudden change in attitude of the young woman before her.

“You asked why I would want to work with you,” Amelie said. “And it is a good question. My father asked the same thing, heh. You see, I have two older brothers and two sisters- one older, one younger- and my father pays for all of our education. I went to the most expensive school in Paris, so did my brothers and sisters, and next year I will go to the most expensive university in France.”

“Umm, okay?” Paige repeated. “I mean, no offence- unless you want me to offend- gah, I don’t even know WHAT to say now!”

“I am sorry,” Amelie said softly. “I wanted to know whether- whether you would bow down and lick my shoes if I asked, like some of the assholes who work for my father. I am glad you didn’t, I am glad you spoke freely, and I hope you know you can speak freely to me.”

“Alright then!” Paige laughed. “I wanted to say that your father’s so rich, paying for the best schools for his children would be the least he can do, right?”

“Of course,” Amelie said. “But he also wants a ‘favour’ from us. He wants us to work for his company for a year to ‘earn’ our education, just as he worked for his father when he was my age.”

“Okay,” Paige mused. “Doesn’t sound TOO unreasonable…”

“It is probably the most reasonable about him,” Amelie snorted, once again confusing Paige. “My father is the biggest asshole of them all.”

“Uhh- pretty sure I’m not allowed to agree with that,” Paige said with a chuckle of laughter.

“And that is why he is an asshole,” Amelie said with a snort of laughter. “He treats women like pets, he always has. He’s been married five times, my mother was his third wife. He was 32 when they married, she was 21. Just a girl, no older than me. She was a model, a supermodel. Then her looks went, and so did her marriage. Within six months he'd married again, to a stewardess, of all things! Then he got bored of her, and married again. Not to mention the affairs... If he hadn’t had a snip I’d probably have another four brothers and sisters by now…”

“Speaking of- speaking of, umm, ‘snip’,” Paige said cautiously, “what you- what you said about, you know, ‘pretend women’…”

“It always offended me,” Amelie spat. “I spent my whole life watching my father treat my gender like second class citizens, treat his staff like us like dollies he could dress up for his own amusement, throw my mother to one side the second he found a younger woman... The thought that a MAN could actually want this… It revolts me.”

“Right…” Paige said, her face falling.

“Every time I think about a man pretending to be a woman, it makes me angry,” Amelie spat. “Makes me think of everything me and my mother went through, like it was some kind of big joke. Like that MAN is saying ‘look how we treated you, now we’re going to pretend to be you’, prancing around in a skirt like it’s all a big game to them.”

“…It’s not a big game to me,” Paige mumbled, causing Amelie’s eyes to go as wide as dinner plates. “It may have been at first, but now, I- I couldn’t live my life any other way. I don’t want to. I want to be free to feel how I want to, free to express my emotions, to make myself beautiful, to feel beautiful and have others tell me that I’m beautiful…”

“Y- you?” Amelie gasped.

“Me,” Paige said softly. “And to answer your next question, pretty much my whole life. I’m 22 now, 23 in July, and I always, ALWAYS envied the way women got to live their lives. I have two older sisters, and growing up all I wanted to be was their sister. Well, that or a wizard, anyway…”

“Ohh,” Amelie giggled, her eyes lighting up. “Wingardium leviosa?”

“You said it!” Paige replied with a girlish giggle as Amelie let out a sad sigh.

“I judged you too quick, did I not?” The French girl asked. “Trans girls…”

“I see myself as ‘girl’ first, ‘trans’ second,” Paige said. “Most of the trans girls I know are the same way. We just want to be ordinary girls, like- well, like you, if you weren’t the daughter of a billionaire!”

“Even if it means being treated as a dolly by that billionaire?” Amelie asked.

“…Gotta earn a living somehow,” Paige shrugged. “Your father may have his faults but he’s generous when it comes to wages, at least.”

“Does it make it worth wearing shit like this?” Amelie asked, before letting out a snort of laughter. “For you, it probably does…”

“The uniform sucks,” Paige said, making Amelie snort with laughter yet again. “I mean yes, it was a fantasy to wear something like this when I was growing up, but when you’re actually trying to work, to serve passengers… High heels, a corset and a skirt this tight are fine for dressing up in, maybe going to a party, but when you’re actually trying to work… I swear whoever designed these uniforms only did it to get their rocks off, heh.”

“That’s exactly what they were designed for,” Amelie said with a smug grin. “And exactly why my father was so angry when I said I wanted to do my year of work as a stewardess.”

“Because he only views us as brainless dollies who only serve drinks all day,” Paige snorted.

“And because he knows that you are ogled all day by his friends and by his male staff,” Amelie said. “I have a cousin called Jacques who would boast to my brothers about how many stewardesses he slept with.”

“Oh, god, yes, we know Jacques,” Paige said with an exasperated laugh.

“The greasy asshole,” Amelie spat. “I’ve heard he works out of London now instead of Paris, that’s why I came to work at this hub. Would love to see him boast to my brothers about trying to seduce me…”

“You like the thought of Jacques getting his comeuppance, then?” Paige asked, giggling as Amelie enthusiastically nodded. “I know someone who has a video you might want to watch…”

“If you have one of my father as well, that’d make it perfect!” Amelie giggled.

“…One step at a time,” Paige said. “Though I know someone who used to work for this company who you are DEFINITELY going to have to meet! In the meantime, though, I still have a job to do. You sure you want to be a stewardess?”

