This story is a fanfiction based on the webcomic Rain by Jocelyn Samara D. As such, you can infer that I don’t own the characters and all of that, just this particular work. This story is in response to a call to arms Jocelyn put out for fan-made work to fill a hiatus gap while she takes care of a personal medical issue that came up recently. This story takes place immediately where the hiatus leaves off, right here. Please leave a comment and tell me if you liked it, and if you want more crazy silly gender-bender hijinks, do me a favor and check out my original series, Jessie! Thanks for reading!
Trigger Warning: Kellen’s an ignorant bitch.
The din of the Flaherty living room livened up quite a bit when Aiken’s distraction worked on Rain. The two discussed everything they were looking forward to at the convention tomorrow, from getting Rain’s Kaminari manga signed to Aiken seeing a Q&A panel with the American cast of his favorite anime, Serpent Square P. A silly name, yes, but while the action parts never really interested Rain, the majority of the lengthy saga was more or less just a soap opera, so Rain had a casual interest in seeing the panel as well.
If the goal of the weekend was to truly reunite Rain with her family, then this may just be easier than they thought. At least, for half of the subjects in question. Kellen wasn’t sure what to make of all of this– why was her baby bro dressing like this and calling himself a girl? She couldn’t wrap her head around why anyone would do this. Yeah, she’d seen transvestites on TV and such, but this was very different for her. This wasn’t a man parading around in lingerie for the attention, this was on a whole other level. Ryan truly believed he was a girl. He wasn’t doing this for sexual release or to tease boys (at least he’s still straight!), so why was he doing this? There was something wrong here and she didn’t know how to even approach it. Shouldn’t they be taking Ryan to a therapist instead of a comic book convention? One thing’s for sure: Kellen had to make a decision to support this farce or call it out, and stick with whatever decision she made.
Seeing Rain and Aiken talking so animated and getting along well made Emily’s heart warm. Kellen may be a complete bitch about this, but Emily was glad to see Aiken’s behavior, especially after hearing about what happened at Christmas. Emily was going to stick by her adoptive sister, no matter what. Rain had been so good to her about everything, from her social situation at school to handling the fact that she’s pregnant, and she couldn’t thank Rain enough. Rain was there to be her true friend when she needed it the most, and she’d be honored to return that favor, even if it meant snapping at Kellen every time she used the wrong name or pronoun. Emily thought she might be a tad harsh on the ignorant woman, but Rain told her not two hours ago that she was doing just fine.
The day waned into night quickly as even through dinner, Aiken steered the conversation back to Kaminari whenever things got tense. Soon enough, everyone was saying their goodnights to each other before retiring to their beds.
“Aiken, are you sure it’s ok for him to be sleeping in the same bed as Emily?” Kellen said, unsure if she was more worried or frustrated by the situation.
“Relax, I’m sure it’ll be fine. H-, er, she wouldn’t do anything to a pregnant girl. At least, I’d hope not. I still can’t really wrap my head around the ‘gay’ thing. So she says she’s a girl, but she’s into girls? Is that really straight? I’m not sure…” Aiken pondered more to himself than Kellen as he got his blanket ready for the couch.
“Well of course it’s straight! He’s a boy! If he were a girl then I guess he’d be a lesbian, but no matter what he says he THINKS he is, he was born a boy and IS a boy! And what kind of a name is ‘Rain’ anyway? It’s not even a real name!” Kellen was fuming in her frustration, pacing back and forth, trying to keep her voice down so the girls in the bedroom wouldn’t hear.
“Says the girl named ‘Kellen’ to the guy named ‘Aiken’. Mom must have been on something when she had us. We’re the normal ones with the weird names, and Ryan’s the different one but with a normal name. Heh, not anymore, I guess.” he mused.
“And that’s another thing, why are you entertaining him by calling him ‘Rain’? Do you really support this nonsense?”
“Well, I don’t know, I just… at Christmas, I really lost my temper and I feel like I hurt her and Aunt Fara. I had a talk with Aunt Fara and she gave me a lot to really think about. About my behavior, and how I treated Rain and Jessica. Like I said before, this doesn’t seem like a phase or like she’s trying to play with us somehow, and… I don’t want to lose what little family we have left. If that means respecting her decision to be a girl, well, I may not really understand why, but I guess I kinda do support it. I just… I guess I just want her to be happy.”
Aiken was just as shocked to hear that come out of his mouth as Kellen. Aiken really thought about what he said for a moment, and about how he treated Jessica when she came out to him. He really should talk to her sometime, but wasn’t sure what to make of their relationship. Was it damaged beyond repair? Did he actually love her? Did she still love him? He gave himself a lot to think about.
Kellen was right alongside him. She didn’t know what to say to that little speech, either. She didn’t hate her little brother and really did want him to be happy, but like this? Kellen hated being the bad guy in the family. It’s felt for ages like everyone’s avoided her, with Aiken running off with that commercial girl last year and Ryan never speaking to her after moving in with Aunt Fara. Was she just pushing everyone else away? But this whole situation is just ridiculous! How can she just stand by and let Ryan ruin his life like this? Was it really going to ruin his life? Kellen went off to her own room without saying another word to Aiken. She also had a lot to think about, and they all had a long day ahead of them.
Rain, on the other hand, was having a really hard time getting to sleep. Emily asked several times how Rain was feeling about being there, but she didn’t really know how to reply. Yes, the whole situation had her a bit tense, but talking all night with Aiken about comics and classic videogames really helped to take her mind off of things. At least off of Kellen. Every time Kellen misgendered her or called her ‘Ryan’ she tried her best to shrug it off, knowing that Aiken was actively avoiding the conversation and Emily was acting as her attack dog at every quip, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t get to her. The more she thought about Kellen, the more she worried about the pronouns she’d use in public tomorrow, and how upset it really made her. She chose to smile and try her best to give Kellen a chance, but it grated on her nerves more and more inside. Rain tried to show people that she’s a gentle and kind girl who hates to fight, but tick by tick, ‘he‘ by ‘he‘, it got to her. She didn’t even realize how much it upset her until she noticed she’d been crying just recollecting all of the times Kellen said those things tonight, gripping the blanket into a knot.
