‘Sometimes it takes a lot of faith
'To keep believing there will come a day,
When the tears and the sadness, the pain and the hate,
The struggle, this madness
will all fade away.’
-Carrie Underwood ‘Love Wins’
“Excuse me, are you Lavi Bookman?”
The redhead looked up from his paper, mouth closed because of the bite he’d just taken. Chewing the portion and swallowing, he looked the woman by his table over. Middle-aged, mousy, and concern painted all over her. He bet she had a kid. And if she was cutting in on his personal time, there was either something going on in that kid’s head, or she just thought there was. “I am,” he decided to admit. Could be interesting.
“May I talk to you a moment?”
“Usually I charge for that.”
“I am sorry for bothering you during your lunch,” she sighed, but pursed her lips. Whatever was bothering her was big, at least in her mind. “I just… I’d like to send my son to see you, but I…”
‘Need to make sure I see things your way,’ Lavi sighed internally. Sometimes he wondered why he put up with this shit. “What is it about him that you wanted to address?”
The woman looked around them as she sat across from him. Did she think someone was eavesdropping in a nearly-empty cafeteria? Like anyone would give a shit about her fucking problems when they had plenty of their own. At this point, Lavi was only caring because he might possibly get paid to. “He’s always been… peculiar. Liked to play with things that little boys don’t play with. His father and I have done all we possibly could to encourage proper toys, but it didn’t end there.”
Lavi didn’t like where this was going.
Her voice lowered considerably as she continued, even leaving forward towards him. “Whenever we go shopping for clothes, he keeps wandering to the girl’s section, saying he prefers those!” She paused to shake her head. “I’m sure in your profession you’ve heard worse, but your reputation speaks for itself, and your professional profile said you’re a good Christian too, so I’m sure you can understand how this is unsettling.”
That depended on your definition of ‘good Christian,’ and his clearly didn’t match up with hers. Shit like this was ludicrous, but it was also why he’d asked Lena to include the information. “What’s your child’s name?” he asked, completely avoiding a response.
“Allen Walker. I’m Cally Walker,” she replied, reaching over to shake his hand.
He complied. “Nice to meet you. I have a small opening tomorrow morning, only about a half hour, but I could at least meet Allen and talk a little.” Transgender suicide rates were too high as was; the soon he could tell this kid they were perfectly normal, the better.
“Thank you so much!” Mrs. Walker replied with a bright smile, and shook his hand again. “We’ll be right on time, I promise!”
“I’m sure you will,” he replied. The amount he charged an hour, late arrivals were few and far in between.
Lavi was looking forward to meeting Allen. Poor thing was probably half-broken, but it sounded like the kid was still demanding what should be a simple matter.
Good for Allen.
The kid was clearly not happy about the appointment, jaw clenched and eyes hard as Lavi lead him into the room he saw patients in. Thankfully, the redhead managed to convince his mother to remain in the waiting room. “Make yourself comfortable,” he said to the teen now with a gesture to the couch, himself in his armchair.
“Oh, yeah,” the gray-eyed male drawled. “Definitely want my ass comfortable while you’re telling me I’m going to Hell.”
“I have no intention of telling you any such thing.”
Allen paused. “What? Mom couldn’t stop talking about how you saw things just like her, that you’d make me see God doesn’t make mistakes-”
“God doesn’t make mistakes. People, however, tend to, and usually in repetition.”
“But the Bible’s the word of God-”
“And was written by the hands of men, once it eventually was written. There are many things in the Bible we no longer consider law simply because we know it’s backward and ridiculous thinking. If a young woman was raped today, and her parents told her she had to marry the perpetrator to maintain her virtue, she’d be taken from them.”
“Well, yeah- that’s just stupid.”
“And yet it made perfect sense at the time. Women were objects, not people. Thankfully, we’ve moved from such asinine thinking. Well, most of us have.”
“…We’re not there yet.”
The tone was so quiet. “No. Sadly, we’re not.”
There was a pause. Lavi let Allen figure out what he needed to voice. “Are you… like me?”
“No. Fortunate or not, I am comfortable with the body I was born with, and am completely heterosexual. However, my nie- my nephew sees things from your perspective.”
The coal-gray eyes the kid had were wide and round. “You corrected yourself.”
“Of course I did. He only just started using male pronouns; we asked him to be patient with us.”
“Everyone was okay with that? No judgment?”
Lavi sat back, glad to see the anger and anxiety gone from the teen, even if it was only temporarily. “There’s a few family members that think my sister is a terrible mother, but we don’t talk to or about them much anyway.”
“What about his school? Or is he older?” Those bright eyes were so excited.
“His school was not as gracious about the change, so he was transferred to one that was- Memorial High.”
“That’s… where I go.”
“Amazing that the staff there would be more understanding to you than your own parents, going off what Johnny’s told me.”
“Johnny? Johnny Gil? Just transferred in a month ago, keeps to himself mostly… wow. A lot of girls are trying to get him to go out with them. If they knew…”
“I didn’t tell you so you could out him, Allen.”