“Gotta earn a living somehow!” Amelie laughed. “And I will NOT accept handouts from my father all my life. And it’ll be good experience… I always wanted to be a pilot. As in, a proper airline pilot.”

“That’s a good ambition,” Paige said. “And there’s no reason why you can’t.”

“Tell that to my father,” Amelie snorted. “No problem buying me a helicopter for my birthday, but if I want to learn how to fly it…”

“…I’ll try not to go TOO green with envy,” Paige giggled as she led her latest ‘charge’ to a nearby empty office, where she began instructing the young woman in the skills she would need to be a Soixante-Trois Airlines stewardess.

----------

“…And that’s day three over!” Alana laughed as Carly and Jessica sat back in their chairs and let out simultaneous, overdramatic sighs of relief. “Yes, yes, very funny, girls. Again, I want to apologise that I couldn’t be here this morning, but something immediate and urgent came up that I couldn’t really delegate to someone else.”

“It’s alright,” Carly shrugged. “It’s kinda nice to know that you have actual work to do as well as just bossing us around all day.”

“I’ll ignore that,” Alana chuckled as she ushered the two women out of her office. “Go on, go home and relax. Jess, before you go, can I have a quick word?”

“Umm, okay,” Jessica said hesitantly as Carly left her alone in the office with their manager.

“Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble,” Alana laughed. “It’s actually about why I was elsewhere all morning… We’ve taken on a new hire today.”

“Outside the usual hiring period?” Jessica asked.

“When you’re Antoine Masson’s daughter, there is no usual hiring period,” Alana sighed. “I’ve assigned Paige as her mentor. She’s the most senior member of staff who isn’t a supervisor or already assigned a trainee.”

“Sensible choice,” Jessica shrugged. “Paige has always done a good job in the past.”

“Well in this case ‘good’ has to be ‘perfect’, as if it isn’t, we all answer to Antoine Masson himself,” Alana said.

“…Understood,” Jessica whispered. “Where- where will she be staying?”

“In one of Monsieur Masson’s apartments in the city centre,” Alana answered. “I’m glad you brought that up, as it brings me to why I want to speak to you- she’s a nineteen year old girl, so obviously she won’t want to rattle around a huge apartment by herself every evening. She’ll want to hang out with friends, which means Paige’s friends, which means you and your social group.”

“If you want me to introduce her to the Angels, I’ll try,” Jessica said. “We’ve not really been, you know, in their orbit for a while though…”

“It’s more you, Anna-Jade, Annabelle etc. who I’m thinking of, the ones who work for us.” Alana said. “Or more specifically, the ones who worked for us, past tense.”

“Zoe and Rachel,” Jessica whispered.

“Any employee will be on their best behaviour around Amelie,” Alana said. “Those two will go out of their way to be on their worst behaviour. We can’t have her reporting back to her father the kind of things they’re likely to say. And I’m sure Rachel’s working on some kind of project to dish the dirt or something. She’s the absolute last person I want talking to Amelie.”

“Got it,” Jessica said.

“I hope so,” Alana sighed, “because if I find that Amelie’s been talking to Rachel, or Zoe, or anyone inappropriate, I’ll hold you as responsible as Paige.”

“Okay,” Jessica said- though imperceptibly, the American woman bristled at Alana’s threat. As much as Jessica loved Paige, she knew how flighty the Scottish woman could be- and she was not about to let herself get punished for something that wasn’t her fault.

----------

“She sounds fucking COOL,” Anna-Jade said as Paige poured her and Annabelle a tall glass of wine.

“She is,” Paige giggled. “I was expecting some sort of stuck-up, snobbish cow… And that’s exactly what I got, heh. Then again, if I was nineteen and I’d spent my whole life being raised to think that I was a princess, I’d probably go around giving people secret tests of character too…”

“And being desperate to rebel against the ‘king’,” Anna-Jade said.

“I kinda get that it’s more loyalty to the ‘queen’. One of them, anyway,” Paige mused. “I would’ve invited her round for a drink but she’s busy unpacking tonight. Her flat’s bigger than this place AND Nat and Zoe’s place put together.”

“Ugh,” Anna-Jade spat. “I mean, these two flats are also owned by Masson! Well, his company anyway. AND we’re being gouged for rent…”

“All hail the king,” Paige snorted sarcastically. “Come on Annabelle, you’ve got to have an opinion, right?”

“Huh? Sorry, honey,” Annabelle mumbled. “She sounds nice. I don’t like what you said about what she said about us T-girls, though.”

“I was gonna say,” Anna-Jade sighed. “As cool as she sounds, that’s not something we can just ignore, especially if we’re going to end up having to, you know, entertain her, babysit her…”

“She’d probably never even met a transgendered person before me,” Paige shrugged. “Her only knowledge of TG issues will probably be from her father complaining about having to hire quote-unquote pretend women.”

“I thought you said she hates her father?” Annabelle asked, eliciting a tired shrug from Paige.

“Maybe her only knowledge of TG issues is from her mother, I dunno,” Paige sighed. “All I know is that all she needs is a little education to adjust her attitude.”

“By which you mean proper education,” Anna-Jade said, “and not the way we ‘educated’ le connard?” The Irishwoman smirked as her comment caused Annabelle to snort into her wine in a very unladylike manner.

