Accusatory claims in the form of slurs that would usually be hurled around by teenagers had made David doubt himself even into his adulthood; the front of being unbothered could only be kept up for so long, angry tears seering his line of sight as a tightness tugged at him, the one he could never figure out why it came or how to completely get rid of it. He had always been an analytic sort, yet when it came to himself that was harder to figure out especially when interactions with strangers who mistook him for the opposite gender made him somewhat giddy.
“You have lovely hair, miss!”
“Oh, thank you.”
Until cover was blown by a testosterone fueled voice he felt more at ease, high levels of anxiety soothed until the passerby corrected the pronouns being used that invited a negative mindset back. Perhaps that was where the identity crisis was coming from combined with enjoying what was typically classified as feminine, trembling fingers combing through the split between naturally brown and dyed red hair as he stared unblinking at the monitor with a word that summed up all of the sharp pains of discomfort deep within a sensitive soul: dysphoria.
Continuing to read thoroughly from a few different sources over that seemingly simple concept he went on to typing in a few keywords he had seen floating around on various social media platforms, not noticing how early in the morning it was until a long-term best friend turned boyfriend entered. As soon as their eyes connected over the few meters that separated them, Dave burst into a fit of sobs that wracked a thin frame, cheeks burning brightly at hearing the other over roughly crashing waves. There was no way he would want to stay with someone so wrongly pieced together in a body that did not fit quite right.
“Davey, sweetheart?” the younger one asked, soft Swedish accent soaked with concern as he rushed over to sit on the mattress padded with a thin coverlet to combat the rising summer temperatures, pulling him close as he set the computer aside, “What’s going on?”
“I-I want Quistis.”
“I’ll get her in a minute, ‘kay? Wanna make sure you’re alright.”
“Dunno if I am.”
“That’s okay too,” Joel reassured, gently swaying the two of them as he gave a gentle squeeze to the middle his arms were wrapped around, “You goin’ through another slump?”
“I think this is worse…”
“Well, I wanna help. You’ve been in here , alone, for hours, but I don’t think you’re doing this for a video…”
“It’s ‘bout me, as a person. You can look at what I’ve pulled up, I don’t wanna say.”
Curiously a finely crafted eyebrow raised as he pulled away temporarily to grab the piece of technology that had been shoved away earlier, waking it from hibernation with the swipe of a trackpad to see a list of articles that described different gender identities with links to additional resources. About to ask where this was going Joel noticed the theme that they were all about identifying as some sort of woman, humming to himself as the information sank in as he calmingly combed fingers through long strands when he turned back to the sniffling someone sinking in on themselves in shame.
“I would like to hear it from you.”
“Babe, I can barely say it to myself!”
“Has this been on your mind for a while?”
“Few years, on and off. Never knew if it was real, so I didn’t give it too much thought,” Dave explained, eyes downcast to a pattern of freckles along the other’s collarbone as the words coming next kept sticking to a cleared throat, “I know my style is perceived that way, but never thought it extended further.”
“Into what, my love?”
“...Being a girl. Is that what you wanted?!”
“Didn’t want you to bottle it up any longer. You suffer with so much and it breaks my heart seeing you that way.”
“S-Sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped.”
“S’all good, I’m still here.”
“I don’t even know what I wanna be called!”
“Well, we can look for a name together. If you want, that is.”
“Please? After I calm down a bit though.”
“‘Course, ‘sides I gotta go get a certain kitty for you, darling.”
Blushing profusely at the pet name Dave reluctantly moved from the folded lap and scooted back against the headboard, resting with less weight than usually carried as he pulled an old, worn stuffed white rabbit with a blue bowtie still among the pillows after all these years of adulthood to be company until the others returned. This was going to be a hard adjustment, what with already misgendering him- no- herself, but it felt better to be allowed to use the correct pronouns knowing now that her boyfriend would follow closely behind without complaint.
“Here we are, Quis, to your mama.”
“Did you just call me her mother?”
“Shit, is it too soon to switch over?”
“Have I told you how much I love you?” she asked, soft smile chasing away remaining melancholy as the two approached, leaning over to press a peck into a slender jawline as the feline was passed between them, “My worst fear was losing you over this.”
“Well, you’re not gonna!”
That was the primary reason she had fallen for Joel, that undeniable sense of loyalty to those considered most important. Soon enough her breathing evened out with the calico, a whisker covered cheek rubbing enthusiastically against the side of a curled palm even while she went through a list of possible names to see which ones would fit better.
"Never thought I'd end up looking through baby names."
"Well, it's somewhere to start."
"I guess… Maybe try a female version of my birth name?"
"Whatever the lady wants," Joel stated, giving a wink that gained a giggle before keying in a new search, "Any of these sound right?"
"No harm in trying it out, you can always change it later."
"Now all that's left is a middle name."
"I swear if you choose Paulette…"
"Ew, no!" she exclaimed playfully with the wrinkle of a wide nose, "Even If the first one changes, I want it to be Marceline."
"Daphne Marcelline Berghult, beautiful."
