CinderAlan

A New Year's "fairy" tale for the 21st century
Rated PG-13; by Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten
Please go away if Denny/Alan grosses you out.

Beta-read by Hypatia Kosh and certified Minion-Approved.
Summary: Paul tries to keep Alan from Denny's New Year's celebration, but Shirley has other plans.


"You had a stripper perform for you in your office?" Paul Lewiston's eyes blazed like the headlights on Satan's humvee.

"She was my client. It was the only way she could pay me," Alan Shore protested.

Paul peered down his hawk's nose at Alan. "You might have thought about that before you took her case," he glowered. "And in any case, you could have invited her to your home to perform this... this... act."

"That would have been unprofessional," Alan replied without hesitation. "Her dance number was payment for a professional obligation, not a personal affair."

A rapping on the door distracted Paul from his harangue. "Yes?"

The door opened and Garrett stepped partially inside. "The plumber says he's done fixing the burst pipe. There's a lot of damage to the files, but they did manage to drain most of the water on the floor."

"Thank you, Mr. Wells." The young man disappeared and shut the door behind him, leaving Paul to continue berating poor Alan. "Mr. Shore, tonight is New Year's Eve. You will spend it cleaning up the mess in the flooded filing room, until every scrap of ruined paper is spread out to dry so that it can be photocopied on January second when we return to work."

A bolt of dismay passed through Alan's face. "Denny's party--"

"Will be blissfully free of your asinine presence," Paul barked. "You've had your fun for the day."

"Happy New Year to you too, sir," said Alan, leaving Paul's office as quickly as he could.

Back in his office, he sat at his desk with his head down like a berated puppy. She hadn't even been all that good, and for the privilege of watching a woman bare her clothes to music--something he could do any day of the year for well below what he could afford--he'd lost the chance to spend New Year's Eve with his best friend. The man he loved.

He sighed and slumped further down. Foolhardier than watching a stripper perform in his office was falling in love with a straight friend. A homophobic friend. But Alan had always done what he wanted, on impulse, without the careful calculation that would prevent such dangerous activities.

It was an exciting life. Exciting, but sometimes very lonely. And tonight, it would be even lonelier than usual.

He missed Denny already. Denny was out of the office, getting ready for his big fête. If he'd been in, Alan would have gone to his office to complain about Paul, to receive a couple of bizarrely-phrased words of wisdom, and to enjoy being close to Denny in all his portly glory.

But no, he was alone. He stood up from his desk and decided he'd better get a head start on cleaning up those files.

Two hours later, he was already fantasizing about tying Paul to a rock in the middle of the Amazon and leaving him for the piranhas. He was working like an intern, his sleeves rolled up and his tie draped over a chair, surrounded by piles and piles of uselessly waterlogged paper files.

Twenty minutes ago he'd been visited by the last partner to leave the office for the night, an infuriatingly smug Brad Chase. Brad didn't just play by the rules--he acted as if he'd invented them and would be personally offended if any of them were broken. "I'll be sure to tell everyone hello for you at Denny's party," Brad informed him.

"Thanks, Brad, you're a pal," Alan replied without even looking up at him.

"You know, Alan, you brought it on yourself. What were you thinking?" Brad started, but Alan held up his hand.

"Please--go enjoy the party. Find someone who thinks you're interesting, and entertain her all night with stories of your morally upstanding past."

And Brad had left, and Alan was all alone. He glanced at the clock--six fifteen. At this rate, he might be done by five in the morning. He'd probably spend his day off sleeping--maybe even in his office.

He wondered if Denny would miss him.

Just then, he heard footsteps. High heels. A woman...?

Shirley Schmidt entered the room carrying a large bag. "My God, Alan, I had no idea it was so bad in here."

"It is," Alan said simply. "It's my burden. All because Lindsay Conner bared her breasts in my office."

"She's not even that attractive," Shirley commiserated. "So Paul has you in here cleaning up?"

"Yep." Alan nodded. "All night long. No party."

"No party," Shirley repeated. "Well, I might be able to fix that."

Alan eyed her, and then the bag, with renewed hope. "What do you mean?"

Shirley called out loudly into the hallway, "Girls? Are you there?" Two girls around nineteen years old entered the room. "Alan, I'd like you to meet Kaitlyn and Anastacia, two girls from my neighborhood. They've graciously agreed to spend the night cleaning up this mess for you in return for several hundred dollars worth of yarn--which you'll be paying for. I know you'll find it worth the money."

"Yarn?" Alan wrinkled his brow, looking the girls over. Too young for him, certainly...

"We knit," said one of them.

"A lot," said the other.

"Thank you," said Alan, to all three of them. "But what happens when Paul catches me at the party?"