“Yes,” Paige giggled. “But I am NOT dressing up in a cap, a gown, a pair of thigh-high boots and swinging a cane around everywhere!”

“Not in public, anyway,” Anna-Jade teased, giggling wickedly as Paige stuck her tongue out at her. “Think that’s the problem with a lot of transphobes, all they need is a little education, just to meet a few of us, then they’ll see that we really are just ordinary girls.”

“You said it, honey,” Annabelle sighed. “I had a boyfriend back in the States, he thought he’d ‘learn’ by reading a website full of forced feminisation stories.”

“Yikes!” Paige grimaced.

“Yeah,” Annabelle sighed. “Thought the best way to turn me on would be to make me walk around in a French Maid costume with a feather duster sticking… Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be holding it in my hands.”

“Did he last hours or minutes before you dumped him?” Anna-Jade asked, earning another snort of laughter from the tall American woman.

“SECONDS,” Annabelle said confidently, earning a cheer from the other two women. “If any MAN wants to be with me he needs to romance me properly. Treat me like a true lady.”

“Hear-fucking-hear!” Anna-Jade laughed as Paige poured the women a second glass of wine.

The three women continued gossiping about their new ‘colleague’ for the next fifteen minutes before they were joined by their remaining flat mate, who as always greeted Paige with a long kiss before snuggling next to her on the sofa.

“Have you heard the news?” Paige asked her American lover, who was interrupted by Anna-Jade before she could respond.

“She’s ‘the management’, of course she’s fucking heard,” Anna-Jade laughed, making Jessica roll her eyes. “I am still allowed to say fuck in your presence, right?”

“Fuck off, Anna-Jade,” Jessica giggled, sticking a tongue out at the laughing Irishwoman. “And if the ‘news’ you’re talking about is Amelie Masson, then yes, I have heard the news. Alana called me back to explain the situation after our ‘lesson’ today, that’s why I’m back late.”

“I can wait to introduce you to her,” Paige said with a grin. “I reckon you two will get on GREAT.”

“She’s apparently a ‘rebel princess’,” Annabelle said quietly. “Resents her father for the way he treated her mother.”

“Ehh,” Jessica grimaced. “Okay, if you say so… All I know is that we are to treat her with a LOT of respect.”

“Might want to dial that back,” Paige mused. “She hates brown-nosers.”

“Okay,” Jessica said with a nod. “But still, make sure you’re on your best behaviour around her. We don’t want her to report back to her father and tell him that we’re all a bunch of unprofessional jerks or something.”

“Umm, didn’t you hear what I just said?” Paige retorted. “Amelie. Hates. Brown-nosers. If we tiptoe around her and kiss her feet, THAT would be more likely to get us reported to her dad! Honestly, Jess, when you meet her, you’ll see.” Jessica bristled as Paige snorted at her- though she wasn’t sure whether her frustration was at Paige’s disrespect, or jealousy at how much Paige liked the French girl.

“Fucking hell, Jess,” Anna-Jade said with a snort of laughter. “We only just got rid of Rachel, last thing we need is another one!”

“On the subject of Rachel,” Jessica said, ignoring her friends’ slights, “do NOT introduce Amelie to her. That’s the last thing we need right now.”

“…Who exactly is ‘we’, Jess?” Paige asked, making Jessica frown. “Please, PLEASE tell me this promotion hasn’t gone to your head.”

“No, of course it hasn’t,” Jessica said, trying her hardest not to snap at her lover. “It’s- ugh. You know what? Never mind. I- I’m going to go change, need to get out of this damned corset…” Paige bit her lip as Jessica stood up and headed into their bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

“…I should probably go and talk to her…” Paige mumbled.

“Ya think?” Anna-Jade snorted as Paige followed Jessica into the bedroom, where she grimaced at the sight of the American girl curled up on their bed, softly crying into her pillow.

“J-Jess?” Paige mumbled hesitantly. “Are- are you- look, I- I’m sorry, okay?”

“Okay,” Jessica mumbled into her pillow. “Seems that all we do nowadays is piss each other off and apologise to each other…”

“Don’t say that,” Paige sighed as she sat down next to Jessica and gently cradled the distraught girl’s head in her lap. “I LOVE you, Jessica. I always have, you know I always have.”

“I’ve always loved you too,” Jessica whispered. “Ugh, I wish I’d never been promoted… Some days I wish I’d never even come to work for Soixante-Trois…”

“Even- even if it means that we’d never have met?” Paige asked.

“…We- you and me- we’re the one thing I’ve never regretted,” Jessica said, smiling as Paige stroked her silky blonde hair.

“And if you’d never worked for Soixante-Trois, you wouldn’t be sat here now in stockings and a skirt,” Paige reminded her lover.

“That’s true,” Jessica laughed.

“And so we argue sometimes,” Paige sighed. “What couples don’t? Doesn’t mean we love each other any less, right?”

“I guess,” Jessica moaned.

“Don’t guess,” Paige said. “Know.”

“But I DON’T know,” Jessica said with a loud sigh. “Sometimes, I- I feel like we just need some time apart, you know? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all…”

“No!” Paige said, tears forming in her eyes. “No, just- no! If something needs working out, we work it out together, okay? And this ‘Amelie’ thing is nothing, absolutely nothing. We’ll get past it and go back to being THE single cutest couple in London, okay?”

“…And my promotion ‘going to my head’?” Jessica asked.