“I know! I know! I wouldn’t dare! But to have a friend that got it… Wish I’d known sooner…”
“I was gifted with permission to give you his number,” Lavi told the teen, jotting down the digits to hand over. “I know it’s not the same as being able to be yourself all the time, but I hope it helps; and you’re certainly welcome to keep coming to see me, if you like.”
“I-I would, if that’s okay.”
“Of course. Once your mother sees how happy you are, I’m sure she’ll agree- as long as you don’t tell her why you’re so happy.”
“Don’t worry; I’ve gotten pretty good at bullshitting.”
Lavi chuckled. “Sadly, our time is up for now, but you can make another appointment with Lena at the front desk. Tell her I said ASAP.”
“Oh, is she your girlfriend?” the brunet teased.
“Wife, Kid. Now get going.”
Mrs. Walker was very happy to see her child smiling again, and was quick to make another appointment.
And by the time Lavi saw Allen again, the auburn head had become fast friends with his nephew. The gray-eyed teen practically bounced into the room, still smiling. “I’ve been staying over Johnny’s house a lot.”
“So I hear. His parents speak very highly of you.”
Allen’s expression became troubled. “They told you about me?”
“Did you think they wouldn’t notice someone new practically living at their house? Emilia is my sister- we do talk. I wouldn’t tell her anything you told me, of course.”
“Oh, I know; I guess I just didn’t think about it.” The bright smile surfaced again. “It’s so much fun at his house. Mom and Dad have laid off me more since I started hanging out with him, and I get to spend time around people that don’t care if I run around in their son’s old skirts.”
“Yes, I heard about your little fashion shows.”
“What??” the other flushed. “She told you?!” Allen’s blush deepened. “Johnny’s so awesome. His whole family is. Thank you so much for introducing me to them, Lavi, you- you gave me a reason to wake up in the morning.”
“I was afraid of that.”
“Of… giving me a reason?” The teen spoke like he didn’t think that was the answer, but didn’t what else it could be.
“That you didn’t have one already.”
“…Oh. Yeah. Um, Johnny said there’s a barbeque thing you guys do every summer, asked me to come, but I didn’t know if that would be, um, weird.”
“I don’t think so. I imagine you’d be spending most of your time with Johnny anyhow. It could be a problem if your mother happened to see me, so just be sure Emilia or Tyki is your ride to the house.”
“Okay. That shouldn’t be a problem; I was gonna sleep over that night anyway.”
“You mean there are nights you don’t sleep over?”
Gray eyes rolled. “Very funny.”
Lavi was suddenly looking forward to that barbeque. Normally he and his wife showed up barely on time, stayed as long as Lena deemed polite, and left. But with all he’d heard from Emilia on how the two teens interacted, he had to admit, he was curious to see them for himself.
He wasn’t disappointed.
The second they entered the backyard of his sister’s house, shrieking and laughter could be heard amongst the chatter and laughter. He followed it.
His quarries were away from the set up tables, chairs, and grill in a world all their own. Allen was in what looked like a new demin skirt and top, even a couple clips holding down that messy hair.
And they were dancing.
Not in a typically romantic way, but were holding each other’s hands while Johnny tried to guide Allen’s stumbling feet. Lavi knew he’d never seen anything cuter.
Then Allen saw him. “Lavi! Hi!” he waved, then ran over, still holding the blond teen’s hand. “Whattya think?” was the add, arms in the air to show off the outfit. “Mom and Dad think I bought a new video game.”
“It suits you,” the man smiled. “I assume Johnny helped you pick it out?”
“Uncle Lavi, it was terrible,” the other teen laughed. “She has no fashion sense to speak of.”
He laughed. “Then it’s good she has you to help her.”
“I would’ve been so lost without Johnny,” Allen admitted with a chuckle of his own. “I’ve stared at the clothes till I started drooling, but actually getting to pick some out… I guess it was kind of overwhelming.”
“I could see that.”
There was yelling. It was by the front door. Lavi couldn’t make out words, but he saw the horror growing on Allen’s face. “Mom,” came the terrified whisper. “How did she…?”
The teen’s question was answered as the woman came around the side of the house, face set in unbridled fury when she saw her child. “Allen Walker,” she hissed, voice low and angry. “Go change. Now. We’re going home.” Then her eyes fell upon a familiar face. “You. I thought you were helping.”
“I am,” Lavi replied, staring her down without a blink or flinch. “We’re helping Allen a lot more than you are.” Too scared to move, Allen hadn’t gone anywhere. “I’m sorry, Allen, but you will have to go on and change. Keeping yourself safe comes first.”
“You think I would hurt my child?!”
“You already are,” he replied as calmly as he could muster. “As far as I can tell, the only major problems in this kid’s life are you and your husband.”
“How dare you!”
“Someone has to- otherwise you’ll just keep thinking your shitty way is the only way.” He forced himself not to cringe; he didn’t normally slip and cuss like that in a situation with an angry parent, but it was too late now. And he’d meant it.
