One fine L.A. morning, before a room full of national press, Jake Pratt comes out as a straight woman.
Considering that two weeks ago she'd been cast in a role of a very male Robin in a Batman reboot, this makes a few front pages.
On the other coast, Hamilton Fleming presses 'send' and his new blog entry called 'Queer Fear in Hollywood' goes live.
It's a brave new world.
Against all odds, Jake and Hamilton didn't break up after that summer semester at Rawley Boys.
They held strong - through Jake's four more boarding schools and two more dodgy bikes; through Hamilton's old-fashioned persistence to remember each other's birthdays, to hold hands on the street, and to pay for dinners; through Hamilton's parents' amicable divorce and through Jake's mom Oscar nomination.
Only once they briefly separated, over the summer. Hamilton didn't want to go on a motorcycle tour of South America because he didn't want to ride bitch anymore. And Jake discovered that Hamilton was practicing writing her first name with his last name and eying engagement rings - the wrong ornate kind, to add insult to the injury.
Neither of them would ever know what happened to the other during their time apart. Hamilton experimented with boys and discovered that he could be quite unashamedly gay but boobs were still pretty much non-negotiable in a long-term relationship. Jake came back all tanned and with a tiny tattoo on the inside of her wrist. It said 'disobey' in Portuguese.
When Hamilton learned that Jake rode back into the Village, he got her the entire contents of the flower shop around the corner, except for the tacky carnations, and a year's gift card of oil changes. She came home too early and caught him stuffing the baby's breath into the mailbox. When Jake saw his fever-bright cheekbones, her heart stalled. When it started up again, it raced in tune with Hamilton's heartbeat that she could feel against her ribs, through the cotton of their t-shirts. They never quite went out of sync since.
They had amazing, loud make-up sex against the front door, agreed not to follow any society conventions of the marital kind and get Hamilton a set of two wheels, rescued Twinkie the cat from a grumpy old cat lady next door, and pretty much lived happily ever after.
They were that normal hipster couple with a cat, two bikes and a small mountain of scuffed Converse sneakers in all colors of the rainbow. They stole each other's tattered and unwashed $400 jeans and skinny American Apparel plaid shirts, they only drank the good kind of coffee and held onto their New Yorker subscription even when they had nothing to eat.
After college, Hamilton became a cub reporter and a resident blogger at the New York Times. His writing style tended to be self-deprecating and peppered with pop culture references but it was to the point.
Jake was a fledgling actress, embarrassed to be mostly famous for her guest roles on Law and Order, as her mother's dream for her was Broadway.
Twinkie thought he was the cat emperor of the Lower Manhattan.
Life was great but of course, parents had to mess it up.
History repeating itself, it started with Jake's mother.
Over an already tense dinner, she said that Jake might have wanted to consider using her full name, Jacqueline, for the acting work. Maybe that would get her better roles than a tough leader of an all-girl gang or a corpse #3 in the total body count of ten in an NCIS episode. Jake Pratt sounded like Captain America, not like her beautiful smart daughter and it was an unfortunate first impression. And first impressions counted the most in this business, sweetie.
Of course, the first thing in the morning, Jake cut her hair short, got a plane ticket to LA, and convinced her mother's agent to get her the Batman's sidekick audition under the pretext that it was all part of research for Hamilton's article on the gender bender in Hollywood. Hamilton spent his evenings trying hypnosis on the impervious Twinkie when he wasn't writing the said article because Jake's mother issues and pranks aside, it actually was an excellent idea.
During the casting sessions, Jake kept waiting for someone to single her out of the androgynous wall of struggling actors and uncover her plot to undermine the very foundations of the superhero legacy. Still, no one seemed to pay attention to her poorly concealed A-cup and notice that there was a girl with a full mouth and long eyelashes behind those regulation issue wayfarers. Or that she was pretending to be her IMDB namesake, Jake Pratt (IV), (Actor). She even took to carrying around pocketfuls of Tootsie rolls but the West Coast was too chill and full of itself to notice the irony.
More concentrated on not being unmasked, Jake didn't even notice that with each audition, there were less and less boys in the room. Until there were none. Holy Nolan Batman, Jake was going to fight crime, in tights.