“Rain, you’re still awake? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” Emily groggily called from the other side of the bed, seeing Rain sitting up and shaking. “Don’t let her get to you, we’ll get through to her somehow.”
“I… I hope you’re right. I thought I could handle this, I put on a good face tonight and all, but it still gets to me. Does she hate me?” Rain begged Emily with her eyes, searching for some help.
“I’m sure Kellen loves you, she’s just… really ignorant when it comes to people like you. And you’ve never had to deal with this sort of rejection from anyone. You were lucky that all of your friends are very accepting. Please…” Emily wrapped her arms around Rain, causing her to blush. “I’m here for you. I’ll help you get through this, step by step, together. And if Kellen hurts you in any way, well, hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman scorned!” she laughed.
Rain laughed at that, too. “Thank you, Emily. I really appreciate that. And you really are showing fast, aren’t you? It’s only been, what, a month and a half? Two months at most!”
“Heh, yeah, but that’s just how it goes sometimes I guess. Do you think you’ll be able to get to sleep now? It’s pretty late and we have to be up really early tomorrow.”
“Yes, thank you, Emily. For everything.” Rain said with a smile, wiping her tears.
“Anything for family. Goodnight, Rain.” With a smile and another quick hug, Emily turned over and closed her eyes.
“Yeah… anything for family.” Rain slid down under the covers, thinking about what Emily said. It did help, if only a little. Rain was a little shocked to discover how angry she was with Kellen; how upset it had really made her, but she was more upset at the moment with a different sort of problem going on in her nightgown, one she truly hated that Emily had given her with that hug. HRT couldn’t come soon enough, she thought. Trying as best she could to take her mind off of it, she eventually nodded off to dream of magical fairy girls in mythical Japanese-speaking lands. Even her dreams were excited for the day to come.
The next day, the group arrived at the convention to little fanfare. After waiting in a long line together to get their badges, they entered the convention hall to a sea of nerds as far as the eye could see– hundreds of booths with hundreds more people crowded around carrying bags full of swag gathered from booths and promoters. Rain’s heart swelled at the sight of so many people come together to celebrate their love for all things drawn, causing a bemused smile from Emily and Aiken, and a little bit of confusion for Kellen.
“Why are there so many people in costumes?” she asked, wondering why that was even a thing. So many people were running around wearing complex outfits and carrying home-made swords, with characters ranging from anime to television; from fluffy shoujo to science fiction.
“They’re cosplaying. It’s short for ‘costume play’. Just something a lot of fans do at these things.” Aiken informed just as a large neckbearded man in a schoolgirl uniform waddled by, to Kellen’s disgust.
“Why’s that guy wearing a skirt?! Is he a transgender too?” Kellen asked earnestly. She was met with three pairs of eyes looking at her in disbelief.
“…no, that guy is cross-playing. That’s when you cosplay as someone of the opposite gender.” Aiken continued the lesson, pointing out more crossplayers as they walked around. “See? It’s actually pretty common. There’s another one.”
“Oh, so that’s what you’re doing, Ryan? You’re cross-playing? Is that why you dress like a girl all the time? At least you fit in here.” Emily shot Kellen a nasty look.
“No, she’s not cross-playing or cosplaying. She’s here as herself, Rain Flaherty. She’s not IN costume.” Kellen shot a look back.
Rain sighed. “It’s ok, Emily. She’s never going to understand me, so why even bother.” She moved on to a booth with a collection of replica swords from games and shows. She loved the way the steel glistened under the bright lights.
“Rain…” Emily reached out to Rain’s shoulder in concern, but Rain just lowered her head and shrugged the hand off. Kellen would never understand her. Every time she misgenders her, she gets angry, so so angry that she just doesn’t know what to do. She was shaking from her shot nerves.
“Are you interested in swords, Rain?” Aiken said, going up to her side to try and defuse the situation.
“What is it with boys and weapons…” Kellen said, shaking her head. Rain twitched.
“Girls like swords too, Kellen. The duller the better.” Rain said under her breath, not turning to face her sister.
“I think you mean ‘the sharper, the better’. Sharp blades cut better.” Aiken nervously said.
“No… sharp blades cut faster and cleaner… dull blades cause more pain!” Rain shouted, grabbing the hilt of a sword off the table. In an instant, the dulled replica sword was embedded deep in Kellen’s gut. Emily and Aiken stared in shock at Rain’s rage. Kellen’s eyes bulged and her face skewed in pain.
“R-ryan… why…” Rain twisted the blade causing Kellen to writhe.
“Say it.” Rain said through grit teeth.
“MY NAME! SAY MY NAME!!” Rain screamed, twisting the blade more and slicing up towards Kellen’s chest, blood splurting all over Rain’s smiling face.
“R-rain…” Kellen coughed blood.
“WHAT WAS THAT?!”
“RAIN FLAHERTY!!” Kellen yelled, aching from the pain. Rain removed the bloody sword, licking blood from the blade. People in costume screamed and ran towards the exits, Emily and Aiken in tears at the scene before them.
“R-Rain… Why..” Kellen cried.
“Why indeed.” Swish! Rain whacked the blade against Kellen’s throat. “WHY INDEED!” She whacked twice more, freeing Kellen’s head from her neck.
“Rain, how could you?! How could you kill your own sister?!” Aiken cried. Rain placed the blade back on the table.
“It was worth it.” Rain smiled, just as police tackled her to the ground.
“Rain, RAIN!!” Emily shouted, over and over, louder and louder. Rain snapped her head up, feeling Emily’s hand on her shoulder, bringing her back to reality.