"You still wanna get married?"
"Without a doubt! God, you're gonna look stunning on our big day."
"Hopefully I won't look like a bridezilla, my man hands are gonna look ridiculous in a diamond ring."
"Won't the estrogen help slim em down?"
"... You'd let me start hormones?"
"It's your decision. Hell, even if that's not how it works you're still gonna be my wife "
"Babe, you're gonna make me cry," she warned, stretching a curved spine to slide her lips against his before resting a still tear stained cheek against a thin, tight fitting shirt, "Might turn in early for the night."
"You're basically falling asleep on me anyway."
"Don't want this to be a dream though."
"It won't be, my little Daft Punk."
Still uncertain in the following few days Daphne debated the potential options to transition, for while she knew there was at least one supporter it still brought high amounts of anxiety as the phone number was typed out on multiple occasions, finally dialed. Kept from pacing around their flat by being anchored by clasped hands, a thumb swiping calmingly over curled knuckles every time she seemed tempted to end the call when a tongue got tied despite being able to lay out complex verses in her musical genre.
"The 19th, as in later this week?"
"Yes ma'am, that's our soonest available appointment."
"Um, that should work," she remarked, ocean eyes washing over soft facial features for some source of solace amidst a threatening typhoon of emotions, "Is my boyfriend allowed to be with me? I don't wanna do this without him."
"Certainly! We're used to patients bringing loved ones for support."
"Alright. What times are available?"
"We've got some from 9 to 12, and one at 3."
"Three is fine."
Confirming the details and what was to be expected at the appointment, she was met with a tight embrace after the conversation ended that she sank into gratefully, "Guess this is happening?"
"Hell yeah it is girl!" Joel confirmed, caressing a freshly shaved cheek to cup it as he leaned in to connect their lips for a long moment, "There is just one issue."
"What're you on about, love?"
"Your sister's having lunch with us at noon."
"...Shit. And it's not like we can reschedule, she hasn't been home in a few months."
"That's kinda the point of why we're going out, Daffy. You don't have to tell her anything, y'know?"
"Don't wanna lie to her, we've always been close."
No wonder it was so painful putting off the reveal for the following few days, for she could easily phone Hannah even though she knew it would be better to say I person for everyone involved. On the ride over her hands would not stay still even as one rested on a denim covered thigh, trying not to arouse him on accident due to anxiety, pink blush flowering along her cheeks at the slow wink aimed at her before attention returned to the road. Apologizing gently, she tried to retract the flatly pressed palm when thin fingers laced through her manly ones and gave a slight squeeze of affirmation, "Should've taken the Xanax after all."
"You're gonna be alright, baby," Joel stated as they pulled into a parking spot, lifting their clasped hands to kiss the top of hers, "We're gonna have a lovely time, I'm sure."
"How can you be sure?"
"Cos she's like you, kind and open to others. C'mon, let's not keep her waiting."
Highly aware of how she would most likely be mistaken for a man Daphne tried to distract herself from the incoming dysphoria by focusing on her partner, but it did not last long. Hearing her other name she reluctantly responded, the three entering the Japanese steakhouse their guest frequented and sliding into selected seats, "It's good to see you again, sis, how was your trip to Tokyo?"
"Went quite well, it's always nice getting to visit again."
"Thought you'd be tired of their food," she quipped quickly before drinks and an appetizer of spring rolls were ordered for the table, turning to the lone man go a moment, "D'you wanna share a California roll, babe?"
"Yeah, sounds fine to me."
"Don't tell me he's trying to turn you vegan too!"
"Nah, we're just trying to save money wherever we can," the Swede stated matter-of-factly, reaching over to take a roll after entrees were added to the order, "We have a few things comin' in the near future, so we have to be prepared."
"Well, if he tries to just lemme know, I'll set my brother straight."
Interrupted by platters of food being served Daphne decided not to try and correct her yet as the shared sushi was positioned between them. Pulling chopsticks apart she busied by reaching out for the first piece, fingers fumbling for a while until she calmed and managed to chew on the combination of rice, cucumber, and avocado; from the look she received the body language had not gone by unnoticed.
"Dee, what's wrong? And don't say it's nothing, we both know that's bullshit."
"Well, jt's kinda complicated," the woman I question claimed, chest tightened with nervousness as Joel moved closer to her, "For starters, I've been going by a different name."
"Finally stopped using Boyinaband, eh?"
"Technically, but that's not what I meant. I'm called Daphne now," she explained, leaning into an open arm, "I identify as a woman."
"That explains why you look like a girl, makes sense."
"Thought you might be. What does it matter though? You're still my sibling."
"Han…" she trailed off at the touching declaration, nearly falling into her significant other's lap as the weight of not knowing melted away, "One down, another to go."
"What're you on about?"
"Between waiting to tell you and her appointment, Daph's been on edge."
"Are you starting your transition today then?"
"I'd like to come along, if that's alright."
"I have a feeling you'll follow us either way."
"Well, sisters have to stick together!"