Anne, you there?
The message pops up on Anne‘s phone in the late evening. So it must be the middle of the night for Gilbert.
She grabs her phone and types Gilbert Blythe. Go the fuck to sleep.
But she immediately feels weird about it. Gilbert texting that late, knowing she would kick their ass for still being awake? It might be something important.
Everything okay? She sends a second text, just in case.
Gilbert takes forever to type. Which, not a good sign. The longer they type, the more worried Anne gets. She drops the pen that she’s been chewing on for the last twenty minutes while trying to write an essay on a topic she knows nothing about (but hey, that‘s just your everyday university life, isn‘t it), and takes her phone in both hands, staring at the screen and waiting for Gilbert‘s answer.
Gilbert is still typing.
And Anne’s stomach sinks. She knows things aren’t easy, she knows Gil is still struggling, but she had hoped…
Her line of thought gets interrupted by Gil‘s reply.
I don’t know, Anne. I thought spending the holidays home with you would make it easier, but now being back here feels even weirder. It’s all too much. My parents don’t really talk to me since I came out, I miss you like crazy, winter depression is hitting me hard… I know it’s a good decision for me to be here, but I still wish I didn’t have to do it alone. I can’t sleep.
It makes Anne want to cry. But not right now, she’ll have time for that later. Right now, she needs to be there for Gil. They need her.
Wanna skype? Anne types, because she misses Gilbert’s face, and because she thinks this is something that’s better talked about face to face.
Instead of replying, Gilbert calls her on Skype right away.
“Hold on,” is the first thing Anne says when she accepts the call. She pulls her laptop closer, shoves her uni stuff off the bed and rolls around to lie on her tummy. She adjusts her webcam, then rests her head on her hands. “Hi, hun,” she finally smiles when she‘s all set up.
Gil smiles back, but their smile is crooked and tired. “Hey Anne.” They’re leaning against the headrest of their bed, wearing a crumpled looking long grey shirt.
The way they say her name still makes Anne’s heart ache. And Gil’s deep frown, the bags under their eyes, and the way their voice sounds rough, like it‘s about to crack… Anne feels so helpless.
“Hey, umm,” she begins, slowly, because she has no idea what to say – it feels like she’s said everything before, and nothing really helped so far. “I miss you, too. I wish I could be there with you. It’s only eight more months, right? Then you’ll be back here.”
“Seven months and twenty-seven days,” they mumble, so quietly that Anne almost doesn‘t hear it. The skype connection is a bit wobbly, too, like almost always. The picture is grainy, and Anne can still see Gilbert’s mouth move seconds after they‘ve stopped talking.
She sighs. “Long distance sucks,” she whispers, and this time she’s not sure if Gilbert can hear her.
But then they sigh as well, and nod.
“I‘m sorry that your parents are still being dickheads,” Anne says. Gilbert came out to their family over Christmas, both as bisexual and as nonbinary, and turns out their parents don’t really believe either of these things exist. “At least Marilla is taking it like a champ, with the they/them pronouns and everything.”
That gets an honest smile out of Gilbert. “Can she adopt me?” they say and smirk, but Anne can tell that it’s only half meant as a joke.
“Ew, Gil!” Anne says, grimacing. “That’d make us siblings!”
Gilbert cringes as well. “Oh ugh yeah, never mind then, didn’t think about that.”
There’s a small, comfortable silence. Anne just takes the time to look at her date mate and to imagine they’re right in front of her, not only on a computer screen, but in flesh and blood. She would so love to hug them right now. Possibly forever.
Then, she says, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Gil turns around to lie on their tummy like Anne, then pulls their laptop closer. Now, it almost really feels like they’re right here with Anne. They seem to consider Anne’s question for a moment before they say, “Yeah. Tell me some good things.”
It’s a thing they do together. When they feel like everything in the whole entire world sucks, they tell each other things that don’t – things that keep them going, that give them hope. Small things, big things, doesn’t matter. Anything to remind them of the good stuff.
Anne doesn’t have to think long. “Phil’s kitten is still being the cutest thing ever.” Phil got a cat over the holidays, and now the flat has a tiny kitten living with them, and even though Anne is still getting used to the smell of the litter box and canned tuna, it’s one of the most wonderful things that’s ever happened to her.
“Yeah?” Gil smiles. “How many more pictures did you take since yesterday?” They know Anne too well.
Anne buries her face in her hands. “Too many,” she says. “Want me to send you some more?”
“Yes please,” Gilbert says.
Anne nods. She took some adorable ones of the kitten falling asleep in Phil’s lap, she’s gonna send a few of those to Gil in a bit. “Now you,” she says, and nods encouragingly.
Gil takes their time to think about it. Eventually, they say, “My host mums found a trans youth group nearby that’s explicitly for nonbinary people as well. They’re apparently mostly teens and young adults, around our age, and they meet once a week.”