“Are you interested in replica swords, Rain?” Aiken asked coming to her side.
“What is it with boys and weapons…” Kellen said, shaking her head. Rain sighed.
“Come on Emily, let’s go.” Rain said, taking her hand and leading her off without once looking at Kellen or Aiken. She had a tear trickling down her face. ‘What was with that fantasy?’ Rain thought to herself. ‘It was really out of character for me…’
“We-we’ll meet up later then, Rain. Call me when you want to meet for lunch!” Aiken shouted off in their direction. As soon as they were out of sight, Aiken turned to Kellen. “How could you?”
“How could I what?”
“How could you be so insensitive? Are you TRYING to push her out of your life?! What the hell, Kellen?” Aiken snapped.
“I-I was just talking, there’s no need to get so offended about it.”
“No Kellen, there’s every need. You’re bullying your little br-sister. She came out here to spend time with us to try and get closer and you’re just pushing her away and harassing her. If you keep this up, you’re going to lose your whole family.”
“My whole family? Why?!”
“You’re bullying Rain away from us and Aunt Fara will not stand for it. And you know what Kellen? I don’t stand for it either. You need to grow up.” Aiken shouted and turned away from Kellen who was completely dumbfounded by her twin brother’s reaction.
“Aiken? Aiken, please! Come back!” she shouted as he walked away but in a moment he was lost in the sea of costumes leaving her alone to her thoughts. “What just happened…?”
Emily and Rain had wondered away from Aiken and Kellen for a while now and found themselves at a row of booths featuring local artists with their own comics, a far cry from the manga and super hero stuff that filled the rest of the show floor. Deciding to give it a shot, the girls walked down the row until they found a group of booths huddled together under a big rainbow flag. “Would you look at that, Emily? It’s a bunch of comics made just for us!” Rain exclaimed.
“Wow, you’re right! ‘LGBT comics by fresh local authors’, it says,” Emily read from the banner hanging just in front of the flag. The girls took their time to check out nearly every comic on the group of tables, Rain’s smile fading more and more as they went on.
“It’s nice to see transgender comics making the scene and all, but they’re all basically the same…” Rain noticed.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s just that every main character seems to be a trans woman, and they pass perfectly without really trying at all. Then, despite their internal fears, seem to find themselves surrounded by friends representing every letter in the LGBT alphabet. It’s just so unrealistic. We’re common but not THAT common. How often are so many queer people all together in one place like that?”
“About every Thursday night at your aunt’s apartment.” Emily shot back with a grin on her face. Seeing the unamused look she got in response, she continued, “well, it IS just fantasy, right?”
“I guess you’re right. I just wish something stood out more. Like, look at this one. ‘Sprinkle’. It’s about a trans girl named Sprinkle who lives with her aunt Fira, a black mage specializing in level-two spells,” Rain told Emily after reading the first few pages.
“The overall story is that Sprinkle wants to find a magic well that will turn her into a female-assigned-at-birth cis girl, but in this world, no such thing exists. But she won’t give up! She’ll search for the magic cure to her dysphoria until her dying breath, whether that means getting surgery or finding a portal to another realm where such magic exists. Whichever comes first.” The excited artist informed the girls, nearly jumping out of her seat behind the table. Emily was taken aback by the sudden interjection and plot synopsis, but Rain’s eyes widened with excitement.
“But let me guess… Sprinkle goes to school and ends up making friends with the only gay and lesbian kids in school, and ends up dating a pansexual girl or something like that, or worse– ends up with the straight guy childhood friend, am I right?” Emily inquired, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow.
“Oh, so you’ve read my comic before?” the girl behind the counter replied. Emily shot Rain a look as if to say ‘see, it’s the same as the rest,’ but that didn’t deter her excitement at all.
After a short conversation with the author, Rain was hooked. She liked the comic she’d found as it had both fantasy and a dose of trans-related reality that she was happy to see mirrored her own life. Giving the artist five dollars for the first volume, Rain and Emily wondered off again in a random direction, hoping to find something else to catch their eyes.
Aiken, meanwhile, couldn’t believe his sister’s behavior. Didn’t she realize that she was bullying Rain with all of those little constant jabs? Maybe she really was just *that* confused about it all, but she should have the common courtesy to stop doing something if it’s clearly making someone else upset, right? Through his anger towards Kellen he really couldn’t decide which it really was. Maybe he should give her the benefit of the doubt. This WAS her first time dealing with this afterall.
It wasn’t his, though. After discovering that the love of his life, his dear fiancee Jessica, was like that, he went into a fit of anger himself that he partially took out on Rain when they met just a week or two later. Kellen didn’t have that sort of betrayed feeling to play off of, though. Was it just normal to be so angry when discovering such things? After his aunt had a stern talk with him at Christmas, Aiken began to change his tune but Kellen didn’t have that. She just felt like her family was avoiding her, and when she found out that was the reason, she didn’t know how to feel about it. Aiken liked to think he was being a positive role model here by treating Rain with the courtesy and respect by using her real name and the right pronouns, but when did he come to do that? It wasn’t when Aunt Fara yelled at him, no, this was much more recent. As recent as yesterday, perhaps.
Seeing Rain on the doorstep yesterday alongside a friend who just treated her normally really helped Aiken to realize subconsciously that this wasn’t a phase of some sort– it was something Rain took very seriously and just accepted as ordinary everyday life. Aiken made sure to stop her from leaving when she first arrived. If she was willing to abandon the idea of reconciling with her family just because Kellen called her ‘baby bro’; if she was willing to give up on her only living family aside from Aunt Fara, she must have been very resolute about who she was now.
Maybe, Aiken thought, he should have made more of an effort to hear her out at Christmas. He was still just so hurt over learning about Jessica. If Rain was so offended by Kellen’s behavior, how must Jessica have felt? It was a huge argument and Aiken didn’t exactly hold back from ripping into her way worse than Kellen had been towards Rain. He felt betrayed, like she had somehow tricked him, but after being more exposed to Rain he was starting to realize just how much he must have hurt her. She wasn’t trying to trick him or anything and he knew it. She just hid it to protect herself from the very reaction he gave her.