“You’re still the same old Jessica,” Paige said. “The same woman I fell in love with. You just have different coloured buttons on your work blazer, that’s all.”

“Thanks,” Jessica whispered.

“Now go on, get changed,” Paige advised her lover. “You’ve been in that corset long enough… And I could tell you a thing or two I learned today about the reason behind the dress code…” Jessica giggled as Paige all but shoved her toward her wardrobe, where she eased her lithe body out of her tight skirt and lingerie, before pulling on a warm, comfortable pair of leggings and a loose sweater dress as the Scottish girl watched on, drinking in every tiny feature of Jessica’s body as it was put on display.

As they had for the previous several nights, Jessica and Paige spent the evening cuddled together on the sofa- much to their friends’ relief- before heading to bed where they relaxed into each other’s arms, mentally and physically exhausted from the day’s efforts, and not wanting to let the other go.

“You gonna be mentoring Amelie again tomorrow?” Jessica asked, wincing at the frown her question elicited from Paige. “Not jealous, not criticising…”

“Yes, yes I am,” Paige said, stifling a yawn. “Gonna be mentoring her one on one for the next few weeks. I’ve even been pulled from flights, they’re taking it this seriously. And DON’T say ‘well obviously, she’s royalty’. Why are you so interested, anyway? You’ll get to meet her eventually.”

“…Alana,” Jessica sighed. “I was trying to say earlier this evening, she has gone SUPER psycho about this whole thing. Actually mentioned Rachel and Zoe by name on the list of ‘people Amelie should not meet’. She’s said that both of us will be up on disciplinary if that happens.”

“Umm… Aren’t you being a little paranoid, Jess?” Paige asked. “No, no, it’s not you… It’s Alana who’s being paranoid. AND unreasonable. Bet you she’s never even talked to Amelie beyond introducing me to her this morning. Alana actually seemed scared of the girl. Then again, Alana’s got the brownest nose out of all of us, heh.”

“You said it,” Jessica laughed, eliciting a giggle from Paige as she gently kissed the nape of her neck. “But there’s no reason to, you know, push it or anything…”

“Don’t worry, I won’t,” Paige sighed, before rolling over and returning Jessica’s earlier kiss. “Get some sleep, ‘boss’!”

“Yes, ma’am!” Jessica giggled as she closed her eyes and tried her hardest to put her latest disagreement with Paige behind her and tried to get to sleep…

The stewardesses of Soixante-Trois Airlines all had confident smiles on their faces as they headed into Heathrow Airport the following morning, ready for a full day of work, whether that work involved learning, teaching or serving passengers as they flew back and forth between London and the rest of Europe. By the end of the day, however, the confident smiles had replaced by tired grins, and as the women reconvened, there was only one thing on their minds.

“Drink?” Anna-Jade asked Natalie as they changed from their blue uniforms into the smart pencil dresses they wore to work.

“Dddddddddrink!” Natalie laughed. “I am SO looking forward to having tomorrow off, actually getting to spend some time with Zoe…”

“Shall we invite her out tonight?” Anna-Jade asked.

“She’s got her class tonight,” Natalie sighed. “The important one, the really good teenagers. You know, like the recital we went to in December?”

“Fair enough,” Anna-Jade shrugged. “Are we at least going to wait for your sister?” Natalie paused briefly as she heard footsteps outside the locker room, only speaking again once she’d heard the locker room door open and close.

“Ugh, do we have to bring Ellen along?” Natalie moaned, barely suppressing a giggle.

“Ugh, do we have to bring NATALIE along?” Ellen spat, making her older sister burst into a fit of laughter.

“Yeah, this is going to be fun,” Abbey snorted sarcastically as she changed out of her uniform. “Bring her along where, anyway? We going clubbing tonight?”

“You can if you want, I’ve got another flight tomorrow morning,” Anna-Jade sighed.

“Also, Anna-Jade’s 28 so her idea of ‘clubbing’ is probably not what you’re thinking of,” Natalie said, laughing as the Irishwoman gave her a playful punch in the arm. “See, Ellen? It’s not just you I pick on!”

“We ARE going for a drink, though,” Anna-Jade said, smiling as Annabelle made her way through the packed locker room to join the group. “Annabelle, drink?”

“Honey, you read my mind!” Annabelle replied, earning giggles from her friends.

“Shall we wait for Paige and Jess, then head to Rachel’s bar?” Abbey asked, frowning as Anna-Jade and Annabelle grimaced at her suggestion. “…What?”

“Paige has got a newbie, a trainee,” Anna-Jade replied.

“Huh,” Abbey said. “I’ve not seen her in the conference room…”

“That’s because she- she kinda has a ‘special’ trainee,” Anna-Jade says.

“Are you saying that my little sister isn’t special?” Natalie asked, giving Ellen a playful hug that made the 21 year woman moan.

“If you say ‘special’ as in ‘special needs’ I’ll thump you,” Ellen snorted as her sister laughed even harder. “What’s so ‘special’ about Paige’s trainee anyway?”

“Her surname is ‘Masson’,” Annabelle replied, instantly silencing her friends’ laughter, and silencing many of the other conversations going on around them.

“…Ah,” Natalie mumbled.

“Yeah,” Anna-Jade said with a grimace. “We’ve actually been ordered NOT to introduce her to Rachel.”

“…Or Zoe,” Annabelle mumbled, making Natalie groan in frustration.

