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The Rhythm of the War Drums

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Geno set down a beer in front of Troy and handed a glass of wine to Trina. Sidney was fidgeting a little and when Geno sat back down, he pressed a hand to Sidney’s thigh. So far dinner had gone well. Troy and Trina were at least acting like they were all part of the same family instead of trying to ignore his presence.

Of course they had no idea if that would continue once Sidney told them that she was transgender. They had decided they had to tell Sidney’s parents after they were married. Sidney had put it off for so long that it was starting to feel a little ridiculous.

Geno wished his parents were there as well, but they were spending the evening at Taylor’s while Troy and Trina were at Sidney’s. Not that they could help much since Troy and Trina spoke no Russian and their English was spotty at best.

“So,” Sidney said abruptly, playing with her napkin. “Geno and I need to talk to you about something.”

“Well, that’s promising,” Troy said blandly. “The last time you said that you told us you were dating him.”

“Which we’ve accepted,” Trina pointed out. “Geno is a lovely man and so far it hasn’t seemed to hurt either of your careers.”

Sidney took a deep breath, looking over at Geno for support. Geno smiled at her warmly, squeezing her hand firmly.

“Mom. Dad. I’m … okay, please understand that what I’m about to say isn’t coming out of nowhere for me.” She bit her lip, her hand trembling. “I’m transgender.”

Trina furrowed her brow. “Excuse me?”

“I’m transgender. I’m a woman,” Sidney said, her voice shaking. “Just not physically.”

“Oh you have to be kidding me,” Troy spat out. “Being gay wasn’t enough? You’re a woman?”

“I told you that I was a girl when I five,” Sidney shot back at him. “You told me not to ever say that again. I spent years thinking I was some kind of freak because I didn’t feel like a boy.”

Trina looked at Troy. “When did he tell you that?”

“We were talking about hockey. It was after a practice, I think. Like I really thought he was telling me the truth. I didn’t think it was anything important. Just something a kid says.”

Geno cleared his throat. “Not time to argue. We explain if you listen.”

Trina pointed at him. “You stay out of this. As far as I’m concerned this is all your fault. Him being gay and now this.”

Geno clenched his hands into fists, forcing himself to stay quiet. He knew he couldn’t fight back, not right now. One of them needed to remain calm and during one of their many sessions with Pamela making a plan for this event, it was decided Geno needed to keep his cool.

Sidney had no qualms though, reaching up and smacking her mother’s hand down. “Don’t you blame him for anything. I wouldn’t be half as well-adjusted as I am now without him.”

“Don’t you touch your mother like that,” Troy said sharply.

Sidney slumped back in her chair, her head down and her hand over her mouth. Geno leaned over and pressed a kiss to her temple.

“I can’t believe you would say something like that,” Trina finally said. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous this sounds?”

“Yes,” Sidney said quietly. “I do. It doesn’t make it any less true.”

Troy shook his head. “You’re a hockey player. You’re obviously a man. I mean look at you.”

“I am well aware of how I look. I see myself in the mirror every single day.” Sidney pressed her lips together into a thin line. “I am not going to look like this forever.”

Troy visibly recoiled. “You’re going to make yourself look like a freak? Those people don’t even look like women.”

“I am one of those people, Dad. And I’ll have you know I can look very pretty,” Sidney said, looking at her father defiantly. “I’m not a freak. I stopped thinking like that when I got an official diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria in 2011. So I have had a lot of time to come to terms with who I am.”

“2011?” Trina’s voice wobbled. “You’ve known since 2011 and only told us now?”

“Yes,” Sidney said, her voice trembling as well. “Because I was pretty sure this would be your reaction and I wasn’t able to handle this reaction then. I have the tools to handle it now even though it stills hurts like hell to hear you say these things.”

“We prepare for this conversation for long time,” Geno said quietly. He reached up to wipe away a tear that was tracking down Sidney’s cheek. “We prepare for worst, hope for best.”

“You married him knowing this?” Trina stared at Sidney, tears tracking down her face as well.

“I marry Sidney twice. Once as man. Once as woman.” Geno handed Trina a napkin. “Second wedding she in gown. Look beautiful.” He turned his gaze to Troy, his voice hardening. “Not a freak.”