Maybe if she had told him at the start of the relationship, he wouldn’t have been so hurt by it, and not lashed out so harshly, but she must have had her own reasons. Here she was pouring her feelings out to the man she loved, only to leave in tears, thankful she left in safety. She didn’t deserve that. He knew that he overreacted but wasn’t sure if he could face her again after what he said to her. It took Rain’s conviction to help him realize what he had done to Jessica, and he wasn’t about to let Kellen do the same thing to his baby sister.
“When did I become such a supporter of this stuff? Here I am defending her! Jeez…” he said aloud. He’d been wandering aimlessly around the rows of booths to clear his head after he angrily stormed away from Kellen. “Maybe I should try and find Rain and apologi–”
“Aiken! Over here!!” Emily called from several dozen nerds away. Rain didn’t look immediately interested in seeing him but, with Emily tugging at her shoulder telling her everything would be alright, she reluctantly followed her best friend to Aiken.
“Rain, listen… I’ve been thinking for a while, and I want to apologize to you, face to face. I want to apologize for how I treated you at Christmas. Seeing how Kellen is hurting you with her language has really helped me see myself, and just how much I must have hurt you and Jessica, and neither of you deserved that. I’m sorry, Rain. It may take a little getting used to, but I’d be proud to call you my little sis.”
Rain didn’t know what to say. She was at such a loss for words, tearing up on the spot and dropping her swag bag in shock. Emily smiled at her with her hand on her shoulder, and with a nod of her head to guide her on, Rain practically leapt to her brother, throwing her arms around him. “T-thank you, Aiken. Thank you. I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”
Emily teared up at this happy family reunion and decided to capture the memory forever. Without Rain noticing, Emily pulled her phone out and snapped a picture of the two in their embrace. She’d never seen Rain so happy, and couldn’t be more happy herself. That is, unless they can help Kellen come around, too. “What happened to Kellen, then? Weren’t you with her?”
The two broke their embrace. “We were separated… I kind of snapped at her and took off right after you guys left. She’s got a lot to think about too, I’m sure. Rain, I’m sorry we’ve ruined the trip to the convention. I know how much you were looking forward to coming here.”
“No, no, it’s fine!” Rain said, waving him off. “This is going better than expected, actually! I found an awesome new comic to check out and I’m glad you came around. I really am. Aunt Fara and Jessica will be happy to hear this.”
“That’s right… Jessica’s living with you two, right?” Aiken was almost too ashamed to ask, but felt he must. “Is she doing alright?”
“Yeah, she’s doing fine actually! She’s even got a new b–” Rain caught herself. If Aiken was asking, maybe he wanted to patch things up between them. Rain couldn’t ruin this by telling him about her new boyfriend. “job! She’s got a new job, with our neighbor Heather at the coffee shop. She’s doing pretty well for herself right now.”
Aiken sighed. “That’s good, I guess. I’m glad.” He sighed again, turning his eyes away. Emily and Rain were quick to catch it, though.
“You should talk to her.” Emily said without hesitation. “Seriously. It’s time you properly apologized to her. Have you even talked to her since she left?”
“No, not since we broke up. I was way too hard on her, and Rain, it took you and Kellen to show me that. You’re right, I should apologize tomorrow before you leave.”
“Great! Aunt Fara’s going to want a progress report tonight to see how things are going, so I’ll see if I can have her bring Jessica along to pick us up!” Rain said privately to Emily. This was going even better than she hoped! Rain was worried about how Jessica was going to explain her new boyfriend to Aiken, or if they’d even get back together, but that was something they had to deal with amongst themselves. At least Jessica would have closure.
“So what do we do about Kellen?” Emily asked. Rain sighed and turned away, same as Aiken had. ‘I guess some mannerisms run in the family,‘ she thought.
“I’m not sure. That’s up to Rain, I suppose,” Aiken said.
Rain simply picked up her bag without saying a word. “Rain, you can’t keep avoiding the subject here. I know it’s hard to face, but you need to confront her eventually or this will never end. She’s pretty stubborn about this, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid her,” Emily said.
Rain sighed again. “I know, I know… I just don’t know how to approach her. When things start getting argumentative, I don’t know how to react. What should I do? Should I just tell her to accept me or never speak to me again? Or wait until she comes around like Aiken did, if she EVER does?”
“That’s up to her, I’d think. If she won’t accept you, then maybe leaving her alone for a while would be best. I’m not sure. The only way we’ll know is if you talk with her,” Emily said.
“Yeah, but what do I do when she insists on refusing to see me as who I am? Whenever she calls me that name I hate or uses the wrong pronouns, I just get so… so… angry! I’ve never been so angry in my life as I was earlier when we got here. Me, cross-playing? REALLY?! If I’m around that much more I’m afraid of what I might do. I don’t know if she’d make me cry or make me snap somehow.” Rain was visibly shaking.
“It’s ok Rain, we’ll be here for you. I’ll make sure she doesn’t go overboard, ok?” Aiken reassured her.
“Yeah, it will be ok, but you will have to face her when the time comes. Just be honest with your feelings and try not to let her get to you, ok? Maybe try to think of it from her perspective a bit– she’s got to be really confused about all of this,” Emily reasoned. “Maybe she’s even confused as to why we’re all so angry with her,” Emily said more to herself than anyone.
“I guess you’re right. I’ll talk with her when I get the chance, ok? For now, what should we do? Where do you guys want to go?” Rain was eager to drop the subject and get on with something else.
“Why don’t we go get your comics signed? I know you’ve really been looking forward to meeting that lady who wrote Kaminari,” Rain was almost immediately back to her cheery self when Aiken suggested that. With all of the drama going on, she can’t believe she’d let that slip her mind!