"Oh, he won't," Shirley said, her face sparkling with a cunning smile. She lifted her bag and rustled it. "I'll make sure of that."

"What's in the bag?"

Shirley reached inside and drew out a pair of size ten Jimmy Choos. "Ever worn high heels before, Alan?"

//

An hour later, Alan made a 360-degree turn before Shirley, his arms stretching elegantly from his sides. "How do I look?"

Shirley studied her handiwork and nodded with pride. "Nice! Gorgeous. You sure you've never done this before?"

"Surprisingly, no." Alan looked over towards the college girls, who were still working busily at cleaning up the mess. "Girls? Do I fool anybody?"

"You look fabulous!" called one of them.

"Shiny!" agreed the other.

Alan looked down at his body. They hadn't given him too exaggerated of a bustline, but he was definitely more shapely than usual. He and his padded bra were stuffed into a turtlenecked gown of shining black velvet topped with a diamond choker. Dark stockings snugly embraced his shapely legs, and his feet had were perched, if precariously, inside the Jimmy Choos. "Shirley--I can't thank you enough."

"Just have a good time," Shirley replied, smiling and scooping up her purse. "I wonder what Denny will think!"

Alan blinked. "You think this costume will fool him?" He adjusted the tasteful auburn wig on his head.

"Are you kidding? Denny wouldn't recognize himself in drag." Shirley waved goodbye to the girls. "What are you going to call yourself?"

Alan threw up his hands. "I suppose 'Cinderella' is too obvious?"

//

"Hi, Shirley!" waved Sara Holt, who was standing on the steps outside Denny's party with a drink in her hand. She and Garrett had gone outside to get some air and met Shirley and her unknown female companion coming in.

"Hi, Sara! Happy new year," said Shirley warmly. "And to you too, Garrett."

Alan could feel both the young lawyers inspecting him curiously. "Cindy," he said in a breathy whisper, holding out his mauve-nailed hands for a handshake.

Sara and Garrett introduced themselves and went back to chatting, and Shirley led 'Cindy' further inside the party. "Now, remember, you've got to be back in the office by twelve-thirty," Shirley murmured through Alan's wig. "Paul told me he was going to go check on you. He's just staying long enough to catch the countdown, but he'll probably be out of here at 12:01."

"I'll be careful," Alan reassured her.

"Now, mingle!" Shirley's eyes glittered at him and she waved quickly as she disappeared into the crowd.

Alan's mascara-tinged eyelashes framed his vision as he scanned the throng for the host of the party. It was a novel experience, this drag thing, and he intended to milk it for all it was worth--that, of course, being who knows what opportunity with Denny Crane.

He wasn't hard to find. Just listen for the name--his unexplainable, incessant mantra--and you'd soon be there. Alan snatched a flute of champagne from a circulating waiter and was at Denny's side within seconds.

"Denny Crane," Denny was saying with a smile, automatically, as he turned to face Alan.

"Hello, I'm Cindy," Alan said breathily. This had better work. He hoped the padding in his bra masked the pounding of his heart.

"Denny Crane," Denny repeated.

"Wonderful party," Alan commented.

"Thanks!" Denny said jubilantly. He drank from his glass, then took a bite of something frothy. It crunched. "Salmon puffs. Have you had any yet?"

"No," said Alan, reaching for the tray, but Denny pushed one into his hand instead. "Thank you!"

"Funny way to eat salmon, but these caterers seem to have it all under control," said Denny.

"Is it wild or farmed salmon?" Alan couldn't resist asking.

Denny gave him a hard look. "Not you, too! You one of those damned environmentalists?"

"Why, would that bother you?" Alan boldly reached out a hand and placed it on Denny's shoulder. He smiled a Mona Lisa smile.

Denny studied Cindy. "Not necessarily. You don't bring it up in bed, do you?"

"I certainly hope I bring 'it' up," Alan quipped.

Denny grinned.

"Are you a wild salmon or a farmed salmon, Mr. Crane?"

"Please, call me Denny. I like your style."

"I like you."

"You like my money," Denny corrected.

"I have my own," said Alan, moving subtly to catch the light on Shirley's borrowed diamond choker.

The music changed. "Would you like to dance, Cindy?" Denny's eyes had narrowed, and he held out his hand.

Alan's head felt like it was going to come off his shoulders and float around the room filled with helium. "I'd love to."

Denny, surprisingly, was a marvelous dancer. Alan found it very natural to follow his lead, which was also easier because of Denny being the larger man. Alan found himself utterly thankful that Shirley had insisted he tuck his genitals carefully away. Of course, she'd been thinking of his reaction to pretty young women, and not to Denny Crane, but in either case it would have been unseemly for 'Cindy' to have suddenly sprung a recognizable erection.