It warms Anne’s heart to hear that. She knows that Gil was always too scared to come along to the queer campus group meetings at Redmond, but she’s a firm believer in community, so she’s glad to hear that Gilbert might get to hang out with other trans people soon. It’s also good to know that Gil’s former host mums are still looking out for them; Anne is happy that Gilbert isn’t alone in all this. “So, are you gonna go check them out?”
Gilbert nods. “Yeah, I think I will. I mean my friends here are pretty chill about the whole enby stuff, but it might be cool to talk to some other trans folks in real life, you know.”
“Yeah,” Anne says, “that definitely sounds like a good thing.”
Gil bites their lips and smiles. “Yeah, I think so, too.” Then, after a moment of hesitation, they add, “Give me one more.”
Anne thinks about it for a moment. Ever since Gilbert went back to York and she herself went back to Redmond, she’s been too busy with school work to think too much about the good things in her life. But then a smile spreads across her face, and she grabs her phone to scroll through her picture gallery. Eventually, she finds what she’s searching for – she turns her phone towards the webcam so that Gil can see what she’s talking about. “I went through all the pictures we took on Christmas, and this one is definitely my favorite.”
It’s not the best quality, because apparently Gil took it secretly with Anne’s phone when she wasn’t paying attention, but it’s adorable. The picture shows Anne’s face in profile, from a weird angle below her, and it shows half of Gil’s face as well, with one of Anne’s hands on their cheek. There’s a broad smile on Anne’s face and Gil is just about to kiss her, already leaning in, and there’s a look in Gil’s eyes, so full of something like adoration and pure happiness… it’s a weird moment to capture, but Anne is glad that Gil has captured it. Of all the pictures of the two of them together, Anne loves this one the most.
Gilbert is quiet for a minute. Finally, they whisper, “I love you so much, Anne.”
Anne closes her eyes and leans her head against the laptop screen for a moment. “Love you, too,” she whispers. She still has a hard time saying it, not because she’s scared or embarrassed or in denial anymore, but because it makes her miss Gilbert so much her whole body aches.
“Okay, but that doesn’t count as a happy thing,” Gilbert says, their tone nonchalant; Anne has the feeling they’re trying to lighten up the mood. “It just made me sad. Give me one more.”
Anne sighs, smiles fondly and says, “Alright, one more. But promise me first that you’re going to bed after this one, okay?”
Gil nods. “I promise. If it’s a good one this time.”
“Alright,” Anne says. “So I’ve been thinking about the thing you said with the names, that I should help you pick a gender neutral one and everything, right?”
Suddenly, Gil looks very excited. “Did you find one?” they ask, eyes wide.
“Yeah,” Anne grins, “the perfect one. Are you ready?” She waits until Gilbert nods, then says, “Mandy.”
“What.” Gilbert stares at her.
“Mandy,” Anne repeats, and grins at Gil.
And Gil says again, “WHAT.”
Anne considers keeping this up a while longer, just because teasing Gilbert is such fun, but she’s also too bubbly to shut up. “Like Mandy Patinkin!” she explains. “You know, the guy from The Princess Bride and those musicals!”
Gilbert snorts. “Oh damn,” they say, suddenly sounding way less confused, and way more impressed. “Oh wow. That’s brilliant. But I’m never, EVER gonna name myself Mandy.”
Anne can’t keep herself from giggling any longer. “I know,” she says, then sticks her tongue out at Gilbert. “I just thought it might cheer you up.”
Gilbert grins at her. “You’re a complete dork, Anne Shirley.”
“I’m gonna stick with Gilbert for now,” they say. “Or Gil, whichever.”
“Okay,” Anne says and nods. “Are you finally gonna get to sleep now or what?”
Gilbert smiles at her in a way that makes her heart beat faster and makes her feel calmer at the same time. Before she fell in love with them, she would have thought that was impossible, too much of a paradox. With them, that’s how she feels all the time.
“Yes, Anne, I’m going to bed,” they say, rolling their eyes, still smiling.
“So you’re feeling a bit better?” she asks.
Gilbert nods. “I always feel better whenever I get to talk to you.”
“Aaww babe,” Anne grins. “That’s so cheesy.”
“Says the one who keeps calling me pet names,” Gil grins back and blows her a kiss. Then they put their laptop to their side and pull their blanket over them, making themselves more comfortable in their bed.
“Touché,” Anne has to admit. She loves it. She loves it even more because Gil told her once that it made them feel gender euphoria when she called them ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’ or anything like that. She loves everything about Gilbert Blythe, except for the fact that they’re so fucking far away from her – but she doesn’t think about that last bit for now.
“Good night,” Gil yawns and pulls their blanket under their chin.
Anne yawns and makes herself more comfortable as well. “Good night,” she says back.
“And don’t forget to send me those kitty pics,” they add, their voice already heavy and low from sleep.
Anne nods and smiles. “I’ll send them tomorrow.”
Gilbert nods. “Hey,” they mumble, “only seven months and twenty-seven days.”