“Yeah, let’s go!” Rain grabbed Emily by the wrist and practically dragged her with how fast she booked it to that line. At the front of the line, a hundred nerds long, sat the woman Rain was most looking forward to meeting in all the world– Chiaki Koizumi, the author of Black Wings, Kaminari. That manga had really been Rain’s sanctuary over the last few years, giving her hope and courage to face the world and her transition. She was beside herself when Colin offered her the tickets for the convention, and now it’s really happening. Just a few more nerds to go until it was her turn. It was only an hour and a half, but she felt like she’d been waiting forever for her chance and it was almost here!
“Just two more nerds to go until our turn, Rain!” said Emily, helping Rain get her books out of her backpack and ready to sign. One more nerd to go. Rain’s anxiety was through the roof. Only a few more moments until–
“Sorry, signing is over!” a convention security guard dressed as a grunt soldier from a certain sci-fi movie said.
“What?! This can’t be! Please, just one more!” Aiken pleaded. Rain was devastated.
“No can do, Miss Koizumi’s already gone. Sorry kids, but it’s time to move along. Better luck next time.” Aiken was so angry he wanted to hit the guy, but he thought better of it. Wouldn’t want to be kicked out, not when Rain needed him. Emily already had her arms around his little sister, trying to comfort her and help hide the embarrassment from crying there in front of so many people.
“I-I can’t believe it… she’s gone… if I’d have just come by a little sooner, then maybe I could.. I could..” she tried to make out between sobs.
“There there, it’s ok.” Emily cooed.
“Hey, why don’t we come back a little later, ‘kay? Maybe she just went to lunch. It IS noon, afterall! Cheer up! Let’s go get something to eat and come back in a bit, ok?” Aiken said to those big sad teary eyes.
“Yeah, I’m sure she’ll be back later! Let’s just go eat for now, ok?” Emily said.
“I’m buying!” Aiken added. A few sniffles later, Rain agreed. She couldn’t believe what terrible luck she’d had. If only they had gone there first thing, like she was hoping to.
Emily was more worried about Rain’s emotional state. “Hey, are you ok? Today’s been an emotional rollercoaster for you, but we’re here for you, you know.”
“Thanks, Emily. I don’t know why, but my emotions have been all over the place lately. Maybe it’s all this drama. I wonder if starting HRT will help calm things down,” she said, remembering her anger from earlier, her tearful moment with Aiken just a few hours before, and her moments of discomfort when she was around Ana a few weeks back, and twice lately with Emily. The latter, she’d rather not think about.
“HRT? What’s that?” Aiken wondered.
“Heh, we’ll tell you over lunch,” Emily replied. With a depressed Rain and a confused Aiken at her side, Emily and the Flahertys made their way to the nearest exit hoping to find a WacDonna’s cheaper than the convention’s makeshift food court. A food court that a certain someone found herself in at that very moment.
“That was WAY overpriced! I can’t believe I just paid ten bucks for a burger!” Kellen grumbled to herself, slamming her tray on the table.
“That’s why I brought my own,” said a short Japanese woman sitting across from her, her black hair shimmering under the bright lights. She was eating her lunch from a little box that she clearly packed herself.
“I’ll remember that next time I come to one of these things. If I ever come again. What am I even doing here? I should just take a cab home,” she sighed into her burger. Kellen didn’t know what to do about her family, let alone Ryan. She couldn’t believe Aiken was standing up for Ryan like this, but she realized she was losing her family again and didn’t want that to happen. She didn’t know where to turn.
“Why? Aren’t you having a good time? What’s wrong?” the stranger asked.
“Heh… you wouldn’t understand. It’s a complicated situation. And it makes NO sense.” Kellen replied.
“Try me. I’m more worldly than you might think.” Kellen gave the strange girl an inquisitive look, but after a moment, sighed and decided to indulge her.
“Sure, why not. I have two brothers and one of them is… a bit different. Let’s just say he’s having a bit of an identity crisis.” Kellen chose her words carefully, partially because she was embarrassed to divulge that her brother thinks he’s a girl, and partly because she was ashamed. “He seems to get mad at me simply for addressing him by name. I finally have my family in my life again, but for some reason they hate me. Even my twin brother sides with Ryan against me. I just wish I could understand what’s going on.”
“Sounds like there’s more going on here than you realize. Would it be too much to ask more about this identity crisis of his?” Kellen debated in her head whether or not to tell the stranger more but decided that maybe it was a good idea afterall. She’d never see this woman again, and sometimes strangers can have the best advice. A fresh perspective on the situation might help.
“He… he’s just going through some strange phase. He cross-dresses all the time and claims that’s just who he is. But then he says he’s not gay and brings his girlfriend over to our house, and she’s calling him a girl and everything too. She says it’s called ‘transginger’ or something. Sorry if that’s too weird for you, I just don’t know how to deal with this. Should I indulge him and call him a girl? It just feels so strange. He’s my little brother! He’s BEEN my little brother for seventeen years!” Kellen’s cheeks were flushed of embarrassment just telling the girl this, but she was also a little relieved to get it off her chest.
“Hmm… That is a bit strange, but not all that uncommon. Being in the anime industry, I see a lot of boys dressed as girls at these events, and even in Japan we have boys we call ‘new-halves’ who are into that sort of thing. It may not be for you, but if it’s what he wants to do, I wonder if it can be helped.”
“He seems really headstrong about this. He even looks like a girl. You really can’t tell. I think he may even want to get it cut off some day. Why would anyone want to do such a thing to themselves? Why would someone willingly mutilate themselves?” Kellen set her burger down, unable to eat any more after picturing that.
