When every other guy around him starts twitching and choking up blood like something out of a cheesy gore flick, Drake actually feels a little insulted.
(Not really. He will feel insulted later, but in those early, harrowing days it is only terrifying and disgusting and hoshitmanpocalypse and Dad, no, please no, it isn't fair because so many guys lost their families when they came out and Dad never understood it, not really, but he was as supportive as he could be anyway and Drake wanted to grow up to be a man just like him-)
"God, Drake, say something," his sister begs him, a few days After. They're camping out in a (now fortified) pharmaceutical warehouse, stocked with enough hormones to keep Drake himself for years and meds to trade for a decent while.
"Like what?" Drake sneers. "Men don't talk about their feelings, remember?"
"You're fucking kidding, right?" Sylvia growls, her voice still a little hoarse from crying. "If you wuss out and hide behind all that macho crap right now, I will – I will -" And then she breaks off, because she never has been able to threaten him unless she was pissed off enough to really hurt him, and right now she is one of the few girls on earth who still has her little brother.
"It isn't just macho crap," Drake mutters, mostly for the sake of argument, just so something feels normal. "I don't like –"
"Oh, shove it," Sylvia sighs, grieving and exhausted. "All the genetic men are dead. You don't have to compare yourself anymore."
"I miss Dad," Drake admits, a good five silent minutes later, and even though he's been taking testosterone for nearly seven years, his voice still cracks like he's just fucking starting to transition.
"Yeah," Sylvia breathes, a little shakily. "Me too."
Word gets around, even without reliable power, and soon they have a steady stream of FTMs passing through to buy testosterone, enough that Sylvia starts figuring out how to synthesize it just to keep them in business. Drake's fellow trannies can always pay well, of course. Supply and demand. Plenty of them are pros, but not all of them – fewer than Drake expected, honestly. One time they even get a barbershop quartet passing through. It's surreal as Dali on his paint fumes, but they make Sylvia smile.
They decorate the tall, blank walls with the notes and names and stories of traders and travelers they've met. On clear summer nights, they move their sleeping bags up onto the roof and watch the stars, finding the constellations their father taught them, brighter than they've seen in years. Sylvia commandeers the men's restroom, over Drake's half-hearted objections, and converts it into her makeshift chem lab.
Slowly, the warehouse becomes their home.
Of course, once they run out of sperm banks to torch, America's newest terrorists turn their attention to the androgen distributors. Spiteful bitches.
Drake gnashes his teeth, hissing as he works the arrowhead out of the meat of his shoulder.
"You cult cuntrags are really starting to piss me off," he screams from the cover of the dumpster just outside the warehouse that he's crouching behind, trying to put pressure on the bleeding wound. "Also, your demi-mastectomies are sloppy, ugly and gross."
One of the fuckers hunting him starts shrieking about the sanctity of Mother Earth's ritual, and maybe it's the blood loss, but he starts to laugh.
"If there's a nature goddess out there," he shouts, wondering how much he can piss them off before they kill him, "then she made women's gorgeous, sexy bodies just the way they are." He laughing even harder now from the irony; he loves girl's bodies, but the amazons are out to turn him into a porcupine because he couldn't stand to live in his own. "Yeah," he continues, moaning a little from the pain, trying to make it sound like he's getting revved up. Honestly, he might have been, if it weren't for the blood loss. What guy didn't like a little violence-induced adrenaline, after all? And some of those bitches have really nice legs.
Drake sends out a silent apology out to all the cool butch lesbians he's known over the years before he calls out, "I mean, what kind of feminazi dyke are you if you don't realize that tits, as in tits plural, are fucking fantastic, all warm and soft and round, coming in a nice array from little mouthful-size to just fitting in your hand for squeezing-size to great big bury your face in 'em and rub-size–"
"You're going to die slowly, you filthy chauvinist pig!" the lead bitch screeches, over an above the fury of the others.
Yeah, Drake thinks, yeah, come and get me. And he knows it's stupid male bravura, but if he has to go, he might as well go out defiant. "Remember the Alamo," he murmurs under his breath, and he can almost hear Sylvia griping about the idiocy of taking pride in a battle where your side got massacred.
"I am going to fucking kill you myself," Sylvia growls, yanking the bandage tight around Drake's shoulder, making him yelp. "Stop being such a pussy, this is deep, it needs pressure."
"Jesus, Cissy, I said I was sorry."
Sylvia snorts, not mollified in the slightest.
"I still can't believe you doused a bunch of Amazons in homemade hydrochloric acid," he murmurs in genuine awe.
"Firstly, neither can I, it was disgusting and I don't want to think about it. Secondly, all you need is Clorox, vinegar, and a good bucket, and thirdly, don't call them amazons. Hippolyta and Penthesilea and the rest were cool mythological heroines and I resent those whack jobs for co-opting the name."
Drake rolls his eyes.
"You're such a geek. How the hell do you remember names like that anyway?"
"Shut up!" Sylvia shouts tearfully, jabbing his fresh bandages hard enough to make him hiss in pain. "What the hell, Drake? You were trying to get yourself killed, don't even – don't even deny it. You haven't been that provocative since you were fifteen and agonizing about coming out and hating everyone just for calling you by your name and do you have any idea how fucked up I will be if you die?" All her words jumble out together in a rush, even as tears trickle onto Drake's already bloodstained shirt.
Drake hangs his head.
"I am sorry, sis," he mutters, more sincerely now. "I wasn't – it just pisses me off, that I'm even here."
"What?" Sylvia demands, staring at him in incomprehension. Drake meets her eyes, biting his lip.
"Just – it's just that I hear, over and over, that all of the men are dead. Like I'm not even real. Like my manhood isn't real. Like I didn't fucking earn it - I had my uterus carved out of me with a scalpel. I have a penis."
"You have a two inch penile-clitoris, and apparently the only brain you're using fits inside it because you know anatomy is not what makes gender," Sylvia snaps.
"No, it makes sex," Drake snaps right back. "And, really, I didn't care Before, you know? Because every man wishes his dick were bigger, and I wasn't too insecure to pull out the dildos. But now there's this plague, and while everything else is falling apart, it feels like the whole goddamn world is telling me that only the XYs really count."
"Sucks for you," Sylvia mutters unsympathetically. "And this translates into making yourself cultbait how?" she demands.
Drake sighs and looks away.
"Look, I know it's stupid and fucked up, okay? But if I get killed by the crazy man-haters, it's like – like somebody acknowledges me as a man."
Sylvia doesn't say anything for nearly a minute.
"And that's worth dying for?" she asks softly.
"Identity? Well, as a cause, in general, yeah. But now, specifically – not like this. I mean – I don't really want to die."
She hugs him so tight he almost passes out, the pain from his arrow wound spiking white-hot. He whimpers, and Sylvia grudgingly lets go. He suspects she did that on purpose.
"Fuck you, baby brother, only a real man could be so utterly stupid."
"You love me," he grins, giving her his best puppy eyes. She smacks him upside the head, but only lightly.
"Don't even try it on me, mister, I'm a cat person," she tells him dryly, getting her shoulder under the arm on his uninjured side, and helping him stumble back inside.