“She’s family!” Natalie whined. “No, I’m not taking that. Besides, this Masson girl will want to speak to someone her own nationality, surely?”

“All we know is what Jess told us,” Anna-Jade said.

“Ugh, fucking Jess,” Natalie spat. “Less than a week in the job and she’s already gone Nazi on everyone…”

“Now be fair,” Annabelle retorted. “She’s only telling us what Alana told her, and-“ Annabelle paused abruptly and the entire locker room fell silent as the door to the locker room opened to reveal Paige stood next to her trainee, who immediately began to shrink back as she saw the eyes of everyone in the locker room turn to stare directly at her.

Amelie let out a slight shiver, before taking as deep a breath as her restrictive clothing would let her and confidently striding into the locker room toward where Paige’s group of friends were stood. With a genuine smile, she extended her hand to the other five women.

“Good evening,” Amelie said politely as the other women shook her hand. “My name is Amelie Masson. I am pleased to meet you.”

“L-Likewise,” Natalie stammered. “I, um, I’m Natalie, this is my sister Ellen, this is Abbey, Anna-Jade, Annabelle…”

“We’ve got a lot of ‘A’s in our little group,” Paige joked, making Amelie laugh.

“I am happy to be the fourth ‘A’,” Amelie said with a laugh. “So… What do- what do you all do after work? You must have, uh, boites de nuit in London?”

“My kind of girl!” Ellen said with a giggle. “Yes we do, and yes we are.”

“Excellent,” Amelie said as she stripped off her tight blue uniform, changing into the smart blouse and pencil skirt she wore when commuting to the airport. “Would you mind if- if I joined you?”

“Be our guest!” Abbey said with a laugh.

“Huh,” Natalie said as she regarded Amelie’s lingerie-clad body. “I suppose the uniform rules truly do apply to everyone.” Paige bit her lip and grimaced as the young Frenchwoman blushed while pulling on her blouse.

“Careful, Natalie,” Anna-Jade said. “Don’t want her feeling TOO uncomfortable.”

“They’re just teasing, Amelie,” Paige hastily said, trying to calm the French girl’s nerves. “Just, you know, banter…”

“…Banter?” Amelie asked.

“Just joking around,” Natalie explained. “I- I didn’t mean anything by it, honestly. It’s just- it’s just that everyone agrees that the uniform regulations suck, and with you being the boss’s daughter, you know…”

“I wouldn’t break the code even if I could,” Amelie said with a smug grin. “And I probably could if I wanted to. My father was outraged when he learned I would be wearing this uniform.”

“Let me guess: the uniform’s good enough for us dollies but not for his princess?” Anna-Jade snorted.

“Exactly, Anna-Jade,” Amelie said. “Hopefully by wearing this uniform I will persuade my father that he needs a better attitude. I might even enter his silly beauty pageant as well, to see what his face looks like!”

“Oh, it is such a pity we can’t introduce you to Rachel,” Abbey said, before grimacing as several angry pairs of eyes turned to face her. “…Sorry.”

“Who is ‘Rachel’?” Amelie asked.

“Umm, no one you need to worry about,” Paige said.

“No,” Amelie said firmly. “This ‘Rachel’ person is obviously important somehow, who is she?”

“She- umm,” Paige stammered.

“She- she’s just a friend of ours,” Annabelle said hastily. “She, uh- she’s VERY feminist, very opposed to these uniforms, thinks they’re offensive…”

“Now I only want to meet her more,” Amelie said firmly. “Does she work here?”

“No,” Ellen replied. “Think she manages a bar somewhere…”

“Perfect!” Amelie said. “Then we shall go there for a drink before going to the boite de nuit.” Paige felt her chest tense up as Amelie spoke- if she introduced Amelie to Rachel, she’d be going against Jessica’s wishes and potentially getting them both in a lot of trouble- then again, she wasn’t the one who brought Rachel’s name up, that was Abbey, and it was Amelie herself who insisted on going to the bar, and Paige had been ordered to ‘treat her like a princess’- and part of that meant doing whatever she wanted…

“Um, we, um, we should get going,” Paige said, gently leading Amelie toward the locker room exit. “Give the others a bit more space…”

“Good idea,” Abbey said, internally kicking herself for letting slip about Rachel as she followed the rest of the group out of the locker room. “We’ll, um, Facebook you? To let you know where we’re going?”

“Sure,” Paige whispered, before letting out a pained groan as she led Amelie back to where her taxi home was waiting.

“What is the problem with this ‘Rachel’ woman?” Amelie asked. “Why wouldn’t I be allowed to meet her? You can tell me now, surely?”

“Ehh,” Paige grimaced, nervously scratching her head.

“Paige!” Amelie snapped. “I am sick of people tiptoeing around me because of who my father is!”

"She..." Paige grimaced, before letting out a long sigh. "Ugh. You know when we were introduced, right? By Alana?"

"The biggest kiss-ass in London?" Amelie asked, making Paige snort with laughter.

"Yeah, her," Paige sighed. "She- she wants us, all the girls I mean, to, well... 'Protect' you."

"'Protect' me?" Amelie asked. "From what?"

"From any thoughts that aren't 'Antoine Masson is a wonderful human being'," Paige sighed. "Rachel, she- she quit the company a while ago, after getting into a big argument with Alana. And now, she's... She's kinda writing an exposé on the company, wants to show the world just how behind the times it all is... Alana actually threatened us- not just me, but my partner Jessica too- with disciplinary action if we didn't keep you away from Rachel."