“If he is that devoted, then it really can’t be helped, can it? You can imagine that he will have a hard life ahead of him with such choices. It will be hard to find work, friends, and love by going down such a path. But it seems to me he is aware of it and will push through these struggles regardless of the dangers. When those hard times come, what he will need most are his friends and family to support him.” The woman set her chopsticks down on the edge of her container and stared Kellen straight in the eyes. “Do you love him?”
“I’m sorry?” Kellen blinked, taken aback by the sudden question.
“You said you finally have your family in your life again, but it seems you are doing something to push them away again. If you truly love your brother and want him a part of your life, don’t push him away. This is his decision, and you don’t have to support it, but you don’t have to hurt him, either. This is his decision and not something you can talk him out of, so the least you can do is watch over him. If he is hurt going down this path, be there to pick him up again. Don’t be a bully and you will find a place in his life, as you will in his. That is just my humble opinion, however.” She poured herself a cup of tea from her thermos and motioned to Kellen, silently asking if she’d like some as well, and she agreed.
“I guess you’re right. I shouldn’t push him away. The last thing I want to do is lose him again after all these years apart. I’m tired of being a villain to what little family I have left. I don’t want them to hate me.” Kellen sipped her tea. “What should I do, though? They don’t even want to see me right now.”
“You should talk with them. Talk with Ryan. Let him know you just want to be a part of his life,” the woman offered.
“What if things start to go south?”
“You could always make a joke to break the ice, it works for me sometimes!” The girls laughed and after a moment, Kellen sighed a sigh of relief.
“Thank you, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I didn’t catch your name, though. I’m Kellen Flaherty.” She held out her hand.
“I’m Koizumi Chiaki. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kellen,” the woman replied, returning the shake as well.
One hour and one long confusing discussion about hormones later, Aiken and the girls found themselves back in the convention hall. They decided to try and get to the Kaminari booth first thing, but met several distractions along the way. The costumed nerds were huddled around their various booths, some shouting internet memes regarding a sensor detecting the strength indicator of a certain super alien man, some girls singing songs from last year’s popular movie Chilled, and even more neckbearded men discussing the fine points of equestrian care. Eventually the group found themselves back at the Kaminari table, but Chiaki Koizumi was nowhere to be seen.
“Don’t get so down, Rain! I’m sure she’ll be back soon. Why don’t we check out some of the booths nearby while we wait? That way we can keep an eye on it.” Emily suggested. Rain accepted, and the three began to wander to one of the nearby booths when they heard a familiar voice shout out to them. A voice Rain wasn’t too excited to hear.
“I’ve been looking all over for you guys!” Kellen said, catching her breath after running over.
“What do you want, Kellen?” Rain asked under her breath.
Kellen brushed off the distaste coming towards her and gathered her nerves. “Listen, I had a long talk with a friend here and she helped me realize a few things. If I want my family in my life, I have to be willing to compromise a bit. I don’t quite understand what you’re doing or why, but you’ve got a hard and dangerous life ahead of you by choosing to be a girl, and I want to be there for you.”
“She didn’t ‘choose’ anything, Rain’s a girl and that’s just what she is.” Emily immediately snapped. Kellen gave her a nasty look.
“…regardless, I don’t want to bully you or anything, and more than that, I don’t want you to hate me. So, to make it up to you, I want you to have this.” Rain didn’t know what to make of this as Kellen reached into her bag and pulled out a small graphic novel.
Rain’s eyes widened when she realized that it was a copy of the newest volume of Black Wings, Kaminari. A volume that wasn’t going to be on sale for another week! “Thanks, I guess. Where did you get this?”
“Oh, I have my ways. The Kaminari booth may be closed for signing now, but I ran into a special someone at lunch.” Kellen smiled when she saw Rain put two and two together. “Turn it over.”
“You didn’t!” Rain said in disbelief before turning the book around and seeing that it was signed by none other than Chiaki Koizumi! But then her face fell when she read on. “…you had it made out in the wrong name.”
“Your name is Ryan. That’s what mom named you.” Kellen replied. Rain turned and threw the book down in disgust.
Things were going bad pretty fast. Rain was upset and about to give up on her and walk away again, but Emily held her by the arm. Kellen was confused as to why that had managed to offend Rain again, but she had to press on. She had to fight to keep this family together. Trying to think of what to say to break the tension, Kellen noticed a group of girls singing nearby and got an idea.
“Please, Ryan! Please don’t shut me out again! Please don’t slam the door. You don’t have to keep your distance anymore. ‘Cause for the first time in forever, our family can be whole! For the first time in forever, my life won’t be so dull. We can face this problem together, you don’t have to be so queer! ’cause for the first time in forever, your big sis will be right here~!” Kellen said, practically singing. Rain, Emily, and Aiken were dumbfounded; their jaws on the floor. “Er, sorry. It sounded better in my head. I thought a joke would lighten the mood, heh…” She had a tinge of blush in her cheeks.
“What. Was that.” Aiken stammered. Rain just fumed. First Kellen slapped her in the face by having her book signed to the wrong name, and now she’s making jokes about helping her to not ‘be so queer’?!
“…it’s from some movie, just forget about it… the point is Ryan, you’re my little brother and I love you. I just want you to be happy an-” Kellen was cut off by Rain snapping and grabbing the nearest nerd’s prop, a Light Rapier from that popular movie with the lovable character everyone enjoys, FarFar Jinx.
“That’s ENOUGH! You SAY you love me but then you call me ‘Ryan’ again and again and use the wrong pronouns!! Like it or not Kellen, I am a GIRL and my NAME is RAIN! JUST LET IT GO!!” She yelled, placing the plastic blade squarely on her sister’s throat.
A nearby nerd let out a single ‘Ha!’
Enraged, Kellen did the same and grabbed a prop from another nearby nerd, pushing Rain’s blade away with the stolen chainsaw that slid easily onto her arm. The nerds yelled back at the girls but seeing the awesome swordplay, they decided to just enjoy the catfight.