“You manipulative bastard!” she sneered back.
“Well, you’re half right.”
Mrs. Walker stormed past him to grab her child’s hand, trying to drag the auburn head with her. “No, Mom, wait, I-”
She spun around, raised her hand to strike, but one look at her child’s face flinching away from her brought her arm down to embrace the teen in tears. “I’m so sorry, Allen. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”
The other didn’t reply, but did return the gesture. Still mad, probably, but certainly didn’t want the woman to suffer, especially when she could be starting to understand.
“All right,” Lavi said. “Why don’t we find somewhere private to go and talk this out?”
“Okay,” Allen agreed, but the tone was despondent. Not very optimistic.
Lavi walked the two into the house, signaled to Lena he’d be awhile, and tried to keep a brighter outlook.
Everyone was quiet at first, unsurprisingly. Callie had sat down in an armchair in the bedroom Lavi had lead them into, fidgeting, Allen awkwardly standing a foot or so from her, while Lavi himself stood by the door. “I- I just…” Callie tried to begin, then raised her gaze to the psychologist. “How can this sit well with you? I don’t want to hurt my child, but how could I possibly go against the Bible?”
“The Bible was written thousands of years ago, by a bunch of old white men. And before that, it was handed down verbally for generations. Have you every played a game of ‘Telephone?’ Things get muddled very quickly; people add, subtract, to match their own beliefs,” Lavi spoke as calmly as he could, the woman not looking very convinced. “Do you really think God would want you to hate your kid?”
“No,” she replied solidly. “But also, God does not make mistakes. And saying he’s born to the wrong body-”
“That’s not God, that’s people,” Allen spoke up, even as he was tearing up. Good for her. “People make mistakes, Mom. People.”
The woman looked at her long and hard, and it almost looked like she got it, until she stood. “All I see is a test. Change, Allen; we’re going home. And you’re never coming here again.”
Allen looked at Lavi, who forced himself to nod. He couldn’t keep Allen here without his mother’s permission and not involve the authorities, and then the trip back would just be a thousand times messier. The teen seemed to know that as well, taking a breath and leaving the room.
“I’ll pray for you,” Callie told Lavi.
“As I will for you,” he replied.
“I want my son in the car in ten minutes,” she retorted stiffly, and made to walk out of the room as well.
Fabulous. Well, Allen was eighteen at the end of the year, so hopefully-
The redhead shot to the sound of his nephew’s voice, coming from upstairs. There were other feet close behind him, but he didn’t stop to look. Johnny never yelled. Ever. And he sounded terrified.
A casual onlooker might have thought the two teens were wrestling, but there was a very real, very sharp kitchen knife in Allen’s hand, and Johnny was clearly trying to wrench it away from him. Lavi didn’t think; he grabbed a hold on the knife as far down the blade as he could, pulling it from the dual grasp. He still felt it bite into his palm, expected the pain, and Allen was so shock he’d gone to such lengths that she, gratefully, let go. “What was this about?” Lavi demanded. He couldn’t assume here. He had to hear it. If Allen had just tried to kill herself, then the situation had drastically changed.
“I came up here to try and cheer up Allen, give her a little hope,” Johnny spoke, the latter end of the statement pointedly to a certain woman. “And found her about to stab that knife in her throat.”
“Is that true, Allen?” Lavi questioned the second teenager.
“Y-Yes,” she choked through the tears now flowing freely.
Lavi turned back to Callie, who, among many others, had followed him up. “Allen’s not going anywhere with you. Just try coming back here with the police; everyone here heard that, and they’re going to feel exactly the same way.” At least, he hoped they would.
Whatever the case, Callie looked like she believed him, and that was the important part. Her pained looked darted between him and Allen, then to the unkind looks that surrounded her, and finally, she ran from the house.
Lavi turned back to Allen. Her cheeks were still wet with tears, but wide gray eyes stared at the space the woman had just vacated. Johnny hugged her, but she still stared ahead in shock. “Allen,” he tried then. “You get to stay here with us. Isn’t that wonderful?”
Gradually, Allen was able to look at her friend. “I… can stay?”
“Of course you can. Right, Mom?”
“That’s right,” Emilia smiled. “Weren’t we just talking about making the guest room your room anyway? It’s just official now.”
“But… I thought that was a joke…” Allen sniffed.
“You’re always welcome here, Allen, and for as long as you need a roof, you’ll have one with us. You deserve to be around people who love and accept you, and I assure you Sweetheart, we do.”
Allen started to cry again, and ran for the woman’s arms, who engulfed her completely.
Lavi exhaled. Not the happy ending he’d been hoping for, but a happy ending nonetheless. A safe environment for Allen; that was all he’d wanted for the poor kid, and now she had it.
Maybe someday, families wouldn’t get spilt apart over such asinine shit.
“…We’re not there yet.”
“No. Sadly, we’re not.”
But we’re always trying.