"Huh," Amelie said as she mused on the information she'd been told. "...Didn't she also say that you were to do everything I told you to do?"

"...I think she kinda implied it, rather than said it..." Paige mumbled.

"'Treat me like a princess', that's what she said," Amelie said with a smug grin. "That means I ask, and you get, right? Well I am asking to be introduced to Rachel."

"And if- if Alana punishes me?" Paige asked. "I mean, I know this is ridiculous, even threatening to punish me for this, but you know how irrational this company-"

"I'll say it was my idea," Amelie said smugly as she got into her waiting taxi and fastened her seatbelt. "She wouldn't dare punish me, right?"

"Yeah..." Paige said with a nervous grin as she waved Amelie's taxi away. "Remind me to introduce you to the concept of a whipping boy sometime..."

----------

"She doesn't seem THAT bad," Natalie mused as she, Anna-Jade, Annabelle, Abbey and Ellen sat around a table at Rachel's bar, dressed in skimpy clubbing attire ahead of what promised to be a long, fun night out.

"I dunno, honeys," Annabelle mused. "I told you what Paige said about her attitude toward trans people..."

"She's nineteen," Ellen shrugged. "We're just going to have to change her attitude, aren't we? God knows I had my own ideas about trans people..."

"And then your brother walked down the stairs in a dress and high heels, right?" Anna-Jade asked.

"Looking better than Ellen herself EVER did, I might add!" Natalie laughed, her laugher only intensifying as Ellen rolled her eyes.

"In your fucking dreams," Ellen snorted at her sister. "Seriously, though, when I was younger, I'd look at crossdressers and transsexuals and think they were freaks... But you're all really cool. Well, apart from Natalie, of course."

"Like you know what 'cool' is anyway," Natalie snorted at her sister.

"You're, like, just ordinary girls," Ellen continued, ignoring her sister's slight.

"I'll take that as the compliment I assume it was!" Anna-Jade giggled.

"Seriously," Ellen said. "Being here with you... It doesn't feel any different than when I went out clubbing with my friends- my girl, you know, birth girl friends, back in Manchester."

"Except down here, you're actually in a civilized world!" Abbey said smugly.

"I beg your fucking pardon?" Natalie and Ellen said simultaneously, making the blonde woman blush and bite her lip.

"'Civilized'!?" Natalie snorted. "Coming from someone from ESSEX?"

"The only civilization from Essex comes shrink-wrapped and covered in three layers of fake tan!" Ellen snorted, making Abbey roll her eyes.

"Is the only time you two agree when you're ganging up on someone else?" Abbey asked the two sisters.

"Basically, yeah," Natalie said, earning snorts of laughter from the other girls at the table. "Ellen, has Abbey told you which football team she follows yet?"

"Oh, god no," Ellen sighed. "Not-"

"Shut up," Abbey spat.

"And she's never actually been to Manchester!" Natalie laughed. "Much like every other United supporter."

"Shut. Up," Abbey growled, breathing a sigh of relief as a familiar figure approached their table.

"Ladies," Rachel said with a grin. "Glad you're enjoying the ambience. Going on later to a club, I take it?"

"Maybe even more than one," Natalie said with a grin. "Depends on when our final two members get here."

"Jess and Paige?" Rachel asked.

"...Final THREE members, then," Annabelle said with a knowing grin, looking over Rachel's shoulder to where two young women had just entered the bar, dressing in fancy clubbing attire just like the other women at the table.

"Another newbie?" Rachel asked as Paige and Amelie approached her. "Hi, welcome to Wings Bar, I'm Rachel, the manager, hope you enjoy your stay tonight- though knowing these girls, you won't be here long before hitting the clubs!"

"You are Rachel?" Amelie asked as she greeted the older woman with air kisses. "I hoped I'd meet you. I am Amelie, Amelie Masson."

"Mas- Masson?" Rachel stammered. "Um, I, uh-"

"Ugh," Amelie spat. "You do not even work for my father anymore and the mention of his name makes your tongue tie in a knot!"

"I- I'm sorry, force of habit," Rachel said. "You- you're Antoine Masson's daughter?"

"Oui," Amelie said smugly. "My father wants me to do work experience for his company before paying for my university, so I have come to London to be a stewardess for him."

"Umm..." Rachel grimaced. "No offence, but you chose probably the worst possible part of Soixante-Trois to do work experience. Unless you like being dressed up like a Barbie doll and ogled by sweaty, middle-aged fat guys."

"I hate it," Amelie said bluntly. "I've only done it two days and already I hate it."

"Umm..." Rachel mused. "Then why- why don't you ask your father for a different assignment? I'm sure he-"

"Because hopefully seeing his daughter wearing the uniform will make my father realise that his employees are more than just Barbie dolls," Amelie said, bringing a wide, confident smile to Rachel's face.

"You and I are going to have to sit down one day for a long chat," Rachel giggled as Paige and Amelie took their seats next to their friends. "I'll be right over with your drinks in a bit. On the house, of course."

"Ugh, NO," Amelie spat. "No 'on the house'. I will pay for the drinks. I can afford it, of course."

"From now on, I am taking a billionaire's daughter with me every time I go drinking!" Ellen announced, making Amelie snort with laughter.