Especially with Denny. Alan leaned closer and rested his head gently on Denny's shoulder. He was aroused as much as the binding allowed, and his whole body felt warm and comforted in Denny's commanding arms. Denny smelled incredibly good, and Alan drank in giant nosefuls of cologne and maleness with every breath.

Denny danced with other women, of course--even Shirley let him have a turn, for old-times sake, but mostly so she could get him out of her hair--but he spent most of the night with Cindy. Alan could not have been happier, and made the most of the evening. He doubted he'd ever have another chance to flirt so openly and mutually with Denny, an avowed homophobe who had repeatedly told Alan that although they were the best of friends, he would never sleep with him.

Well, if they couldn't snuggle in bed, at least they could snuggle standing up while listening to cheesy jazz.

Alan enjoyed himself so much that he forgot all about his curfew, and it was with a sudden cold flush that he heard Denise on the other side of the room yell "Time for the countdown!"

He struggled to get out of Denny's arms in a panic. Denny instinctively clutched him tighter, not wanting to lose his prize. "Where are you going? It's almost new year's!"

"I have to go. I'm sorry, Denny. I've had a wonderful time." Alan wrenched himself free and dashed away.

"Ten!" yelled Shirley.

"But I was going to kiss you at midnight!" Denny followed, swimming through the crowd like a fat salmon.

"Nine!" yelled Garrett.

Alan's heart broke a little bit. "I wish we already had," he called back. He pushed his way towards the door.

"Eight!" yelled Sara.

"Will I see you again?" shouted Denny.

"Seven!" yelled Brad.

"I hope so." Alan flung open the door. Before him lay a multitude of stairs. He looked down at his shoes--no way could he run down these in high heels. Quickly, he managed to rip them off. One, he flung away at the top of the stairs. The other he shoved down into his dress, into the space between his fake breasts, as he scampered downhill.

Denny barged through the open doorway and watched Cindy run off into the night, her elegant hand waving in the lamplight for a cab.

"One!" yelled someone from inside.

"HAPPY NEW YEAR!!" screamed the party all together.

Denny picked up the high heeled shoe Cindy had left behind and gazed out into the street. The night air was very cold, and he was suddenly lonely.

//

Alan's drag was in complete disarray by the time he arrived, breathless from hurry, back at the office. The wig and several other pieces of his costume were already off and clutched in his hand, and he'd wiped off most of the makeup in the cab. He sprinted through the darkened hallways of the law firm, hoping that the two young women hired by Shirley had been able to sufficiently straighten up the ruined files.

He opened the door and found every single file in place and both girls seated in big leather swivel chairs, knitting. "Happy New Year," Alan told them.

"Happy New Year!" called one.

"Look!" The other one held up half of a fluffy yellow sweater.

"Very nice," Alan gasped without looking. He quickly ripped off the rest of his drag and changed back into his office clothes. "How much did Shirley tell you I'd pay you?"

"Just take us on a shopping spree in Knit and Needlepoint in Back Bay."

"Fine," said Alan. "Thanks again for your help. Do you have a way to get home?"

"Our friend is picking us up," said one of them. "I just called her."

The girls left and Alan looked around the room, still in disbelief over the way they'd managed to set the mess to rights within a matter of hours. He let himself into his office and tucked Shirley's clothing into the bottom drawer of his desk, including the one remaining high heel. Dammit. He'd have to write her a check for those--or maybe she'd make him go shoe-shopping with her.

A set of footsteps in the hallway drew Alan to sharp attention. Paul was back.

Alan opened the door to his office. "I've finished straightening up the files. May I go home now?" He spread a thin layer of defiance across his face, but it was, naturally, completely artificial. Just enough so that Paul wouldn't be suspicious.

Paul scanned the file room and then nodded. "Good work, Alan. And happy new year. Thank you for your help." He sounded stern and unfriendly, but pacified.

Alan hurried for the elevator without looking behind him. He needed to get to a bathroom like hell--and his penis was still taped up!

//

On January second, Alan had barely been in the office for five minutes before he heard the new office gossip. It seemed that Denny Crane had met a mystery woman at the New Year's party, a woman nobody could remember having brought with them. "Denny's madly in love with her," Sara was saying with a wickedly gleeful twinkle in her eye. "And nobody knows who she is!"

"I don't know anyone named Cindy," said Brad.

"Cindy Murphy the paralegal?" asked Denise.

"No, this woman was white, and older than Cindy Murphy," said someone else.

"All he has is her shoe!"

"She was wearing Jimmy Choos."