“Does your sister know?”

“She was the first person I told. She has stood by me this whole time. And she stood by me when I married Geno both times.”

“People are going to find out,” Troy snapped out. “This is going to destroy everything you worked for all these years. All you’re going to be is that hockey player who thinks he’s a woman.”

“I’ve got to go,” Trina said, standing up and shaking her head. “I can’t sit here and listen to this nonsense any longer. When you come to your senses, call us. Until then, I don’t want to hear from you.”

Troy got up as well, putting his arm around Trina’s shoulders. “I don’t know what your end game is here, but this is insane and we won’t be a part of it.”

“I hope you change mind,” Geno said, pulling Sidney into his arms and letting her cry on his shoulder. “Sidney still your child.”

Troy just shook his head, guiding Trina out of the room. The front door slammed loudly, making Bear bark in surprise. Geno pressed a kiss to the top of Sidney’s head, rubbing her back as she sobbed.

After a while, Sidney lifted her head, her face tearstained and her eyes red and puffy. “Let Taylor know. I’m going to go call Pam.”

Geno nodded, brushing Sidney’s hair away from her face. “Love you so much. So brave.”

Sidney exhaled shakily. “We knew this was going to happen.”

“Not make it easier to hear.” Geno kissed her cheek gently. “Take Bear with you for call. I be up after I talk to Taylor.”

Sidney nodded and got up, her hands trembling. She was barely holding back more tears, her eyes glistening wet. Geno watched her go, whistling for Bear who followed eagerly. Once he heard the door shut to their bedroom, he let himself cry briefly for what Sidney had just lost.

Geno pressed Taylor’s name on his phone. She answered quickly, “Well?”

“Go bad. They not believe Sidney. Tell her not want to hear from her unless she change mind.”

“Those assholes,” Taylor spat out. “I can’t believe they would tell her that. I’m coming over.”

“She calling Pam. But come over. Ryan too.”

“We’re all coming over. Natalia and Vladimir are just as worried as we are.” Taylor swore under her breath. “Are you okay?”

“No,” Geno said honestly. “I not. I need hug.”

“We’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” Taylor promised. “And both of you are going to get lots of hugs.”

“Door unlocked.”

“Fifteen minutes,” Taylor said firmly before hanging up.

Geno drained the beer that was sitting in front of him untouched. It was warm and disgusting, but he didn’t care. Part of him wanted to get completely shit-faced but the rest of him knew he had to keep it together.

Sidney was sitting on the bed, a hand scratching Bear’s side mindlessly and sobbing into the phone when he came upstairs. Geno slipped behind her, pulling Sidney into his arms. She turned easily, burying her face in his chest.

“Pam?”

“Geno,” Pamela said, her voice full of sorrow. “Sidney didn’t get very far in telling me what happened.”

“Nothing good happen. They say awful things, call her freak.” Geno felt Sidney start to cry harder. “Not want to hear from us until she change mind.”

“Okay so it’s what we planned for,” Geno could hear movement on her end. “I want you to give Sidney one of the anti-anxiety meds. No drinking tonight. Where are your parents?”

“Taylor bringing them home now. She and Ryan coming over.”

“Good. Ask Taylor to call me tomorrow or before she talks to her parents, whichever comes first. I don’t want her to do something impulsive that she’s going to regret. I know we’ve all talked about this to death, but now that the worst case scenario has happened, I want to make sure she’s still on board.”

Bear whined softly, pressing his face against Sidney’s. She let out a choked sob, turning her face to let him lick. Geno watched as the dog tried hard to comfort Sidney.

“Geno?” Pamela said, her voice rising. Geno started a little, guessing she had said it more than once.

“Sorry. Bear trying to make Sidney feel better.”

“I want both of you to sleep tonight. Sidney can take one pill when she’s ready to lie down. You can take two.”

“Yes, I know,” Geno said, the plan running through his head. “No drinking. No one make calls outside of Mario and Nathalie.”

“Do what you need to do to keep Sidney calm as much as possible.” Pamela said gently. “And when everything is a little calmer, you call so we can talk about how you are.”