"As long as there is something in it for me!" Amelie retorted. "I am very looking forward to tonight, just getting to be a young woman, with other young women..."

"Even 'young women' who weren't always women?" Anna-Jade asked, bringing grimaces to the faces of everyone else at the table- not least Amelie herself.

"...Paige told you what I said," Amelie whispered. "Yes, I had... Ideas. Thoughts about what a transgendered woman was. I was wrong, I see that now, and I apologise for what I said. Before Paige I had met no transgendered women. I see that you are no different from me or any other nature-born girl."

"What if I were to tell you that I'm still chemically male?" Natalie asked. "Paige, Anna-Jade, Abbey and Annabelle all take hormones. I don't. The only thing I have in my veins is testosterone. Does that make me any less a girl?"

"Nat..." Paige hissed.

"Paige, it is okay," Amelie whispered. "Natalie, your life is yours to live. It is not my concern what you do."

"But do you think I'm a girl, like the others?" Natalie asked. "Like you, even?"

"I- uh-" Amelie stammered.

"Ignore my sister," Ellen laughed, giving Amelie's shoulder a supportive squeeze. "She's basically the biggest arsehole in the world."

"...Natalie is your sister?" Amelie asked.

"Yep," Ellen said. "Used to be my brother. Occasionally is my brother when she feels like it. But mostly? My sister."

"Then that is good enough for me," Amelie said, earning a smile from Natalie. "Again, I apologise for any offence I may have caused."

"Have you ever had to apologise before for anything?" Anna-Jade asked.

"...Not really," Amelie said with a snort of laughter. "I could push someone on their face, and they would apologise to me..."

"I dunno about you girls, but I like her already!" Anna-Jade cheered. "To the newest member of Tutu Project 2017!"

"Cheers!" The seven women toasted.

"Tutu... Project?" Amelie asked Paige.

"Long story," the Scottish woman laughed. "You can ask Rachel about it some other time. Tonight? We drink and party!"

"Cheers!" The seven women toasted again.

As was promised, the seven women all drank and partied the night away at various clubs, where they were joined by Jessica and many other friends from the airline. Eventually, though, the women returned to their apartments to rest- though as she got ready for bed, Paige couldn't help but notice the pensive look on her lover's face.

"You okay, Jess?" Paige asked as Jessica slipped into a knee-length, silky nightie.

"...You took Amelie to see Rachel, didn't you?" Jessica asked.

"Ugh," Paige moaned, covering her face with a pillow and screaming in frustration. "...Okay, yes, yes I did, but only because she asked. Jess- can- can we please leave work actually at work?"

"Okay, okay," Jessica said. "I'm sorry I brought it up. I just thought it was weird you wanted to meet me at the club rather than for pre-drinks."

"I did that to protect you," Paige whispered. "That way, you don't know-" Paige grunted in surprise as Jessica silenced her with a long, tender kiss, before closing her eyes and surrendering to her lover's embrace.

"Get some sleep," Jessica whispered. "Long day of nothing tomorrow. For both of us, hehe!"

"I'm sure we'll find something to do," Paige giggled, returning Jessica's kiss before falling asleep in the American girl's embrace.

Jessica groaned in pain as her phone buzzed, waking her from a dreamless sleep, but as the fog of her hangover cleared from her head, the American girl realised that it wasn't her alarm waking her, but notification of a new voicemail.

"Mmph," Jessica grunted as she rolled over to unlock her phone, waking her Scottish lover in the process.

"Ugh..." Paige moaned. "What time is it? I haven't been THIS hungover in years..."

"7:45," Jessica sighed. "Who the fuck's calling at this time?"

"Your parents, maybe?" Paige asked as Jessica held her phone to her ear, her eyes immediately widening as she listened to the message. "...Jess?"

"Fuck," Jessica whispered. "We- we should get up now, Paige."

"Why, exactly?" The Scottish girl asked. "Who was it?"

----------

"I gave you ONE job!" Alana snapped at Jessica and Paige, who tried their hardest not to hang their heads in shame as they were admonished by their manager. "One! Job! Do NOT introduce Amelie to people like Rachel! And what do you do?"

"It- it was my fault," Paige whispered. "Jessica didn't even know-"

"I don't care about your opinion!" Alana spat, making Paige bristle inside her tight blue uniform. "Clearly the two of you can't be trusted with a task this important. I can't tell you how disappointed I am in the two of you."

"Am- am I demoted?" Jessica whispered.

"I should demote you," Alana snorted. "But we need supervisors urgently and it'd be too costly to train up someone else. But one more screw-up, Jessica, just one. More. And as for you, Paige, consider yourself on a verbal warning for this."

"But- but Amelie actually asked to meet Rach-" Paige pleaded.

"I'm happy to make it a written warning," Alana said, silencing the Scottish woman. "I've already assigned Amelie to someone else. Someone actually responsible."

"I understand," Paige whispered as Alana sat down at her desk, her head in her hands.

"Antoine Masson trusted me with his daughter. His DAUGHTER," Alana moaned. "And thanks to the two of you, he'll probably never trust me with anything important ever again. Just- just get out. Now!" Jessica and Paige both nodded and left the office, returning to the locker room, where Paige let out a long, frustrated scream.

"Jesus fucking Christ!" Paige screeched, startling her American lover. "Do you think that fucking woman could get any more fascist?"

"P-Paige?" Jessica asked.