"He brought the shoe to work with him. Have you seen it?"

"He's making all the women here try it on. It's a size ten! Nobody here has feet that big."

"She must have been somebody's wife. Denny sleeps with client's wives, doesn't he?"

"Garrett, be quiet! Someone will hear you and *I'll* get yelled at."

"Denny Crane," Denny announced as he walked through the throng of people. He held the shoe aloft. "The woman of my dreams has a foot that went into this shoe. If any of you know where I can find her, please come to my office." He disappeared into it with a bang of the door.

"Don't we all have work we should be doing?" Paul was standing inside his own doorway making eagle faces at everyone. The throng scattered, leaving Alan and Shirley alone in the hallway.

"Whatever you did, you must have done very well," Shirley commented sotto voce as she slipped into her office.

"I couldn't have done it without my fairy godmother," Alan called after her.

A few hours later, a frustrated and red-faced Denny entered Alan's office. "I guess you've heard by now. There was a woman at the party. She owes me my new year's kiss."

Alan looked up from his desk. "Ah. Yes. The mysterious 'Cindy'." Cool as a cucumber...

"Sorry you had to miss it. Paul's really a tightass sometimes, isn't he?"

"Looks like you had quite a time without me hanging around."

Denny's eyes grew wistful. "She was incredible, Alan... we talked as if we were old friends. With a new woman, there's always a part where I get a little bit... scared, that I'm not going to live up to her expectations. I can usually cover that part with money, or ego, or something. But with Cindy, it wasn't even necessary. She already knew who I was, deep down inside, and she liked me anyway." He paused. "Being with her was like being with a friend. I just felt so--comfortable."

"And so you kept her shoe," said Alan.

"I had to! It was my only clue! She must have slipped out of it as she ran away down the stairs. Maybe she had to get back to tending the orphans, or something."

"Orphans?"

"A woman like that does something blameless with her spare time. I can tell."

Alan thought about the stripper in his office.

"Can I see the shoe, Denny?" he asked.

Denny passed it over. "If only I could find her. You think she'll go out with me?"

"I don't see why not." Alan pretended to inspect the shoe.

A sudden look of horror passed over Denny's face. "Maybe she's married. Maybe that's why she had to leave so suddenly!"

"Even if she is, she liked you, didn't she?" Alan said smoothly. "So why let that stop you?"

Denny grinned. "That's why I like you, Alan."

Alan's heart twisted slightly. He slipped open his desk drawer, the bottom one where the rest of his discarded drag was lying in a heap with the other shoe on top. "Why don't you let me handle the rest of the search, Denny? I'm sure it'll take a load off your mind."

"You'd do that for me?" Denny's eyes lit up.

"As a friend," said Alan, beaming. He placed the shoe with its mate in the drawer and closed it. No doubt Shirley would be relieved to have the pair returned to her intact.

"She was really... really incredible," Denny said with stars in his eyes. "Can I see that shoe for one more time? Just in case you find her and she wants it back without meeting me again."

Alan opened the desk drawer and handed Denny back the shoe.

Denny's eyebrows wrinkled. "This is the wrong shoe."

"What?" Alan's heartbeat quickened.

"She dropped her right shoe. This is her left shoe." Denny's face dawned with realization. "She was rushing off to you! You've had sex with her!"

Alan sighed and closed his eyes, half in relief that he hadn't been discovered, and half with frustration that Denny could be so blind. He shook his head. "No, Denny--"

"Was she good? Are you dating her?"

"I'm not dating her. Look, Denny--maybe there's a reason she left. Maybe she knew that if you got to know her any better than during the party last night, you wouldn't like her as much as she liked you."

Denny stared into Alan's eyes earnestly. "But I did!" And then, suddenly, he seemed to understand. His eyes widened into dinner plates and he held his breath.

Alan smiled sadly. He opened the desk drawer again and handed Denny the matching shoe.

Denny stared at the shoe as if it were covered in excrement. "I'm not having sex with you," he said for the four millionth time that year.

"I'm not asking for sex," said Alan quietly.

"What do you want?" Denny looked him over, confusion warring with disbelief in his face.

"We could go to lunch," Alan offered.

"Would I be taking Cindy or Alan?" Denny asked. Then he grimaced. "I suppose you're going to be all PC and tell me that I have to accept you as Alan now."

"No, not at all," Alan declared cheerfully, and he produced the wig from the desk drawer.

Denny's face brightened.

"Question for you, Denny," Alan asked after putting it on. "Do I still get that new year's kiss?"

Denny struggled for a moment, then growled, "We'll see. If you can manage to sit through lunch without bringing up farmed salmon, I'll think about it."

But they both smiled.

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