“I’m trying to apologize! What are you so upset about?!” Kelled yelled back. The plastic sword thunked against the plastic chainsaw.
“Do you really have to ask?! You insult me every time you call me that!” The crowd around the girls began to spread out, giving them plenty of room to fight. Several nerds pulled out their cell phones and began recording videos.
“It’s the name…” Clang! “Mom GAVE you!”
“And it HURTS!! It’s NOT ME!” Rain beat out her frustration with Kellen, smacking away at the plastic chainsaw, occasionally getting a clean hit in.
“Then WHO are you?!” Kellen said. Rain hit once more, breaking the toy chainsaw in half.
Pointing her dented plastic blade at Kellen’s throat, Rain answered, “I am Rain Flaherty, and you WILL address me as such!”
“Or what?” Kellen spat.
“Or I’m calling Aunt Fara to pick me up and you’ll never see me again.” Rain was surprised at herself for coming up with such an ultimatum. Was she really ready to abandon her sister? Kellen stared daggers at her in silence for several moments, not knowing what to say. “Then I have my answer. Goodbye, Kellen.” Rain removed the blade and returned it to the shocked nerd on the sidelines. The crowd began to cheer.
Just as she began to walk toward the surprised Aiken and Emily, someone in the crowd shouted, “Look out!” Kellen had broken the eyestalk off of a Tralek costume and was running at Rain with it over her head. At the last moment, Rain turned and rolled to the side.
Kellen flailed into the crowd and another nerd shouted to Rain in a Scottish accent, “Here, take this!” Rain reached up and caught the small gilded pen-like object and pointed it at Kellen, pressing the little button on the side. Bweeooeeooee~! The pen lit up making a silly noise. Some people in the crowd began to laugh.
“Please, everyone knows that the Ultrasound Stylus doesn’t work on Traleks!” one nerd shouted, to much laughter from the crowd. Kellen joined in on the laughter and went in for another swing, getting a clean swipe at Rain’s face and leaving a small scratch of blood. Rain was infuriated. Tossing the useless stylus aside, she dove once more into the crowd, emerging atop a booth table with the glaive of her favorite character, the ironically-flightless Black Wings, Kaminari.
Feeling intimidated by Rain’s weapon, Kellen threw the eyestalk away into the crowd. “Someone, give me something good!” she said sternly, reaching her hand out to her side. She never broke her gaze with her younger sister. After a moment, a nerd cautiously handed Kellen a short sword with a gilded hilt shaped to resemble wings.
Kellen made her way to the table and jumped up beside Rain who prepared herself for a block. “Ah, the blade of Hokori the traitor!” she quipped. “How fitting for you.”
“Fitting for me?” she said, cautiously taking a stab that the glaive easily blocked to the side. “You’re the one abandoning the only family you have left and spitting on your mother’s grave!”
Rain swung the glaive around, getting blocked at every move. “I am NOT spitting on mother’s grave! I’m abandoning no one! I came here with hopes to make amends with you and make you a part of my life, and all you’re doing is pushing me away best you can!” Kellen jumped over a leg swipe to a cheer from the crowd.
“How am I pushing you away?! You’re the one threatening to leave if I don’t call you some random made-up name!” Kellen slashed up top, but was blocked by the glaive, giving Rain the chance to shove the butt of the polearm into Kellen’s gut, knocking the wind out of her.
“It’s NOT a random made-up name! It’s who I am! It’s my REAL name, regardless of what some paper says! And you keep insulting me every chance you get!”
“How is calling you what our mother NAMED you insulting?!”
“Because it’s disregarding everything I am! It’s calling me someone I’m not and putting unrealistic expectations on me! I am Rain and nothing less! You WILL respect me!”
“Why should I?” Kellen yelled, taking a jab Rain nearly blocked.
“Because what you WANT is your family, right? You can’t say you love me and then disrespect me every chance you get! That’s not how it works!” Kellen didn’t like that. She launched a full-on assault that Rain couldn’t block. She was hit several times, being pushed to the edge of the table.
Left with no other options, Rain timed a dodge from another jab by jumping off the table onto a nearby hanging banner, swinging around in a large circle to cheers and applause. She used the inertia to slam a hard kick right into Kellen’s back, knocking her off the table.
“You WILL respect me!” Rain demanded, kicking Kellen’s sword away.
“Or what?” Kellen spat.
“Or you’ll die.” Once again Rain had Kellen defenseless and on the ground with a blade against her neck. She had won, but Kellen still glared defiantly. The crowd was silent with antici–
“Rain, stop! This has gone on long enough!” Aiken yelled. “You’re not going to hurt your sister. Let her go. If she really wants her only living family to hate her for not accepting you, then that’s her choice.”
Rain reluctantly removed the blade from her sister’s neck. Kellen, however, was fighting back tears. “I don’t WANT to lose my family! I don’t WANT to always be the bad guy! I was trying to apologize by getting that comic signed for you but I even managed to screw THAT up. I’m sorry! Really, I am. I guess this is… something that can’t be helped. You were really going to hurt me, weren’t you?” Rain remained stoic. “I guess I deserve that. If… if calling you ‘Rain’ is what it takes for this family to stay together, then… then I guess I have no choice. Growing up, you were always so quiet and repressed, but now, seeing you so confident and proud of who you are, I guess I can respect that. You’re Rain, and I love you.”
Kellen opened her arms and a tearful Rain ran straight into them, sobbing with joy. The crowd cheered and cooed with awws of adoration. “Thank you, Kellen. Thank you so much,” Rain said.
A moment later, convention security showed up. “Alright you two, you’ve caused enough of a commotion. You’re banned from the convention!” The girls protested, but were powerless to stop the men from dragging them by the arms towards the center’s entrance. The crowd shouted in protest as well, but it wasn’t until a tiny voice shouted to them that the security officers stopped.
“Please, don’t take them! They’re with me!” A short black-haired woman with a special badge ran up. After looking over the badge and seeing who she was, the security officers let the girls go with a warning.