"Punishing us for taking Amelie to a fucking bar, for fuck's sake!" Paige spat. "When it was Amelie's idea! Alana's so far up Antoine Masson's arse she can't conceive that someone else might not want to be. Ugh, she makes me sick... I am SO telling Rachel about this."

"How- how will that make things any better?" Jessica asked as she exchanged her uniform for her preferred blouse and pencil skirt.

"You- you can't possibly be taking Alana's side!?" Paige snorted. "Jesus Christ, Jessica, leave some room for the shite to come out..."

"Uh- what?" Jessica retorted. "I'm not taking anyone's 'side', but the fact remains that if you hadn't taken Amelie to the bar-"

"You ARE taking her side!" Paige scoffed. "Look at us, Jessica! Two grown women who just got called to the fucking headteacher's office! Called in, forced to change into uniforms for less than twenty minutes? Does this sound like any other company to you?"

"...They pay our wages," Jessica mumbled meekly.

"So would a fucking circus," Paige snorted. "I don't know about you but I am SO looking for another job, starting immediately."

"Fine, then," Jessica sighed. "Try to actually follow instructions in that one..."

"Oh- fuck you, you stuck up bitch!" Paige screeched, taking Jessica by surprise. "You know, ever since you got that promotion you've been so far up your OWN arse!"

"What?" Jessica retorted. "We wouldn't be here if you'd just kept your head down and not tried to turn Amelie into some kind of rebel princess type thing!"

"Blame it on me, then!?" Paige retorted.

"I got punished because of you!" Jessica spat. "All you! Your actions, your fault! Try accepting some fucking responsibility instead of blaming everyone else!"

"You know what?" Paige growled. "I don't have to fucking take this anymore. Maybe as well as a new job I should look for a new girlfriend too!"

"Maybe you should!" Jessica shrieked after Paige as she left the locker room, slamming the door behind her.

Almost immediately, Jessica slumped down onto the bench in the locker room and began to bawl her eyes out as her heart felt like it had been ripped in half. Her relationship with Paige had been the foundation of her entire life, around which everything had been built- her career, her life in London, even her transition. They'd fought before, but the fights had never been this vicious, this personal...

Jessica's tears only stopped fifteen minutes later when her phone beeped to inform her of a new text message. Jessica's heart began to beat faster when she saw that the message was from Paige- but once she'd read the message, her tears started anew.

'Jess,' the message read. 'I'm sorry for some of the things I said. I didn't need to be so personal. But you have changed. You're not the same girl I met in Paris two and a half years ago. I'm not even sure you're the same girl I fell in love with. I'm sorry, Jess. I think we need some time and some space. I've already asked Amelie if I can move in with her in the meantime. Alana can't stop us from talking outside of work hours. I still love you. But I need to know if I want to be with you. Love, Paige.'

Jessica wept as the words tore her already broken heart into shreds. She couldn’t imagine her life without Paige in it, even if it was just in the short term- but the fight had been vicious, even sour- and Jessica wondered whether or not Paige had a point, whether or not she really had changed. However, Jessica knew that both she and Paige HAD changed in a very fundamental way. Neither of them were the same girl that started work for Soixante-Trois Airlines in august 2014. They’d both changed physically, emotionally and mentally- but all throughout the change, Paige had been the one constant in Jessica’s life. Whenever she was stressed, or upset, or frightened about the changes in her life, Paige has been there for Jessica… But not Paige was the source of the stress in her life. And yet, as angry as Jessica got, she couldn’t find it within herself to feel anything other than unconditional love for the Scottish girl.

“However long you need, Paige,” Jessica whispered to herself. “But please, please don’t take too long…”

----------

“Thanks for this,” Paige sighed as she dropped her travel suitcase in the entranceway of Amelie’s vast London flat.

“Anything for a friend,” Amelie said softly. “Are- are you sure you are okay?”

“No,” Paige moaned, sighing as Amelie gave her a gentle hug. “But- but I need to know if it’s what I still want. Next time I talk to Jess she’ll probably tell me off for going behind Alana’s back and still talking to you.”

“Do not talk like that,” Amelie moaned. “I will talk to Alana on Monday and make her understand. But you should talk to Jessica as soon as possible.”

“…Give it some time,” Paige sighed. “I- I need to know what I still want, first.”

“But surely you already know?” Amelie asked the Scottish girl, who simply sighed in response.

Amelie was, of course, right- Paige still loved Jessica, but the arguments they’d had, the fights they’d had had caused Paige to question whether the relationship was really what was best for her- and best for Jessica. Paige couldn’t help but feel that if she’d just accepted Jessica’s proposal the previous May, all the stress and all the bickering she’d endured in their relationship wouldn’t have happened. But Paige was forced to accept that she couldn’t turn back the clock and undo the mistakes of the past, she could only look to the future- and the terrifying prospect that her future might not include Jessica.

After taking her suitcase into one of Amelie’s spare rooms, Paige collapsed on the big, plush bed and let out a long groan of frustration before unpacking her bags. As she placed her underwear into one of Amelie’s drawers, though, her fingers lingered on a pair of black tights that contained a solid, cube-shaped box hidden in one of the toes. Paige sighed as she opened the box, revealing the beautiful, glistening diamond ring inside- the ring she’d intended to give Jessica on her upcoming 25th birthday.

“God, Jess…” Paige moaned as tears formed in the corners of her eyes. “Please… Please wait for me…”



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