“Will call soon. Promise.”

“Bye Geno. I’m sorry that it went this way,” Pamela said. “Sidney, honey. Let Geno take care of you and I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Okay,” Sidney sniffled, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “Bye Pam.”

Geno pressed the end button on the phone and Sidney sat back on her heels, looking as miserable as she possibly could. Geno cupped her face in his hand, frowning. “I so mad at them right now.”

“I’m sure I will be soon. Right now I’m just hurt,” Sidney said, wiping at her eyes again. “Taylor’s coming over?”

Geno nodded. “Let’s take pill and wash face. Help a little.”

Sidney let out a shaky breath, but nodded. Bear licked her hand, his tail hitting the bed. “Thanks, Bear.”

Geno got up, getting Sidney’s anxiety medicine and shaking a pill out for her. He moved the sleeping pills to the bedside table, listening as the water ran in the bathroom. He rubbed his own face, sighing heavily before petting Bear.

Sidney came back out of the bathroom, wearing lipgloss now. Geno gave her a gentle smile before handing over the pill. “Like that color on you.”

Sidney took the pill, dry swallowing it out of habit. “I needed something.”

“Want to change clothes?” asked Geno.

Sidney looked down at her jeans and polo, shaking her head. “It doesn’t matter right now.”

Geno pulled her into a hug, rubbing her back gently as Sidney clung to him. Bear let out a woof when the front door slammed, scrambling off the bed and down the steps. Taylor was immediately on the steps, her feet loud and heavy, an opposite cadence to Bear’s.

“Taylor here,” Geno said with a bit of a smile. Sidney chuckled a little and pulled back.

“She’s not very subtle.”

“I’m coming in,” Taylor said before opening the door. She had an angry look on her face and swiftly pulled Geno into a hug before moving to Sidney and doing the same. “I swear I want to throw the plan out the window and go scream at them.”

“Don’t,” Sidney said, hugging her back just as fiercely. “We have a plan for a reason.”

“I know.” Taylor pulled back to look at Sidney seriously. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Neither am I,” Sidney promised. She pulled Taylor back into a hug, pressing a kiss to her hair. “Did you bring Natalia and Vladimir back with you?”

“They’re downstairs cleaning your kitchen up already.”

Geno sighed at that. He pressed a kiss to Taylor’s hair as well before leaving, closing the door most of the way behind him. Sidney pulled Taylor over to the bed, sitting down heavily.

Taylor sat next to her, reaching up to run her fingers through Sidney’s hair. “It sucks to realize your parents are complete jerks.”

“I know I should say something about how they were surprised and it’s a shock but I can’t. I knew how they reacted when I told them about Geno so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I really wanted it to go better than that.”

“I know, honey,” Taylor said gently. “And they might get better about it. I’ll follow the plan and talk to them about it and see if I can get them to at least listen. If they don’t want to listen, they don’t want to listen.”

Sidney pulled her knees up to her chest, resting her chin on them. “There is literally nothing that feels like this. I hope you never have to feel this.”

Taylor curled up against her, resting her head on Sidney’s shoulder. “I wish you weren’t feeling it.”

“They’re not the first and they won’t be the last,” Sidney said quietly. “But they’re the most important.”

“They’re our parents,” Taylor murmured. “They’re supposed to love us no matter what.”

“Apparently changing your gender is the what for them.” Sidney turned her face to press a kiss against Taylor’s forehead. “Thank you for being you.”

“You’re my best friend.” Taylor said simply. “I’ve looked up to you my whole life. I still look up to you now. What they don’t realize is how brave you are, how strong you have to be to do this. No one would choose to be transgender.”

“I just want to be me,” said Sidney softly. “I think I want to go to sleep.”

“Okay.” Taylor rubbed Sidney’s back. “Should I get Geno?”

Sidney shook her head. “I’m allowed to take one of my sleeping pills. Just let him know that I’m staying up here.”

Taylor hugged her tightly. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Sidney sighed. She gave Taylor a wobbly smile. “Stay here tonight. Please?”

“You couldn’t make us leave,” Taylor promised. She got up after one more hug, leaving Sidney sitting on the bed alone with her thoughts.