Part V: Acting on Instinct
“Oh hey,” I said, realising Allison was also in the room. “Sorry, was I interrupting?”
“It’s fine,” Sage said, looking relieved to see me for once which had to be a first.
“Yeah, I better head downstairs,” Allison said, bolting behind me and out the door. What was going on with those two? Sage went back to searching through their clothes so I cleared my throat. They glanced at me over their shoulder briefly.
“What’s up?” they asked.
“Erm, are you, are you really going to wear that?” I asked, tripping over my words.
“Was planning on it,” they replied, caution entering their voice.
“It’s just, well, my parents want to meet you, so I was hoping you’d, er, dial down that kind of thing.” I was really struggling to get the words out, because I knew this was a big ask, and Sage had every right to hate me right now.
“Why? I’m in girl mode right now Allen, so I’ll wear a skirt. Or maybe I should wear this,” they threw back. Even going to far as to grab a dress from their wardrobe and spin with it. They tilted their head at me, waiting for my response.
“Look, I get it. You need to be girly right now, but you don’t know my step-dad. You’ll do us both a favour if you just dress in jeans and a shirt,” I pleaded, willing them to understand.
“Do your parents even know I’m non-binary?” they asked. I laughed, mostly from nerves.
“I’ve not told them about anyone being LGBT here,” I said. “For your sakes,” I added quickly, before they could get the wrong idea.
“Sure, our sakes. Not to save yourself difficult conversations,” they shrugged.
“Don’t get on my case Sage. You know I don’t care about that stuff anymore-” I started but they cut me off.
“Then why are you asking me to dress differently? Why are you forcing me into your male tickbox?” they yelled, their cheeks flushing with anger. I sighed and shook my head, trying to figure out a better way to get my point across. I couldn’t, and they were too stubborn to budge even if I could. I turned to leave and stopped. My mum was pregnant. Daniel was never going to let me meet my younger sibling if he knew the sort of people I was surrounded by.
“Sage, my step-dad will give you hell, trust me, please-” I began.
“I don’t care what your parents think Allen. Just like I’ve not cared what you think funnily enough. It’s cute that you think you’re suddenly accepting because you can keep your trap shut when we’re freely being ourselves, but you’re not a true ally. Or you would be telling your parents to deal with it, rather than asking me to change for their sake,” they interrupted. It hurt what they were saying, because I really had been trying. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t terrified of everything in Ravenhold anymore. Still didn’t understand the trans thing but I accepted it, Caroline had helped me see it was a matter of being happy and who was I to deny that to someone? End of the day if there was something wrong with it, it was for Him to decide, not me.
“Sage-” I started but then I stopped. Sage was undressing in front of me. I tried to pull my gaze away as I saw their bared pale skin but I couldn’t. Despite dressing effeminate more often than not they actually had a decently masculine build. Sage’s cheeks were blushing as they hurriedly pulled on new clothes.
“Now, if you don’t mind, I need to go down and see my parents,” they said, brushing hair from their face. I shook my head, unwilling to budge, knowing my body was in front of the door. “Are you seriously going to trap me in here?” Sage asked.
“Sage, I’m begging here -” I started, struggling to grasp coherent thought right now.
“No.” they said. Everytime I tried to speak they stopped me with the single word. It got more and more frustrating.
“Goddammit Sage!” I yelled as they started to interrupt me again. “Just take off the skirt and wear some jeans for christ sake!” I immediately felt my cheeks flush at what I just said.
“I’ll wear whatever I want – I don’t care what you or your family think-” they retorted, stepping closer to me. Too many emotions were battling inside me right now and some of them didn’t make any sense, so I just acted. I gripped them upper arms, shocking them into stunned silence, and I kissed them.
Wait, what? What was I doing! I didn’t know, it had felt like the right thing to do. They wouldn’t have done that show of getting undressed if they weren’t interested, right? And they’re mostly feminine presenting so it’s not gay, or is it? Sage bodily pushed me away, an expression of shock and disgust marring their face.
“What the actual fuck?!” they yelled, arms protectively covering their front. What did they think I was going to?
“I don’t know, you just do something and,” I began, struggling to understand. “Fuck,” I whispered, burying my head in one hand.
“I do nothing Allen, that was all you,” they replied, their tone taking on a softer tone, like they were trying to console me.
“I’m not some fucking queer like you!” I shouted back, making them start. We stared at each other in silence for a split second – then Jaeger stormed in.
“Enough,” he said, moving towards me. His stance didn’t strike me as particular safe and I shoved him on instinct. It was harder than I intended though and I watched as he slammed into the wall.
“Jaeger!” Sage cried, rushing to his side. They froze for a moment and Jaeger stood up.
“Shit, sorry I didn’t mean to-” I began, holding both palms up.
“You’re a fucking mess Allen. Get your shit together,” Jaeger seethed. I had the tiniest of of warnings before his fist collided with my face. Enough to turn my face slightly but it full brunt of it still connected to my cheek and nose. Hurt flared and I yelled out, my hands covering. I could feel warmth dripping from my nose and when I blinked away shocked tears I realised I was bleeding.
“I’m so out of here,” Jaeger muttered, footsteps leaving. My head was ringing from the blow and I felt as my body just crumpled around me. I heard someone else speaking to me – Caroline. Sage was there too. I heard words but could barely follow a coherent thought. It was too much, what was happening? Why had I kissed Sage? Why had Jaeger punched me?
“Just breathe.” I nodded dimly at Caroline’s words, trying to slow down my breathing. I was vividly aware I could feel my core again. I bit my lips, hard, to keep it away from the surface. I felt my bleeding nose slow. Caroline asked Sage to leave and they complied. Then they were back and gave Caroline something. There was the rustling of packaging. I kept my gaze downwards, counting the thread count of my jeans. It was something simple I could focus on.
“This is going to sting, but it’ll help you,” Caroline said. I nodded, trusting her. She hiked up my jeans and I felt the momentary sting of a needle. It jolted me upright and then drowsiness hit me a moment later. My eyelids felt heavy, and I was just so, so tired.
“I didn’t- Tell Sage – Why Jaeger-” I could feel my energy slipping and I couldn’t get a solid sentence out.
“Don’t worry, that’s normal,” Caroline said beside me. “You’ll be fine in an hour or so. Try to get a quick nap and I’ll get you when dinner’s served,” she promised. Both she and Sage helped upright and onto my bed. I tried to say sorry to Sage but they were distracted, speaking to themselves.
“So much for a straightforward parents evening.” I gave in and shut my eyes.
“What happened?” Caroline asked.
“Just an old argument that escalated. Didn’t help thing. I think things were calming down until Jaeger came along.” I blinked once at Sage but they weren’t looking. They had covered for me. They didn’t owe me anything but they didn’t tell Caroline what really happened. I shut my eyes again, letting the substance Caroline had injected into me send me to sleep.