June 06 --- Making the Man

Holiday: Tailor's Day

Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are. ~ Quentin Crisp

"You're more nervous than I am, Face."

"I can't believe I left that at the apartment. Well, you go ahead, Tia. Della will have you fitted out so well, those Immigration people will be begging you to stay. I'll run back and pick up the paperwork and be back in plenty of time."

"Just don't speed, okay?" Tia leaned in the window, frowning. "I'd rather get there late than not at all."

Face grinned and winked at her before he pulled out into the midday traffic. The grin immediately fell into a grimace. How could he be so stupid as to leave Tia's paperwork like that? After all the hours they'd spent filling out the forms, running around like chickens with their heads cut off faking what they couldn't admit to...He'd put more hours into this than he had any scam for Hannibal. But when that amnesty program of Reagan's actually happened, he knew it was Tia's ticket out of the gray world they lived in. He couldn't let anything happen to screw that up for her.

And that's why he hadn't said anything to the others. He knew them too well. Murdock was out of the question; no matter how outlandish his ideas, he would've pulled that hurt puppy act if they weren't used. Hannibal would've started telling Face how to do this, how to handle that, driving him to distraction. BA would've gotten all bent out of shape at the scope of lies Face had had to come up with. It wouldn't have mattered that Tia's actual method of entry was horrendous - BA would've kicked up a fuss anyway. Well, that's just the way it was with lies - they built up, one on top of another. Tia had to have a spot-free story to tell Immigration, or she'd be on a flight back to Nam so fast...and that would be a death sentence.

Besides, the look on their faces when he and Tia came home with her newly approved status - legal immigrant - well, that would be well worth listening to the griping afterward.

Smiling at the thought, Face parked the Vette in the lot and hurried across to the front door of the apartment. He was just about to open the door when he heard BA and Hannibal through the open window.

"Where you think he is? He took Tia clothes shoppin again."

"Well, she does need clothes..."

"Yeah, but then he said he had an appointment with his tailor after. Again. I think he uses Tia as an excuse just to get more stuff for hisself."

"Clothes are important to him, BA. You know..."

"You know what I know, Hannibal? I know he spends more time at those fancy clubs than he do with us. I know he's brown-nosin all those rich, so-called friends of his when he can't hardly give us the time of day. And I know he's spendin a lot more money on his own clothes than he is on Tia's. Just look in his closet if you don't b'lieve me."

'You went in his closet?"

"He told me to, to get some stuff for him. Could hardly get the door closed again."

Face had heard enough. He slipped back to the Vette, his face burning. It was true, at least as far as the clothes. Since getting back from Nam, he had gone a little overboard. He hadn't really thought about it; that wasn't his nature. And BA was right about the other things, although Face wouldn't really call it brown-nosing. But he wasn't getting any younger. If he didn't make it past that invisible door soon, there would be no point.

Then again, what would happen if he did make it into all those places? He'd be forever on his guard, always having to remember what he'd told them, who he was supposed to be. Pretend to know things he didn't, rubbed shoulders with people he'd never met...

He looked at his watch. He had to get those papers, get Tia taken care of. He started the Vette, revving the engine as he pulled it around to the front of the apartment, double-parking. No fear of them saying something more they wouldn't want him to hear. He hurried in, threw a quick, "Forgot something." at them and grabbed the file from his room. He was out the door before they could say a word.

It seemed to take forever at Immigration. Tia wouldn't let him come in with her, not only from fear of his being recognized, but because she wanted to do this much on her own. So he sat in the Vette across the street, or paced around the parking lot. And thought.

Finally, he saw her come out of the stark building, a huge grin on her face. She ran up to the car, waving a handful of papers.

"I'm in, Face! I'm in! I have to take citizenship classes before I can be a real American, but I can stay!"

As Tia wrapped her arms around him, Face felt something he hadn't felt in a long time. He'd done this not for money or because someone asked him to, not because Hannibal told him to or because BA bullied him into it. He'd done this with no expectations, and without a fancy suit, rich friends, or a membership at the country club. He'd done this for her because he wanted to help her. Period.

It felt good.