She left the message on Hamilton's voicemail that consisted entirely of her humming the old Batman theme, and she was instantly swept into the flurry of press junkets and things. It never seemed like the right moment to tell the studio about the whole boy/girl thing.
When she finally came back to New York, Hamilton picked her up at train station. His eyebrows were severely disapproving of the situation. He pried one travel bag away out of her perfectly capable hands and said, pointing to a yellow cab, "Come on. Into the Batmobile."
They escaped the cutting wind in their favorite coffee shop, at their favorite wonky table near the window.
"So what now," said Hamilton in his best prosecutor voice, smoothing the snowflakes off his old military jacket. "Are we really doing this again?"
"Until my mother notices," Jake stirred her cup for the sugar that was never there.
"Jake. How old are we now?" Hamilton didn't sound like he was having one of his worry spells. Tapping his fingers, he looked genuinely concerned in a new, grown-up way. He couldn't have possibly filled out in those two weeks but he looked older, in a way that was making Jake want to go home with him, all over again.
"They were just so excited and geeky. Capes! Crusaders!" said Jake. "I just went with the flow. I don't really know what happens next."
Hamilton was staring at her with a disconcerting frown , "So, you're fifteen minutes away from being really famous. As the boy wonder. Again. What about your private life? Dating? Are you going to get a beard? Because you can't grow one."
"Hamilton," said Jake, reaching out to take his hand. Unlike everyone else, she never called him Ham or Munchkin. "You're the only one who gets to wear a beard in our relationship."
His face softened as if she said something that he'd been needing to hear for a long time now. The worry fading from his flushed cheekbones, Hamilton pulled himself up on his elbows to kiss her. His lips were dry and soft, and he tasted of cigarettes that he'd always deny smoking.
Neither of them heard a camera phone go click, click, click.
The next morning, Jake Pratt woke up to the new Robin being outed as a new Hollywood gay leading man with a boyfriend. By noon, the even more incredible rumors of Jake Pratt being Jacqueline, her esteemed mother's daughter, were trending on Twitter.
After Hamilton got over having been called 'a dashing blogger' by Perez Hilton, he made a gallon of coffee, brought poppy seed bagels, dragged Jake into the shower and asked her to think for a minute about What Would Batman Do. Not knowing the answer to that because she'd never read the comic books, Jake spent her day on the phone with the agent, the studio, her mother, her mother's lawyer. At some point, Hamilton disappeared for a few hours, away from the bi-coastal battle of gender confusion, wills and contract clauses graved in stone with legalese.
When Jake wondered into the kitchen, eyes bloodshot and her mind on murder and the last proposal from the studio, she found Hamilton gone out for his squash practice. His laptop was open and Twinkie was napping across the keyboard with a defiant disregard for gravity. She gently swept the cat to the side and saw that Hamilton's new blog entry's title read, 'Gendergames and Superheroes or Girls in Tights'. It had comments in quadruple digits.
Jake read it, opened another tab and booked not one but two tickets to LA.
Because Hamilton was a fiend with negotiating apartment leases and with making landlords shake in their sneakers, and they would soon need a pied-à-terre on the West Coast. Los Angeles would have seemed pretend without him.
Because she was going to be the new Robin, damn it, and not only to prove something to her mother or to advance her career but also to do it for all those people saying You Go Girl on Hamilton's article. She laced her red Chucks and ran across the street to the tiny comic bookstore, where she wandered through the fog of weed smoke and got her hands on as many Batman comic books as she could carry.
Because fighting for a good cause wasn't just for men in tights.
In the end, Robin had to be only marginally re-written for a woman and all the kickass scenes were kept but his silly romance storyline was cut out. Hamilton got an ironic moustache and started writing a book. About the evils of product placement on television shows.
Jake got to wear Robin's itchy tights almost every day for six months and bought Hamilton an engagement ring with her first paycheck. The right kind, a thick matte platinum band, with the same engraving as on her tattoo.
They wouldn't have to get married, she just wanted him to have it. And to wear it, next to her on red carpets of the less tacky kind.