“Excuse me, Miss Flaherty?” the voice called out to them. They both turned in response.
“Oh, it’s you. Rain, I’d like you to meet Chiaki Koizumi, the creator of Black Wings, Kaminari.” Kellen said, moving aside to introduce them. Rain shook her hand in wide-eyed wonder, not sure of what to say.
“I-I.. I’m a big fan! I’ve read all of your work! It’s amazing to meet you!” Rain was practically beside herself.
“So this is the person the book was for? Your younger sister?” she asked Kellen, who nodded. “I must apologize. I saw the whole fight and can’t help but feel a bit responsible for causing it. I didn’t realize that ‘Ryan’ was a girl so willing to prove that she is just that. I am glad you both worked it out, though. Rain, just like my Kaminari, you fight passionately, defending yourself and standing up for who you really are deep in your heart. Seeing you fight with such conviction was very inspirational.”
“T-thank you, but you don’t have to apologize for anything…” Rain said nervously.
“Please, allow me to make it up to you by signing your books properly.” Rain’s jaw dropped. With nothing but smiles, Rain handed her small stack of manga to the artist who signed each one in order, leaving a message on the first volume.
The message read simply, “To Rain, a girl who inspires those around her with determination and honesty of the heart. I am your biggest fan – Chiaki Koizumi.”
Rain didn’t know what to say; this was way more than she could ever have asked for. With a smile, Chiaki handed her a plastic DVD case as well. “What’s this?” she asked.
“Your friend Emily told me that you missed our panel earlier where we premiered the first episode of our Black Wings, Kaminari anime, so I’d like you to have a screener copy of it. Please don’t share it online though!” Rain was speechless as she took the DVD. With a tear running down her face, all she could think to do was throw her arms around Chiaki.
“Thank you. I will treasure this.” A few smiles later, Miss Koizumi said her goodbyes and took off, leaving an ecstatic but thoroughly exhausted Rain alone with her family, both adoptive and blood.
“You know Rain, seeing you fight like that was kind of hot.” Emily teased, placing a kiss on Rain’s cheek. Rain blushed, folding her hands in front of her and looking down in embarrassment.
Aiken, Kellen, and Emily smiled at Rain’s embarrassment and began to laugh, with Rain joining in a moment later. “Come on, let’s go home. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had a very long day and could use some rest,” Aiken said, putting his arm around his little sister.
“Couldn’t agree more,” Rain smiled back. Together, the group left the convention hall. A long night’s rest was very welcome when they arrived home.
“Things didn’t exactly go as planned, but hey, the end result was great, right?” Emily asked as she climbed into bed.
“Yeah, I suppose so. I got my family together, earned Kellen’s respect, and even got my Kaminari signed. Kind of forgot about Gavin’s action figure, though.” Rain said climbing into bed herself.
“Oh well, maybe next year. Poor Gavin, haha,” Emily laughed, with Rain joining in. They said their goodnights to each other and Emily rolled over on her side of the bed to face away from Rain. Rain did the same, but something was still nagging on her mind.
“Hey, Emily? W-why did you kiss me earlier?” Rain dared to ask.
“…Don’t worry about it,” Emily said after a moment of silence. “Goodnight, sis.”
“…Goodnight then, Emily.” Rain was dissatisfied with the answer but decided not to dwell on it. She wanted to end the day on a high note and get some much needed sleep. She didn’t need to stay up worrying about what may or may not be.
The next morning after breakfast, Rain and Emily were waiting on the porch for Aunt Fara to come pick them up.
“Thank you for coming. It was enlightening, for both of us,” Aiken said, turning to Kellen who nodded in agreement.
“Thanks for having us. I’m glad we were able to work everything out.” Rain hugged Aiken and then moved to Kellen to do the same.
“I’m sorry again for how I treated you Ry-er, Rain. I’ll get better with time, I promise. I’ll get used to it,” Kellen said.
“Yeah, and I’ll help. Together, we’ll work everything out,” Aiken reassured her.
“What about you, Aiken? What will you do about Jessica?” Rain asked, sending a knowing look to Emily who smiled in return.
“I’ll apologize to her when I see her again, like I said. I promise to. I just… maybe I can make things right between us. If she’ll give me the chance, that is.”
Just then, a car pulled into the driveway and out popped the feisty redheaded Aunt Fara.
“Hey everyone, I heard the good news! Glad to hear everything worked out ok between you all, especially with you, Kellen. I’m proud of you for coming around.” Fara gave the Flaherty trio hugs.
“Hey, Aunt Fara? How is Jessi-” Aiken began to ask but he was cut short by the tall vision of beauty herself getting out of Fara’s car. Their eyes locked for a moment and both had a brief moment of panic written on their faces before Jessica turned away. Aiken stayed resolute to his promise and walked over to her.
“J-Jessica! I’m sorry for how I treated you before. I didn’t realize how much I was hurting you until Rain and Kellen helped me see how much of an ass I was being. Do you want to come inside and talk for a minute?” Aiken asked. He was going to see this through to the end.
Jessica looked around for a moment, first to Fara who gave her a look that said ‘be careful’, and then to Rain and Emily who both smiled and nodded in encouragement. After a moment, she sighed.
“Yeah, I guess so. Fara, I’m going to take a cab home if that’s alright with you.” Fara nodded in agreement.
“I’ll put some coffee on, then,” Kellen said. “It’s going to be another long day.”
“Come on girls, time to go home. You can tell me all the details on the trip home, ok?” Fara said, motioning to the car.
Rain and Emily said their goodbyes, with Aiken, Jessica, and Kellen waving goodbye from the doorstep. It was going to be a long ride home and Rain was eager to tell Aunt Fara all of the craziness she left out on the phone last night. First things first though, Rain had to thoroughly interrogate Aunt Fara to be sure that Puddles was alright.